London's Simon Erl has a portfolio filled with fun takes on Traditional and Neo-Traditional work, from classic pin-ups to anthropomorphic characters in kicky outfits. He also works technically difficult tattoos like palms and eyelids.
Simon offers a quick and dirty but serious discussion on his process in one of the Little Scraps of Paper video shorts below. [Check out more of their videos featuring creatives in different fields.]
Read Simon's blog here and view more of his portfolio on Facebook.
Two weeks ago, we posted the first episode of Vice TV's "Tattoo Age," a series that looks at the work and personal lives of tattooists without the love triangles, dead dogs, and televised colonics.
The first artist featured is Dan Santoro of Smith Street Tattoo, who is followed in a three-part video, which offers close-ups into his tattooing, but also looks into his other passions like antiquing and taxidermy, and his record store, Black Gold Records. This video above, Part III, focuses heavily on his life outside of tattooing and highlights his amazing collection of Americana and "cultural vomit" that inform his artwork.
If you missed the previous episodes: here are Part I and Part II. The next episode, featuring Grime, will go live on Vice TV on August 3rd.
In San Francisco's Mission District, Shannon Archuleta works in her private tattoo atelier creating custom decorative pieces that harmonize beautifully with the shape of the body.
Shannon says of her work, "I seem to be sought out for my lines and floral, but I enjoy all sorts of styles. Lately, I am really enjoying a more narrative style."
Tattooing since 1994, the Sonoma County, CA native says that she continues to learn every day and tries to "keep up with all these new, talented young'uns pouring out of every corner." When she's not tattooing, she's hiking, antiquing, and taking pretty pictures.
Shannon has a positive vibe about her that is really infectious. I met her at the NYC Tattoo Convention years ago and liked her instantly. She has a great ability to put people at ease, which is so important in tattooing. And she's got a wicked sense of humor.
In this spotlight, I chose to highlight Shannon's Mehndi-inspired blackwork above, a feminine paisley rib piece and white ink nouveau poppy chestpiece below. To see more of her portfolio, you can check her website or her Flickr page (where there's more work in progress and cover-ups).
For appointments, contact her via email at shannon at shannonarchuleta.com or call 1.415.336.9406.
One of our favorite tattoo blogs, Swallows & Daggers, which highlights Traditional and Neo-Traditional tattooing worldwide, has teamed up with indie apparel designers Death/Traitors (NYC) and the UK brand Honour Over Glory to create a new collection of shirts and crewneck jumpers that pay tribute to Americana imagery with a punk bent. [I think the promo pix are pretty sexy as well.]
You can order the shirts for about 16 British Pounds on the Swallows & Daggers shop. There you'll also find four issues of the S&D zine, which are a great read.
On their blog, check the artist interviews, news, & meanings behind classic tattoo motifs.
All Images Copyright Lars Krutak
Tattoo anthropologist Dr. Lars Krutak is no stranger to Needles & Sins. In February, we profiled the tattoo hunter, discussing his research into indigenous body modification practices worldwide. We also love his Kalinga Tattoo book on the vanishing tattoo practices of the Kalinga people in the Philippines.
This Saturday, July 30th, Lars will be giving a lecture at Sacred Gallery on his research and displaying photos and video from his journeys. Here's what Sacred says of the event:
Unimax is proud to present Dr. Krutak, on July 30th at 3PM, at Sacred Tattoo, 424 Broadway, N.Y.C., who will spend an hour revealing tattoo as a statement of worldviews, where humans, nature, and the supernatural are united. He will show where and how tattoo still represents the reenactment of ancient myths, ancestral traditions, and the actions of deities and cultural heroes. Video clips from his documentary series "Tattoo Hunter," seen on the Discovery Channel supplement the presentation as well as some large format on-location photos by Krutak, from the collection of Wes Wood.It promises to be a fascinating talk. Highly recommend it.
For those of you in and around D.C., this Wednesday, July 27th, from 6:45 to 8:45 PM, Lars will also share his work in "Skin Deep: The History and Art of Indigenous Tattooing." His books will be available for signing as well.
