December 2011 Archives


Dec201131
03:20 PM
needlesandsins.jpgAs we start digging in to 2012, it's customary to look back at a wild year in our tattoo world, filled with new tattoo technology, even more TV shows, law suits, ethics debates, and crazy beautiful art. I spent some time going the posts of 2011 and amazed at how much we covered, and so much of it is thanks to you for your suggestions and links. Now, let's get to that customary blog review.

In the news ...

hangover tattoo.jpgThe most popular -- and heavily linked -- story was the Tattoo copyright controversy over the Mike Tyson tattoo in the film The Hangover II. The case settled but not without a federal court making note that tattoos are indeed protected by copyright and one can't just go stealing tattoo designs.

Tech & tattoos were also a hot topic. There were Scannable Barcode Tattoos, a Nintendo 3DS Augmented Reality Tattoo, and Karl Marc's first animated tattoo, among others.

Some items in the media sparked debate among the tattooed, including The "Drake Tattoo" Question, over the responsibilities of a tattooist when a client wants a name of a rapper on her forehead. The Scott Campbell Prison Tattoo was cool but should the artist have shown the masses how to make a tattoo machine from garbage?
 
Other popular posts included:


The TV shows ...

By far the most widely appreciated videos on tattoo artists at work was the Tattoo Age series; nevertheless, the NY Ink Drinking Game was downloaded across the globe. Do we even need to go into the travesty that was Tattoo School?


Tattoo Artist profiles ...


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Tattoo by Stephanie Tamez. Portrait of Sarah Wolfe (without border) by Bryce Ward


Needles & Sins stayed true to its purpose this year of showing stellar tattoo art, whether it be full interviews, quick & dirty spotlights, excerpts from my articles for Inked and Skin & Ink mags, or our Proust Questionnaire for Tattoo ArtistsHere's a list of those featured:


Ed Hardy             Tomas Tomas      Alex de Pase       Cliff White          Oleg Turyanskiy    
Orrin Hurley         Ed Perdomo        Sean Herman      Darcy Nutt         Nazareno Tubaro     
Travis Broyles      Yoni Zilber           Shane Tan           Yushi Takei        George Bardadim    
Jesse Smith         Simon Watts        Sara Martin         
Elson Yeo         Caro & Cy Wilson
Lyle Tuttle            David Tevenal      Horitaka               Ron Russo        Shannon Archuleta
Iban Tattoo           Holly Ellis             Genko                 Dan Henk          Mike Rubendall       
Eva Huber            Electric Pick         David Glantz     
Baba Austin        Stephanie Tamez
Michelle Myles     Paris Pierides       Annette LaRue  
Mike Mendes     Roxx TwoSpirit
Chris O'Donnell & Thomas Hooper


Conventions ...

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Of course, conventions were covered, either by my own bad camera or links to galleries and reviews in the news:

And then there was the Charlie Sheen Tattoo by Alie K ...


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An exciting year, indeed!

As I've said before, Needles & Sins is a blog of love, designed to be "look at this cool tattoo stuff," and in the process, has become a community. In the new year, we hope to keep building the site, bring back the comments and make it easier to navigate. Meanwhile, we've been loving the friendships and discussions that have emerged in the Needles & Sins Syndicate Facebook group. We are grateful for all your support, and hope you'll continue to hang with us in 2012.

Happy New Year!
Dec201129
06:18 PM
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My mother is a nurse and my sister is a doctor, and for these reasons alone, there is no shortage of "clippings" and forwarded links to medical news on tattoos. For Christmas, I was given the gift of mass hysteria as an envelope filled with articles cried out that tattoos lead to AIDS & cancer. Of course, we all agreed that, with little science behind these articles, it's best not be a part of the fear mongering (yet) and see how things develop. [They promised to help me find better research that follow up such claims.]

One medical article my mom gave me that was way less sexy but important and practical is the cover feature in the latest Psoriasis Advance magazine entitled "To Tattoo or Not To Tattoo," which weighs the risks of skin trauma for people with psoriasis wanting a tattoo.

First off, what is psoriasis? The Psoriasis Advance website defines it as:

A chronic, autoimmune disease that appears on the skin. It occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis is not contagious.
 
There are five types of psoriasis. The most common form, plaque psoriasis, appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells. Psoriasis can occur on any part of the body and is associated with other serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and depression.

Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the U.S. As many as 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis.

So how does this skin disease react when there are needles injecting pigment into it?

The answer is not clear cut and reactions differ with each person. The article discusses the experiences of those with the disease who took the risk and got tattooed. Some did not have any reaction or had minor flare-ups with only certain tattoos, while others had their tattoos obliterated by psoriasis. You can see a gallery and read all the deep meanings behind their tattoos here.

The opinions of the dermatologists interviewed differed as well. Here's what Dr. Kenneth Wasserman, a dermatologist in South Philadelphia, Pa., was quoted as saying:

'One of the issues, any time the skin is traumatized, is psoriasis can occur in that area,' says Wasserman, referring to what's known as the Koebner phenomenon. 'And tattoos are trauma. In order to get a tattoo, needles have to be put in and there's trauma that happens to the skin. It's likely to bring up psoriasis in those areas.'

But Dr. Jeff Crowley, a Bakersfield, Calif., dermatologist and clinical researcher, offers another viewpoint:

'In the many hundreds of patients I have treated with psoriasis and tattoos, I have noted no relationship between the tattoo 'trauma' and psoriasis,' says Crowley, a member of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board. 'Some patients do develop lesions over portions of their tattoos, but this may just be the normal course of their psoriasis.'

Tattooists themselves have their own approaches when dealing with clients who have the disease. Some refuse to do any work, and some may even be prohibited by law. According to the article, "In Louisiana, for example, state law prohibits operators from tattooing on individuals 'with psoriasis or eczema present in the treatment area.'" Other tattooists take it on a case by case basis, like Briana Sargent of BUJU Tattoo in San Diego who says, "If a patient has an area with obvious psoriasis scales and redness, I would not tattoo that area." But she will tattoo non-affected areas and also offers touch-ups should there be any issue with healing. 

Another big concern is how a medication taken to treat psoriasis will affect the tattoo. For example, retinoids increase scarring in patients and topical steroid treatments can thin the skin.

Overall, the take-away from the article is to have a conversation with your dermatologist before heading to an experienced tattooist, then start small and proceed with caution. 

Read the full article here.

Dec201128
01:44 PM

Collaborative Tattooing: Sessions 2-8 from Taylor Toole on Vimeo.


Brooklyn's own Saved Tattoo is a powerhouse of talent with collectors traveling the world to get work that spans all genres. What's particularly exciting is when tattooists collaborate on a piece, melding their own unique artistry into one cohesive work on a very lucky client. This is brilliantly illustrated in Taylor Toole's video of Chris O'Donnell and Thomas Hooper working together on a backpiece for Ryan Begley (founder of Shirts & Destroy). The film pulls together footage from sessions 2 through 8, and it's a great peak into the process, especially for such a large tattoo.

Outside of tattooing, Chris, Thomas and Ryan are collaborating on a publishing venture specializing in hand crafted books and art editions:  Artifact Publishing recently released Winter Solstice: Black Mandalas, Series One, which is a set of 28 prints each measuring 5.5" x 5.5". Each collection of prints is enclosed in a hand-stained wooden box and is a limited edition of 100.  Details here. Chris and Thomas have also designed for Shirts & Destroy collections.

Looking forward to seeing more from them on skin, canvas, print and apparel.
Dec201127
03:45 PM
orrin hurley tattoo.jpgBack from the holiday daze and looking for some fun, so I roped in Orrin Hurley of Daredevil & Fun City Tattoo studios in NYC to take our Proust Questionnaire for Tattoo Artists. At the shops, Orrin tattoos in all styles but is particularly known for bio-organic and painterly work, taking clever approaches to playing with the form of the body and using a wide color palette. That said, the "bold will hold" traditional ethos is ever present throughout his portfolio.

You can see more of his tattoo work on Facebook. For a look into this personality, here are his answers to the Q&A:


What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?  A world without art and music.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?  To reach my full potential as an artist, father, and human.

Your most marked characteristic?  Being unpredictable and well rounded.

What is your principle defect?   I have a habit of focusing so hard I lose the big picture.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?  Dexter, Hannibal Lecter -- for the workings inside their mind, not their murderous tendencies.

Who are your favorite heroes in real life? Be your own hero. Blaze your own path.

Your favorite painters?  Robert Venosa, Dali, Flemish painters, Chris Mars, Femmke.

