August 2009 Archives

12:10 PM
Black Lotus Tattoo.jpg
Yesterday, we enjoyed the opening of Black Lotus Tattoo and Art Gallery, Jaz Toeque's new studio in the Clinton Hill/Fort Greene hood, which conveniently is steps from my home.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the Jameson at the bar, so I only managed to fire off a couple of shots on my iPhone of the works on display and the Art Fusion Experiment in effect. Check the photos here.

Indie band Blast Rocks Midtown played a set then DJ Sakir took over the night getting all to groove. [I think I convinced her to spin at my book release party. Will let ya know.]

Between Saturday's Rumblers car show and last night's opening, it was a weekend filled with beautiful people, art, music ... and booze.

So please excuse my hangover minor delay in getting the tattoo news review up later today.
11:16 AM
This past Saturday, Brian and I checked out the annual Rumblers car show in Brooklyn and it's safe to say that we were part of a tattoo majority. And I'm not just talking about a couple of cherries on wanna-be pin-ups. I'm talking full on sleeves, neck and hand tattoos -- career-killer work -- on tar stained greasers. Needless to say, it was hot.

But while I was ogling the decorated human bodies, Brian was all about the metal. And he had the camera. So our Rumblers Flickr Set is largely of cars and bikes. Go figure.

While he ran around shooting skull shifters, I was looking at the clutches -- of the handbag style -- at the Father Panik Industries booth, who were also selling their famed Knux nameplates.

I also hung out with Suze of Inborn Tattoo who just finished her apprenticeship with Ray Jerez and is hungry for skin to get her portfolio going. Inborn had a table selling tees and giving away stickers. No tattooing among the exhaust fumes.

After breathing in enough of those fumes, we headed to Union Pool for a drink where we found plenty of cherry-tattooed pin-up girls relaxing on the cool, beer soaked bar stools, legs crossed to attract bachelors in wife beaters. There were veteran couples in matching dirty denim and ink. Bikers. Rockers. At least one tattoo blogger.

It was quintessential Brooklyn badassness. Look forward to next year.
08:51 PM
A little while ago, I was coming off a literal high from Anti-Gravity Yoga at Crunch gym and decided to settled down on the stationary bike with the September issue of Blackbook mag.
In my zen-like state, I flipped through the Fall fashion preview (the season is all S/M ya know) and came to a punk-inspired spread that they called "Tattooed Love Boys," playing off the old Pretender's song by the same name.

Now, some of you may remember from my old Needled blog days that my biggest argument with fashion mags was that they'd feature heavily tattooed models but never credit the artists whose work is shown. If they credit hair and make-up artists and stylists, why not the tattooists?

That question was first posed to me by legendary tattooist Spider Webb about ten years ago. Back then, you didn't have the mass appeal of tattooing as you do today in mainstream media nor as many heavily tattooed models. But today, high fashion tattoo models are ubiquitous in magazines, and their agencies need to be providing editors with tattoo artist credits especially when the tattoos are central to the spread like they are in this month's Blackbook.

Check the full Blackbook layout on the Steel Machines blog.

What you won't be able to read clearly is the credits at the end of that layout, which not only include hair, make-up, stylists, their assistants, interns, but even the freakin caterers. It seems egregious to have a full page of a sleeve and hand tattoo and not note the canvas on which the Cartier rests. But the guy who delivered your paninis, no prob.

And so I'm pissed. And right after yoga no less.

Time to write some letters to the editors.
04:10 PM
jd larish.jpgHas it really been over a month since we last objectified tattooed men?

Forgive me. I've been so preoccupied with my upcoming book (and my own hot tattooed man) that I've neglected your one-handed typing needs. Well, I'm making up for it by objectifying one who is not only beautiful but beautifully tattooed by a roster of artists that is a Who's Who of the world's best, from Jack Rudy to Bugs to Brad Fink and beyond.  

Behold Jeffrey Larish:

* City: Tucson, AZ ... by way of DC, Chattanooga, TN, Charlotte, NC, Bethlehem, PA

* Age: 38

* Relationship status: Married with a beautiful daughter

* Work: Stay at Home Dad (although we rarely seem to actually be at home)

* Fun: Sometimes I like to play the Rock and/or Roll. Mostly I enjoy hanging with wife & kid.

* Movies: I like to watch the old Universal Monster Movies with my daughter.  We also watch the (real) Star Wars trilogy.

* Music: Yes, please!

* The Tattoos: I have tattoos from Rodney Raines & Chris Stuart of Ace Custom Tattoo, NC; Jack Rudy of Good Time Charlie's Tattooland, CA; Bugs of Tattoo Lounge, CA; Steve Lemak of The Quillian, PA; Curtis Richter of Art & Soul, PA; Chad Koeplinger (now at NY Adorned); Nikki Balls (now at Top Shelf Tattoo in Queens, NY); Matt Knopp of Tattoo Paradise, DC & MD; Steve Boltz & Eli Quinters of Smith Street Tattoo, Brooklyn; Jay Cavna of Sanctity Tattoo, AZ; Brad Fink of Iron Age Tattoo, St. Louis; Nick Colella of Chicago Tattoo Co.; with plans for more.

