Joey Jordan: Man gets stranger’s face tattooed on butt for Selfless Portraits art project

Joey + Amarildo from shwizle on Vimeo.
Joey Jordan, 24, made a permanent mark on his life when he got a tattoo of a stranger’s Facebook photo on his butt as part of Selfless Portraits, an an art project in which strangers from around the world create portraits of each other based on their profile pictures on Facebook. The project’s mission is to “bridge the gap between technology and humanity by encouraging small, creative gestures between strangers across the globe.”

Jordan, a copywriter living in San Francisco, knew he wanted to be a part of Selfless Portraits when co-creator and Jordan’s former teacher Ivan Cash gave a talk on the project at Miami Ad School in San Francisco, where Jordan is a student. He told Metro about his decision to get a tattoo of a man named Amarildo, from Brazil, on his derriere.

Metro: How did you get the idea to get a tattoo for your Selfless Portrait?

Joey Jordan: Ivan was giving a presentation at my school and he was talking about his new project and explaining Selfless Portraits. He said half-jokingly, “If anyone wants a tattoo, I’ll pay for it,” so that sowed the seeds in early June.

So when did you decide to get the tattoo?

I decided around two weeks ago. It just kind of came to me. I wanted to participate – I told Ivan I was going to in some capacity – and I was sitting around thinking, god, I have to do one of these portraits. But I don’t like drawing, so I was deliberating on which medium and then I remembered what he said about the tattoo, and for a multitude of reasons I decided that was in fact going to happen.

You knew Ivan before?

He was a teacher of mine a year ago so I met him a while ago. Just to clarify, there was no collusion between Ivan and myself. He had no idea; I totally sprung it on him. I didn’t even ask him what he thought about it; I just said I’m going to do this, man.

How did he react?

He was pretty ecstatic. He was stoked, to say the least.

Why did you get the tattoo on your butt?

I decided to get it on my butt because it was a little bit of a compromise. Despite believing in the project 100 percent, I wanted it to be more personal and less public than other locations. But I don’t want the message to be confused – just because it’s on my butt doesn’t mean I don’t really believe in it. I think getting something tattooed anywhere on my body requires a minimum threshold of importance.

And why Amarildo?

I was originally dead-set on getting a girl tattooed on my butt. For one reason or another, I didn’t want a guy on there. I had to do a few drawings because not everyone’s profile picture works as a tattoo. I was going through trying to find the right girl and it had been about a week and Amarildo came up and I just changed my mind – like, look at this guy. I decided to pull the trigger with him.

What do your friends and family think?

All of my friends think it’s great for the most part. Especially all of my friends in the creative field. My mother hasn’t found out yet so hopefully she’s not a Metro fan, and my father was a little bit perplexed to say the least but I think in time he’ll understand.

Understand what?

The reason that I got it

What is that reason, exactly?

I’d say there are three reasons why I got the tattoo. On the deepest level, the most cerebral reasoning behind it is it stands for the necessity to further connect to strangers from all over the world – a human connection. I think the connection of strangers through creativity is so important.

Secondly, I’d say it stands for my need to do personal projects going forward and embarking on projects I’m not necessarily getting paid to do but are valuable for me and other people.

And the least serious reason would be to remember San Francisco and all of the experiences and the people I’ve met here. I’ve been here for one and a half years.

Do you have any other tattoos?

I have a phi symbol on the inside of my left arm.

What story do you plan to tell people if they see your tattoo?

I think the real story is good enough! Hopefully, if someone gets to the point of seeing me naked, they know me well enough not to be too surprised.


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