02:55 PM
don ed hardy.pngAn exception 3-day event will be held at Kings Avenue Tattoo in Manhattan May 15-17: legendary tattooer and artist Don Ed Hardy will exhibit his most recent artwork, accompanied by the release of a new Hardy Marks publication, and a series of talks.

As noted in the Kings Avenue release, "Hardy will present a collection of his current and past artwork, consisting of mixed-media paintings that incorporate American an Japanese tattoo motifs, and 'kiddie flash' - traditional maritime-inspired designs that he drew as a tattoo-obsessed child in the late 1950s, rendered with colored pencil on looseleaf notebook paper, which has never been publicly exhibited."

There will also be the release and book signing of the most recent Hardy Marks title Lew The Jew Alberts: Early 20th Century Tattoo Drawings, a compilation of designs attributed to Lew Alberts, a Newark, NJ native who tattooed under the famed Bowery-based artist Charlie Wagner.

I'm also excited about the scheduled talks: On May 16th, Hardy's "Split Personality" will encompass a discussion of his 60-year career as a tattooer and artist, followed by a Q & A. Then, on May 17th, historian and author Michael McCabe, and the artist and former tattooer Ruth Marten will join him in a discussion of New York City's century-long history as a locus of Western tattooing. [If you don't have them yet, Mike's books are must haves for tattoo lovers: New York City Tattoo: The Oral History of an Urban Art and Tattoos of Indochina: Magic, Devotion, & Protection.]

Kings Avenue notes that their staff of in-house artists will be tattooing throughout the weekend, in addition to artists visiting from Tattoo City, the shop founded by Hardy in 1977. They add, "In a break from their usual practice of customized, large format designs, the artists will tattoo American-style flash designed by Hardy during the early years of his career."

Here are the details:

Kings Avenue, 188 Bowery, Floor 2, New York, NY 10012

Friday May 15th

     -12 - 9pm: Installation open to the public (free)

     - 4 - 7pm: Reception/book signing with Ed Hardy, Michael McCabe & Ruth Marten (free)

Saturday May 16th

     - 10am - 12pm: "Split Personality": Ed Hardy to discuss 60-year career (ticketed)

     - 1pm - 9pm: Exhibition open to public (free)

Sunday May 17th

     - 10am - 12pm: Ed Hardy to discuss NYC tattoo history with Michael McCabe & Ruth Marten (ticketed)

     - 1pm - 7pm: Exhibition open to public (free)

11:02 PM
star wars tattoo.jpgPhoto above by Davann Srey.

There were a bunch of fun features in the recent tattoo news ...

My favorite pieces were on the The Tattoo Pavilion at the Star Wars Celebration this past weekend. There were 45 tattoo artists on the convention floor offering Star Wars-themed tattoos for hardcore fans. The LA Times had a special feature -- "Star Wars Celebration: Tattoos, a convention" -- which had some interesting info (at least for this tattoo law geek) about how the tattooers working the show paid a fee to be a "a Lucasfilm-licensed artist," meaning they had a right to tattoo the iconic *trademarked* images without a galactic legal battle.

Also check this video of one fan getting tattooed at the show. For some great photos from the Star Wars convention, check the Flickr Album of Davann Srey, a contributor to io9.com. Find more from Davann on Facebook.

Another favorite piece this weekend: this video of Betty White meeting people who have tribute tattoos to her on Jimmy Kimmel Live! In Kimmel's Wall of America segment, the 93-year-old powerhouse seems shocked -- very shocked -- by the very real devotion of 9 fans (out of so many) who have her face on them. When asked how she felt, Betty said, "It makes me feel wonderful and so glad I'm not them!" It's pretty adorable. I've embedded the video below. Take a look.

Speaking of kickass women, there's a cute article on a grandmother who celebrated her 92nd birthday with her first tattoo.

I was also inspired by this social justice news item:  The Terre Haute Tattoo Company offered free LGBT pride tattoos in protest of Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence, in essence, allows individuals and businesses to refuse services and jobs to people based on their sexual orientation in the name of "religious freedom." In response, the artists at Terre Haute Tattoo Company offered free LGBT pride designs, with over 100 people lining up to get a heart, a triangle, or a rectangle, all with rainbow colors. Hopefully, their tattoo messages will have an impact and rally others against this discriminatory law, which goes into effect in July.  

