November 2011 Archives

01:47 PM
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In Boise, Idaho, Darcy Nutt of Chalice Tattoo has a loyal clientele, who trust her for large scale work -- in almost all tattoo genres --  as well as for smaller personal tributes. But it's the process of composing the big work that's particularly interesting to watch, and thanks to Luke Holley, we can. Luke has been documenting each session of a large-scale backpiece Darcy is creating and sharing those videos on Vimeo.

Here's the first session below, where you can see Darcy work, from stencil to tattooing.

There are five videos so far following the progression of this work. The last one, which was posted two days ago, shows how just how beautiful the East Asian iconography is coming together on one very happy, and tough, client.

In addition to the videos, you can see more of Darcy's work on Facebook and on the Chalice Tattoo site.

darcy nut tattoo.jpg
02:01 PM
Today is Cyber Monday, a day in which the masses are encouraged to shop for online deals, largely during work, and dodge knockoff scams. Instead of leading you down the path of faux Fendi's, our Cyber Monday encourages secure purchases from independent artists and craftspeople with a tattoo twist.

I promised myself that I'd do some old fashioned letter writing this year and send out cards that will actually arrive before the holidays. So I spent (too much) time on Etsy and found these gems. Check 'em.

First up are the tattooed lady and man cut-out card packs (shown above) by artist Crankbunny, who also makes cool Victorian tattooed paper puppets. You can purchase a set of ten with either "Miss Suzy" or "Sir Craig" or get the set with 5 of each of them. As noted in the description: "Personalize each set too -- choosing what cut-out paper object each character holds. Choose between a huge candy cane, a gift present, a dreidel, or gold star that is each detailed with festive glitter!" Yeah, glitter! Each set is $20 plus shipping.

sugar skull card.jpg
Next, I'm diggin' the handmade Tattooed Sugar Skull cards by Vickilicious Designs in the UK. The snowflaked skull is "printed onto a silver mist card, pale blue/white dusted with silver finished with ice blue jewel." Yeah jewels! It's blank inside and comes with the envelope. Customized cards are also available. Each one is 2.60 GBP (approximately $4.15) plus shipping in the UK & internationally. 

matryoska card.jpg
I also love this "Pierced Blue Matryoshka" greeting above by Alexandra Winthrop, who offers this design & tattooed goddess giclee prints on her Etsy page. Yeah tattooed goddesses! The 5x7" "Pierced Blue Matryoska" card is "made using matte finish, 55lb, acid-free cardstock and archival pigment inks. It comes with its own envelope & will ship in an acid-free cellophane sleeve for added protection." Each one sells for $3.50 plus shipping.

tattoo lady holiday card.jpg
Finally, my long time favorite, Sugar Beet Press's Tattoo Lady Holiday Card, with the words "Peace on Earth, Good Will To Men" illustrated within the backpiece. Yeah goodwill! They are A2 size (4 1/4" x 5 1/2"), printed on heavyweight watercolor paper, and are blank inside. Red envelopes are included. Each card is $3.50 and a ten pack is $22.50 plus shipping.

More Holiday Gift Guide goodness coming up later in the week! Yeah!
08:46 PM
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In the US, today is deemed "Black Friday":  a day in which people pepper spray, stampede and shoot each other for discount prices. It is a dark day of consumerism with many advocating a "Buy Nothing" campaign. While my cash has stayed firmly in my wallet today, I do buy gifts for family and friends during the holiday season, and in recent years, I've sought out indie sellers and artists to fulfill the wish lists.

We'll be sharing ideas for holiday gifts every week to support small businesses and artisans. And all these goods -- including books, jewelry, apparel and art work -- can be purchased online. No need to camp out at Macy's department stores.

If you have ideas for our Gift Guide, feel free to hit me up at marisa at We won't be able to post all, but we do appreciate any suggestions.

I'll now start off by being shameless: 

Buy my books! [Please.]

These monsters from my own personal stash are available at reduced rates and are a generous gift to express your awesomeness to tattooers, collectors ... and hell, treat yourself. I'll even write a personal love note upon request. At the moment, Color Tattoo Art and the Black & Grey Tattoo box set are left in my author collection. I'm also making some individual volumes from the Black & Grey box set available if you don't want the whole set and carry case. Free shipping for those in the US. For non-US orders, contact me for shipping rates.

