After reading Lars Krutak's new book on Tattooing of Native North Americans I began reflecting on my own work and inspirations from the last couple of months in the Haida style. "Haida" is the common term given by tattooists to the Native American Tribes of Canada's North West Coast which also include the Tsimshian, Tlingit and Kwagiutl, amongst others.
Traditionally these designs would be rendered in solid black (which I can do) but I've been enjoying working on them with solid lines and dot shading using only hand tools. I tend to work all of the shading off of a line which disperses into dots sometimes to be gathered again at another solid area. While most Haida has a "form line" which connects and encloses the entire design, my forms don't always connect but are rather placed together like the Polynesian styles... my friend Jean Michel Manutea put it quite eloquently saying that, " your (my) form line is the negative space" :-)
Unfortunately Lars sold out of all of his books at his lecture so I had to wait until we were at the Florence Convention before I could get one. Lars' work has been instumental in inspiring several tattoo revivals going on at the moment. The power of these books cannot be underestimated as Lars has not only reintroduced us to the tattoo traditions of these cultures but has also used his influence to promote some of the new artists working in these styles. Since knowing Lars I've had many more people wanting Haida designs and Inuit sewing from me which intern has inspired more people after seeing the results
A couple pages from the North West Coast chapter showing a water colour of a Haida tattoo cerimony painted by Swan. On the following page are a set of Haida tattooing tools discovered at the Smithsonian Institute by Lars Krutak and originally gathered by Swan.
The thing I love about these tools are that they are almost identical to the type of tools I work with even though they were first discovered in the Smithsonian archieves years after I was hand tattooing
A gift sent from my friend and guest artist Jean Michel Manutea. An excellent book which breaks down the North West Coast style into the primary forms used to create the designs as well as the symbolism in the depiction of the creatures
Jean Michel specializes in Polynesian and Haida designs and I've even had him tattoo my ribs with a Haida raven
Dmitry Babakhin is a frequent guest at Skin&Bone. Although Dmitry specializes in Polynesian/Marquasian designs he also has a love of the North West Coast and Arctic styles. Dmitry is an avid collector of Polynesian art and books and often runs across other items which he shares with me. Dmitry resently bought a collection of Polynesian carvings in France and amongst these was a Tlingit necklace depicting a whale. It is carved out of whale tooth with mother of pearl eyes and was given to me as a gift when last he visited :-)
Haida Thunderbird piece continues on René, a Danish fireman... just the eyes and shoulder joints left.
Start of Sisiutl on Peter. A mythical sea serpent with two heads which will wrap around the arm and end in an identical head.
I wasn't planning on attending the Berlin Convention this year... however when I was contacted by a German client about getting a Haida piece over his shoulder blades I couldn't say No. We booked him in for all three days . Dozens of hours spent e-mailing, drawing, measuring and making stencils just so that everything went smoothly in the convention setting.
HE NEVER SHOWED UP!!! and doesn't answer his mails.
Now I have this beautiful Eagle design looking for a home