Robert Capa

April 28th, 2010
Posted in Uncategorized

This picture is from a blog I found after a google search. I remember reading about Capa, and how he wanted to be in the front lines of battle and capture the grittiest aspect of war. This picture agrees..

Image by Robert Capa of a dead soldier

Do you like fish sticks?

April 28th, 2010
Posted in Uncategorized

So the following interview is with a friend of mine name Will M.

Will M.

He has a few tattoos and I felt that this would be a good opportunity to start off with an interview that resembles the types of responses we expect to get from everyday people like those getting/considering getting tattoos in parlors, or everyday people.

He agreed to do the interview enthusiastically, he was also happy to have pictures taken of his own tattoos. I was given permission to put the pictures on my blog. We took them using a laptop camera because my phone camera’s pictures were coming out to dark. Ultimately this interview outline can still change, Devin and I will see about the best way to approach and interview people to get the most of out them.

AO: Do any of your tattoos have any particularly special significance to you?

WM: The ‘Heretic’ on my chest does. When I set aside popular beliefs to discover myself, I could find no better word than “Heretic” to describe myself; I wanted the tattoo for years before I got it. That’s probably the most personal one.

The 718 tattoo

The 718 on my arm is a symbol of brotherhood among my closest friends, it will always be a reminder of where I’m from and who I grew up with.

AO: When did you first really want a tattoo? Did you get it? If so, how long did it take you to get it?

The Wolf tattoo that covers an old unwanted tattoo. Note the darkened sun.

WM: I wanted tattoos since I was a child. I considered body art to be something truly amazing. I didn’t have any steady ideas for a while, I did, however, get my first tattoo when I was 15 years old and regretted it. I was drunk and decided to get it jail-house style. It hurt like hell, but I’ve since gotten it covered.

AO: What do you think of tribal tattoos?

WM: I believe tattoos should be a symbol of something that means something to you spiritually, by blood even. White kids with tribal tattoos generally piss me off. Like what tribe are they in? I believe it should be the work of an actual tribe, not something to look cool or cultured with like that Vin Diesel or Pro Wrestler shit.

AO: Do you know of any communities or groups in which tattoos play an important role? Are you a member of any such group?

WM: Well, there’s the whole gang thing. Bloods, Crips, the Kings, they all have tattoos that basically translate to “My life is worth just as much as the next guy’s”. They can call it a family, but it’s worthless. Real tattoos should be symbolic to one’s heart. I guess the 718 group would be the closest I’d come, but those are my real brothers, and I’d do anything for them.

AO: What do you think about tattoos on women? Do they make them less or more attractive?

WM: Haha, I absolutely love them [tattoos on women]. I think it shows a type of devotion to art or beliefs in some cases. When I was younger I dated a girl who was covered in tattoos, like head to toe. She was sexy as hell, but also a lunatic. Tattoos can show a form of character in anyone who has them. A willingness to take pain for an artistic passion, and that blows my mind. Tattoos definitely make women especially attractive to me.

AO: What would you consider ‘crossing the line’ when it comes to tattoos (if there is such a thing)?

WM: A tattoo is a matter of personal importance; of personality. So I don’t think it could ever go too far. Who are we to judge another person’s tastes? We’re all flesh and bone anyway. It’s up to the individual to support theirs [tattoo]. I can’t say that any kind of tattoo would offend me, but I could have pity on the person since they may not know what it is they follow.

AO: Would you say that tattoos can generally makr it more difficult to get a job? Has a tattoo ever cost you a job opportunity? What kind of job do you think would be hard to get for someone with tattoos?

WM: Well I definitely wouldn’t be able to work for the church, but I wouldn’t want to anyway. The only thing that I can think of is that I couldn’t join the Marine Corps. Tattoos are an employer to employer thing, you never know if they’re tattoo friendly or not.

AO: Your tattoos could keep you out of the Marine Corps? Why’s that?

WM: They have a rule against forearm and neck tattoos under their last two commandments. My wolf and music note would keep me out, although I could probably find a way to get in.

AO: Would you say that there is such a thing as a ‘wrong reason’ for getting a tattoo? What would you consider a wrong reason?

