03:08 AM
Theo Kogan Its for me.png
Virginia Elwood Its for me.png
When tattoo artists enter fashion territory, the result is often exciting, unique, and a lot of fun. The ITS FOR ME brand of NYC tattooer Virginia Elwood is perfect example of that. Virginia has taken her tattoo aesthetic, which is heavily influenced by folk, outsider art, and Americana, and translated it onto lush 100% silk scarves, totes and patches. The scarves, which sell for $160 (and can be purchased online), are made from hand carved linoleum prints digitally transferred and printed onto silk.

What I think is also particularly fun is the origin of the brand name:

ITS FOR ME was born out of humor and satire in the tattoo shop. In the late 00's there was an influx of young clientele requesting what many tattoo artists considered upside down tattoos... or tattoos oriented so that the image faces the wearer as opposed to the viewer. When these clients were asked why, the response was always "because, it's for me."  

Virginia interpreted the inherent redundancy of "it's for me", as a reflection of our unconscious need to reclaim a sense of space and ownership in an overly publicized world. The phrase "its for me" (written upside down of course!) became a signature for Virginia, appearing in her paintings, lino cuts, ceramics and textile designs as a way to hold onto a piece of tattoo culture as she began to explore other art forms.

The ITS FOR ME scarves, bags and patches each have "origin stories." For one, the "Theo Scarf" was named for Theo Kogan (pictured above), who is probably most well known as front woman for the iconic band Lunachicks. Theo is ITS FOR ME brand ambassador, which makes it even more badass.  Also collaborating with Virginia on ITS FOR ME are Kyle Gamache, Dani Jedda & Todd Weinberger (more here). 

For more on Virginia and ITS FOR ME, check the video below by Eric Weiss. You can also find Virginia on Instagram.

Erich Weiss, Director - It's For Me NYC: Virginia Elwood from Monogram on Vimeo.

03:02 PM
Sam Clark art.jpgArtwork above by Sam Clark.

tim kern art.jpg Artwork above by Tim Kern.

Erin Chance art.jpgArtwork above by Erin Chance.

I think this is the first post ever with a hashtag-like headline, but I had to highlight #3paintingsadayfor5days, which is fabulous tag to follow on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter for viewing fine art online, especially now that so many tattoo artists have jumped on it to share their work. In general, artists nominate each other to post, on their social media pages, three paintings a day for five days.

It's been great seeing my news feeds flood with art work from all mediums, like the fire drawings by David Sena below, or (two of) the digital paintings by Jason Butcher (also below). Often artists add some details about the works, like Tim Kern, who offers up beautiful sentiment about his inspiration, his wife Hang, for the works above.

I love this stuff!

jason butcher art.jpgArtwork above by Jason Butcher.

david Sena art.jpgFire drawings above by David Sena.
02:01 PM
tattoos make horrible mothers.jpgImage above from People against, "your tattoos make you a horrible mother" page.

There's been a great deal of outcry recently over a Facebook page called "Your Tattoos Make You A Horrible Mother," with the description: "Have you ever seen a tattooed woman holding a baby and think, 'How in the heck is that child going to stay off drugs and out of jail?' So have we." It then goes on to say that a dude named Ron is researching "tattoo ink as a teratogen, which negatively affects child development both in and out of utero."

Sadly, this Facebook page (which I think is satire), has gotten people so riled up, it's even appeared in mainstream press.

As I've noted in prior posts, like "Never Read (or post) The Comments" and "Tattoo Like Farms," pages with inflammatory titles and statements, such as tattoos making bad moms, are designed to drag us in, make us angry with asinine writing, and provoke us to comment on the article, defending something that is personal and important to us -- all the while, collecting Likes, comments, hits, and even media attention that make the author and the site/page popular, and thereby, more marketable.

And so I just ignore them because, really, in the history of the Internet, not even the most thoughtful comment has changed the opinion of a dumbass, especially a troll.

So why post it on the blog today? Well, in just the past couple of weeks, many, many people have sent me the link to the Facebook page because of their concern over the "F
etal Ink Syndrome (FIS)" claim that tattoos can lead to autism, developmental abnormalities, etc. "Ron" claimed that "FIS" was written about in an October 2007 JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) article.

Thankfully, I didn't have to dig much further than to address those concerns, which notes:  "No such article was posted in JAMA in 2007 (or at any other point), and the only mentions of "Fetal Ink Syndrome" that appear on the Internet originated primarily after the "Your Tattoos Make You a Horrible Mother" page gained attention. Snopes also thinks that the page is satirical, despite many taking it seriously.

