Archive | Arts

Adam Lister Creates a Nostalgic 8-Bit “Kids Collection”

New York-based artist Adam Lister is widely-known for reimagining famous artworks and pop culture characters with his watercolor paintings, mimicking 8-bit color graphics normally found in retro/classic video games. Releasing today, Lister has created a limited-edition set of prints titled “Kids Collection,” designed to help children learn about and develop an appreciation for collecting artworks; […]

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Rocky Byun Challenges Physics to Create High-End Art in “The Art of Balance”

Talented Korean artist Rocky Byun is the subject of the latest Great Big Story vignette. The core of Byun’s abilities and career lies in his exceptional talent for discovering the “balance point in anything; he has received critical recognition for turning conventional, commonplace happenings and items into high-end art. “Every time I see a new […]

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The Guggenheim Museum Just Made Over 200 Art Books Free to Download

Art heads, you’re in for a treat. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum just transformed over 200 hard-copy art books into downloadable PDF files and ePubs. This isn’t the first time the acclaimed institution has released entries from their immense archives; in 2012, Guggenheim made approximately 65 publications available to download. For this release, interested folks […]

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Carhartt WIP Skate Team Rider Max Palmer Unveils New “Improper Slope” Exhibit

When Max Palmer isn’t out riding for Carhartt WIP, he’s probably holed up in a studio working on cement sculptures. The workwear stalwart is set to present Palmer’s first solo exhibition at New York City’s Inert Gallery titled “Improper Slope.” The Big Apple skater created multiple pieces using found objects and common materials such as […]

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Artist Kenny Scharf Paints One Lucky Fan’s Prius for His “Karbombz” Series

Kenny Scharf recently touched down in Culver City, California to spraypaint his iconic, expressive motifs on a building’s walls set against a shower of colorful drips. Additionally, the NYC street art legend painted one fortunate fan’s Toyota Prius as part of his ongoing “Karbombz” series. Watch the process above and then take a look at […]

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The Latest Must-See Exhibits and Photographic Works From Today’s Top Creatives

We are surrounded by an endless amount of photography every day and it’s all thanks to the internet. Since its inception in the mid-19th century, the art form has undergone a wide range of technological advances whilst attracting an insurmountable number of devotees from all across the globe. Not to mention, there are many categories in […]

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A First Look at Galerie Perrotin’s Massive Lower East Side Space

Following expansions in Seoul and Tokyo, art dealer Emanuel Perrotin has unveiled his newest location in NYC’s Lower East Side, which is perhaps his most ambitious and biggest project yet. After closing the Upper East location last year, Galerie Perrotin’s team has been trying to avert the typical gallery space, locating to downtown’s more dynamic […]

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Swoon’s “To Accompany Something Invisible” Exhibit Is The Artist’s Most Personal One Yet

Brooklyn-based street artist Swoon is adept in producing artwork that touches upon socio-political issues. More precisely, the 39-year-old creative is well-regarded for her full-scale wheatpaste prints and paper cutouts that portray diverse individuals. She recently kicked off a brand new exhibit titled “To Accompany Something Invisible” at the Allouche Gallery in New York City. The […]

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ESPO and Artist Jenny Sharaf Unleash Collaborative Piece Under Tokyo Subway Station

Stephen “ESPO” Powers and artist Jenny Sharaf recently joined forces to create an imaginative piece situated just below Tokyo’s Nakameguro station. With Sharaf’s contribution titled “Super Fresh Paint,” the San Francisco-based creative applied a cluster of cherry blossoms and other lively imagery, while ESPO devised a pictorial love letter to Tokyo named “Life Can Be […]

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Takashi Murakami to Present New MCA Exhibit Alongside Musical Performances Curated by Pharrell

Takashi Murakami is set to display a brand new exhibit titled “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Fans can get an exclusive preview of the showcase at MCA’s upcoming “ArtEdge: 50” gala that pays tribute to the museum’s 50th anniversary. The function will include a special concert curated […]

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It’s Nice That 2017 Spring/Summer Issue ‘Printed Pages’ Has Arrived

It’s Nice That’s print extension, the aptly titled Printed Pages, is making a Spring/Summer 2017 with 240 more pages of inspiring creativity. Celebrating It’s Nice That’s 10th anniversary, the 13th issue of the publication features a specially commissioned cover from illustrator Ted Parker and is highlighted by the likes of an interview with William Eggleston, […]

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Renowned Tattoo Artist Thomas Hooper on the Psychology of Ink

