Ethan Bramble is striking to look at.
His eyes are dyed jet black, his face is covered in tattoos and his tongue is split in two.
In just 10 years, the Newcastle bodymod artist has had over 40 operations to change his appearance.
Now, at age 21, Bramble or Modboy as he is also known, claims to be ‘the most modified youth’ in the world – a title no one seems to be debating.
‘I’ve always been into different stuff to all the other kids, from a young age I’ve had full black out tattoos, scarification, eye balls tattooed, ears chopped off, tongue split, naval removal,’ he tells Daily Mail Australia.
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‘My belly button nullification was a really different experience, halfway through the procedure I sat up to look at my belly button and could see my insides kind of poking through the open hole.’
He adds that he wasn’t freaked out by the experience, instead says it was ‘pretty cool to see something like that.’
Bramble works at Tribal Urge, a Newcastle tattooing parlour and has more than 150 tattoos over his body. The ones that stand out the most are the lines across his face.
Behind a lot of his unique look is tattooist Ran Maclurkin, who works out of Victoria.
Ran is a pioneer of abstract tattooing and has been inking bold lines across bodies for 13 years.
The pair are part of a small but growing movement that embrace abstract aesthetics and designs in tattooing.
They work together on Ethan’s body. His skin is the canvas and Ran is the artist, painting his face, his cheeks, his forehead.
‘Abstract tattooing, I suppose is much like abstract art in all mediums, not everyone will like it or get it, but that’s okay,’ Ran tells Daily Mail Australia.
‘Some people think its childlike, that a kid did it. I still get told someones kid could draw better than i can.’
‘In Australia, until recently, I was the only tattooist pushing abstract art, for so long that was the case, the last few years that has changed, I feel fortunate to have inspired others to step outside the box.’
Ran knows his work is outside the mainstream, but that’s what he loves about it.
While he started his practice 13 years ago, it wasn’t until he said he branched out that he really found his niche in abstract art.
‘I learnt basically like everyone else does, well did 13 years ago, I worked at a studio that was full of violence and anything not with in the parameters of what tattooing should be was frowned upon.’
He eventually found a studio that embraced his creativity ‘and allowed me to explore modern art on the skin.’
He says the responses to his work are always extreme.
‘I enjoy the reactions, not that I am searching for them. I get from extreme hateful anger to intense visceral love. I rarely get a meh response from what I do.’
‘It’s not for you, it’s for the person getting it, that’s important to remember.’
He says for many of his clients, especially the women that come to get work done, embracing abstract ink is about taking back control and feeling free in their own skin.
‘I do tattoo a lot of women, I get a feeling it’s at times about taking back control, abstract tattooing is not seen as beautiful by mainstream, many men I meet hate it, they think it ruins a woman.’
‘I think it’s awesome women are fighting back, and being who they want to be. As we all should be able to do.’
For Bramble, the bold aesthetic is just about embracing who he is.
‘Personally it’s just a different form of art and self-expression,’ he says simply.
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