No more shamelessness in upcoming posts, just indie gift goodness.
09:10 AM
Tattoo by Gunnar.

With the Thanksgiving upon us, I found it fitting to search for tattoos that mark the holiday's icon:  the turkey. It wasn't easy picking images that would appeal to carnivores and vegetarians alike, but I think crazed butchers and vengeful vegan designs should do the trick.

While surrounded by controversy in the US, Thanksgiving to me is largely a reminder to indeed be thankful for all the good in my life. Anyway, according to the NY Times, gratitude will make us healthy. One thing I am truly grateful for is your support and general fabulousness. Thank you.

Vengeful-Vegan-(Large).jpg Tattoo by Jesse Smith.

turkey20tattoo.jpgTattoo by Joe Capobianco.

All three artists are featured in my Color Tattoo Art book, still available for purchase at the reduced rate.
12:48 PM

The folks at Vice TV are offering one last piece of Tattoo Age goodness with this bonus video from their Freddy Corbin profile. [See Part I, Part II, and Part III.]

In this wonderful footage, you'll find Freddy's return to Varanasi, India in January 2010 where he tattooed local people there for free in a small temple on the Ganges River. He explains that he returned for "good juju" with the birth of his son. I particularly love the photos of smiling faces from those who received one of the seven religious symbols Freddy drew up. While the whole video is touching, the story of Freddy tattooing a deaf boy who couldn't speak is especially moving. Once again, I highly recommend it.

Another treat from Vice is their Dan Santoro print giveaway, which we posted last week, asking y'all to comment on the Needles & Sins Syndicate FB page or by Tweeting at us to win. picked four winners, and a screen cap of that pick can be found on Facebook.

I'm really hoping the series gets picked up for a second season. I'll be following @Tattoo_Age on Twitter for updates.
05:07 PM
In the Dec./Jan. issue of Inked magazine, you'll find my Q&A with the inimitable Ed Hardy, a man who inspired fellow artists and tattoo collectors to move beyond the tattoo "menu" on shops walls and pursue custom, personalized art. For those outside the tattoo world, his name is associated with everything from trucker hats to condoms, and because of his Ed Hardy clothing line and merchandising deals, the Californian native was able to retire with a sizable nest egg and fully return to painting, ceramics, and other mediums after 40 years of tattooing. Of course, Hardy remains connected to tattooing, largely through his Tattoo City studio in San Francisco, Hardy Marks Publications, and the occasional tattoo souvenir for a lucky fan.

In this interview, Ed talks about the documentary "Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World" [recently released on DVD], the tattoo impulse, his fine art, and he briefly addresses the haters. Here's an excerpt:

Do you think the whole popularity of tattooing will dissipate?
No, I don't think it will ever go away. My standard points are: I don't know why people get tattooed. I don't think there's a good answer. It's like, Why do you like art? It's just something that's a total mystery. That's part of the attraction. I think that for whatever reason, it's an impulse for our species--not for everyone, but certain people are just Bam!

Almost like a tattoo gene?
That's exactly it. Knowing how science has advanced over the centuries, maybe they'll figure it out, and at some point go, Yes, this is what it is. But right now, the best we can do, and what we all have done, is emphasize the positive aspects and put it into a better social context. That's much more important than who is the best tattooer. We have to look at the bigger picture. Of course, that's important too-people striving to further the art and do stuff that's going to be more interesting.

It's interesting how the Ed Hardy brand and unexpected commodification of tattooing has freed you up to do fine art. It's seems at odds with commercialism in some way.
Before Christian Audigier, I was approached by two guys who had a cool business; their whole thing with clothing was introducing an Asian feeling to their casual garments. They actually responded to an article about a painting show that Bob Roberts and I had at Track 16 in Santa Monica. I don't remember if it was 2003 or 2004, but they had seen the paintings and dug the Asian references in them. So I got into it, and that's how it started. Then Christian saw it and just went ape shit. He said, "I must have this license!" He's really from a different world. [Laughs] He said that he'll make this huge thing, and of course I was like, Right, take me to the moon. And then it went. But he did have that genius eye to recognize that people would respond to it strongly. Really, all the stuff we were using was essentially classic flash. A lot of the images I originated and a lot were reused from old classics. It was just like that bold, beautiful, well painted, heavy shaded, Sailor Jerry aesthetic thing. Everything that makes classic tattoos cool or makes them appealing to a wide body of people. Then of course I started getting shit from all kinds of people. I loved hearing it.

