This Saturday, June 4th, Hope Gallery pays tribute The Misfits with "We are 138," a group show of 138 artists (largely tattooists) presenting 7x7 works inspired by the horror punk band. The opening, which starts at 7pm, promises "famous monsters" along with food, drink, and pretty people. The exhibit runs until July 9th.
On Hope Gallery's Facebook page, there's a fun series of quick & dirty mini-interviews with participating artists, including Dan Smith whose painting and tattoo work is shown below. Here's a bit from that Q&A:
What song did you get for WE ARE 138?
Who Killed Marilyn?
How did you get inspired to paint your piece?
Marilyn Monroe has always been someone who I have been intrigued by so the inspiration to paint her came very quickly. She has such a timeless, unique profile so obviously mixing the fiend skull with one of Marilyn's countless sexy poses made a lot of sense to me.
What is the best Misfits Album?
Static Age was the first record I got, so naturally it will stay with me as being the most memorable. Its probably the most raw and fast Misfits record too.
What is your favorite Misfits lyric?
"I want your skull. I need your skull."
What is it about the Misfits that makes them so iconic?
I think the fact they were completely original in that time. There were other bands that captured that sound somewhat, but none that looked the way the misfits did. Everything image-wise made total sense, and the logo was the icing on the cake. Timeless and recognizable from across the room!
More on the "We are 138" show at HopeGalleryTattoo.com.
Well, I'm still molting but because some of y'all have been asking about my new snake hip, here's a sneak peak while it heals.
On Monday, Belgian blackwork maestro, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo spent nearly 8 hours on a stippled snake that winds up my left thigh to my hip. Dan was a guest artist at Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn so I didn't have to travel to his studio in Liege (although I recommend doing so for a European tattoo vacation). The work mirrors and balances out the snake on my right thigh, which Dan tattooed in November at his shop. More on that in this post.
Because I wasn't jet-lagged, and I had the ridiculous and wonderful Tattoo Culture crew as entertainment (plus Brian Grosz feeding me candy), the pain seemed significantly less than the first snake, even though it was the same tattoo and same amount of hours under the needle. A testament to mind over matter and optimal tattoo conditions.
Like the other snake, I decided not to use the numbing spray because the hurt was manageable, but yeah, by the seventh hour I was seriously ready to have it be done. After seven hours and forty-five minutes (with only a quick lunch break) of tattooing, I was standing (on shaky feet) completely in love with both of my hips. I still can't stop shimmying.
The snakes will form the foundation on my legs for different decorative elements that will surround them, but I think I'll take a little break for a while.
See more of Dan's work here.
In this latest Inked magazine (the Rock-n-Roll issue), I interviewed veteran tattooist (and rock star in her own right) Annette LaRue of Electric Ladyland Tattoo in New Orleans. We had a fun time chatting about everything, from inking her first tattoo at 13 years old to handling French Quarter drunks to her upcoming retirement. Here's a taste:
You must tattoo a lot of characters. Any favorites?
Well, we had this one guy we called "The Sheriff of Frenchmen Street." He sat outside on the bench all day long and drank draft beer. I had an apprentice and told him, "You got to go out there and tattoo that guy. He's out there every day, he's got tattoos and you can do better than what he's got." So he went over and got the guy, Dave (The Sheriff), to come in. He became one of our favorite customers. All our apprentices tattooed him. For every five apprentice tattoos, I'd do one good tattoo on him. He was awesome. After Katrina, he moved away and couldn't get back. We found out a couple of years later that he drank himself to death. There are a lot of characters like him who we don't see anymore.
With Katrina and the oil spill, and the people of the Gulf experiencing a lot of heartache, how does this translate in the tattoo business? Do you see a lot of people getting memorial tattoos for example?
Oh yes. People here like to wear their strong emotions. And they do it through tattoos.
That's got to be heavy.
It was horrible the first year or two after Katrina. Everyone who came in had a tragic story. Three guys who worked for me lost everything they owned. So yeah, it changed everything. But it made business great. We never had an appointment book before that; we were a walk-in shop. A couple of guys would have appointments a couple of times a week, but now over half of our tattoos are by appointment. It shocks me everyday just how many people come in. I'm not trying to brag, and I'm sorry for other people not doing well, but we've been blessed and really lucky. It's also been a lot of hard work. I'd like to give my crew the credit. These guys are really the life of the shop.
