Oral histories are an important part of tattoo scholarship; honestly, though, I just love them because they transport me to a different place along the tattoo timeline, where good stories add to the richness of good tattoos. It's like I'm in a pub in some part of the world overhearing secrets and maybe a little gossip about people and events that would never make a Facebook newsfeed.
Watching The Paul Sayce Interviews made me feel just like that -- that I was privy to talks that cannot be found in the many films and books about our tattoo culture. The reason behind this, I believe, is Paul Sayce himself, who has lived many of the stories with the artists he's interviewed since his tattoo obsession began in the 1970s in Surrey, England.
Filmed over 2015-2016, The Paul Sayce Interviews series is Paul Sayce and Adam Beesley setting out to make films with a focus on tattoo history and featuring new interviews with Don Ed Hardy, Dennis Cockell, George Bone, Lal Hardy, Loretta Leu, Duncan X, Derek Campbell and others, along with 45 minutes of bonus features. Weaved into the footage are old photos, business cards and other artifacts that illustrate their talks.
There's three full hours of footage, broken down into segments, which can be viewed on demand on Vimeo or purchased here on DVD.
Check the trailer below for a taste:
For today's Proust Questionnaire for Tattoo Artists, our favorite guest blogger Serinde takes over, posing the Q&A to Tor Ola Svennevig, best known for his work celebrating traditional Scandinavian art.
BY SERINDE of SERINDE CORSETS:
On September 17, Tor Ola Svennevig, founder and owner of Ihuda Tattoo, in Fredrikstad, Norway, celebrated 15 years of tattooing in a jubilee party held in an old 17th century fortress. The celebration also marked his movement towards tattooing only by hand, putting aside his tattoo machines.
Over the years, Tor has developed his style using the dotwork technique and specializing in designs inspired by his own cultural heritage: ancient Scandinavian art and mythology. In this questionnaire, however, you can learn more about the man behind the tattoos.
What is your current state of mind? Inspired.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Balance and that my loves ones are doing well.
What is your greatest fear? To lose my loved ones and die with unfinished business.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Not one figure but the era of vikings.
Which living person do you most admire? My daughter.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My fears.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Their double moral.
What is your greatest extravagance? Tea and tobacco.
What is your favorite journey? Life.
What is your most treasured possession? The tools of my trade.
When and where were you happiest? With my loved ones and in nature.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Surviving life so far.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? hmm.. A broken nature.
What is your most marked characteristic? Caring and stamina.
How would you like to die? Finished.
What is your motto? Fucking never give up.
See more of Tor's work on Instagram and Facebook.
Paul Acker tattoo above.
Jason Butcher tattoo above.
Paul Booth tattoo above. More on this facial tattoo here.
On this Halloween, I'm highlighting horror and dark art tattoos by some masters of this genre. I've always been fascinated by how beautiful these works can be, even with sinister undercurrents.
In an old interview I did with the "Dark Lord of Tattooing," Paul Booth, explains the attraction to this style:
The general public tends to think that the people who come to me for work are a bunch of deviant, social misfits looking for shock value. But for my clients, underneath all the initial surface shock or negative tones, ultimately there's a positive...[A] lot of people leave here feeling empowered for many reasons, and I don't know how that could be negative.
Tony Mancia tattoo above.
Robert Hernandez tattoo above.
Josh Duffy and Jeremiah Barba collaboration tattoo above.
Portrait of Tim Kern by Tim Kern on Paul Laverty.
Photo of Yall Quinones at the Bucharest Tattoo Convention.
The recent headlines had an interesting mix of tattoo law, culture, convention coverage, and a lot more. Here are some of my top picks:
One controversial issue sparked some interesting debate among my fellow tattoo law nerds in this article: "Jury should see neo-Nazi tattoos in Las Vegas murder trial, judge rules." A 25-year-old White Supremacist is facing the death penalty for the alleged murder of a 75-year-old in her home. Bayzle Morgan is covered in tattoos, which you can see here, including "Baby Nazi" on his neck, Nazi "Skin Head" eyebrow ink, and "Most Wanted" across his forehead, among others. Morgan's defense attorney requested that a make-up artist cover his tattoos for the murder trial -- as was allowed in a separate robbery trial for Morgan -- because they could negatively impact a jury. But District Judge Michelle Leavitt denied the request, saying that jurors should be able to set any prejudice aside. It's also important to note that none of the evidence in the murder case relates to Morgan's tattoos -- it is not alleged that this is a racially motivated killing. But it is likely that jurors will have a negative reaction. Should Morgan's choice to mark himself in this way be hidden so that the focus is on the evidence and not appearance, or do the tattoos somehow reflect just who this man is (and at this moment)? Share your thoughts on the Needles & Sins FB group page under this post link.
