Fast Company

Design Thursday: Design Miami preview: Designer Tats

Want to pay the ultimate homage to your favorite artist? Now you can commission a limited edition tattoo by a range of trendy international artists, and spend the rest of your life as a walking gallery exhibit.

Design agent provocateur Tobias Wong announced last Friday at Core 77’s

design offsite, “Design, Wit, and the Creative Act,” that he would be fielding a show at this year’s Design Miami in which adoring fans can select an original design by one of eight artists (including Tord Boontje, Lawrence Weiner, Hella Jongerius,Yves Behar, Vito Acconci, 5.5 Designers, and Kaws) and have a tattoo artist execute it on a body part of their choosing. Once the show is over, the designs will be retired, much as an artist might destroy the plate for a print.

Boontje’s design is especially appealing. BoontjeRZR.jpgIn conjunction with Andrew Allenson, he’s created a program that randomly generates his signature floral patterns. The tattoo-ee can stop the program at whatever design he or she likes, take a screen grab, print it, then have it embossed in flesh.

Called “As Long as It Lasts,” Design Miami’s first pop-up tattoo parlor will run for four days. Conceptually, the idea, says co-collaborator Aric Chen (as is Josee Lepage), is to explore what it means for a ‘body’ to be signed by an artist. But it’s also just a goof on the idea of art and obsession --- signed body art as the next step beyond manicure designs. In short, perfect for the crowd that flocks to Miami less for the art than for the opportunity to flaunt.

“Pricing is tricky,” Wong told us. The tattoo artist charges $250 an hour, and a typical tat takes about two hours. That’s $500 for an original work -- not bad given the stratospheric prices that are typical at the Miami extravaganza. So, why not charge something more fittingly outrageous? Eli Broad and Steve Cohen surely wouldn’t mind dropping a couple thou for something so precious?

“We’re trying to figure out how not to be exclusionary,” Wong says. “But we’re spending a lot of money putting this together….” KAWSrzr.jpg Maybe a student discount? A few bucks off for hip seniors? A special break for victims of the Miami subprime mortgage meltdown?

Wong’s work plays subversively with the boundaries of art and design, often deflating the pretentious status-seeking that accompanies our brand and consumption-obsessed world. Foreshadowing his Miami production, Wong got his own tattoo --- a message from Jenny Holzer, “PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT,” inscribed on his forearm, then made permanent with a needle and ink.

The tattoo studio will be at The Loft Building at 3627 NE 1st Court. Drop ins are welcome. And there will even be one temporary design on the roster, for those who have commitment issues when it comes to relationships.

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