Read more in the latest issue of Inked on newsstands now and available for download online.
"Of course tattoos can be copyrighted" -- Judge Catherine D. Perry
Three weeks ago, I wrote about the tattoo copyright controversy over Mike Tyson's facial tattoo and its use in The Hangover Part II film. As I noted in that post, Victor Whitmill, who did Tyson's tattoo in 2003, is suing Warner Bros. for copyright infringement in pirating his tattoo design in the film and using it in its ubiquitous promotion campaign. He filed suit seeking damages and asking the court to issue an injunction to stop the use of the tattoo in the film, thus barring the film's release this Memorial Day weekend.
According to the NY Times Media Decoder blog, on Tuesday, Judge Catherine D. Perry of Federal District Court in St. Louis did not grant the injunction, stating that the harm to the public interest -- businesses beyond Warner Bros that would lose money if the film were not released on schedule -- outweighs the harm to the tattooist. However, the case doesn't end here as the NY Times reports:
Those silly claims include the assertion that tattoos do not have any copyright protection. Warner Bros. pulled out the big guns by having copyright specialist Professor David Nimmer attest that the body is not "a tangible medium of expression," among other arguments including "involuntary servitude." Read Nimmer's declaration in support of Warner Bros. here. It's a departure from Nimmer's original assertion in his treatise on copyright that tattoos are protected under the law. This flip flop did not go unnoticed.
With regard to Warner Bros.'s parody defense, the NY Times quotes Judge Perry: "This use of the tattoo did not comment on the artist's work or have any critical bearing on the original composition. There was no change to this tattoo or any parody of the tattoo itself. Any other facial tattoo would have worked as well to serve the plot device." [Some experts like Professor Eric Goldman disagree with the last sentence.]
What most experts do agree on is that this is not a frivolous case and Whitman could receive a big settlement.
Read my original post for the breakdown of issues surrounding this case.
I'd like like to add one more thing: This isn't a case about a tribal tattoo. It is about protection of works by tattooists. It may not stop companies from ripping off artists (especially apparel companies who are notorious for stealing tattoo designs), but big settlements may make them think twice about continuing to do so.
[Thanks to Benjamin for the Nimmer links.]
This morning, the NY Times Magazine online profiled the work of the wonderful Amanda Wachob, fine artist and tattooer at Daredevil Tattoo.
Amanda briefly discusses how she began playing with abstract expressionism influences in her tattooing:
I was looking at a lot of Hans Hofmann, thinking about the squares and rectangular shapes in his paintings. I wondered if these shapes were dictated by his rectangular canvas? And if he were going to make an abstract painting that wasn't on a rectangle, but perhaps on an organic form like an arm, what would the shapes look like? That's when I had the idea to try it with a tattoo.In blurring the lines between fine art and body art, Amanda continuously pushes the boundaries of what a tattoo can be. For further info on her process, you may also want to read an old Q&A with Amanda we posted back in October 2009 in which she talks about her more experimental work.
Check her online portfolio for more.
Last Friday, Oliver Peck held his annual and infamous Friday the 13th marathon tattoo special at his Elm Street Tattoo studio and The Dallas Morning News was there to cover it [video above]. It's an interesting look at the melee with classic quotes from Peck, including talk of the myth and lore behind "13" tattoos and why he's been doing this marathon for years: "I just love gimmicks. I love partying. I love tattooing, and I just put it all together. [Sailor Jerry Rum helped with the partying.]
Peck was also in the news for his recent opening of True Tattoo studio in LA (which he purchased in January). Gossip blogs particularly loved his shit talking against ex-wife Kat Von D, saying that his studio will "make real tattoos" as opposed to Kat's "gimmicky tourist tattoos" close by.
I thought he just loved gimmicks.
So I've been told by the minions blocking the streets of Brooklyn & Manhattan this week that tomorrow is the end of the world, and I for one would like to leave this earth in style.
EarGauges.net is helping us do so with a new line of plugs and tunnels discounted for Needles & Sins readers, what I like to call "the Rapture Special." Just put in the code NAS10 at checkout and get 10% off all orders.
