The Unique Tattoo Art of Jessica Harrison

Jessica Harrison

Artists and tattoo artists, there’s not that much dividing them except for the medium that they choose. Many tattoo artists spend hours on their artwork, display it in galleries, and win artistic awards, yet few artists embrace tattoo artists as being equals. So what happens when it goes the other way? When an artist goes tattoo? Jessica Harrison is such a rebel!

Tattoos with Meaning

Her reworked ceramics provide a miniature canvas for tattoo designs which challenge the damsel heroine stereotype and instead show that tattoos and femininity are not exclusive, and that tattooing can belong in the art world as well as the subculture. Her clever designs are intended on gussying up silly posed fancy figurines and making the viewer reevaluate what they’re seeing. Instead of the damsel, delicately dressed in a ball gown with her coiffed hair high and porcelain skin, instead the damsel has every inch of her skin tattooed with a variety of designs. The figure herself is the paradox – both feminine in the extreme yet entirely a rebel for their “look”.
She uses a variety of different materials to create her artworks including collage, paint, silk, and clay depending on her design. Inspired by many artists from the 20th and 21st centuries she’s a strong advocate of feminism and finds the controversy surrounding her work amusing.

Painted Ladies

Her ceramic exhibition Painted Ladies highlights both the plight of women, forced to dress in ridiculous designs and act a certain way juxtaposed and highlighted by crude tattoo imagery. Her designs came from a desire to work with figures, but not wanting to actually do figurative art. Instead of choosing abstraction she was drawn to try and recreate existing figures instead and to impose what has traditionally been masculine art work on uber feminine art pieces. Her choice to use found figurines had a lot to do with her lack of familiarity with ceramics originally but she has since then spent plenty of time developing it and now uses her knowledge to add to the figurines with more than just tattoos.

She received massive criticism for the work, saying that she was destroying the very ethos of these figures by taking what was intended to be a peaceful, serene femininity and mocking it. For her own opinion, Jessica considers the artwork to be a certain humor and enjoys the reaction.
The painted ladies series uses nothing more than enamel paint on top of already existing figurines and use solely traditional style artwork copied from various traditional flash designs used extensively in the early days of tattooing, much in the same period of dress those figurines aspire to.

Painted Lady 24, 2014 #paintedlady #ceramics #handpainted #jessicaharrison #tattoo #americantraditional

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Anti-Feminist Artist?

This concept isn’t new, it’s been used plenty of times before and many amateur artists also use similar designs but she is the first to have made a big enough splash that means something. It’s amazing that people still see such a problem with tattoos and femininity together. As for her artwork? She may have a promising career as a tattoo artist if the art world refuses to accept her.

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