WM: A good example would be how I, in a drunken stupor, got a tattoo of the symbol of the first band I was in. I regretted it for years. There are many wrong reasons to get a tattoo, passion being one of them; a main one. Never get a partner’s name or image tattoos on you; you may feel you have the right reasons but what happens when you break up? Love isn’t the reason for a tattoo, love isn’t permanent. Music isn’t a reason either; tastes change. There are many reasons not to get a tattoo, always pick something you have a real passion for, otherwise you’ll regret it. This reminds me of a man I met a long time ago, he had a tattoo of a heart on his chest, and in the heart several names; all of them crossed out. He didn’t get the names removed; he just had them crossed out.

AO: Alright, and finally…There are people who strongly oppose tattoos. What would you say to these people if you had a chance to reach out them in this respect?

WM: We don’t tell people to get tattoos, although with the common popularity boost they get thanks to shit like Miami Ink, I want to tell a lot of people not to. Some people get things that are meaningless tattooed on themselves, like their own names. But me personally, I value individualistic ideas, and I will never tell someone to change their mindset, it’s just not right. Christianity doesn’t agree with tattoos, and neither does Judaism. But tattoos outdate both religions by many years. It’s a beautiful part of human culture, and they’ll always be around.

AO: Thanks for your time.

WM: Of course, any time.

The black music note which Will says represents Death Metal and his love for it.

The word 'Heretic' inked on his chest. It means denier of doctrine, which Will certainly is.

Tattoo of Yggdrasil (Nordic world-tree). Will loves Norse mythology and literature.

Uh oh, things are….Getting Serious

April 14th, 2010
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Devin Escobar and Amaru Ona

Literature Review on Tattoos

It is evident that the idea and aesthetic behind tattooing posses an air of rooted traditionalism. Take for instance, the type of tattooing style that some would call tribal or tribal tattoos. The word tribal alone sounds of a specific community, that some consider to be not westernized, nor modernized to the politically, economically, academically comparison of a more westernized country like that of America. When used, the word tribal evokes this mental image of aboriginal people to a land, often times popularly described as less civilized and savage-like. Tribal, which is a word derivative of tribe, is used when talking about civilizations like American Indians, Africans, the Indigenous Australians called the Aborigines, and Asians, Pacific Islanders and those of the Arctic.

Man with tattoo from the Ibanese branch of the Borneo people

In North Africa, Iraq, and the Balkans, the people were heavily influenced with the Berber traditions of body adorning with tattoos. In Taiwan and Borneo the tradition behind body modification is strongly rooted in tattoo motifs and their spiritual functions. In Papua New Guinea, Easter Island and Rapa Nui , body modification is more than just dermal painting. It involves body markings and scarification. The Japan, Northwest Coast, and Arctic regions used body modification and the art of tattoo as medical therapy and spirituality (Sowell 619). I was personally always aware of the traditional expression of body modification of the indigenous from Latin America, but very little information was found on this region involving body art and the ancient cultures of the Americas. It is interesting to see that each of these cultures all had or have traditions of meaningful multitudes. Each and every culture has a defining vocabulary to discuss tattoo names, motifs and practices to emulate significance and meaning (Sowell 619). Yet, with this knowledge in mind, people still find such creative, spiritual and cognitive traditions of rich cultures as primitive.

How could it be that, even though such cultures are seen as primitive, people desire to adopt such customs when it does not apply to ones experience other than the exposure to seeing it in pictures or on other people’s bodies? It is interesting to see how it was integrated into present day mentalities. In the mid to later years of the 20th century the American society never really exposed a desire for such body modification unless it was by people belonging to specific social minority subculture and counter culture groups – like working class, blue-collar, bikers, prisoners, and punks (Kosut 1036). It wasn’t until the later decades of last century that the mass marketing of tattooing became a social norm, even to very young populations who were of the Barbie playing, Sesame Street watching, Power Puff Girls observing ages (Kosut 1035). There has also been an emulation of people owning such body art on their skins all over the media like in movies and television – reality television, soap operas, and sitcoms (Kosut 1037). It can be safe to say as a sociologist, that media is an enormous tool for socialization and adoption of ideas. It is also human to desire to place meaning to something, even if the meaning is sentimentally charged. Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain, many people who adopted tattoos into otherwise a culture that does not have a historical tattooing tradition of their own; there is a desire to place personal meanings to the body art and defining motivations around it (Kosut 1036).

