June 2009 Archives

11:29 PM
[Ed. note - while this is not tattoo related, one would be hard-pressed to find a pop culture icon that is more heavily "Modified" than Michael Jackson]

I was 15 years old, riding shotgun to high school in a motherly, silver Volvo station wagon whose automatic transmission never could seem to get out of 2nd gear without mashing the Go Pedal to hit 7000 RPM.  Odds are, I was wearing an intentionally "distressed" green cardigan sweater, a pair of Converse One-Stars and smoking a Lucky Strike.  Another day of Junior Year might have been a chore, but at least i was in a car with my bandmates.

The local Alternative radio station (when the A-Word was still on its last legs) interrupted a Soundgarden song for the DJ to announce, "I'm really sorry to have to say this... but the reports are true... Kurt Cobain has been pronounced dead."

The car fell silent and, as the driver recently recounted at a cocktail party (to my red-faced embarassment), I broke the silence with a few simple words: "Go easy, man."  I don't think any of us went to class that day... we just sat outside, smoked stolen cigarettes and sulked in suburban self-righteousness.  Somehow, we had lost a hero.

At the time, I tried explaining my grief to my parents: "This was my generation's John Lennon."  Of course, that meant fuck-all to my father, who saw the "British Invasion" of the 60s as an excuse to delve deeper into the world of Be-Bop.  My mother half-heartedly accepted the Yoko comparisons, but little else.  They only saw the screaming, depressed, junkie frontman from the Pacific Northwest; not the group that sent a million Sunset Strip hair-bands to SuperCuts and successfully jammed a Big Muff pedal up the ass of Pop Music.  Whether they wanted to admit it or not, Nirvana HAD rewritten the modern pop lexicon in cuneiform and black tar heroin.

While watching CNN on the morning of June 26th, Teddy Turner's cronies decided to do a montage of people on the street discussing the passing of Michael Jackson (and as far as most of us in America knew at the time, the CIA had captured Bin Laden, Iran had slaughtered 2/3 of their populace and a Republican senator WASN'T caught with a mistress - none of us would have been notified about this, however, due to the Jacko Coverage).  One of CNN's interviewees was a Black Man who proclaimed, quite proudly, "He was our Elvis!"

Truer words might never have been spoken.

At that point, I'd heard Michael Jackson songs pouring from car stereos, over-amped iPods and bodega boom-boxes for a good 24 hours.  The media - which once slandered Jackson every time a Santa Barbara 3rd grader opened his mouth to show a reporter "on the doll where the man did a bad touch" - was now lauding MJ as The King if not a martyr.  The public, which had perhaps forgotten about the plastic surgery, the freakish behavior and the 8-figure out-of-court settlements, was blocking the streets to Moonwalk.

Once again, we're forgetting the white, sequined jumpsuit; the harsh addiction to prescription painkillers; the stint in Vegas dinner-theaters; the photo with Nixon; the alleged 18" calcified turd in his colon and that classic Graceland myth about filling the pool with Pepsi and lightbulbs and then firing into it with a chrome-plated, pearl-handled revolver.

It's not about race when one says, "OUR Elvis."  Hundreds of millions of albums the world over, the story is the same: brilliant entertainer becomes eclipsed by their own notoriety and subsequently devolves into a bizarre self-parody while unraveling and then, posthumously, is remembered for the Younger Pretty Years.

Michael's red leather coat from "Beat It."  Elvis in his black leather ensemble from his '68 "Comeback Show."  Cut from the same fuckin cloth by the same damned tailor...

And while I've never bought into that whole bullshit "better to burn out than fade away" mentality, I'd rather remember Cobain as the four-album, suicidal junkie than a plastic surgery disaster or polyester nightmare.
02:44 PM
Most people look at me like I'm off my rocker when I tell them about how far out in advance I have to book a sitting with Mike Rubendall at Kings Ave Tattoo. I usually try to explain that it's well worth the wait and, as my father says to his design/woodworking clients, "There's Good, Fast and Cheap... pick two."

But people's jaws really seem to drop (seemingly for a multitude of reasons) when I tell them that I travel out to Massapequa, Long Island, to get tattooed.