The BBC's "Refusing racist tattoos in Hungary" was not really a truly engaging video piece, but is worth nothing for the debate on "giving clients what they want," particularly when what they want are hate symbols. Do you refuse to do them or help show the world what kind of people they are?

Finally, two female tattooers were recently featured: the OC Weekly profiles Evie Yapelli of Laguna Ink, and the Daily News of the University of California profiled Pat Fish. Both good reads.

Feel free to share your thoughts on any of these news items on our Facebook Group or Tweet at me.
10:04 PM

The tattoo community recently lost another legend: Roger Ingerton.

While it's always sad to write these posts, they are important to honor the men and women who shaped our industry. I learned of Roger's passing from tattooer, anthropologist and author of numerous books on Polynesian tattooing, Tricia Allen. In a memorial post on her Facebook pages, Tricia captures Roger's tattoo legacy:

Roger incorporated Polynesian legend and myth, blending it with traditional (and sometimes contemporary) motifs to create the most impressive Maori/Polynesian-inspired art decades ago, well before the revival got started. In fact, Roger truly kick-started the Maori tattoo renaissance doing moko kauae [chin tattoo] on Maori women back in the 1980s and creating these spectacular renditions of Maori legend. Besides being so creative, he was kind-hearted.
Roger's work (and kind personality) are featured in this 2007 video profile we did for my old Needled.com site (embedded above). In it, Roger discusses his beginnings in tattooing, from learning to hand-poke at age 16, to the great influences in his life, such as tattoo master Paulo Sulu'ape, who is honored for his work in the traditional Samoan tattoo revival. You can read more about Roger's journey, in his own words, on this Yellowman blog post.

Roger's own adaptation of traditional Maori patterns was innovative and inspiring, and tributes across social media attest to how open and giving he was in sharing his art and knowledge. He will be missed.
09:04 AM
blackwork tattoo sleeve.jpgmoth tattoo.jpgBlackwork fans who want to save a trip to Argentina for top tattooing, should hit up Kings Avenue Tattoo right now, as the fabulous Nazareno Tubaro of Buenos Aires is in NYC until April 20th. There's very limited availability left -- and he's doing single shot tattoos, not just the massive masterful pieces he's known for. [He just did the dotwork moth above as one of his first appointments at Kings Ave in Manhattan.]

To try and book an appointment, contact Kings Ave at  212.431.5464 and kingsavetattoonyc@gmail.com.

For more on Naza, check his site, Facebook, and Instagram.

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08:45 AM

Back in January, I posted the trailer to a film that features the life and work Chaim Machlev -- world renowned for his ornamental dot and line work, and sacred geometry. I'm happy to report that the entire documentary short "Dots to Lines - Chaim Maclev" can now be viewed online here (and is embedded below).

Filmmakers Nikita Luennemann & Lukas Muganga capture the personal and professional of Chaim's life, from the artist's "conventional" lifestyle in Tel-Aviv to his buzzing studio in Berlin. There are great shots of clients, close-ups of him working and creating his distinct tattoo pieces -- but most interesting is hearing Chaim speak of the whole process of how he came to be where his is now. I highly recommend it.

See more of Chiam's work on his site, Facebook, and Instagram.

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07:58 AM
paul acker tattoo.jpgTattoo above by Paul Acker.

The recent tattoo news featured some fun stuff from Stan Lee's tattoo approval to Denver's best studios to pretty temp tattoos:

First up, Movieplot featured Paul Acker, particularly his horror realism. I'm a long time fan of Paul's work and some of great works of his can be found in this article. You can also find Paul's portfolio on his site, Facebook, and Instagram.

The OC Weekly has another tattoo artist feature -- this time on Tim Shelton of Still Life Tattoo. The focus of the article is on "how art transitions into tattooing." Here's a bit from Tim on that:
There are similarities in my drawing style to how I tattoo, but you usually have full control over your drawings [...] That's the time to make your own weird shit. I do a lot of loose, texture stuff when I'm drawing, but it's pretty rare that I try tattooing like that. They're more like brother and sister than twins, although I'm constantly changing both, and parts of both go back and forth with each other.
The article also has a short but interesting Q&A with Tim.

Colorado's Westword has a feature on the Ten Best Tattoo Shop Names in Denver. The piece shows a lot of tattoo talent in the city. I was happy to see Alicia Cardenas and Sol Tribe on the list. I had the great pleasure of hanging out with Alicia and watching her work at the Brighton Tattoo Convention in February. Alicia is part tattooer-part earth mother-part shaman. I hope to have an interview with her soon. Here's a piece she did at the convention below.

