Star Wars Ink: Shane Turgeon Talks Tattoos

StarWars.com Team | June 22, 2007

Over 70 fans competed in the Star Wars Tattoo show at Celebration IV, showing off skin art featuring everything from full-back portraits of the Sith to funky Tiki-inspired Jed Masters. The contest’s organizer, Star Wars fan, tattoo aficionado Shane Turgeon talks about the contest, tattoos and his new Star Wars skin art book The Force in the Flesh.

Why did you decide to have another Star Wars tattoo show at Celebration IV? Was it in a large part due to the success of the show at CIII?
The popularity of Star Wars tattoos has been rising over the years and has entrenched itself as a major part of Star Wars fandom. Lots of people have them, and those that don’t generally love to see them. The response to the tattoo track at CIII was overwhelming so it was natural to bring it back, better than ever, for CIV.

How did this show differ from the tattoo show at CIII?
This time around we made our exhibit a little more visual. Instead of having Star Wars art done by tattoo artists hanging up behind us, we had a big plasma TV running showing images of Star Wars tattoos, Star Wars tattoo art as well as footage of a 30+ hour Star Wars tattoo being done from start to finish, sped up to be shown in 15 minutes. CIII was the first time anyone had run a Star Wars tattoo competition and we learned a lot there which we took into consideration for this year’s event. The stage crew in the Celebration Theatre did an amazing job this year and really helped put the event over the top.

Talk a little about who you picked to be guest judges and why.
The two Star Wars celebrity judges are picked by Mary Franklin from LFL. This year we had actress Femi Taylor (Twi’lek dancer Oola) and Industrial Light & Magic artist Howie Weed (and sometimes Wampa) on board and they were a lot of fun to have involved. The third judge, our friend Hannah Aitchison, is a renowned tattoo artist who will soon be starring in Kat Von D’s (formerly of “Miami Ink”) new reality show “LA Ink.” Hannah was one of our judges for CIII and is a huge Star Wars fan so with her being in the Los Angeles area, it was a no brainer to have her back. And the fourth judge was myself.

Which tattoo work surprised you the most?
There were a few. Ky Odore’s Clone Wars ¾ sleeve was a stunning large piece there were a lot of great smaller pieces as well, such as Jim Sharamitaro’s 16 bit Boba Fett from the Super Nintendo games. There was some killer black and grey work as well.

Did you have a personal favorite out of all the winners?
Ky’s sleeve really stands out as does Rick Russo’s Tiki Yoda but there were a lot of stellar pieces that didn’t win that I would count as personal favorites as well.

Why do you think some fans love to show their Star Warss pride
in the form of tattoo art?

To be honest, I think there has to be an appreciation of tattoo art in general before people make the big leap into getting a Star Wars tattoo, especially large pieces. (I just can’t see Steve Sansweet deciding that he’s got to have a full Star Wars backpiece one day, just because he’s a huge fan). If you have a love for tattoos, then you’ll
recognize the things that make a good tattoo — like great imagery, solid artwork and to a lesser extent, even a good story — are also the backbone of the Star Wars saga. The really do go hand-in-hand.

What Star Wars tattoos do you personally have?
I have some Aurbesh writing across my lower back and along my inner biceps as well as a full calf-sleeve on my left leg dedicated to The Empire Strikes Back.

Why did you decide to do a book — The Force in the Flesh — all
about Star Wars tattoos?

After running Tattoosandtoys.com for so long, attending conventions around the world, and meeting so many great people, I felt that a book showcasing not only the finest Star Wars body art there is but also the stories of the people behind that art would be an excellent way to give something back to everyone who has come to be a part of this growing community. I’m also a big fan of art books and I felt that this was a subject deserving of such immortality.

Why do you think Star Wars is so pervasive and iconic in pop
culture and underground art?

It’s funny because when I started out collecting Star Wars memorabilia in 1991, Star Wars was in and of itself “underground.” It had fallen from the mainstream and, in many circles, was revered by people involved in a lot of counter-culture scenes. As those people grew older, some of them became the driving force in media, and their enthusiasm was ripe to ride a wave of new Star Wars excitement stemming from the Special Editions. As mainstream as it is now, there’s still something punk rock about Star Wars that draws people from all walks of life to it.

Will there be a tattoo show at Celebration Europe?
We are currently working on plans to bring the world of Star Wars tattoos to our friends in Europe. We have a tattoo collecting panel ready to go as well as an exhibit and competition.

What’s next for you?
I’m really excited about the positive response the book is receiving. If it continues to do well, I’m going to go ahead and work on other books and hopefully one day we might just see a second edition of The Force in the Flesh.

Check out our CIV Tattoo Show Photo Blog here.

CIV Tattoo Contest Winners List

Small/Med Color
Winner – Rick Russo – Tiki Yoda
Runner Up – Erik Chavez – Quinlan Vos

Large Color
Winner – Ky Odore – Animated CW 3/4 Sleeve
Runner Up – Pete Sharland – calf-sleeve

Small/Med Black and Grey
Winner – Joe Morton – 21B
Runner Up – Rick Russo – Star Wars symbols

Large Black and Grey
Winner – Jean Paul Albor – Luke and Crashed AT-AT back piece
Runner Up – Mike Garcia – portrait work on his thighs.

Read more about Star Wars tattoos and the fans who love them here:

“Fandom is More Than Skin Deep: Star War Tattoos at CIII”

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