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Art of the tattoo

Sunday, December 22, 2013
The finished tattoo.

Art can be created on different surfaces, using an array of media. Kerwin Figaro works with ink on skin. He is an art teacher at Malick Secondary School and the co-owner of Zion and Dark Horse Tattoo and Piercing Studio, Belle Smythe Street, Woodbrook. 


Like the artist who must choose a large, fine, flat or fan brush to paint, Figaro selects his needles: a five round liner (five needles soldered together), a nine curved magnum or perhaps a 17 magnum. He may draw directly on the skin or create a stencil using thermal fax paper, also known as spirit transfer paper. Hair must be removed from the area of skin upon which the image will be made. Stick deodorant or Stencil Stuff is then applied to make the stencil adhere to the skin. Figaro then prepares his ink, diluting black with distilled water or witch hazel to create various shades of grey. 


With the use of a foot pedal for his machines, the needles are powered back and forth, in and out of the skin. He uses a coil machine to make distinct lines or a rotary machine for the technique of shading. “If you can’t do this work on paper, you will never do it on skin. You must have that artistic know-how,” says Figaro, who placed second in Trinidad’s recently held tattoo competition and body art expo. At that event he earned other titles such as people’s choice and artist of the day.


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