Your favorite musicians?  My music taste is so out there. Anything with musical value. I've been a Drum and Bass DJ for years so Electronic is close to my heart. Hardcore, Metal, Death Metal as well.

Who are your favorite writers?  I dont have a fave,  just whatever I'm reading at the time.

The quality you most admire in a man?  Consistency of character.

The quality you most admire in a woman?  Consistency of character.

Your favorite virtue?  Empathy

Who would you have liked to be?  No one but me ... my journey in life is mine to live.

Where would you like to live?  Maybe Japan, Portland OR, or somewhere in Cali.

What are your favorite names?  My son and daughters names:  Kai Maynard and Aeris Jane

What natural gift would you most like to possess?  I'd like to take the ones I have to the next level instead of trying a new one. I was born to do this.

How would you like to die?  Something epic that makes everyone remember ... like some crazy 15 min long Family Guy skit type thing. A massive fight with a giant chicken.

What is your present state of mind?  Clear. Perfect clarity.

What is your motto?  Ride the wave of life.

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Dec201123
03:30 PM
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Along the lines of stellar art books by stellar tattoo artists in our gift guide today, I present "18 Angles of the Human Skull" by Kore Flatmo in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This second edition -- now in easy to carry book form -- takes the original content of the popular first version and adds even more value, including five pages of new drawings, sixteen paintings and a tattoo section. The book is not only a collection of exciting art but also is an excellent reference for those seeking to refine their memento mori tributes in their own work. If you're looking for a great way to tip your artists this holiday, "18 Angles of the Human Skull" will do the trick. You can purchase it for $100 on the Plurabella online store.

While you're there shopping, also check his fine art prints and apparel. Prints by Brenda Flatmo -- like this Nick Cave portrait -- are also available.

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02:23 PM

chris_dingwell_book.jpg I've told many artists "Do a book." It's a rather selfish suggestion/command as I love turning pages filled with stimulating imagery, firing my neurons up and kicking my ass to create more. And practically, it's a way to view art that won't fit in my tiny Brooklyn apartment. 

I wanted Chris Dingwell to do a book. Every time I see one of his works or live painting projects, I know I need to see it again. And I'm happy to say that I now can with his wonderful 150-page collection, "Inside Out," which can be purchased at TattooEducation.com.

"InsideOut" looks at Chris's body of work over the past eight years, featuring full views of the paintings as well as close-ups where you can see the movement of the brush strokes. A fantastic foreword by Johnny Thief opens up the book, giving the reader a better sense of just who Chris Dingwell is beyond his acrylics. Johnny also talks about Chris's tattoo work, which -- like his fine art -- defies categorization. An easy catch-all would be "painterly," but it is so much more than that. Johnny says, "If I had to try and label it, I would call it 'Kineticism'." [He wants 20% every time that term is used.] 

For more on Chris, check our artist profile on him from last year, and this article from last month in The Portland Daily Sun.


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Dec201122
12:08 PM
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Marisa and I are in the annual, last-minute scramble here at the N&S Bunker in preparation for the holidays, so posting will probably be a little light over the next few days.  That said, I will also refrain from spreading holiday cheer in the form of back-slaps, firm hugs and butt-squeezes because I go in for another session on my dragon backpiece tomorrow.  Don't ask me why I scheduled it this way... I enjoy sitting at Christmas dinner.

Two weeks ago, I handed my back over to Mike Rubendall of King's Avenue Tattoo and, because we're a bunch of blogging dorks, I've decided to chronicle the experience at Bodysuit To Fit.  I'll be doing my best to chronicle the sittings in words and photographs (read about Sitting 1 here and Sitting 2 here) and will try to refrain from twitteresque posts like "Oh god, all I wanna do is scratch my ass."

So, please - give it a read!

[FULL DISCLOSURE: Some of these pics are kinda NSFW.  Nothing frontal, just my narrow little butt]

Dec201121
06:16 PM
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Seems like the tattoo art books listed in our Holiday Gift Guide are a hit, so we have another great pick: "Life Under My Skin -- 40 portraits de tatoues" by Paris-based journalist Anna Mazas.

This 168-page paperback features beautiful portrait photography of 40 tattooed people from around the world as well as interviews with these collectors about their work. The text is in English and French -- a great way to brush up or pick up some language skills.