Some of my faves include the jade stone tear drop plugs (above), which go for $14.99 a pair. The super size light organic wood plugs (below) have been marked down to $31.99 a pair. Also check the new silicon ear skins.
Wear them in happiness, health and a long wonderful life.
I'm loving this wonderful tattoo documentary, Travelling Ink, by anthropologist Cyril Siorat, directors Dr. Udi Butler and Alan Mandel and the crew from the Pitt-Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford. Here's the official description:
Through conversations with leading tattooists [and historians] from around the world, this film explores the artistry, philosophy, meaning and history of tattooing at the site of the 2010 London Tattoo Convention. The film conveys the importance of travelling and the tattoo convention, the commitment of members of the tattoo community to their art, and the challenges they face in reconciling tradition with modernity, and spirituality with mass-appeal.The film is 25 minutes long and worth every second. I've watched it a number of times to pull my favorite quotes but I couldn't narrow it down to just a few perfect sound bits. It's just all good -- from conversations on tattoo's ancient history to its sensuality to philosophies held by the tattooists interviewed. I can't recommend it enough.
Also check out the Museum's full collection of video and audio on body art.
Special thanks to Colin Dale and Dr. Lars Krutak (who are featured in the film) for the link.
In this lawsuit crazed society, it seems no one is safe from ridiculous claims. You'd be surprised that even the most frivolous sounding suits have won in court or settled with a big payday. The money and time spent defending against these attacks can cause a huge strain on tattooists, and so one of the most important ways studios can protect themselves is by having the right insurance. This weekend at the NYC Tattoo Convention, I heard one new shop owner say that, when he approached an insurance broker for coverage, the response was "I have no idea how to even do this." So, I suggested he contact those who have been taking care of tattooists and piercers since 1993:Beyond stiletto heels and shop dogs, there are misspellings, misinterpreted sexual advances, mistakes in Kanji meanings, and of course infection and other serious risks. So it's best to have insurance that covers all potential claims, and PPIB has the experience in doing so. [Their staff are also tattooed.] PPIB is a member of the Association of Professional Piercers and the Alliance of Professional Tattooists.
Profession Program Insurance Brokerage, a new sponsor of Needles & Sins.
We asked Susan Preston, the founder and president of PPIB, to give us examples of insane claims against tattoo shops she's seen. Here's her stiletto heels story:
A shop cannot control what women wear into their shop. For some unknown reason women like to wear stiletto heels to their friendly neighborhood tattooer or body piercer. In the last 4 years, we have had three claims from stiletto heels. The most notable one was in a shop that had a checkerboard floor. The woman claimed the floor made her dizzy and that is why she tripped and fell. One and one half years later, we had paid out a total of $49,000 in defense of this claim. The woman did not receive a dime from the insurer because the stiletto heels were a good defense of ours. A woman really wears them at her own risk. Be that as it may, if the shop did not have insurance that $49,000 in legal fees and defense would have come out of their own pocket or they would have had to declare bankruptcy.Then there's one about a tattoo artist's dog biting his (then) girlfriend in the shop:
If your dog bites someone, there is no defense in law. The dog owner is totally liable. When a dog bites your significant other in your tattoo shop because he is jealous of the affection, it could test the relationship to the max. If the desire is to keep the significant other from suing, the dog owner may need to keep the lover around at least as long as the statute of limitations in the state. In a state with a statute that is 3 or 4 years, this could be a really bad thing. When this happened to one of our tattoo clients, the shop/dog owner decided the woman was not worth it so he booted her out of his life. And guess what? He got a lawsuit from her. Luckily the bite was more of a nip, so the payout was not too big. While the girlfriend is long gone, the dog is still around, although not in the tattoo shop.
Contact them at www.tattoo-ins.com or 415-475-4300 for more info.
Renowned tattooist Corey Miller (L.A. Ink) teamed up with veteran SoCal punkers Face To Face to design the album artwork for their latest release, Laugh Now, Laugh Later, which hits the shelves (and iTunes) today, May 17th. To celebrate this collaboration - and the band's NYC appearance tomorrow night at the Best Buy Theater - Inked Magazine and the crew at Kings Ave NYC are sponsoring an in-shop meet-and-greet and record-signing.
