Scott Campbell's Whole Glory Exhibition: Blind Tattoos at Milk Studios

An experiment in blind trust, Milk Studios in New York hosted celebrity tattoo artist Scott Campbell’s art project Whole Glory, a three-day exhibit of mystery tattooing. A forty foot white picket wall spanned the gallery, separating Campbell from his eager subjects.

Campbell  is known for his detailed and intricate black and white ink, which he has indelibly bestowed upon the likes of Marc Jacobs, Heath Ledger, Sting, Courtney Love, and numerous other celebrities.  Attendees were selected on a limited number basis by in-person lottery each day, and were not allowed to communicate with the artist or see the tattoo until full completion of their surprise ink. They sat with their arm through a hole in the fence and waited for Campbell to ink them up with whatever he chose from his one-man parlor on the other side.

In an interview with Milk, he reflected on the unexpected intuition that moved him to tattoo each anonymous arm. “The freedom that came from people handing me such complete trust was amazing. I have had clients come to me with ‘do whatever you want’ before, but i think the wall also helps me claim the freedom they extended. I was really surprised at how, even though there was no communication, the tattoos that I put on them were still in a way a reaction to the person on the other side of the wall. I knew nothing about them, but as soon as I started touching their arm, shaving and preparing the skin, I couldn’t help but imagine who they were, and the idea of who they were influenced how the tattoo unfolded.”

“It had a sort of palm reading/ fortune telling dynamic to it. Often I would prepare a design ahead of time, thinking to myself ‘next arm that comes through, i’m going to put this on it.’ And every single time, I would hold the arm and look at it, and change course. It wasn’t right for that arm. My gut said ‘no, this arm needs something else.’”

Campbell hosted a closing dinner at The Smile with the lucky recipients of his work as well as wife Lake Bell and friends Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, and Michaela Watkins in attendance. The exhibition ran this past Thurs – Sun but Campbell can be found at the famous Saved Tattoo Shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

by Diandra Barsalou for New York Girl Style