Green Man Studio art exhibit chronicles history of tattoos

Tattoo artists’ work on display at Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford until Feb. 29 with free admission to exhibit 

Adam Manison | The Informer

Jon Elliot and Ken Adams have been friends for over 20 years, spreading their art form across Connecticut for equally as long.

Except, you won’t see their artwork on billboards, in magazine pictorials or in murals across walls of buildings.

You might be more accustomed to seeing their artwork on the arm of a bystander walking past you in the shape of a skull, portrait of a passed family member or even as something as simple as a quote from a favorite poet.

They work in the business of tattoos and have been working out of Green Man Studio in West Hartford since 2005, and you are now able to see their work in public while not having to stare awkwardly at another person’s body as they walk by, but not for long.

Recently, Elliot and Adams’ work is on display at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford where they have over 300 of their original tattoo and other art works on display for the public to see for free until Feb. 29, when the exhibit will be taken down.

When asked about how they became involved with the Cultural Center, Adams told Michael Hayes of that: “They  (Charter Oak Cultural Cenetr) had put a call out to all the [tattoo] shops in the area. Nobody else responded. We’ve always wanted to be more professional and kind of get out of that sort of stereotypical 60’s and 70’s tattoo shop idea of sort of like just a bunch of gruff… it is an art form and we don’t do it because we want to be social outcasts, we do it because we love the art form.”

“We thought this would be a great way to showcase the shop and tattooing in general.”

From a variation of colors, designs and techniques all of Green Man Studios’ pieces of work have been framed up for display while portraying many different styles of artwork as well.

In the past people saw tattoos as a rebellion against cultural norms and rugged pieces of “artwork” that only those who have a tough grit to them would even dare to have on their bodies for the rest of their lives.

In the newer generation, tattoos are seen as a way for an individual to express themselves through a permanent piece of well sketched out and meaningful artwork that they are proud enough of to display to the general public, most of the time.

Many express their religious backgrounds, favorite quote from someone who has inspired them in their lives or just because something looks cool that they really do love the concept of. Whatever the case the choice is permanent.

For whatever the reason, Adams and Elliot were proud enough to display their creations for the public to see for the next few weeks and all are encouraged to go and are welcome.

“If you’re interested in tattooing it would definitely be something nice to see, such an array of image and art form.”

“But, if you’re not necessarily interested in tattooing or just curious about it, it would raise your awareness to what tattooing is about and how it’s been with us for a long time,” Adams said.