Tag Archives: needles and pins

Meet the Tattoo Collective That Prioritizes Pain Over Aesthetics

Tattoos hurt, but for most people, the pain is just a means to an end. And tattoo artists are usually mindful of their client's pain threshold, catering for breaks and mitigating any unnecessary brutality. It's abnormal to restrain people while they're getting tattooed, or for them to bolt upright in agony to escape the needle's unrelenting penetrations. Nor is it very common to see sadistic mirth occupying the faces of multiple tattoo artists as they inflict the unnaturally long, thick, shallow lines seemingly without pause.

Enter Brutal Black. It's the tattoo project where mandalas come to die, where your neo-traditional Japanese tribal tattoo is shown to be nothing more than a cute little fashion statement. Valerio Cancellier, Cammy Stewart, and Phillip "3Kreuze," the three tattoo artists behind the collaborative project, want to bring back some ritual and rebirth to tattooing. What they've come up with is one of the most brutal experiences one can imagine; they proudly claim it will "ruin your life."

I contacted them to learn more about why the hell anyone would do this.

VICE: How is Brutal Black different to a normal tattoo session?
Cammy Stewart: With my normal work, what's most important is the end result. But this is a completely different thing for me. I'm not saying this type of tattooing is for everyone, but this concept tears apart what I feel tattooing has become: plastic, soulless, and broken down by fashion, the media, and popular culture. To me, this is a big fuck you to what most people believe tattooing to now be.
Valerio Cancellier: Today, the tattoo world is the continued research of an exceptional artisanal product, which is very often referred to as 'art'—rejecting the ritual aspect. Brutal Black Project doesn't want to settle for compromises. Its fundamental element is experiencing the ritual.
Phillip 3Kreuze: In my everyday tattoo work, I'm still brutal, rough, and hard, and I fill huge skin in the shortest time, but I pay more attention to the customer and to his body. In this project, there's no compassion, no scruples, no sense of empathy—it was a little strange to behave like that. But it's fucking sick to kill these people during the session. Seeing the pain in their eyes, the shaking from their bodies and the mess. It makes me proud that I'm reaching goals together with my clients. It doesn't mean a full sleeve or big piece; it just means to break one's own will and to go to its outermost. When you have problems walking after the session, you have done it right. Pain is perishable, and pride remains eternal!

So how did this all start?
Stewart: I met Valerio online via Facebook. He had tattooed someone's face. I liked the tattoo and was interested in talking with him. After a few emails, we decided we would work together on a large scale blackwork project in Italy. It went well, and we got along, and our tattooing styles seemed to complement each other, so we continued to work together as often as time allowed, usually twice a year. We have made three projects together so far. The last project was in Germany, which is when Phillip joined; however, I ended up not being able to make it due to problems with flights.
3Kreuze: There were problems for Cammy upon his entry from Scotland, thanks to his appearance and a few tattooed swastikas, so the police had a few extra questions, making him miss his plane. So the whole project had to take place under new conditions. It was already several months in the planning, and our customer, a good friend of mine, had declared himself ready. Frankie knew that something very primitive and brutal was about to come to him. Tattooing totaled about five hours over two days, as fast as possible, but with breaks for puking and crying.

At what point did you realize the Brutal Black project was more than an aesthetic thing?
StewartThings started to change in my head when I saw the reactions of the clients during the tattooing process. The project is not always about the outcome; it's about the process. Taking things back to the primitive, the rite of passage. Pushing the limits of your inner self. How much do you want something? Can you see it through to the end? The marks left from the tattoo are only a reminder of what you learned about yourself during the process. To me, the marks left in skin are less important than the marks left in your mind.

Cancellier: Nothing was defined, nothing was planned, nothing was forced. It wasn't still clear what it was going to become, but an awareness was born. Brutal Black recalls you to the primitive brutality that was screwed up by modernity. There are lots of other violent tribal rituals that could also be described as survival trials. Although the project is not a remembrance of tribal rituals, its energy has the same kind of origins.