If you can't make it, check out some of his writings and images online at LarsKrutak.com and The Vanishing Tattoo.
Over the weekend, Dr. Matt Lodder sent us this link to the Jezebel Post "World War II's Badass Female Tattoo Artist" -- a look at the UK's tattoo godmother Jessie Knight.
Jessie is considered the first professional British female tattooist, whose career spanned from the 1920s through the '60s. The Tattoo News offers some info on her start:
You can read more and find addition photos on the Tattoo News forum thread on Jessie as well as on Jezebel. Also check the video below (which we also posted last April), showing her in action.
It seems the "haters" against Lisa Fasulo's Tattoo Learning Center are doing more than just protesting via online petitions, Facebook pages, and angry YouTube videos.
According to the Daily Gazette, Fasulo claims that she has been getting death threats and the FBI is now looking into it. The article states: "Rotterdam Police Lt. Jason Murphy characterized the threats as 'open-ended,' with many of them left on Facebook. He said no arrests are forthcoming, but police continue to investigate."
The deluge of hate mail, as many in the tattoo community know, came after the announcement that TLC would air a program featuring Fasulo called "Tattoo School." The Daily Gazette describes the show as a "documentary," but some believe that the program could be a pilot for a further series. [I contacted TLC for more information and my messages were not returned.] But TLC has responded to the backlash, according to the article:
It goes without saying that threats of harm don't do any good but peaceful protesting, like those against the school in San Diego, can have an impact. It all comes down to real education and letting the misguided know that the schools are not the way into a life in tattooing.
Philip Barbosa has created some posters and cards like the one below to further spread the word. They will be available on his BoycottTattooSchools.com soon when it goes live. I'll be posting an update when it does.
In the August issue of Inked Magazine, on newsstands now, I interview the tattooer's tattooer, Mike Rubendall of Kings Avenue. In our Q&A, we discuss the new Kings Ave on the legendary Bowery in NYC (also posted here), his grueling apprenticeship when he was 17, and what it's like tattooing a dead body. Here's a taste:
What is the tattoo that you've done that sticks out most in your memory?
Read more in the "Icon" section of Inked.
You can also follow Brian's own experience getting tattooed by Mike here on N+S.
Tattoo by Tim Kern
The branches of the US military regularly clarify and update their dress and personal appearance policies, but it seems that in the last five years they've been extra busy doing so...98 times since 2006 according to Time's article on Air Force dress codes.
While I personally prefer my soldiers suffer a 30-hour backpiece than bullets, the Air Force seems to get its regulation panties in a bunch over the diameter of visible tattoos. So much so, they've come up with a mathematical equation to figure out what is and what is not acceptable body art. There are even charts!
Get your calculators ready. Here goes:
Use the following calculation: (all measurements are to be done in inches; partial inches should be rounded up to the nearest inch). Member will be measured standing at the position of attention. If member has multiple tattoos/brands (T/B) that are clearly separate TBs, each will be measured separately and the cumulative size of the TBs cannot exceed one-fourth or 25% of the exposed body part.Huh?
Ok, so what happens if you're bad at math and your tattoos violate policy? Well, you can get a slap-on-the-wrist reprimand. Or they can order full tattoo removal. They'll even pay for removal if there's a budget! Read more here for details. [The article also provides links to PDFs of the full dress code policies for the Army, Marines, and Navy.]
At a time when the Legislature is looking to cap government spending, perhaps we shouldn't be budgeting for tattoo removal or even wasting so much time on the colors in military skin.
Artist Jason Clay Dunn of Tattoo Alchemy in Montclair, CA works in a variety of mediums, including graphic design, digital illustration, traditional painting and airbrush art, but it's his Japanese-influenced tattooing with an "American twist" that captured our attention.
Jason has been documenting his tattoo process on video, and further discusses his work and life in tattooing in this video interview. [Also directed and edited by Richie Merritt.]