Art is meant to be personal. Commonly known as a form of “self”-expression, its purpose is to offer an artist with a release – often allowing them to let out deeply-harbored thoughts, afflictions and emotions. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Art is the most intense form of individualism the world has ever known.” With art, one is encouraged to create with blatant disregard for pressures of public perception, or to a higher degree, commercialism and profitability. Art can undoubtedly be defined as a selfish act.
Thomas Hooper, a visual artist and tattooist, known for his intricate ornamental work, does agree with this to a certain extent. “No matter what people say, you personally have to like it,” he says in regards about his own work, which is heavily laden with Eastern religious imagery and geometric patterns. But as in the nature of tattooing, Hooper also understands that there is a delicate relationship between an artist and his “canvas” that must be accounted for. Tattooing as an art form is entirely different to conventional art in this regard. Hooper is uber-conscious of this give-and-take that exists in tattooing, regardless of how prolific an artist has become.
“If you have tension in your skin, it’s impossible to tattoo. It’s my job to make the person relaxed and comfortable.”
Now over 15 years into the craft, Hooper has attracted clients from around the world to whichever studio he resides, from his early years in London, to New York at Saved Tattoo, now to Rock of Ages in Austin. His distinct style, drawing from Indonesian, Australasian, Japanese, tribal and Tibetan art, is a product of his personal interests. While Hooper’s work is intimate and based on his vision, an aspect of heightened awareness and careful consideration – beyond simply making art – comes into play when individuals entrust themselves with him.
Aside from the more obvious duties of deciphering what it is someone truly wants, as well as the fit of both the art and the body, there are also innumerable factors that, unless you are on the delivering end of the needle, are difficult to conceptualize. “The factors are insane,” Thomas explains, naming diet, ethnicity, age and health as significant factors that affect the entire process. Hooper also reveals that he must do double duty as a therapist.  “If you go to get tattooed after having a really stressful experience in the morning, all the pores are tiny – you have tension in your skin. It’s impossible to tattoo. It’s my job to make the person relaxed and comfortable when getting the tattoo.”
If the nature of art is communicating the self, tattooing – as an art form and a corporal act – is something beyond ourselves, and unique in its duality. The mark of a great artist, as we see with Thomas Hooper, is both having a developed personal style, while also maintaining, recognizing, and appreciating the unique symbiotic relationship between the artist and his subject.

How do you even begin to create your own style or decide what your focus will be as an artist?
Like a chef or musician, you don’t try and reinvent the wheel – you take all these different influences and try to make this new thing that’s yours, by combining them in a new way. One of my favorite artists is Christopher Dresser. He was a 19th century designer looking at early Persian, Egyptian, Japanese and Chinese art, predated by maybe 500 years. And what he did then still looks good now. If I use it as an influence, chances are what I am doing is going to look good in 50 or 100 years. I don’t want my tattoos to look like “oh yeah, that was done at the turn of the millennium.”
You do your own art as well. Describe the difference between finishing a piece of your own art versus a tattoo.
It’s not just a piece of paper because you’ve spoken to that person. You live with them as you tattoo. You occupy however many hours together. You get to know them and all of a sudden, they’re gone. There’s a lot of parameters, lots of stress and pressure, and on a piece of paper you don’t have any pressure. You have the pressure to finish a tattoo but you’ve no pressure to finish art on canvas, paper or a sculpture. And the art can go into a certain house or workplace and people see it, but a tattoo, it walks around the world. Art is there to communicate; tattooing has a far greater reach.
Can you talk a bit about the imagery you use and what kind of things influence you to explore these themes in your art?
My influences include everything from music to architecture, to ornaments on buildings. Artists like William Morris, Christopher Dresser; Victorian design, Medieval ornament, Renaissance etchings, Tibetan Buddhist art, Thai Art, Asian art and so on. I’m also inspired by The Music and Art that accompanies heavy music, metal and other sub-genres of that style, album art and band shirts. Easiest way to put it, there’s no conscious, forced progression. I just see where the process takes itself.
How do you go about developing your own patented tattoo aesthetic?
If I do one of them it’s just a one-off. But if I do like 30 of them or maybe even 100 of them, then all of a sudden it’s a thing I’ve done a lot. It gets refined, and then it becomes a language. By doing something very interesting, over and over again, you then start to build a visual language rather than it just being a piece of art you decided to do because you looked up a bunch of different references. By refining and almost like distilling, I create a vocabulary that I can go back to and reference.

When you settle on a design, is it something you see entirely in your head? Or is it as you’re sketching it, something pops up in your mind and you continue with it?
I come up with a bunch of ideas and they sit around in my head. With a lot of them, I like the idea of chance where I will do one drawing and photograph it in a funny angle on my phone, email it to myself and I’ll doctor it, vectorize it and repeat it and make a new pattern in a way that I’d never have thought of. I use this kind of backwards process to make it a little more crude or distort the design it in a new way.
Describe the difference between human skin as a canvas versus a conventional canvas.
Just to give it a touch of satire, when I’m tattooing it occasionally goes something like this: “Fuck, this is hard, I wish this person would stop moving. This person’s diet is terrible. This isn’t going in like I want it to, why not? God, I’ve got to get this done in three hours. This is difficult and the skin is impossible.” And 10% of the time you’re like “wow, this is like magic.” Also, for personal art, I don’t have to worry about whether the piece of paper thinks that I am a dick. I can be rude to a piece of paper, whereas it’s not just about the person leaving with a good tattoo, my point of view is they leave with a good tattoo and they’re also thinking, “Well that was great. I enjoyed those three hours with Thomas.” The memory of getting the tattoo is uplifting hopefully.
There’s always an interesting relationship there between the artists and client. Would you say that there’s a lot of psychology that you have to impart and try to pull out that the person really wants even if they might not know themselves?
They’ve put their trust in you. When people say you can do whatever you want, I always believe that it’s not quite truth. So we’ll just work together to find out what this person wants, and take it from there. I don’t want to read someone’s mind, but you know, maybe they just don’t want to make a decision. It’s like trying to solve a riddle which is fun. I like challenges. Sometimes you want things to be easier, but if things are easy, they’re not worth doing.
This story was originally published in HYPEBEAST Magazine Issue 16: The Projection Issue as ”Duality in Ink.” For more of Thomas Hooper’s artwork, check out his latest collection of works titled Book of Patterns Volume II.

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