We desire, in a group effort, to look into people’s motivations behind adopting such a traditional forms of body art, to get a better glimpse as to why the cultural adoption of such practices occurred. Furthermore we desire to look into how people find themselves selecting what they want to adorn their bodies permanently.

Works Cited

Kosut, Mary. “An Ironic Fad: The Commodification and Consumption of Tattoos.” Journal of Popular Culture 39.6 (2006): 1035-048. Web. Apr. 2010.

Sowell, Terri. “The Tattooing Arts of Tribal Women.” Review. Pacific Affairs: Volume 81, No. 4 – Winter 2008-2009 Winter 2009: 619-20. Print.


Every person involved in our sociological research project will have the knowledge as to why we are conducting this project. They will be informed of the photo elicitation aspect of the project in which we will be asking for verbal consent to take pictures of them, with the option to leave out their face or heads to maximize their comfort. We understand that some people may not want to share their face or head due to the stigma placed on body art by some religions, places of employment, or even family. We plan on asking questions that clearly share that due to the nature of the project; their picture may be used and published for research purposes. No participant will be expected to follow through on any of the photography unless they are certain that they want to be a part of this study. It would serve us no good if they are not comfortable because we as the researchers will also be uneasy.

Because part of our project may involve historical components to body modification and tattooing, we will be looking into finding photography taken that is open source. As for looking into historical tattooing, we will be looking into flicker photos, anthropological photography and archives of photos taken of other cultures that have tattooing as a traditional experience. All the photography we will be looking to use will be properly cited and credited. Being able to use historical data to compare data may help express the morphing of such traditions into mainstream modern cultures.


And then we can take a slightly different turn in which we’ll go and look into the not-so-seamless integration of tattoos in popular or modern culture, and take into consideration the type of critiques tattoos can get. In this case women with tattoos are the ones being judged lopsidedly, but not from tribes or indigenous groups. In one particular article written by Christine Braunberger, tattoos [on women] are being interpreted as women’s revolt against a standard of beauty and how this standard has been challenged from the 19th century, but through the 20th as well. The article contains several points of view/reactions to tattooed women’s bodies one excerpt sums this aspect down nicely: “The written body may only speak from a patriarchal script that tries to limit women’s voices and bodies to supporting roles and scenery. So, on a woman’s body any tattoo becomes the symbol of bodily excess. When a woman’s body is a sex object, a tattooed woman’s body is a lascivious sex object; when a woman’s body is nature, a tattooed woman’s body is primitive; when a woman’s body is spectacle, a tattooed woman’s body is a show.” (Braunberger, 2000) So this is exactly what we’re looking to compare; how tattoos can be widely accepted or even necessary to a culture and how in another culture (namely ours) they can be a stigmatized characteristic and, in truth, an escapist revolt from a male-dominated/favoring society. The article continues to explain how the early integration of tattooed women in society got off to an early bad (and easily stigmatized) start, when they began to be displayed during freak shows or tattoo contests in the already taboo carnival setting. (Braunberger, 2000)

Hot or Naught? Whatddya think?

One thing is that we have to be careful not to turn this into a women’s tattoo research. In truth, we’re trying to learn about people’s motivations to get them, sure, but also to learn about the reactions tattoos will get from people. But the truth is, women will more often than not get the most mixed reviews as it would seem that their bodies’ being tattooed can still be seen by many as an unnecessary, unwelcome, and excess addition. Ultimately we’d like to ask our participants more personally about the effects tattoos have had in their past. Although, you never know, the ‘women with tattoos’ aspect is a pretty deep one.

Braunberger, Christine. “Revolting Bodies: The Monster Beauty of Tattooed Women.” NWSA Journal 12.2 (2000): 1-23. Project MUSE. 3 Apr. 2010 <>.

