I think tattoos and piercings could be related to visual representation as well as subculture as some tattoos could shock people and some people may find people with tattoos or/and piercings disturbing, which is the subculture part but also it’s up to the person what they want to do with their body, they present themselves how they want to be seen. This also relates back to subculture as it goes back to how people look, their fashion and the way they act. Some people with many tattoos and piercings can be labelled as freaks and have been stereotyped as not being unemployed as they can’t get a job due to their appearance. This is all down to their style and possibly their interests too, as they could be interested in body art and body manipulation.
This could be represented in art by photographers or painters photographing/painting what portraits of how these people look and depending on the situation could try to represent them as being good people and the tattoos and piercings not making a difference to who they are or they could represent them in another way and show that they are different, it can be shocking but it’s who they want to be and what they want to look like.
There is a Canadian man called Rick Genest, Genest was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour and was on the waiting list for 6 months, where he contemplated his own life and possible death, before undergoing the surgery with minimal complications. Leaving his house one day, Genest went for a walk and decided to live downtown, on rooftops and in dumpsters or under bridges.Hitchhiking became his main method of transportation. According to his video, he started living “an anarchistic lifestyle”. He claims to have already been introduced to punk rock, the punk scene and freak shows before his decision to tattoo himself.
Genest was covered in tattoos which made him look like a living skeleton and was known as Rico the Zombie. He worked in various sideshows and freak shows across Canada as an illustrated man, geek and as self declared clown. Not long after beginning his facial tattoos, he was first introduced to the public on November 13th 2006 in a blog post by Shannon Larratt on BME‘s ModBlog.
After being introduced he had first interview in March 2008, by which time his iconic tattoos were largely completed. In this interview Rick clarified that he preferred the moniker “Zombie” to “Skullboy”, as BME had been referring to him. From the interview he was noticed by Bizarre magazine and got a feature in the magazine as well as a role in a TV movie called Carny.
I think the way you present yourself is important because it’s good to be different and make yourself unique. Going back to saying how people are represented as being unemployed due to their appearance with tattoos and piercings I think Rick Genest proves that statement wrong as it’s his tattoos that got him noticed and what got him the jobs that he has now.
There is a fan page made on Facebook for Genest and his tattoos and that fan page reached over 2 million likes and it was from this fan page that Lady Gaga‘s fashion director Nicola Formichetti discovered him and from that he got many jobs in fashion. On January 19th 2011 Genest was featured in the new Thierry Mugler Autumn/Winter men’s collection, headlining it on the brand’s website, he also got a job with Formichetti on one of her collections too. The show was accompanied by a video featuring Rico shot by fashion photographer Mariano Vivanco. He later featured alongside Lady Gaga in the fashion show for the women’s 2011 Autumn/Winter line, as well as this he also featured in one of Lady Gaga’s music videos. He’s also had features in the sixth volume of Vogue Hommes Japan, in 2011, the editorial being titled “Hard To Be Passive” and also the Spring/Summer issue of GQ Style.
So people presenting themselves differently to other people by getting covered in tattoos or/and piercings and making body modifications doesn’t always mean that they will end up unemployed because of their appearance as it’s Genest unique appearance which got him noticed and which started the career that he now has, as an artist, actor and fashion model. Infact, it may be argued that ‘the fact that Genest has managed to achieve a measure of mainstream fame tells us how far tattoos have changed, and how far society has come in accepting, at least partially, non-mainstream body modifications’ (DeMello, 2013 p.209)
I think this is all down to visual representation as if Rick Genest didn’t have his tattoos he probably wouldn’t of been noticed by Shannon Larratt so he wouldn’t of got the interview and wouldn’t of been brought into the public eye and wouldn’t of been discovered by Nicola Formichetti and therefore wouldn’t have got the various fashion modelling jobs he got and wouldn’t of been featured in Lady Gaga’s music video.
I think it was good of Formichetti and Aline & Jacqueline Tappia to represent him the way they did and show him as a professional fashion model rather than a freakshow as it shows that even with many tattoos and piercings you can still have a job and be successful.
Genest has featured in many different magazines since and has had roles in other films since his role in Carny, these films include; Aquario in 2011, 47 Ronin in 2012 as well as In Faustian Fashion in 2012 and Love at Last Sight in 2014.
Other magazines that he’s featured in include; Schon magazine, Fashion Magazine, WestEast magazine and Traffic magazine.
He also had a photoshoot with Kenny Pilcrow aka Savon Photography where they shot him looking a bit more like a freakshow than the previous shoots he has had with fashion magazines, music videos and various other modelling jobs.
DeMello, M (2013) Body Studies: An Introduction New York: Routledge