Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
A brainwavez.org Cultural Experience In Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa By: Mandy J Watson on 21 February 2011
Category: Culture > Features
Tags: #tattoos
brainwavez.org Comments View Comments

Share

At the 2011 Southern Ink Xposure tattoo convention in Cape Town, South Africa, Rich Mulholland sat with local tattoo artist Derek of Metal Machine Tattoo & Body Piercing to get the first half of an elaborate tattoo done, which is based on a design by US graphic designer Hydro74. We documented the process in this photo essay and video presentation. (There's blood, colourful language, and art - what more could you hope for?)

Please note that some of the visuals towards the end of this collection may not be suitable for sensitive people.

This year the third Southern Ink Xposure (SIX) convention and expo was held at the Pavilion Conference Centre at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. It ran for three days over a weekend at the end of January and showcased the work of local and international artists. My intention was to cover the event and write an overview (similar to our Whisky Live coverage [ 2009 | 2010 ]) but not too long after I got there on the Friday night I ran into Rich Mulholland, who was about to sit down to have Derek (Baker) from Metal Machine Tattoo & Body Piercing in Cape Town work on a tattoo on his arm. What was just going to be 15 minutes of curious observation turned into four and a half hours of following the process, as you will see here.


But First, Some Convention Stuff!
Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Southern Ink Xposure is primarily a showcase forum for local tattoo artists but professionals from all of the world also attend to demonstrate their work. Members of the public can have a tattoo done, buy prints of tattoo art, talk to the professionals, view the exhibition, and join in at pre-convention and after-party events, which took place during the convention week. The photo above is of prints for sale of designs and sketches by some of the US guest artists.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Nathan B was one of the international artists who attended the convention. This was his first time in Cape Town. He is based in Kansas City, Missouri, US, at Freaks On Broadway Tattoo And Body Piercing.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Milo "Mr Lucky" Marcer, who is based in Cape Town, spent the evening at a stand nearby working on this tattoo project, which you can see here.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Sketches from Milo Marcer Sketchbook Vol 3.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
You can read Milo's blog posts about the convention here, here, and here.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo
Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
I stumbled across Rich Mulholland at Derek's work station as they were setting up to begin work on his latest tattoo. Here the design, which you can read all about further down (and be sure to watch the video to see more of the artist's work), had been traced onto transfer paper and the team was deciding on the correct positioning on Rich's arm.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
A decision was made and Derek then disinfected and shaved Rich's arm before rubbing the trace of the design in place. After a quick discussion and group viewing a snap poll amongst everyone in the vicinity determined that it was correctly placed and Derek started work.

Hygiene is very important and many precautions are taken to protect both the artist and the customer. The artist wears gloves at all times and the head of the tattoo gun, as well as the cable, is wrapped in plastic to keep it clean. There were bright-red "biohazardous waste" bins all over the convention into which everything disposable is tossed once it has been used so that it can be taken care of safely and hygienically. Disposable items include the heads of the tattoo machines, all the protective products, and any ink that's left over from a session.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
We've fast forwarded a bit into the process (45 minutes, to be exact). In the photo above the black lines are complete and the blue lines are areas that still have to be tattooed.

Derek has been working on the line work using a new tattoo machine that he hasn't used before, called the Cheyenne Hawk. (Rich's tattoo is a bit of an experiment.) He is finding it easier and quicker to use than other tools, although the weight and balance is slightly incorrect and he will adjust at a later stage with small weights placed on the unit.

The unit is also much quieter than other tattoo machines, which becomes quite apparent at the convention when the noise from the machines at the stands on each side of us is consistently louder than the noise that the Cheyenne Hawk is making.

Rich, meanwhile, is finding the process far less painful and he's quite impressed with the experience.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Derek continues with the line work.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
The pots of ink that Derek is using. Each one contains black ink diluted with a different amount of water so even though they each look the same they actually represent a greyscale palette.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
The line work is almost complete. As Derek works he keeps Rich's arm clean by rubbing away excess ink (and later blood) using paper towels.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
At the same time Milo continues his work, which took almost the entire evening to complete, over at the next stand. Tattoo artists prefer to work on big designs at conventions as these are the best showcases for their work. Visitors can watch the design progress as they're walking around checking out the rest of the convention and the artists get to showcase their skills as the art and the project have been planned carefully. Conversely, small tattoos that visitors want quickly and on the fly are not a good way for artists to demonstrate their abilities.