What kind of shit?
Well, "Hardy's really sold out." I'm like, What do you think this is, the Sistine Chapel? Relax. Get some humor about it--as long as things are being presented right. We had some problems when my designs got screwed with for a while and some legal things about that. Essentially, it is just a facet of my art, and I'm proud of all the flash and all the classic tattoos I did.
Read more in Inked.

UPDATE: The full article can be found online here.
06:40 PM
ds_flyer_web.jpgThis Saturday, Nov. 26th, from 7-10PM, tattooer and musician Dan Smith will be signing his new book, "With the Light of Truth" at Sacred Gallery in SoHo, NYC.

Described as "A collection of tattoos, art, and profiles of some of the best Straight Edge tattoo artists in the world," the 256-page hardcover is filled with imagery that will inspire those beyond the drug & alcohol free community. [See sample pages below.]

with the light of truth.jpg In this video with Tattoo Artist Magazine, the LA Ink star says the "super-intensive" book is a project he's worked the hardest on in recent years, and represents his friends and something he cares a lot about. A list of artists featured and news on "With the Light of Truth" can be found on Facebook here.

The book is released by Memento Publishing and available for purchase via Dan's online store or at the book signing at Sacred Gallery. Complimentary Shirley Temple drinks will also be served.

For those on the West Coast, there will also be a book signing on December 10th in LA at Kat Von D's Wonderland Gallery.

You can find more on Dan and his tattoo work at And to hear his music, head to

grez art.jpg
Art by Grez of Kings Ave.

steve burn art.jpgArt by Steve Byrne.
05:56 PM
Renowned tattooist Tom Renshaw of Eternal Tattoos in Clawson, Michigan has been recognized as one of the foremost wildlife, landscape and portrait artists, so it's no surprise that he's featured in a new pilot for the Animal Channel called "Tattooed in Detroit." The series premiers tonight at 9PM EST & then will be replayed at 11pm & 4am (11/20). It will also air several times this week.

Producers Intuitive Entertainment say of the show: "Each hour-long episode follows the stories behind animal tattoos--from prep to ink--and the people who pay permanent homage to fallen pets & life-changing encounters with animals. There's an intimate story behind every tattoo, and it's Tom's job to make sure those stories come to life."

Yes, I know. The reality TV format requires a death or "life changing encounter" for someone wanting to get tattooed; however, Tom is such a phenomenal artist, with over two decades of stellar work, that I'll tune in just to watch him work. The artist also explains to why this type of tattooing is important to him:

If someone loses their pet and their pet meant a lot of them, representing that on their skin creates a sort of long lasting bond. It makes them feel like their pet is still with them. [...] It gives them the satisfaction of seeing them on the daily basis, and gives them comfort.
The article adds:

Renshaw, one of the nation's most renowned wildlife and portraiture tattoo artists, is also a wildlife photographer and videographer. "I've been to Alaska 10 times photographing wildlife, predominately brown bears," says Renshaw, who often uses his adventures as research for his work. "I like wildlife tattooing. It encompasses the landscape, too. It's like creating a painting, it's the whole picture."
Looking forward to checking it out and hope the shows gets picked up.

07:36 AM
Tattoo lovers in Everett, Washington and beyond will enjoy pouring over the portfolios of the artists at Sunken Ship Tattoo & Piercing for an array of tattoo styles, from smooth black & gray to color portraits and animated tattoo work. In this artist spotlight, we focus specifically on the work of Travis Broyles.

