January 2011 Archives

03:27 PM

Really excited to find Sean Bonner's post on Boing Boing featuring this mini-documentary on Brazilian tattoo artist Maneko. In the 8 minute video, created by 13th Unit, Maneko discusses his life in tattoo, the vegan straight-edge lifestyle, and his personal philosophy of gratitude and enjoying life.

[I'm grateful to have Maneko as one of the featured artists in Black & Grey Tattoo]

Thanks to Dr. Matt Lodder for the link!
01:28 PM
dave fox art.jpgThis Friday is the book release party and art show of A Novel Idea? The Art of Dave Fox at JINXED/The Toothless Cat in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. The opening coincides with the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention that runs from Friday through Sunday. [Dave will also be hosting the closing party for the convention.]

A Novel Idea? is a 240-page collection of Dave's paintings spanning over 13 years, compiled in a hardcover deluxe format released by Presto Publishing. It includes a parade of the trippy characters who populate Dave's tattoos as well as fine art. At the opening, 20 original paintings from the book will be on display and for sale. Dave will be signing copies of A Novel Idea?, which can be purchased for $40. 

dave fox painting2.jpgRenowned for his "new school" work since the nineties, Dave continues to inspire, invigorating his new works with a blend of Japanese iconography and animated compositions. Dave says that he's inspired by cartoon and heavy metal album artwork, creating "an eclectic, contently-confused mix of scary monsters, pretty girls, twisted flowers, and disturbed animals that have been known to send the viewer home laughing or leaving cross-eyed with a feeling of pure meaninglessness." All in good fun, of course.

Dave is currently working at Black Vulture Gallery, in Fishtown, Philly. For appointments, email him at davefoxtattoos at comcast.net.

dave fox tattoo2.jpg
dave fox tattoo1.jpgView more of his tattoos and paintings on DaveFoxTattoos.com.
03:44 PM

Russ Abbott's Three Day Sleeve.

Lena from Ink & Dagger Tattoo Parlour in Atlanta sent us this video of owner Russ Abbott tattooing a full sleeve on Adam Machin of The Tattoo Company in Machester, UK. As they note on their blog -- with lots of exclamation points -- Adam sat for a total of 24 hours [!!!] over a three day period. [I'm ashamed for whining about my last 7+hour tattoo session.]

The video above shows the process from initial design to final delirium. Check it.
03:27 PM
tomas tomas tattoo1.jpgA fierce artistic energy emanates from London's illustrious/infamous Into You Tattoo. Owner Alex Binnie opened Into You in 1993, and since that time, the studio has garnered worldwide praise for innovative tattoo work from all members of its tattoo family. While tattoos in a variety of genres are created, Into You has a particular reputation for blackwork, and one of the artists renowned in this style is Tomas Tomas.

When asked about his life in tattoo, Tomas says that the search for his very first was disappointing after visiting many studios and feeling uninspired by the work he saw. He explains that he had his own vision for tattooing and spent the past 18 years unearthing and sharpening the style he yearned for as a child.

After some years, thanks to the rare tattoo publications available at the time, he discovered the work of various artists at Into You and connected with it. He became an avid customer there, spending hundreds of hours getting tattooed entirely from head to toe by the several resident artists. So it was only natural he found his way on the other side of the needle in these walls.

tomas tomas 2.jpg At Into You, Tomas hit upon a version of tribal blackwork that he says is his "attempt to reveal a new tribal graphic vocabulary in tune with the technological world." While still committed to the ancestral essence of this type of tattooing, he looks toward the future in London. He explains:

Further exploration of this practice revealed that, often, tattoos in tribal societies were poetic visual representations of the environments and cultures in which people lived at the time. It was also a celebration of the mysteries of life. I then realized, rather unconsciously, these same desires and values still fuel many to get tattooed today worldwide.

Tomas further discusses his tattoo philosophy, references and new works on his blog. Check it for tattoo inspiration and a great read.