See more posts on the topic: Tattoos at Trial and Tattoos as Evidence in Criminal Trials.
On a more artful note, a bunch of media outlets covered the International Tattoo Convention Bucharest, which hosted top talent from across the globe, including this AP slideshow. A photo of our friend Yall Quinones was also the Salon top photo pick, as shown above. Looks like a lot of fun!
Looking at how tattooing can be a healing art, the Seattle Times' "Leading tattoo artists help wounded Israelis with scars" is a fascinating read about Artists 4 Israel's Healing Ink project that connected 11 international tattoo artists with Israelis "maimed by war and violence which left them with daily remainders of their ordeals -- either in the form of physical scars or deep emotional ones." Tattooers drew inspiration from works at the Israel Museum, which hosted the event. The article includes a beautiful slideshow. Worth a look.
Artists 4 Israel is founded by Craig Dershowitz, one of the early contributors of this site. One of my favorite posts of Craig's is "Tattoo Jew: The Definitive Guide to Jewish Thought and Law Regarding the Practice of Tattooing." It's a great interview with Henry Harris, an Orthodox Rabbi, which covers some interesting ground, including that common question, "If you are tattooed, can you be buried in a Jewish cemetery?"
Exploring tattoos as tributes and memorials, The Atlantic's "A Tattoo for the King" writes about how Thais are turning to tattoos to mark the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed on October 13th. The BBC also highlights a number of those tattoos, photographed by Wasawat Lukharang at two Bangkok tattoo studios.
Another recent piece in The Atlantic is also worth a read: "Watching Tattoos Go From Rebellious to Mainstream," in which our friend Michelle Myles of Daredevil Tattoo talks about how attitudes toward body art have changed over her 25-year career. Here's a taste from that Q&A:
What was it like to try to hone your skills while it was still illegal in New York City?
Read more here.
So those are the headlines, folks. I'll keep reviewing them for you and picking my faves, that is, until my baby comes, when I'll be taking a bit of a blog break. She's due next week, but I should have more tattoo goodness for you before then.
UPDATE: We have a winner!! I plugged the names of those who commented in our Facebook group or my Instagram in Random Result this morning, and the person who popped up was ... Eric Jukelevics [@ericjukelevics.] Congrats, Eric!
Remember: Use the code "NEEDLE10" for 10% off over the next 3 months. Plus, there's free domestic shipping on orders over $20.
We have another giveaway! This one is a $50 shopping spree from our friends at Urban Body Jewelry for one lucky reader.
Some of my faves in their 2016 fall collection include their Fossilized Coral Stone Plugs and Green Line Agate Stone Plugs (shown above). The sizes for plugs below range from 8G up to 1 & 1/4" inch but their collection extends up to 2 inches. All plugs are sold in sets.
Plugs aren't the only shiny things you could score with your win. Urban Body Jewelry has a wide selection of assorted body jewelry like nipple rings, septum clickers, nose rings, cartilage barbells and more. Over 2,000 styles to pick from.
Here's how we're gonna play this:
* Comment on this post in our Facebook group or my Instagram or Tweet at me. Any comment will do, but it would be cool to post what jewelry you'd be eyeing to see what y'all are into.
* Then all the names will be plugged into Random Result to pick the winner.
* The winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 18.
If you can't wait to see if you win and you want to shop right away, Needles & Sinners can use the code "NEEDLE10" for 10% off over the next 3 months. Plus, there's free domestic shipping on orders over $20.
For more on Urban Body Jewelry, check them on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.
Tattoos above by David Allen over double mastectomy scars.
Tattoo above by Aries Rhysing of All Sacred Tattoo.
Tattoo in progress above by Erin Torola.
