Artist adds tattoos to transform popular celebrity images

Image: Marilyn Monroe

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By Kurt Schlosser

Cheyenne Randall looks at a photograph of Marilyn Monroe or John Lennon or a young Barack Obama and doesn't just see a celebrated figure of pop or politics. He sees that person covered in tattoos.

The 36-year-old Seattle artist, who has been practicing Native American artwork for years, brings a special brand of creativity to classic images by Photoshopping uniquely American tattoos onto whatever skin is visible on the subjects. A Tumblr page called Shopped Tattoos showcases the artwork, as does an Instagram feed that includes more of Randall's work and photographs.

"I've always been interested in tattooing," Randall told TODAY on Wednesday. "I started out by drawing tattoos on certain personalities in magazines and wanted to step it up. I taught myself Photoshop and thus began a slight obsession with seeing out of pure curiosity what some of my favorite iconic personalities would look like perhaps if they were in a parallel universe or took another path in life. Really I just let my imagination run wild."

That imagination took a run at Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton (with sleeved arms wrapped around baby George) and turned them into "hipster royalty." Others include Muhammad Ali with a bee on his cheek; James Dean with "RIP" on his knuckles; and Carrie Fisher, as Princess Leia, with "Han" inside a heart.

"It's a lot of fun piecing together and sometimes telling a story with the use of different isolated tattoos," Randall said. He added that he tends to gravitate toward films and actors that have left a lasting impression upon him — Jack Nicholson, Bryan Cranston, James Gandolfini, Winona Ryder — or musicians that he prefers — Mick Jagger, Prince, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley.

Prince William and Duchess Kate:

Linda Carter as Wonder Woman:

Patrick Swayze:

John Lennon and Yoko Ono:

Muhammad Ali:

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano:

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia:

Barack Obama:

The boys of "Stand By Me":

Much like tattoos, the lasting impression on Randall, who is second generation Lakota, is the impact that his father had on him when it came to art. Robert Emmett Randall was "an incredibly talented artist" from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. He worked mostly in paint/graphite and Randall says he learned his own Native American mixed media style from his father — no computers, no Photoshop.

Randall stresses that his tattooed-celeb creations are strictly for "visual enjoyment." He considers himself an "appropriation artist much like Warhol" but said that in today's day and age "it's smart to consider the hard work others have put in and to profit from that would be wrong."