Tomas Tomas tattoo3.jpg
06:23 PM
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So it seems I'm a bit late to the party for the latest in tattoo TV. Last month, the testosterone channel Spike TV launched Permanent Mark, a three-episode special that follows 20+-year tattoo veteran "Permanent Mark" Walters as he travels the world experiencing various tattoo cultures. Here's how Mark explains the show:

I've been beating down doors for 7 years in Hollywood, way before the Miami Ink and L.A Ink and all the other shows about tattoos on TV. I was trying to get networks to film a show about how I would break into the subcultures of indigenous tattoos worldwide no matter what nasty shit I had to eat, what new fever I would catch, or what hole I had to crap in with a leaf too small to wipe my ass. All these things would get me respect in certain tribes and cultures because I never pretend to be tougher than I was, and my humility and stupidity showed them I was only human.

With this, I finally found myself in all my tattooed glory, sitting in a lot of network boardroom meetings. This is when producers at Spike TV, who had a filthier mouths than me, said to me "do what you want, we don't want to see the usual travel show. Get down and get f*cking dirty." That was all I had to hear.

I wrote 13 ideas and countries down and we made the decision that the Borneo headhunters (episode 1), the Yakuza in Tokyo (episode 2), and the Sak Yant tattoos made by the monks in Thailand (episode 3) would make the most compelling stories.

I'm not going lie to you, I lived in Japan and had my tangles with the Japanese mob as well as going to Thailand to collect tattoos by a dear friend who happens to be a monk, but I had never been to Borneo. Although everything I went through on the show was completely real, I never used my contacts in any country. It's really important to me that I show you, the audience how over the last 30 years I was able to infiltrate and be accepted by different cultures, and not only that, but have had the honor of earning their mark, in a culture where money doesn't mean a god damn thing, but your heart, your drinking abilities, killing the odd chicken or goat, and having the strength to eat the ceremonial sheep eye ball got me where I am today.

You can watch the full episodes online here. It's compelling TV. Grittier and more SpikeTV-ish than Discovery's Tattoo Hunter with tattoo anthropologist Dr. Lars Krutak, which we loved. Let's see if Permanent Mark has lasting appeal and gets picked up.

Also, check Mark's video blogs on YouTube like the one below.

12:57 PM
Mike Shane photo.jpgIt's been a while since I threw up an events post, but I'm excited about this first time art show in Staten Island -- a show that sets out to prove that the borough is home to a lot of tattoo and fine art talent, not just Jersey Shore cast members.

This Friday is Bound for Glory's 40+ artist exhibition "First Taste," curated by tattooist Maggie Serpica. The show features paintings, drawings and photography, including the image above by Mike Shane.

A portion of the proceeds from art sales will benefit the Project Hospitality charity.  The opening runs from 8-11PM. Check their Facebook page for the list of artists and details.

First Taste art show.jpg
01:07 PM
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For my latest Icon profile for Inked Magazine, I had a blast interviewing Baba Austin of Vintage Tattoo in Los Angeles. Baba is a great storyteller, and in this Q&A, he shares what it was like apprenticing under the legendary Jonathan Shaw, touring with Vanilla Ice at his prime, and evading cops while executing a graffiti throw-up at the age of forty-three. Here's a taste from our talk:

When did you start to learn the craft yourself?

When I wasn't working, I was at Jonathan's. We basically became friends. I drew some graffiti designs for him. I became Jonathan's little slave. I'd keep asking, "When am I gonna learn to tattoo?" and he'd say, "Fuck off. I'm teaching nobody." At the same time, he's teaching me about tattoo design, placement, and tattoo history. I was just learning all this stuff without even realizing it. He was teaching me how to crawl before I could walk. I wanted to just run, like anyone else who picks up a tattoo machine, but he wasn't interested in any of that. He was interested in keeping the tradition, love and respect alive for tattooing.

Then around 1990 or 1991, Filip Leu came around and did his spot at Fun City. Filip was the same age as me but he was already an accomplished tattoo artist. He was doing this amazing shit already. Now Jonathan had a new pet project who actually tattoos. I wasn't blown off, he just moved on. And I didn't care because that's when Vanilla Ice hit me up for airbrushing and said, "Do you want to go all over the world?" Fuck yeah.

What was that like, going on tour with Vanilla Ice?