You can find more of Jason's tattoo work online here.
A three-day dark arts extravaganza at Paul Booth's Last Rites Tattoo Theatre and Gallery will take place from Friday throughout Sunday including art exhibitions, comedy, music, live painting, and the unveiling of the studio's "grand reincarnation." Here's the line-up:
* Friday, July 22nd, the Gallery will host the opening reception of Craig Larotonda's "Eternal Consequences" and Chet Zar's "Faces of Death." An interview with Chet and a preview of his work (including the image below) can be found at Arrested Motion. Doors open 7pm until 11pm. No cover.
* Saturday, July 23rd, Paul drops the black curtains and unveils the all new Tattoo Theatre area. It promises to be an experience that would make even Beelzebub blush. MC'd by MINIcHRIST, the evening will be filled with performances by one of my favorite comedians, Jamie Kilstein of Citizen Radio, and by Attila Csihar, vocalist from Mayhem, presenting his solo dark ambient project VOID OV VOICES. And of course attendees will be able to take in the art exhibits a second night. Doors open 7pm until "real late." There is a $10 cover charge after 10pm. [18 and over]
* Sunday, July 24th, there will be live painting by Last Rites' family of artists including Shawn Barber, Kim Saigh, Chet Zar, Genevive Zacconi, Angie Mason, Fred Harper, Billy Norrby, Matt Rota, Martin Wittfooth, Paul Booth, The ArtFusion Experiment & more. Doors open at 3pm until 11pm. No cover.
Details can be found on the Facebook event page. Last Rites Tattoo Theatre and Gallery is located at 511 West 33rd Street, 3rd Floor, (btwn 10th and 11th ave).
We'll be there for at least one of these fabulous events. Hope to see ya!
Parisian photographer, Julien Lachaussee, spent six years shooting tattoo artists and collectors from all walks of life, and the result of his work is now culminating in a limited edition art book entitled Alive: Tattoo Portraits published by Editions Eyrolles.
Alive is comprised of 146 portraits in color and black & white, and in Polaroid and analog photography. Subjects include body builders, strippers and a number of tattoo artists including Laura Satana, Lea Nahon, and Tin Tin (shown below) who also wrote the foreword.
Julien and Eyrolles have launched a pre-sale special of the book on Ulule. Those who order the book on Ulule within the next 19 days will receive Alive (in its designer box) and a signed and numbered print. Fund raising through Ulule will go towards offsetting the printing costs, but the goal of 45 sales must be met.
You can pre-order Alive for 160 Euros for its November release date. Also find more of Julien's work in Sang Bleu and Inked magazines among others.
Earlier this week, we featured the first episode of a new tattoo show by Spike TV called Tattoo Age. We're happy to post that there's another series without the faux drama, featuring the adventures of a tattooist who reveals the realities of tattooing along with cultural highlights of different cities beyond the art.
Markus Kuhn says of The Gypsy Gentleman project:
Two highly engaging pieces on prison tattoos were published this week:
On Monday, Flavorwire posted a photo gallery of prison tattoos that are part of Araminta de Clermont's Life After series (which includes the image above). Clermont photographed tattooed members of South Africa's Numbers prison gangs after their release. She explores questions of identity and stigma, possession and self-expression, and "how it would be if we all had our past mistakes permanently emblazoned across our faces."
I highly recommend reading Clermont's full discussion of Life After on her gallery page. Here's an excerpt:
Tattoos may convey rankings within the hierarchy of the Number, may be testimonies to a crime committed, or may sometimes be a rather more personal statement: like a message of blame, threat, or regret, or a tribute to a loved one. A 'Numbers' gangster can read another's life story simply through the markings he has. The gallows symbol signifies that the bearer faced the death sentence, before it was outlawed. Many of the most highly tattooed men that I photographed, had been given the death sentence, before Mandela's reprieve, and thus they had never believed they would be released, never imagining 'a life after'.More on the work can be found via this BBC audio slideshow.