Another article talks about a subject that we’ve also considered working on. The article, from the Journal of Psychology and Christianity by several authors talks about the perceptions of 24 college students on their own tattoos and the circumstances under which they received them. The study shows how some may have gotten them as a result of spur-of-the-moment spontaneity while others as the result of friends’ pressuring them, while the common aspect seems to be the overall disapproval of the parents. The article also explains how women are most likely to have tattoos on their backs while men usually have them on their arms. (Journal of Psych & Christianity) This idea really connects the difference between tattoos by gender, women, it seems, believe they’re more likely to be scrutinized for them. But it’s easy for men to wear long-sleeve shirts to conceal their own rebellious side. The idea of tattoos as symbols of rebellion is actually refuted in this article by the participants as they explain that the tattoos ultimately came predominantly as a result of their own choices and spiritual interpretation. I was surprised to find that they believed nothing in their religion went against tattooing because I find that that is a debated idea, one which I’m hoping we’ll be able to explore more in our interview with participants. The participants in this particular article seem to go against the common misconceptions of people with tattoos in that they are not delinquents, sexual deviants, or rebellious. In fact, the article explains that there is a growing trend within evangelical Christianity that is beginning to embrace tattoos on the body as badges of faith, and as a result, there are a growing number of religiously-themed tattoos.

Firmin, Michael W., Luke M. Tse, Janna Foster, and Tammy Angelini. “Christian Student Perceptions of Body Tattoos: A Qualitative Analysis.” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 27.3 (2008): 195-204. Humanities Full Text. Web. 14 Apr. 2010.


With every participant informed about our intentions, we can then begin to (with permission) take pictures of their own tattoos and traditionally this inspires people to open up about themselves and the origins of the tattoos being looked at as well as the motivation to get them and meaning behind them. This also goes for tattoo artists who we’ll ask permission to take pictures of the artwork in their own portfolios (catalogs). Not everyone is expected to agree to have their tattoos’ pictures taken, from their body or portfolio, but this is going to be accompanied by an interview.

In what we’ve learned in class as photo elicitation, we will interview participants alongside pictures of tattoos in magazines or catalogs to get them to open up about a lesser known urban culture of artistic expression; we’ll most likely do this with an already prepared list of questions as well as detailed questions tailored curiosity questions towards the interviewees. It would probably be interesting to learn about the types of people that come in their tattoo parlors; how they come to decide on a tattoo, what types of people get what types of tattoos, we imagine that you can learn a lot about people from not only what their ink is but how they came to the decision in the first place.

Lastly, we will ask more personal questions about the people we interview (which will include customers, if possible, as well as the artists) about their history with having tattoos and the possible treatment/reactions received. We hypothesize that certain backgrounds will encourage tattoos more while the lack of encouragement (or even disapproval) other backgrounds may give will likely have a similar impact out of curiosity and perhaps even rebellion.

Ethical Considerations(?)

March 24th, 2010
Posted in Uncategorized  Tagged

We will most likely need to remember to ask people for permission to take pictures of their artwork like tattoo artists’ portfolios that they use as catalogs for customers. We’ll also need to ask them if they’d like to participate in our interviews about their own tattoos (on their own skin) and ask if it would be okay to reproduce that in our blogs as well as final presentation.

Another thing we might end up doing is looking at rare tattoos that we can only find online. Some tattoos are culture or tribe specific, and we’ll probably be able to get pictures of those on a site like Flickr© provided that the person who took them in the first place doesn’t mind. And after consulting with Devin just now, I was told about certain Anthropological websites that have many pictures and descriptions in them that we could use after checking up on their licensing information to see if it’s ok.

Visual Exploration

March 24th, 2010
Posted in Uncategorized

My first picture is a picture of a tattoo of Jesus I got from Flickr. In the tattoo he’s wearing the crown of thorns and is bleeding from his head. This is actually a popular image and it can be tough to look at for some people. But I figured this was a good picture to look at how a tattoo can serve as a badge of faith to someone.  Christianity is a bit iffy on tattoos and that makes the idea more strange to me. In our research, Devin and I will probably look into religion and tattoos to see how people can either embrace/encourage or how they can frown upon/shun them.

Tattoo of Jesus.