While our profiles usually feature long-time tattooers, Travis's tattoos have an eye-catching vibrancy developed in just five years in the industry. On his site, Travis offers some background on the evolution of his work:

I apprenticed under William Addams in Indianapolis, IN. William taught me the basics as to making a great tattoo. Bold lines, solid color, and consistency - however my career has developed since then. I have had the privilege to work with many great artists in this journey and have learned a lot of the tricks of the trade so to speak. I feel that these things are what make me a strong artist. I strive to provide clean, bold, yet solid line work, bright colors, dark blacks, and smooth grey wash. I find myself favoring American Traditional, Neo-traditional, Illustrative, Cartoony, Realism, as well as Black and Grey - but that does not mean I am limited to doing those tattoos, and only those tattoos.

travis broyles2.jpgtravis_boyles_tattoo.jpgTo see more of Travis's tattoos, check his site and Facebook page. You can also find further news and tattoos on all the artists at Sunken Ship on their Facebook page as well.
05:40 PM
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An inspiring collection of 250 illustrations created by 90 tattooists fill the 300-page hardcover Latino Art Collection: Tattoo-Inspired Chicano, Maya, Aztec and Mexican Styles, another tattoo tome published by Edition Reuss and authored by Edgar Hoill, aka OSOK. [Edgar & I co-authored Black & Grey Tattoo last year.]

The renowned artists, from LA to Mexico City to Hong Kong, include Jack Rudy, Chuey Quintanar, Carlos Torres, Nikko Hurtado, Pint, Indio & Melissa Reyes, Boog Brown, Wa-Wang, Tim Hendricks, Antonio Mejia, Goethe, Luke Wessman, Dr. Lakra, Yushi Takei, Pedro Alvarez (who did the cover art), and so many more.

You can purchase the book for $160 + shipping here.

I was honored to write the introduction and the pages noting the various symbolism in the works. For an overview of the book, an excerpt from that introduction is reprinted below:

carlos torres painting.jpg Painting by Carlos Torres.

Latino art is as vast and diverse as the cultures it represents. There are, however, popular themes, aesthetics and symbolism that make it an identifiable artistic genre--one that is vibrant and exciting, and reaching far beyond just the Latino community. Latino artists celebrate their cultural identity in contemporary culture as well as their ancient Prehispanic roots. Catholicism's religious iconography dominates so much of this art, whether it be on canvas, walls, cars or the human body. Personal struggles and the hardships of street life are laid bare; it is, for many, a cathartic expression of loss and redemption. And, of course, reverence for beauty and sexuality is omnipresent. This book is a collection of paintings, drawings, and tattoo flash that represents the soulfulness of this genre. Its goal is to present the many incarnations of Latino, Chicano, and Mexican art and to inspire countless other works.

Most of the artists featured are tattooists, and it's particularly interesting to see how their tattoo styles translate in their fine art. For example, black & grey tattoo motifs--from manifestations of Mi Vida Loca to sexy cholas--are prevalent and even composed in similar shadows and tones as works displayed on skin. There are also interesting cultural fusions where traditional Americana technique, with its thick black outlines and bold colors, is used to convey traditional Mexican and Chicano imagery like sugar skulls and Aztec gods.
boog art.jpgIllustration by Boog Brown.

In addition to the book, also check Egar's OSOK online store for his prints and apparel.
09:12 PM

As all good things must come to an end, Vice TV's Tattoo Age has posted its final video of its stellar series, which offers a truly real look into the lives of renowned tattooists. And as we expected, Part 3 of the Freddy Corbin profile keeps to its high standards.

This raw and intimate episode begins with personal footage of a 24-yr-old Freddy jumping out of an airplane with friends, who happen to be tattoo greats themselves:  Eddy Deutsche, Guy Aitchison and Igor Mortis. The video then jumps to Freddy today reminiscing on those early years in his career. When he's telling stories about working at Ed Hardy's Realistic Tattoo then Tattoo City, there's wonderful film from that time (in the early to mid 90s) woven through the narrative. He reveals that the pressure of performing at these exceptional studios was a factor in his "shit storm" of drug use. The accessibility of drugs when he lived in the Red Light District of Amsterdam didn't help either. Being "strung out," he was fired from Tattoo City and rumors swirled through the tattoo community as to Freddy's future.

But he did get his life together, crediting his close friend Vinny and his wife Lisa. Indeed, his family life is a big part of his profile and there's gorgeous film of them playing with their son Sonny. His spiritual side is also a large focus of the latter half of the video, and again, there are some fascinating images accompanying his travel tales,
from his trips to India to Burning Man.

Moving from the dark to light in his personal journey, this feature on Freddy Corbin is inspiring and the perfect way to bring the series to a close.

To celebrate the success of Tattoo Age,
we're giving away this Dan Santoro print. Just leave a comment on this post in the Needles & Sins Syndicate FB page or Tweet us and we'll chose the winner next Wednesday via Good Luck!

