03:51 PM
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Keeping with our beautiful tattoo theme for our Holiday Gift Guide, the H2Ocean Online shop has some fantastic gift sets, as well as individual products, for tattoo healing and also maintaining to keep your tattoos looking fresh and fantastic. H2Ocean, a supporter of this site, has been a long time trusted provider of tattoo and piercing aftercare in our community, supported and advised by top tattooers.

For that last minute holiday shopping, consider these two H2Ocean sets:

H2Ocean's Ultimate Tattoo Care Set $35 and free shipping (savings of $15)
  • 1-1.7oz Nothing Pain Relieving Foam Soap - to allow a pain free tattoo session (during tattoo process)
  • 1-Ultimate Tattoo Care - three step water based step by step care system will cleanse, moisturize and lock in the ink on all new tattoos. Contains a Blue Green Foam Soap, Ocean Care moisturizing cream, Ocean Foam skin barrier.
  • 1-Sea Life SPF 45 - Protect your healed tattoos from the harmful sun rays (protect your healed tattoo)

Extreme Tattoo Aftercare Holiday Gift Set $35 and free shipping (savings of $15) 
  • 1-1.7oz Nothing Pain Relieving Foam Soap - to allow a pain free tattoo session (during tattoo process)
  • 1-Extreme Tattoo Care - three step pharmaceutical grade tattoo products. The Extreme Tattoo Care contains a Blue Green Foam soap for cleansing the tattoo, Aquatat Tattoo Ointment to protect the tattoo for the first two days and Ocean Care cream to moisturize for the remainder of the healing process.
  • 1-Sea Life SPF 45 - Protect your healed tattoos from the harmful sun rays (protect your healed tattoo)
You can also get priority shipping to ensure your purchases make it into your own hands, and those of your favorite tattoo collectors, by the holidays.

Happy healing!
08:05 AM
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Last week, artist Mitch O'Connell posted on his wonderful blog, a significant photostream of vintage cartoons and clippings, including old ads and articles. It's a great glimpse into the way society viewed tattoo culture at the time -- and even popular humor. Check it.
01:58 PM
proto tattoo flash.jpgThis weekend, our friend Dr. Matt Lodder, an art historian with a particular expertise in tattoo art, posted to Facebook his recent find:   A side-by-side comparison of a painting by J. Trivett Nettleship (c. 1900) and a tattoo of that painting by Alfred South (before 1903).

In his Facebook post, Matt notes that the foregoing, among other examples, could be regarded as a sort of "proto-flash." He explains that there is evidence that tattooers had in their studios pattern books and print collections, which were not what we would consider flash, however, he says, "I think it makes sense to think about this as a genealogical precursor (especially as some of these paintings and prints were reference for actual flash...)."

Matt also writes that South's tattoo was "not the most complex find ever as the tattooer had the foresight to admit the rip, but still a fun comparison I think," adding, "Also shows South was no MacDonald in terms of tattoo ability." Matt is referring to Sutherland MacDonald, on whom he will be giving a lecture entitled "Sutherland MacDonald: The First Tattoo Artist," on January 29th at Cock a Snook Tattoo in Newcastle, UK. In that talk, Matt will delve "into the birth of English tattooing as an artistic profession in the 1880s," discussing the life and work of MacDonald and even show never-before-seen images of MacDonald's work. For tickets to that lecture (which are limited), email

I'm also anxiously awaiting the tattoo flash collection hardcover, to be published by Edition Reuss, that will feature artwork from the world's very best tattooers and Matt's introduction, which will go into further detail on these types of tattoo art history finds. I'll let y'all know when it is released.   
07:59 AM
amanda wachob skin data.pngOne of the most innovating tattoo artists today, Amanda Wachob, is collaborating with neuroscientist Maxwell Bertolero in an exciting exhibit entitled "Skin Data" at the New Museum, which brings together tattoo, fine art and performance. The museum's website explains more: 

Although technology plays a significant role in the making of a tattoo, it is often hidden or overlooked. Skin Data ventures into this invisible realm in order to give expression to tattoo technology's attendant processes and information. For this project, tattoo artist Amanda Wachob worked with neuroscientist Maxwell Bertolero to collect and analyze data produced by Wachob's tattoo equipment while she performs a tattoo. The two collaborators were specifically interested in gathering information related to voltage and time, which they then translated into visual representations. The design's color, which is based on a spectral scale, is determined by the tattoo machine's voltage and plotted by 1:1 mapping, while the duration of the machine's pulse determines the length of the color band. The final data-which forms the basis of Wachob's tattoos-are presented the same way as they would be in a scientific journal.

