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The Human Artist

A tattoo piece done by Brockton Fowler. Photo credit: Alea Schmidt

An avid culture that has immersed itself amidst the 21st century is that of tattoos. From tribal pieces and memorial portraits to tramp stamps, tattoos are becoming more and more a staple in the minds of the youth. However, the youth are so caught up in the style choices of tattooing, many are unaware of the origin of these pieces of art.

The front room of the Parabrahma Tattoo studio with a glimpse into Brockton’s room. Photo credit: Alea Schmidt

Brockton Fowler, co-owner and artist at Parabrahma Tattoos, had a lot to say about where tattoos come from. “Tattooing itself has all its ties back to shamanism… they were always done by a holy person, because they looked at it as a power thing, sigilism.” Tattoos derive from a very ancient time that even predates language as a whole.

Fowler continued saying that these tattoos were used for things on a much more widespread level. “Spells that connected people, provided power, and even were believed to heal people. These [tattoos] were given to you, you didn’t design one or create one, the tattooer gave you one.”

The aftermath of a tattoo session in the Parabrahma Tattoo studio. Photo credit: Alea Schmidt

As a population, custom tattoos are a much more common practice now. Entering the studio, presenting your ideas, and then receiving a tattoo that you and the artist put together is the staple for getting a tattoo in today’s world.

However there is something special about the tattoo industry and the culture that surrounds it. The connection that develops between an artist and the recipient is something that is unique to it’s own.

Fowler; said, “even when people get those “basic” tattoos. There is something about the exposure. It is a gateway to something much bigger and they don’t even know it yet.”

Continuing, “the shop and its name, Parabrahma, is the ultimate enlightenment or ultimate goal. The source of ultimate potential, and that’s how a tattoo should be. We should generate an ultimate mark of creative potential and attain that goal. The artists and the recipient have to let go of all this emotion and just create.”

A tattoo piece done by Brockton Fowler. Photo credit: Alea Schmidt
A tattoo piece done by Brockton Fowler. Photo credit: Alea Schmidt

Spirituality, human connection and mutual respect are all aspects that Fowler says contribute to the tattoo culture even in the days before language. The idea of having something so permanent and everlasting, you have to have something behind it, and maybe you don’t know what that is at that exact moment; but at some point you will.

As for the physical side of tattoos, Fowler stated, “people get tattoos in hopes to get to the person they want to be. Have their spiritual self match their physical appearance. Deep down they believe that this addition to their body is what was meant to be and it shows in people.”

Body modification as a spiritual practice is what people do in hopes to reach the self that is on the inside. People want to be able to express their mentality through physical means and tattoos have always been a outlet to do that.

Brockton Fowler in the midst of tattooing. Photo credit: Alea Schmidt
Brockton Fowler in the midst of tattooing. Photo credit: Alea Schmidt

Tattoo artists, as Fowler says, are people who live in a state of half in reality and half out. “I see people come in every day and ask me to put these pieces on them and create these works of art, but I as a person have tattoos on my neck, my face and that is something that people don’t quite understand. Even in the old days, the shamans were scary dudes with tattoos everywhere and it’s not that much different now.”

Once you peel back that outer layer of the eerie taboo, you get to the person that feels they are where they need to be. Doing the things they need to do. That’s what it means to be involved in the multifaceted world of tattoo culture.

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  • K

    Katie MitchellApr 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I love this piece! The background behind tattoos is something so interesting, especially with how popular getting tattooed is currently. I wish this was better known!