These Tattoos Honor Extinct, Not-So-Loved Species

By Megan Gambino

Photos by Samantha Dempsey

As a freshman at the Rhode Island School of Design, Samantha Dempsey made a series of 18 watercolors about humankind’s relationship with infectious diseases. She enjoyed the project but realized in the process that the artwork failed as a communication device. People, she says, didn’t quite understand that one painting, for example, was about Oliver Wendell Holmes discovering the communicability of childbed fever.

“I realized that I wanted to be making art that didn’t describe science but could actually affect the science that was out there and affect our relationships with that science. I guess it’s more science communication activism,” says Dempsey. “I wanted to make art that could do things instead of just talk about what already existed.”

So, while earning her BFA in illustration, the artist took classes at both RISD and Brown University to fulfill a science communication minor of her own design.

By this past spring, Dempsey, a senior in her final semester, was thinking like a true activist. She had identified a problem: when it comes to endangered species, people seem to only care about animals that are cute and charismatic, like the giant panda or some exotic bird. “It is upsetting that, though other animals are just as important to our genetic diversity as a planet, no one pays attention to them,” she says. So she devised a solution: the Extinction Tattoo Project.

Read more about Dempsey’s tattoos and see more photos at Smithsonian.com.

  1. platileo reblogged this from smithsonianmag
  2. supersupbrosthings reblogged this from smithsonianmag
  3. heptachroma reblogged this from smithsonianmag
  4. thefeinwoman reblogged this from smithsonianmag
  5. madhumandesigns reblogged this from smithsonianmag
  6. thegreatgodum reblogged this from backwards-melonbag
  7. backwards-melonbag reblogged this from fdunlimited
  8. arw3n-leavinscars reblogged this from fdunlimited
  9. thereblogg reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  10. thinblueline reblogged this from fdunlimited
  11. thebearika reblogged this from fdunlimited
  12. monalisa-vito reblogged this from fdunlimited
  13. moraleekorrupt reblogged this from fdunlimited
  14. rayondemiel reblogged this from fdunlimited
  15. david-bowtie reblogged this from fdunlimited
  16. fdunlimited reblogged this from landlocked-selkie and added:
    really awesome concept! would love to get one of those…
  17. landlocked-selkie reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  18. ryanthemadking reblogged this from thefishcrow
  19. thefishcrow reblogged this from codibearscave
  20. codibearscave reblogged this from foreverforking
  21. monoclonalanybody reblogged this from hatbot
  22. secondthanksgivingsandwiches reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  23. mcbitchtits reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  24. byuns-of-steel reblogged this from thingsarestartingtogetstrange
  25. thingsarestartingtogetstrange reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  26. zephinzer reblogged this from thescienceofreality and added:
    This is pretty much similar to how we dont bat an eyelid eating chickens, pigs, cows or lambs or et cetera but look with...