"When I first got tattooed way back in 1992, all I wanted was one little tattoo on my shoulder.  Over 17 years and 200 plus hours later, I'm just working on one really big tattoo."

If you'd like to be objectified, send your photo and stats to marisa at needlesandsins dotcom.

03:35 PM
black lotus event.jpg
This Sunday, join me in celebrating the opening of Jaz Toeque's Black Lotus Gallery right in my own Brooklyn hood of Clinton Hill/Fort Greene. I got a private preview of the tattoo studio/art gallery -- which means I passed by uninvited and asked Jaz for an impromptu tour. And I was impressed. The space is gorgeous with exposed brick walls, hardwood flooring and perfect lighting for tattooing and viewing fine art. See photos of the space in the NY Times blog post on Black Lotus.

But the real draw is Jaz's tattoo work and those of a stellar line-up of guest artists including black and grey tattoo veteran Tony Olivas of Sacred Heart Tattoo in Georgia. Tony is taking appointments at Black Lotus now. [I just have to find some available space on me!]

Tony will be leading the Art Fusion Experiment at the opening -- that is, live collaborative drawing between artists where you can watch a work of art come to life. See videos of Art Fusion around the world here.

Tattooist and painter Mark Pinto of Thick as Thieves Tattoo in Denver, Co is also a guest artist and will be showing his fine art at the party as well.

The opening runs from 4-9PM with the after party at Sweet Revenge. Hope to see y'all there.
03:55 PM
mario tattoos jim jones.jpg Mario Barth tattoos rapper Jim Jones
Tonight at 9PM Eastern time, the History Channel will premier a new six-part tattoo series called Marked, which "will explore the world of tattoos belonging to the intense modern day tribes that operate at the edges of society, including 1% motorcycle clubs, hardcore prisons, urban gangs and street culture."

Stop that!

I saw your eyes rolling over yet another tattoo show, but I'm actually gonna sit down and watch this one because it's produced by veteran tattooist Mario Barth and director Billy Burke, who's first collaboration Under The Skin -- a film on underground Japanese tattooing and surrounding rituals -- won numerous awards for Best Documentary. A clip from the documentary is below. [You can order the DVD online here.]

Like Under the Skin, tattoo's fringe culture is explored, including initiation rights, the meaning behind tattoo symbols, technique and history. It seems like it will take Gangland, another History channel show, further by delving into the tattoo culture of gangs. I'm
particularly interested in how certain groups use tattooing as bonding, marks of hierarchy as well as belonging, and personal story telling, so it looks like a TV night for Brian and I this eve. 

If you watch it tonight as well, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section.

For more on Mario, check his blog, where he recently posted pics of Jim Jones' backpiece that he's working on.

06:29 PM
zen tattoo2.jpgTattoo by Swastika Freakshop

After spending most of last week at my Ohm-tastic yoga retreat, I came back feelin goooood, and so I promise a zen like news review, free of blogger snark but full of tattoo goodness.

To prove my tantric love, I wont even mock Miami Heat's Michael Beasley's new "Super Cool Beas" tattoo (and ganja love), nor say things like the Kat Von D concealer for Sephora "looks like an amazing product. If you like eczema." I'm too full of peace and oneness for that even if it does prove what I said about my own trial of the concealer (noted here).

So let's get on with the love fest ...

Check this 7x7 interview with Shawn Barber, where the painter and tattooist discusses his own love of the craft:

"Tattooing gives so much more than it takes. It allows an individual to acknowledge life with permanent markers. Getting tattooed is a leap of faith that reminds you of that exact time and place for the rest of your life."

This past weekend, Shawn was one of the many great artists working the Tattoo Hollywood Convention in LA, reported on by Modblog here and here.

Other conventions covered this weekend were Rhode Island's Rock the Ink, and the Alberta tattoo convention, where Lucky Diamond Rich -- the world's most tattooed person shown below -- stole the show.

Only more beautifully freaky than Lucky is this news item: "A man with a tattoo of Britney Spears' name on his arm or neck allegedly stole a Chihuahua with pink earrings from a South Florida gay bar." I'll just leave it at that, thank you.

But please explain why people with distinguishing tattoos continue to commit crimes. [Indeed, a Hitler tattoo will be used in a hate-crime trial.]

In Russia, however, hate symbols like the Nazi swastika, can be ordered removed on offenders. I disagree, if only because I like to know what kinda haters I'm dealing with. Tattoos can be a great personal filter for people you meet in life.

[Tattoos will also give you away if you try to have sex with your twin's girlfriend.]

