If you missed our post earlier this month on Shawn Porter's Occult Vibrations blog, then here's a reminder to bookmark and check it often for online videos (which Shawn largely transfers from old VHS tapes) of decades old footage that offers an intimate look into tattooing's modern history.
In this video excerpt from the 80s documentary "Tattooing Reality", Ed Hardy, Bob Roberts, Bill Salmon, Chuck Eldridge, and Leo Zulueta (who joins in towards the end), are hanging out at Realistic Tattoo and saying everything you want to listen in on -- from jokes about creating a "Safeway of tattooing" (a foreshadowing of studios in mega-shopping malls?), to serious discourse on being flexible in having a diverse portfolio of work, even if one is known for a certain style, as Ed has been for Japanese and Leo for Neo-Tribal tattooing. Another excerpt from "Tattooing Reality" can be found here.
Beyond the videos, Occult Vibrations posts artist profiles and other tattoo goodness. Check it.
Back in 2009, Pat interviewed Brooklyn-based tattooist John Reardon -- author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting a Tattoo -- when John was working at Saved Tattoo. Check the Q&A here.
Today, the bearded bombshell tattoos out of his own private studio in Williamsburg and continues to work in a broad range of styles, with a particular bent toward Neo-Traditional imagery. Capturing the vibe of the studio, Bryce Ward created this video above for our viewing pleasure.
* More of John's tattoo work here.
* Bryce's still photography here.
[Logo by Ryan Begley]
As a loyal client of Mike Rubendall and an admirer of the superlative tattooing that occurs at his Massapequa, NY shop, Kings Avenue Tattoo, news like this comes as a blessing for all of us City-Rats: Kings Avenue will be opening a location in downtown Manhattan.
With his associate, Grez, Rubendall has decided to open a shop in New York City, "for the simple fact of wanting to be a part of the energy, life, and creativity that Manhattan possesses. We have always been tremendously motivated and inspired by the people and art in NYC, and felt it was time for Kings Ave to grow."
Personally, I look forward to seeing their new space (their Long Island location is a beautiful, relaxed and sanitary sight to behold), not to mention a much shorter train ride home as I'm wrapped in plastic and reeking of green soap.
Tattoo collectors and enthusiasts can look forward to work from Rubendall and Grez in addition to the very talented Matt Beckerich, Justin Weatherholtz, Brian Paul, Shaun Nel and Sarah Schor (see the Kings Ave Artists Page for their portfolios). Kings Ave NYC will also host gifted guest-artists, having previously opened their autoclave doors to the likes of Chris Nunez, Chris O'Donnell, Kat Von D, Henning Jorgenson, Juan Puente and Tim Hendricks.
Kings Ave NYC, located at 188 Bowery (at Spring St) will open this Friday, April 1st. The shop will be open from 12pm-9pm on Monday through Saturday and 12pm until 6pm on Sunday.
For more information please visit kingsavenuetattoo.com or friend them on facebook.
[Backpiece by Mike Rubendall]
One of my must-read tattoo artist blogs is that of Electric Pick. Beyond his posts of sexy illustrations and trippy tattoo work, his writing on politics and culture are eye-opening reads. Since the beginning of February, he's been sharing his adventures from sailing on a container vessel to Cape Town and now trekking throughout Africa.
We first wrote about Pick in our feature on Conspiracy Inc. in Copenhagen, his home for the last three years (which is the longest he's ever stayed in one studio). His next move, after his African tour, is to Hong Kong--a city he describes as "a constantly busy, evolving and magical environment."
I interviewed Pick about his life as tattooist/part-time spy for my next tattoo tome (on illustrative comic/cartoon work). Here's a taste from our talk:
Your adventures seem to be reflected in your drawings and sketches, but do they also impact your tattoo work?
Read more on Pick's vision of things here and check his tattoo portfolio here.
The barcode tattoo as a statement against society rivaled the popularity of misinterpreted Kanji in the nineties, but one artist is bringing it back as a way to connect people's online lives with their fleshy ones. Or at least offer another way to market your blog. And ya know, I don't think it's such a bad idea.