Another cool story was how one man got his backpiece approved by Stan Lee at MegaCon in Florida. Tattooer Kelly Rogers created a piece with Spider-Man, the Hulk, Carnage, Venom, Batman, The Joker and Spawn on John Engle's back. Stan Lee signed John's back at the convention and Kelly tattooed that as well. A dream come true for the comic fan.

Finally, while not a true tattoo piece, I loved this Bustle How-To on making temporary tattoos with dried flowers. So pretty! I'm going to find some free space and try it this weekend. 

dotwork crab tattoo.pngTattoo above by Alicia Cardenas.
02:43 PM
David Corden Tattoo.jpgspiderman-tattoo-david-corden.jpgDavid Corden Tattoo2.jpgOne of my favorite "realism" tattoo artists, David Corden, is profiled in STV Edinburgh this week in anticipation of his new tattoo studio and art gallery opening in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh this summer.

The profile shares what David has envisioned for his new space, particularly how he doesn't plan to have it branded as a tattoo shop outside, but a gallery. He says, "I want people to wander in not realising it's a tattoo studio, I want to make people realise it's not what they think. [...] I love the fact it surprises people that tattoos are art, whether you are choosing to wear it or not."

The studio is scheduled to debut in June, marking around 8 years that David has been tattooing. It's hard to believe that the 42-year-old artist has not been tattooing for decades with his level of expertise. While he is an art school grad, he spent 15 years as a Ventilation Engineer before learning to tattoo. Here's more from the article:

'My dad is ex-navy so I was around traditional tattoos and grew up around those styles of tattoos. At the time, I hadn't really seen any realism tattoos until those television shows began.'

'When I showed friends the design, everyone said I should go to Jim Gambell so I brought in my design and he said people bring in drawings of tattoos all the time and usually they aren't usable, but he could do mine without any changes.'

It was not until four years later, by another stroke of luck, that the duo would meet again as David's cousin was receiving a tattoo from Jim who explained he had never heard from David since that appointment despite asking to see his portfolio of work. One phone call and a few hours later, David landed an apprentice job at Ritual Art in Rainham.

So, I guess reality tattoo TV has inspired something great in our community!

See more of David's work on his site, Facebook, and Instagram.

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03:25 PM
Colin Dale Ethiopian tattoo.jpgColin Dale Nordic Tattoo.jpgI've been a long time fan of tattooer-Viking Colin Dale of Skin & Bone in Copenhagen, not just for his dotwork/blackwork creations -- many handpoked -- but also for his Jedi wisdom on tattoos and life in general.

Colin's tattoo work and words are wonderfully presented in Hampus Samuelsson's short film "Colin Dale Roots," which is embedded below. The film just made its debut at the Tattoo Arts Film Festival in Saskatoon, Canada -- Colin's hometown -- and has been spreading across social media.

The footage includes Colin freehand drawing a Nordic-inspired tattoo, his tattooing by hand and machine, and also an up-close look at his performing native Inuit skin sewing. But what I really love about this film is his musings on tattooing as a rite of passage and how, at a time where there is so much lack of permanence in our lives (whether it be marriages, jobs, or homes), tattooing is something that can't be taken away from us. There's also a great discussion on how his work developed over the 18-19 years he's been tattooing, and his interest in the roots of it all.

I highly recommend watching the film.

Find more of Colin's work on his site, Facebook and Instagram.     

Colin Dale - Roots from Hampus Samuelsson on Vimeo.

07:43 AM
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OC Weekly recently published a profile and Q&A with tattooer Eric Jones, entitled "Eric Jones of Port City Tattoo on How Tattooers Are Like Plumbers and the Magic of Tattooing."  Plumbing and magic aside, Eric talks about his tattoo style, client relationships, tattoo TV, and differences between his old NY shop and Port City in Long Beach, CA. My favorite quote, however, comes from a discussion in the profile on how he believes that everyone should get a tattoo at least once:

Everyone should experience a tattoo at least once. It gets rid of the illusion that life is this super sacred, serious thing. [...] It's like, you can't enjoy your car without a dent in it, because you're always worried about keeping it perfect. Or do you really even have any drinking stories if you don't have at least one about throwing up?
The tattoos Eric likes to put on are traditional, however, as he notes in the article, he works in many styles: "As a tattooer, you have to do all of the styles. You can't turn away tattoos, you just have to be like a plumber."

