Contact Sean | Tel: 251.304.9008 | sean@seanherman.com

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Serpents of Bienville Retail Space, Podcasts, and More Updates!

Categories: Featured Blogs, General, News | Posted by: Sean Herman

I have been meaning to write this update for the past month, but life has been creating other projects to work on, so I apologize for the tardiness.  I am excited to share some of the new projects I have been working on, along with tattooing.  Tattooing is still, and always will be, my first priority.  I am so grateful for my clients, and for all of you who are reading this and are interested in my tattoos.  Part of the projects I have been working on involves creating an environment for you, sharing with you my love for the beautiful craft of tattooing and my appreciation for your interest. 

So here begins our updates for your reading pleasure. 


retail1Serpents of Bienville and Our New Artist Collective

I founded the Serpents of Bienville last year and since that time it has become a huge part of my life.  I have had a lot of people ask questions about what it is, so I thought I would explain the project here, along with our exciting new growth.

We want to be a platform for the individuals that use the talents they have and want to create a positive change. In any and every form that we have the means to do so, we want to make change for the better, highlight the talents and achievements of our neighbors, and celebrate our community’s progress.

From the Serpents of Bienville website, I explain the history and my thoughts on founding the project.

I started The Serpents of Bienville project in January of 2015, but it is really something that I have been thinking about for a long time. Growing up on the Alabama Gulf Coast, I would hear little stories here or there revolving around long gone eras in this area. After moving away at 17, and coming back at 26, I began to really have an appreciation for the history and folklore that resides here. In May of 2014, we opened a new shop (The Bell Rose Tattoo) and were trying to decided on a name, which is never an easy task. This is where my research into the folklore of the area really started.

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portrait of Bienville

One of the things I found that fascinated me was the story of the founder of Mobile, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville. The story revolved around Bienville getting tattooed by local native tribes in order to gain their trust. I was amazed that this story was in my area and I never really knew about it. I became obsessed with the idea of tattooing being a sacred oath that Bienville took with this native tribe. I began to research deeper into the topic, and found out that this oath may have been more real than I ever could have thought, with both participants stories ending in the same dark way.”

Bienville's disc tattoo is seen in Julian Rayford's 1974 sculpture which hangs on the entrance to the George Wallace tunnel

Bienville’s disc tattoo is seen in Julian Rayford’s 1974 sculpture which hangs on the entrance to the George Wallace tunnel

The most important part of our project is the next part of the story, the one I like to emphasize and that is the fact that the story doesn’t have to end with Bienville’s sacred oath (read more about that here) causing a cursed ending, and we can write the next chapter by rising up and making a positive change with our community.  At this point in our adventure, Serpents of Bienville’s focus is to unite our community of artists, writers, and creators.  We want to bring attention to those creating amazing work and ideas, and introduce people to each other to start a united network of creators in our area.  When we started moving in this direction I began to realize how little I truly knew about the amazing things going on in our area, and I now find myself amazed and excited about all the incredible people we have here in the Alabama Gulf Coast.  From the Bay Area Food Bank, to Ant Farm Journal, we have so many heartfelt people who we want to bring to your attention.

The Serpents of Bienville is a community of artists, writers, filmmakers, and creators from southern Alabama. We travel the region to highlight the odd history, share the rich folklore, and support the inspiring community willing to imagine a better future for every individual.

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a picture from our Skateboard Art Show

We believe that stories hold tradition, help folks find common ground, and open up our imaginations to what could be, together.

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Chris Cumbie and Duane Knight

Our move to downtown Mobile for a physical location of our store stems from an idea between three friends over 7 years ago in a small artist studio.  I have known Chris Cumbie and Duane Knight for over 25 years now.  They both have had a huge positive impact on my life, being the kind of people that fill you up with inspiration with every conversation.  At one point we all lived in the same small town, and spent many nights talking about how amazing it would be if we could create a space that we could all work in together, utilizing the work we all create, through different mediums, and try to work towards one positive goal.  Chris was just getting into creating art for others to have, and Duane was in a similar boat. (You can actually listen to Duane talking about this time, and the steps he took to become a working artists, on our podcast here.)  Fast forward years to now and Chris is one of the most sought after artists in the South East, working over 20 art festivals a year.  Duane is also a full time artist, having had a variety of gallery shows, taught classes, and currently is working on a huge gallery show for debut next year.  I have been so inspired watching my friends go after their dreams, achieve them, and grow even further.  Now we are all working together in one place, creating the art we love, and working with the community we admire.  Serpents of Bienville store is the second phase of a larger project that is in conjunction with Flux Gallery.