Tattoo artist Levi Smith of The Jade Monkey Tattoo in Phoenix, Arizona has been tattooing quick response code [QR code] -- which is similar to a barcode -- on eager clients. The codes can then be scanned by smartphones (there's an app for that) and lead to your website, Facebook page or eHarmony dating profile. The possibilities are vast.
For more details on these scannable tattoos, check the CBS 5 News video interview with Levi or the videos posted on his blog.
Dr. Lakra photo by Chad Batka for The New York Times
Yesterday, the New York Times profiled Dr. Lakra and his first solo show in NYC. The article is accompanied by a great photo gallery of his work. The exhibit is currently on view at The Drawing Center at 3 Wooster Street in Manhattan and runs until April 23rd.
The Mexico City tattooist, born Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez, got the name Dr. Lakra because he used to carry around his homemade tattoo machine in a doctor's bag, as the NY Times notes, and "lacra" is slang for a mark on skin and "scum of the earth." In 1993, he moved to Oakland, CA and soon met Ed Hardy who helped him evolve from scratcher to, well, an artist who's having his solo show profiled in the NY Times. Here's more from the article:
Mr. Hardy, impressed by Dr. Lakra's drawings, traded him professional tattoo equipment for a painting and took the younger artist under his wing. 'I couldn't do a proper apprenticeship because I was working,' Dr. Lakra said, referring to his job as a dishwasher. 'He let me be in the shop just watching. I became friends with all the other workers, and I got many, many tattoos.'Eventually, Dr. Lakra went back to Mexico City and got hooked up with the Kurimanzutto gallery, which encouraged him to do large scale work beyond his tattoo-styled drawings on vintage magazines and found objects. This show at The Drawing Center features large scale wall drawings as well as paintings he created during the 10-day installation of the show.
Check the article for more on Dr. Lakra, and the The Drawing Center's site for an online peak at the show.
Ok, this story is going to dwarf our tee and print giveaway, but hell, I'll share:
A 46-year-old mixed martial arts trainer from Liverpool, Australia ended up winning a full dragon backpiece (shown above left) modeled after that of a video game character (shown right) in the SEGA Yakuza franchise. SEGA Australia held the contest about a year ago to promote the new Yakuza 4 game, which drops today along with the tattoo unveiling.
The backpiece was tattooed by Josh Roelink, of Tatudharma Studios in Sydney, over six months in four-hour sessions with three-week intervals. See images of the tattoo process here.
Josh did not design the artwork for the game -- Horitomo of State of Grace did -- but Josh got his approval to re-create it. There's a great interview with Horitomo from a few years back in which he discusses the design work for SEGA but also his tattoo art and thoughts on Japanese tattoo culture. Worth a click.
For more on Horitomo, check this profile excerpt in Tattoo Artist Magazine. And for more on Josh, watch his interview with BMEtv.
UPDATE: And we have a winner! Two actually. Emails from George Koutroubis and Sean Phillips dinged in almost immediately after posting so George will get the tee and Sean will get a signed Jack Rudy-designed poster. Thanks to all of y'all who played along. The special promo code for Sullen discounts is still in effect.
The name "Sullen" has long been identifiable with tattooing and not for its artists' sunny dispositions. The lifestyle brand, Sullen Clothing, has been partnering with top tattooists (as well as graffiti artists and painters) to bring their art to apparel, prints, and other media. The Sullen Art Collective line includes original designs from Bob Tyrrell, Shawn Barber, Nikko Hurtado, Steve Soto, Jason Butcher, and many other well respected names. And soon, it will feature the work of black & grey legend Jack Rudy.
While Sullen and Jack have worked together on shirts, prints, posters and promos many times before -- including Tattooland's 35th anniversary tee -- this latest project is Jack's first Signature Tee with the Sullen Art Collective. The shirt will be officially released the first week of April but we have one here ready to giveaway to one lucky reader.
TO WIN: Send me an email to marisa at needlesandsins.com with the name of the car club Jack co-founded. [Hint: the answer can be found in N+S archives.] The first person to do so wins the tee. Easy.
We also have a special promo code for 15% off any purchase on BuySullen.com. Just add "NEEDLESANDSINS" upon checkout for the discount.