The best way to deal with "Your Tattoos Make You A Horrible Mother" and other sites:  pretend they don't exist and spend your time being being excellent rather than indignant.  Don't feed the trolls.
08:28 AM
the dress tattoo.jpgSo, my tattoo news feed has been flooding my Inbox, which usually means a celebrity got some stupid tattoo. This time, it wasn't one but two: Ryan Gosling & Kanye got daddy tattoos. *yawn*

BUT those weren't the big ticket items in the recent tattoo news. The one that made INTERNATIONAL headlines:  the tattoo of "The Dress" (shown above as a kicky meme). If you've been lucky enough to avoid reading about The Dress, here are the basics: the Internet was divided over the color of a dress, which a woman in Scotland posted to Tumblr after her friends saw the dress as different colors in the photo: some saw it as white & gold, and others black & blue. Celebrities weighed in on Twitter on the color, and thankfully, so did some scientists who explained why some people saw the dress differently. Well, the whole controversy freaked out 24-year-old piercer Daniel Howard of Austin, Texas, so he had 19-year-old tattooer Nick York ink the dress (as a filler) on him with the words "White & Gold?" He posted it online, and well, the Internet exploded. [Take that, Kardashian butt!] Daniel told the Daily Fail:  "Either people really love it, or they think I'm a complete tool. Some of my friends also think I'm stupid for doing it. But my parents think it's really funny. I didn't see a reason not to have it done."  Yup, no reason at all. Moving on ...

A more interesting story is Vice's "I Got a Tattoo While Hypnotized in Amsterdam." I've heard a lot about people trying hypnosis to help with tattoo pain, but the first-person account by Abel van Gijlswijk being put under by Ira Lutvica at Piercing Works was a very interesting read. Here's a taste:

Suddenly Ira counted to five and I was awake. The ink was in my skin. As promised, it didn't bleed. The tattoo artist went over one of the lines with the needle again so I could feel the difference. The difference was painfully obvious. And yet, I wasn't completely under while I was getting the tattoo. I was conscious while it happened, but because I was in a trance it didn't hurt. I also wasn't in that cold room with the posters of the half-naked women. I was frolicking by the ocean, relaxing in a hot steam. It turned out the whole process had lasted two hours, but it felt like less than 15 minutes.

Hypnosis isn't magic, and you have to be totally on board if it's going to have any effect. I didn't think it would work for me, but apparently Ira is very good at her job. I'm still a little baffled that my skin didn't bleed at all, except in the spot that the tattoo artist went over again after I came out of the trance.

Read more here.

Other news items worth checking are:

Painted lady: Tattoo pioneer Cindy Ray got the ink but not the riches.

Multi-Disciplinary Artist JK5 Discusses Collaborating with Comme des Garcons.

And this was pretty hilarious:

Watch the Cast of It's Always Sunny Explain How to Handle Out-of-Date Tattoos.


07:16 AM
warriors fund ad.jpgtimothy hoyer warriors fund.jpgPainting above by Timothy Hoyer.
Tattooers donating their art for sale to help feed hungry children. That's The Warriors Fund: an exhibit & silent auction to support the students of the Wounded Knee District School (WKDS) on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The opening of the show and auction takes place on Friday, March 6th at 8 of Swords in Brooklyn, and will be on view through the month. It's an event in which a very targeted benefit can be placed in the hands of kids, all through the efforts of our own tattoo community.

The Warriors Fund is being organized by our friend Patrick Sullivan, who, along with tattooers Dave Wallin and Betty Rose, invited over 75 tattooers across the country to donate an original drawing or painting that will be sold to raise money for the food pantry at WKDS, which was created to help feed the 134 Kindergarten to 8th graders on the reservation.

In his Inked mag interview, Pat explained what inspired the charity:

It all really started with one word: food. After donating online, I'd gotten in touch with the principal of the Wounded Knee District School, Alice Phelps. I wanted to do more, so I asked Alice, "What can I do? What do you need?" And she said, "Food." That was kind of a gut-punch. All of the students qualify for meals in school during the day, but most, if not at all, need assistance at home. Feeding America comes out to do a food distribution once a month but the need is a lot greater than that, so Alice started her own food pantry that she runs out of the school. When I talked to her I discovered the nearest grocery store is 80 miles away and these Kindergarten-through-eighth graders often go home to empty cupboards. I felt like I needed to do something about it and kind of took Alice's example. Kids aren't getting enough food? Start a food pantry. You need food for the food pantry? Do a show and raise money to get that food.
The show features work from respected artists including Timothy Hoyer, Mike Aul, David Sena, and Scott Sylvia, among others, and also includes work from Cheyenne Randall, known for his "Shopped Tattoos" on iconic images (including the one below). In addition, Matt Arriola designed the benefit t-shirt, which will be available for purchase as well.