For those who want a fresh star, British Columbia's Gang Task force will remove affiliate tattoos, but only for gang intel. The comments are particularly interesting. [Thanks, Brayden!]

Thankfully, some bod mod over-achievers were celebrated in the news this week: pierced and tattooed Olympians.

And finally, the bonus quiz:  Guess the celebrity tattoos.

That's it this week. Namaste, friends.
01:52 PM

Going through the tattoo news, I found this "Ink & Stay" promo for the Hotel Erwin. From now until December 30, 2009, the Venice Beach hotel is luring tattoorati with the following:

* a $100 voucher for their  "in‐house tattoo and graffiti artist" Norm
* Lubriderm lotion and ice‐pack for healing
* Bottle of tequila to numb the pain

There's also a $500 bonus if you get a tattoo that says "I HEART HOTEL ERWIN" but don't do this unless your bod is only worth less than a two-night stay. Rates start at around $400/night for the boutique hotel.

Or sleep on the beach and use all the money at Spotlight Tattoo where Norm currently works.

Check this video of Norm decorating the hotel's facade ... legally.

The news is up next.
08:20 AM
DSCN0451.JPGI'm off on an Internet-free yoga retreat so my friends are taking over. Check Chris Stauber's account of her latest self-transformation and tattoo by Nathan Kostechko.

By Chris Stauber.

On January 1, 2002, I embarked, with the immense support and assistance from my spouse, Peter, on a journey of self change. My mother-in-law had recently overcome a battle with cancer and was encouraged by her physician in turn to make additional lifestyle changes that equated to surprisingly effective weight loss. This inspired both my husband and I to get off our asses and do something about our ever expanding waistlines. Using at first diet and then the powerful combination of diet and exercise, I lost about fifty pounds the first year. In the second year, I pushed on to lose another thirty pounds. From the day I started, I have lost and kept off ninety-six pounds. A lot changes in your body with that sort of dramatic weight loss.

While I was proud of my success and the lifestyle changes I made over the seven year journey, my years of carelessness had left me with a body I could not embrace. Dramatic weight loss leaves you with fun stuff like stretch marks and loose skin. It was something I knew I did to myself but knowing that did not help my inhibitions go away. In speaking with a fellow Virgo tattoo companion and close friend, Tim Creed, I received some great advice. He told me he had personally had great success effectively covering his own stretch marks and skin damage with ink. Tattooing can seemingly turn over the skin and retighten some of the dimpling in it as well.

About two months ago, I decided it was time to reward myself for the seven years of hard work and endless treadmill miles. I contacted Nathan Kostechko through his website about my idea of covering myself in desert plant life & scenery. Since living in Las Vegas, I have fallen in love with the desert terrain. To provide Nate with some inspiration, I started taking photographs of the desert land's cactus life, trees and flowers while hiking out at Red Rock Canyon. I knew I had found the right artist when Nate told me "he could make my body look however I wanted it look." We worked out the loose concept and set the appointment date.


12:14 PM
Exercising my right to bare arms in Greece last month.

Last month, I wrote about tattoos in Greece, noting my favorite shops and even offering a meze platter of personal experience about being a heavily tattooed women who understands what people are saying about me as I walk the streets, from Athens to the islands.

A reporter from Athens News, Erinn Unger, saw the blog post and contacted me for a story she was working on focused on tattoo culture in Greece. That article is now online here. Erinn did a great job of talking to tattoo artists and including my experience to show how attitudes towards tattoos in the country are changing, albeit very slowly. And in my case, sometimes not fast enough. Here's a taste from the article:

While on Mykonos a few years ago, one night she went for a stroll in a strapless dress around the centre. Walking a few steps ahead of Kakoulas and her boyfriend, there was a statuesque transvestite in a shimmery dress, topped off with a feather boa. An old woman sweeping a stoop didn't give the transvestite a second look, but Kakoulas and her tattooed arms got three crosses and an exclaimed Christe kai Panayia!

"All I could do was giggle," Kakoulas said. "Not even a drag queen could pave the way for my acceptance as a tattooed woman."

There's also a great sidebar on the history of tattoos in ancient Greece, including those found on Thracian and Spartan women.

To see the print layout of the article with images, check the scan on Flickr.
11:36 AM
BReagle.jpgIn 1973, learning to tattoo at The Pike in Long Beach, CA was trial by fire. Also known as the "Coney Island of the West," tens of thousands were drawn there for the surf, sideshows, and shooting galleries -- and many came to get tattooed by greats like Bert Grimm, Bob Shaw, Zeke Owens, Col. Todd, among many others. The Pike in 1973 is where the legendary Bob Roberts also got his start, a start to a career that has not only impacted generations of tattooers but beyond to fashion, fine art and pop culture.

I mention this bit of history because, from this starting point and spanning nearly four decades, his experiences inform the collection of over 30 original paintings that Roberts will be exhibiting at his solo show Alive at Canvas Los Angeles.