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From Flux Gallery,

“A new creative tide is swelling off the coastline. Artists and friends Chris Cumbie and Duane Knight have joined forces to establish flux, working studio, a curated gallery for local and regional contemporary art, an incubator for creative entrepreneurship, an educational facility and a vital resource for art on the Gulf Coast. Located at 754 Government Street in downtown Mobile, this endeavor is aptly named. flux aspires to be a hub of continuous change and a purifying agent used to unify creative efforts.This exciting partnership is the result of a long friendship, shared vision and a commitment to the arts, artists, and our community. Cumbie and Knight have individually traveled their work throughout the country, but as Gulf Coast natives they have a shared vested interest in supporting the local creative community. flux, among other things will function as a curated venue for local and regional talent of all media. This will establish a much needed opportunity for hard working artist in the area, in addition to fostering a greater appreciation for art in Mobile. The gallery will mount seven shows a year, both solo exhibitions and group collaborations. An open proposal process will allow any artist in the area to apply and a diverse selection of guest curators will ensure that flux brings challenging, edgy and socially relevant exhibitions to our area.”

Check out more of their work here:

Chris Cumbie

http://chriscumbieart.com/

www.facebook.com/chriscumbieart

and read our interview with Chris here.

Duane Knight

https://www.facebook.com/duaneknightart/

http://www.oursouthernsouls.com/i-am-starting-to-let-go-of-the-fear-of-being-an-artist-but-i-am-finding-out-that-art-is-something-you-work-at/

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Flux

www.facebook.com/whatdaflux/about/

Within one building we now house three artists studios, Serpents of Bienville space, Flux Gallery, a podcast studio, screen printing and more as we grow.  We have amazing artists working with us, helping run and be a face for the Serpents of Bienville space. 

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We carry amazing work of theirs like Ally Clements “Barely Bone Boutique”, along with over 15 other local artists and creators.  We strongly believe that the key to a growing community is supporting your friends, and the projects they work on.  We are proud to be a retail space for our friends at Flux, always carrying the art of Chris Cumbie and Duane Knight. 

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a piece for sale from “Victorious Finds”

We also carry our good friend Aaron Victory’s Oddities from his “Victorious Finds”, bringing you an amazing amount of animal oddities, antiques and more.  We also have a children’s section, carrying books from our good friends at Out of Step Books, along with our first publication, “Tommy the Tomato Eating Elephant”.  From jewelry, to soaps, to clothing, to prints and more, we are constantly growing, spot lighting the amazing creators in our area.  Story telling is still a huge part of Serpents of Bienville, so we also carry used books on Southern Folklore, history, ghost stories, and more.  We carry reprints of vintage maps and our very own “Alabama Oddities Map” that we created for you earlier this year.  You can see that map here.

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a view of our maps available at Serpents of Bienville

As we continue to grow we strive to bring you the art we love, along with showing you how amazing and inspiring the people of our community are.  With love and positive intent we will be able to tell you about the people the their stories behind everything we have for you to take home.  Come by and see for yourself, we are located at 754 Government Street, Mobile, AL 36601, or check out our site, www.serpentsofbienville.com. 

Our area falls to the same problem many areas do, our artists are encouraged to move out to other cities to succeed, leaving the area they love.  We want to unite our working artists community showing that we can create that change here, and tell the world the stories we love. 

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Terrance DeShaun of Pop-Up Mobile, Myself, Charlana Quiovers of Backflash Antiques, and Duane Knight

Our primary goal is still the same, to work with our community, lifting up the amazing contributors we have, and bringing you the stories behind it all.  Many of those stories were the inspiration for my “Transformative Tattoo” blog.