Akin to the "London Tattoos" book, what is particularly excellent about "Life Under My Skin" is -- not only the full credit given to some stellar tattooists whose work is featured -- but also the discussion of the relationship between these artists and clients. Anna's text reveals more than just choice of artists and art work, but also something intimate about the wearers.

The portraits are engaging, with 10 photographers bringing their own different perspectives to capturing tattoo culture. These photographers include: Chris Coppola, Julien Lachaussee, Thibault de Saint Chamas, Nicolas Menu, Christophe Klain, Brice Beillant, Aline Dery, Aude Grandveau, Rosario Sanz, and Aurelie Verdie.

You can purchase
"Life Under My Skin" for 24.90 Euros here. For more images and info, also check the book's Facebook page.

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Dec201119
10:19 AM


Reading the news of Kim Jong Il's passing this morning, I wondered if The Supreme Leader had already been immortalized on skin. And that wonder lasted less than a minute when Google pulled up this stop motion video of a Jong portrait being created by Cody Brigan of Ghost Dog Tattoo in Cloquet, Minnesota.

I then pondered that oft-asked question when viewing a tribute to a dictator of divine birthWhy? I found the answer on Deviant Art, of course. There, Cody explains that he wanted to attempt a portrait (he's only been tattooing since last year), so he offered a free tattoo to the client, but on the condition that he could tattoo whatever he wanted. And there ya go.

But this isn't the only Il ode. Google served up another portrait as well. Sadly, it didn't yield the same results for Vaclav Havel.
Dec201116
04:16 PM
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Seductive, feminine, and most definitely rock-n-roll. Adha Zelma jewelry are true statement pieces that, like tattoos, command attention for unique and sexy adornment. And for this reason, we just had to include these Brooklyn artists, who have an international following, in our gift guide.

Creators (and best friends) Sheanan Bond and Cherise TrahanMiller hand-craft each line, which they say "centers on bringing elements of indigenous art and culture into our contemporary world." They approach each piece as sculpture for the body. Sheanan and Cherise say that they're inspired by "the organic shapes found in bone, shed antlers and shells -- along with the incredible colors and graphics seen in naturally molted feathers, the texture of skins such as stingray and the rawness of rough stones."

I'm particularly in love with one of the richly layered pieces I have from their Solstice Collection, with its mixed metals, gem stones and plumes. The line is described as evoking "the night sparkle of NYC and a little Mad Max." And I do feel likeTina Turner rockin it.

Hit up their online store for a full array of their collections and sale pieces.

Even sweeter, they're offering a special 20% off if you put in the code: Needles&Sins at checkout. The promotion ends 12/23/11.

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03:35 PM
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Last Friday, we announced yet another giveaway for -- not one but two -- lucky readers thanks to Prestle Publishing and Dr. Matt Lodder.

Prestle offered a copy of the wonderful "London Tattoos" book by Alex MacNaughton to a winner in the US, and then Matt jumped in and offered a copy to a winner in the UK. [Matt wrote the foreword to the book.] Read our review of "London Tattoos" here.

The winners were picked by Randomized.com from those who posted in our Needles & Sins Syndicate Group on Facebook or who Tweeted at me.

And they are:  Nicki Hoffman and Claire Woodworth. Congrats!

Many thanks to those who played along. The book is a gem to gift to family and friends and even treat yourself. 
You can purchase the 304-page paperback from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com in the US.

More contests and gift guide picks to come!
Dec201115
01:41 PM
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Our friends at Father Panik Industries have clothed and bejeweled me for over a decade with their hand crafted badassery, and every year they keep coming up with more designs to put on my wish list.

The latest in their jewelry collection is this anatomical skull pendant in antiqued brass with 18" chain. [The skull measures 5/8"x1/2"x7/16" (17mm x 12mm x 10mm).] According the the Panik peeps, "The skull spins around slowly as you move, so you get to enjoy the skull 360 degrees. The wax model for this was carefully hand carved after studying human skull anatomy, then cast in brass in NYC. Each one is hand polished, antiqued and assembled here in Brooklyn USA."  The brass pendant sells for $48 and you can also purchase it in sterling silver for $116.

Also be sure to check out their long standing favorites like the knuckle tattoo gloves (which I'm modelling here), their brass knuckle rosaries, and their towels, tees and hoodies, among others.

You can also find Father Panik online at Etsy. To catch them in person, check their events listings, which include NYC independent artist markets as well as tattoo conventions throughout the US, throughout the year.
Dec201114
06:45 PM
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"You get the tattoo you deserve."