Then, yesterday, The Independent and Gambit of New Orleans published an interview by Dege Legg (photos by Travis Gauthier) with Victor "Versus" Sandifer, a prison tattooer who spent 21 years behind bars. In the Q&A, Sandifer discusses how he got into jailhouse tattooing, making a "tattoo gun," and symbolism behind prison tattoo imagery, among other interesting tidbits. Here's a taste from the Gambit:
G: Who were your best customers in prison?
VS: I tattooed everybody: Mexicans, Chinese, white, black, all kinds of people. I did them all.
G: What kind of tattoos would they gravitate toward?
VS: Depends on the race. Black guys want gangster stuff: names, faces, gang affiliations, pictures of dead homies. Stuff that represents where they're from. Mexicans like religious imagery, lowrider and vato stuff. Girls, cars, Virgin Marys, Jesus. White dudes go for anything: dragons, knives, guns, swastikas. All kinds of weird stuff like that. Depends on the white guy you're talking to.
G: Lot of Aryan Brotherhood?
VS: You got a lot of diehard AB'ers out there, but you also got a lot of old-school Southern rockers that just want a ZZ Top tattoo.
G: What's the meaning behind teardrops?
VS: Depends on the state you're in. Some people wear them to count time under their left eye. Under the right, it signifies a dead homeboy. For some it's the number of people they've killed. In Louisiana, it doesn't mean as much--they just wear teardrops to be having them. In Texas, a lot of tattoos are gang related.Read more of the interview here.
In a time when mass media has finally been looking at tattooing as a fine art (reality shows excluded), it's interesting to see their current approach to stigmatized tattooing. They are both great reads. Check 'em.
UPDATE: Here's Part 2 of the Dan Santoro feature.
As we posted last month, we've been excited to see the debut of a show that pays respect to the art without the faux drama of current tattoo TV offerings: Tattoo Age on Vice TV.
Today, the show went live and has most definitely met our expectations. This first episode is Part 1 of a feature on Dan Santoro of Smith Street Tattoo in Brooklyn, NY. It looks at his daily life as a tattooer and his approach to Americana folk-art tattoos and paintings, which make up a great deal of his portfolio. His colleagues at Smith Street offer their thoughts on Dan's work and personality as well. But it goes beyond close-ups of tattooing and musings on the craft. It follows Dan on his antiquing trips, another one of his passions and business, and other aspects of his life outside of the shop, giving the viewer an intimate look at this well respected artist.
Check the full episode below. You can find the schedule for upcoming episodes on our original post, as well as the show's trailer.
Outrage over TLC'c upcoming reality show "Tattoo School" has been growing and expressed online in some creative, entertaining and even extreme ways.
I posted this video above over the weekend on Facebook and Twitter, but in case you missed it, here's the wit and wisdom of "JustJohnTattoo." Also check some interesting posts by Dave's Damn Blog and Devil City Press.
Many are sharing their anger on group Facebook pages calling for a boycott of the show -- and some are angrier than others as demonstrated by this tattoo below.
It's been said that all these blog posts, videos, and social networking groups are only giving TLC tons of free press. I think one of the most important issues here is that it has motivated so many to take an active stance against these schools (which have been around for quite some time) and educate those who may be considering shelling out cash in exchange for big promises of tattoo grandeur.
I've interviewed countless tattoo artists over the years, and when asked about how they've attained success, they say, "Hard work." No TV show or quickie course can replace that.
UPDATE: It seems that tattooists who have been protesting outside the San Diego Tattoo Learning Center are having an impact on students and their misguided canvases. Read more on NBC News.
Just when you thought tattoo TV couldn't get any worse, TLC -- the braintrust behind NY Ink -- will premier "Tattoo School" next Thursday, July 14th. The show follows "award-winning" tattooer Lisa Fasulo, who runs The Tattoo Learning Center in Albany, NY, as she teaches students "from all walks of life" the craft. In two weeks. Cue the drama:
Rookie students, models risking their skin to first time body artists, a rebellious instructor and unconventional training...who will bear the drama of competition and survive?