What do you think motivates someone to be tattooed like this?
Stewart: I can only speak for myself here, as everyone I imagine has their own motivations for being part of this. Basically, I enjoy the energy shared with both the clients and tattoo artist; it's really intense for everyone but in a good way. It's sometimes good to push yourself a little further than you think you can go, both as an artist and in regards to the endurance and determination of the client. There is no end goal. Life is a series of events, and this is just one of them. Tattooing can help you find your roots and learn that pain, like pleasure, can be processed in any way you wish. It's nothing more than an intense moment in a life mostly filled with feelings that can be easily forgotten. Stripped back to the tribal, you were once a warrior. Remember it. It's easy to become a drone in the bland world we're forced to exist in.
Cancellier: Everybody is free to live the experience in their own way. It could also be a trial for ourselves or against ourselves. It may be difficult to believe, but there's no negativity in it—no hate, no sadism. Anyway, I'm just the vehicle, the executioner, the butcher. The body can bear this kind of ritual, but it is necessary to have a very strong mind.

When's the next Brutal Black project?
3Kreuze: The end of the year in Italy, which will make our two-day meeting with Frankie look like child's play. Let's hope no one dies!

Follow Fareed Kaviani on Twitter.

Meet the Brits Who Want to Have Their Tongues Split

On a new episode of NEEDLES & PINS, VICELAND's show dedicated to the art of tattoos and body modification, our host Grace Neutral heads to the UK to check out the country's tribal and tongue-splitting scenes. Plus, she talks shop with local artists and examines what it means to rebel in an age when tattoos and body mods are a dime a dozen.

NEEDLES & PINS airs Tuesday at 10 PM on VICELAND.

Want to know if you get VICELAND? Head here to find out how to tune in.

Inside the World of Japan’s Erotic and Illegal Tattoos

On an all new episode of NEEDLES & PINS, host Grace Neutral heads to Japan, a country with one of the richest histories of tattooing in the world, where she discovers how it continues to struggle with its relationship to the art form.

NEEDLES & PINS airs Tuesdays at 10 PM on VICELAND

Want to know if you get VICELAND? Head here to find out how to tune in.

Exploring New Zealand’s Ancient Tattoo Culture

On an all new episode of NEEDLES & PINS, host Grace Neutral heads to New Zealand during the resurgence of the art of Māori tā moko tattooing. She joins two distant cousins as they embark on an epic journey to claim their tā moko.

NEEDLES & PINS airs Tuesdays at 10 PM on VICELAND.

Want to know if you get VICELAND? Head here to find out how to tune in.

Inside LA’s History of Chicano-Style Tattoos

On an all new episode of NEEDLES & PINSVICELAND's series following Grace Neutral as she explores the journey of tattoo art from subculture to global phenomenon—we head to LA to explore the history of Chicano-style tattoos, learning how they evolved from the prison cells and gang culture of LA to the wider world.

NEEDLES & PINS airs Tuesdays at 10 PM on VICELAND.

Want to know if you get VICELAND? Head here to find out how to tune in.

Randy Marsh and a Crying Drake: People Talk About Their Most Ridiculous Tattoos

(All photos: Chris Bethell)

This article originally appeared on VICE UK

The good thing about tattoos is that you get to keep them forever. They're not like gloves – you're never going to lose one and have to buy a whole new set. Once they're there, they're there to stay. Of course, this also means that you have decades for what seemed like a good idea at the time to morph into what now seems like an absolutely terrible idea. Like getting "SIT HERE" tattooed on your upper lip, or a tribal tattoo literally anywhere on your body.

Because Needles & Pins – a new Grace Neutral-hosted show about body modification – premieres on VICELAND in the UK this week, we thought we'd go along to the Tattoo Collective convention at the Truman Brewery, east London this weekend to ask people about their most ridiculous tattoos.

