Skin & Bone is a combination gallery and tattoo studio. The gallery will exhibit art and ethnographic handicrafts related to tattooing, while the studio will have Colin Dale tattooing alongside various guest artists throughout the year. Through his years of travelling and tattooing around the world Colin has had the pleasure to meet and work alongside a wide range of tattoo artists and experts working in ethnographic and other specialized styles. Amongst these friends, we have hand-tattooists from Borneo, Polynesia and Japan as well as some of the world's leading artists in Blackwork and Dotwork coming to visit. Check the homepage to see some of the work

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Copycats: Part 2, Art imitates Life

Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life
- Oscar Wilde

Life doesn't imitate Art... it imitates Bad Television
- Woody Allen

Working with Cultural tattooing I'm actually more of a believer in Art Imitating Life as all the forms we use in Cultural tattooing are derived from forms in nature... whether the spirals of a Koru, the triangles of Shark's teeth or the scales of a Serpent. However art does seem to have an influence on popular culture and in this way our own lives through fashion and media. An original idea can become popular and then in turn watered down through excessive copies in all aspects of our existance... however this means little to the Koru, Shark and Serpent ;-)

Generally Deviant Art has become a forum for people to steal other peoples art and post it as their own :-) However I really like this piece... not only is it technically well done I would consider it almost a collage, taking reference from many different sources and combining them into a beautiful tribute to the character of Rollo on the Vikings series.

The source of the tattoo is not historical, but rather inspired by a freehand piece I did on Jan Ronald from Holland.
Art Imitates Life

The character of Rollo has tattoos painted on his shoulders and chest representing the two Nordic wolves Sköl & Hati who chase the Sun & Moon around the Earth. Occasionally they come close to succeeding as seen by solar and lunar eclipses.

This design was actually inspired by a T-shirt design by Nordic silversmith Alban Depper 
Life Imitates Art

And Art Imitates Life...
A copy of one of my tattoos done as a belt pouch
Unfortunately the design was taken before the piece was completed (which continues onto the chest) so the heads and tails of these dragons and serpents don't make much sense :-(

Another belt pouch made by the same craftsman using my Vitruvian Thor design as inspiration
I originally made this design for the Florence Tattoo Convention poster in 2015 and it was used for the convention T-shirts and Trophies as well.

The characters of Floki and Ragnar showing Floki's new head tattoo with a row of runes

I did this piece back in April 2013 at the Frankfurt Tattoo Convention... coincidence?

A hand embroidered cloak done as an award for a Medieval Tournament

The original design on Alex Cramariuc of ACA Kreations
including the Midgaards Serpent biting it's own tail in the branches, while Nidhögg is gnawing at the roots below

While the unders and overs on this knotwork are cringeworthy what really caught my attention was the Dragon head

Here is Sonny...
a monster of a man with his freehand Rune Dragons designed by me many years ago. 
You can see on his right chest where the inspiration for the axehead is derived.

Another monster of a man... the character of Leif from the Vikings series who was eventually sacrificed to the Gods.
The Midgaards Serpent in the middle of the chest is based on one of my designs and is surrounded by various other designs both historical and contemporary.
I applaude the fact that the Vikings series is putting such emphasis on the tattooing of the Vikings as described by Ibn Fadlan. I also realize that it is difficult to trace every source on the internet (especially by people outside the tattoo community) but it would be nice to get credit when designs are used.
However it is also a bit of an honour to have my work mistaken for historical sources. Due to the poularity of the Vikings series we are also seeing alot more interest in Nordic designs as tattoos that we have been spending so many years trying to promote.

Another piece from Deviant Art... a copy of the same freehand dragon.
The artist was offering this for sale as a tattoo design :-( So now there are dozens of people going around with copies of an original piece while another person makes the money :-(

A stylized Raven on the side of Ragnar's head was eventually covered by a mishmash of unrecognizable scribbles in later episodes...

The original idea however has been the inspiration for many Viking style head tattoos.
Here is a hand tattoo I did on a Rus Viking in St. Petersburg several years ago 
with a Raven of my own design...
And so Art Imitates Life again :-)

Here is a post end carved with a dragon's head of my design... I actually was asked by Asger for permission to use one of the designs, but instead I drew him an original with a great result. 
I've been seeing alot more of my work showing up on the Viking markets the last several years as leatherwork, woodwork and embroidery. Sometimes people know the source and other times not. If it is a one off design for their own personal use I have no problem with this. I think it is flattering that people like my work and I feel that I have in some way made a mark on modern Viking culture. However I would take offence if someone were to get a copy of one of my tattoo designs or start mass producing my designs without consent or credit given.


  1. Last year a man came in requesting the TV Rollo arm piece as a tattoo, and as you will recall you sent me the tshirt to show him where the original design came from. He argued with me and simply could NOT understand that it was not a historical design, he was just SURE that the tshirt pattern must have been from the same ancient source. He never did come back for the tattoo, but it taught me how powerful the influence of media is on the belief systems of people. "It must be true, I saw it on TV." So now the show "Vikings" gives you lots of enthusiastic clients, let's wish for me they do one on the Celts and Picts next and increase my income!
    Pat Fish

  2. Hahaha... Remember it well Pat. Sheeple! Alban's pieces are much more autentic to the style than mine so this is understandible :-)

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