Michael Gonzalez

Ink Experience: What it Means to be Human

Hannya Samurai
Acrylic on Canvas, 8″ X 10″
Every Man is the Same: Portrait of Mick Jagger
Pencil on Paper, 11″ X 14″
Sharpie on Paper, 11″ X 17″
Acrylic on Canvas, 8″ X 10″
Colored Pencil on Paper, 14″ X 17″

Artist Statement

I focus on an art style that goes back as far as 10,000 BCE and spans across various ancient cul-tures. This art style is tattoo. Included are two canvasses, two 14 x 17 drawings, and an 18 x 20 drawing. These pieces have very different themes and art styles, however carry the same motif. This motif being the human experience through tattoo art and art in general. The First piece, the Neo Traditional cowboy piece entitled “Say your prayers” has red and baby blue overtones to represent the contrast and yin yang balance that humans need to maintain through their life; love and fury. The cowboy is pointing at us to reflect back to the looker and ask us: “What are we do-ing here?” A simple question, but one that has plagued philosophers since ancient Greece, when they would tattoo prisoners and slaves to mark them as state property. The Other piece, entitled “Hannya Samurai” is a Japanese traditional Hannya mask that I gave a twist to. In my piece, the mask is attached to a Shunga, or horror art, style samurai. Japanese traditional art is beautiful, unique, and always signifying the motifs of strength, desire, and the ability to overcome. Japa-nese Traditional intrigues me because Japan has some of the best if not the best tattoo art on Earth, while being a very anti tattoo society. Tattoos in Japan signify gang ties or criminal pasts, so tattoos are very frowned upon although beautiful and intriguing. The next piece is a portrait of one of my favorite rockstars, Mick Jagger. This piece, entitled Every man is the Same, features the original Rolling Stones logo designed by (then college student) John Pasche. Every man is the same works well for two reasons: It is the opening line to their song “Tops” on the album “Tattoo You”, and it brings us back around to the motif of the human experience. In ways, we really are all the same. We are human beings, with feelings, emotions, creativity, and smarts. The Next piece, Called “Butterfly”, features the quote “Butterflies can’t see how beautiful their wings are, but everyone else can”. This piece features another common tattoo drawing, butterflies and fea-tures the butterfly and a human hand to give us insight as to how we are connected to nature, and how we are like butterflies in the fact that we cannot see our true beauty, until everyone else does for us. The last piece, amply titled “American Traditional Panther”, gives us a Bert Grimm style American traditional panther in the pounce position, ready to strike. This represents the massive fury and control that humanity has, and although we can be beautiful and majestic, like panthers, we can also cause death and destruction, again like panthers. These pieces signify what it means to me to be a human, and working on these pieces have made me realize more my place as a human being, as a Mexican man, and an aspiring tattoo artist.

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