That was amazing because it was at the height of his career. Everyone knew who he was. It was before the whole In Living Color infamous Jim Carey [skit] making fun of him. I did the costumes and stage sets for his tours. I worked on his movie. We did the American Music Awards together; we did the Grammy's together; we went all over to Australia, Singapore, and Japan. All first class, limos, five-star hotels. It was amazing.

Read more in Inked's "Sex Issue" on news stands now or download the digital edition.

Baba Austin tattoos.jpg
12:44 PM

For fans of sideshow, here's a video look back at Coney Island's beautiful freaks, dancing girls and even a bit of tattoo history (around the 4:10 mark). Today's resident performers continue traditional sideshow arts, like sword swallowing, with a contemporary edge, and also attract guest performers like our fave, The Lizardman.

[The video is part of the Prelinger Archive, which I highly recommend to artists looking for public domain films and clips.]  

Via the fabulous Pat Sullivan.
03:00 PM
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My old tattoo and bod mod nerd friends, remember back in 2006 when Montreal's Rick "Rico" Genest was first profiled on BME's Modblog for his extensive facial work, transforming him into "Skullface" or "Zombie Boy"? Tattooist Frank from Derm FX Tattoo in Montreal submitted early photos to the site showing the progression of the skull tattoo, and Modblog posted updates over the years, like this 2007 one and this one in 2008. [There was also an interview with him on BME but that's no longer available.]
UPDATE: Here's the BME interview.

Anyway, old news right?

Well, this Montreal street punk is back in headlines as the new muse of Nicola Formichetti -- Lady Gaga's stylist (among other fashion pedigree). Formichetti is debuting his first collection for Thierry Mugler and Rico is the campaign poster boy.

On Wednesday, he walked the runway for Mugler during Paris Fashion week, and The NY Times said it was the only real highlight: "...the show itself was dramatic only in its use as a model of the totally tattooed Rick Genest, whose figure projected in a film, pearls glistening against the patterned flesh, was far more gripping than the clothes." [See photos here.]

Indeed, Mugler is milking the new model for "edge." When you first hit the designer's page, you'll see the video below of Rico striking poses -- even sexy, sexy pearl biting -- while a Gaga tune plays on.

A long way from the gutters of Montreal, Skullface has the last laugh at those who said he'd die penniless there.

Thanks to Matt and Nick for the links.
12:55 PM
Alex de Pase tattoo1.jpgI've been a long time fan of Italian tattoo artist Alex de Pase and his realism and surreal tattoos. I just received images of his recent work for my next book project and couldn't wait to share some with you. 

Alex is a self-taught tattooist who has had a passion for the art for over twenty years. Today, he has his own studio in Grado, a small island in northeast Italy, not far from Venice. He says of his early start in tattooing:

At age fourteen, I met a guy who had many tattoos all over his body, which meant one thing only twenty years ago: prison. In fact, this fellow learned how to tattoo in jail, and when he told me that he knew how to do them, I begged him to teach me everything he knew. He taught me the basic skills for tattooing by hand with a Bic pen melted with needles. It made quite on impression on me because, ever since, I have not stopped tattooing.

AlexDePase_bakcpiece.jpgEventually, Alex learned to work a tattoo machine, and studied everything he could get his hands on. After some years of doing every type of tattoo, he started focusing on realism and portraits.

This kind of style has the artistic expression that I prefer. It has no limits on technical improvement, although one of the most fascinating aspects of realism is not technique. It is more than a mere reproduction of something already existing. It also encompasses the artist's sensibility, personal interpretation, perception of colors, and so on. Each artist brings to the tattoo their own experience, imprinting a bit of themselves in the work.

Check his site to view more more work as well as his Facebook page for updates on his convention and guest spot schedule. He'll be in the US at the Paradise Tattoo Gathering, September 15-18.

alex de pase tattoo2.jpgSpecial thanks to Marco for his help with the images and biography.
12:00 AM
I've released three new singles today on Lapdance Academy and, as is always the case, you can download them absolutely free!

