October 2011 Archives

09:36 AM
inked michelle myles.jpg
In the November issue of Inked mag, on newsstands now, editor Rocky Rakovic interviews Michelle Myles, boss lady of NYC's Daredevil and Fun City tattoo studios (which she co-owns with Brad Fink).

In this refreshingly frank Q&A, Michelle talks about tattooing in NYC when it was still illegal and underground (the tattoo ban was lifted in 1997), the popularity of Americana tattoos among hipsters and how NY Ink is "cast like the Jersey Shore." Here's a taste of that talk:

Speaking of competition, how do you feel about NY Ink?

It's embarrassing. I mean, I really like Tim Hendricks -- nothing but respect for him and I actually don't know much about the other people or whoever it is on the show. But I think it is unrealistic and gross the way it is portrayed. It's so heavily scripted. They're not even New Yorkers. Chris Torres is the only one from New York; they cast NY Ink like its the Jersey Shore. But it's not even reality TV -- just bad acting. They think there's some kind of truth in it, and there isn't. I think I wrote on my blog DevilCitPpress.com, that to me, their tattoo shop is equivalent of Monica's apartment on Friends because it's so unrealistic. And to hear Ami [James] whine, "I'm not going to be able to pay the rent"... I heard he made two million dollars.

You seem pretty offended by it.

It's just absurd and gross to anyone trying to pay their rent in NYC for any amount of time to hear them say, "Oh, I hope to get business" when they have ads on the sides of buses. I mean, my neighborhood used to be a shit hole and now it's super trendy, but we somehow managed to hang on. So if anybody takes away from that and saunters in with a TV show, yes, I resent that.

But don't you want to riffraff tourists to fill up that shop and not yours?

We want the riffraff! We want anyone's money! Anyone who comes into my shop is going to be treated well. I mean, as long as they're in line. We don't tolerate someone who comes in and acts like a jerk. But we welcome anybody in our shop. It doesn't matter if you don't have tattoos or never have been to a tattoo shop. There are no stupid questions, and we're happy to take anybody. We're not going to make anybody feel bad because they're not cool enough.


In the rest of the interview, Michelle discusses how she came to the art, her influences, and why she loves being a New York tattooer. A fun read.

See more of Michelle's work here and check her musings on tattooing here.

12:59 PM

The fine folks over at Zeitgeist Magazine have recently launched part two of their "Behind The Needle" video series from the 2011 London Tattoo Convention (you can view part one here).  While part one centered mainly on artists' attitudes toward this monster expo, part 2 focuses on four tattooists (Chad Koeplinger, Michelle Myles, Uncle Allan and Claudia De Sabe) discussing their respective styles and how they got started in the business.

(Thanks to Alice Th'ink for the tip!)
06:34 PM

In the last of their "Tattoo Age" series, Vice TV profiles the legendary Freddy Corbin.

Tattooing since 1987, Freddy is particularly renowned for his black & gray work. Over the years, he honed his craft working alongside artists like Ed Hardy, Eddie Deusthe, Dan Higgs, Hanky Panky and Filip Leu. In 1998, he opened Temple Tattoo (and later Tattoo13) in Oakland, where you can find him today. Vice TV delves into the artist's career as well as his personal trials and triumphs. Their release best describes this teaser: 

In the series trailer, Freddy takes us to an impromptu Chinese-style tea ceremony to meet one of his spiritual friends, and sets the tone for the rest of his series - filled with anecdotes of religious experiences and musings about getting clean after years of drug use.
I'm particularly looking forward to this 3-part feature, which begins next Wednesday. We'll be sure to post each episode.
01:19 PM

We've seen a few stop motion videos of tattooing, but we're particularly digging this one by Portland photographer Dabe Alan of his camera-themed tattoo by Tony Touch at Infinite Art Tattoo in Toledo, Ohio.

Through stop motion, you really get an up-close look into technique and overall creation of the tattoo. As Dabe notes in the description under Part 1 of the video, the sitting took four hours and will be part of a large work. He explains: "So with the help of Tony Touch, I am getting an awesome Nerd sleeve worked on whenever I go visit Toledo. We decided to roll with an evolution of cameras at first, then more nerdy references above." Also check Part 2 and Part 3.

Here is part of the tattoo below from Tony's Facebook page, where you can also find updates to his portfolio.

Thanks to photographer Atom Moore for the link!

camera tattoo by Tony Touch.jpg
11:30 AM

Congratulations to Amelia Klem Osterud and H Dwight Raymond IV, the lucky winners of our "Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World" contest, which we posted last Tuesday.

