Art, in many of its forms, seems to be the lifeblood of East Point resident Quar Brown. The former Art Institute of Atlanta student and Army veteran is an accomplished photographer, music video director and author. Recently, Brown published the third edition of his book “Skin Storiez,” a collection of visual stories that feature celebrities and their tattoos, as well as the stories of inspiration behind those tattoos.
For many, tattoos often hold significant meaning; they’ve been used historically to symbolize the birth or death of loved ones, anniversaries, marriages, and a host of other important occurrences. Other times, a certain tattoo might just look cool as hell. Brown’s fascination with skin art has allowed us a detailed window into the kinds of tattoos celebrities covet, and why.
“I wanted to combine art, artists and their reasons behind the stories of their art; that’s when ‘Skin Storiez’ came to mind,” Brown said. “The goal with ‘Skin Storiez’ is to allow the artist to showcase their art and tell their [own] stories.”
The first two editions of “Skin Storiez” featured U.S. residents and local artists exclusively. However, the third edition incorporated the stories of entertainers and influencers from the United Kingdom with those from the U.S., giving this edition a uniquely international feel. Brown enjoyed a significant level of success with the initial editions, but wanted to challenge himself this time by cultivating relationships with entertainers overseas, and including their testimonies in the newest edition. Their stories are intertwined with those such as that of rapper/actor Lil Zane, an Atlanta native who has starred in films alongside the likes of Eddie Murphy, Beyoncé and Sir Sean Connery.
Brown identifies Lil Zane as one of the individuals he has enjoyed working with the most. This is most likely attributable to Zane’s longevity in the entertainment industry: He was signed to his first record contract at 10 years old, and he has continued to make music and appear in movies and television. In addition to Zane’s appearance in “Skin Storiez,” Brown has also directed a music video for the platinum rapper’s song “God’s Drip.”
“Skin Storiez” is an addictive read, in part because the compelling stories are as aesthetically rewarding as is the photography. Brown gives his readers lush photos that capture the vivaciousness of the artist; when the subjects recall the impetuses for their skin art, you can visualize them speaking to you directly. The artists are shot beautifully, and the book becomes more gratifying once the artists’ stories provide a window into some of their most intimate thoughts.
When questioned about the inspiration for his projects, Brown chose not to name other photographers or music video directors. Instead, he attests that his inspirations are products of his professional relationships.
“I’m inspired by those I work with,” Brown said. “I purposely avoid being inspired by another photographer or someone else who directs music videos, because they’re telling their [own] vision, their [own] story.
“I think what makes my art different is that I [ask] my artists: What is your vision? Where can we go with your story? With your photography?”
“Skin Storiez” features a diverse blend of entertainers in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and lifestyle; this is done quite intentionally. Brown believes it is important to capture everyone’s voices. “We all have stories to tell,” he said.
Brown is proud of the work he has accomplished with Atlanta artists such as Zane, Mayhem Muzic and R&B artist Stan Genius, and continues to strive to develop professional relationships with local talent. One Atlanta artist in particular, Young Thug, is very high on Brown’s list of celebrities he wants to work with in the future.
“Young Thug went live on Instagram; he sat for two hours and literally talked about his tattoos, and how some of those tattoos commemorate family members who have passed away,” Brown said. “It was refreshing to see a celebrity speak directly about the reasons behind their tattoos. He had thousands of people sitting there, watching him talk about his ink.”
In the future, Brown is working to take “Skin Storiez” to a reality-television platform. He has already filmed a pilot; he is now looking to align with producers who share his vision. He will also continue to direct music videos.
“Skin Storiez” can be purchased at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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