May 2009 Archives

10:24 AM
tattoos elderly.jpg
Today is Brian's birthday, and while our resident rockstar/code monkey sleeps off his hangover, I'm preparing a special day to celebrate his life -- and what better way to do so than a reminder of its fleeting youth.

Cue in Tattoos for the Elderly.

I slipped in the temporary tattoos as part of his grab bag of gifts (which also includes Aqua Team Hunger Force, Get A Life and Cabin Boy dvds -- because he's a fancy lad -- and another Tom Robbins book). One can definitely see him rocking the "Out of Control" adult diaper design or "Born to Ride" mobility scooter ink. That is, once he runs me over for posting this.

Blue Q also has a variety of FDA approved temp tattoos including ones for baby, and Touch my Tummy tattoos for pregnant women because they just love that.

Ok, now off to awaken the beast and spoil him silly today.

**See some photos of how we "tattooed" ourselves and friends at Moe's in Fort Greene.**
12:09 PM

Ink n Iron 2009 from Sideshow Freaks on Vimeo.

Some gooooood tattoo gatherings are coming our way this summer, taunting me as I watch my book deadline approach and savings account diminish. The next one that I'll be heading to is Hell City Phoenix, September 4-6, so I need help in covering these other events. Send me your pix and stories -- especially if you're attending this weekend's Hell City Killumbus, Ohio show (posted earlier this month). Should be a blast.

Also awesome is the Ink & Iron show aboard the haunted Queen Mary next weekend, June 4-6. See a preview from the video above, and photos from past shows here. Ink & Iron not only houses the best tattooists and avid collectors but offers other goodies like car shows, pin-up pageants, an art gallery and tons of other events.

Then, two weeks later, June 19-21st, is the infamous NIX convention in Toronto, Canada. The artist line-up remains one of the best, and includes exciting new artists from Taiwan and China. The North by NorthEast Musix Fest is also taking place that weekend just five minutes away and is free to NIX VIP passholders.

On the upcoming art gallery calendar ...

Tomorrow, May 30th, at Canvas Los Angeles, check the opening for Be Here Now, a group show featuring the fine art of many NYC tattooists, illustrators and photographers, curated by Daniel Albrigo

Back in NYC, at the Last Rites Gallery, the new gallery director Andrew Michael Ford will feature a show destined to be an annual event whereby tattooists from around the world show their fine art. Entitled Flesh To Canvas, the show opens June 13th at 7pm and includes work from the following artists: Shawn Barber, Nick Baxter, Aaron Bell, Paul Booth, Boris, Kim Saigh, Joe Capobianco, Marcus Pacheco, Leslie Reesen, Jon Clue, Damon Conklin, Jeff Gogue, Phil Holt, Nikko Hurtado, Little Dragon, and more. I'll be there. Hope to see ya.

09:00 PM
In about an hour, Tattoo Highway, the latest in tattoo tv -- essentially Inked's Thomas Pendelton on a bus-- will air on A&E (10PM EST), and I need to decide if I want to give up that hour of my life for anticipated snarky blogginess or simply do what I usually do on a Wednesday night at 10pm:  Watch The Cougar, drink a bottle of wine, and PedEgg my feet.

Of course I could DVR it, but then think of all the lTwitter potential if I watch it live. I'm on the fence but feeling the pressure after reading show reviews on Deadbolt and Daemon's TV -- the latter actually having seen an episode.

Plus, even TV Guide wants me to watch -- taunting me with its super-tough tattoo logo. [What happened to my beloved weekly that featured the Golden Girls, and George and Weezy on its covers?]

The PR machine behind the show also contacted us, but no special logo for them here! They were quite lovely, offering prizes to all of y'all, but I asked to see an episode in advance before I could promote it and they sent me a trailer of a few seconds. Not good enough. Any time I've put something up that I haven't tried and tested, y'all have called me on it. I've learned my lesson. But, alas, you get no swag.

They recently put up clips of the show on the site, and it follows the same tattoo tv format: someone gets sick and gets a tattoo; someone loses a loved one and gets a tattoo; someone stops doing drugs and gets a tattoo. I may PedEgg my feet. What tattoo does that warrant?

If you watch it, feel free to post your comments here. I'll start opening the bottle and see how I feel at 10.
02:53 PM


Regardless of which side of the tattoo-art-crossing-over-into-the-mainstream fence you're on, let's at least agree that sometimes it's a good thing, especially when it's tasteful.

Paul Timman, a tattooer working out of the venerable Sunset Strip Tattoo in Hollywood (whose client list has included names like Jesse James and Rob Zombie) has recently been applying his handiwork to Ink Dish, a tableware line that marries some nice tattoo-inspired artwork with some classy-lookin' place settings. Available at a decent number of retailers, Timman's line of Irezumi work was recently chosen by Metropolitan Home as #2 in its Design 100 issue.

Here's what Paul had to say:

"I was excited about this project from the beginning. I knew that if we did our jobs well, we could bridge the gap between mainstream society and help to introduce tattooing into everyday life -- without the process of getting tattooed -- and hopefully give people an appreciation of tattoo art or even help to create a fondness for tattooing in general."

Check out where to buy here.

01:40 AM
janet jackson tattooHope my fellow Americans had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Mine was memorable as it involved my dad and a freak landscaping accident -- one almost as bad as The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace. But my father's feet have all their toes once again, and I can get back to what really matters in life ...

