Would you ever get a tattoo without knowing what to expect?
An acclaimed New York tattoo artist who mainly operates out of his Williamsburg, Brooklyn shop Saved Tattoo, has gained international recognition for his most recent project. Why? Because his tattoo subjects get their ink for free. The catch? They aren’t allowed to know what they’re getting or have any say in the design until it’s all done. It’s called the “Whole Glory” project because – you guessed it – he has his volunteers stick their arms through a glory hole of sorts to ensure total lack of visibility.
Scott Campbell is one of the world’s most talented and renowned tattoo artists. Originally a biochem major in college, he dropped out and moved states to become a tattoo artist. His client list now includes Marc Jacobs, Penelope Cruz, Orlando Bloom, and the late Heath Ledger, to name a few.
Campbell’s main shop is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but he is known all over the world. Recently, he has been talked about in the media for his “Whole Glory” tattoo project that made it’s way out to London.
Scott Campbell’s “Whole Glory” project made its way to London’s Lazarides Gallery for October 7th-October 9th. Participants who wanted to receive a free tattoo from Campbell had the opportunity to sign up in a lottery system.
Of course, you’re not going to get a free tattoo from a world-renowned artist for nothing. The price, so to speak, for this free artwork is your blind faith. If you agreed to be a participant in the project, you had absolutely no input in your new tattoo and you forfeited your right to view it until it was completely finished.
Usually, the term “glory hole” means something way different. Campbell spun the phrase for his own use. To ensure that his participants couldn’t see any of the work until it was done, he made them stick their arms through a so-called glory hole – hence the name of the project.
Even the wall itself was not free of art. The wall that housed the hole through which the subjects would place their arms showcased tattoo-like sketches, but that’s as much as they were able to see.
Some people might say that this is too steep a price, even for free ink from a celeb tattoo artist. Others, however, were more than willing and beyond stoked on the idea. It all comes down to your sense of adventure.
This picture (and the ones that follow) are examples of the tattoos that people got at the London exhibition. It showcases Campbell’s unique style, mixing thin, precise line work with thick, intentionally careless lines.
Only 15 people were selected during the London exhibition of the project to receive free tattoos from Campbell. These tattoos would be unique regardless, but the fact that only 15 Londoners can say they have them makes them extremely rare.
What’s the point? So, why do it? If you’re a famous tattoo artist who could probably charge whatever he wanted for his work, why would you go to the trouble to give your work away for free? As with many artists, money isn’t the motivating factor.
Campbell has said that he did this project because he likes to imagine the person he’s tattooing, what they’re all about, what their life is like, and what tattoo they’re “meant” to have. For him, this artistic expression and this freedom to let his imagination run wild is worth the free ink.
Campbell reportedly strongly believes in fate. In an interview with Mashable, he said, “‘If you end up putting your arm through here, there are definitely a lot of stars that have aligned in order to make that happen.'”
Tattooing is not the only type of artwork in which Campbell dabbles. He has also apparently erected sculptures out of U..S money, created watercolor paintings based on his six-week stay in a maximum security prison in Mexico City, and has done graphite drawings on the incredibly delicate insides of eggshells.
Unfortunately, Scott Campbell is not currently booking any appointments out of his shop in Brooklyn. However, the shop is still open and you can walk in or make appointments with any of the other artists that work there.
If you desperately want to get tattooed by Campbell after reading this article, keep an eye out for his availability! Just because he’s not taking appointments out of Saved Tattoo right now, doesn’t mean he won’t in the future. You also never know what project he’s going to put on next.