If you're in the NYC metro-area (and a fan of solid punk rock and fine-line artwork), be sure to stop by Kings Ave NYC tomorrow afternoon to grab a copy of the album and have it signed by Corey and the band. Attendees will also be eligible to win a pair of tickets for tomorrow night's concert!
Where: Kings Ave NYC, 188 Bowery (at Spring St), 2nd floor.
When: Wednesday, May 18th - 5pm
A belly dancing sword swallower. A professor of body modification. A biker bouncer getting his nursing degree. And a balloon clown dressed as a rabbit named ToTo. They are just some of the beautiful tattooed attendees and performers at the NYC Tattoo Convention who -- along with top tattooists -- made this fourteenth year of the show such a success.
[For more photos of the show, see Brian's Flickr Set.]
It's hard not to be biased, however. It's my hometown convention, one that I have attended for over a decade. So much has changed over this time in tattooing, but the organizers keep to a solid formula that works: well respected and experienced artists in a variety of genres, from tebori to blackwork; off-beat entertainment; quality vendors within the tattoo community; and good bartenders. That formula attracts collectors from around the world who come specifically for the convention.
From Stockholm to Staten Island, they arrive at the historic Roseland Ballroom on Harleys, in wheelchairs, on top of stilts, and in strollers. In various states of undress, they are on view before hordes of tattoo paparazzi. When not under the needle or vying for the next appointment, they push towards the stage to see acts like Natasha Veruschka, a six-time Guinness World Record holder, swallow 22-inch swords while shimmying.
And whether preening or gawking, attendees are interacting. Strangers become good friends, even if just for a few hours, and love connections are often made. For such a hard city, New York's convention is one of the world's friendliest tattoo shows.
Y'all proved that to me. I had put out on Facebook and Twitter that rewards would be bestowed upon those who come up to my Black & Grey book signing table and say, "Marisa, you are so much *taller* in person than I imagined." Mere Needles & Sins stickers and buttons cannot convey my ego's gratitude, dear readers (especially after so many years of hearing the opposite). You rock.
It especially rocked having a table next to Marvin and Doug Moskowitz who were signing copies of The Last of the Bowery Scab Merchants, a beautifully packaged, two audio CD set that holds the amazing stories of their father, Walter Moskowitz. At their table was also the legendary tattooist, anthropologist and author Mike McCabe, whose tattoo books line my shelves. It was an honor to be in such company.
During the tattoo competition (which seems to grow longer each year with full body work), I left our table by the stage to shmooze, shop [thank you, Father Panik!], and ensure my next tattoo appointment with Dan of Calypso Tattoo, who is shown below briefly trading personas with Brian.
You'd think in this time I'd manage a decent photo or even a Tweet, but I was too busy playing with ToTo and his balloon animals to come through. I'm sorry. Thankfully, Brian picked up my slack for Needles & Sins, and two of my favorite fellow tattoo bloggers also have convention coverage: Check out Bill's photos and review on Tattoosday, and be on the look out for updates from Nathan of KnuckleTattoos.com.
I haven't found much on the show from mainstream media. NY1's video is the only one worth a quick look. I also did a Flickr search and found great shots by Veronica Ettman. Hit me up if you have video and photos you'd like to share.
I'll sign off today by sending much love to the new and old friends made at this convention. You make these events so much fun.
It's no secret that black artists are under-represented in tattoo media, but there is film in the making that seeks to remedy that. "Color Outside the Lines: A Tattoo Documentary" is a documentary by Artemus Jenkins and City of Ink's Miya Bailey with the goal of educating people about the possibilities of fine tattoo art and the skilled artists behind it. Here's more:
The film highlights the history of black tattoo culture and how it began in the south despite a heavily segregated climate for black artists seeking entry. We cover signature styles and how those styles have developed and influenced newer artists over the years. Tattooing in the media is another important aspect, as it is the biggest factor of how the cultures influence has spread. It is no secret that entertainers and athletes dictate the trends younger generations pick up on and tattooing is no different. What is suprising is despite the money these cultural icons have, some of their work is no better than the kid who got his in a basement down the street from his house. This further deludes the public as to what great artwork looks like and what is available to everyday people.