... Jermain Dupri's latest tattoo. The rapper/producer just got this twist on the "Holy Mother" black and grey portrait tattoo (shown above) by Jun Cha. And who plays the blessed virgin? Well, naturally, Janet. Miss Jackson if ya nasty pious. The National Ledger even quotes Dupri twittering while getting his ribs tattooed, and that's way more hard than any of his own raps.

I know. I'm bloggin while bitchy. Please forgive. Reading too many of these you-kids-get-off-my-lawn anti-ink rants.

But thankfully, a thoughtful article emerged from the mass of eewww-the-Denver-Nuggets-have-too-many-tattoos stories. Check Benjamin Hochman's piece for the AP on the Birdman's tattooist, John Slaughter of Denver's Tribe Tattoo. Slaughter offers this quote on the team's tattoos, among other nuggets tidbits:

"Tattoos, for thousands of years, have been associated with tribes of people. And throughout the NBA, we are the most-tattooed team. It says that they're pretty self-expressive. It's almost like every single tattoo is a stage or a level in life that you've accomplished or gotten through-and where you're headed next."

In more from the grumpy old man front, Jonathan Zimmerman of the NY Daily News whines about his daughter wanting to get a tattoo; yet, even though he finds them "revolting," he can't come up with a good reason not to get one. In the end, the best advice for revolting ed parents is to tell your kids about Totally Stylin Tattoo Barbie, and they'll realize tattoos are too mainstream to be cool and won't do it. Yup. That worked for me during that whole trendy Crackerjack Box tattoo era.

You don't need Barbie to tell you tattoos are mainstream. The freakin NY Times bleeds out a monthly tattoo story on a scheduled cycle. This week it reviews "Skin & Bones: Tattoos in the Life of the American Sailor" -- check our April post on it  -- and offers some interesting info behind the exhibit, like this:

"In the late 18th century, the show points out, tattoos would have served as a way of identifying bodies in cases of drowning; they were marks of association and identity that could not be eradicated by pirates, shipwrecks or enemy capture. [...] Each had a 'Sailor Protection Certificate' that was carried as a form of identification that detailed the tattoos on its bearer's body; these descriptions often remain the sole remnants of individuality in these once-anonymous figures."

The Times also posts a slide show of some of the exhibits including this archival photo from 1899 of a sailor getting tattooed aboard the U.S.S. Olympia.
sailor tattoo.jpg
To reclaim tattoo cool, we thankfully have German thrash metal veterans. Blabbermouth says that Drummer Jurgen "Ventor" Reil of Kreator has opened a tattoo shop in Essen, Germany called Carnap Ink Corporation, and true to their roots, they're doing tattoos you would find on metal heads in the early eighties. Take that as you wish.

The always cool Mark Mahoney of Shamrock Social Club is featured in a sweet and extensive profile in Lowrider Arte. What does he think about the Tattoo Barbie effect?

"There are two things that blow my mind: the fact that you can now remove them or that people can use cream to make the tattoo process painless. I remember how it used to be a scary thing to get a tattoo and how it hurt and that it couldn't be removed, but now you can avoid all that and some of that punch is watered down a bit since you have a way out. In a way that makes me sad, however I do realize that it's good for the business in the long run. I guess I just kind of miss the old days when you had to be an outlaw, or you had to be a real brave soul to get a tattoo."

Bringing it full circle, Mahoney's also tattooed Jermain Dupri, but not with any biblical nip slips.

Quick and Dirty Link Time:

01:14 PM

You may have noticed that Needles and Sins has a new, fancy logo created by the very fancy Viktor Koen. Professor Koen is a fine artist and illustrator whose work has graced the covers of The Village Voice, NY Times, Fortune, Business Week and countless other media, cds, and books. Play around his site of dark and lusty visual toys, and you'll see why I'm a long time fan and honored that he donated his skills to our humble site.

I'd be equally humbled if you'd post these pretty banners on your own sites and spread our sinful gospel. And let me know when you have it up so I can send ya some love. For the codes behind each different banner size ...

... just click  our banners page.

And thanks to Brian for being our resident code monkey as well as rock star.
12:44 PM
steve boltz tattoo.jpg
Tattoo by Steve Boltz of Smith Street Tattoo.

As Americans head into our Memorial Day weekend, prepping to gorge on BBQ and cultivate sunburns, I figured I'd do a holier-than-thou, finger wagging post to remind us that it's a time to honor and reflect on those who died in service to our country. And I figured I'd do that via memorial and military tattoos, like this one above by Steve Boltz of Smith Street Tattoo in Brooklyn.

You can find an array of those designs on the following sites:
Personally, I cannot think of a better way to pay tribute to our military than ogling them during NYC's Fleet Week, going on until the 26th. My fave is the Tug of War and Stem-to_Stern relay race tomorrow at 11:30 -- events that truly highlight those bicep and calf tattoos.
12:00 AM
noon chest tattoo.jpg Good readers, let me take this time to suggest you toss out that old tape recorder from the 80s you may have used to interview various tattoo artists in the past, especially if you've recently discovered that during your latest interview it failed to record anything at all and, instead, still has the four gloriously terrible songs from your short-lived lark of a synth-heavy goofball hardcore band AXXX WOUND.