So I had to laugh long and hard when I caught this featurette on the Daily Show...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Long Island Wants to Secede
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran

I know plenty of people who use that old "Gun Show" line (in the video at 4:17), usually with their tongue firmly and ironically planted against their cheek, but the inner-bicep six-shooter tattoos? That's just a whole new level of...

08:22 AM

souljaboyJanuary.jpgI'm not one for pseudo celebrity tattoo gossip but, but . . .

Soulja Boy has been getting a lot of tattoo's lately. You might night like him, or his music ( I do ) but your child is probably doing the "Superman" dance or singing his new hit single "Turn my Swag On" right now. At the beginning of 2009 he had a tattoo here and there, now in June 2009 and he is officially "tatted".

But, But,
Why the garbage work? What the hell is on his left forearm?
Is Soulja Boy going for the Little Wayne aesthetic of simple poorly conceived and implemented tattoo's.

At least Soulja Boy recognizes that some of his earlier pieces could of been better thought out. (check out the video here)

Big Yawn, right. Why do I care is what your thinking, it just makes me sad that he's wasted all that good skin on garbage artwork. All I have to say is, Soulja Boy come Holla at ya boy, I'll point you to artists that can do amazing things on the little canvas you have left.

I have a feeling that he will end up lasering a lot of that garbage off like. . . .

50 Cent who is having many of his tattoos removed, because it was reportedly hindering his movie roles. Please 50 don't get the "SouthSide" backpiece by Cartoon lasered off, please, please please. I guess its not just the layperson who has to worry about trying to find work after becoming heavily tattooed.

Or Pharrell from the Neptunes and N.E.R.D. being so disgusted with his artwork, is in the process of having his tattoos removed through massive laser treatments. Ouch.

Just remember everyone "Think before you Ink".

04:33 AM
I'm still on vacation in Greece and have been yelled at repeatedly by the guys to stay offline, but this quickie Photoshop job by my friend Les (of Barany Artists) made me giggle -- highlighting the ridiculousness of the tattoo star face story and the worldwide media's fascination with it -- and I wanted to share it wih y'all.

Les played with a photo of the infamous tattoo artist/trouble maker Spider Webb using one of many wonderful shots by Efrain John Gonzalez [NSW], whose images from the NYC Tattoo Convention over the years can be found here.


Now I'll make you a promise: Unless there's a major legal breakthrough in this case, no more posts from me on this story ever again, and I'll be back to objectifying young tattooed men very soon. Ok, back to the pool!
10:02 AM
Well, according to CNN, our friend Kimberly came out and announced that she really did want 56 stars on her face... and made up the story about "falling asleep" once Daddy took a look and got cranky.

Hopefully all of you can now return to sleeping soundly through the night, focusing on your loved ones and practicing proper oral hygiene. 

As for Conan's tattoo... I don't expect a redaction from a late night talk show host, but after the Palin/Letterman debacle, I suppose anything is possible.
11:56 AM
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Watch the clip here. (Thanks, Chris!)
11:52 PM
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Yes, it deserves its own post: Conan O'Brien was just tattooed on the Tonight Show.

In a short segment, Conan popped into Xenobiotic in Studio City, wondered at the lovely glass lamps, talked about piercing a taint and got a tiny black and grey sacred heart.

Unfortunately, no pictures are up yet, but I'm guessing by tomorrow (Tuesday) it'll be all over the interwebs. Nice job, CoCo!

Sidenote: I'm pretty positive it was real... gloves, machine, face writhing in pain -- but who knows, it could all be a hoax a la Google Sky girl. And if it is fake, you're gonna have one bummed out paddy on yer hands..

06:53 AM

As Enoo pointed out in the comments section of yesterday's post, the hoax claim for the tattooed star face girl was largely based on the domain registration of the Kimberlizer site being in April before the tattoos, but considering the Kimberlizer star face app is on a subdomain of the ad agency's site (not registered), well, maybe this story is for real.

Watching this video has me changing my mind -- about whether the tattooing actually took place, not her claim that she fell asleep to find her whole face tattooed. If it's real, we can probably chalk it up a teenager changing her story confronted with freaked out parents.

Nevertheless, it still raises questions about the responsibility of a tattooist -- ethically -- to say No to the requests of the foolish.