Twelve exclusive tattoo sessions with Amanda Wachob will be available at the New Museum Store. Amanda will record the data outputted by the tattoo machine during these sessions. Using this data and algorithms developed by Maxwell Bertorelo, several limited edition prints will be produced. Each print will be a special edition of 20, signed and numbered. These print editions will be available at the New Museum Store and online.
You can see a video of "Skin Data" here.

For those 12 tattoo sessions, which will take place at the New Museum Store from December 20 to January 17, Amanda created twenty-three unique designs, as shown above in this post, for individual participants. The sessions -- which cost $500 for the general public and $400 for New Museum Members -- are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and participants will receive an original 8x10 canvas by Amanda, featuring their unique design "painted" by a tattoo machine.

To reserve your tattoo session, e-mail As you'll see from the New Museum exhibit site, sessions are booking up fast.

For more on Amanda's tattoo work, shown below, check her website and Instagram

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11:50 AM
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This Saturday, December 13th, is the opening of Hope Gallery's "The Artwork Strikes Back," a Star Wars extravaganza, featuring tribute tattoos, a fine art show, raffles, cocktails, music and more. It's perfect timing in light of the recent excitement over the release of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser. [As I noted last week, there's already a Force Awakens tattoo.]

Starting at 1pm (til when they pass out), Joe Capobianco along with the Hope crew and special guest artists Rodney Raines and Obie Hughes will be offering $50 Star Wars tattoos from a limited edition flash poster, shown above. Then at 6pm, the art show opening kicks off, exhibiting Star Wars themed fine art from top tattooers including, Gunnar, Dave Fox, Kelly Doty, BJ Betts, Mike Demasi, Adrian Domenick, and many other greats, as you can see from the flyer below.

Cocktails flow at 7pm, and giveaways from Gentle Giant start at 8pm. A fantastic event for geeks and freaks alike!  

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07:10 AM
Needles-and-Sins-Gift-Guide.jpgFor the holidays, why not give the gift of pain-free -- or at least a less painful -- tattoos?

Face and Body Professionals, an industry supplier for over 15 years, offers an array of topical anesthetics, and some package deals, including their Tattoo Shop Starter Kit. The kit is a trio of anesthetics with each of the following:

  * Super Trio: a numbing cream effective for the initial outlining of a tattoo.

  * Swipe: a skin cleanser and has a powerful anesthetic during procedures and extending the working time of Sustaine.

  * Sustaine Blue Gel: numbing gel which reduces sensitivity to the skin and reduces bleeding during the procedure.

The three together are regularly $105, but now $85 for the kit.

As someone who has done long painful sessions -- and did not get a trophy afterward -- I've begun to use the numbing creams for those 8-hour tattoos, which helps me sit still and for a greater amount of time . 

Face and Body Professionals has been a long-time supporter of this blog, and I encourage you to support their products -- for yourself, and those on your shopping list (including your tattooist!).   
07:56 AM
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Back in July, I wrote about the super quick success of's longest temporary tattoo chain, telling Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland on over 5000 bodies. Those who became part of the chain then uploaded photos of their literary tattoos to the Litograph's gallery, to complete the visual story.

In light of that success, they've added another chain for Carrol's Through the Looking Glass, and there are still some spots on that chain. Just put your name on their wait list. I just became part of the chain (see my pic below), as I couldn't resist combining my love of books and tattoos -- but not permanently taking up bodysuit space.

As I noted in my July post, I particularly dig this project as it was inspired by a very real literary tattoo chain, Shelley Jackson's SKIN Project, which launched in 2003, and sets out to publish a story of Shelley's on the skin of 2095 volunteers.

Beyond the Alice in Wonderland chain, Litographs offers a wide array of literary temporary tattoos, which make great holiday stocking stuffers for friends who may have skin space left or the tattoo virgins. Also check their posters and apparel

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12:03 PM
Holly Azzara tattoo.jpgHolly Azzara Geisha Backpiece1.jpgIn today's Proust Questionnaire, ultra-talented tattooer (and cat lady) Holly Azzara opens up about her principal defect, earthly happiness, favorite artists and more. Holly tattoos out of her by-appointment-only studio Always and Forever Tattoo, in Watertown, MA, right outside of Boston.