For more, check The Warriors Fund site, Instagram, and Facebook

indiangiver warriors fund.png
11:32 AM
Teddyboy Greg Master Barber_becca.jpeg
Photo above of Master Barber "Teddy Boy Greg."

tattoo by Fernie Andrade_becca.jpgTattoo above on "Teddy Boy Greg" by Fernie Andrade.

brent mccown tattooing_becca.JPGTraditional hand tattooing by Brent McCown.

Brighton Tattoo_becca.jpgAll photos above by Rebecca Holmes.

I'm back in NYC after the non-stop party that was the Brighton Tattoo Convention. With the miserable winter weather, one would think I'd spend my vacation days flying south to Caribbean beaches and not the cold English seaside, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend my birthday with friends who were traveling from around the world to be a part of this show. I most definitely made the right choice.

The convention took place at the Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel, located directly on the seafront in the center of the city. It was a massive labyrinth of booths throughout the hotel's convention center, with over 350 artists from over 16 countries working. 

You turn one corner and there was the traditional tattooing platform, with Copenhagen's Colin Dale hand poking Nordic dragons while, next to him, Brent McCown was tapping Polynesian tatau.

In sharp contrast, down the aisle, rap music blared from the booth that housed Norm, Big Sleeps, & Big Meas doing their sought-after script. Crowds also formed around other big names from the US such as Thomas Hooper, Bugs, Bong, and BJ Betts, among many others. 

queen moth tattoo BJ Betts.png

Tattoo above by BJ Betts.

UK legends George Bone, Lal Hardy, and Alex Binnie drew plenty of fans as well. [As a side note: Alex had a gathering on Thursday night before the show for the release of Charles Boday's Handpoke Tattoo book, and it was great to check out his Brighton shop, which has that same cool vibe as his iconic London studio.]

One particular thing I found interesting in the lead-up to the show was that many artists -- who normally book their convention appointments months in advance -- were advertising that they would be doing almost all walk-ups, so lucky convention goers who got in early could get prized time without being on a waiting list. I wonder if they knew how lucky they really were.

The tattoo competitions were limited to Best of Day entries with Guen Douglas winning Friday for a neo-traditional lady hand tattoo; Ryan Evans winning Saturday for his black and grey portrait of Marlane Dietrich; and Alex Gotza of Dirty Roses Tattoo in Greece winning Sunday for a full thigh gypsy tattoo (shown below).

alex gotzas tattoo.pngAs for me, I spent much of my time helping the convention organizer Woody manage the press, as there was a lot of interest in this eighth year of the show. But when I wasn't doing that, you'd most likely find me at the opulently decked out booth -- complete with gold drapery and Moroccan lanterns -- of tattoo witches Alicia Cardenas, Goldilox, Delphine Noiztoy, and Lorena Morato. Other stunners at that booth were model Moniasse, Frank Doody, and Drew Becket. [All of whom are shown in the pic below.] I shared a rented house with these beautiful people, kind of like a Real World Brighton, and ... I think I'll leave the exploits (and damaging photos) off this blog. Moving on ...

brighton tattoo convention.jpg

More seriously, there was also a lot of tattoo history shared at the show. Our friend Dr. Matt Lodder gave a wonderful talk on Sutherland MacDonald, "the first tattoo artist." And just outside his roundtable discussion, you could view the artifacts and archival photos from the famed Bristol Tattoo Club. I also particularly loved the fine art exhibition of Ramon Maiden (a post on him is coming soon). 

Most of the hard partying took place at the Sailor Jerry cocktail lounge and by the main stage where crowds of psychobilly babes gathered on Friday to see The Meteors, who still can bring a mosh pit to action after 35 years (with an older shirtless crowd). Other bands through the weekend included The Sex Pistols Experience, as well as King Salami and the Cumberland 3. 

Prettying up the Rockabilly set pre-concerts were barbers flown in from California, although lumberjack beards and skull caps dominated over pompadours. Really, I could barely recognize friends underneath all the hirsute hotness.

It's all these different offerings, in addition to top tattooing, that make a great convention. Most important to me, these gatherings are an opportunity to share love with friends from across the globe and reaffirm that we are one community of beautiful freaks. And that's better than any beach vacation.