Skin Deep and our “Transformative Tattoo”

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In August of 2016 I started adapting my “Transformative Tattoo” blogs into full length articles for the UK based magazine Skin Deep.  I explain about what my intentions are with our articles with Skin Deep in our introduction article that came out in August of this year,

“With “The Transformative Tattoo” I want to share stories on a more intimate and personal level of the tattoo experience, and the life after.  We will be working with Openoureyes.org, an amazing organization, encouraging all people to reach out and share their stories. Since the dawn of time, tattooing has been a form of connection, a tie to a group or culture.  Some find a home in these connections, like the energy of a crowd singing along the same words of acceptance to a punk rock band.  Others have had a connection that may have changed their fate after receiving the tattoo, like our friend Bienville.  Tattoos live with us, changing with us, and creating a new story with every year that passes.  Tattooing opens people up, and gives a chance to present them something positive to hold onto, and to heal with.  A person’s reasons for getting tattooed vary, from marking accomplishments, to redefining the self image they have, to creating an idea of hope.  In this series we are going to cover different stories of people’s tattoo experience, my experience with them, and the change that this living amulet of a tattoo has created in their varied lives. To learn more about this and our project, make sure to visit www.serpentsofbienville.com and www.seanherman.com.”

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I am so grateful for our partnership with Skin Deep Magazine and their editor Sion Smith.  Their faith in the articles we are presenting to them, and their support of them, means more to me than I could ever say.  I am excited for the next upcoming articles with them through the year, and I can’t wait for you to see them.  Make sure to pick up the newest issue this month, and you can pick up back issues from their website www.skindeep.co.uk


Serpents of Bienville Podcast

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Lastly, within the past few months we saw the introduction of our Serpents of Bienville Podcast, which you can find here.  We are working on different formats, from interviews, to short stories, to long form, soundtracked pieces, all to bring you something to remind you that you are not alone on this ride and we want to share our personal narrative with you.  This project has been a labor of love with our good friend and contributor Wes Kennison.  We have spent the past year writing pieces, interviewing people, with Wes creating original scores to bring you the most honest and interesting podcast we can.  We laugh, we get choked up, and we get you a little scared, walking through the many facets of our unique Southern experience.  You can find us on iTunes and here, make sure to subscribe and tell your friends.


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We have many other projects currently in the creation process, and with our new space we have the ability to always be working with the amazing people in our community.  In 2017 we will be bringing you a new book of ghost stories, written by my amazing wife Amanda Herman, with illustrations by myself.  We have a preview print titled “Down to the Bone” with the story included that you can view here.

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  My new print is available exclusively at the Serpents of Bienville store in Mobile, and will be available online after Halloween.  We will also be working on new clothing projects, a film documentary series, a magazine series and more.  In the year since we began Serpents of Bienville many things have changed, and the project has quickly grown into a unique collective, with contributors stretching from California to London, and a now growing physical location, we can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring.  As always, I will still be tattooing, currently more than I ever have.  I would love to tattoo you, so if you’re interested, make sure to send me a message via the contact section on my website and we will set you up with an appointment.  Thank you for your support, and I can’t wait to share more with you soon.

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For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo: Robert Waldrup

Categories: Featured Blogs, Interviews | Posted by: Sean Herman

Here’s the fifth story in our series “For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo”, that we are presenting with our good friends over at openoureyes.org. To learn more about this series, check out our introduction blog here.  We hope you enjoy!.

Sean Herman


One of my most vivid first memories I have is based in the emotion of anger.  In my memory, I am sitting at the edge of my mother’s bed, her lifeless body hanging over the side, an arm hanging over next to me.  I am clenched in fear, having just shook her body, attempting to wake her up from what I didn’t realize at the time was a self inflicted attempt at an ending of her pain.   I remember frantically dialing the numbers for the only phone number I knew, my best friend Scott.  As he answers, what should be a childlike conversation between two 6 year olds begins with me saying, “Scott, my Mom is won’t wake up, what do I do?”  He quickly handed the phone off to his babysitter, and she walked me through calling the police.  From there everything speeds up in my mind.  Like a scene in a movie I sit in the center of the room while the world quickly moves around me.  Paramedics come in, taking her body, and eventually reviving her.  In a room full of chaos, I found myself alone and angry.

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From the moment I first met Robert Waldrup I felt we had a kindred spirit.  Robert has a passion in his voice, a way of speaking that is almost song like, causing you to want to listen and be inspired by his words, which I immediately was.  Our upbringings were similar, marred by divorce and isolation.  Robert had an intense relationship with anger, one that I knew so well.  Robert used this emotion to begin researching and working towards the ideals of social justice.  We bonded on the history of the Black Panther Party, resistance movements through history, and the ideas of standing up for the oppressed cultures and peoples whose voices could not be heard.  The radical movements of the 1960’s had a quote that was consistently repeated, “If you aren’t angry then you aren’t paying attention.