First is a re-release of "Lady on the Low" from 2007's Bedlam Nights which has been bundled with a big-beat remix by Bridgeport, CT producer, Touch.  Next up is my cover of "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads (previously released on the Coverville tribute compilation) and last, but certainly not least, is Seraphim - a pair of traditional American spirituals featuring guest vocals from Emily Zuzik, Matt Whyte of Earl Greyhound and even our fearless Editrix-in-Chief.

So quit sitting on your thumbs and head to Lapdance Academy where you can stream, download and, yes, make a donation!
12:15 PM
martin luther king tattoos.jpg
Tattoos (left to right) by Joshua Carlton, Mike DeMasi, and Logan Aguilar.

Every year on this US holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I scour the internet to find tattoo tributes to the civil rights leader. And every year, I'm disappointed that there aren't more.

Instead, I'm finding many celebrations of imbecility like the massive coverage of Gucci Mane's ice cream cone facial tattoo. [Mane was recently released from a psychiatric facility. The tattoo "artist" Shane Willoughby should also receive some counseling.]

I bring up the facial tattoo buzz to show contrast of how our art form is used in this so-called "Renaissance" of tattooing. There seems to be a loss of reverence for the craft and how we adorn ourselves permanently. No not every tattoo needs a grand story. Neither do tattoos need to be perfect and solemn. But they should be worn with self-respect and dignity.  And dignity and strength is what the celebration of MLK is about.
12:29 PM
Sailor Jerry Norman Collins.jpgToday, Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins would have turned 100 years old. He's famous for saying "My work speaks for itself" and probably wouldn't like many people yammering about him, so I'll just leave you with links and images of the old salt.

Sailor Jerry Tattoo.jpg"Reason #7 For Not Getting a Tattoo: People will know you are running your own life, instead of listening to them!" -- Sailor Jerry Collins
10:32 PM
Dean Sacred Tattoo.jpg Tattoo by Dean Sacred

On Tuesday, the New Zealand Herald proclaimed a "Huge Renaissance as One in Five Get Tattoos" in the country, and so we thought we'd pay tribute to the vast tattooed Kiwi population with a profile on one of Auckland's stellar shops, Sacred Tattoo.

Sacred opened its doors in 1998 with artists who tattoo in a variety of styles but are particularly known for their Traditional and Neo-Traditional tattoo work. Dean Sacred runs the show with part-owner Dan Andersen (who splits his time with Chapel Tattoo in Melbourne, Australia). Rockin artists in residence are Mark "Dark Mark" Tumaru, Hamish Mclauchlan, and Erin Chance. [Happy Birthday, Erin!] 

Here are teases of their portfolios below. Hit their links for more tattoo goodness.

erin chance tattoo.jpgTattoo by Erin Chance

hamish tattoo.jpgTattoo by Hamish McLauchlan

dark mark.jpgTattoo by Mark Tumaru

Daniel1.jpgTattoo by Dan Andersen

Check Sacred's Facebook page for convention schedules, guests artists and prints & apparel for sale.
09:28 PM
Many essayists use tattoos as metaphors, often in cringe-worthy cliches. But I love this one from Shonna Milliken Humphrey in The NY Times today called "When a Former Life Beckons." The author who is my age, 37, looks back on her first tattoo and who she was then compared to the woman she is now as her tattoo is reworked and revitalized. Here's a taste:

Instead of walking unsteadily along a dimly lighted Savannah side street, I found the tattoo parlor door in the bright afternoon outside a familiar area of my Portland, Me., home. The tattoo artist, a woman named Danielle, wore a Bettie Page hairstyle and carried a vintage leopard print bag, and I knew immediately that I'd like her.
I made a joke about Danielle's face being between my legs as she inspected the old tattoo, and she was very matter of fact: "I'd rather have my face in your crotch than work every day in an office."

Danielle fixed the tattoo for me. The plan was to ink a new tattoo over the old one, and to incorporate any shadows of the previous design into something bigger and brighter. Rather than choosing carelessly and based on what I could afford, I considered what I really wanted and why.
I breathed, and then I breathed more, enduring the kind of sharp, mean and intense pain that had been impossible for me to feel in my 20s. I cried, acutely aware that only now was I capable of feeling this pain, and remembering my young recklessness. If this current pain was so intense, what, I wondered, might I be vulnerable to feeling after another 15 years that I can't yet imagine at 37?