Holly learned to tattoo from Stephan Lanphear, who sued the state of Massachusetts for 10 years to overturn the state-wide ban on tattooing, which was finally lifted in 2001. It was at that time that Holly began her apprenticeship, and she credits Stephan and Little John Bury as having the greatest impact on her career. Holly works in an array of styles, and especially enjoys color, black and gray, traditional, realistic, flowers, skulls, and birds.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Waking up and realizing I'm out of coffee..perhaps a road trip with no music, a lukewarm shower, never being able to do/get tattooed or pet a cat again.. All of those sound pretty torturous to me.

What is your idea of earthly happiness? 

Being able to spend the rest of my life in a room full of kittens with an endless supply of paper and colored pencils.

Your most marked characteristic? 

Cat lady-ness

What is your principle defect?

Perfectionist... Which leads to being a workaholic and habitual list maker--- I'm lucky there's good music venues in the area so I have a reason to take a night off when I good show comes around.

Holly Azzara 2014 tiger blue chrysanthemums half sleeve cover up spread.jpgWho are your favorite writers? 

Lewis Carroll is probably my favorite. I honestly don't have the attention span to make it through I sentence in an email in one shot so I don't tend to read much.

Who are your favorite musicians? 

I do love me some hardcore and metal (Terror, Pantera, Sick Of It All, Killswitch Engage, Baroness, Machine Head, Lionheart, Walls of Jericho, etc... I'll just list my whole iPod here) but I do love my "mellow moments" which involves a lot of Lucero and a Journey moment from time to time.. I just leave my iPod on random and it is very random at times.

Who are your favorite artists?

TeeJay of White Tiger Tattoo in NY inspires me everyday! I have been able to work and draw next to her on many occasions which usually leads to me not being productive because I just end up watching her paint or sketch. Kore Flatmo of Plurabella Tattoo in Ohio has probably influenced my tattooing and how I work with my clients the most.. Over the course of getting tattooed by him and getting to know everyone around there has had a huge impact on me, each visit is always so warm and welcoming and I leave incredibly inspired ... not to mention, I fucking love my tattoos!!

Who would you have liked to be?

One of my own spoiled cats.

How would you like to die?  

Being smothered by kittens.

What is your present state of mind? 

Almost awake.

What is your motto?

"This ain't your ma's titty rose!"

See more of Holly's work on her site, Instagram, and Facebook. Also check her Lucky Cats Brands, featuring clothing and merchandise with her original tattoo art.  

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07:06 AM
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I'm a huge fan of, which never disappoints in offering cool, unique items -- from jewelry to home goods to apparel -- created by independent artists, including a good number of tattooers. So, for this Holiday Gift Guide I spent a lot of time on Etsy to find products with interesting tattoo twists.

First up, with all the buzz over the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser, I just had to share these Star Wars/Tattoo Mash-Ups by Adam Hayes of Red Rocket Tattoo, especially, the Holy Princess Leia, shown above. [* Side Note: There already is a Force Awakens tattoo. That was quick!]

The kid in me couldn't resist these beautiful handmade tattoo lady paper doll puppets, with their moving joints and adjustable parts, although I'll probably display rather than play with them because they're so pretty (shown below). I also dig Tessa the Tattooed Paper Doll, with all her kicky outfits. Ok, maybe I'll play with that one.

tattoo doll.jpgWhile I never get them out on time, holiday cards with tattoo themes offer a little more motivation to do so. Some of my favorites on Etsy are the MargaretaGR tattooed women of Xmas greetings (shown below), the tattooed Mike Tyson "Merry Chrithmith" card, and may favorite for the past couple years -- Sugarbeet Press' tattooed lady set.

For more shopping fun, check these tattooists' Etsy shop items:

* Sailor Whale tees from Olivier of Glamort Tattoo in Montreal.
* Handmade original book art by Tom Tapit of Triple Diamond Tattoo in Brooklyn.
* "Sex Flash" in the signature "bubble girlie style" of Kristel Oreto in Philadelphia.

Something for everyone's stockings!