03:32 PM
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Tonight, from 6 to about 7:30PM, I'll be speaking on a panel entitled "Tattoos: Fleshing out Copyright Law" at NY Law School along with tattooist Michelle Myles and attorney Michael Kahn (who represented Victor Whitmill, the artist who inked Mike Tyson's facial tattoo and sued Warner Bros. for copyright infringement.)

We'll be having fun discussing the intellectual property issues as they apply or may apply to tattooing, and I'm sure creating some controversy over who owns your tattoos.

For a glimpse into our talk, check my previous posts on tattoo copyright. I'll also be doing a follow up on any new issues we discuss that haven't been brought up here.

The panel is open to the public, so feel free to come by and share your thoughts. 
03:27 PM
As I get into a car with two lawyers to see a play in Philadelphia about the effects of the Holocaust in Poland (yes, this is actually my life and, no, it's not nearly as interesting as it sounds), I would be loath to miss posting about this spectacular nerd-boner.  While I've long given up comic collecting for a more permanent hobby that doesn't require acid-free backing boards or plastic jackets, this is a great post for a man who lit a candle the day that John Buscema died.

Thanks to Nick Schonberger for pointing out the Complex History of Tattooed Comic Book Characters.

05:39 PM
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We're thrilled to see the recently released "Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed" by Carl Zimmer blowing up with glowing reviews in The NY Times, The Atlantic, Publisher's Weekly, NPR 360 and so many more. For years, we've been fans of Carl's blog The Loom, and Science Tattoo Emporium -- sites that feature the science-inspired tattoos that formed the basis of the book.

The 288-page hardcover presents the best of the sites' tattoo submissions and is divided into 13 chapters, which include astronomy, math, chemistry, evolutionary biology, neuroscience among others. But it's more than just tattoo photos. The tattoo images are accompanied by insightful text from the renowned science writer that speaks to the subject of the work as well as the collectors' stories.

science ink zimmer.jpgPublisher's Weekly offers more on Zimmer's own story behind the book:

"Noting a colleague's DNA-inspired tattoo at a pool party, science writer Zimmer (A Planet of Viruses) wondered how widespread the phenomenon of the inked scientist was. He solicited pictures for his blog, The Loom, and, inundated with photos and stories from scientists and laypeople alike, quickly became a curator of science-inspired body art. Mary Roach's foreword lays out why, given the passion with which so many approach their fields, it should be no surprise to encounter this worldwide tribe whose obsessed love for every far-flung corner of science's domain was marked permanently on their bodies."

For a peak inside, check this slideshow of tattoos on The NY Times site as well Flavorwire's blog post and The Atlantic.

My one criticism of Zimmer's blog and the book is that not all the tattoos presented credit the tattooist. I hope that this will change on the site to complete an otherwise great project.
11:37 AM

While we've learned a great deal about the stellar artists featured in the Vice TV series Tattoo Age, the latest video, Part 2 of the Freddy Corbin profile, goes even further and offers a modern tattoo history lesson as Freddy muses on his start in tattooing over 27 years ago and the greats who have guided him.

Weaving old photos and archival video from Michael O. Stearns' tattoo documentaries from the 90s, the episode charts Freedy's life from his first tattoo at Lyle Tuttle's old San Francisco studio (which he paid for with a $75 tax return), to how he got Erno Szabady to give him his first shot, to that fateful call at 9am when Ed Hardy asked him to come work at his Realistic Tattoo studio. Along the way, Freddy tells stories about how he learned history from Sunny Tufts, how Henry Goldfield was a great mentor artistically and technically, and how he was inspired working alongside Dan Higgs and Greg Kulz.

Once again, another must see.

If you missed Part 1, you can find it here. See Freddy's work on

Tattoo Age has a contest where you can win this Dan Santoro print. Details on Twitter.
09:03 AM
A new tattoo site, The Hope Blog -- a project of Hope Gallery Tattoo -- features tons of gems beyond studio news, including a post on "Henry Rollins: The Whiteboard."

Created by artist Brandon Bird, the 9" x 12.5" dry erase board allows you to "create a world where Henry Rollins has the exact tattoos you've always wanted him to have." I'm thinking a portrait ode to Beyonce, but Bird seems to be more of a Frasier fan. [See below.] Let's just hope neither causes a trend like that bar code tattoo.