The opening reception is this Thursday, August 20th, from 8pm to midnight. It will also serve as the official pre-party for the first annual Tattoo Hollywood convention, August 21-23rd at The Renaissance Hotel in the heart of Hollywood, CA.

While the opening is public, there is a large turnout expected, so organizers suggest sending an RSVP to to be added to the guest list, as those on the list will be guaranteed entry.

For more on the life of Bob Roberts, check the history page on Spotlight Tattoo's site.

03:16 PM
teddy ferer.jpgPhoto of Teddy Ferrer by Suzanne DeChillo for The New York Times

The week's tattoo news was light and airy like a decent tyropita but the Greek tragedy here was my Hellenic homegirl Arianna Huffington publishing tattoo blog items on Huff Post by people who should really stick to the Hannah Montana airbrush kind.

The latest offender: Irene Rubaum-Keller and her midlife crisis. Irene brazenly asks the Internet "Tattoos on Women, Yes or No?" in deciding how she should be "shaking things up a bit." [I personally recommend the "Delight" with 32 different vibration options.]

Of course, she doesn't take the decision to permanently mark her body lightly at all. Instead of researching tattooists, reading tattoo sites for personal reviews and artist profiles, or some inner soul searching as to her motivations, she does what one would expect from a licensed psychotherapist and author ... she posts a poll on her Facebook page. In doing so, she develops this thesis: "people have very strong feelings about tattoos in general, and tattoos on women in particular."

Indeed. I not only have strong feelings about tattoos but about people who use a widely read forum like Huff Post to opine on whether to get a tiny white tattoo or a "tramp stamp."

Here's my suggestion: if you need a Facebook poll for any life decision other than a book recommendation or which camera to buy, the choice is already made. And that is Don't Do It.

When you care what all the world thinks of you, it leads to tattoos like this one.

When you don't care, you allow yourself freedom to do what you've always wanted like this 83-year-old grandma who just started getting tattooed last year and plans on more.

Some of the comments on the Huff Post blog said that there was no good reason to get tattooed.

How about to honor your heritage, like the strong and beautiful soccer star Natasha Kai, who's in the news this week?

How about to commemorate those you have loved and lost, like this Toronto woman who has dealt with the violence that surrounds her with tattoo tributes?

How about because you just think it's beautiful, in whatever form, like this hippocampal neuron tattoo? [See more geek tattoos here.]

Irene, baby, if you wanna learn how to talk tattoos, check this article by Jennifer Lee for the NY Times on tattooist and graff writer Teddy Ferrer (shown above). Lee interviews the artist about street & skin art and how it has evolved in NYC. There's substance, and there's personal history of the artist, not the personal crisis of the writer.  [You can check Teddy's work at Tuff City in the Bronx.]


Ok, the tattoo news does sound like a rant today. Forgive me. Or rather, blame Brian Grosz.

Brian has taken his anger against stupidity and narrowly targets health care reform nuts in this delicious video. I'm not as good on camera -- less like Henry Rollins and more like Kathy Griffin -- so I'll spew my own NY-humidity-induced vitriol against people who bastardize our beloved tattoo culture.

But I don't like being an angry redhead, so tomorrow, I'm heading to my usual yoga retreat, American Yogini, for a few days. The rest of the week, the guys will take over here and I also have pre-written posts scheduled; however, I won't be answering messages until next week.

Namaste, yo.
01:03 PM
Just found this while pulling together the news review for ya and wanted to highlight because it looks like a cool way to brighten up ugly casts if you're like me and can only master stick figure drawing yourself: Casttoo.

The cast tattoos are waterproof, orthopedic decals that add some badass to bone breaks. The idea of easy-to-apply cast decoration comes from Jessica Smith, a University of Colorado art grad, who developed her Boulder-based company (with partner David Cowell) after a bike accident that left her with a broken wrist and an unfashionable brace, which she quickly handpainted for "happy healing."

Designs span the range of tattoo styles including Americana, Japanese, Tribal, and Graffiti. Check 'em here. And sizes run from children to extra large adult with prices from $20 up to $40, plus shipping.

It's a creative use of tattoo art beyond skin.

The news is up next.
01:17 PM
sean barber tattooed portraits.jpg
Tonight, The Shooting Gallery in San Francisco presents Shawn Barber's Tattooed Portraits: Snapshot,18 new works capturing the spirit and soul of tattoo artists and collectors.

I've been a fan of Shawn's Tattooed Portrait series since he began it in 2004, particularly for the seductive, fluid renderings of tattooists, whether it be full portraiture or intense focus on their hands. Tattoo artists can be hard people to crack, to convey their soulfulness beyond tough exteriors, but Shawn's open, friendly nature brings down those barriers and the results are very personal and engaging.