And if it still turns out to be a hoax, I say, well played. 
01:15 PM
Photo from HBVL.be.

A couple of days ago, Miguel posted on the latest internet and media darling, Kimberly Vlaminck, who supposedly asked her tattooist for three stars on her face, fell asleep and woke up with 56.

Yeah, we all said "Get the F#$k outta here," mostly because who falls asleep when getting tattooed, especially on ya face.

Turns out that it was all a brilliant marketing ploy according to Belgian and Dutch news -- sadly the US media is slow to catch up and I'm still seeing news editorials decry such tattoo horrors.

While not fully confirmed, speculation is that the mastermind behind Tattoo Star Face Girl is Belgian radio station MNM -- whose logo is a star -- and whose ad agency is behind the Kimberlizer.

Yes, the Kimberlizer!

Via webcam, you too can have Kimmy's celestial visage. The Kimberlizer even gets cute, asking whether you want 1 to 3 stars, then giving you 56. I had problems using it on my Macbook but others -- over 200,000 -- have already been given facial tattoos. 

Do it yourself and then send the pic to dad for Father's Day. Nothing says I love you more than a good internet meme.
04:21 AM
object.jpgI may be on vacation in Greece but I had to take a break from doing nothing to keep my promise of posting regularly scheduled tattooed men to be objectified. Last week, Stefan was a big hit here and on my Facebook page, and I was vigorously encouraged by my girls and gays to continue. For this week, I chose a man who rocks the hot nerd look and has excellent taste in tattoo work, and so without further ado ...

Give some love up for Albert.

* City: Mons, Belgium

* Age: 24

* Relationship status: In a Relationship

* Fun: I like to sing loudly whilst driving

* Music: Ryan Adams and Kanye West

* Website:  www.myspace.com/glass_glimpse

* The Tattoo: The sleeve in progress -- shown unfinished here -- is by uber-talented tattooist Vincent Hocquet of Beautiful Freak Tattoo in St. Idesbald on the Belgian coast. Yup, those Belgians know how to rock the dotwork. The stippling tattoo effect creates the 3-D imagery in the shading. Coincidentally, Vincent is one of the featured artists in my upcoming book on blackwork tattooing. He's also a super sweetie.

If you're a tattooed hottie willing to be ogled, send me your pic at marisa at needlesandsins.com.
04:07 PM

starface1.jpgCommunication is vitally important when getting a tattoo as Kimberly Vlaminck found out after she "woke up" to find 56 stars across the side of her face.

She claims that she told him in both French and English that she only wanted 3 small stars near her temple, but obviously the Romanian tattoo artist Rouslan Toumaniantz didn't fully understand her. She also claims that she was asleep while he was doing it -- while he claims that she was awake the whole time and only claimed now that it was a mistake when her father saw her tattoo.

Now her family is suing him for 9000 Euros for the cost of tattoo removal.

When I first read this all I could think was "Get the F#$k outta here", it's just incomprehensible that this kind of mistake could happen. What I don't understand is this:

1) Why did he agree to agree an 18-year-old girl's face?
2) How did she fall asleep, during a face tattoo?

Something doesn't pass the smell test!

I guess as Bush would say "mistakes were made," but this one will last a lifetime.

01:21 PM
blog_tattoo_friday.jpgToday marks the opening of Friday Jones's "bespoke tattoo studio" called Friday Jones Fifth Avenue at the Senses NY Salon & Spa.

And I've gotten lots of links and comments from y'all about it.

It's today's piece of Daily Candy NY and a number of you were not pleased with the silly copy like "tat fittings" or "She's all rock and roll but knows the ladies are turned off by grimy parlors."  Ummm, really? I don't think we can fault Friday here, though. She is a cool rock chick so I can't picture her dissing the shops she came up in.

W Magazine's blog gives us a better look into the new venture with a Q&A and photos of Friday's work and the studio, like the one shown right.

It was Friday's own words here that bothered some of you, specifically, the offer of anesthesia for the tattoo -- raising the question beyond whether tattooing should be in upscale salons but should tattoos now be pain-free?