In the years since my first vivid memory of anger I have learned the power anger carries, and the ability it can have to isolate the carrier.  In Robert I found a brotherhood, an encouragement, and bond in an emotion marred with pain.  The power Robert commands from his anger, the way he can redirect it and use it for social justice is inspiring, and most importantly for myself, it reminds me that I will never be that alone child trembling in fear next to a lifeless body.

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Robert explains this relationship, its complications, and its ties to the tattoos he wears that we have created together for so many years now. Click here to read on.

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For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo: Ellie Huffman

Categories: Featured Blogs | Posted by: Sean Herman

Here’s the fourth story in our series “For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo”, that we are presenting with our good friends over at openoureyes.org. To learn more about this series, check out our introduction blog here.  We hope you enjoy!.

Sean Herman


As a child I spent many hours at my mother’s bedside, working as hard as I could to make her laugh, or even just crack a smile.  It was like a full time job, one that I was hopelessly devoted to trying to figure out.  I would set up elaborate puppet shows, creating characters and skits mimicking my favorite late night shows like SCTV and Saturday Night Live.   Some days were better than others, with a majority of my days leaving me feeling like a comic bombing on stage.  We sat there, in the same room, both feeling misunderstood and alone, in a small room yet we were miles apart.  As a child, I knew my mother was suffering, but I couldn’t understand why.  It wasn’t until after a particularly bad public breakdown that my mother quietly connected with me.  One day, in the dark, smoky surroundings of her room, she began to open up.  She went on about the person she was, how strong she was, following every statement with “you’d have loved her” as if the “her” she spoke of was an old friend that had long passed away.  Her stories built up to one point: downtown Chicago late one night.  She had been a social worker and was working late.  As she walked home, she was pulled into an alley way, where she was attacked and sexually assaulted. This was my first exposure to hearing the word “rape”.  I quickly asked about what her husband at the time did, did he go on a vigilante spree searching for the assailant? No, he didn’t. He instead question her motives for being out that late, for how she was dressed, and for letting it happen.  This became my first exposure to idea of “victim shaming”. I sat, silent, dumbfounded and numb.  How could the person you love, your partner, blame you for this horrendous act?

That night in Chicago was also the beginning of my kind, beautiful mother’s battle with mental illness and addiction.  This night in Chicago is where the long loneliness began for her, forever changing her life, along with the life of her only son.  For years I dwelled in anger, anger for the man that committed this act, anger for the man who questioned her instead of supporting her, and anger for myself for even being a man.  My mother struggled through the years, going in and out of hospitals after failed attempts at ending her pain.  She felt that was her solution for her isolation, even though I reminded daily how loved she was.  Rape is much more than just a single moment in time, or an isolated event.  The pain from sexual assault can last a lifetime, and it can be intensified every time the victim is questioned with doubtful assumptions.  Our culture now has an automated response that is condemning, painful, and void of all compassion.  Has it always been this way, and more importantly, how do we go about changing society as a whole, eliminating the vile act of victim shaming?

When Ellie came to me with this idea to get tattooed, I was immediately interested because of how important her idea was to me, and had been for years.  Her viewpoint and words on the subject of rape and victim shaming changed my life, and I think will do the same for you.  I am so lucky to work with the people I do, and I am so grateful when they challenge my thoughts and open my mind to see the need for change.  Without further ado, click here to hear Ellie Huffman, telling her thoughts on the tattoo we made on her.

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For the Love of Tattooing, The Transformative Tattoo: The Warechowski’s

Categories: Featured Blogs, Interviews | Posted by: Sean Herman

Here’s the fifth story in our series “For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo”, that we are presenting with our good friends over at openoureyes.org. To learn more about this series, check out our introduction blog here.  We hope you enjoy!.

Sean Herman


Most of the time in my career, I am tattooing the same people, over and over again, for years.  There are some people that I have been tattooing for over a decade, watching their lives grow and flourish.  Marriages, births, and deaths all occur in these times, and I get to experience that with them.  I started tattooing Mike and Katie Warechowski almost a decade ago.  I celebrated with them as their business grew, and as their family grew when Katie became pregnant.  I was so excited to hear the stories after his birth, and to get the opportunity to meet this incredible kid.  With every appointment they shared stories about Mikey’s milestones, about how he could count to twenty, and how much he loved his stuffed animals and insisted on bringing them everywhere.  At one appointment they mentioned that through this, he was still having some issues walking, and they were going to different doctors to get tests done.  The next appointment I learned of Mikey’s diagnosis of late infantile onset MLD, or Metachromatic Leukodystrophy.