Good thing I was able to hang out with French tattooer Noon for a few weeks before getting him to sit down for an interview. So instead of a nice and neat little Q and A, you get a nice and neat little quasi-article from some feverishly taken notes before Noon booked for more international travels. And while it seems Noon is constantly on the move, he's made a semi-permanent home at Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, usually returning twice a year.

Recently featured in the May issue of Total Tattoo, Noon has created a style instantly recognizable and completely his own. It's something I'd rather let him describe, though he plainly says, "It's difficult to explain. I would say it's minimalist, it's singular. I don't know if there's a real name for this. The way I started was with the idea that the tattoo could be finished with only the line."


Growing up in a town full of ex-cons and gypsies, Noon's studied how they tattooed. "I watched them attach needles to pencils and set the ink bottle on a small plate over a flame. Very basic. I was young and in the poor part of town. All the guys there were tattooed and tattooing all the time. So I watched them. And at ten years old, I already knew how they did it. There was no color, no fill, only the line."

Noon's gypsy education could only go so far. He retained the basics and began to learn himself. He explains, "There were no magazines, no Internet. So in 1996 I got the address of Mickey Sharpz in London and I bought everything I could! I practiced on myself, I was always on the phone with Lionel (from Out of Step Tattoo) and we'd go back and forth asking 'How do you do this?' 'What's working for you?' It was not so easy then."

"I like the look and feel," he says, making motions with his hands that seem to be building something in mid-air. He plans to keep painting but he is a tattooist first. "Always tattooing," he says, "until they shkkt! -- chop off my hands."

Noon will be back at Tattoo Culture from November 9th through the 22nd. He's currently taking appointments via email.
05:00 AM

Inked Magazine Premier Issue Inked Magazine was the first tattoo magazine for black skin. It had a short run of two issues, when Easy Riders Publications (later known as Paisano Publications) decided to stop the magazine for reasons unknown.

Don't get the 1999 Inked Magazine confused with the glitzy, glossy 2009 Inked -- they are two completely different beasts. Today's Inked is a progressive publication that pays homage to all of tattoo culture, unlike others in the industry.

Before this review goes any farther I would like to give special thanks to Sandra at Paisano Publications for sending me their last two copies of this groundbreaking magazine.

I remember buying Inked when it first hit the newsstands; boy, was I psyched. Finally a magazine about something I could relate to: black skin. I was even blown away by the cover. How did they get all that color into that black chick's skin, was the first thing on my mind.

In 1999, I had been collecting tattoo magazines for about 6 years and had just received my first tattoo from Pedro Baluga (who happened to be a guest editor for the premier issue). I was hungry for anything with information on tattooing black skin. The majority of magazines were a disappointment to me -- there was rarely a black person in any of them, and I just wanted to see an example of what was possible on my own complexion. I also just wanted a tattoo magazine to discuss something I could relate to: being a black kid from the inner city.

Inked Magazine Final IssueInked gave me what I was looking for: reviews of black bands, articles on African body modification rituals, articles on black tattooists. But all good things must come to an end. When I asked the publishers why they stopped after only two issues, no one knew.

I can only guess that 1999 just was not the time for a magazine like this. Now there are so many more examples of black folks with extensive tattoo coverage. Then, less so. Then, I was looking at 2pac as being "tatted", now he would just be a dabbler.

Easy Riders Publications should be commended for even putting this magazine out at the time. It also published Tattoo, Tattoo Flash, Easy Rider, Biker, Savage, V-Twin and In the Wind, and considering most of these titles were geared largely towards biker readership, creating a mag about tattooed black skin was a progressive and gutsy move.

02:54 PM
dnots300.jpgWhile I'd like to say that Danger Mouse is simply expanding upon the brilliant free-marketing model of my latest album, the man formerly known as "Brian Burton" built an empire of future Grammy nominations and sold-out tours thanks to ramming the Jigga Man up the ass of publishing companies worldwide with the free release of The Grey Album way back in 2004. (Plus, I'd have a hard time convincing the average audiophile that we didn't just photocopy a page from the Book of Reznor and his album, The Slip).

But sure enough, the online world is abuzz (a-boing?) in regards to DM's upcoming release, "Dark Night Of The Soul" (and, Christ, I heard people talking about it in the elevator of a Park Avenue office building today). As it turns out, there's no way he was going to get sample clearance for the record and his label, EMI, announced they wouldn't release it.

The solution? The album is being uploaded to P2P sites and they are releasing a jewel case with a blank CD-R inside (it's also reported that it will come packaged with a booklet containing photographs from David Lynch). Buy the blank CD, download the tracks, burn the damned thing yaself...

"Brilliant," I say. "Utterly brilliant."

(And lookie here - you can already stream it at
01:24 PM

tattoo in japan.jpgThis weekend, I was asked about one of my fave Japanese tattooing tomes, aptly called Tattoo in Japan by Edition Reuss.

While I wrote about it for, I wanted to post here as well because I feel this photo book is must for any serious tattoo collector.

Unlike many other Japanese tattoo books, it shows the full spectrum of tattoo art in Japan today from the traditional bodysuits adorning Yakuza to interpretations of Americana and tribal tattoo work by the new school of Japanese tattooists.

The 320-page hardcover can be ordered from here for 89 Euros or for $165 US from Last Gasp Books or 61 British Pounds from Amazon UK.

Check our Flickr photoset for a taste.

You'll be hearing more about Edition Reuss as they're publishing my upcoming book. More on that soon.