Filling In The Design
Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Different heads, with different needle counts for different tasks, fit onto the tip of a tattoo machine and each head must be disposed of once it's been used. Derek uses a different tip to start filling in the design, which requires more rigorous work.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Derek continues to fill in the design.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Here you can see how Derek is carefully working the ink into the design. All this time Rich has been sitting with a printout of the artwork, which Derek references every few seconds to ensure that he's colouring it in correctly.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
In this close-up photo you can see some of the subtle gradient work and shading that has been achieved with different dilutions of black ink.

Once the tattoo is finished and has settled the subtleties of the gradient work will be much easier to see. The skin first needs to repair itself (after all, a bunch of needles have been attacking it at high speed for hours) and this healing process traps the pigment in the skin where it will remain, permanently.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
The inks are slowly being depleted.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Here you can see Rich is holding the printout of the design for Derek to reference as he works. Tattoo work takes a very long time - in fact, just the preparation before the artist even begins is about half an hour - so it can be quite tiring to sit around with nothing to do while the art is being completed, although it depends on the artist. Derek enjoys having visitors stop by to talk to him while he completes the work and here at SIX 2011 Rich spends most of the time talking to a group of us that are watching the process.

Some tattoo artists, however, are not so congenial. They don't like noise, they don't like being disturbed, and they don't like being watched while they work. (Although I would imagine that it would be unlikely that many of them attend conventions.) If you're thinking of having a tattoo done and can't stand a few hours of quiet reflection while the artist works, find out what the policy is, or find an artist more suitable to your personality.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
The filling-in work is almost complete, bar a few small areas on the left. Rich's arm has started to react to the trauma (most noticeable on the top right) by bleeding.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Derek is completing the final shading work, which you can see best around the inside of the open oval area.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Derek dips the tip of the Cheyenne Hawk into one of the ink pots.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
We're at the final part of the process for the evening. Derek has filled one pot with red ink and he's filling in a few areas of the design (notably the eyes) using this colour.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
One eye is done and, further up the arm, the blood is oozing dramatically.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Derek finishes the other eye.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
Once the work is complete Derek cleans, disinfects, and dries Rich's arm.


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
I take a few photos of the completion of Part 1 - here the full arm...


Rich Mulholland Gets A Tattoo: Part 1
...and here both sides so that you can see the entire design. (Apologies for that blur - Rich is very animated.)

After this, Derek wraps Rich's arm to protect the design and to prevent the arm from becoming infected. It will have to be left to heal for a few days and will have to be looked after carefully during this time.

Derek then cleans his work station, packs away his tools so that they are ready for the next day of the convention, and disposes of all the prophylactic tools, used tattoo-machine heads, and leftover ink.

About The Design
Rich obtained special permission from Orlando, US, artist Hydro74 (Joshua M Smith) to use one of his designs as the tattoo. (Don't, however, try this at home as Hydro74 doesn't do tattoo requests.) You can hear more about it in the video below and view much of Hydro74's work at his official web site here.

The design that Rich chose is on page 13 of the Hydro74 2009 Look Book:



The art is of a man wearing a mask - the open area at the top is the back of the man's head (we are looking at him from behind). On Rich's arm this area will be filled with an extra design in Part 2 of the process.


And Now, For Our Feature Presentation...
(In Which Even More Information Is Imparted Through The Use Of Live-Action Amateur Cinematography)

I'm not quite sure of when the design is to be completed (a number of very complicated schedules have been clashing), so I do not know if there will be a Part 2 of this article (although the design will, of course, be finished at some point, and I'm looking forward to seeing it). Update: Part 2 has been posted here.

Special thanks to Derek for being happy to have me observe the entire process and allowing me to get right in the middle of the action, on occasion, with my cameras. Thanks also to Rich for allowing me to stare at his arm for four and a half hours.

Mandy J Watson was a media guest of Southern Ink Xposure 2011.





On The Internet
Southern Ink Xposure: Official Site
Metal Machine Tatto & Body Piercing: Official Site



You Might Also Like




brainwavez.org Comments Speak Your Mind







Shop | Kalahari.netKalahari.net ZA




Zoo City
by Lauren Beukes
click for price




Shop | Kalahari.netKalahari.net ZA

Shop | Loot.co.zaLoot.co.za ZA


Shop | Amazon.com Amazon US



Shop | Amazon.co.uk Amazon UK



Shop | iTunes US iTunes US

Moxyland: The Soundtrack


Ads | Atom Entertainment


Ads | Google