Mike, Michael, and Katie enjoying a day out.

Mike, Michael, and Katie Warechowski

Katie:

“Most people get a lifetime with their children. Not us. Not any of the parents of late infantile onset MLD children. Metachromatic Leukodystrophy is quite severe, progressive and fatal. Most children live to age 5, some to age 10. This disease causes it’s sufferers to require constant care as their brains and nerves begin to deteriorate, losing the ability to sit up, crawl, eat, see, hear and eventually, breathe. The only treatment for this disorder is a bone marrow, stem cell or cord blood transplant. Unfortunately, transplant is not generally recommended for late infantile onset of MLD so the we have decided not to put Michael through transplant but rather, to keep him at home where he is happy and we can share him with everyone who loves him.

To get the full story of Katie, her husband Mike, and their son Michael, click here.

Mike's left forearm that I tattooed.  It's a T-rex (Michael's favorite) coming out of Micheal's baby blanket.  The T-rex is chasing a purple butterfly (a symbol for MLD), showing Michael aggressively fighting the disease and being strong.

Mike’s left forearm that I tattooed.  It’s a T-rex (Michael’s favorite) coming out of Micheal’s baby blanket.  The T-rex is chasing a purple butterfly (a symbol for MLD), showing Michael aggressively fighting the disease and being strong.


The Warechowski’s medical bills are outrageous as they do not qualify for Medicaid. You can help this family by making a donation directly with your bank account via PayPal by clicking the link: https://www.paypal.com/home

* Please follow the instructions below to make the process as easy as possible:

-Click on “Send Money” (the third option on the horizontal navigation bar at the top of the page under the “Home” tab”)
You must click “My payment is for Friends and Family” so we can bypass any credit card processing fees normally charged to businesses for online sales

-You can pay with your credit/debit card but it will charge you a small processing fee based on the amount you donate. Or, you can pay directly with your bank account and you will not be charged a processing fee, but you will have to create a PayPal account and enter your bank account number and routing number and the process is a little longer

-Enter warkatie327@gmail.com in the To: {Email Address} field and follow the rest of the instructions on the screen

For more information on Mikey, updates, and how you can help, check out theirFacebook page for updates and to follow their story:

https://www.facebook.com/Mikeys-Mission-1386542568341019/

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For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo: Leigh Rooks

Categories: Featured Blogs, General, Interviews | Posted by: Sean Herman

Here’s an excerpt of the third story in our series “For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo”, that we are presenting with our good friends over at openoureyes.org. To learn more about this series, check out our introduction blog here. We hope you enjoy!

-Sean Herman


“…tattooing can serve to heal, to empowering, and to promote body acceptance and self-esteem.” (1)

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“With a positive or healthy body image, a woman has a real perception of her size and shape. She also feels comfortable with her body. With a negative body image, a woman has a distorted perception of her shape and size, compares her body to others, and feels shame and anxiety about her body. Being unhappy with your body can affect how you think and feel about yourself as a person. A poor body image can lead to emotional distress, low self-esteem, unhealthy dieting habits, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Developing a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to a woman’s happiness and wellness.”  (2)


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A few years ago I was fortunate enough to tattoo an awesome guy named Dayton.  Dayton is one of the most positive, easy going people I have ever tattooed.  The whole experience was easy and positive, and during that time, he told me about his wife Leigh.  Dayton is soft spoken, and doesn’t talk just to fill the air, so when he does, he has something to say. From everything Dayton told me, Leigh was strong, out spoken, and confident.  She set up a consultation with me, and I was able to experience it in person.  She had a viewpoint on tattooing that treated it as sacred and empowering, leaving her to be incredibly encouraging and respectful of me and the process of tattooing as a whole.  They are definitely the clients that you dream of, the kind that leave you feeling even better than you did at the beginning of the appointment.  The more I talked to her, the more I learned that this confidence I saw before me was created by her own recent reclaiming of her body and her body image.  I was amazed to learn how she had taken control of her life, and decided she wanted to be happy, and that she wanted change.  Tattoos were a part of that change, making me feel grateful and fortunate to get to take part in this woman creating a strong image for herself, one that has influenced more people that she will probably ever know. Click here to read Leigh telling her story, about where she was, and the power she decided to take back.


REFERENCES:

1. http://www.bradley.edu/sites/bodyproject/disability/modification/

2. http://www.womenshealth.gov/body-image/

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