What's even more abhorrent is the press release for the show, which includes the following:
In the United States, the majority of tattoo artists are self-taught. Pick up any of the major tattoo magazines, read the artist biographies and you will find 2 out of 3, on average, are self taught. That means experimenting with Uncle Jimmy on the kitchen table.
Typical, "reality" promo in which there is no reality.
But many artists are fighting back. There's a petition online and Facebook pages seeking to stop the show from airing. On Alie K Tattooer's FB page, there are contacts for TLC's ethics (really?) and viewer relations departments. There's also contact information for Lisa Fasulo herself.
On her blog, Lisa Fasulo answers "the haters," but I think her "student tats" page speaks volumes more. It's not pretty.
I'm doubtful that TLC will pull the show, but I fully support these efforts because they raise awareness about tattoo schools and their pitfalls. It's not simply about tradition. It's about health concerns, and indeed ethics, when sending people out to potentially scar others after mere weeks of training.
Over the weekend, Philip Barbosa will be putting up a site, as well as creating printed material, designed to educate people about these schools and the real "qualifications" of its graduates (among other issues). Will update this post with the link and further info.
On Tuesday, we posted another Sullen t-shirt contest, where two emails were chosen randomly out of all who sent us messages by noon today wanting to play along.
And the winners are ... Antonio Torrez and Alex Verryt.
As for the rest of y'all, we have plenty more giveaways lined up with the Sullen brand, and remember, you can still win a free tattoo from Nikko. That contest runs until August 1st. Good luck!
We get sent a lot of products to review at here at NeedlesandSins.com headquarters (otherwise known as Ralph's bodega), and lately, there's been more booze than books arriving. It seems PR teams have become hip to our drunken Twitter feed.
Most recently, we received an absolutely gorgeous package from premium tequila Espolon -- complete with bottles of their Tequila Blanco and Tequila Reposado, artwork from their award-winning package design, and a rockin Lucha Libre wrestling mask (which has come in handy when we need to hide our faces, for many different reasons).
Over the July 4th weekend, we enjoyed it with friends who described the 100% Blue Agave tequila as "smooth with spicy notes." I thanked Espolon for sending the swag, but told them that we need a tattoo angle for any review. Their response: "There are actually a few people who have gotten tattoos of our artwork." Bingo! See one above.
The bold, graphic labels are influenced by famed 19th-century Mexican artist, Jose Guadalupe Posada. As described by Espolon's creative team, the Dia de los Muertos-style illustrations that adorn the bottles depict scenes of those who fought for today's "Real Mexico," celebrating the country's storied culture and the iconic rooster -- a symbol of national pride.
Considering just how many brand tattoos are out there, like those hipster tributes to PBR, I'd say this is a more artful way to show the world you have a drinking problem. Become a boozy buddy with Espolon on Facebook. And drink responsibly.
I've put the title in quotes because I don't necessarily understand how sleeves and a miniscule nose ring makes you a "Goth," per se, but I'm always interested in seeing creative MacBook decals - especially ones featuring tattooed Disney icons.
It's available for $20 on the Stickerman Etsy page (and there's also a really cool zombie version).
(Tip of the hat to CoolHunting for the link)
The intersection of tattooing and technology is fascinating and full of possibilities. We've seen scannable bar code tattoos, augmented reality tattoos, and even a CNC automatic tattoo machine. While these examples have a definite cool factor, they have tended to be less artful. And that's why I was very excited to see this use of tattoo tech that combines a custom tattoo by a respected artist and interactivity (beyond strangers trying to touch and ask its deep meaning).
Tattoo artist Karl Marc of the wonderful Mystery Tattoo Club in Paris tattooed a design incorporating a matrix code that, when scanned, presented an animation of the tattoo. The animated tattoo, which is deemed the first of its kind, is part of Ballantines' Human API project and their "Leave an Impression" promotion.