The Henry Rollins Tattoo Whiteboard is available for $20 plus shipping on TopatoCo.

11:52 AM

The wondrous life of sailor, sideshow attraction, tattooer and craftsman Armund Dietzel is further explored in Volume 2 of These Old Blue Arms: The Life & Work of Amund Dietzel  by Jon Reiter of Solid State Tattoo in Milwaukee. I highly recommended Volume I last year, and this new hardcover surpasses it.

Volume II does not simply take over from where the story of Dietzel's life left off in the first, but in fact, revisits some of Dietzel's early history so that the timeline of his life is fully contained in this one book. Of course, for the full colorful picture, both volumes are essential reading for tattoo history lovers.

Like the first, Dietzel's story is woven through rare images of his tattoo flash as well as photographs documenting his art and personal life. It begins with a foreword by Fred Stonehouse who recalls that magic moment when he came across Dietzel's Milwaukee shop as a child in the 60s. But when he returned as a teenager, the shop was no longer there, only a ghost town. This foreshadows the final chapter "Mop-Up" about Dietzel's last days tattooing when he sold his shop to his friend Gib "Tats" Thomas in 1964 but stayed on and kept working until 1967, the year when tattooing was banned in Milwaukee. "Amund defiantly tattooed through the very last day his profession was legal in the City of Milwaukee, and then retired." He died in 1974 just before his 83rd birthday.

These Old Blue Arms is a great testament to his adventures, best encapsulated at the beginning of Chapter 1:

Amund Dietzel had the life that many of us would have wished to have. If one could imagine a journey that would provide stories enough to fill every lag in conversation that might occur henceforth to the end of one's life, Amund Dietzel has such a life. It has everything one could ask for -- the sea, the sky, the shipwreck, and the salvation. It has the carnival (which in itself is enough for most people), travel and art. It has true love, it has family, hard work, and finally, security on one's own terms.
Throughout the book, there are anecdotes that touch upon all these facets of Dietzel's life. For example, Reiter particularly notes that if you're looking to trace the origins of the iconic crawling panther design or the playful skunk "Little Stinker," you should begin with Dietzel flash. In the "Tattooed for Exhibition" chapter, wonderful quotes from a 1928 article in The Milwaukee Journal accompany photos of the artist's more extensively tattooed clientele. In one quote, it is noted that it was tradition that tattooists be "covered" to show real samples of designs, color and good work. Dietzel did indeed work on many of his tattoo brethren in addition to hoards of servicemen in his 60+ years tattooing. [As stated in the "Art of War" chapter: "During the First World War, Amund's studio tattooed over 200 members of the 32nd Infantry Division of the Army National Guard."]


One of my favorite chapters is "The Anatomy of a Tattooed Man," which highlights Dietzel's own tattoos and how he chose to "put himself on display." What's especially cool is the juxtaposition of his flash art with photos of his own tattoo work in the background, as shown above.

A sure favorite for those with a passion for tattoo machines is the "Tools of the Trade" chapter as it takes a close look at Dietzel's signature tattoo machines, the inspiration behind them and some technical discussion on the builds.

amund-dietzel-machines.jpgIn fact, every chapter is filled with historical tattoo goodness that will excite artists and collectors a like. You can purchase the 215-page hardcover online from Solid State Publishing for $50 (plus shipping).

11:53 AM
Ismaêl CH7.JPGTattoo on Ismael by Cy Wilson.

I met Cy Wilson at the Paris Tattoo Convention (photos) in 1997 and was instantly charmed -- not just by his open and affable character, but by his body of work that stood out for its modern yet organic compositions in his tattoos as well as art prints and silkscreen apparel. [I was equally charmed by his artist mother Sylvie, who went around the convention feeding berries to those working.] Indeed, being born of artist parents, you can say he was baptized in Parisian ateliers since the 80s, but it wasn't until he traveled to Asia and met a Japanese tattooist in India (who tattooed a sleeve on him), that his life tattooing began.

