‘Disrupting the Surface’ started fairly early on with my tattoo work and subsequently became an umbrella title for my other art projects.
I chose the phrase as I wanted something fairly memorable to work with, I thought is was fun, and it seemed to apply to me and my work on various levels, which I’ll try to explain below.
It all came about as my early work began to move away from designs that complemented the rhythms and flow of the body, such as flowing ‘tribal’ patterns, into something more irregular.
As I began moving away from seeing tattooing as a service, and more toward using it as an outlet for my own artistic interests, more of my personality began to show through in the work. That was a personality with a short attention span, and a disregard for rules and expectations.
A parallel to my work becoming more irregular and disorganised was my childhood interest in ‘DPM‘ (Disruptive Pattern Material) camouflage, which led to an interest in the concepts of disruptive/distractive markings. After a brief stint playing with tattoo designs inspired by the American ‘chocolate chip’ camouflage, I moved away from camouflage inspired designs as camouflaging wasn’t really my goal. Destroying recognisable patterns and structures was what really interested me.
The work became increasingly complex and chaotic in nature, but within all the noise I always hid a rhythm, a path running though from one end of the design to the other, and a form of continuity.
As my early work placed more emphasis and detail on the backgrounds, which seemed to be the opposite of what most people were doing at the time, my later work sought to hide simplicity under layers of ‘stuff’.
This ultimately took various stylistic forms, methods, and techniques, such as:
- transforming regular geometric patterns into fractured, irregular compositions.
- combining foreground and background into single layers
- negative space becoming positive, and vise versa
- placing emphasis on backgrounds and ignoring foreground elements
- cutting off designs abruptly and leaving things ‘unfinished’
- utilising collage techniques to blend unrelated elements
All these techniques were employed to create obstacles in one way or another, whether that be to create confusion or deliberately limit the audience.
If I was doing it wrong, I was doing it right.