People get tattoos for all kinds of reasons: to memorialize loved ones, to achieve a certain aesthetic.
Then there are masochists who seek out the Brutal Black Project. Per Vice, those body-art diehards look to surrender control of the process, get tatted with dense blocks of black ink and see how much needle-driven pain they can endure.
“If you want a brutal-looking tattoo, there is only one way to get it: brutally,” Cammy Stewart, one of three Brutal Black Project tattooists, tells Vice. “If you want to look brutal, you have to go through the process.”
The tattoo collective’s signature look is extreme, dark and invariably on your face. The process, which is done free of charge for those who can take it, is accented by screams of pain, splashes of tattoo ink and blood all over the place. Sessions can last for up to four excruciating hours.
But Stewart insists that he and his collaborators are not completely sadistic. “If they’re pleading, you stop,” he tells Vice. “It’s not forced upon them.”
That said, this is more about the experience of enduring pain than it is about walking out with a pretty rose. As Stewart puts it, “This is a big ‘f - - k you’ to what most people believe tattooing to be. The marks left by the tattoo are only a reminder of what you learned about yourself during
So far, Stewart and his partners in ink, Valerio Cancellier and Phillip “3Kreuze,” have found only three victims willing to endure the agony.
But the artists seem to have loved every second of it so far. 3Kreuze tells Vice, “Seeing the pain in their eyes, the shaking from their bodies and the mess, it makes me proud that I’m reaching goals together with my clients.”
Vice filmed one such tattoo being made on a man named Frankie, who arrived with an already heavily tattooed face. “I don’t give a f - - k about pain,” he says, before getting attacked with ink-tipped needles. “If you don’t feel pain, you’re not alive.”
He most definitely felt it: The proposed four-hour session — which had Frankie bleeding from the face and head, gritting his teeth and squirming — lasted only three before he cried uncle. “It was like torture from medieval times,” Frankie says.
Still, he’s not turned off from continuing his tattoo journey. “It’s never done,” he says. “Even if you are fully covered, you find some spots to fill in.”