The film is still in production and set to be released early next year but they need help raising money for further filming and post production. More details on how you can contribute on their Kickstarter page.
For more discussion on tattooing in the black community, read Miguel's interviews with Miya Bailey and Roni Zulu.
[Via the wonderful InkButter blog.]
Even though King's Ave NYC opened their doors to the public back on April 1st, it's now time for us to party!
On Thursday, May 12th, Mike Rubendall, Grez and the rest of the crew invite you to stop by the shop at 8pm for "drinks, friends and family" (and, at the very least, I can assure you firsthand that the shop is utterly gorgeous and well worth a visit). Barring a plague of locusts, I'll be there with our estemeed editrix in tow so come on out and say "hello."
What: Kings Ave NYC Grand Opening Party
When: Thursday, May 12th - 8pm
Where: 188 Bowery (at Spring St) - New York City
Why: Like you gotta ask...
[UPDATE: Over at Tattoosday, you can enter for the chance to win a Kings Ave T-shirt!]
Photo by Edgar Hoill
There's been a lot of discussion about tattoo inks lately. Yesterday, we wrote about cremation remains in tattoos and the media's recent fascination with it. A BoingBoing.net post on a Vegan lip tattoo also sparked some controversy on whether tattoos celebrating veganism are vegan themselves. [Of course, there are vegan-friendly inks. Check the list of animal-free inks on Jinxi's blog.]
Yesterday, NPR reported that the US Food & Drug Administration are starting to take a more serious look into what exactly is in tattoo inks and the potential health risks:
In response to these complaints, the FDA has created a Consumer Update site & PDF called "Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe?" There's nothing in it that is really big news: yes, people have reported allergic reactions to some inks, and dirty tattoos can lead to infection. What's interesting in this update is that the FDA will be doing further research into (1) the chemical composition of the inks and how they break down (metabolize) in the body; (2) the short-term and long-term safety of pigments used in tattoo inks; and (3) how the body responds to the interaction of light with the inks. Looking forward to their findings.
In the past, the FDA has relied on local authorities to monitor tattoo pigments, but we could be seeing a move toward greater regulatory action on the Fed level -- perhaps a mandate that manufacturers of pigments reveal all of their ingredient list. And I don't think that's such a bad thing.
Many thanks to Gabriel for the link!
Recent tattoo headlines have been abuzz with stories on memorial tattoos using cremation ashes, some calling it a "craze" and a "trend," as in the video above. I find these terms trivializing and even insulting to those who commemorate loved ones in such a deeply moving way. The media coverage did, however, motivate me to follow up with friends who have used the ashes in their tattoos and find out more about the process and healing.
Here is one account from Ginger who, along with her sister, got her mother's remains incorporated into a Morning Glory tattoo (shown below right) by Craig Rodriguez, owner of Hand of Glory and The End Is Near tattoo studios in Brooklyn, NY.
"Craig told me to buy a mortar and pestle -- ceramic, not wood [for autoclaving]. At home, I placed a small clean jar in the microwave for 30 seconds. I put the ashes in the jar and did 30 more seconds. I brought the jar to the shop, and the ashes were ground into a powder in just a few minutes using the mortar and pestle. It was so fine that it quickly dissolved into all the ink colors.
He did my sister's tattoo on Sunday, Sept 19. We saran wrapped the remainder of the ashes in the mortar bowl, and Craig locked them up. The following Friday, I got my outline and color. Then [in the following session], he did all the shading and two more stems to better attach it to my [existing] back piece. My sister and I both got our Mom on our ribs.
I am so happy with my tattoo. It healed perfectly. I gifted to Craig the mortar and pestle for the next person who wants a sacred tattoo. [He can autoclave it.] So, that's my story."
I've spoken with other tattooists who have also tattooed with cremation ashes and they've all said that, if proper sterilization and aftercare procedures are taken (like in any tattoo), the tattoos do not raise any special health risks. And, as in Ginger's experience, should heal into a special memorial.
