When is the last time you stuck a part of your body through a hole in the wall and hoped that the stranger on the other side would give you something awesome?
That’s exactly what happened recently at Milk Studios where tattoo artist Scott Campbell conducted a four-day tattooing project called “Whole Glory.” Participants thrust their bare arms through a hole in the wall and hoped for the best. The tattoos were free and so was Campbell’s reign over the design.
The best part is that everyone seems to have walked away satisfied. How is that possible?
It helps that Campbell’s designs are beautiful and interesting.
But isn’t the biggest risk when getting a tattoo that you’ll regret it later, especially if you didn’t put enough thought into it in the first place? (That is assuming you go to a reputable shop with an autoclave and sufficient hygiene practices. If not, your biggest risk might be hepatitis.)
Before I got my first tattoo, I spent months, if not years, contemplating the design. This was back in 2006 during the era of tattoo reality shows like Miami Ink where there was always a lengthy discussion for the cameras about the significance of the design being inked.
I tried to do everything right. I tied my first tattoo to an important event: my first wedding anniversary. I chose something meaningful: Japanese Kanji that translated into “Serenity, Courage, Wisdom.” I picked a place where I could cover or reveal it as desired: my lower back.
That’s right. All of that careful deliberation and I’m now a 41-year-old woman with a Kanji tramp stamp. I would have done much better to have stuck my arm into a tattoo glory hole, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Maybe that’s why Campbell’s method works. Overthinking things doesn’t always yield the best results.
In an interview with the New York Times, Campbell talked about the time spent prepping his client’s arm for the tattoo and the changes he ended up making to the designs at the last minute based on the intuition he had in the moment. But still, he admitted that the interpretation of the final result was up to the client. “Not to take away from my being a psychic genius, but I think it has a similar flavor to when you read a horoscope and it’s spot on,” he said.
It turns out that glory holes can yield pretty great results when you have an open mind and the stranger on the other side is an expert.