Picked by
Randomized.com, Amelia and Dwight will each receive a DVD of the documentary by Emiko Omori, which also includes fun extras like deleted scenes, more tattoo and artwork images, and additional interviews.

I interviewed Ed earlier this month for Inked mag, which will appear in their next issue, and asked him what he thought was the most important thing he wanted people to take away from the film. Here's what he said:

I think the key thing, above and beyond any kind of subject is -- it's corny to say it but -- if you really have a dream, kids...For me, in the mid-fifties, the dream was tattooing. It was so not cool then. It was such a marginalized thing, and I was just driven to do it. When I got into it coming out of art school, it still was totally looked down upon, and I just thought it had a lot of great potential, primarily as a medium, and I wanted to pursue that. That's an important thing for people to know.

But I know the playing field is so completely different now. People are always coming up to me saying, "Oh, I have a nephew or niece or whatever, who wants to be a tattooer, what's your advice?" And I say, "Well, they probably shouldn't do it. It's so crowded. It's not a sure thing, but if they are really driven to do it, maybe it will work." There was an interview with Bob Dylan, maybe about a couple of years ago, and someone asked him, "If you were 18 and going to get into music today, what would you say to people?" and he said, "I would never do it." Because he got into music at a time when it was right. I got into tattooing at a time when it was right.
Ed speaks further of his start in tattooing and his thoughts on tattoo culture today in the film. You can catch clips online or purchase the DVD on outlets like Amazon.com.

Thanks to all y'all for playing along. More contests to come!

UPDATE:  If you'd like to see Ed's paintings in person and you're in Chicago, head to his "3 of a Kind" art show with Bob Roberts, Nick Bubash and Thom deVita from October October 28 - November 26, 2011 at Firecat Projects. The opening reception is October 28th, from 7-10 PM.
06:22 PM
george bardadim tattoo close-up.jpgAs I mentioned in the artist profile on George Bardadim a couple of weeks ago, the veteran tattooist from Russia is doing a guest spot at Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn until October 30th. I just learned that he does still have appointments available, so it's a rare opportunity to get work from this multi-talented artist.

To make an appointment, hit him up
at bardadim(at)gmail.com or through his contact page. Check his online gallery and Facebook page to see more of his tattoo portfolio.
02:38 PM

Well, just in case you thought the stopwatch was even close to hitting 14:59, the fashion industry has found yet another way to capitalize on the heavily-modified Zombie Boy.  In this new ad for Dermablend's concealer, we go from a seemingly uncomfortable and unadorned Rick Genest to the man we've all come to recognize, thanks to some make-up remover.

I can't help but ponder how I'd feel if I looked in the mirror and all of my ink was gone.
01:13 PM

The third and final episode of the "Tattoo Age" profile on Mike Rubendall of Kings Avenue is now online, and like the rest of the Vice TV video series, it is an intimate and interesting look into the personal and professional life of this master tattooer.

The video begins with a discussion of his art collection, which includes never before published prints by Horiyoshi III, and is followed by footage of another passion of Mike's:  boxing. Then, the Vice crew flies out to Denmark to interview Henning Jorgensen of Royal Tattoo, a good friend and also a big influence on Mike's work. But the most fun for me was watching the whole Rubendall family playing around in their backyard, presenting the softer, family man side of the intensely driven artist.

And of course, there are great tattoo and fine art images. It all perfectly rounds out a this must-see three-part series. Check Part 1 and Part 2 as well.

Vice is offering prints by Mike as well as other "Tattoo Age" merchandise. Just follow them on Twitter and look out for their contests.
10:55 AM

The documentary film "Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World" by Emiko Omori has screened at film festivals around the world since its 2009 debut (which we first posted on here) -- and to much acclaim. Now, you can watch the film in your own home with the recent release of the film on DVD, available on iTunes and Amazon.

BUT before you click "buy," I have two DVD copies for two lucky winners! Here's how we're gonna play this: the two winners will be selected randomly from those who comment on this post in our Needles & Sins Syndicate Group on Facebook. In one week, on October 25th, we'll put all the names of the commenters into Randomized.com and the internet gods will offer up the chosen ones.

The film is really a wonderful look into the life of a man who shaped tattooing into the art form it is today. And the DVD even offers extra goodies like deleted scenes, more interviews, and more tattoos and artwork.

To see other clips from the documentary, click here.

11:02 AM
yoni_zilber_tattoo1.jpegThis Friday, October 21st at 6:15, Yoni Zilber of New York Adorned will be part of the "Artists on Art" discussion series at the Rubin Museum of Art, where he'll talk about his study of Tibetan art and its relation to tattooing.