[Photo of Jack Rudy by Nicole Caldwell.]
We've been checking in with a number of tattooist friends in Japan and happy to say that all those we contacted are safe and continuing to work through the disaster. One such artist is Genko of Nagoya. Genko's work will be featured in my next book for Edition Reuss Publishing that focuses on comic, cartoon and more "new school" tattoo styles. But I wanted to give y'all an early taste of what we'll be showing.
Genko's portfolio includes everything from blackwork to Americana to traditional Japanese tattoo themes. But it is his particular renderings of these classic tattoo styles--amplified and mutated into monster-sized figures, often with an ironic wink--that has made him a part of the new generation of Japan's tattoo master class.
The son of a Buddhist altar craftsman, Genko chose tattooing as his own craft after becoming a client of renowned new school artist Sabado of Eccentric Super Tattoo in Nagoya. After years of sitting in the tattoo chair, Genko transitioned from client to artist under Sabado's direction.
In 2006, he went on his own and opened up Genko Tattoo while keeping close ties with the studio that gave him his start. Today, Genko stays true to his Eccentric education by approaching tattoos in a modern way, but with his very own, distinct flair. When not at his studio, Genko is on the road at a number of international tattoo conventions.
See more of his work here.
Last week we wrote about fundraising for relief efforts in Japan that are being organized within the tattoo community. Here's an update:
* The Stand with Japan shirts are now available. Designed by Horitaka and Chad Koeplinger, the shirts can be ordered online or directly purchased at State of Grace, Strong Tattoo, and Yu-Ai Kai Senior Service (all located in San Jose, CA). US orders are $25, and for those beyond, the shirts are $35.
* Many tattoo artists are also auctioning off artwork. Tattoo Art for Japan has a list of some auctions, largely by German artists.
* In NYC, Dan Marshall of Tribulation Tattoo is holding a silent auction online of his paintings that will run until midnight Wednesday, March 23.
* And there are plenty of other sales and tattoo events being listed every day on the Tattooers for Japan Facebook page.
UPDATE: Beyond tattoo artists, some heavily tattooed Yakuza are helping out according to The Daily Beast.
Oh yeah, you knew it was coming. Here's the story behind the Charlie Sheen tattoo, posted exactly as it was sent to us via email:
Tattoo recipient and fellow tattooer Andrew Ottenhof says he felt it was important to express how fortunate he feels to be #winning the genetic lottery having been born with #Tigerblood and such unique DNA. We where also assured that both Alie and Andrew have taken #Tigerblood borne pathogens and infectious disease control classes in recent months. All percautions where taken during the process of this tattoo to not infect anyone else with andrew's #Tigerblood. Andrew also wanted it noted that one of his all time favorite movies is Platoon.I'm particularly fond of the Twitter bird icon addition.
Andrew and Alie both work at Adrenaline Tattoos in Toronto. For more on Alie's work, check her Tumblr. [Alie is also one of the founding four who helped create the Two Dollar Tattoo project.]
Thanks to Philip Barbosa for the madness!
The global tattoo community has been mobilized to help relief efforts in Japan.
One group, Tattooers for Japan, is encouraging artists worldwide to raise funds by donating a day's tattoo fees to a specific charity. Here are more details:
"The goal is to unite tattooers globally to show their compassion and gratitude to a country and culture that has influenced most of us artistically and personally. All of us owe a large debt of gratitude to Japan for its contribution to tattooing and the trade we are all so passionate about. The idea is for each tattooer/shop to schedule a walk-in day in April with all proceeds going to relief efforts in Japan. Choose your own day, advertise to your client base and community, pick a theme if you'd like. Please invite any tattooers you know to join this effort. [...] Let the Japanese foundations of respect, compassion, and integrity inspire you to help!"
A charity has yet to be officially chosen but, according to their Facebook group, it looks like the money could go to the Red Cross. They are still waiting to hear from artists in Japan about more direct methods to help. Their FB group page also has instant updates on the exact days some tattoo studios will be holding their fundraisers.
Tattoo Revolution Magazine and Tattoo.tv also have lists of relief efforts.