Follow Eric on Instagram and check more of his work on the Port City site.

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08:41 PM
bob baxter.jpg
Portrait of Bob Baxter by Bob Tyrrell.

I'm saddened to write about the passing of one of our community's strongest proponents, Bob Baxter.

[UPDATE:  Bob's wife and business partner Mary Gardner has written post where people can leave remembrances ("raucous or reverent") of encounters shared with Bob.]

Bob left a legacy of tattoo scholarship. As Editor of Skin & Ink magazine for over 14 years, he educated artists and collectors on tattoo cultures across the globe, particularly revivals of indigenous tattooing, from Samoa to the Philippines. He was a savvy interviewer, eliciting juicy tidbits from normally tight-lipped tattooers. And he brought in many writers with particular expertise to share their knowledge and experience. [Bob featured my very first column on legal issues in the tattoo community in the magazine over ten years ago.] The most controversial part of the magazine was his editorials -- some of which I disagreed. But no matter how opinionated -- and he ruffled feathers -- his writing was thoughtful and reasoned. Under Bob's guidance, Skin & Ink was respected beyond our industry and even won a Folio Magazine Editorial Excellence Award.

When Bob left Skin & Ink, he started his own publication online, Tattoo Road Trip, which is also the name of his series of publications, including the most recent titles (written with his wife Mary Gardner), Tattoo Road Trip: Best of the Southwest: Arizona & New Mexico (2014), and Tattoo Road Trip: The Best of Oregon (2013). His Tattoo Road Trip Two Weeks in Samoa, published in 2002, remains my favorite. The site also includes a dynamic blog of his own personal stories as well as those of other contributors.

Bob also shared his writing on The Vanishing Tattoo site -- the most popular feature being 101 Most Influential People in Tattooing. That list riled a lot of people up, but in the process, led to some wonderful discussions.

If you're going to read just one essay of Bob's, I suggest you click Tattoo Chronicles: A Life in Ink (Episode 1). Here's a taste:

My first tattoo was also a mistake. An accident. I was in the fourth grade at San Mateo Park School, back when Eisenhower was president. Back before the current tattoo phenomenon. Back before I knew anything about tattooing. Back before I knew who Lyle Tuttle was. Or cared.

My tattoo was emblazoned on my knee, the result of my goofing off with a ballpoint pen and unexpectedly jamming the sharp end into my kneecap. My tattoo, as far as I can reckon, lasted for over forty years. Three times longer, in fact, than I served as the editor-in-chief of SKIN&INK, a magazine some say was the most respected tattoo publication on the newsstand. The fact is, when I was asked by the infamous Larry Flynt (universally dubbed "the king of porn," in case you didn't know) to take over SKIN&INK, a magazine he had owned and operated for about seven years, I didn't know shit about tattoos.
Actually, the first time I really started to notice tattoos was when my daughter, Holly, who was about fourteen at the time, showed up with a tattoo on her shoulder of a crescent moon with a face on it, accompanied by a couple of five-point stars, at which the Moon Man was gazing. Since I had fathered a small band of clearly artistic children (ultimately three boys and Holly), I wasn't terribly surprised, but, on the other hand, I must admit to trying to summon up the kind of reaction I thought a respectable, responsible parent should have. You know, how other, "normal" fathers act.
So, when Holly pulled up her sleeve and showed me her tattoo, I started to say something parental, but stopped, thanks to her reminder that, "Hey, Pop. That's your logo. The one you use in all the guitar books you wrote." And, sure enough, it was. My publishing company was "Baxter & Sons" and my instruction manuals all had the crescent moon on the title page. I remember Holly's first reaction, when she was old enough to figure out that kind of thing. She wanted to know why there were two stars, and I told her that they represented her two brothers, Jesse and Riley (the logo was created and those particular books were published before Holly was born). I immediately saw her disappointed little face and immediately upgraded the design, adding, in any future editions, an additional, third star. And, after it was added, I said to her, "And who do you think the Moon Man is looking at?"
I looked to see if there's a crescent moon tonight. There isn't. But when I see the next one, I'll think about Bob -- about him being an advocate, educator, mentor, and troublemaker. He will be missed. 
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