I'm old school.
I think the pain makes it part of that rite of passage; it stops the non-committed from making mistakes; it makes you feel like you "earned it," which is a big part of the experience for me. Her offer of a glass of wine to take the edge off -- fine. Complete numbing -- no thanks.

Others had a real problem with this part of the W Q&A:

Finally, what would you recommend for a girl who wants a tattoo, but isn't ready to commit to a major statement?

We're really pushing white tattoos, which are super subtle, like a birthmark. I'm a sorority girl, Delta Gamma, and my girlfriends wanted tattoos but they didn't want them to be black. White tattoos are high maintenance--there's a thicker pigment and sometimes you have to come in again to get it to look more vivid, but for my market, it's great.

Reader Christine said, "Don't get the tattoo if you can't commit!"

But Friday makes a good point with the words "my market." I can sit behind my computer all day and all high and mighty blogging on tattoo couture and "collecting art on skin" blahblah, but many, many people just want a dumb ass sorority tattoo that won't show on their wedding day. That's not Friday's sole market, of course, but she is taking care of people who would likely be sneered at in your "grimy parlor."

And so, while the anesthesia, white ink, and spa-ification of tattooing is making me a little queasy today, perhaps it's just something we gotta get used to and embrace as a different option for a new market of tattoo collectors.

[I gotta note that I've met Friday and think she's great. In fact, one of my favorite pieces of flash art that I own is her work. I guess I just need to deal with a changing tattoo culture. Hell, a lawyer blogging about tattoos doesn't have a real platform to stand on in bemoaning such a change!]

Thanks to Kathleen, Sarah, Jenni, Sara, Christine, (and those who wish to go unnamed) for the links.  
03:34 PM
blue-tattoo.jpgConsidering one of my favorite tattoo texts is Bodies of Subversion by Margot Mifflin, I'm excited to pick up Margot's latest book: The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman

... so much so that I'm trying to rush my To Do list before I leave for Greece Wednesday in hopes I can catch her reading tomorrow night at the Book Court in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn at 7PM.

Once I get my hands on it, I'll do a review; meanwhile, here's a taste from the description:

"In 1851 Olive Oatman was a thirteen-year old pioneer traveling west toward Zion, with her Mormon family. Within a decade, she was a white Indian with a chin tattoo, caught between cultures.

The Blue Tattoo tells the harrowing story of this forgotten heroine of frontier America. Orphaned when her family was brutally killed by Yavapai Indians, Oatman lived as a slave to her captors for a year before being traded to the Mohave, who tattooed her face and raised her as their own.

She was fully assimilated and perfectly happy when, at nineteen, she was ransomed back to white society. She became an instant celebrity, but the price of fame was high and the pain of her ruptured childhood lasted a lifetime.

Based on historical records, including letters and diaries of Oatman's friends and relatives, The Blue Tattoo is the first book to examine her life from her childhood in Illinois--including the massacre, her captivity, and her return to white society--to her later years as a wealthy banker's wife in Texas.

Oatman's blue tattoo was a cultural symbol that evoked both the imprint of her Mohave past and the lingering scars of westward expansion. It also served as a reminder of her deepest secret, fully explored here for the first time: she never wanted to go home."

Pick up your own copy at Amazon.com here.

12:21 PM
art fusion2.jpg
Just posted photos on Flickr of the Flesh to Canvas opening Saturday at the Last Rites Gallery.

As usual, it was a packed show with the usual mix of goth chicks, artists with foreign accents who "only paint nude women" (ahem), tattooists and collectors. Paul Booth held court while his minions dutifully hung on his few words; many filled the seats of his theater adjacent to the gallery to watch his documentaries; the Art Fusion experiment, pictured above, also drew onlookers as artists engaged in live collaborative drawing.

Also in attendance, cheesecake tattoo king, Joe Capobianco -- who is consistently the nicest guy in the room everywhere he goes -- and had a piece in the group exhibit. We also bumped into Gene Coffey of Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn -- who is consistently the weirdest guy in the room -- and he told us of the paintings he's been working on for a future show at TC. [Gene and I were brainstorming ideas for a tattoo he'll do on me when I get back from vacation. I'll keep ya posted on that.]

The highlight of the opening, as always: Paul's lovely mother, who has such a saintly glow about her, it's hard to believe she birthed the Dark Prince of Tattoo.