I also found in Danielle's tattoo chair, in a way that is unknowable at 22, a comfort in being still.

Get a hardcopy of the article in this Sunday's The NY Times.
11:21 AM
Jacob Dahlstrup Jensen_Paper Tattoos.jpg
Here's interesting use of classic tattoo designs applied to a medium that doesn't bleed. Danish artist Jacob Dahlstrup Jensen says that he uses "a tattoo machine like a pen on heavy watercolor paper creating a three-dimensional line by disordering the paper structure."

Check this video to see the process.

Jacob Dahlstrup Jensen-_Paper Tattoos2.jpgThanks, Badur, for the link!

04:00 PM
Cliff White Tattoo.jpg
On New York's Long Island, there's a treasure trove of tattoo history: flash that dates back to the Civil War era, vintage machines, sideshow memorabilia, a file cabinet filled with acetate stencils from the 1930s and so much more. The real treasure is the collector himself, Cliff White of Cliff's Tattoo in Centereach, LI.

When Skin & Ink Magazine asked me to interview Cliff, I jumped at the chance to hear his stories of a time when tattooing was raw and rough but a respect for the craft prevailed. I also spoke with Cliff's son Rob White who carries on the tattoo traditional and is a collector himself. [He's also a comedian.] Part 1 of the article in the February issue is on newsstands now. Here's a taste:

When Cliff began to tattoo in the early eighties, he had to learn to make his own needles, mix his own pigment from powder, tune his own machines, and search to find the right supplies. As an apprentice to William Averso, he scrubbed toilets and mopped floors. He spent hours cutting acetate stencils, a time-honored tradition that built up the muscle in artists' hands. Cliff's apprenticeship also included throwing out unruly clients--of which there were many. He says that guys who walked into the shop would puff out their chests and felt they had to be the toughest guy on the block. "If you worked in a shop back then, no matter how big and bad this guy was--and the biggest and the baddest were your clients--you couldn't let anyone get over on you in your shop," he explains. "That is your territory. If one person gets over on you, then everyone gets over on you. Nowadays, it's like dealing with the boy scouts."

What he didn't get much of in his apprenticeship were history lessons, so he had to seek them out. He began by visiting long-time tattooists. "I made it my point to go out there, shake their hands, sit and talk with them," he says. "I have done this up and down the East Coast." He's also heard a few good tales from his friend Lyle Tuttle, some so good, he won't share them in print.
Read more in the article, which includes gorgeous shots by Steve Prue.

paul rogers flash.jpgWith almost thirty-years of tattooing behind him, Cliff just recently traded in his tattoo machines for paintbrushes, and has been creating sought-after signage, furniture and decoration--all with an old school tattoo flavor much like his needled portfolio. See more of his work, like the one below, on his Facebook page, or go to Cliff's Tattoo in person, like many do, for an immersion in Americana.

cliff white armoir.jpgAs an added bonus: 

Check this video of how Rob White handles crack heads when they come to Cliff's. 
08:52 PM
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Every time I get another batch of photos for my books, I squeal and do a happy dance. Today, I'm squealing over the wonderful Sean Herman of Alabama's Royal Street Tattoo.

My next tattoo tome, called "Color Bomb," will feature animated work, influenced by comic/cartoon imagery (think "new schoolish"). While Sean tattoos in a variety of styles, as seen here, his humor-filled illustrative work will fill pages in the book along with other favorites.

I'm a fan of Sean beyond his tattooing. He's an activist in a variety of causes, including the Free the West Memphis 3 movement, of which I am a part. His blog is a great read for social justice issues as well as art musings. And he's a good egg with a great spirit.

