When JC Sheitan Tenet lost his lower right arm 22 years ago, he didn't think he'd be able to use it to draw again. But just six days ago, he acquired a badass prosthetic arm that doubles as a tattoo machine.
Tenet, a tattoo artist, partnered with Gonzal (Jean-Louis Gonzalez), an artist and engineer to make the first prototype. He recently demonstrated how it worked at the Tattoo Motor Show 8, a convention in Devézieux, France.
"At the convention, people said 'What the fuck is that!? That's fucking cool!'" Tenet told me over the phone. He and Gonzal began by telling people that the prosthetic tattoo machine was a "kinetic sculpture," but based on people's reactions, they soon realised that it was actually a pretty efficient tool that could ultimately rival a regular tattooist's arm.
After Tenet kept meeting Gonzal—who is known among the tattoo community for his mechanised taxidermies and skulls—at various tattoo conventions, he eventually asked if Gonzal could mechanise an old prosthetic arm he had lying around at home, and the pair got started on the prototype.
"Tenet wanted to draw tattoos with an arm that he'd never used for that before, and I thought it was a great idea to mechanise a prosthetic," Gonzal told me in French. "The aim was to fix the tattoo machine to an aesthetic version of his prosthetic arm."
To enhance the prosthetic, Gonzal first fixed the tattoo machine to it. He made sure that the whole thing was light enough for Tenet to lift with ease, and ensured it would move 360 degrees when he wore it, and that the machine's electric cord didn't interfere with his tattooing. The hybrid tattoo machine combines parts from a sewing machine and a record player, and sports a Terminator-esque aesthetic.
Currently, Tenet uses his shoulder to move the prosthetic tattoo machine, but in the future, he wants to enhance the prototype to incorporate wrist-like movements, and eventually finger movements.
"What started out as a sculpture is now something that I can use," said Tenet. "[Gonzal and I] understood that we didn't have to recreate a hand as a prosthetic; we just had to create a tool that is better than a hand."