So while I lay wait for my planned arrangements to fall into place let me write about something that confuses me no end. What do you call persons who inject ink under your skin in a pattern to form an image in your dermis?

To my detriment, I don’t pay much attention to titles. And name calling is considered rude.

I once stood before a magistrate (I will not elaborate too much) where she looked at me in amusement as I addressed her completely wrongly and with fallible title. To this day I don’t really know what ‘contempt of court’ is and why she said it but I remember non-specific warnings, lots of people either giggling or in fits of laughter, including officers of the court, then being led down below to the cells- not into a cell, then making a call (I did not own a mobile) to my Knight in Shining Armor uncle, who entered the ‘cellar’ shaking his head and chuckling while he paid some sort of fine for me.

Looking back, I think it annoyed her that I did not refer to her in the accepted form and title. I do have manners and believe I was polite when I approached her as ‘you’ and ‘Mrs. Judge’. American & British law themed shows ran through my mind with titles like ‘Your Honour”, “Honourable Judge”, “Madam Judge”, “Your Worship”, “My Lady”… I still don’t know which to use by way that I don’t intend to be near any court again in further chapters in my life. Knock on wood.

So what is it about titles?

People study for days, weeks, months or even years to earn a title in-front of, behind or below their given names, so why not indicate them as exactly that. The CEO of a corporation wants to be acknowledged as a CEO of a corporation. A chairperson of a committee wants to be identified differently to committee members and wants to be acknowledged as a chairperson. True also for a landscaper who doesn’t want to be indicated as just a gardener.

As easy as that?!

People who tattoo are at times a fickle bunch.

I’ve only walked into and paged through portfolios at 11 tattoo parlours in the Cape Town District and cruised on past 16 dodgy looking ones. I dress conservatively in long sleeves and thick leggings to not show a millimeter of inked skin, regardless of weather, so that I can cross out prejudiced egocentric tattooers. Therein lay my definition of “Tattooer”. I define a Tattooer as that person who tattoos and is all costumed up to a chosen stereotype and expects to receive a photocopy stereotype client, as a fundamental right to his profession. A “Tattooer” befittingly ignores any hypothetical client who steps in by virtue of not looking the part.

This specimen usually has an air of: I’m just too cool and hardcore to even acknowledge your presence in my parlour because that would just be… uncool.

I take a flip through their portfolios and haul my uncoolness out of there. The portfolios are stately filled with nothing I haven’t seen before and probably have seen numerous people with the exact tattoos. (Random fact: I remember persons by their tattoos and thus never forget their names if they provide me with one).

Some Tattooers incense me to spit fiery words.

But Tattooists and Tattoo Artist’s leave me twisted. Under my definition both are extremely talented. A Tattooist is flexible and they can manage a range of styles and techniques but have no identifiable trademark, yet. Trademarks take a lot of studying, observing and curiosity on the tattooists part.

I believe a Tattoo Artist has not necessarily developed a technique but has a unique style or tattoos only in specific niche genres e.g. Russian, Photo-realistic, 3D, Pointillism, cartoon, Sci-Fi, Biomechanics, Portraiture or they’re more adept at tattooing specific themes or concepts to the effect of Animals, Sugar Skulls, Zombies, Script and so on.

To me both are equally adequate but I don’t understand why some people who tattoo have this glint of injury in their eyes when I mistakenly err in calling them one or the other.

Either way, for me to gas on persons who inject ink under the skin as a GOOD Tattooist/ Tattoo Artist beyond apparent talent, is propped on how they feel and act about their profession and how they treat disciples or prospective loyal patrons. I in turn target at keeping my attitude sincere and in check in their company and in speaking about them, of course relying on my fractious temper.

Maya Angelou said it best: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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I’m capable at being the jaywalking amateur hawker trading curiosity & willingness to experiment with photographic subject and drama as a model for payment in the form of time & constructive criticisms & digital copies of the pictures taken. I sincerely believe no artist should work or create for free as time is money and I respect the photographer’s work of whom I approach. But is a photographer trading in TFDC (trade for digital copy) really working for free?

 

One of the photographers here in Luanda certainly thinks she’d be working for free if she takes pictures of me for portfolio purposes and that I should pay her at least USD300 as she’d be doing me a favour, wear nice clothes and make up and find a location. Fair enough.

I do like her photography and affects. But if I had any disposable income culminating to USD300 I’d continue on my vision of ink on my skin rather than model or be photographed.

 

Art or arrogance?

 

It’s difficult negotiating collaboration with possible photographers living in a city that’s one of the world’s top 5 most expensive cities to live in. All I really want to do is market myself as an alternative model that works for ‘free’ (not exactly as I just want a digital copy of the work).

But I somehow get the telepathic note that if I don’t have a gazillion Facebook ‘likes’ on my page or if I don’t know people who know people who know people or if I don’t have some fame then I’m just not worth their time to work for ‘free’. From a creative point of view, I just don’t get it. The basis of two creative’s collaborating is: I trade my time for your time and we both build a portfolio right?

Wrong.

