Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s Featured Artist: Cade Martin

Cade Martin – Tattoo Series

To see more:

So often my personal projects are sparked by something small, and just as often I take that idea and run with it on a moments notice. This series of tattoo portraits came to be when on a break during a project, a client and I somehow got to talking about tattoos – I don’t think she had one. She mentioned a tattoo festival – the DC Tattoo Arts Expo – being held the following week in the Washington DC area and asked if I was going. I don’t have any tattoos myself but I was intrigued. My personal projects, a lot of times, have me chasing characters and stories they put forth. The thought of all those people with their stories essentially written on their bodies at one location was something I wanted to experience. From there I hustled to rent a space at the tattoo expo and set up a photo booth. 
I have used the photo booth set up before for portrait projects, having a ready backdrop and a space for people to step out of the commotion of the convention hall, seems to create an instant curiosity. At the tattoo expo, we simply asked people walking around the convention hall if I could create their portrait. I photographed everyone against a grey backdrop within our makeshift studio – a few minutes with each person, lights and all. 

In postproduction, we went to work exploring & sampling the tattoos on each of the subject’s torsos; from there we created a unique personal tapestry background for every subject. The idea was to create a uniquely textured and scene into which the subjects would be immersed, promoting the rich, multi-layered stories and characters.

The people I gravitated to had complete coverage and amazingly detailed tattoo work, it was such a clear commitment & passion on their part. The whole experience turned out to be a blast – talking and working with people from all walks of life bonded by their common interests.

I followed the DC shoot with another tattoo event south of LA and it was an equally amazing experience, both as a spectator and as a photographer. As is always the case with my portrait projects, I feel truly honored to be let in and given permission to share what I capture. It was amazing to spend a few passing minutes with these people and to see how they are expressing themselves – I found it captivating, equally mysterious and revealing. But, I still don’t have any tattoos.

You can see the behind the scenes video here:


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

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1 Comment

  1. These are beautiful!

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