In contrast, Caro came to the art through a more academic root. Carolina, born in Heidelberg, Germany, first studied "European Media Culture" at Bauhaus-University Weimar but later pursued research into tattooing and "conceptualizing pain as a catalyst for creation and change whilst inking people in real life." She met Cy, and did her first tattoo on him in Lyon, France. They have been together for 4 years and tattooing together full time for two years on the road between Barcelona and Copenhagen. Next spring, they'll be putting roots down in Barcelona as Caro is seeking to get her Masters degree in Art Criticism at MACBA (Museum for Contemporary Art). Caro says that their different backgrounds inform their creative process, style, and relationships with their clients.

normann.jpgTattoo on Normann by Caro  

When asked to describe their tattoo style, they explain:
We do black, graphic work, everything between bold and very delicate, always body involved and always singular pieces. Our idea is to create tattoos that represent our visual culture as urban young people from the 21st century. Rather than reproducing "ancient" representations of things, we like to interpret even classic themes with a more modern graphic approach. But of course the new does not really go without the old; we consider it is very important to have a solid knowledge about symbols and cultural connotations in order to embrace the new.[...]

We think each body and each person is beautiful and it makes us sad to see how many people have problems with their self-esteem because some mainstream normative discourse made them believe they have to be different from what they are in order to consider themselves beautiful. We love to see when our work helps people embrace who they are more. We would love to work more with people of all shapes and colors. We enjoy integrating already existing body-marks like freckles, moles, birthmarks and stuff like this. Also working with and around scars is challenging and very interesting on a human level between the tattooist and the client.

david by cy.JPGTattoo on David by Cy. 

They also have a special approach to client relationships. They first set up a meeting (free of charge) to discuss the idea and design. They always draw directly on the body and very rarely on paper (only if it's very specific motif or small geometrical design). They say that this way the client "can already carry an approximation of the potential tattoo in his/her skin and check it out alone at home, naked in front of the mirror, with different clothing and so on. We feel this helps the people a lot to get a clearer idea of what they really feel themselves like." They make it clear that they are anti-sexist, anti-racist and anti-homophobe and will not work with those who hold such prejudices. While they believe regulations on hygiene tend to be exaggerated, as they are dealt with like surgical procedures, they take special care to "eradicate even the smallest risk of infection." [Cy was misquoted in the French translation of "Tattoo World" as saying the opposite.] 

To get tattooed by Cy and Caro, check their upcoming travel dates:
Nov 7 - Nov 17  Zurich, Switzerland at INK TANK
Nov 17- Nov 27 Freiburg, Germany at VISAVAJARA
Dec 28 - Jan 23 Berlin, Germany at CHORUS TATTOO
Jan 23 - Feb 4  Copenhagen, Denmark at Colin Dale's SKIN&BONE

For more on Cy & Caro, check their blogs SkinTraces and TravelTraces as well as Facebook.

normann by caro.JPGTattoo on Normann by Caro
06:45 PM
sailor-jerry-tattoos-voodoo-56.jpgOne of our favorite guerrilla photographers, Igor of Driven By Boredom, was in New Orleans at the Voodoo Music Experience last weekend where he hooked up with the fine Sailor Jerry folks and photographed the insanity inside their killer vintage airstream.

There, tattooist Terry Brown worked for three days putting on free Sailor Jerry-inspired tattoos on rock stars, crew members and Igor himself. One such rock star was Jesse Hughes of Boots Electric (shown below) who got a Fuse logo tattoo, old school styled. For more on the fun (with more pics), check Igor's blog.

The Sailor Jerry airstream heads to the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin this weekend, where Terry will be doing more free Americana tattoos. More on their Facebook events page.

For NY area punk fans:  Igor also fronts the punk cover band, F*ucking Bullshit, which includes our Brian Grosz on bass. Next Thursday, November 10th, the band will be playing Lit Lounge in the East Village, NYC  at 11PM. Hope to smash faces with you there.

02:41 PM

With today being the celebration of the Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos), it seems fitting that the artist who popularized its Sugar Skull tradition in tattoo art is now featured in the Vice TV series Tattoo Age.

Here's Part 1 of the Freddy Corbin profile.

Owner of Temple Tattoo and Tattoo 13, both in Oakland, CA, Freddy earned his reputation for more than just religious iconography, but he does discuss his passion for it (particularly black & gray Chicano style) in this video, which charts his career from rising star in the late eighties to a veteran revered by new generations of tattooers as well as his contemporaries.