02:25 PM
Brian Grosz Mikey Metal.jpg
Soccer moms and leather daddies, rockers and strollers, pin-ups and piercers, docs and jocks, and a tattooed lawyer or two ... the crowd at the NYC Tattoo Convention this weekend was as diverse and exciting as its Time Square locale.

See for yaself on our Flickr set.

I'm exhausted from the nonstop sensory overload, so I'm gonna just break this redux down to the show highlights:

  • * All floors were packed but not jammed as usual, so it didn't take a half hour just to push your way to the bar. A plus. It's a safe bet to blame the economy for the diminished numbers. I heard a few people outside the show saying that they didn't want to pay the $18 cover.
  • * French Avant Garde tattoo style representing: Art brut badass Noon was working the Tattoo Culture booth along with resident artists DC Wallin and Gene Coffey. Rumor is that Aussie tattoo hottie Jake will be extending his guest spot there ... permanently.
  • * The fabulous Boris Zalaszam graced NYC for the first time with his stunning realism and ornamental work.
I tried to make it to the convention party at Niagara bar last night, but after the Dionysian feast amongst almost forty tattooers and collectors at Churrascaria Plataforma, a massive meat coma set in and I dragged my butt back to Brooklyn.

Once again a draining but damn good time.

05:25 PM
tattooed hands.jpg
Tattooed hands by Mark of Swatsika Freakshop featured in my upcoming book on blackwork.

I got a mega-tattoo news review update for ya -- headlines that have a hard time beating the latest memes like the Keyboard Cat, Mother Lover and every girl's fave, the Cuchini -- but with world record battles, gang wars, and hardcore tattoo throwdowns, it's a good fight.

Round one. ding ding.

In a bout between magazine bloggers on tattoo topics, Missbehave slugs it out with their war on gun and brass knuckle tattoos. Blogger Baby Sinead, personally affected by violence, asks women why they would want to glorify it. I get it, girl. Granted, I have more weaponry bling than anyone I know (thanks mostly to Father Panik Industries), but I see it as a nod to my  Brooklyn public high school education in the 80s, pre-metal detector days. I'm not saying I'm badass. I guess I'm saying I'm old.

What is badass is the latest issue of Swedish mag Tare Lugnt inked on skin, not paper. Tare Lugnt is the art fanzine/mag project of Marc Stromberg, a 22-year-old graphic designer in Ume, Sweden. He tells the WSJ about the idea to tattoo this third issue on his leg:

"It seemed like a really untraditional and extreme way to publish the magazine. I think that everyone should explore new mediums, all the time. We should experiment and have the guts to do something that stands out. It would have been boring to do just another magazine on paper. I originally wanted to do a pair of long underwear, with the articles printed on the material, so you could wear them, lie down on the couch and read the magazine off your own legs. It sprung from that idea, taken a little further."

What is not badass: tattooing your 7-year-old with your gang symbol. I wrote about this story a couple of weeks ago, but the cops finally caught the Fresno father, who now faces 40 years to life. The boy's mother was the one who notified the authorities. Police are helping remove the gang graffiti from the child's body.

I fear a similar fate for the child of this couple -- a family portrait more menacing than awkward. [Thanks to Jesper for photo and Sarah for the link].

In consensual tattooing that demands removing ... Mark McGrath's Rolex rib ink. Dumbass, not badass.

And while we're talking asses...  Will embossed bums replace the lipstick kiss on the butt as the latest in cheeky body art? [See more photos of the jeweled panties on Trendhunter.]

Round Two. ding ding.

tattooed skin.jpgIn the fight over which story got the most coverage this week, it's the Christian Science Monitor's recession-proof tattoo article in one corner and the tattooed body suit museum donation in the other.

The CSM article on how tattoo shops have been thriving was syndicated nationwide, but it wasn't just another simple economy story. There are some brilliant quotes on the draw of tattoo art, in good times and in bad.

For example, Kit Yarrow, a business psychologist at Golden Gate University, said that "the allure of tattoos is more apparent in times of recession," adding "Tattoos resonate with how consumers are shopping now. They look for something that reflects their values, a sense of belonging, and permanence."   There's also this great quote from Phuc Tran of Tsunami Tattoo:

"No one feels like a tattoo that they get will be foreclosed on or repossessed. I think that our clients feel like tattoos make them feel better, especially when many other things in the economy and news cycle can be bleak."

But Geoff Hostling of Australia also has been making pretty big headlines worldwide for the past couple of weeks now in donating his tattooed bodysuit to the National Gallery. I mentioned it in last week's review but more info -- like this interview with him -- and new photos of Geoff like the one right above by Getty are regularly surfacing.

Final Round: Who wins in the Battle of the Quick and Dirty Links ...

Special thanks to Scott for many of the links.  Ok, see y'all at the NYC Tattoo Convention tomorrow!
12:33 PM
Photos by Jolie Ruben & Roxana Marroquin for Time Out NY

With the NYC Tattoo Convention kicking off it's 12th year today at 4pm, Time Out NY has gotten behind the show, giving out free tickets and publishing a 3-part article in tribute to tattooed New Yorkers.

Part 1 showcases six locals and their New York-themed tattoos, like Joshua Newberg above and his backpiece by Ray Jerez of Inborn Tattoo. I also love the Coney Island tribute sleeve by Michelle Myles of Daredevil tattoo on Brooklyn lawyer Suzanne Bivins.

