If the world were only so simple as black and white. No gray stomping grounds between the tinge of our ink-and-paper polarities—only left-wing and right-wing, good and evil, yin and yang. Colors might fill in the dimensions of our world, but it is black and white that define them.
Rival Tattoo Art Studios owner and tattoo artist Jeff Hayes is making this revelation a reality with Rival's newest installation, Black and White. Originally from Huntington Beach, Calif., Hayes began his career in art by designing for snowboard and skate brands. He didn’t get involved in the tattoo industry until he realized people were taking his art into tattoo shops to get it inked on their skin. “I didn’t want to do it for several years,” Hayes says. "It’s a high-pressure, no-erase medium that I personally think is the most difficult in the world because there is no consistency in your canvas from one client to the next.”
A testament to his talent, Hayes was voted best tattoo artist in Albuquerque The Magazine’s 2007 readers’ poll, but Hayes would rather talk about the upcoming show and the participating artists than himself. The month-long art show, Black and White, features tattoo and fine artists Ben Viamontes, T.K. and Daniel Vanzzini as well as Hayes. “We wanted to get back to simplicity with black and white, where something is graphic and readable from a distance, but when you get up on it, it’s very much detailed,” Hayes says.
Don't let the word "tattoo" fool you. What happens behind the doors at Rival goes far beyond pigment and skin. Hayes says the artists at his shop not only work on the artistic platform of tattooing, but through several other expressions such as fine art, graffiti art and screenprinting. “The name Rival simply comes from rivaling the industry in the sense that we do many different mediums of art all underneath one roof,” Hayes says. Rival also houses its very own screenprinting system with the ability to clothe a small country or print anything from T-shirts for bands to a new clothing line Hayes is working on.
Consummate artwork covers the walls of the Rival Studio. Selections from Rival’s exclusive clothing line stare across the room at a wicked, arcade-size vintage “Donkey Kong” game. Every tattoo station is reminiscent of a modern museum filled with art and rare novelties, from retro Star Wars figures to stickers you might only see in the bathrooms of New York’s punk rock meeca CBGB.
The works in Black and White truly bring it back to the basics with an eclectic group of artists and styles displaying an urban yet natural feel. Each piece flows together, a thematic experience that continues from one work to the next. The artists were allowed to choose their own medium to best capture their artistic expression. “We wanted our artists to work within certain parameters so the art show itself is cohesive … when it’s our group collective, we like to have the gallery be a specific style or genre so it gives the art on display a theme with four different artists rather than one,” Hayes says.
Black and White will be on display through Saturday, Dec. 1, when the artists will tear down the show with a kickin’ block party. The free, all-ages party will include catered food, live performances by local b-boys and MCs, and a few more surprises.