Monday, May 3, 2010

Tattoosday Goes to Hawai'i: Tricia Allen's The Polynesian Tattoo Today

This is the first of many posts to follow from my recent trip to the beautiful state of Hawai'i....

On Saturday, April 24, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting a tattoo artist and writer who I have admired for quite some time.

I previously spoke about Tricia Allen when I looked at her book, Tattoo Traditions of Hawaii.

Now, with her new book freshly published, I not only got to have my copy signed, but I was fortunate enough to be there for the tattoo contest that followed.

The competition was divided up into four categories (Traditional Polynesian, Tribal, Non- Polynesian and Color). The whole event was pretty laid back, as far as tattoo contests go. In fact, there was a lot of work that was not entered among the audience that could have been in the money, so to speak.

With a heavy focus on the Polynesian style, the two entrants in the color category meant my tiger could have won third prize, at least, had I been astute (and courageous) enough to enter.

In the Traditional Polynesian category, I was particularly fond of Tino Hoffman's thigh piece (pictured, left) with a honu (sea turtle) at the center. Although one could also not help buy be impressed by Robert Medeiros (right), whose canvas merited him top honors in the Tribal category.

A whole slew of photos from the event can be seen here in one of the Facebook albums on the 808Ink fanpage. The magazine premieres next month as a quarterly publication dedicated to tattoos in and around Hawai'i.

It was clear to me that one of the many talents present was the namesake of Tattoos by Bong. I even had a chance to meet Bong, who was responsible for the incredible art on Mr. Medieros.

Having just flown in earlier that day from New York, I most likely would have been a little more hyper-involved with the post-contest mix of book signing (even the subjects featured in Ms. Allen's book were signing the pages on which they appeared) and tattoo admiration among the dozens of contestants and throngs of tattoo fans. But, as 10:00 PM approached, my internal clock was still screaming at me from the Eastern Time Zone yelling "4AM! 4AM!". So i had to bow out a little earlier than I would have liked to.

I spent just under five days on Oahu, and was amazed by the amount of tattooed folk I spotted, much more than I remember seeing just a few years earlier. The skyrocketing popularity of tattooing on the mainland is certainly mirrored in the fiftieth state and amplified, it is safe to say, by the deep roots of tattooing in Polynesian culture and history.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the beautiful, glossy pages of Tricia Allen's new book, which receives a ringing endorsement from us here at Tattoosday.

The book is no tiny effort. At 285 pages, it features hundreds of full-page color photos of various styles of Polynesian tattoos, not just from Hawai'i, but from all around the South Pacific. In addition, many of the artists who created the work are profiled in the back section of the book.

I cannot help but enthusiastically recommend the book to all. It certainly made my flight back to the East Coast a lot more enjoyable. My biggest regret was not being in Hawai'i long enough to be able to have Ms. Allen tattoo me, an activity at the top of my to-do list in the future.

One more ringing endorsement comes from Ed Hardy: “This collection of amazing photos attests to the high level of artistic achievement and technical ability of the Polynesian people today, as well as non-islanders who have been heavily influenced by the art of the Pacific.”

Buy your copy from Tricia's website directly here and while visiting the site, explore the galleries, sign up for her newsletter, and check out her schedule to see when and where she will be tattooing and/or signing copies of her book in the future.

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