National Tattoo Day: How former UN students make walking works of art | News – Omaha, Nebraska

The following article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue UN review.

To see more stories about the connection between the UN and the art world, visit the UNO Alumni website and read the magazine. Downloadable PDF Or Interactive flipbook..


They are the body art Sandro Botticelli. Hula Angelicos anatomy. Keith Herrings in human form.

For a thousand years, tattoo artists have been bringing art to life… with a living body. Their design was a way for artists and their subjects to express themselves in oil-based inks.

Today’s tattoo artists are redefining media, with a sharper focus than ever on art itself.

Designs that were ubiquitous 20 years ago – think tattoos on the hips and barbed wire around the biceps – have been dismissed.

Today, the body is adorned everywhere, from delicate lines and watercolors to graffiti and pop culture-inspired designs.

And increasingly, the industry is dominated by people with artistic training and educational credibility to accompany the technical expertise that tattoos require. This includes Maverick students and graduates.

Some artists have looked for their careers. Others got into the business.

Respect for business … and OG

For Eric Zuerlein, a 2008 art history graduate and owner of American Tattoo in Omaha, it was the right place, the right time.

“I fell into it for a while,” he says. “I came to get a tattoo, but I never got a tattoo and talked about getting a job.”

He has always been interested in tattoos as he watched them grow. However, it was not always posted at that time, and it was a bit taboo.

Today, as a 20-year business veteran, he sees more respect and feels far behind.

“We have taken the industry from the counterculture to the mainstream,” Zuerlein says.

Dave Koenig, tattoo artist and painter at Tenth Sanctum Tattoo in Omaha, has been in the industry for almost 20 years.

Art sparked his interest as a child. “A big fan of Indiana Jones,” he says, he always wanted to travel and experience different cultures.

At the UN, he studied anthropology, Native American studies and ethnography, and art. He evaluates his lessons with new images that inspire his work.

“My upbringing feels like it helped me see what I can’t see when other people go to other places. “

Some tattoo artists are inspired by OG, a very old OG.

“The personal style of tattoos I want to do is realism, but it’s very interesting how different styles have emerged over the course of history,” he continued with a double major in studio art. and art history. said Alexandria Barrett.

She is inspired by artists such as Da Vinci and Albrecht Durer, whom she calls “her idol”.

The people of Plattsmouth, who recently opened Inked & Spellbound in their hometown, are studying the work of these old masters and their skills.

“Anything I move to tattoo someone.”

Discipline and technology

The art of tattooing requires the same kind of discipline as any other art form. Artists continually evolve their level of expertise through practice.

“I still do art. Jaime Craig, owner of Rawhide Tattoo Studio in Omaha and an art graduate in 2008, believes tattooing has definitely increased the discipline for artists.

“You have to work on it a lot. You have to paint every day, which covers several types of art forms. Just because I have to do it, I seem to be doing more and becoming more productive. “

She says her time at the UN has helped her career in a number of ways.

“It helped me prepare as an artist, manage my time as an artist, set my own priorities and promote myself as an artist.”

She says technology has helped make the tattooing process easier.

A few years ago, she was drawing patterns on tracing paper.

“Then they invented the iPad Pro, which saved many trees,

I think, ”she laughs. “It also makes things a bit faster. “

Design apps like Craig to create mandala art save her a lot of time and free her up in a more enjoyable part of the job like going out for inspiration for plant and animal design. Make.

Internet influence

Other technologies are also having a significant impact on the industry.

“The internet has made a huge difference in our industry on many levels,” says Zuerlein. “Our clients are more or less educated, depending on where they get the information.

He says the web has opened the eyes of customers in different styles. Decades ago, people came to his store and chose a flash on the wall. Or one of the artists adjusts the design or draws something personalized.

Now he says people bring the particular style they want based on something they find online.

“It’s both good and bad. Many people see what we cannot really do because of the constant strain on our skin. “

Konig agrees.

“People ask for more interesting tattoos because they watch on TV what you can do with tattoos,” says König. “But people also edit things on TV, so I think, ‘Hey, I can get the whole sleeve in just two days. So you get ridiculous requests. “

Get great results

Converting an artistic vision into a whimsical canvas every now and then can be a difficult part of the craft as well.

Achieving great results is a collaboration between artists and clients, says Barrett.

“A lot of people don’t understand why they end up getting it wrong. Keeping your skin hydrated and hydrated is very important to people. It really makes a difference what happens to tattoos. . “

For Craig, the hardest part of crafting is the technical side, she says, and a lot of people don’t see or think too much.

“Knowing the tools you use is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to learn as an artist,” she says. “There are so many types and ways of doing it, it can be kind of overwhelming.

“And the skin is not always the most collaborative canvas. Until you do that, you can’t always predict what you will get.

She says the expansion of the switch from reel machines to rotary machines to transfer ink has made a difference.

“Rotary machines are more and more popular. It relieves a lot of pressure on the hands. It’s much easier to maintain the stamina to be able to work when your hands aren’t hurting.

Make a statement

One of the unexpected benefits of tattoos is that you see your art when you don’t expect it the most. For some, it can be like a traveling art exhibition of their work around the world.

“I ran into a customer while waiting in line at an airport in another country,” Zuerlein explains. “At other times I’ve seen someone get a tattoo and I’m like, ‘I tattooed this man.’

For Barrett, tattoos are an opportunity to help his clients make unique statements to them.

“Tattoos are much more personal for an individual than buying a painting on canvas or hanging on the wall,” she says.

“It’s a creative way for me as an artist, but it’s also a way for clients to express themselves and get beautiful work that they can carry. “

Are you planning to apply ink?

Want to get your first tattoo? First of all, consider the expert advice.

Demonstrate due diligence

Examine both the artists and their work to understand what your tattoo looks like. Don’t jump into a chair as soon as you find someone doing your favorite job. Then, “Schedule a meeting with them to see if your personality is working,” says Jaime Craig.

Shrink real estate

“It’s not an easy process and can be quite painful depending on where you put it on your body,” says Alexandria Barrett. “It’s a good idea to start small so you understand what a tattoo feels like and if your body can accept and process it.”

Be careful in your design choices

Yes, some people choose the design on a whim. But consider this a permanent decision, says Eric Zuerlein. “When it’s your first tattoo, you want to think about it. It’s for life.”

I think it’s classic

You don’t have to search Pinterest for tattoo ideas, says Dave Koenig. “Tattoos are as trendy as clothes are, so in many cases popular tattoos may not be that cool in the long run. “

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About Glenn Gosselin

Glenn Gosselin

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