For more on what went down at the convention, check the Brighton Tattoo blog, and these news items:

* Lifeforce Magazine photos by Damien Bird.
* The Argus coverage
* Bring the Noise article and photos

alicia and matt.jpgAlicia Cardenas and Dr. Matt Lodder chilling out at the Sailor Jerry Lounge.
09:16 AM
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Brighton Tattoo Convention.JPGThe Brighton Tattoo Convention is well underway in its second fabulous day, with booths buzzing and some beautiful works of art walking the conventions floors at the historic Hilton Metropole. I'll be running around (celebrating my birthday today) but I wanted to share some shots by photographers Krysten Marlette (shown above) and Rebecca Holmes (photos below).

I'll be posting more here and on Instagram through the weekend. Also check #brightontattoocon.

Cherry Blosoom tattoo.jpgTattoos by Cherry Blossom Tattoo.
06:34 AM

Ember Presents - FADE from EmberFilms on Vimeo.

As today is the start of the Brighton Tattoo Convention, it's fitting to highlight a local Brighton artist: Fade FX, a tattooer with a particular specialty in geometric dotwork -- who also does traditional Borneo hand tapped tattoos -- is the subject of this short film (above) by Ember Films (produced by Jonathan Jones, and the direction & post production by Justin Hunt and Andy Steggall).

The film looks at the experiences that shaped Fade and how they have influenced her artwork. She further discusses her connection with precise geometry and technical drawing in her tattooing. And there are also some great scenes with other local artists.

See more of Fade FX's work on her site and Facebook.

Fade FX dotwork tattoo.jpgFade FX illustrative tattoo 2.jpgFade FX illustrative tattoo.jpg

06:00 AM
CATSCAMEL2 copy.jpgWe know that not every tattoo needs a grand story behind it. And yet, the stories behind many can be so inspiring that the artwork takes on multiple roles: to beautify, but also allow us to see things differently. One such story for me is a tattoo that Roxx of 2Spirit Tattoo shared, which was done by 2Spirit artist Cats on her client Rebecca, who wanted a tattoo that spoke to her experience living with scoliosis, her surgeries, and the active life she now lives.

Here's more on the tattoo and Rebecca's story in Cats' own words:

I received an email about a year ago from a girl who wanted a tattoo of a camel skeleton and some pattern work. I liked her idea, but had no idea where this concept had originated. In the consult, Rebecca explained that she had lived with Scoliosis since 2007, when it kind of came out of nowhere".  She had tried a number of different treatments and therapies in the hopes of preventing it from getting worse, but to no avail. The next step was spinal fusion surgery. She says that this was a voluntary choice she made, and it was the best choice she has ever made. Her surgery took place in 2011, and about 6 months later she got back to sports, kickboxing, working out, jogging, yoga, etc.

The imagery of the camel made scenes in the this context, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of this concept was that she want to preserve the integrity of her surgery scar. She didn't want a tattoo to "disguise" her scar, to help eradicate her memories of living with scoliosis. Instead she wanted to highlight and memorialize the physical manifestation of something that had literally shaped her life.

Working with Rebecca was a truly eye opening experience. She'd taken up marathon running, and was just excited to commemorate her scoliosis, the surgery, and her aspirations of a future of well-being.
See more of Cats' work on the 2Spirit site and on her Instagram.

05:32 PM

All weekend, my social media feeds were blowing up with photos from the Philadelphia Tattoo Convention. My favorite images were those of tattoo legends (many of the Bristol Tattoo Club) gathering together for a great group shot (shown below). I particularly loved finding, in that photo, Charlene Anne Gibbons, daughter of famed tattooed lady "Artoria" and master tattooer Charles "Red" Gibbons. [As I wrote here last March, Charlene is in the process of writing a book on her parents. Read an excerpt in the post.]

The staggering lines to get into the convention could largely be attributed to renowned veteran tattooers in attendance (although there were lots of newer artists) or maybe the extremely inflated fake boobs with questionable tattoos on display. A #phillytattooconvention search may bring up more half naked bathroom selfies than artwork, but a lot of the tattoo photos were of strong work.

The press seemed to focus on one main thing: a performer catching fire in a fire-breathing act, which you can view above. It's worth waiting for the ridiculous ad to run before seeing the footage, taken by convention-goer Jeff Hurd, just to watch how cool the performer and those running the entertainment handle the flames. Nuts!

See more photos from the show on the convention's Facebook page and via Instagram and Twitter convention hashtags. 

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