You can see that it’s a pretty large tattoo, if this guy goes to the beach people wont have too much trouble identifying who it depicts. I wonder if children will be bothered by the blood, or if parents will be bothered more by them seeing it.

I like the way he’s shown here though, stenciled and colorless (save for the blood).

I couldn’t think of anything to do for the second picture, the one I had to take myself. I thought of asking somebody with a tattoo randomly somewhere on the street or on campus, but I didn’t really want to do that. I don’t have any friends with tattoos, and anybody I know who does have them doesn’t live near me. So I decided to be hardcore and go get inked myself!

…Sorta..I went to the 99¢ Store and bought a pack of temporary tattoos. I decided to use the eagle, and so I put it on my arm and voila! I’m now a cool guy.

The hardcore eagle on my left arm...Lookin' fierce...and blurry

So that got me thinking about that mindset. While I can see them and think they’re cool looking and/or hardcore, some people can see them on someone and associate that with lack of professionalism or maturity. This is definitely another angle Devin and I are looking to explore, we’re interested in asking people who have tattoos about the responses they can get from different people. I’m sure some will admire them for the art while others will just look at them as some kind of distraction or something ugly. Either way, I’m sure my Albanian friend would like my eagle tattoo, even if it does only have one head..

Oh and here’s a picture of a tattoo (from the same guy) of an eagle like mine…Only not as hardcore or fierce.

March 15th, 2010
Posted in Uncategorized

For my project I’m working with Devin and we’re going to be looking at tattoos. Our focus will be the significance they have to different people and different cultures and how having them has had an impact on people getting jobs, making friends, etc. We’d like to look into the history of tattoos like their origins and adaptation (and maybe ultimate acceptance) in our own culture.

Our method will probably involve us researching the history of tattoos and then interviewing tattoo artists and/or aficionados. We could also discuss pictures we take of people’s tattoos and ask about their significance and make even throw in some uncommon knowledge about them that most people [like me] don’t know.

mini fieldwork experience

March 6th, 2010
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I had an positive experience during our little research project. After vigorous deliberation we decided that I would be ‘Dr. Researcher’ and Lindsey would be Señora Participant. I came up with some crummy questions and we headed out, and while out I tweaked the questions to make them better along the way. We really weren’t sure which topic to cover at first because we thought that both topics cover improvements on campus, and both could be investigated in the cafeteria. Ultimately, we decided to go with the cafeteria topic and started taking pictures.

The way I understood it was that the participant took pictures to answer the questions, and those answers would be elaborated on during a ‘photo elicitation’ session after returning to base.  So we set out and I presented my questions, and this is where the experience took an unexpected turn (for me at least). I’ve been attending QC for a couple of years but I know very little about its campus

(Message on the Wall at 'The Dairy Stop')

because I usually just come in to class and leave home, I don’t have many friends here so I don’t hang around often. So our first stop was this Dining Hall next to Rathaus Hall that I didn’t even know was there…I know…Sad

The first picture was an attempt at the first answer about feeling restricted to certain areas of campus, but this turned into me learning about dietary laws that Jewish people have to follow. The picture says that if you’re picking up food for anyone or plan to eat it out of the designated dining area; you’re responsible for getting Kosher tape put on it. And that you are responsible for the Kashrut.

I started talking with Lindsey about how this could affect her if she had a non-Jewish friend eat with her. She explained that it’s not that difficult but that there are times where she might have a friend with her who may eat a hamburger, and by deitary law, she can’t let the meat touch the dairy. So basically if I buy a hamburger and eat it while she eats Mac ‘n’ Cheese and I flick a piece of my burger on her plate; it’s a violation of the dietary law. I felt silly for not knowing about this, and she said it’s not exactly common knowledge for everyone. I’m an Agnostic raised by non-religious parents, so I find religious rules, customs, and rites of passage very interesting.

So, I learned the following: A Jewish person can’t eat dairy AND meat together. They CAN however eat meat AFTER they eat dairy…HOWEVER they can’t eat meat and then eat dairy. This is all fascinating to me because I can’t imagine being able to keep track of this, it just seems so strict. She told me that it just becomes second nature to you and that it’s not too hard at all.

