"Live Free" Documentary Short on Royal Street Tattoo
01:35 PM

I've posted a number of tattoo videos here but this documentary short on Royal Street Tattoo in Mobile, Alabama is by far the very best I've seen. My friend Dave just sent it over, and I had to share it with you right away.

Written by Bijani Casalan and directed by Michael Howell, Live Free is described as a portrait of Royal Street, which "covers the philosophy of tattooing as seen from the eyes of the artists at the shop." And indeed it does, but there is so much more to it. I don't think it's hyperbole to say that it also gets to the soul of tattooing with these artists meditating on what it is that impels them to tattoo and to be tattooed.

My favorite quote is from artist Sean Herman, whom I'm a fan of professionally and personally:

"There are no such things as bad tattoos...they're all something. My stepdad tattooed me, he's 86 and doesn't tattoo at's just a blob of ink but it's probably one of my favorite tattoos ever.[...] It symbolizes something more than if I were to get a portrait of him after he has passed away; it is something he touched, he did.Tattoos have that magical art to it."

Founder of Royal Street, C.W., as well as the studio's artists Pete, Dony, Drew and apprentice Dusty also offer insightful commentary on many aspects of tattooing, such as why the art draws a diverse group of people (including a Southern Baptist preacher), and even their own motivations. [C.W. says tattoos are "milestones of where you are in time."]

Live Free is 15 minutes long but worth every second. To view the art of the Royal Street crew, see their profile in last month's Prick Mag or head to their MySpace and Facebook. pages.

Great little film.
I really enjoyed watching it.

Pretty good stuff. It's a second work lately done by people still on their early stages of becoming film makers. But they are able to give a better understanding on tattoos in general. All these "pro film makers" who tend to use all cliches and go by the general public pleasing route.

my boys! awesome video, some of the best people around :)

excellent short! i hope they submit it to my homies at

connect with us

Marisa Kakoulas
Miguel Collins
Craig Dershowitz
Brian Grosz
Sean Risley
Patrick Sullivan
Needles and Sins powered by Moveable Type.

Site designed and programmed by Striplab.

NS logo designed by Viktor Koen.