Tattooing since 1998, the Israeli-born tattooist artist in various styles including Thai, art nouveau, and ornamental art. Yoni says he is especially drawn to Tibetan art for its sensitive lines and rich compositions, which he says contour beautifully with the body. To excel at this style, however, requires not only technical skill, but also a keen sense of proportion, an appreciation for symbolism, and a respect for tradition.

For some time, Yoni studied Tibetan art on his own but sought out a mentor who could help him take his art to the next level. In 2007, while studying Tibetan paintings at the Rubin Museum, he met Pema Rinzin, an accomplished Tibetan tangka painter and contemporary artist whose work can be found in the Dalai Lama's temple in India. After several encounters, Rinzin agreed to take Yoni on as his apprentice. Committed to learning the intricacies of this ancient art, Yoni says he applies these lessons daily in his tattoo work.

To see more of Yoni's portfolio, check his website and blog.

01:27 PM
Available as a free download from Lapdance Academy, Breathe In, Breathe Out from Knoxville TN's singer-songwriter Gene Priest is a beautiful slice of indie-folk/alt-country for the mope-ster set.  Trust me, I know: I produced it and performed on every track.

Ordinarily, I also handle all of the album art for Lapdance Academy, but when Gene brought me the sketches from UK illustrator, Adam Lister, I was definitely willing to step aside.  As you can see from his portfolio, Lister takes a major cue from traditional tattoo imagery, explaining, "Ever since I was a nipper all I wanted to do was draw, now swapping out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for skulls [and] snakes."


Lister has promised to make prints available in the near future so, if you're interested, contact him through his site.  And while you're waiting for delivery, be sure to download Breathe In, Breathe Out!.

12:38 PM

Today we get another outstanding installment from the Vice TV "Tattoo Age" series on Mike Rubendall.  There's a heavy focus on the car-washing, flash-tracing and hog-tying of Rubendall's apprenticeship under Frank Romano of DaVinci Tattoo - but we also get some interesting insight to the effect that Switzerland's Filip Leu had on Rubendall's design and technique.

No Steve Gutenberg this time around, but a great 12 minutes of your time, nonetheless.
12:32 PM
Worldwide media is abuzz over the arrest of Juan Pablo Pino, a Colombia-born player for Saudi Arabia's Al Nasr Soccer club, because he wore a sleeveless shirt revealing his Jesus tattoo in a shopping mall in the capital city of Riyadh. Some fellow shoppers who saw the tattoo caused a stir and officers from the Police Force for the Promotion of Virtue of the Prevention of Vice swooped in to detain the couple.  According to Sharia (Islamic law), all tattoos (religious or not) must be covered at all times. To promote virtue. And to prevent vice. According to Gulf News, this same group has urged strict directives to all foreigner players of Saudi soccer clubs to cover tattoos. [Gulf News also notes a media outcry over a Romanian-born player's cross tattoo.]

And I can hear the outcry of tattoo fans over this. But really, the greater injustice is the fact that only last month Saudi women were given the right to vote. Of course, they are prohibited from driving themselves to vote. Nor can women travel outside the country without permission from a male guardian. They can be flogged for adultery. And if a woman is raped, she must provide four witnesses to the rape to prove the absence of consent...So I think I'll save my protests for human rights violations than the right to bare tattooed arms.

01:52 PM

In response to my personal motto, "I rather be snotty than get stupid tattoos," the members of the Canadian punk band Cold Warps have released this video as an homage to bad choices. But the laugh is on me as I cannot get that "Stupid Tattoos" song outta my head all day. I also see it becoming an anthem for hipsters everywhere.

As reported by Halifax's The Coast, Cold Warps are re-releasing their first two EPs as a full LP on Noyes Records. For more on Cold Warps, check their Facebook page
01:11 PM

Zeitgeist Magazine has put together a cool video of interviews with tattooists at this year's London Tattoo Convention (making me even more disappointed that attending was out of the realm of my financial possibilities).  Click through to the video page to see a full list of the artists interviewed (in order of appearance) but, come on... even if we've been steppin half-correctly here at the Needles & Sins Underground Bunker, you should know who these people are by now.
10:22 AM
yakuza tattoo 2.jpg
An interesting slideshow and videos on tattoos of the Yakuza, Japan's criminal underground, can be found on National Geographic's "Crime Lords of Tokyo" investigation. The short stories behind the tattoos discuss the transformation, pain and symbolism of the motifs; for example, this backpiece on the daughter of a Yakuza boss, shown above, is described as "Prostitute in Hell." The presentation also makes mention of Shoko Tendo's Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster's Daughter, which is an excellent read.