We'll be posting updates as well including the release of specially designs tees by Horitaka and Chad Koeplinger, the proceeds of which will be donated to charity. [One of the designs is shown here.]
If your studio or organization is planning an event, please let us know.
This Saturday, March 19th, is the official opening of Skin and Bones: Tattoos in the Life of the American Sailor at the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.
The traveling exhibit from Philadelphia's Independence Seaport Museum (which we first wrote about in April 2009) explores the connection between tattooing and maritime life:
Skin & Bones presents over two centuries of ancient and modern tattooing tools, flash, and tattoo-related art, historic photographs, and artifacts to tell the story of how tattoos entered the sailor's life, what they meant, and why they got them.Nick Schonberger, consulting curator, says one of the highlights of this exhibit is the C.H. Fellowes book of flash, one of the oldest surviving American flash books. Also on view is Samuel O'Reilly's electric tattoo machine of 1891. Read more on the exhibit's other artifacts and programs here.
Skin & Bones runs until September 5th. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
[As I noted in my initial post on the exhibit: If you're wondering what the pig and rooster on the feet mean, read the Tattoo Archive's article on the symbolism of sailor tattoos.]
For this week's artist profile, we're showing our Canadian friends some love with a spotlight on tattooist David Glantz of Archive Tattoo in Toronto.
David and his wife Elyse opened Archive Tattoo in 2008, an appointment-only studio offering a diversity of solid work from classic to modern tattoo genres. He works in a highly graphic style, often using perspective, light and shadow in his illustrations and tattooing. David says that his influences include Art Nouveau, Art Deco, comic books and graffiti. He's also well-versed in Japanese tattooing and fluid, figurative work.
Read more on David here and check his Tublr for updates on his work & studio news.
The most recent news is Archive's participation the Tattooers for Japan project, a global network of tattoo artists raising money for relief efforts. On Sunday, April 3rd, the studio will be donating all proceeds of their work that day to the project. Clients will be able to chose from two to three sheets of Japan-inspired flash, with prices ranging from $50 to $150. The flash set will also be available for purchase as a limited edition.
More on Tattooers for Japan and other ways we can help coming soon.
Activist, writer, designer and all around tattoo phenom Heidi Minx has spent tireless years working for social justice. She founded the non-profit Built on Respect, which is "dedicated to raising human rights awareness through journalism and hands on action." One of the organization's projects is the creation of a video series that tells the stories behind the tattoos of ex-political prisoners in the exile community in Dharamsala.
The series, "Tattoos and Human Rights Awareness," includes videos like the one above of Palden Gyatso, who was tattooed as a young monk in Central Tibet. [His tattoos were later removed by Chinese prison guards during the revolution.]
Heidi further discusses the project on Care2:
In the three years that I have been coming to the Tibetan community of Dharamsala in India, I've been quietly observing the tattoos of the people here.Read more from Heidi on her Care2 blog, her column for The Huffington Post, and her Inked for a Cause blog.
Kat Von D portrait tattoo by Erin Chance
With filming beginning for yet another tattoo TV show, NY Ink, it seems the timing is right for Dr. Matt Lodder's look at the formulas behind "reality TV" (and their relation to the true reality of tattooing) in his article entitled, "Televising the Tattoo" for Paperweight: A Newspaper of Visual & Material Culture.
The article articulates the hot button issue surrounding these shows: not every tattoo needs to have a story but a television show does. Here's just a bit of what Matt says:
It is true that subsections of the tattooed population--gangs, sailors, prisoners--have certainly long made use of tattoos to express specific concepts or to signify group membership, but this has never been true of tattoos in general. Tattooing has forever been decorative as much as it has been simply narrative, with many tattoos lacking a specifically expressive story-telling component to the design. Nevertheless, tattoo TV both depends on and reinforces the preconception that the skin is a screen for its generic formula. For so ingrained is the connection between tattoos and stories that without the traumatic sob-stories of death and loss attached to almost every tattoo, the shows would feature little more than shots of the tattooers high-fiving one another.
For more of this excellent read, you can order Paperweight, print & digital, here.