So without further mush, more goodness below from Sean Herman. Check his site for more.

sean herman-hotrodsleeve.jpgsean herman-joshsleevefinishedcloseup8x10.jpg
01:15 PM
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I was once told by a Maori artist, who wore and tattooed his ancestral Ta Moko designs, that you're not really tattooed unless you have a badass skull on you. [His was an 80s metal version.] Skull imagery hold a sort of power, a reminder of our mortality that can evoke fear or defiance (a la 80s metal skulls). Its artistic interpretations are vast, particularly in our tattoo community. Paying homage to memento mori is Cranial Visions: Exploring The Skull Through Artistic Interpretation.

This 240-page hardcover, released by Memento Publishing, is the brainchild (sorry) of Mike DeVries and Jeff Johnson and edited by the wonderful Jinxi Caddel. Here's what Jinxi says of the project:

Cranial Visions honors the skull through artistic interpretations and many different mediums, including: tattoos, paintings, sketches and drawings, mixed media, digital art, graffiti, photography, and "skullptures." Each chapter is dripping with inspirational images created by masters of their crafts. Over 800 diverse, bold, and creative images of skull-related artwork. An outstanding book for reference if you are a tattoo artist, as it features angles and ideas from all sorts of perspectives.
You can purchase the book on Mike's online store for $69.99. I highly recommend it.

CV8.jpgCranial Visions: painting by Shawn Barber

Dan in Cranial Visions small.jpgCranial Visions: tattoos by Daniel DiMattia

See more samples from the book on Jinxi's blog.
12:29 PM
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Happy New Year to all you beautiful freaks!

Our resolutions have been made and we're looking forward to bringing more art into our lives, revamping the site (including getting back the comment forums), and also doing some good. For this last goal, we were inspired by the philanthropic work of tattoo artist Mike Mendes whose Love Everyday organization seeks to increase poverty awareness and inspire people to get involved and make changes in our communities and beyond. The cause also serves as a reminder to be grateful and appreciate what we have in our own lives, and "pass on the positive mental attitude."

Love Everyday raises money through endeavors like their Clothing for a Cause and New Threat apparel sales. [At the moment, t-shirt orders are temporarily on hold.] All of the proceeds directly go to helping people on the streets with food, clothing, blankets, etc. (particularly those in Toronto but in other communities as well). Mike also does non-profit art workshops as well as educational talks & discussions for other charities, youth groups as well as schools.

mike mendes love everyday 2.jpgHere's a clip from an interview with Mike on what inspired him to create Love Everyday and where it has taken him:

How did you go about starting Love Everyday?

Love Everyday originally just started as an outlet for my art. I was selling T-shirts I designed at concerts, events, music festivals like Warped Tour and Wakestock, and online through the web site. After traveling a bit and seeing cases of poverty all over the world, as well as right in my own city, I decided to try to do something about it. I started helping out people on the street with all the proceeds from the shirts. After spending a lot of time with a lot of people on the street, I guess I just developed pretty strong relationships with a lot of them and it just motivated me to keep getting more involved. I started doing non profit art workshops and talks with youth groups & schools. Now Love Everyday has led me all over the world, helping out a little bit here & there and it's been a pretty wild adventure.

Any particular events that stand out from the adventure so far?

Seeing the incredible amount of poverty in Venezuela was a huge deal for me. Families living in alleys and sheet metal shacks, with their kids running around clothesless. It was pretty heavy. I went around and gave out bags of Love Everyday shirts to kids in these areas and it got to the point where I ran out of clothes to give. A little girl was still tugging at me asking where my shirt was for her. I ended up giving away the clothes I was wearing and some clothes I brought just to last me for the trip. Somewhere during my time lost in South America, between getting stranded there with no clothes, missing flights, being registered as a missing-person, and getting chased by wild dogs and someone with a machete, I realized my life can get pretty hectic at times but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Where are you located right now?

I'm in Vancouver for a bit right now working on some things with Love Everyday, then probably off to California. I also tattoo at Dark Day Studios here in Vancouver on Main St. I'm incredibly lucky to have a trade that allows me to just drop down anywhere in the world and work. My tattooing sort of supports my wanderlust and helps Love Everyday get around.

We can spread the love online by posting the Love Everyday site on Facebook or inviting others to the Love Everyday FB page, and offline, bring our kindness to the streets.
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Miguel Collins
Craig Dershowitz
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