Thanks, Niall, for the link!

12:01 PM
Bardadim Tattoo.jpg
Tattooing since 1988, Russia's George Bardadim has gone from hand-poking with a needle and thread to building tattoo machines and achieving international acclaim for his stellar realism as well as other genres in his expansive portfolio.  When asked about his work, George says:

Black and grey tattoos were much more popular in Russia--then color through years--that's why I did a lot of them back then. Nowadays, the situation has completely changed. I also changed my mind a little and tried to learn how to work with colors in a way modern young artists do. I do my best to learn different styles, though sometimes it's not easy at all.
George's studio is in St. Petersburg but he travels extensively throughout Europe, working conventions and guest spots. His next shows are Frankfurt and Milan as well as a few smaller conventions.

Good news for those in the US:  George has just arrived for the first time in the States. He says, "I hope I will be able to find new friends and probably take part in local conventions. I really like to learn things through experience sharing, and I'm always open to new relations and guest spots."

From October 23rd to October 30th, George will be a guest artist at our Brooklyn homebase, Tattoo Culture, and he still has some appointments available! You can reach him via email at bardadim(at)gmail.com or through his contact page.

Check his online gallery and Facebook page to see more of his work.

Bardadim Tattoo 3.jpgbardadim tattoo 2.jpg

10:28 PM
tattoo world.jpg
On October 1st, my latest book project "Tattoo World," which I edited for Abrams Books, hit the shelves of book stores in North & South America as well as in Europe. And now it's time to party.

Once again, we're joining forces with our homies at Tattoo Culture to celebrate the book's release and their sixth anniversary this Friday, October 7th. Drinks and snacks will be served to all you fabulous people. The party starts at 7PM and ends promptly at 10PM. For more info, check our Facebook Event Page. Tattoo Culture is located at 129a Roebling Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. [Map]

Hope to see ya there!
09:24 PM
Photo by Matthew Lyn for Schon! Magazine

When Rick Genest aka "Zombie Boy" (or "Skull Boy") first appeared on BMEzine in 2006, many applauded his daring and strong tattoo work but naturally worried "How will Rico get a job?" Well, no need to fret. Today, Rico is making more money than most of us, particularly as muse for Nicola Formichetti, Lady Gaga's stylist and BFF, and as a top model for fashion mags.

His latest shoot that's getting style bloggers hot and bothered is featured on the pages of
Schon! Magazine (Issue 14) in which photographer Matthew Lyn shoots Zombie Boy in full zombieness, but also brings in make-up genius Dylan K. Hanson to partially cover his tattoos. Dylan used Mac Cosmetics for that polite society feel, and the result is fabulously trippy. Check the behind-the-scenes video of the shoot here.

Thanks to Jenni Miller for the skull heads up!
11:50 AM

Vice TV continues kicking ass with it's Tattoo Age series by profiling my main man, Mike Rubendall of Kings Avenue (and, yes, the first still they display is of my fu-moobs).  We've sung Rubendall's praises before on this blog, but now we get a chance to hear from his peers and co-workers, including Grez, Chris O'Donnell, Frank Romano, Justin Weatherholtz and Matt Beckerich, et al.

Oh, yeah... Steve Guttenberg also makes an appearance.  For serious.  Steve.  Friggen.  Guttenberg.

Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 and you can read my accounts of getting tattooed by Rube here and here.
12:38 PM
colin dale tattoo machine.jpgIn the last 120 years, have you ever seen a tattoo machine tattooed by hand?

This Paul Roger's Mad Bee machine tribute is hand-poked by Colin Dale of Skin & Bone Tattoo in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Colin is no stranger to this blog. We've filmed him skin stitching at the Traditional Tattoo & World Culture Fest. We wrote about him tattooing a 103-year-old woman. And featured his own 3D Celtic Tattoo, a collaboration with Pat Fish & Cory Ferguson. Colin is not just one of our favorite artists, but a pal and confidant. We thank him for being a friend.

For more of the tattoo viking's work, check his online gallery.
06:15 PM
tokidoki barbie.jpg
A bunch of y'all have been sending me links to the tattooed Tokidoki Barbie, which either means you're interested in the many facets of tattooing in pop culture or you just want something to blame for the rise of the neck tattoo on adolescents. Either way, I hear you.

Nylon blog asks whether this is the first tattooed Barbie. Nope. In a September 2009 post, I mourned the loss of tattoo cool with the introduction of Totally Stylin' Tattoos Barbie. Years have passed. I'm much more mellow. And when I play with my Barbie, I'm warmed by the thought that women of all skin colors are represented in anatomically incorrect form.
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