This month, the wonderful Personal Ink project, or P.ink, has organized over 60 tattoo artists, in 14 cities across North American, to work with over 60 women who had breast cancer to create beautiful works of art over mastectomy scars.
Tattooing has already begun, as shown with the works above, which you can find on the P.ink Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Check the hashtag #pinktattooday for updates.
I was honored to work with the Personal Ink Team for its inaugural P.ink Day in 2013 in NYC; since that time, more than 100 survivors in over 20 cities have benefited from the experience.
Check the P.ink blog for videos on past events and upcoming coverage of this year's P.ink Day.
If you'd like to support this wonderful cause, consider making a donation to the P.ink Fund at http://p-ink.org/give.
Tattoo above by Roxx 2Spirit.
Tattoo above by Nikko Hurtado.
Tattoo above by Grez of Kings Avenue Tattoo.
The Bay Area Tattoo Convention of the Arts, which runs from October 21-23 at the SFO Hyatt Regency, was at the top of my tattoo convention schedule this year...that is, until I learned that I'm due to have a baby just a couple of weeks afterward...so I guess I'll just live vicariously through all of y'all heading over -- and the hashtag #bayareatattooconvention.
What makes this convention special for me is that this a tattoo artist-run event that is singularly focused on people getting good tattoos from about 250 renowned artists (including those featured in this post). There will also traditional tattooing, such as tebori by Horihachi and Horikiku, and Samoan tatau by Sulu'ape Si'i Liufau.
There are no performers, no contests, and minimal vendors. Presented by title sponsor Black Claw, the convention is also supported by small business tattoo people, something which organizer Takahiro Kitamura of State of Grace says he is particularly proud of. What this all adds up to is a gathering stripped down to just tattoos and fine art of tattooers, without the strippers and nonsense.
And of course there are parties: The opening party is on Thursday, October 20th at Minna Gallery, hosted by Seventh Son Tattoo. Analog hosts the closing party on October 23, featuring an art show by Timothy Hoyer, Edu Cerro and Phil Holt. There's also the official book release and painting exhibition of The Cat Book by LLL Books.
This week, you have a chance to win a FREE tattoo from traditional master Chad Koeplinger. If you buy a weekend pass online for $65 until October 14th, you will automatically be entered to win the tattoo, to be selected from a handful of designs. Admission can also be purchased at the door for $30 per day (cash).
The SFO Hyatt Regency is located at 1333 Old Bayshore Hwy, Burlingame, CA, 94010.
Post your pics from the show online. I'll be looking for them!
Tattoo above by Luke Stewart of Seventh Son.
Tattoo above by Samoan Mike.
Colin Dale tattooing.
Last weekend, The 12th Annual London Tattoo Convention attracted thousands for the opportunity to be tattooed by the world's best artists, to view fine art galleries and performances, to shop, eat, drink, and of course, to see and be seen at this iconic event. Our friend and favorite guest blogger Serinde attended the event on Sunday and brings back this report and photos.
More of Serinde's images can be found on our London Tattoo Convention 2016 Flickr Album.
BY SERINDE of SERINDE CORSETS:
The London Tattoo Convention hosted over 400 of the world's best tattoo artists and vendors at the Tobacco Docks, a nice big venue to accommodate the mass of people attending.
The special thing about the Tobacco Docks is that the architecture of the building separates the artists in various glass-enclosed work areas, as opposed to just the tattoo rows of booths in one convention hall, found at most shows. It makes for an interesting presentation of the artists, although the drawback is that the walking spaces inside the tattooing areas can be extremely narrow and packed, with limited visibility of the work being created. The closed areas also means smaller stages and less space for the audience (i.e., more wrestling to get a good spot), especially during the tattoo contests. Nevertheless, apart from traffic jams, the rest of the event runs quite smoothly.
