The Brutal Tattoo Ritual Built on Pain

Yeah, it’s always
the question why, but… I feel more complete every time
I have a session, you know. Everybody wants to look like how you see yourself, you know. For the Brutal Black project, the most important [thing]
is the experience. It’s like a kind of rite
of passage thing, like a ritual. They believe that they want to push
their body physically to its limit. The whole energy
changes in the room. Like, everyone that’s tattooing
goes quiet, focused, unless Valerio tattoos them, and then it’s pain. My job is to take you
to the end of it. And yours is to complete it. Sometimes, I insult people. I say, “What the fuck are you doing? Stay down! Don’t fuck
around with me!” It’s not black. It’s not fucking black! They go beyond their limit,
so from then on it’s all new. In that moment,
they live a new experience, so they go beyond. My name’s Cameron Stewart. Most people know me as
Cammy Stewart. I’ve been tattooing for
almost 12 years. And the Brutal Black Project is basically a concept
that was designed between me
and my friend Valerio for making wide scale blackwork
done in a… what some people might
describe as a chaotic way. The Brutal Black
Project in three words… could be: ignorant,
violent, and primitive. That’s it. When we do a tattoo, we modify a big amount of skin. We work on a lot of skin. It could even be
considered extreme, so there’s a real
transformation of this person. In the beginning,
we were more structured in how we went about making the
tattoos more traditional. Like, we would use
a stencil and preliminary drawing, etcetera. But, after seeing how people
reacted to getting the tattoo, we would change the
concept a little bit, and it became more about the freedom of working on someone
without constraint. I basically want to make people
look like savages. I want it be really
primitive and tribal. If you want a brutal
looking tattoo, there’s only one way to get it, brutally. That’s it. If you want to look brutal, you’ve
got to go through the process. And for the project, the most important [thing]
is the experience. So I’m Frankie. I’m from
the Netherlands. I arrived yesterday in Italy. I’m going to get tattooed by
Cammy and Valerio. I think we started about
half a year ago, something like that. This is going to be my final session
with the Brutal Black Project. I expect a lot of pain, and blood. I’m fucking nervous, man. I’ve always faced my
fear of suffering, of experiencing the feeling of pain. Because it’s not suffering, it’s just a feeling. But in our society, it’s labeled as…
it’s seen as something negative. Like when a kid falls, and his mother goes,
“Oh, you poor thing!” No. He doesn’t need an
apprehensive mother. He just needs someone who can
help him overcome that moment of growth, and overcome his fear. This is kind of what we
do with tattoos. There’s no need for me
to reassure you, to tell you,
“Oh, you poor thing!” Quite the opposite. Sometimes, I insult people. I say, “What the fuck are you doing?
Stay down! Don’t fuck around with me!” But, I only do this once they’ve
gone beyond their limit. They go beyond their limit, so from
then on, it’s all new. They don’t know what to do.
They don’t know how to behave. They have never seen it.
They have never experienced it. In that moment, they live
a new experience. That’s enough! That’s enough! If they’re pleading
with you to stop, you stop, but only if
they really have to. They are essentially in control. It’s not forced upon them. They’re here of their own free will. I think some people look at it
and think it’s like a negative thing. But, as far as I’m concerned,
if they want to get it done, and we want to do it,
and no one’s getting seriously hurt, I don’t see what
the problem is. I started tattooing when I was quite
young. I was only about 22. And I had done basic work,
any kind of work, traditional, Japanese, etcetera. And the work that I made
initially was probably a little bit more refined
and less dense. And, as I got into doing —
learning technique, and being able to put in
heavier amounts of ink, the work changed slightly, and blackwork, I suppose,
is what came out of it. I think I’m drawn to blackwork
because it was extreme, and it was pushing it to the limit. Doing sort of an outsider’s
type of tattooing that wasn’t commercial. It just clicked. For the tattooee, for the person who’s
getting tattooed, I suppose it’s kind of
difficult for me to comment on because, I think their interest in it is different than mine. They’re obviously
interested in having work that appeals to them,
sort of, come to us, because they’ve seen it online, and they want to get
something like that. And some people come maybe
because they want the experience, like a kind of rite of passage
thing, like a ritual. They believe that they want to push
their body physically to its limit. It’s the same as anything, you know,
like skydiving, bungee jumping, anything that releases
adrenaline and endorphins, [blackwork] could be compared to
[as] the same. I don’t give a fuck about pain. You just need to take it. If you don’t feel pain,
you’re not alive. Yeah, I was always into tattooing
when I was younger. My family members,
they all have tattoos. And one time, I went with my
mom to a tattoo shop. I saw how it’s all done
[unintelligible] in the tattoo shop. And I liked it, so… Yeah, it’s always the question why, but it’s the same like, why do some
girls do Botox in their lips, put implants in their ass,
and shit like that, you know. Everybody wants to look like
how you see yourself, you know. This will be the last session
of the Brutal Black Project. We have decided to end
the Brutal Black Project here. We kind of wanted to end it because
we don’t want it to become dilute and overdone. We will work on work together, but the concept will probably
change and develop just so you’re not recycling
the same thing all the time. Clean. Done. I think we’ve already
reached our maximum. We can’t do more than this. It dies here. We kill our own monster. When I start tattooing, I kind of feel like
I want to stay quiet. It’s not even purposefully.
Like, it just becomes that, and you just get submerged in it. I enable people to live their own experience to live freely, to face the challenge with pain. You feel like you perceive your body in its complete wholeness. This is not black! – What?
– This is not black! This is not fucking black.
Please tell him. He keeps torturing him,
and it’s not even fucking black. If it has to be black, you got to
make it black in one round. It’s not black. It’s not fucking black! Goddamn it! Basically, you’re going to get
body-bagged out of here in the trolley. I’ll push you home man, I promise. Too much? Mate, you’ve only just started.
It’ll take a while. I think you’ll get more into it
over the course of time. You think you won’t, but you’re fucking
probably a lot stronger than what you give
yourself credit for. I’m fucking sick. I feel bad for him. Yeah, death to Frankie, man. It’s only going to get worse
throughout the day. The thing is, when someone
comes in initially, they’re like normal and they
have to adjust, so your body will
release endorphins, adrenaline, just to get through it. But initially, it’s not easy. The first hour, not so good. Second hour, easier. Third hour, okay. Fourth hour, if he makes it that far, done probably. I reckon four,
four hours max. So I have to work fast
to try and get the coverage. Wait, wait! Let’s just finish… Let’s finish this spot. -We can finish it, no problem.
-It’s fast. The Brutal Black Project is an experience that’s
100 percent real. You get it as soon as you feel
very strong pain. If you decide to take part in it,
there are no compromises. The only compromise is your limit. Once you go beyond your limit,
that’s it. You have reached your goal. As a tattooist, I think pushing yourself is a good
thing all the time. Not as a tattooist,
as an artist, as anyone in any job or hobby or… In my opinion, you should always
take yourself to the maximum. It felt like torturing
from medieval times. In a session like that, you get to
know yourself a little bit better. I’m still feeling sick, but I’m
happy with — that I could take it. It’s never done. Even if you’re fully covered,
you’re going to find some spot to fill in. It’s never done, because yeah, I feel more complete every time I
have a session, you know.


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