[For more on NY Ink, see the blogs of Ami James and Tim Hendricks.]
Many bemoan the magic that has been lost in tattooing with its mass popularity, but lately, the industry has been imbued with an artful mysticism as tattoo-themes manifest in the ancient Tarot.
One exciting event celebrating this union of tattoo & tarot is the Miss Fortune Art Show, which opens tomorrow at Sacred Gallery in NYC and runs until March 26th. Gallery Director, Kevin Wilson, says of the exhibit:
The show focuses on the Major Arcana cards, Latin for "Big Secrets." Often, people seek out a tarot reading if they have questions concerning their lives. In previous centuries, women were mostly illiterate.Tarot sessions were the earliest forms of "talk therapy," and a way to vent their innermost hopes, dreams, and heartbreak. Participants in the show have selected a tarot card from a classic card reading layout: they are both the readers and the clients.They were asked to create a new card to reflect their personal interpretation of the Major Arcana card they chose. Since tarot cards themselves hold no power, it is up to the reader to tailor the meanings based on the client's questions.
We'll be at the opening reception, which takes place from 7 to 11 PM. Sacred Gallery is located at 424 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York City.
The very first exhibit of this kind that I visited (around 2007) was Astrid Kopfler's gorgeous Tattoo Tarot project, which featured the work of tattooists around the world, offering their interpretation of a card randomly selected for them. Their paintings & drawings were exhibited at numerous international tattoo conventions and galleries, and culminated into one amazing deck, perfectly packaged. I can't speak highly enough of it. I just contacted Astrid, and I'm happy to learn that she does have some sets left. US orders run 106 Euros including shipping. More ordering info here. Also find it on Amazon.com.
A more recent deck within the tattoo community is the Telos Tarot set by Robert Ryan, Adam Shrewsbury, Tomas Garcia and Erik Von Bartholomaus. Haven't gotten my hands on it yet but I've been hearing great things about the art and packaging. I've also heard that there aren't many left. Tattoo Artist Magazine has more info.
I see a wonderful weekend ahead of you, friends. Will be back on Monday.
It's been exciting watching Shelly Jackson's Skin project develop over the past few years, particularly seeing her 2095-word story come together on the bodies of people around the world, the only medium where it will be published.
The most recent movement in the project came last week with her exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum: a video in which she assembled clips from a number of participants who say the word they are assigned and show their tattoo, thereby creating a new "sub-Skin" story. The LA Times has more on the video:
Close to 200 of Jackson's words [her participants] uploaded their videos onto YouTube for the new iteration of the project. She edited and crafted a story that's 895 words long (she reuses several).
The LA Times took some of the video clips and even made their own video -- a fun mash-up that many of us could create with some quick and dirty editing. If you do one of your own, send it our way.
Last week, we inaugurated a special N+S series called The Proust Questionnaire for Tattoo Artists, which is a modified version of the infamous Q&A popularized by Marcel Proust*.
For this second installment, we hit up Austin-based horror meister Dan Henk. In addition to his tireless tattoo schedule and painting, Dan has been busy creating a Mike Malone comic for Tattoo Artist Magazine, and working on illustrations for his upcoming horror novel, "By Demons Driven." He took a break from all this to give us a glimpse into what drives him.
The Proust Questionnaire for Tattoo Artists
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Sitting in church.
What is your idea of earthly happiness? Finishing a project I was really into and then hitting South America for a vacation in the jungle.
Your most marked characteristic? I hear I'm abrasive. I tell a lot of non PC jokes. I also hear I don't have that social filter most people have on what I say and do, which might go with the abrasive bit.
What is your principle defect? What? I have a defect?! Pshaw!
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction? The Shadow.
Who are your favorite heroes in real life? Frank Frazetta, Ayn Rand, Alan Moore, and more I'm sure I'll remember later.
Your favorite painter? Frank Frazetta. Oh, and John Harris, Ashley Woods, John Totleben...I can keep going.
Your favorite musician? Deadguy!
Your favorite writer? Alan Moore.
The quality you most admire in a man? Determination.
The quality you most admire in a woman? Intelligence.
