In 2017, Vice Magazine brought a new trend called the Brutal Black Project into popular culture. While most people getting tattoos are interested in the artwork, the Brutal Black Project offers an entirely new experience that is all about pain.
As an artist, it’s important to understand what motivates people to get tattoos, and how some tattoo experiences are about reaching goals and gaining a sense of community rather than the art itself.
In this article, we’ll cover:
What is the Goal of the Brutal Black Project?
The Brutal Black Project was started by three artists to prioritize pain over design. The mission of this project is to push the limits of the client’s pain threshold, and the tattooing experience is all about how badly the tattoo can hurt.
Instead of intricate designs, the goal is to saturate the body with as much black ink as possible in thick lines across particularly painful areas like the head, neck, and arms.
This project is similar to ancient trends and tribal ritual in body modification and scarification, where the ultimate goal was often to endure extreme pain. Tattoo artists will cover the client’s body in thick, heavy-handed tattoos and will do their best not to allow any breaks when the client is feeling pain.
How Did the Brutal Black Project Start?
Valerio Cancellier, Cammy Stewart, and Phillip 3Kreuze started the Brutal Black Project, and they were united by their intense belief in “no pain, no gain.” These artists, who all specialized in large blackwork tattoos, wanted to provide a unique tattooing experience motivated by physical pain.
The idea of the project is for clients to have their bodies totally covered in black streaks over the course of an hours-long session. The ultimate goal is for clients to go through a complete transformation during the procedure. Clients will be changed by the tattoo session - not just with the physical changes, but through overcoming the intense pain without being broken by it.
Who Participates in the Project?
Many of the people who take part in the project want to explore their pain threshold and see how much it takes for them to break. Those who decide to get these tattoos are proud of their ability to withstand the pain and think of it as a positive experience that makes them feel free.
People getting these brutal black tattoos know that they will be completely at the mercy of the tattoo machine for hours and will look totally different by the end of the session. The hope is for the pain, blood, and changes to the skin to give them a different view of the world.
Enduring Pain to Prove Manhood
Most people who take part in the Brutal Black Project are men, and a lot of them are tattoo artists themselves. Some people consider the amount of pain involved with the tattoo experience as a test of their manhood.
One of the common motivations for getting these tattoos is the feeling of overcoming death and leaving normal life behind. Because the point of the tattoos is to endure as much pain as possible, many artists will hold their client down and not stop unless they are vomiting or crying.
What Do Brutal Black Tattoos Look Like?
The three artists who started the Brutal Black Project consider pain to be part of the art involved in the unique experience of these tattoos. Design is not a huge factor in this project, and most of the tattoos look like giant black streaks across the whole body.
One of the goals of the project is to feel tattoos rather than plan them out, so the style of the tattoo will be determined over the course of the session. Cammy Stewart describes the process as having no final goal except for the experience, so design is not part of the tattoo.
Here are some of the final products of the Brutal Black Project:
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