See more photos of the show here.
03:33 PM
FLESH_TO_CANVAS_banner.jpgPlease forgive the blog silence the past couple of days but I was on the final text deadline for my book on blackwork tattooing. It's all in and now, my friends, it's time to party!

Here's where we'll be tomorrow night: the opening reception of the Flesh to Canvas group art show at the Last Rites Gallery, from 7-11PM.

The show is exclusively comprised of works by tattoo artists but -- you got it -- on canvas, not skin. And the line-up is very exciting with Filip Leu, Shawn Barber, Kim Saigh, Jeff Gogue and so many other incredible tattooists/painters.

This show will be an annual event and an integral part of Paul Booth's Last Rites Gallery. Looking forward to attending its first installation.
10:47 AM
object-the-little-family.jpgPhoto by Martha Larson of Seattle.

There are Suicide Girls, Gypsy Queens and the Inked Girl of the Day. And we love all that cheesecakey goodness. But where can the ladies and gay boys get a little tattoo eye candy? Well, I'm here to provide.

Last week, I put out a call for hot tattooed men to feature here, and praise be, my Inbox dinged: You Got Male!

But before we objectify our first brave bod, I just wanna say, Keep 'em comin. Send your photos to marisa at needlesandsins.com.

And now meet:  Stefan Lawrence

  • * City: Brooklyn
  • * Age: 31
  • * Relationship status: Married and soon to be daddy [I know, ladies. sigh]
  • * Work: Freelance graphic designer, and sketch comedian with Elephant Larry.
  • * Fun: I like to bake bread, make brisket and pulled pork in the smoker, drink Tiki drinks & whiskey, and collect Disneyland ephemera. Also I like to hold my cats as if they were babies.
  • * Music: Guns 'n Roses, Elvis Presley gospel music, Band of Horses, Andrew WK, Blitzen Trapper, assorted outlaw country. Basically the kind of music you can wear a belt buckle to.
  • * See more: Elephantlarry.com, and Stefanrules.com coming soon (6/17)
  • * The Tattoo: New tattoo work by Virginia Elwood of NY Adorned.
"My wife, Biz, is pregnant and we're about to have a little Katy Belle (that's the baby). I went to Virginia Elwood of NY Adorned with the general idea of the mama, papa and baby bird, with the banner reading "The Little Family," which is what me and Biz were calling it when we would be sleeping in the morning and both our cats were on the bed with us as well. Virginia just sorta took the idea and ran with it. Even though I'm a designer by trade, I like to let artists do their own thing because, really, what do I know about designing a tattoo?

When it came time for the appointment and I saw the design, it was love. Much bigger than I expected, but it looked so fluid and alive -- the way she wrapped the birds around my shoulder and arm, it just looked like it was meant to be there.

It took three sessions, about 6.5 hours total. Virginia was really great to work with, so friendly and easy to spend all that time with. Also she had very nice, interesting friends drop in to visit, so there was nothing about it that wasn't a pleasure. From a distiller friend of hers, I learned that a 100 lb. sack of vodka-quality potatoes costs 3 cents. 3 cents! I mean, come on. Anyway, it was just a great experience, and it's making me look forward to seeing Katy Belle when she pops out of my wife in about another month or so."
Congrats, Stefan and Biz!
06:37 PM
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This week, the first online poetry & tattoo literary journal, Holly Rose Review (HRR), released its second issue, topping its premier issue of Dec. 2008, which I wrote about on Needled here.

The theme for this June edition is "passion." Editor Theresa Edwards, who puts out the HRR with partner Toni Turner, discusses this thread that weaves the tattoos and poetry together:

The poems in this issue are reminiscent, sensual, and they express the many meanings of emotion and what true passion is: a longing for a person, a purpose, a remote possibility that love, desire, even the self is strong and steadfast.

The art unleashes anger, fear, love, and determination. The face, a part of the body that expresses a swarm of emotions, has found its place on many of these pages.

The stunning Hanya backpiece on the cover is by Shane Tan, whose work also illustrates the poetry of Daphne Lazarus. You can actually see the beautiful, tattooed writer recite her work on her poetry page.