Freddy is also known as a "fuckin cool dude," and there's plenty of footage of fellow tattooers like Tim Hendricks and Jason Mcaffee attesting to it. But you can easily gleen that from the interviews with Freddy alone. See for yourself on Vice TV or YouTube.
05:32 PM
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Rounding out today's list of our favorite upcoming events is the much-anticipated opening of the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum, spearheaded by the legendary Henk "Hanky Panky" Shiffmacher & his wife Louis. The opening is this Saturday, November 5th, and top tattoo names throughout the world will be in attendance.

This is the third incarnation of Hank Panky's museum collection on display, but this time, he promises it will be "much bigger and better" with spaces for guests artists (check the impressive line-up already) and seminars in addition to their library, archives and research center. There will also be a cafe and bar, and "a small memorial garden set up to host urns with the last remains of tattooed people and artists." Read more on the museum's plans and upcoming events here.

Actually, to learn more, hear it from Hank Panky himself in this video below.

You can find more videos and information on the museum's YouTube and Facebook pages.
02:21 PM
Continuing our posts on noted upcoming events, on the East Coast, Sacred Gallery in NYC presents "Immortal Until Death: The Cemetery Landscapes and Portrait Photography of Nathaniel C. Shannon." The show opens this Saturday, Nov. 5th, and runs until Nov. 27th. The opening reception is Saturday from 7-10 PM. More info on Facebook

Like the Idexa Stern and Aurora Meneghello collaboration, Nathaniel has documented the work of a renowned tattooist -- the godfather of neo-tribal tattooing Leo Zuluetta -- and his images are also featured in "Tattoo World" and my first book "Black Tattoo Art." But in this exhibition at Sacred, his photos from cemeteries are the focus of the show. Here's more background on this series:

As a child, each Memorial Day my parents and I would visit the graves of our ancestors at various cemeteries in Michigan. I always enjoyed these trips. They connected us as a family, helped me better understand my family history and provided perspective on who I am today.

Over the years, I became fascinated with cemeteries: the intricate architecture of mausoleums and headstone designs, the landscaping of the grounds and the expression of legacy present with each burial plot. As I grew older, I would frequent the cemeteries of Ypsilanti, MI, where I was raised, and wander aimlessly by myself for hours, enjoying the solitude, studying the tombstones and the names etched into them, creating stories about the dead.

Visiting cemeteries became a peaceful escape from the stresses of the living world, the cemetery gates serving as a portal to history. Naturally, as my addiction to photography grew, I brought my camera through that portal with me.

Because the photography of cemeteries is a very spiritual process for me, I prefer to be alone while I shoot. If the living are nearby, the tombs can't find me. I follow a personal code of ethics in these places, one that I choose not to share with others. The cemetery is not my home, it's the home of the dead. I respect the dead and am drawn to the energy of specific graves. When a grave does not want to be photographed, one way or another, its inhabitant lets me know.

My goal is to portray of these headstones in the same way I do the living: as a vital element of their position in space and time. After all, we are all suspects.

See more of Nathaniel's work on his website and blog. Hope to see you at the exhibit!


01:52 PM
For my San Francisco treats:  this Sunday, November 6th, an event celebrating the collaboration of tattooist Idexa Stern and photographer Aurora Meneghello will take place at Idexa's Black & Blue Tattoo, 381 Guerrero at 16th, from 6-9PM. More details on Facebook.

Aurora's beautiful portraits of Idexa's tattoo clients are featured in the hardcover I edited for Abrams Books, "Tattoo World," which will be available for purchase as well as prints of the images. A number of those portraits will be on display at the event. Here's some background on their collaboration:

Idexa and Aurora shared a common vision for this project and together decided to approach Idexa's tattoos in a different way than traditional tattoo photography. Idexa specifically asked Aurora to work on this project because of her love of the natural landscape and her experience photographing people. Aurora brings a different aesthetics to the genre, one that captures Idexa's original style which is rooted in the body of her clients. Idexa and Aurora share a love of collaboration and community and brought their values to this common project.

Idexa's work is inspired by shapes and forms found in urban and natural spaces. Just as tattoos become part of a person's body, so people are part of our environment. These photographs were taken outside, on Bernal Hill in San Francisco and At Helen Putnam Park in Petaluma, to free the artists from the constrains of traditional studio photography. The tattoos were given light and breath to shine on the skin.
Read more about it and see more photos on Aurora's blog.

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