What defines this event are amazing artists, who include those working traditionally, by hand, such as Colin Dale of Skin and Bone, Brent McCown, and Durga tattoo, among others. Another highlight is the tattoo competition, judged by esteemed tattoo artists who included Jondix, Luke Atkinson, Filip Leu, and George Bone. Interestingly, the contests are organized so that tattoos are pre-selected, and the audience and the jury only get to see the very best of every category. On Sunday, I believe there were about 15 candidates in each category (color, realism, backpiece ...). The winners are shown on the convention's website. What definitely struck me was just how heavily tattooed the attendees were: I saw many tattooed faces, necks, hands, and full-body tattoos on the very young and the more "mature" collectors. The styles ranged from dynamic bold color pieces to abstract graphic works in black & grey. Also noteworthy was just how happy people were to show off their art -- to chat and share tattoo stories. Maybe it was because it was a lovely sunny day, everyone was relaxed and taking jackets and shirts off; maybe it's just the typical London spirit, or both. In any case, it was really nice to walk around in such a friendly atmosphere.
Congratulations to all those who made it another successful show.
Touka Voodoo freehanding.
When I think about custom tattooing, it's usually in the context of contemporary tattoo culture, around the time when artists and tattoo collectors moved beyond the tattoo "menu" on shop walls, as Don Ed Hardy has described, and pursued personalized art. However, over the weekend, I learned of the experience of Scottish traveler and author William Lithgow, who, in 1612, went to Jerusalem and personalized a traditional pilgrimage tattoo -- going beyond a tattoo menu centuries before what's commonly considered the "tattoo Renaissance" of the seventies here in the US.
In her article, "Custom Tattoo Work - Historical Improvisation During William Lithgow's 1612 Pilgrimage," tattoo historian Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman explores Lithgow's story of how "he customized his tattoo experience in the Holy Land."
Anna explains that most pilgrimage tattoos were "rendered by stamping the image from a stock set of motifs." [She recently received her own "Arms of Jerusalem" design on a trip to Jerusalem from the Razzouk family, which you can read about in this Atlas Obscura piece.] However, in Lithgow's account of his pilgrimage tattoo, he talks about modifying his tattoo to honor his monarch -- thereby, also making a political statement with his mark:
In the last night of my staying at Jerusalem, which was at the holy grave, I remembring that bounden duty, & loving zeale, which I owe unto my native Prince; whom I in all humility (next and immediate to Christ Jesus) acknowledge to be the supreme head, and Governour of the true Christian and Catholicke Church; by the remembrance of this obligation I say, I caused one Elias Bethleete, a Christian inhabitour of Bethleem, to ingrave on the flesh of my right arme, The never-conquered Crowne of Scotland, and the now inconquerable Crowne of England, joyned also to it, with this inscription, painefully carved in letters, within the circle of the Crowne, Vivat Jacobus Rex.Anna goes on to describe the historical background, the subsequent revisions to the text, and other interesting finds her detailed discussion. The significance of it all is nicely explained as follows:
Many tend to think of "custom" tattoos as a relatively modern development, but there is no reason to think that earlier tattoo customers could not also see the potential of the art form--the communicative possibilities--and decide to use the medium to permanently express or memorialize content they chose.
Read the full piece here.
"Pop-up tattoo parlors" have been increasing popular in the fine art world, melding performance, design, and permanence. More recently, I've written about The Dirty Poke art show in LA, and Scott Campbell's Whole Glory in NYC.
This week, on September 15th and 16th, Gagosian gallery is sponsoring "FLASH FLASH FLASH," a tattoo event at the New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1, for which they commissioned 6 famed artists to put their own spin on the tattoo flash art tradition; their designs (shown above) will be tattooed by Fernando Lions and Gillian Goldstein of Brooklyn's Flyrite Tattoo.
The artists involved are Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, Throbbing Gristle & Psychic TV's Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, gallery artist Douglas Gordon, "freak folk" singer Devendra Banhart, Max Hooper Schneider, and Richard Wright.
Only 36 people will be tattooed -- 6 for each design. Already, Banhart and P-Orridge's tattoos are sold out. The cost per tattoo is $250, surprisingly affordable, and there seems to be no limits on tattoo placement.
You can make your appointment here.
The designs will also be featured in a book designed by Brian Roettinger, and will be available as temporary tattoos.
While I don't plan on getting tattooed, I will head over to the book fair this weekend as it runs through September 18th. It's an exciting event that attracts 370 booksellers, antiquarians, artists, institutions and independent publishers from twenty-eight countries. There are also a number of special events.
MoMA PS1 is located at 22-25 Jackson Avenue on 46th Avenue, Long Island City, NY.