Your favorite virtue? Honesty.
Who would you have liked to be? The creature from the black lagoon.
What are your favorite names? Anton! Aleister!
What natural gift would you most like to possess? Immortality.
How would you like to die? I don't.
What is your present state of mind? Overkill!
What is your motto? "Words have no meaning when they are said by shallow minds."
Learn more about the artist on DanHenk.com.
* Proust is admittedly hard to get through, but do consider picking up one of my favorite books, How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain De Botton, which is an amazingly fun and much easier read.
Artists often use the tattoo medium in metaphors, particularly in commenting on societal ills. Last week, we looked at how Dietrick Wegner used tattoo imagery in his art to make a statement on consumer culture.
Today's post reflects one artist's criticism of zealots who use religion as an instrument of exclusion and hate. Using a CNC tattoo machine as an instrument to convey this, Chris Eckert created "Auto Ink":
[...] This public face of religion is always so certain, self-confident, even arrogant. That anyone could possibly know the 'truth' when that truth is randomly assigned at birth is just funny.For a look at how it works, see the video below.
[Via Cool Hunting.]
This Oscar worthy Black Swan tribute above was tattooed by Kyle Cotterman of Smart Bomb Tattoo in Dayton, Ohio.
I found it thanks to Jacob Walsh (Jakezilla) and Nathan Green who steered me to the work after I linked to Refinery29's post on a less-than-stellar rendition of the portrait (on a guy who was using his Swan tattoo to attract "like-minded friends" on Grindr). Yup, this is what I Tweet about on Friday nights.
Kyle's work is not just a testament to finding the right artist for the right job, but also the right tattoo placement. I kinda like the idea of punching someone with Natalie Portman's face.
See more of Kyle's portfolio here.
Reflecting upon consumerist culture and brand name obsession, artist Dietrich Wegner has manipulated studio photography and clay models in his series Cumulous Brand, either to make a statement on how we are bombarded with messages to buy, buy buy. Or it can be a simple warning on the perils of early tattoo choices.
For certain people, actually many people, it is too late.
No amount of exclamation points could possibly convey my excitement over Shawn Porter's Occult Vibrations, a site for those interested in "the symbolic legacy of tattoo culture." While the site is a new venture, it will fast become a primary tattoo destination online, particularly with Shawn's archival footage.
Videos include the (above) excerpt from Frisco Skin & Tattoo Ink, featuring Daniel Higgs, Freddie Corbin, and Ed Hardy. Released
But the real focus of this clip is the "young turks, tattoo tag team" of Freddy Corbin & Dan Higgs. Right at the outset the narrator says, "Some of the best of whatever is new in the nineties will be done by Corbin and Higgs. Your skin can bank on it." Indeed, Corbin & Higgs tattoos are invaluable.
What is truly priceless about this footage is hearing Higgs discuss his tattoo work at that time -- particularly in light of him leaving the art and moving into various other mediums, most notably music. Today, Higgs rarely talks about tattooing, but even listening to his thoughts over 20 years ago still left me more puzzled over this enigmatic character.
These videos will not take away the mystery that surrounds tattoo icons. For many watching, they will inspire. At the very least, offer a history lesson.
When I asked Shawn about the blog, he humbly said: "I made the blog to focus on artists I like...the videos just sort of came out of that. It's important to get these films off of VHS and onto more stable digital platforms; if 1000 people have something, it's a lot harder for it to get lost."
Watch more here.
One of my favorite comedians, Chelsey Lately, visited Mark Mahoney's Shamrock Social Club on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood to get tattooed because, ya know, all the cool celebrities are doing it. Mocking the whole process, from picking a design to the needling, it's a perfect send-up of Hollywood's bad tattoo choices (not necessarily bad artists).
My favorite part was when she referred to the legendary Rick Walters as "ZZ Top" and then asked him to come over (but not too close) and offer advice on whether she should go with tributes to Matt LeBlanc, K-Fed, Dog The Bounty Hunter, and Lance Bass. Mark & Rick suggested Matt. The next thing ya know ...
See it for yourself. It's a giggletastic three+ minutes.
Thanks, Pat, for the link!