Part 2 is Three Must-Dos at the Convention, a short and sweet list of this weekend's highlights including Sunday's Best Overall competition, and tebori, traditional hand Japanese tattooing,  taking place on the second floor.

And Part 3 is TONY's own tattooed employees and their stories.

Catch Brian, and I at the show Saturday and Sunday giving away free Needles and Sins stickers. I also plan to give y'all a live breakdown of the art and events via Twitter.

Can't make it tonight, though, because we'll be at the opening night for Rooftop Films, and while this eve is sold out, check the rest of the schedule for some of the best indie shorts and full length features screened outdoors this summer.
12:15 PM
In putting together my tattoo book on blackwork, I've not only been privy to new, stunning work from the world's top tattooists, but also top photography of the art. Today I want to share with you a new photography find:

The tattoo portraits of Lee Corkett, WeatherVane Images, Conejo Valley, CA.

Lee is a freelance photographer and designer who is working with Zulu Tattoo in LA to capture his body of work on beautifully decorated bodies, like this piece on Nikki Haydock.

For a close-up of the tattoo, check out our Flickr page.

What I particularly like about Lee's work is the ease and movement of those bodies; you especially see it in fabulous dance galleries, with some adorned in tattoos and henna art as well.

Catch more of Lee and Zulu's work in my upcoming book.
06:57 PM

It's been close to 11 months since us lads in Dogs of Winter began work on our debut full-length album, From Soil To Shale and much has transpired...

  • * We watched horrifying pornography
  • * Danced our asses off
  • * Destroyed equipment that didn't belong to us
  • * Screamed our lungs raw
  • * Fired two mixing engineers
  • * Dressed up a pit bull in my clothing
  • * Filmed a video for Player Piano (featuring Miss Marisa having a seizure during the bridge)
  • * Parted ways with our old record label to start Lapdance Academy
  • * Logged 100+ shows of varying degrees of repectability
  • * And got to work with amazing engineers like Keith "Touch" Saunders, Andrew Schneider (Scissorfight, Unsane, Pelican) and Nick Zampiello (Converge, Torche)

  • Needless to say, I really feel like a tattoo is in order to commemorate the occasion - except I'm just too goddamned tired to think anything up.

    So while I ponder another permanent applique to my mangy pelt, it's with great pleasure that I can announce the ABSOLUTELY FREE download of From Soil To Shale!

    You can select your high-quliaty mp3 bitrate at and pull down a zip file that has all nine tracks, a PDF digibooklet designed by yours truly and each track, when loaded to your iPod,  will display a different piece of "cover art" from the amazing illustrator (and gifted musician in his own right), Joe Boyle.

    Download it. Play it loud enough to warrant a 311 call from your neighbors. Twitter it, blog it, repost it and pass it on!

    And to celebrate the release, we'll be playing a 9pm set this Wednesday 5/12 at Fat Baby. For $5 admission, print out this flier and bring it to the club.
    09:37 AM
    While the actual, religious laws concerning tattooing in the Jewish religion are still open for debate, it is well understood that tattooing, in Judaism, is still considered quite scandalous and taboo for most.

    That being said, you would imagine those rebellious, wild Semites who broke from tradition and chose to ink themselves would do so with some flair for the dramatic. Not so.

    What follows is a list of the 5 most over-done Jewish tattoo trends. All are as trite and trife as a girl putting the Japanese symbol for strength on the area immediately above her bum.

    Number 5: Chai: The Hebrew letter representing long life. Usually tattooed on the most unhealthy individuals.

    Number 4: A Hebrew phrase for love. Anything popularized by Victoria Beckham & Britney Spears should be permanently banned for life.

    Number 3: Pigs, bacon or anything relating to "kosher." We get it. Your ironic. Now, get over yourself. It is like someone tattooing "permanence" on themselves. If you want your tattoo to be a statement about are way too self-indulgent.

    Number 2: Pictures of Israel: The Tel Aviv skyline is not nearly as distinctive as, say, New York. Consider getting a tattoo that doesn't require a topography map to decipher.

    Number 1: A Jewish Star with some sort of silly embellishment, such as barbed wire, fire or an American flag motif.

    05:11 PM
    Bret arm.jpgIf advertising is to be believed, something like 134% of all companies in 100% of all sectors have "gone green." Roughly. But while painting your business with a big verdant brush is one thing, actually living up to the green tag is definitely another. GreenStreet construction firm happens to be one of the good (green) guys out there.

    GreenStreet does it all, from new construction and building renovation, to energy auditing for your home or business. They're also one of the only companies in the tri-state area that's certified to provide Green Advantage training, an environmental certification for building-related practitioners.

    And the tattoo link? Project Manager Bret Ritter, tattoo pictured above. I've been lucky enough to hang with Bret for the last couple months, so not only can I can vouch for the company's legitimacy, I can also vouch for his totally rad tattoos. Here's what he had to say:

    "The hammer and nails (done by Wiley at Daredevil) are for what I do, at the root of all my job requirements. I am a builder first and foremost. I love the process of construction, from the very first design phases to handing over the keys to a space... I was always that kid who liked to take his toys apart to see how they worked, only to put them back together again.

    The mom and dad tattoos: I'm an air force brat. My father was a pilot for many years and we moved around a lot. My parents and my brother and I have always had a very close relationship. My dad's on the right since it's my strong arm, and my mom is on the left, which they say is the "heart" arm. I got these in Tucson at Staring Without Caring by Milwaukee Matt."