One of my favorites is actually not of a tattooist but of actress/activist/hottie Margaret Cho, who is shown (below) getting tattooed by Mike Davis and sucking on a loli (the minx!).

margaret cho .jpgRead more about Shawn's work in his Fecal Face interview. Also check his latest book Forever and Ever available for purchase on his site.

The Shooting Gallery show opens at 7pm tonight and runs until September 8.

08:52 PM
By Pat Sullivan.

Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand is pissed. But that's exactly one of the reasons I admire her so much. Regardless of your opinion (and do the opinions vary), you can't discount Kate's impact on modern tattooing. She busted her way into the tight-knit, dudes only tattoo circles when it was virtually unthinkable to apprentice a woman. And not only did she hang tough, she's made a lifelong career of it, posting little flags along her trail so other women tattooers would know where to pave.

This brings us to Old Ironsides, Sailor Jerry, the man himself who apprenticed Kate. A lot of mud's been slung her way since Jerry's passing and it's only been made worse with the Sailor Jerry brand. Now, Kate's ready to sling some herself. On Sunday she posted to her Myspace a long explanation about Jerry, his stencils, the brand and Louise Collins, Jerry's widow who's never seen a penny from the Sailor Jerry folks and lives off her social security. 

Read up here.

I also want to take a quick second to thank Kate for allowing us to publish this. I finally met Kate this past spring at Roseland and not only is she hilarious, whip-smart and tough, but she's unbelievably nice. (Hey, nobody ever said blogs were supposed to be unbiased.) I wanted to pick her brain about anything and everything, but figured there was enough craziness happening at the booth without someone pestering her with nerdy questions. That, and she was tattooing my girlfriend and still getting interrupted every ten minutes.

Anyway, thanks a ton, Kate. Hope to run into you again somewhere down the line.

02:18 PM
Perhaps the only thing freakier than watching The Lizardman perform is going out to a nice dinner with him. He manages the stares, photo-shoots, and salutations with the same easy flair as he does when sticking things up his nose or wiggling outta a straight jacket.

But the freak ain't crazy. Born Eric Sprague, a doctoral candidate in philosophy, The Lizardman travels the world performing, with a repertoire of over 36 acts, and a humor that makes him a rockin MC for metal shows and tattoo conventions.

Tonight, he takes the stage solo at my beloved Coney Island Sideshow at 9pm ($10 admission). He'll also be performing with the sideshow cast until the 16th.

If you can't catch him at Coney, he'll be working the Tattoo Hollywood convention August 21-23, the Stockhokm Ink Bash August 28-30 and South Dakota's Black Hills tattoo show September 18-20.

Also watch The Lizardman online via his YouTube channel -- just not while eating.

I'll probably arrive a bit early tonight to get a Coney Island lager at the Freak Bar and forked tongue kiss. See ya there!
12:08 PM
yoni3.jpgWhen I decided to dedicate my right sleeve to the history of Israel and the Jewish people, I chose my artist based upon unusual criteria. Not only was Yoni Zilber a talented tattooist with a detailed style, capable of a variety of different looks, but, also, he was born in the Motherland. He was a Jew! And, an Israeli Jew at that!

I considered that my sittings would be a religious experience of sorts, but Yoni is quiet and reflective. He doesn't bustle with the energy of the Tel Aviv nightlife and, while he has the sarcasm and dry wit of most Israelis, he is far more serene and measured in his approach.

Sitting with Yoni was a contemplative experience, a meditation in mind-body connection more reminiscent of the Tibetan influences coloring Yoni's work than of any specific time or place.

At Brooklyn Adorned where he works, he attempts to describe the world of tattoo to my very narrow mind, specifically exploring the what life is like for a Jew who tattoos.

You are one of the more well known Israeli tattoo artists -- do you think that people seek you out for that reason sometimes?
I think so. I do get to work a lot when I'm going to Israel.

Do you ever get asked to do Jewish or Israeli themed tattoos?

Yes, I work in New York, and it happens more here than in Israel. [laughs]

Do you ever get asked to do racist or other stuff? How do you handle that?
If it is for racist reasons, I'll refuse. But, if you want a swastika on your Buddha cloth, I'll do it.

Is Israeli stuff your style or do you tattoo other themes?
Tibetan art is my main focus and the style I want to tattoo as well.

What is tattoo culture like in Israel?
Israel is a hot country and it's more of a beach culture so, mostly black & gray tattoos, but no specific style. Its influence comes from both from Europe and the States.

yoni2.jpgYou have traveled the world. Where is the tattoo culture most prevalent? The weakest?
I think here in America it is strongest. There is no place in the world that you walk on the streets and, in some neighborhoods, there are more tattooed people walking on the streets than un-tattooed people. Not sure where it is the weakest, maybe Antarctica?

How do you increase your skill sets? What do you study? Who do you study with?
Traveling and working with different artists help. Tattoo conventions and just hanging out with other tattooers helps too. I'm studying Tibetan art now with master painter Pema Rinzing.