It's a belief held by many, and hell, I've said it from time to time. In tattooer interviews, you'll often find discussions on what tattoos the artists won't do. For example, in my Q&A with Jack Rudy for Inked mag, he said:

I try to stay away from racist stuff, religious blasphemous stuff, and really negative things that I think could come back and bite that person in the ass real hard. I'd rather not be a part of that even if they insist on having it. There are people that'll do anything on ya--you can always find people that will just do whatever the customer may want--but those are a few things that I really try to avoid.
Then there are others who say that if the client is going to go elsewhere, it's best that they do it themselves and get it right. With regard to racist tattoos, some artists just don't want to spend any time with a bigot in their chair, while others will do the tattoo so society knows just who they are dealing with. And of course there are people who will do anything for cash.

Tons of ethical dilemmas arise re: putting on a tattoo that a client may likely regret. The latest tattoo that has caught the most buzz is the "DRAKE" lettering across a young woman's forehead. It's been posted on tons of blogs, in a point & laugh kind of way, but we're digging this Vice article, which interviews the man who did the infamous facial work. The tattooist, Kevin Campbell, of Will Rise studio in LA describes the experience and responds to those who say he should have never done it. Here's a bit of that interview:

Do you feel sort of bad about it after the fact?
My whole deal with people wanting completely outrageous and potentially life-ruining tattoos is this: I'll ask them three times if they really think it's a good idea, I tell them what the potential consequences of getting a tattoo on their face might be, and after that, the bad decision is on them. I believe that people get the tattoos that they deserve. The shop where I worked prior to Will Rise was in the center of the Harbor City Crip neighborhood, so I'm not really a stranger to tattooing gang shit on faces, which is what I originally thought that this was. I guess I feel bad that this dumbass got the name of the softest motherfucker in hip-hop tattooed on her forehead. But what makes that any less valid of a tattoo to her? I lost a little sleep over it that first night, wondering if I wanted to be known as the asshole who tattooed "DRAKE" on some crackhead's forehead.
[...]
I could have turned her away, and I'm already getting a ton of flack from other tattooers for this, but the way I see it, if she's got her little heart set on getting her forehead tattooed then she'll just keep on trying until somebody finally goes through with it. I think that getting a color portrait of the Joker from Batman is a dumb idea, but who the fuck am I to judge? If some cat from MS 13 comes in and wants me to "blast" that shit on his chin or forehead or whatever, who am I to judge the validity of them getting what they get and where they get it? If I tattoo a huge "BK" on a Crip or tattoo "DRAKE" on some R&B-crazed girl's face, what's the difference? Who am I to say which one is wrong and which is right?

Read more here.

While I disagree with Campbell, I was understanding his arguments to a certain degree. ... That is, until the very final line of the interview:  "She was on a pretty good one when she came in, but I think by the time I finished she was coming down, because her attitude changed pretty drastically once the tattoo was finished."

So, in essence, the problem here is actually tattooing someone who is high and unable to make clear decisions. And in these cases, the client does not get the tattoo he or she deserves.

What do you think? Comment on this post in our Facebook Group.

UPDATE:  Kevin Campbell says that his reply to Vice was misinterpreted, and the woman was in fact sober. I posted his response in the group forum linking this post.
06:20 PM
hohumflashfinal.jpgDo a good deed for the holidays and help someone less fortunate!  This Friday, December 16th, from noon until 8pm, our friends at Sacred Tattoo will be holding a toy and clothing drive for Coalition for the Homeless.  Bring in any new toy or new/gently-used winter clothes/blanket/jacket and you can get a tattoo from the flash sheet above for just $50!  Don't feel like getting tattooed?  No problem!  The donation box will be at the front of the shop all day.

Tattoos are roughly 2.5 inches in size and are valued around $150-200 each.and will be subject to a "limbs only" rule (arms and legs) in order to keep the machines humming along quickly.

Sacred Tattoo is located on the second floor at 424 Broadway between Canal and Howard.  Take the J/M/Z/Q/R/W/6 train to the Canal St station.

Dec201113
02:50 PM
prkchwbsig.jpgLegendary DogTown pro-skateboarder and photographer, Pep Williams, may shoot for fashion, sports and music glossies but it's his portraits of tattoo life that have garnered particular acclaim for their penetrating intensity and soulfulness -- a quality that comes from the photographer's own experiences in the community and respect for the craft. 

