The collaboration between Ted Meyer, photographer, and Anna Stump, painter, is – to say the least – an explosion of talent. Typically, when you decide to get a tattoo there is a process of finding art that goes into it. Or, if you’re like me, you have an idea of what you want and you sketch it up yourself. Either way, the art is first created off the skin. Then it is applied to the skin with repetitive and painful needle pokes. Ted and Anna take tattoo art one step further by making large and beautiful exhibits out of the art that is on the skin of their models. It’s performance art that leaves you these larger than life pieces. And, amazingly, they create and photograph these 9′ by 8′ paintings in three hours. See the process:
These paintings are bold and colorful and expressive. It’s no surprise the attention they’re getting. They have an exhibit coming at the Oceanside Museum of Art(you can read about it here) on August 9th. They are also working on putting together a book.
In the midst of all of their hard work, Ted Meyer took a minute to answer a few questions for me.
Furies Magazine: How did the two of you come together for this project?
Ted Meyer: We have been a couple for about 4 years. We are both painters and we are both pretty traditional in our approach to painting. Strong emphasis on technique, figure and color. We have tried in the past to come up with a project that we could do together. We tried working on paintings together, we would pass them back and forth, but our styles really didn’t match up well for that. Living in Southern CA we are quite aware that low brow and street art are very popular so we so we wanted to figure out a way to apply our techniques to something that was a bit more “street”. We were discussing that people that have tattoos are really, in their way, art collectors. They look for, and commission, artist they like. Though we don’t have tattoos we like seeing what other people do. What images they pick for their bodies. So we decided that we would celebrate this “found art” by expanding those images with paint way past the human canvas.
FM: Where do you find the models?
TM: It is a mixture or volunteers and asking people if we can paint them. Quite often Anna and I will be out on the town and we’ll see something fantastical peeking out the back of a dress or out from a sleeve. Anna usually approaches them and tells them about the project and asks of they would be interested.
FM: The way that you get the models to interact with their piece is amazing. Can you tell me a little about that?
TM: We start with a photo of the tattoo and we work together on a composition. During the actual painting we work with the model, posing and adjusting them and taking in-progress photos to work out the best position. Once the painting is done, normally it takes about 3 hours, we take a series of photos in different positions and nail down exactly how we want the body, hands and feet.
FM: What has been the most memorable experience that has come from this so far?
TM: For me, it is working with Anna on a series of work. I enjoy working with a romantic partner. It adds a new twist to dating. It can be stressful because we work differently so at times get frustrated with each other while we are doing the actual painting, but it always turns out well. She tends to paint faster with larger looser brush strokes and I am much tighter so she does all the big picture stuff and I tend to do details. Plus, I take the photos so I am always worried about how the final image will look. So, at time we are at cross purposes. A great painted image doesn’t always frame up in the camera.
As far as the general process it has been sort of surprising to us, as non tattooed people, that some of the people we have been privy to had never shown their tattoos in public before. We had sort of assumed that if you got a tattoo it was a pretty public thing. One person we painted said we were the first people to see his tattoo other than the tattoo artist, and he was covered almost head to toe.