The craft of Tattoo and Body Painting
Part 2
part 1
The art of Mehndi
• Mehndi is the ancient art of using a pigment
called Henna to temporarily stain the skin
(creating a temporary tattoo).
• It is an art form that is found in parts of
northern Africa, parts of northern Asia and
primarily in India. It is considered a
“Mediterranean” art form.
Henna powder is mixed into a paste and painted on
the body. The longer the paste remains on the skin,
the darker the resulting mark.
!! SAFETY !!
Please be advised!
Henna is brown or green.
It DOES NOT come in assorted colors.
Colored henna (red, blue etc.) comes from very caustic chemicals that have
been added to the henna.
These chemicals have been know to cause
permanent scarring and in some cases liver damage
and other organ failure.
This example shows the paste being removed from the
body, and the resulting orange stain (which will darken
with time).
While Mehndi is used as a
general body decoration, it is
primarily used for special
Specifically for weddings
(and is used on both men and
Indian bridal couples hand design.
North African design is based on floral motifs, and
very geometric and edgy in nature.
Emphasis is placed on solid areas and border design.
Design based on Australian Aboriginal art.
Middle Eastern
design is typically
open, sparse and
lacy. It is also often
based on floral
design motifs.
The Middle Eastern style is
primarily used to decorate and
emphasize the length and
elegance of hands and feet.
Design work from India
and Pakistan is much
more detailed and highly
The work is based on
paisley designs, swirls
and teardrop type shapes.
This style focuses on the
hands, but also includes
the feet.
Indonesian design appears to
have the complex and
intricate design motifs of
their Indian counterparts, but
are more open and involve
the use of more negative
These designs may also be
more organic in nature.
Celtic torc motif.
Skin Art
part 3
What is “Tribal Style” ?
• Tribal Style is actually a style of imagery
based on the artwork of “primitive” or
aboriginal cultures.
• The style is based on the work of several
main cultures, that include…
– Pacific Island culture
– Native North American
– Celtic
• Australian Aboriginal
• Asian (Japanese and Chinese letterforms)
Tribal style uses the design quality of the native
tattoo as a basis for inspiration. Artists look at
things like line quality, shape, use of solid areas
and the use of motifs or symbols.
Tribal style is not only based on the look and
aesthetic of the primitive tattoo, but on placement on
the body and size (area covered) as well.
some contemporary tribal...
Traditional Celtic design motif.
Celtic motif combined with contemporary
“Barbs” or “thorns” are based on Polynesian geometric motifs.
Contemporary tribal based on primitive design
“Animal Style”is a derivative of Tribal which uses
animal forms and patterns to create the subject
matter for the design.
Japanese style crane design
Northwest coast design.
The Japanese form of tattoo (Irezume).
Japan has one of the oldest
traditions of tattoo (dating to 10,00
BC) and is considered one of the
most important culture in the world
to tattoo as an art form.
It was the Edo period that
Japanese decorative tattooing
began to develop into the
advanced art form it is known as
The inspiration for tattoo was the
art of woodblock printing and
the release of the popular
Chinese novel Suikoden,
illustrated with lavish woodblock
prints showing men in heroic
with their bodies decorated with
dragons and other mythical
beasts, flowers, ferocious tigers
and religious images.
The novel was an immediate success, and
demand for the type of tattoos seen in its
illustrations was simultaneous.
Woodblock artists began
They used many of the same
tools for imprinting designs
in human flesh…
as they did to create their
woodblock prints, including
chisels, and gouges.
Most importantly, they used
their unique ink known as
Nara ink, or Nara black, the
ink that famously turns bluegreen under the skin.
This is where the massive
areas of green seen in
traditional Japanese tattoo
come from.
There is much debate over who wore these elaborate tattoos.
Some scholars say that it was the lower classes who wore -- and flaunted -- such tattoos.
Others claim that wealthy merchants, who were barred by law from flaunting their wealth,
wore expensive irezumi under their clothes.
It is known for certain that irezumi (or the full body suit) became associated with firemen,
(considered the bravest of the brave) who wore them as a form of spiritual protection.
UV tattoo ink (glows under black light)
UV tattoo ink (glows under black light)
The design problem
• 10 sketches - different ideas or variations on a
single theme.
– Can design for different body areas.
• 5 created in the Tribal style - using a culture of
your choice as inspiration, 5 open design.
• Finished product to be - a Mehndi design on
someone (does not need to be you).
– Grade will be on design and finished product.
• Design for anywhere on the body - final,
however must be in an area not commonly
covered by clothes (socially accessible).
Tribal style is...
• The use of large solid areas.
• Simplified/stylized and very geometric
• Use of sharp edges and points (thorns).
• Limited use of color (esp. blue and black).
• The placement of the design on the body.
• The overall size of the mark.
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