The subjects of Pep's tattoo-focused imagery reflect his Los Angeles upbringing, and largely include black & grey inked bodies and faces. He also captures intimate moments in the tattooer's chair, which have powerful solemnity to them.

Pep will be on tour shooting street culture and skating in Brazil, Dubai, and Australia. Next month, he'll be releasing limited edition prints available for purchase. Updates will be posted on his site and Shockmansion blog.

For more on Pep, check Jinxi Boo's great interview with him.

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Dec201112
11:41 AM
London_Tattoo_Convention.jpgPhoto taken from the real London Tattoo Convention by EPA, posted on The Telegraph.

I often use the term "tattoo community," and just as often, I get called on it. Is there a true community today when the explosive popularity of the art form has brought in so many who come to it, not out of passion, but for cashing in?

In the past few days, I've seen action that answers this question, and that answer is resoundingly Yes. It's action with the stated goal to protect this community from companies wanting to take a piece of the profits from those who have dedicated their personal and professional lives to tattooing before the onslaught of pop culture "tattoo cool."

We last saw this movement in July with the efforts to boycott TLC's "Tattoo School" program, a show that made it seem that anyone can be a tattooist within two short weeks.

This weekend, the focus has been on boycotting tattoo convention companies seeking to ride the coat tails of well established and successful events; specifically, it's a movement against the planned The Great British Tattoo Show, which would take place months before one of the world's best conventions, Miki Vialetto's The International London Tattoo Convention.

Michelle Myles of DareDevil & Fun City Tattoo studios has the details on her wonderful Devil City Press Blog. Here's an excerpt:

The Great British Tattoo Show is being billed as "A brand new show with a brand new vibe.....world-class artists.... blah blah blah.... yet another first for the UK tattoo industry.....blah blah blah..." As tattooing has gotten more popular more people have looked towards our industry to make a quick dollar. People who have no concern or love of tattooing only look for ways to exploit the tattoo industry and the success that's been created by others before them. After the first London Tattoo convention this person organized "Tattoo Jam" a show one month before the London show less than 100 miles away. He then went on to set up "Tattoo Freeze" another UK show a week before the Brighton convention.  I guess this could all be written off as coincedence and fair play in business but to make this drama even more interesting there is a webpage devoted to this guys business practices of not paying his vendors, bankrupt companies and an overall contempt for the rest of the tattoo world. Did I mention that this guy has not one tattoo (last I heard anyway)? 

Not only does this affect the people who run the original London show it also impacts all of the artists working at that show. [...] As artists, these are the people we should not lend our names to.  It's important to be aware of who we support. I know that the show will probably go on. But I for one am not going to be a part of it.
Michelle's post -- as well as others from tattooists -- are making the rounds, urging other artists not to participate in these shows. I believe collectors should also take a stand by not attending.  Let's keep our support in the family.

UPDATE: Here is Stuart Mears' response.
Dec201110
09:30 AM
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Have a small child you one day hope will follow in your tattoo footsteps but aren't sure how to plant the seed when they're so young? Or are you itching to do a long-term sociological experiment with family members' kids to see if they'll get tattooed when they turn 18, or maybe even make a homemade rig from that old VCR up in the attic before they're even of age? The Matching Tattoo Memory Game from Seven Acre Toys might be just the thing to get started.  

Seven Acre Toys was founded by Chris and Hannah Blackburn (married master woodworkers turned toy company entrepreneurs) with the goal of creating better wooden toys that promote creativity and imagination. The Tattoo Game features six classic tattoo images, all drawn up by Chris himself (who recently visited Brian Mullen at Art Freak Tattoo in Providence for a full sleeve of dogwood flowers).

Here's more on the Seven Acre philosophy from Chris:

It's funny, one of our competitors has something on their About Us page that says something like, "Each product is made by hand and usually all the wood is surrounded by cups of tea, laughing children, and disco music, so each product will come to you infused with love and bliss!" We thought about countering that with something that says, "We have tattoos. We drink pale ale, listen to a lot of psychobilly, punk rock, and folk music. We make each toy awesome, it's up to you to continue that." However, drunk, loud, and arrogant might not be the best image for a maker of eco-friendly children's toys.
I tend to disagree and am hoping Drunk, Loud, and Arrogant will be the name of any future toy endeavors. Even better, Seven Acre Toys uses only FSC certified hardwoods that promote responsible forestry practices. Now, you'll have a clear conscience when you're one-upping all those other parents and their crappy non-green, made in China toys when you see them at the Knitting Factory's Mommy 'n' Me classes, or whatever the hell goes on there in the mornings.