Is any of your own ink Jewish or Israeli?
I am not sure but my black ink turns white on Shabbat. [laughs]

I mean, do you have any Jewish related themes in your tattoos?
My right arm was done in Israel, but there is no Jewish meaning behind it.

Does your ink represent your tattoo style?
I do have lot of Tibetan art tattooed on me and some styles from the Far East.

If you weren't doing ink, what would you be doing?
A rabbi. Definitely a rabbi.

You can book an appointment with Yoni Zilber at Brooklyn Adorned.

02:08 PM
Yesterday, I wrote about yet another tattoo ban for cops, this time in St. Louis, and it reminded me of a story I read last month in the American Chronicle on a tattoo cover-up created by a former LA Deputy Sheriff and a Marine Corps Vet called Ink Armor.

Ink Armor basically looks like nude stockings for your arms, just thicker, although the company says that the material is "lightweight and breathable."

The full sleeve fits from the upper arm to the wrist while the half sleeve goes to the elbow. They sell for around twenty to fifteen bucks respectively and come in four sizes for men and women.

Only two colors are available, however, "light" and "suntan."

To see how it works, check this video.

The tattoo cover ups are largely marketed to those who work for companies with "no visible tattoos" policies -- and in fact, they offer a list of such companies and public departments on their blog -- but Ink Armor also targets people with "extensive scarring or disfiguring skin conditions."

I'm tempted to place an order, although not for work where I wear long sleeve suits as a rule, but more for my trips to the motherland, where heavily tattooed women are considered the greatest Greek tragedy.

Also in the news today ...

Kat Von D's tattoo concealer for Sephora, also only available for light skinned people. I tried it myself. It didn't work. I had a make-up artist at Sephora apply it for me and after brushing on numerous layers, the small tattoo on my hand -- the one that gives me the most trouble because it's hard to conceal -- was still very visible. So we wiped it off and I asked to see other tattoo cover-ups. None that she used on me worked, so I'm not just hatin on the Von D product.

The one that came the closest to covering my tattoo was Conceal FX Camouflage Concealer, which is thicker, waterproof, and comes in a variety of skin tone shades. The price tag is $25. The problem was that it was really cakey and actually drew attention to my hand.

I haven't tried Dermablend or Colortration, but some swear by those tattoo concealers. I plan on odering and will let you know how they work.

Right now, my regular solution for my hand tattoo: fabric waterproof Bandaids.
05:48 PM
seattle tattoo expo .jpgPhoto by Alan Berner/Seattle Times

I'm gonna geek out on you a bit for today's tattoo news review. As a heavily tattooed lawyer, any time I see a news item that deals with issues like First Amendment or tattoo bans, I get giddy, as if Bradgelina came to my very own McDonald's drive thru. Well, this past week, there was plenty to squeal about.

Check the tattoo law headlines ...

Last week, a new policy went into effect for St Louis cops that bans visible tattoos. Those who did not comply were sent home. The St. Louis Police Officers' Association says it's unfair and will be meeting this week to discuss the new dress code. In general, it's a tough battle to fight.

In 2006, the Second Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in Inturri v. City of Hartford, upheld a similar ban for Hartford, CT cops, setting precedent that such dress codes do not violate the First Amendment. It said, "A police department has a reasonable interest in not offending or appearing unprofessional before the public it serves." Further, in a federal case in Texas, Riggs v. City of Fort Worth, the District Court said that "A police officer's uniform is not a forum for fostering public discourse or expressing one's personal beliefs." 

The bottom line is that tattoo stereotypes still exist and if the public cannot trust the police, the bans fulfill a "legitimate purpose" as long as they are not applied in a discriminatory way. The best way to combat the bans is to fight the stereotypes.

Alas, after the weekend I had, I fulfilled every negative tattooed chick stereotype in the book. Do as I say, not as I do, my friends.

This guy also doesn't help our cause:  Tattoo gives away nine-time drunken-driving suspect who tried to fool a cop with a bogus license but the officer remembered the tattoo from a previous arrest.

Tattoo bans in public schools like this latest one in western Kentucky, however, can be fought.

As I wrote in my 2005 Legal Link column entitled "Fighting Oppressive School Dress Codes," the 1969 landmark Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District gave students the right to freedom of speech. Read my article for points on how parents and students can exercise this right and fight against school body art bans.

In convention coverage ...

seattle expo.jpgThe Seattle Times reported on the Seattle Tattoo Expo, which took place this past weekend. The article features great photos by Alan Berner like the one above of Becky Long undergoing a 6-hour session at the show under the needles of Paul Zenk of Portland's Infinity Tattoo. Paul was one of the 285 tattoo artists working the Expo where an estimated 10,000 tattoo lovers attended.

The Times article also has a great quote from Body Graphics's Bill Funk on tattoo culture:

"What we see now is a complete reflection of society in general. There is no tattoo subculture. The lines have been blurred. If you have a love of the art, you're going to get a tattoo."