French born, Los Angeles based tattooist, painter and sculptor BUGS will be exhibiting a new body of work entitled Purity in Motion at Sacred Gallery in SoHo. The opening reception is 7-11PM next Thursday, May 12th -- the night before the NYC Tattoo Convention, where Bugs will also be tattooing. The show will run through May 29th.
I talked with Bugs about his upcoming exhibit in our Q&A for Inked Magazine and learned that he had just returned to sculpting, a medium he was exited to get back into. When I further asked him about it, he replied:
I'm sketching new cubic women, starting small. I'm going to make them in bronze. Near my house is a foundry that deals with a lot of artists. I think it will be interesting to see my work in 3D, to see my work freely with all the angles of my design. I don't know if it will be popular or will sell but I don't care. I do it for me.Bugs will learn soon enough how the sculpture is received with this first unveiling of the work. The sculpture will be on view along with paintings that "reflect a mix of different techniques showing images of nudes." He adds, "Also included will be other subjects close to my heart from my background in France."
If you can't make it to the show, you can appreciate his distinct cubist and modern abstract style (like the work below) in his tattoo portfolio online. Bugs works at the Tattoo Lounge in LA, Thurs-Sat, and Victory Electric Tattoo Co., in Studio City, CA on Wednesdays.
TONIGHT AT SACRED: There will be a special one-night only Benefit for Japan in which all artwork will be priced at $200 or less, and all proceeds go to the Red Cross. Prints and original drawings from a stellar line-up of artists will be available. More info here.
Looks like The Hangover 2 continues to suffer some bad tattoo juju. First, the controversy surrounding who would play the small role of tattoo artist in the film. And now, the tattoo design itself.
Victor Whitmill, who did Mike Tyson's infamous facial tattoo in 2003, is suing Warner Bros. for copyright infringement in pirating his tattoo design "without attempting to contact [him], obtain his permission, or credit his creation"; he seeks damages and an injunction to stop the use of the tattoo in the film--which is essentially a big part of the movie. In The Hangover 2, a bachelor party once again leaves our wacky heroes with no clue of what happened the night before, except for a facial tattoo on the groom Stu (Ed Helms). There's also a monkey. See the trailer below.
Looks pretty funny but the legal claims are quite serious. [Download the complaint here.]
Tattoos. Copyright. The media is loving it. But in so many discussions of the case, there's a great deal of misinformation, so I'd like to break it down as best as I can.
First, when I wrote "The Tattoo Copyright Controversy" for BMEzine in 2003, I approached it like a law school hypothetical; that is, I played with how intellectual property rules would apply in various potential disputes involving the ownership of a custom tattoo design. It was hypothetical because, at the time, no actual cases on record could be found specifically addressing this issue. Well, a lot has changed since 2003. Tattoo artists have sued companies for infringement and a number have received large settlements. Even collectors, like model & photographer Amina Munster [NSFW], have registered their tattoos with the US Copyright Office to discourage other collectors from copying.
The basics behind "The Tattoo Copyright Controversy" still hold in addressing what exactly is copyright and its relation to tattoos. A couple of years later, I updated the article for Rankmytattoos.com and continued to post developments on my old Needled.com blog. So click these article links for more of a general discussion.
In this post, I'm going to break down the tattoo copyright issues in relation to Whitmill v. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., (E.D. Missouri), what I'll call:
The Mike Tyson Tattoo Copyright Case 101...
More and more, we've been seeing the interplay between tattoos and technology, like scannable bar code tattoos and numeric control tattoo machines, particularly in art-driven projects looking to make socio-political statements. Then there are those tattoo projects driven by "Oh shit, that AR card would make a killer tattoo."
The Nintendo 3DS Augmented Reality tattoo was posted yesterday by "Cranberryzero" along with this video showing how his Mii (customizable player character) appears on the AR card tattooed on his arm when the 3DS camera is focused on it. Cranberryzero got the work -- tattooed by Colby of Blue Flame Tattoo in Raleigh, NC -- just one week after buying his 3DS. [It's best that impulse buys not be permanent, but then we'd be at a loss for blogger sarcasm.]
Yes, it's cool that it works, but as many of the tech/gaming blogs like Technabob have also been pointing out: "What will happen when the next generation of consoles comes out?"
Thanks to Matt and The Lizardman for the links.