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07:15 AM
goddess backpiece shane tan.jpgShane Tan Ganesh Tattoo.jpgshane tan tattoo.jpgI'm loving this new Proust Questionnaire, featuring the hilarity of Shane Tan of Feather Cloud Tattoo. After 7 years in Zurich, Shane has returned to Singapore, where he began his tattoo career 14 years ago, and opened up a private tattoo atelier. The good news is that, for the first time since January 2014, Shane will be taking on new work.

In our email Q&A, Shane talks about high powered-meeting sports shorts, Sid Vicious, and being an "Asian Superman." 

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Approximately 2 months ago, I had a couple of builders and contractors over at my home/studio. It was our very first meeting and prior to that, there were only email and phone conversations. They arrived in the morning, equipped with their measuring equipments and their catalogues of paint colors and some kind of portfolio. Very professional. I woke up a wee bit too late, as all tattooers do. I spoke to them for about an hour, with a cigarette in the side of my mouth huffing and puffing away. I showed them the rooms and what I wanted to be done. Paint jobs, wallpaper, lights and all that renovation stuff. Speaking rather seriously, I emphasized that I wanted every single thing promptly done to my expectations. No shortcuts. No lazing around. No messing about. After acting like a CEO of a multi-million dollar company, I decided to take a toilet break. I wanted to just drown myself in the toilet bowl when I realized I had put on my shorts inside out! I'm sure you own or have seen one of those sports shorts, with the inner underwear thing? It's kinda like a netted underwear attached to your shorts. Its good for holding your jewels when you run, but turned inside out, it made me look like Superman with dreadlocks in a fishnet and gave me super powers of stupidity. Nobody cared to inform Asian Superman about his mishap. For the whole time, they were probably laughing whenever my back was turned. I'm sure they would have filmed it and let it run wild on Youtube...Bastards...Now if that isn't misery, what is? Why am I wearing sports shorts for a meeting? Because I can.        

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

To love and be loved. I wasted too many years chasing something that never existed. Spent too much time worrying about career directions and financial issues. Like most human beings, we strive to do better. To succeed and to provide for our families, but in the process of it, we drift away from them, build some kind of thick protective wall around us and plunge ourselves into a deep hole of personal struggle. I think happiness is when you remember to love the ones who are awaiting your return.

Your most marked characteristic?

My wife says I'm the Immovable Sleeper.

Shane Tan tattoo sleeve.jpg What is your principle defect?

I lack focus on most things non-tattoo or art related. I forget a lot. That's the shitty part of tattooing and painting for me. I can't do anything else. Can't read, can't write, can't count, can't speak proper. Thank the heavens I learned how to tie my shoe laces when I was a child. It would be too complicated for me to learn anything now.
Who are your favorite musicians?

Sid Vicious was innocent. And he was my favorite musician because he lacked so much in musical talent, he had to divert his attention towards wrecking stuff (including himself) on stage to gain attention. You are dearly missed, Sid. I use Sid's technique of diversion a lot. I know I lack a lot of talent, so I make up for it with pure desperation and determination. Some people draw a dragon once and they achieve perfection, I have to draw the same one 200 times over before I think I'm ready to use it.  

Who are your favorite artists?

I would say Hokusai. The body of work this master has produced is just amazing. I steal A LOT of his manga. And I love Kyosai. So provocative and so recognizable.

Who would you have liked to be?

A pop star. So I can worry about what color socks looks best on me. And have people type out this interview for me while 5 surrounding photographers fight amongst themselves to snap pictures and compliment me on my latest outfit, The-Inside-Out-Trousers designed by Luis Vuitton. I'd do a hit song called, "I'm your Asian Superman."

How would you like to die?

Hey why do you have to be so final? I've just started to live. I think I'd like to die holding my loved ones. Preferably the last thing I see should be the faces of my wife, my baby boy (preferably grown up by then) and my family. Hopefully, not a cop dragging my body out of the dumpster.

What is your present state of mind?

Right now? Well, I'm high off my face from good food and some laughs. I had really nice chocolate cake and a lot of good food at a Chinese restaurant in Pan Pacific Hotel today. We met my mum and gang for lunch. It was awesome. Since I quit drugs, my state of mind has been very clear. Motivated as hell.

What is your motto?

Give everything your best shot.

See more of Shane's work on his site and Instagram.

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