Seattle Pi also has an extensive slideshow of the Expo with photos like this one right by Daniel Berman. Check it. [Thanks, Bill!]

In tattoo business ventures ...

Call your stock broker! Tattoo removal company, Dr Tattoff is expanding and wants to go public next year. John Keefe, Dr. Tattoff's chief executive, estimates that tattoo removal could be a $10-billion-a-year industry. He wouldn't give figures for his own profits but did say that Tattoff is a multimillion-dollar business. explores how tattoo art has made its way onto gift registries but in the form of tableware, home decor, and bedding. At the end of the article, they list tattoo-inspired goods along with websites and prices (like the $65,000 price tag on Kiki Smith's "Tattoo Vase" for Steuben Glass).

In celebrity tattoo snooze ...

Posh's latest Hebrew tattoo gets pimped in Israeli press.

Lady Gaga waxes poetic over her new Rilke tattoo.

Ryan Gosling has a tattoo inspired by Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree." [Thanks, Scott!]

But I liked this bit:  Mickey Rourke and Sylvester Stallone show off their very real tattoos in their upcoming film The Expendables. Mickey plays a tough tattoo artist, drawing inspiration I'm sure from his own artist Mark Mahoney of Shamrock Social Club. Also read more about Stallone's tattoo work here.

More Quick & Dirty Links ...

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04:27 PM
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If there was a  "Henry Lewis is My Homeboy" tee, I'd drape it over my D's with pride. The SF tattooist and painter is featured in this month's Juxtapoz magazine and it's a must read. In fact, the whole issue is cover-to-cover good this month.

Henry tattoos at Grime's Skull & Sword in the Mission District, and paints in a wild studio space he shares with Shawn Barber, also profiled in last month's Back Talk section of the mag.

Juxtapoz online also features other tattoo goodness; check the following:

The news is up next!
01:16 PM
tattooed librarians.jpgWe all have a librarian fantasy somewhere in the recesses of our dirty minds. Knowing this -- and banking on it -- are the the Tattooed Ladies of the Texas Library Association and their 18 month calendar to benefit TLA's Library Disaster Relief Fund.

The calendar, featuring "21 well-read and well-illustrated Texas librarians show their ink," has garnered blaring headlines worldwide. I suppose the idea of smart women with tattoos is still new for some?

I did like the quote though: "I am thinking Tina Fey meets Suicide Girls...It seems too good to be true." It is! Check these samples pages.

You can order the 40-page calendar here for $20 to benefit a good cause -- and your imagination.

03:36 PM
The Needles and Sins mantra of "keep your low-brow coverage held high" has been drilled into my earhole enough times that I think I've started chanting it in my sleep. It also would explain the pangs of guilt I experienced when I somehow found myself not only looking at, but actually laughing at it, to boot.

And while I was ready to see the run-of-the-mill "tattoos are for idiots" sentiment on their tattoo topic page, I mustered quite a few giggles at their "insights," especially this butcher's-chart for the tattooed human form.

[photo courtesy of]

After all, can I make judgements about a website that sounds just as misanthropic as my general view of humanity? Case in point:

Tattoos theoretically could be thoughtful additions to your appearance. Unfortunately there are thousands of tattoo parlors (many open 24 hours) and people just don't have that many thoughts. So most [tattoos] are stupid.

Some people love their stupid tattoos, in fact some people claim that everyone should have at least one. I can't argue with that sentiment, but I would like to point out that for a lot of people, its often its the first and final tattoo.

Cracked's stance on band logo tattoos ("I have no independent personality or understanding of the passage of time"), revolves around something which I've milled over and mulched in my brain for far longer than I probably should have.

While it's a pretty safe bet that your affinity for the bands you loved during puberty will never wane (in my case, groups like Pixies, Sonic Youth, Operation Ivy), I can safely assert that I don't personally need to immortalize that lifelong allegiance with a dermal decoration. Secondly, it's also almost entirely a safe bet that the band you love RIGHT NOW will either break-up or, worse, totally shift stylistic directions leaving you pining for their "first few albums" and a laser removal center.

Or in the words of the guys at and their funny (if hastily penned) piece on tattoos in the hardcore community

I know that Slipknot piece must've looked fresh when you were going sick in the pit for them at Ozzfest, but one day they will inevitably put out a record you'll be describing as a sellout, and you'll be looking to burn that shit off with a hot hanger.

ns_080409_2.jpgAnd speaking of "burning," I've loved Clutch since I first saw that Lay-Z-Boys vs. Monster-Trucks video way back when on Headbanger's Ball. I also loved the Burning Beard video. And hot diggity dagnabbit, Sean Young did a mean portrait inspired by it (pictured left).

But in the words of Ryan Dowd, the (tattooed) die-hard Clutch fan from Dogs of Winter, "I love the man, but I really don't think I need Neil Fallon's face on me."