As you can see in the video above, Ballantines live streamed Karl Marc tattooing the work (on June 16th), and during the four-hour session, the artist discussed his process and also interacted with online viewers who logged into the Human API Facebook Page. You can see the text chat popping up in the video, as many offered suggestions for the work and made profound statements like "Ouch."
Another note on the tech: As the code triggers online content and the URL associated can be changed, Karl's client, Marco, will be able to change the animation whenever he wants (he already has an additional animation on top of the one showed on the video).
The next Human API video will take place on July 14th with a graffiti artist "mixing spray and user interactivity." You can take part in that on their Facebook page as well.
For more on Karl Marc's tattoo work, check his online portfolio.
UPDATE: Some people have brought up hygiene issues in placing the smart phone on the fresh tattoo. Here's Ballantines response: "It's been cut in the edited video, but during the actual session, Karl cleaned and sterilized thoroughly both Marco's chest and the device before triggering the code. [...] The last thing we (and surely Karl) want to do is to promote unprofessional tattooing."
Last month, we posted on Sullen's sweepstakes to win a free tattoo from Nikko Hurtado. That contest ends August 1st and all you have to do is go to Sullen's Facebook page, become a fan by clicking Like, and then click the sweepstakes link.
Today, we're having a Sullen-sponsored giveaway of our own: two tees designed by Nikko (in Men's Large) that are part of the The Collective apparel line.
Here's how to play along: Click the Contact link above and put in the subject line "Sullen Contest" by noon (Eastern time) on Friday. Then, I'll put all the names in Randomized.com, which will pick two winners. Easy.
For a look at Nikko's art on skin, see his site and the Black Anchor Collector FB page.
I've really tried to put a moratorium on my use of the term "badass," but I gotta make an exception here as it so perfectly fits the body of work -- and tattooist herself -- in this artist spotlight: Roxx TwoSpirit (aka Bling Bling Roxx) of 2Spirit Tattoo in San Francisco.
Roxx is on my A list in the US for exceptional blackwork tattoos -- whether they be big, bold and heavy black or delicate, highly stylized line and dotwork. Roxx says that her inspiration stems from "a fusion of indigenous art, the beauty found in nature, urban street culture, and fine graphic design." She has a particular talent for harmonizing the art to the bodies of her loyal clientele, so that the tattoos appear almost organic to the wearer. It's powerful work.
Her tattoo career began on the streets of London in the late 80s, hand-poking punk rockers. She's lived and worked all over Europe and has finally settled down in San Francisco, CA. When Roxx is not painting San Francisco black, it's all about photography, her girlfriend Corey and their pitbulls Sumo and Apache.
See more of her work on Tumblr and Facebook.
Today's spotlight on tattoo talent in the LGBT community is the kick-ass Sara Martin of Sacred Images Tattoo & Piercing in Bozeman, Montana. Sara has been tattooing a little over eight years and has an expansive portfolio that includes sacred symbols and super-soakers. I chose a couple of tattoos from her portfolio to present below, including an interesting Mehndi-inspired work done with white ink.
Sara describes herself as an out lesbian who "prefers a medium roast over dark roast and loves cameras, the West Coast, animals and adventure." She also wishes she could grow an instant mustache. [Sara is obviously not part of my Greek tribe. Otherwise, her wishes would come true daily.]
Sacred Images Tattoo & Piercing
821 W. Mendenhall
Bozeman, MT 59715
Last week, we posted on the new waxy green doppelganger of our friend Erik Sprague, aka The Lizardman, at Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum in Times Square, and there were plenty of press in attendance to capture his performance.
Erik was recently interviewed on HuffPo's Weird News for a good solid 6:40 minute video. And then this morning, my mom woke up to find on her AOL homepage (the homepage of all moms) this quick and dirty video in which Erik answers the "Why?" question, how he handles stares, and other tidbits. Check it.
[Those at my Color Tattoo Art book party last Saturday were also treated to some lizardy goodness -- particularly our buddy Jonas whom Erik fed french fries...nasally. ]