In fact, that's one of my favorite features of this edition: audio and video files of the poets reading their contributions adds another dimension to the HRR experience.

The tattooists involved in this issue, in addition to Shane Tan, are Seven Beckham, Chris Belville, Cengiz Eyvazov, Luba Goldina, Maxime Lanouette, Soul Expressions, and Shotsie Gorman. Considering Shotsie is also a poet, I'd love to see the next edition feature his writing and tattoos.

For full bios and links to the tattooists, illustrators and poets, check the contributors page.

Enjoy the art and poetry, and have a wonderful weekend!
11:27 AM
bone tattooing.jpgEarlier this week, I posted Chris Stauber's Hell City Redux, which looked at the show from the point of view of the collector. Today, we have musician and tattoo apprentice, Justin Stitches, and his view from the stage.

When not playing with The Jackalopes
at the show, Justin took tons of great photos. Rock on!

By Justin Stitches

I had the extreme pleasure of being invited with my band The Jackalopes (fronted by tattooist Rev. Chad A. Wells) to play this year's Hell City Killumbus convention on Sunday.  My first thoughts were that the artists were going to be all sorts of pissed at the loud horror-punk noise emanating from the main stage...that and everyone knows that Sundays at conventions are traditionally recovery days for all involved.  However, our set was awesome (despite no on-stage monitors, which is a nightmare, kinda like playing under water) as we actually had a crowd watching, nothing was thrown at us, and if there were any shut-the-fuck-ups lobbed our way, I sure didn't hear 'em.

As for the actual convention, it is definitely one of the best put together tattoo shows in the nation. Durb and company make sure that everyone is well provided for and has a great time.  Attendees can always expect tons of things to see and do, and even the kids can get all painted up at the Heck City area.

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Organizer and tattooist Durb Morrison with legendary Lyle Tuttle.

The list of artists attending is always a wet dream for tattoo fans and collectors, including  Durb, Robert Hernandez, Mike DeVries, Sean Herman, Tim Kern, Dan Marshall, Joe Capobianco, Rev. Chad A. Wells, Tony Ciavarro, Rich T., Guy Aitchison, Shawn Barber, My Tattoo crew, Mike DeMasi, Jesse Smith...just to name a few.  Even the vendor list was drool-worthy: Alissa Brunelli, Hardnox Clothing, Evolve Jewelry, Pulse, Godoy Machines...

If you missed it in Killumbus, Hell City Phoenix is coming up in September... get ready now!

See more photos here.

11:34 AM

RebelInk.jpgTime to round up the tattoo magazine goodness, this month is the premier of a new tattoo magazine Rebel Ink.

Rebel Ink is brought to you from the same team that produces Urban Ink. I have to admit that as much as I wanted to dislike it, the magazine is better than I thought it would be. Rebel Inks press release describes the magazine:

" . . . focuses on "hardcore ink". The people featured in this magazine are covered head to toe with vivid and detailed body art sure to shock and awe any reader."

Yea, I know a big yawn, but from reading Rebel Ink, it seems to be trying to capture the edgier demographic of, lets say a Savage Magazine but executed in a much better way. Both the layout and the photography are excellent, head and shoulders above the tired Tattoo/Tattoo Flash/Savage layout.

The articles are your usual fare with a dark twist, interviews with Tera Patrick and her husband Evan Sienfeld, a good interview with Paul Booth a must for any magazine walking on the dark side. I was also pleasantly surprised by by the interview with the Gotham Girls roller derby team.

UrbanInk.jpgI also picked the latest issue Urban Ink, which could be Rebel Inks brother magazine since they both share the exact same font and half of the same name for the title. This was a good issue, I was disappointed to see that Zulu's Question/Answer article was no longer in the magazine, but the quality of the articles were very good. If you pick up this months Urban Ink, make sure to check out Dan Browns article "America Tattoo's and the NBA", a well written, thoughtful and nuanced article.

Althought, I give Urban Ink a lot of credit for focusing on people with color with tattoo's, there are a few issues I have with the general content of the magazine

  • 1) The quality of the artist featured are usually only so/so.
  • 2) Way too many adds, but you gotta pay the bills.
  • 3) Sometimes it seems a little bit on the bootyshake side (maybe I'm too much of a nerd).