Words made all the more prescient considering that the latest offering from Clutch, Strange Cousins From The West is good... it's just not, um... great.

Even Rob Zombie (no stranger to ink, himself) told Inked Magazine: "I have seen hundreds and hundreds of tattoos of my face on people.  Sometimes that is actually quite shocking - how large they are.  I'm like, 'Really?  You want someone else's face that's actually larger than your own face on your body?'  But it is what it is, I guess.  It's flattering, but it's pretty extreme."

Listen to Mr. Zombie, kids.  He knows what's good for you.

02:32 PM
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I got a double dose of news for ya, from post-mortem tattoos to literary ink to celebs tattooing, so no foreplay today, let's get to it...

First, my fave headline: "Man freed thanks to penis lizard tattoo." Ok, maybe a little foreplay. [Thanks, Scott!]

The biggest news item was Chris Brown putting down his fists and picking up a tattoo machine. The singer was at East Side Ink last week, home to tattooer of his ex Rihanna, Bang Bang -- a man who consensually makes her bleed. After getting a forearm tattoo earlier in the week, Brown returned to East Side to put his own tattoo (see above) on Bang Bang.

You may remember that we blogged about Bang Bang getting in trouble for letting Rihanna tattoo him and others in the shop last month as only licensed artists can tattoo in New York, but I guess the press and subsequent biz from the celeb tattoos will pay for the fines he may face. Problem is that someone, Bang Bang or East Side's owner, could also lose their license as well. Worth it?

While the Chris Brown story made me roll my eyes a bit, this story of a post-mortem tattoo brought tears to them:

Patrick Conley, a 29-year-old husband and father who was dying of leukemia had one last wish: to get a tattoo. Upon his death, he reiterated this wish to his hospice nurse. He had the design all ready to go. But never made it. The nurse wanted to see his final desire fulfilled so she told another hospice nurse, the mother of tattoo artist Matt Sawdon. Sawdon, of Sunken Ship Tattoo in Everett, WA, agreed to do his first post-mortem tattoo after Conley's family agreed. The article details what Sawdon experienced in doing this tattoo, but it was the final part of the article below that broke my heart:

In the tumult of Conley's last few hours, his wife found one last gift.

When it was clear he would die, she slipped into their bedroom and turned over the design for the tattoo that he had planned and wanted for months.

"I was shocked," she said. "I was amazed. It was beautiful."

Conley, fiercely proud of his Irish heritage, had chosen a Celtic cross. Inside, outstretched hands cupped a sacred heart. Between his heart and the cross, the names he treasured above all: Charity, Wesley, Mickella and Morgan.

It confirmed what she had known all along. "We were his everything."

I needed a laugh after that story, and this one did the trick: 22 Fan Tattoos of Comedians, including Bill Cosby as a puddin pop.

More tattoo tributes...

An embroidery design tattooed to look like grandma's needle work.

And another? Did this Italian actress really get a Berlusconi tattoo?

lit tattoo.jpgIf your own tributes on skin are of the bookish kind, hit up LA Times bloggers who are seeking literary tattoos for a book project.

It's not the first to honor text tattoos. Ina Saltz put together a great collection in her 2006 book Body Type: Intimate Message Etched in Flesh but this new project goes beyond funky fonts to all skin lit from "a line from an e.e. cummings poem (above), an image from a picture book or maybe even a drawing of an author we love." Read more here to contribute to the project.

Cool article in SF Gate on how tattoos are replicated on wax statues of celebs at Madame Tussauds. Here's how they do it: "...If a celebrity has a tattoo, it will be photographed and duplicated -- or the appropriate body part will be sent to the tattoo artist so it can be done by the original."

For more cool stories, it's quick and dirty link time:

Share and enjoy!
12:21 PM
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It's a good day when a hot tattooed blond -- who knows how to wield a tattoo machine -- hands you a check and says, "Sweet. I'm your first advertiser." Sweet, indeed.

Le blonde is the fabulous Michelle Myles of NYC's Dare Devil and Fun City Tattoo who has put together a site called Devil City Press, where you can not only learn of all the behind-the-scenes action from those two inconic studios, but also see the latest tattoo work from their roster of top artists, and read the artists' musings on tattoo culture, like Michelle's take on the Jeff Johnson book or why it's not cool to suck on your boyfriend's fingers when he's getting tattooed. That kinda stuff.

The latest post was on Dare Devil and Le Roi shackin up, which I'm excited about because I'm looking for a surface piercing to cover up a scar and Le Roi is renowned for top piercers and quality jewelry [will blog on that myself when I make my appointment].

One of my fave online features of the Dare Devil sites is the videos -- especially the Tattoo Wars show where Michelle won for best Americana tattoo.

Check the tattoo goodness!

To also advertise on Needles + Sins, hit me up through the contact link. The news is up next.
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