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“Mash-ups” in Art and Tattooing

By: Ken Sprague

In today’s popular culture, many different subjects, characters, settings and ‘tropes’ can reach iconic status with their respective fans. Cinema, publishing, clothing, sports, even pets can have tremendous influence and impact on the likes and dislikes of the people who enjoy them.

Mash-ups are the integration of two or more separate franchises, ideas, or ‘tropes’ into a single work of expression; be it artistic or otherwise. This can open up many interesting possibilities for an artist or film-maker (see: Alien Vs. Predator, or Freddy Vs. Jason, for example) and provide even more outlet and well-rounded display of interest and passion in art and creativity.

As a tattoo artist, it can present many interesting challenges, as well as the opportunity to create dynamic and unique tattoos for an ever-evolving clientele that is increasingly exposed to multiple tropes from numerous styles, cultures, countries and mediums in this digital information age. We, as tattoo artists, have a responsibility to accurately integrate and portray the differing styles and approaches to these tropes for our clients in a thoughtful and artfully sound way.

Reference studies become crucial, and digital manipulation of source material can become the linch-pin that paves the road to a successful mash-up. Blending film and comic tropes? How about music and sculpture? Clothing and dog breeds? The possibilities become endless, as are the methods the artist may employ to create that perfect approach.

As clients, it is important to explain to your artist how you would like your mash-up to be rendered, ultimately. As artists, we have a solemn responsibility to ensure we ask the vital questions to ensure the perfect outcome for our clients. Mash-ups bring clients and artists together in a team effort toward the perfect expression of art, and the perfect outcome in the long run.

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