Arrested Motion: What gave you the idea for this body of work?
Justin Kerson: Honestly, I came across the concept on accident. After getting tattooed, the open wound requires a lot of antiseptic, so while I was sleeping, the tattoo transferred and smeared all over my Versace sheets, completely wrecking them. But by ruining them, I realized how well tattoos could transfer to fabric and produce these interestingly grotesque images. Tattooing is one of the oldest forms of art. Yet, still to this day, tattooing is shunted upon in the elite, avant-garde, fine-art world. When tattoos become apart of someone’s body, they no longer allow the art to have any tangible resale value. So by transferring it to a fabric, I have taken art off the body and made it a piece that can be sold and resold without expiration.
Arrested Motion: Were you especially attracted to the art of tattooing? Or were you more attracted to the potential inclusive process that the art lends itself to?
Justin Kerson: Tattooing is great, it’s definitely what led me to this concept. But my concentration is on the art. I really wanted the art to go one step further by taking it off the body and putting it up on something that others can have also.
Arrested Motion: How did you select the individual tattoos you chose to document? Did you have a particular aesthetic or look you were going for?
Justin Kerson: It was actually more of a collaborated process. I went to friends and tattoo artists and talked to them about my concept. I found people who were willing to let me transfer their tattoo to fabric for my prints. From there I chose the best pieces I felt really represented my concept.
Arrested Motion: Do you have a favorite tattoo artist? Or a favorite tattoo featured in the show?
Justin Kerson: Ah, that’s such a hard question to answer. After doing some research and being tattooed myself, I’d have to say I really admire Mike Giant and Brian Kaneko. They have taken a traditional style and created something of their own by incorporating their personal lifestyle of art and wellness to create beautiful pieces everyone can enjoy. I really look up to them and what they are doing with their art.
Arrested Motion: Do you have any personal experience with tattoos?
Justin Kerson: Yes, of course! I’ve been getting tattoos for almost 10 years now. “I’m dipped when you see me.” RIP Mac Dre.
Arrested Motion: Do you have any tattoos of your own documented in the show?
Justin Kerson: Yeah actually! Maybe half a dozen are mine. Like any mad scientist, I had to test my concept. So why not just test it on myself?
Arrested Motion: Do you have a favorite medium you like working in, other than blood and ink?
Justin Kerson: I really enjoy working with clay because of its shelf life, but my favorite medium to work with is film. It’s great for getting your concept through to the masses. In fact, my next piece will be a short film with zombies. Stay tuned.
Arrested Motion: What do you hope your audience takes away from this upcoming body of work?
Justin Kerson: Hepatitis C! Haha! I’m just kidding. Like life, art is also a process and should be appreciated in all forms.
Arrested Motion: Do you have any other individual or collaborative projects you are working on that are conceptually similar to Blood and Ink?
Justin Kerson: Yes, a few. One of my prints is a collaboration with 1xRUN. I will also have a glider in Benny Gold’s upcoming Glider series showing at agenda next month.
Arrested Motion: What kind of work can we expect to be seeing from you in the future?
Justin Kerson: I believe “art should comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable.” I came across that quote, unfortunately I don’t know whom it’s from, but I live by the concept of using art to question the norm and provoke thinking. So I guess expect more shockingly interesting projects. Like I mentioned earlier, Zombies!