    Check out the photos here on flickr.

    11:40 AM
    rome tattoo convention.jpg
    I'm on deadline finishing up a fun interview with tattoo rock star Bob Tyrell for Inked mag, leaving me late on the news review. But I don't wanna leave you hanging on a Monday morn, sooo ...

    Check these photos of the Rome Tattoo Convention from this past weekend, where you can see some of the world's top tattooists working an ancient art in the ancient city.

    For a rock-n-roll view, here's a fun video of the show from 2007:

    05:55 PM
    Photo via Supertouch.

    While my mom has asked specifially NOT to honor her with blood and ink ("A nice brunch is fine, dear."), that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the $100 Mom tattoos Scott Campbell will be doing at The Smile, his Manhattan home away from Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn. Quite a deal considering he charges a grand for his first hour of tattooing.

    Scott created the special flash above for Sunday's event, a sheet he'll throw out once he's done that day. Tattoos will be given on a first come first serve basis from 8am-6pm.

    THEN, once you're inked, you can submit your Mom tattoo here to win free chicken for a year at KFC. But if you don't find a coronary appealing, there's also the chance to win a motorcycle or family vacation (they offer no more details on these prizes except you have to register by tomorrow). 

    Also, the first 200 who upload a picture of a real or temporary mom-themed tattoo by 4PM Sunday will get $10 in KFC gift checks. Just please don't get their own KFC heart tattoo. Please.

    Now go kiss your mom.

    Thanks to Scott and Vince for the KFC links!
    11:35 AM
    titine by juango.jpgI have a singular goal today: Star Trek. Yet I understand that all y'all may not embrace your inner live-long-and-prosperness, so I got some upcoming arty events across the US.

    But before I get to it, I just can't wait to share the work of the fabulous Juanjo Martinez, painter and 12-year tattoo veteran, currently working at Other Side Tattoo in Murcia, Spain.

    I found Juango through Titine Leu of the beloved Leu Family Iron, who sent me this portrait of her (right) that Juango painted. [See a larger image of the painting here.]

    I sought out more from him and found other incredible tattoo portraits and those of bodies not deemed classically beautiful but painted with an elegance and dignity. I became an instant fan.

    His exhibit Memento Mori will be June 19th at Laboratorio d Arte Joven.

    Ok, now onto US events starting today through next week ...

    * For my NYC homies, at the hot new Brooklyn gallery Eastern District, the infamous graff diva Claw Money is the featured artist in a solo aerosol art show, Spray It, Don't Say It. The opening is tonight from 7-10pm and the show runs until May 12th.

    * [UPDATED] Tuesday, May 12th, at the sexy Le Poisson Rouge, the Diamond Belles dance troupe will be taking the stage at 6pm, performing a melange of hip hop, cabaret, jazz, belly dance and Bollywood moves. I'll be there to check out their debut and support my girl SoHo, artistic director, choreographer and tattooed hottie. The cover is only $5.

    * Then Wednesday, join me at the Dogs of Winter record release party at Fat Baby in NY's Lower East Side at 9PM. DOW is Brian's stoner metal band, and he'll be posting more on the FREE download of the new album From Soil to Shale. Coming soon.

    * In Seattle, tonight, celebrate the state's governor signing fair tattoo and piercing regulations -- after a long and rather surreal battle -- with the opening of a fitting pop-surrealist show at the Roq La Rue Gallery entitled Lush Life. The opening is from 6-9pm. Can't make it? The show will soon be available online here. [Thanks, Riko, for the link.]

    * And for our California cronies, check out Canvas LA's Chiaroscuro show, curated by Norm, and featuring works by Estevan Oriol, Bert Krak, Saber, Amanda Lynn among many other top artists.

    Speaking of Norm and Canvas LA, he recently proposed to the gallery's owner (and bosslady) Rachel and she said Yes! Congratulations! 

    One last thing: I'll be at the NYC Tattoo Convention next Sunday handing out N+S stickers, so look out for me. Most likely at the bar.
    06:15 PM
    tattooed steel products.jpg
    I figured I'd drop a shopping post on you today: Tattooed Steel jewlery and accessories.

    While I'm hesitant to promote anything featured on the cheez that was Rock of Love Bus, there are some tattoo artists behind the outfit like Rose Hardy, who designed the work above, and whose tattoo work can also be found on her Tattooed Steel page. So I'm giving it a shout and you can decide if you're hot for it or not.

    [And yes, Brian, I know your Rock of Love and Daisy of Love voiceovers pay for our drinks but that doesn't mean I gotta love watching the tattooed folks on the show fulfill every stereotype.]

    I've never been a fan of the military tags as a fashion thing, but I could dig the brushed belt buckles, like this one by Kris Fry, if the price was lower. The bullet ring is also kinda hot, but I imagine Che would revolt over his image being used to hawk counterculture for companies.


    Honestly, in these times, I'm really not shopping; hence, the limited shopping posts. But I have bought a BeDazzler to create my own line of high-end fashion (which you can see Brian model here). It's an indie DIY thang that would make Che proud. Prices for my couture bedazzle line begin at $500. Crooked lettering that falls under the armpit is extra. 
    12:53 PM
    noah levine against the stream.jpg
    Photo by Ringo H.W. Chiu for the LA Times

    The LA Times recently profiled Noah Levine, punk rock Buddhist teacher and author of the books Against the Stream and Dharma Punx.

