You might be familiar with the dark subtle humor and spidery sketches of David Shigley, but are you familiar with his tattoos? The David Shigley ‘tattoo trend’ started when some of his fans sent Shrigley photos of his artwork tattooed onto their skin. After posting the photos, Shrigley commented, “people kind-of assumed that I wanted to design tattoos, which really wasn’t the case— but you know, I’m kind-of an obliging person and I like to help people if I can.”
The wave of interest was strong enough that Shrigley decided to set up temporary tattoo parlor events, first in London (2010), then in Liverpool (2011). The sessions were compared to therapy. Shrigley would ask the sitters to talk about themselves and then he would make a pen drawing on their flesh based on what they said. The sitter then decides if he/she wants the image translated into a real tattoo. One of his tattoos was the word mammal, in another he draws a leg on the subject’s leg.
Like all Shrigley’s art, the tattoos are brilliant in their own understated way. I’m fond of these simple, fragile, subversive images that become little surprises waiting to be discovered across the flesh.
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Author: Laura Smith