Mark, 39

VICE: What's your tattoo?
Mark: The tattoo is a Friday the 13th owl, which I got for £50. The guy stuck it on me the wrong way around and tattooed it back to front. I didn't realise until I looked into the mirror six months later.

When did you get it?
About five or six years ago.

Is there any meaning behind the owl?
It's just off one of those Friday the 13th flash sheets. So it's got the number 13 written in the owl, but it's the wrong way around.

Max, 28

What's the tattoo?
Max: I've got "FUCK LIFE" tattooed on my arm.

Okay, and why did you get that?
I don't know, I just kind of hated life at the time. I was pretty heavily into drugs, kind of miserable, kind of on a downer, got "FUCK LIFE" tattooed on me. And then a little while later I met my lovely girlfriend, sorted myself out, and now I don't really hate life any more. Life's pretty good.

Any regrets about it?
I don't know. I don't really regret getting it, because at the time I did hate life. I maybe regret getting it on my arm because it's so visible there, but it's black on black so you can't really see it.
Max's girlfriend, Penelope: I guess it's a reminder of how times have changed. Things are better now.
Max: Yeah, so it's still got a certain charm to it.

Collette, 21

What's the tattoo?
Colette: 30 Seconds to Mars – the band with Jared Leto in. They have these four symbols. The first is meant to be a three and a zero put together. The second symbol is meant to be a clock going backwards. The third symbol – the gaps in it mean two. The last one is Mars with its moons. I've been a fan of them since I was 12, and I saw a girl on Facebook put up that she had a tattoo gun and asked if anyone wanted tattoos doing. I thought 'fuck it' and went to get a tattoo from her. Unfortunately it's done really badly. I hate Jared Leto, but I still like the band. If the placement was fine I'd get it done over, but the placement is terrible, so I'll probably get it covered up.

Hannah, 25

What's the tattoo?
Hannah: Peanut butter and jelly on my leg. I have no idea why I got it.

What was going through your mind at the time?
You know what? It was just a really random, spur of the moment kind of thing. I don't even like toast. That's the best thing about it. I don't even like peanut butter and I don't like jelly. I just thought it was funny.

Any regrets?
No. The sillier the better.

Sophie, 27

What's your most ridiculous tattoo?
Sophie: It's my Randy Marsh tattoo. My friend and I both have his face from the South Park episode "Crème Fraîche".

We love Randy Marsh. We just love him.

How long ago did you get it?
About three years ago.

Any regrets?
Absolutely not. He's my favourite tattoo.

Natalie, 25

What's the tattoo?
Natalie: It's the signature of the Cigarette Smoking Man from the X Files.

How did this come about?
I met him at Comic Con. He was quite frightened because he's quite old. He had a lovely young 20-year-old Polish wife. He signed my ankle and I ran straight to a tattooist to get it permanently on me.

What do your friends think of it?
Everyone thinks it's silly, but I love the Cigarette Smoking Man so much. I have a doll of him, I have a signed autograph, I have lots of X Files memorabilia and I think it's great! No regrets.

Sam, 27

So what's your tattoo?
Sam: It's Drake crying. Yeah.

And why did you get Drake crying permanently etched into your skin?
Because it was drawn up in the tattoo shop and I thought it was pretty funny.

How long ago did you get it?
Last year, at the Brighton tattoo convention. I just saw it in the flash book and thought I needed it.

Do you reckon Drake would like it?
Yeah, I reckon so. Why not?

Luke, 28

What's the tattoo?
Luke: It's a chicken soup. Noodle flavour, I think. I don't know.

And does it mean anything?
No, not really – it was just a spur of the moment convention tattoo.

How long have you had it?
Two to three years now.

Any regrets?
Yeah, I hate it. I want it blacked out.

Thanks, Luke.

'Needles & Pins' airs on VICELAND UK, Sky channel 153, every Wednesday at 10PM, from the 22nd of February. Watch the trailer here.


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