    The article looks at how Levine has brought that punk anti-establishment ethos to meditation in his Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, with centers in East Hollywood and Santa Monica and more than 20 affiliated groups across the US. He explains his approach:

    "The first noble truth of Buddhism is that there is suffering in life, that there is an unsatisfactory quality to living in a world where everything is constantly changing, and to living in a world where there is so much greed and hatred and delusion. Punk rock's foundation is dissatisfaction, acknowledging greed, hatred and delusion and rebelling against sexism, racism, political corruption and war."
    Levine, once a homeless dropout addicted to crack, recovered from his addiction through meditation and a 12-step program. At the age of 20, he began studying Buddhism and 10 years later was certified to teach. He decided to create a scene for people who look like him, listen to the same music and want to find some peace within themselves. So in 2003, his Dharma Punx group was born in NYC's Lower East Side. He then moved to LA and founded Against the Stream last year but does travel, offering retreats across the US.

    Check here for the retreat calendar.

    I picked up Against the Stream when it came out in 2007, and it's a great introduction to the basics of Buddhism with practical exercises on guided meditation. It's a fast and easy read, particularly compelling with personal stories of his own struggle. It didn't change my life. I'm still a frazzled New Yorker, but I do find myself using some of the breathing and relaxation techniques in the book, especially in the subway during rush hour -- a place more brutal than any mosh pit.

    Pick up the book on Amazon for $12.59.
    11:00 PM
    knuckle tattoos.jpgGot a monster tattoo news update for ya, filled with some old school salty tales, bequeathing tattooed skin, body art and cancer myths, and the usual tattoo law and celeb fodder, but before I do, behold these fabulous photos from Nathan of

    Check Nathan's photo essay on, and vote for him (at the end of the essay) to be included in the print pub.

    Oh wait! One more order of business please ...

    .. you know I love, love, love when you send me links, but please no more to "Hipster Grifter" stories and tattoo photos? Ok, we all giggled at the beard tattoo, but she's not the first tattooed con with a healthy sexual appetite and she won't be the last (Halelujah). I don't know which is worse: her MySpace-posey faces in every blog or all the swine flooziness.

    Now onto the serious stuff ...

    You CANNOT get cancer from tattoos. Praise the NY Times for putting that health myth to rest. They interviewed Dr. Ariel Olstad who said "the ink is unlikely to do any harm because it is confined to cells in the skin called macrophages, whose job is to absorb foreign material." He did add:
    "But people should know that they should always leave a rim of healthy skin around a pre-existing mole."
    The reason behind this is because there have been cases where melanomas were overlooked because they came from moles hidden by tattoos. I have a bunch of moles and had no problem working my tattoos around them for this reason. Something to keep in mind, especially if you're super light skinned like me and are prone to melanoma.

    Thinking of keeping that healthy skin preserved long after death? A 65-year-old Australian man, Geoff Ostling, who sports a full tattoo bodysuit, has pledged to donate his skin to the National Gallery in Canberra. According to the Daily Telegraph:
    "He worked with cult artist eX de Merci over 15 years to tattoo a masterpiece on his body, from neck to ankle, with the theme 'All the flowers of a Sydney garden'.
    Sydney taxidermy expert Sascha Smith said it could be a challenge to preserve the tattoos unharmed but the process would be no different to skinning an animal."
    Funny, I just was interviewed by Esquire Magazine about donating and selling skin in the US. You can offer to bequeath your skin to an institution -- they may not accept -- but offering to sell it once you're dead, iffy. Plus, it'll end up like some creepy German flick.

    Here's an interesting piece on Ed Hardy by Michael Corcoran for the American Statesman. I was initially turned off but the negative, albeit respectful, tone of Corcoran who is trying to educate Texans that Hardy is not just some guy who makes bedazzled tees. The author is not a friend and admits to it but does offer interesting insider tattoo gossip like on the relationship between Ed and Mike Malone:

    "The two had their own language, built around countless hours waiting in the scab hut for military payday. If one called the other when business was nonexistent and asked what was up, the answer would be 'just talking to the panthers,' in reference to the black designs on the walls.

    A customer who passed out during a tattoo was a mighty hawk. This comes from the time Malone tattooed a rather boastful customer who wanted 'The Mighty Hawk' on his arm. About halfway through the M, the guy got clammy and took a flop. Malone stood over him and said 'Mighty Hawk, get up Mighty Hawk. Are you OK Mighty Hawk?'  Old-line tattooists have hundreds of stories like that."

    My major point of contention with the article: it doesn't mention the well publicized law suit alleging that Hardy is not seeing his fair share of the use of his name and artwork. That's all I'll say about that. For now.

    And while I'm on it, let's get to some tattoo law news ...

    1507434_202916_493e3d3d98_p.jpgA Pennsylvania appeals court ruled that a parolee shouldn't have been kicked out of halfway house for drawing sexy pin-ups for a tattoo. Taxpayer money put to good use! I can't roll my eyes back enough.

    Here's an update on the Washington bill to regulate piercing and tattooing:  While the bill has passed, it needs approval by the state's governor. I know some people have this cool anarchist chic thing that makes them not like government regulation of anything, but it's gonna happen. The question is whether it will be on terms designed by people in the tattoo community like Troy Amundson (as with this bill) or you can have the Medical Quality Assurance Commission propose rules that would make body artists guilty of practicing medicine without a license for most procedures.

