Jeff Musser is an artist in a class by himself, merging the symbolism of tattoos with the beauty of paint on canvas. His appreciation for tattoos goes far beyond ink on skin as he refers to the body art as, “one of the defining languages of my generation.” Jeff takes interest in learning why people choose the tattoos they do and how to incorporate this intimate type of artwork into his own paintings.
By combining body art and canvas, Jeff has the artistic challenge of uniting the sentiment that both the tattoos and his brush strokes possess. Not only do Jeff’s paintings talk, but also the subjects within his art present a voice of their own.
Here, in his own words, Musser explains his mental process:
“I see in the tattoo one of the most dramatic aesthetic status shifts within American society in the last decade. Tattoos have changed from the ink splotches of the damned, those at the very periphery of polite society into a legitimized fine art now widely accepted by the mainstream.
Indeed, those who bear them proudly invite the public to read their skin like an open diary, with each inked image telling a story — an indelible histogram that can detail a point in time as well as a journey. This form of expression, far beyond anything on the Internet, is one of the defining languages of my generation, more enduring and more intimate than any digital medium could ever be...
As an expression of individuality, tattoos can conjure peace from life’s tragedy and make tangible its joy. I am intrigued to know why people express themselves with such permanence, why they choose the symbols they do, and how I can learn from that language to express issues in my own life while balancing what I have to paint in order to live...
…the depiction of a tattoo captures a level of intimacy that very few other subjects can. While we express our individuality in many ways, the tattoo remains perhaps the most primal, the closest in proximity to the indefinable interior self. For, unlike sartorial fashion, which rests on the skin, or body piercings, which protrude from the skin, the tattoo is, by definition, just under the skin. In this sense, when we bear a tattoo, we invite our audience – anyone who sees us – to engage with us in a most personal manner. By taking tattoos as my vehicle of expression, I believe I do the same thing with my art.”