Afterward I asked her what she’d improve if she could improve anything, and she said she’d probably improve the prices after we reviewed her picture of the [breakfast] menu.

(The Menu)

It seemed like a buffet style setup so it would seem that you pay a bit much considering the portions and this led me to my next question which was if she thought it’d be a good idea to bring in some commercial restaurants into the area, and she said that she wasn’t too sure about it  and I think that it might even invoke a response that, in the spirit of capitalism, could lower prices for the ‘Dairy Stop’. She took a picture of her friend in front of an advertisement for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, which seems directly related to the same idea.

She then showed me another section with a much larger room and more tables. She told me that it was too bad that it wasn’t lunch time because the picture would probably end up showing how crowded the eating area can get. She explained to me that while she couldn’t eat meat and dairy together (or even let meat and dairy touch) it isn’t any different for the restaurants preparing the food. She pointed out that if you wanted your dairy you could get it in the first area, but you’d have to leave for other foods like your Chinese food or Pizza, and that made sense to me. I figure that this might be an inconvenience to someone if they’re eating lunch with a diverse group with a diverse group of cravings, add that to a very crowded lunchtime eating area; and you’ve got yourself a challenging lunchtime.  While she suggested that the cafeteria could benefit from more tables and chairs; there’s no telling if that would make lunchtime any less crowded but it’s a start.

(The eating area pretending it doesn't get crowded.)

So my mini-fieldwork experience became like a campus tour of a building I never went inside, and an introduction to Jewish dietary laws. Even though I was seriously embarrassed by all that I didn’t know, I’m glad I got to learn about them thanks to my Señora participant  Lindsey who was very helpful throughout. We didn’t get to change roles but I think everything turned out well. The experience even led me to do a little research of my own (especially after looking at the first photo) and I learned that a Mashgiach is the person who supervises and looks to maintain the Kashrut which I learned is the name for the set of Jewish dietary laws.


February 24th, 2010
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Although it’s not a sure thing, I think I might go for the project involving video games and their social gathering. I’ve noticed how they’ve become much more multiplayer-oriented over the years and that being a video gamer today no longer means you’re a loner/loser. I’ve always loved video games and I love how they bring people together and can  be great for parties and breaking the ice between people.

Another idea would be to research graffiti as well, I went to Art & Design H.S and a lot of the students there did graffiti and they were VERY good at it, and I know most of them still do it now, some who even do it illegally and photograph their own work for their own archives. I love the idea that graffiti has grown from some urban taboo/nuisance to an appreciated art form with personal meaning to all those who understand it. Through my friends I learned that Graffiti is an serious art form, and a really difficult one at that; I know because I even tried it to humor my friends.

‘getting to know your eyes’

February 20th, 2010
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I’m sure most of us (if not all of us) know what it’s like to have a happy childhood. But one thing that I never really paid much attention to was the fact that colors, just as much as love and toys, play a big role in the happiness of a child and maybe even their personalities. I started to wonder how a kid would turn out if he was raised around nothing but shades of gray or dull/depressing colors (i.e a Tim Burton film). Would that child turn out to be someone less cheerful or dull and depressing too, or would it have no impact at all? I can’t say, because I don’t know, but I guess it might.


This is a picture of my new cousin Christian in his playpen. He’s a cute kid and he seems to have a different facial expression for everything he looks at. But, I realized how you can associate bright, vibrant, and happy colors with childhood. Look at the color of his toys, and the color of his clothes, and notice how the toy Bert (of Bert and Ernie) is similarly colored to the Fisher Price hammer. His walker and his blanket [not pictured] also both have the same color scheme. Also, he is in a nice bright room in my aunt’s house, they have a sky light so the sunlight shines right in making it look like there are lights on in the house. It just gives off a really pleasant scheme with Chris sitting there looking cute and the colors of his toys so playful and positive with the room he’s in showered by a clean-looking surplus of sunlight.

I was just sitting there playing with him for a while before I realized that this would be perfect for the project, especially after realizing how positive the colors are in the playpen. This picture is on my computer now thanks to the camera on my phone, and it actually makes me happy.

YouTube Post Test

February 17th, 2010
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