    Wanna make a difference?
    Contact Governor Chris Gregoire and voice your support of passing SSB 5391 Tattoo and Piercing Regulations.

    Got another update on last week's news:

    Remember the Joel Madden tattoo discrimination headlines? Now the British Air employee who made the "rocker" cover his tattoos before boarding the plan is not flying the friendly skies -- a rep for BA said the employee is being reprimanded, adding "we don't understand why the employee took it upon himself to enforce regulations that don't exist." Payback.

     Quick and Dirty Link time:

  • -- TMZ plays Guess the Bad Celeb Tattoo again.
  • -- Pharell is taking care of his old ink with MASSIVE laser removal (check the pix).
  • -- More on laser removal in general.
  • -- Lady Sovereign gets her first tattoo.
  • -- A "most beautiful" math tattoo.
  • -- Another geek tattoo, old school style. [Thanks, Scott!]
  • -- A Wisconsin tattooist tells the Prez his troubles in 2-page letter. Gets note back.
  • -- has a Q&A with Robin Soles of Indian Ink Tattoos in Jackson, MI.
  • -- has a Q&A with Oliver Peck on choosing a tattoo.
  • -- Mister Cartoon preaches to youth to make their own mark.
  • -- ABC News has video of the Fresno Tattoo Convention this past weekend.
  • Wanna share your convention pics? Let me know!
    02:37 PM
    nyc tattoo convention.jpg
    Tons of tattoo news from the past week that I'm putting together, but I thought I'd take a break and shoot y'all some faves on the tattoo convention circuit this month.

    First up, my fave for the past 12 years, naturally in my home town: the NYC Tattoo Convention at the historic Roseland Ballroom in the heart of Times Square, May 15-17th. See photos from past shows in my convention collection on Flickr. I'll be there Saturday and Sunday taking photos, interviewing artists and partaking in general shmooziness. Will have Needles and Sins stickers on hand so look for me, and as always, please dont tell me you thought I was taller.

    Next, May 29-31st, is the most fabulous Hell City Killumbus show, at the Hyatt Regency Downtown amidst the art galleries, restos and shopping in downtown Columbus, Ohio. I did a preview (and travel tips) of the show for Inked Mag, getting organizer Durb Morrison's picks on where to go while in town for the convention, but as he stressed, the tattoo weekend is designed to "keep all the Hellions under one roof for one hell of a weekend." He adds:

    "We try to offer events and parties right in the hotel, like the Innerstate Art Party Saturday night and our first-ever roast on Sunday night, which will be paying homage to 'The Mayor of Tattooville,' Chris Longo. As always, the [Hyatt Regency] Big Bar on 2 will be kicking with attendees and artists celebrating all weekend long."

    Sadly, I wont make it to Columbus, but I am get to the next Hell City convention in Phoenix, Arizona at the gorgeous Biltmore Resort and Spa, September 4-6.

    nyc tattoo convention 2.jpgTwo other shows worth mentioning, although I can't vouch for them personally, are the Roanoke, VA show and the Maritime Tattoo Festival in Nova Scotia, Canada.

    Roanoke Tattoo Fest takes place this weekend, May 8-10th, with some top artists like Bob Tyrrell, Larry Brogan and Mathew Amey in attendance as well as long time legends like Judy Parker, Pat Sinatra, and Mary & Mike Skiver. My beloved Chuck Eldridge of the Tattoo Archive is also giving a seminar on historical tattooing.

    And in beautiful Nova Scotia, the third Maritime Tattoo Fest will also host some great artists, and looks like a good time ... despite the mud wrestling.

    The news is up later!
    12:25 PM
    terry tattoo.jpg
    On Wednesday, I put out a call for my 666th Facebook friend and got an amazing response, making new homies from around the world. Apparently the offer of my soul -- and crap from my parents' attic -- is an international motivator. But the beast brought me a very special friend the moment I confirmed the triple 6 request...

    The most fabulous Terry!

    And when I went on Terry's page, what did I see? Absolutely beautiful tattoos AND photos and videos of some fine ballroom dancing of his. Double score!

    See more of Terry's tattoos on Flickr.

    Naturally, I geeked out and asked him about his work. Here's what he said:

    terry tattoo2.jpg "My muses piece was done up for me by Adam Foreman of High Voltage Tattoo in LA. For my first piece, I wanted something that represented balance and inspiration, so we went with an Art Nouveau Rodin-inspired muses. So awesome!

    Then there are the arm things: a super cool phenoix-like bird coming out of a burning lycoris with gears and craziness, which was done by Tim Biedron of Deluxe Tattoo and inspired by the art work of James Jean.

    The clock that the bird is chilling out on (also James Jean inspired) was done by David Allen at Insight Tattoo who is SUPA COOL." [David is also behind one of our fave blogs:]

    Terry's next work will be a pin-up with the wonderful Hannah Aitchson; hence his profile pic for pin-up inspiration (with ballroom dance hands no less!).

    So, this weekend it's back to my parents house to raid the chintz that hauts their rafters. It'll also serve as an early grad gift as Terry will be graduating (in Economics and English) from the University of Chicago in five weeks!

    As for my soul, Terry plans to put it in a marble and let his cat play with it.

    It could have suffered worse fate.
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