Gemma Abbot, photography student and tattoo lover, wanted to tell you about her exciting new photography project… something she has recently launched with a particularly strong mission.
The Inked Project is a photographic project exploring tattooed culture through a series of portraits. The tattoo project began at the beginning of this year, when it became apparent to me that there is still a stigma against tattoos.
I am currently in my final year studying BA (Hons) Press and Editorial Photography at Falmouth University. I have always been a creative individual, always loved art and design subjects at school and then went on to study photography at college, which has got me to where I am today.
From a young age I have always been interested in tattoos and piercing and always said as a little girl, one day I will be covered in tattoos. Now here I am slowly working on covering my body to make it a living canvas.
I’ve always been witness to those comments, like “you will regret that when you are older”. This negative criticism I received made me question tattoo culture today. I began to read scholars’ articles on tattoos and it was clear many writers in the past have associated people with tattoos with personal disorders and being ‘deviant’.
The aim of The Inked Project is to allow individuals to express themselves and tell their stories about why they get tattooed. Whether they have deep meanings behind their work, just love the art, get tattooed to remember a loved one, make spontaneous drunken tattoo decisions, or whatever… tattoos are unique to everyone and it is important to understand that tattoos do not make someone act in a negative way.
The aim of the project is purely to shift the negative perception on tattoos and to shine a light on the importance of tattoos as an art. They should be viewed like a painting or photograph in a gallery. It is important for the people behind the ink to have a voice instead of being judged by the way they look. Overall, the project aims to celebrate tattooed diversity.
Those involved in the project are also interviewed which allows the audience to build a connection with the person and the ink on their body. It is an amazing feeling being able to work with incredible people and its great to have the interest in tattoos like I do because it allows me as the photographer to connect with the model.
A very talented tattoo artist Amy Glanville, at Deadwood Tattoo Company, Plymouth, has done most of the work I currently have on my body. One of my most favourite pieces has got to be my Polaroid camera; you can’t be a photographer and have an interest in tattoos without getting a camera tattoo, can you?!
I am currently working on traditional leg sleeves that I am very excited to get finished. I also have a black-work half-sleeve by Amy Glanville. She is a great artist and is talented in many styles. I really can’t wait to get more done and my dream will come true that I had as a little girl!
I recently visited the tattoo exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall. If you haven’t been already, I suggest you do! It showcases the work of leading tattoo artists and tells the story of tattooing through time. The outstanding 100 Hands installation curated by Alice Snape showcases the work on 100 leading contemporary tattoo artists today. It’s outstanding – by far, one of the best exhibitions I have visited to date.
The plans for this project in the future are to keep building an audience and keep working with fantastic people. Eventually, I hope to produce a photographic book or even put on an exhibition, who knows. It’s only early days of the project so it is exciting to see where it will go in the future.
To find out more about being involved with the project email firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be great to take this project further afield and work with tattooed models from around the world.
Follow The Inked Project on Instagram to keep up-to-date with other future news and opportunities.
Words and Photos: Gemma Abbot / The Inked Project