08:52 PM
I know that Marisa was kind enough to plug my Uterine Exitas earlier in the week, but I would have been truly remiss to not show you all the card that arrived in The Post from my dear mother:

card.jpgWhat with the inscription, "For my 'Highly Decorated' son," it looks as if the overtly demure (yet devoutly Wiccan) woman who had a sleeved, Lebanese grandfather has finally come to accept her own son's obsession with sub-dermal illustration.

Love ya mom...
12:26 AM

tribal lotus tattoo.jpgThe tattoo news this week was all about celebs, conventions, and a little bit of controversy, and to highlight these top stories, I'm posting this photo of Andy shot by Sean Toussaint at Parkside Lounge for my upcoming tattoo book. Andy's tribal lotus tattoo is by Shinji of NY Adorned. Granted, there is no real connection, but considering that my Inbox has been flooded with "check the hot tattooed chicks" emails this week, I felt compelled to respond in kind. In fact, if you're a tattooed man who would like to be objectified by my girls and gays on this blog, please send your photo to marisa at needlesandsins.com.

Ok, unto the news ...

A Georgia man, who forcibly tattooed his 3-year-old son in their trailer home now faces criminal charges of cruelty to children and tattooing a person under the age of 18. The tattoo is letters DB for Daddy's Boy. This guy should find the same fate in jail, Darrell's Bitch perhaps.

The controversy lies in the response to the story on the Atlanta Journal Sentinel blog, asking  Is tattooing a child worse than piercing a baby's ears or circumcising a newborn boy?

"Are tattoos more painful than piercing or circumcision? Not sure that's true.

I'm not promoting tattoos for toddler and babies, I'm just wondering if there is a double standard of what is acceptable to do to a child?"

While there are some obvious responses -- like piercing not having the permanence of tattoos -- the issue does reignite online debates particularly over circumcision. Some of the comments to that post thoughtfully discuss the topic but, alas, most do not. Feel free to share your thoughts below.

In more pleasant conversation, conventions were big news ...

hell city cover.jpg

Columbus media was abuzz with stories on the Hell City show this past weekend, especially Columbus Alive, which devoted much of its pages, online and off to the show. Behold the awesome cover of organizer and tattooist Durb Morrison (shown right) and profiled inside as one of their many "Inked Up" features. Also check the audio slideshow.

The Columbus Dispatch reported on the convention's tattoo competitions, calling them a "grittier version of a beauty pageant." Nice ink coverage, media & tattoos. [Stop that eye rolling!]

More coverage for the NYC Tattoo convention, with Fangoria sharing their experience and photos. [Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors comes to NYC"s Jacob Javits Center next Weekend.]

A small convention in upstate NY, the Mowhawk Valley Tattoo Expo, got coverage as well.

In celeb tattoo news ...

HuffPo is excited over Angelina's small embellishment of her existing tattoos, essentially a small frame of the coordinates of her babies' birthplaces.

We do love our Angie, but Megan Fox may be stealing our affections with the latest news of her wanting to get sleeved:

"Every time I get a tattoo, it's a little f***-you to anyone who tells me not to. I like the way getting a tattoo feels."
Megan graces the June cover of Elle mag, and as The Insider shows, there's the hot back tattoo-baring cover and the more demure one where her Marilyn Monroe portrait on her arm is covered by text. I found the tattooed one at my local Brooklyn press shop. Which is one is your store carrying?

Ah, nice to write about celebrity tattoos without the overwhelming desire to hurt myself. I do so want to see a fully sleeved leading lady. No matter how vapid the news surrounding the latest A-List ink, the impact on how our society views tattoos is greatly affected by celebrity culture. A culture that has sparked many a tattoo as well.

Then there's tattoos in the "luxury market," like Coach's recent attempt to cash in. A massive FAIL in design but always interesting to me how a lowbrow art is being used to hawk highbrow goods.

To meet the new clientele inspired by these changes, tattoo studios themselves are changing. The LA Times looks at the high-end tattoo ateliers setting up shop in Las Vegas casinos. Check the slideshow here.

Am I depressing y'all with all this?

I remain on the fence, embracing the evolution of the art but also but also fondly looking back at my first tattoos, pre-legalization in NYC, where just finding the studio was an adventure in itself.

