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Tattoos are a unique artistic medium. From the ancient, spiritually-laden ritual of receiving

moko

in New Zealand, to the painting- and print-inspired designs created by Stephanie

Tamez and Anil Gupta, to Filip Leu’s bold Japanese-inspired bodysuits, to Freddy Negrete’s

daring and simultaneously subtle black-and-gray fineline imagery, the design of a custom-

ized tattoo is deeply personal. Each artist featured in

Body Embellishment

is a master of

the craft, many coming from a thorough background in design and often studying with

experts in their chosen specialty. Although inked skin is increasingly common in the

twenty-first century (approximately 51 percent of women and 49 percent of men in

the United States have at least one tattoo),these designers have honed their work to

break out of the underground and elevated tattoos to the realm of fine art.

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By using the

human body as a pliant, living canvas, the innovative designs discussed here interact

with the world at large, introducing the inked and un-inked alike to excellent works of art

in unexpected ways.

Sarah M. Wolfe