Things operate differently in the city of Luanda. Firstly, there is a CONCRETE idea of beauty AND what photographs of a female should look like. Alluring, cute, sexually stimulating in a carbon copy way, skinny, small feet, small chest, long hair (real or bought but never African short- shit gets too real then) and she need not have personality or be particularly attractive.

I have found a willing and artistically visioned photographer with Massalo of Massalo photography and he is open to experiment in using my form in one of his projects. He is virtually a rare find to me.

 

I have yet to explore more of the Luanda ‘arts and culture’ scene so I might be eating my words with extra chili & salt, but I do feel that the nature of the industry here is made up of it being an inner circle type of popularity contest.

Or maybe I just need to work on my personality and character more.

As far as popularity contests go, and the amount of ‘likes’ on Facebook, its water off a duck’s back to me. I’m mainly in it for the art, experience and all out curiosity and a pinch of hoping some brand out there stumbles across the likes of me and offers to finance my tattoo aspirations in exchange for modelling their brand… Girl can dream.

 

Seven days ago I was urged by a dear industry acquaintance to do something with the pictures I had posted on Facebook taken by Hannes. So I took his words and persistently annoying encouragement & advice to heart and Googled mass information on what Alternative modeling entails and how to go about creating a portfolio. I have substantial talent in researching and stalking.

I clumped through a multiplicity of bull turd and conformist styled alternative sites & imagery; I made a to-do list and crossed out all the tasks I am too stubborn to perform. Alternative Modelling is a grossly undefined but hugely common form of entertainment and art.

First on my list was to gather random opinions from five people consisting of friends and frenemies. I was taken aback by one morsel of advice for me to ‘drop about 20kg to make it as a model’ and another to wear a weave or to start chemically relaxing or curling my hair as I would be “representing us Africans” … I agree that my fitness has been decided on my mood per day or dependant on if I manage to remember where I stored my Amy Dixon Fitness DVD I stole from a devout fan of hers a year ago or if I feel the irrepressible urge to accept the notorious Luanda traffic after gym. The topic of hair deservers an entire separate rant styled blog…

But my weight does not define what I think is beautiful. I like my natural hair although it does need a deep condition and vitamin treatment of some sort or a hair clipper machine…

But what is Alternative Modelling? The basic definition of an Alternative Model when we break it down via Google’s “define…..” search formula is:

al·ter·na·tive[awl-tur-nuh-tiv, al-]

noun

1.a choice limited to one of two or more possibilities, as of things, propositions, or courses of action, the selection of which precludes any other possibility: You have the alternative of riding or walking.

2.one of the things, propositions, or courses of action that can be chosen: The alternative to riding is walking.

3.a possible or remaining course or choice: There was no alternative but to walk.

adjective

4.affording a choice of two or more things, propositions, or courses of action.

5.(of two things, propositions, or courses) mutually exclusive so that if one is chosen the other must be rejected: The alternative possibilities are neutrality and war.

6.employing or following nontraditional or unconventional ideas, methods, etc.; existing outside the establishment: an alternative newspaper; alternative lifestyles.

7.Logic . (of a proposition) asserting two or more choices, at least one of which is true.

mod·el [mod-l], adjective, verb, mod·eled, mod·el·ing or ( especially British ) mod·elled, mod·el·ling.

noun

1.a standard or example for imitation or comparison.

2.a representation, generally in miniature, to show the construction or appearance of something.

3.an image in clay, wax, or the like, to be reproduced in more durable material.

4.a person or thing that serves as a subject for an artist, sculptor, writer, etc.

5.a person whose profession is posing for artists or photographers.

Verb

1.

6. to give shape or form to; fashion.

Hmn…  Ah-HA!

An Alternative Model has most to no parameters at all! Either you appreciate or identify with the way they put themselves together or how the photographer translated them or you just don’t. They just have to be whoever they are in their own comfort. Fat, male, female, hermaphrodite, eunuch,  tall, short, skinny, over tanned, pale, dark black, black, brown, Asian, tattooed, not tattooed, pierced, and not pierced. You can incorporate genres like fetish, gore, pin-up, modern pin-up, classic, Goth, surrealism. The options are just too darn many.

Commercial models have to be a certain, size, height, weight and have predefined dimensions and an amicable persona. Only in the last 25 years has there been a dawdling increase of Asian and African commercial models admitted and fed to the public, but not by the vast numbers of us on the respective continents. Most established designers, agencies and common popular brands do not promote individuality or body modification beyond the population norms. Cookie cutter molds, nothing wrong with that, easily digestible for General Joe and Jill consumer.

I haven’t come across forms of discrimination between alternative lifestyle type of people, yet, although I often read the “Why do you people do this to yourselves?!/ Tattooed-Pierced-niche people are ugly/ Don’t you people have jobs, why don’t you just try to be normal?” exclamations from General Joe and Jill Consumers raiding sites and commenting, as if their opinions mattered, and the ensuing comebacks from members and admins.

I determine that alternative modelling is a state of being whoever you want to be in an ever demanding and restricting market and having the freedom to do so.

(hannes@zatech.co.za)

Next I need to somehow formulate words about the journey to approaching photographers and the responses I’ve received from four based here in Angola over the last seven days…

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