And while I find myself trippin down memory lane, I'll leave you with some quick and dirty links:

01:46 PM
mike cole painting.jpg
Our fabulous friend, Chris Stauber, was at this weekend's Hell City show in Columbus, OH getting tattooed but also taking in the city and enjoying the convention's many events. Here's her redux below and a few photos of the show on Flickr.

By Chris Stauber    

I am exhausted from the flurry of activities surrounding Hell City in Columbus, OH this past weekend. It's hard to decide which is more swollen, my belly from eating too much at the fabulous North Market all weekend long or my beautiful new elbow piece by Tim Creed. Both were totally worth the trip.

We arrived in Columbus on Thursday evening. The trip started off well between the clear skies and friendly Off the Map tattoo artist, Stretch, offering to split a cab with us at the airport. Once settled in the Downtown Hyatt, we paid a visit to the two rooms where the participating Innerstate artists were already working on their paintings. It was impressive to see so many wonderfully talented artists come together to work side by side. The environment was casual with conversations (and beer) flowing in many of the work spaces. The variety of techniques and content was already beginning to show in this early phase of development.

By the end of the night, the works were relocated into the main display room where some artists continued working into the late hours. And with each passing hour, Hellions filled the hotel, and of course, the hotel bar. Hell City was getting started.

tim creed painting.jpgFriday the floor opened at noon. The traffic flow seemed less than the year prior, which one could certainly chalk up to the current economy.

The Innerstate painters slowly rolled in and continued work on their projects. This new Innerstate room laid out the artists in a manner that mixed their varying styles while showing the variety in both subject matter and techniques.

A large DJ station sat near center of the room providing a variety of inspirational work grooves to the artists. The end of the room held a merchandise store for many of the participating artists' goods including prints, clothing and books.

My husband had signed up for one of the Friday competitions, Best Sleeve, so we spent some time awaiting his category and chance to show the crowd.

[Check Pete Stauber's tattoo and story.]

One of the greatest features of Hell City is the software and technology they use in their competitions. There is nothing worse than a few hundred people standing around a stage of a tattoo convention all squinting to see some tiny tattoo. Hell City displays each work up on two huge projection screens for the entire show to see. A crowd pleaser.

At 10PM, the awards were announced and the floor closed up quickly afterwards. I have to brag that Peter won Third Place Best Sleeve; we were both so pleased to see the brilliant artist, Mike Cole, get recognized.

Saturday started off with a much bigger crowd, with a huge line of those waiting to get in. The Innerstate artists continued progress on their works. Several, including Shawn Barber, Kim Reed and Damon Conklin, created more than one piece over the weekend. Carson Hill and Don McDonald magically transformed their biomechanical works into 3D wonders.

While I had some reservations about taking 30 to 40 great tattoo artists away from tattooing all weekend long at a tattoo convention, it really worked. There was an unspoken vibe of inspiration flowing through the space, and there is no doubt they fed off of one another -- although there were some jokes about not feeding the caged artists on display.  

I filled day two the same as the first: checking out the tattooing, painting, various competitions, and stage entertainment. But I also fit in a 20-minute massage at the convention's massage booth. [Ed's note: A booth that should be a must at every convention for collectors but, more importantly, for the hard working artists.]

hell city tattoo.jpgWe ended the day at the awards. This time Peter took First Place Best Small Color for Mike Cole's intricate green and pink alien circuitry under his arm. [Here he is double fisting his trophies.]

Sunday morning came upon us late as we didn't get to bed until 4 am. We mainly went around saying our good-byes; I particularly enjoyed meeting some new people this year including Innerstate participant Lizi Sage along with Jim and their adorable son. Lizi's painting was magical and makes me consider jumping on a plane to the UK for a session.

All weekend, the show had a smooth rhythm.  During the competitions, the MC was entertaining and well-spoken, often buying judges time to look at entries while challenging the audience with amusing trivia and rewarding correct answers with swag. The lay out of the show over several floors makes the convention seem big and helps control the flow of bodies.

Again, kudos to Durb and his crew for a helluva convention. Hope to see you all at Hell City Phoenix, September 4-6.
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