Happy Holidays!

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Dec201109
05:32 PM
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One of the most common questions tattooed people get on a regular basis is: "What does it mean?" There's an assumption that some momentous event must occur to inspire those who permanently mark themselves. For many, it is hard to understand tattoos as "art for art's sake."

With this in mind, I was pretty thrilled when I opened up Alex MacNaughton's new  "London Tattoos" book, and read this in the very first portrait profile, which is of 43-year-old Alice Temple:

My tattoos don't mean anything to me other than I like being covered in tattoos. It's a purely visual thing. I like the look of almost anyone who is covered, and I knew I wanted the same. What I have on me is almost irrelevant. What is important is the artist who works on me.
Alice's story is her lack of a story. It may not make for good reality TV but it's a great way to start a beautiful photography book where the subjects reflect on their tattoos and tattoo artists. Indeed, it is the props to the artists -- where the tattoos featured are specifically credited to each tattooist -- that makes London Tattoos  more than just pretty pictures and personal musings. You may actually fall in love with a tattooist's work based on what you find in these pages. [Alice's primary work was done by Nikole Lowe, which she further explains.]

But I really do dig the pretty pictures and reflections of the collectors. In these reflections, there are some compelling narratives behind the tattoos, answering the "what does it mean" question for those unsatisfied with the "because I like it" response. One of my favorites is that of Professor Richard Sawdon Smith, head of the Art and Media Department at London South Bank University. [A part of his spread is shown below.] Here's an excerpt from his story:

My tattoo is a very personal project made public. It speaks of living with a long-term incurable illness that requires regular blood tests on a tri-monthly cycle for the last 16 years, making the visible the internal and highlighting this regular routine.

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If you're not a big reader, the photographs are sure to hold your attention. The award-winning photographer -- who has authored three street art books -- offers intimate close-ups of the tattoo work that accompany the portraits. See more in this gallery. But Alex states that his goal is not to have a book simply showing tattoos:  "I want to show how tattoos are a reflection of a person's character and lifestyle, how to live with them and how tattoos can enhance confidence and success in life." Right on!

Extra bonus:  The foreword is written by our tattoo history guru, Dr. Matt Lodder, who also takes off his clothes in the latter portion of the book.

You can purchase the 304-page paperback from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com in the US.

BUT before you do, enter to win a free copy! The Prestel Publishing sent us a copy for one lucky reader. As usual, the winner will be selected randomly from those who comment on this post in our Needles & Sins Syndicate Group on Facebook or who Tweet at me. In one week, December 16, we'll put all the names of the commenters/tweeters into Randomized.com and the internet gods will offer up the chosen ones.

Good luck!

UPDATE: It seems the fabulous Dr. Lodder is offering a copy of his own to a reader in the UK. So when you comment in Facebook or on Twitter, let us know if you're in the UK.
Dec201108
07:43 PM
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Photo by Edgar Hoill

Today is the 120th anniversary of Samuel O'Reilly's electric tattoo machine, patented in 1891. As noted in this Reason.com post, the New York tattooist's invention is "based on the design for Thomas Edison's autographic printer, which was essentially a motorized engraving tool [which] sped up the process of tattooing while vastly improving the quality of the final product."

The Tattoo Archive has an extensive article on the machine's history. They also have cool posters for sale with the original patent text and illustrations (shown below).

Also check Jinx Boo's writing on the electric machine (and her entire blog if you haven't).

[Reason.com link via the Hope Gallery Blog.]


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04:01 PM
INK-MASTER_Spike-CAST.jpgI know. I know. You're upset.

The magic and mystery that tattooing once held has faded into the ether leaving us with, well, Dave Navarro. The heavily tattooed, perfectly manscaped rocker with the smokey eyeshadow is now the arbiter of body art, holding the fate of ten tattooists in his hand as he decides who will be ... "INK MASTER." [!!!]

If only someone who really feels the tattoo passion could command such fate, someone like Kimberly Caldwell ... wait who? Oh, she was the seventh place finalist on the second season of American Idol, who is hosting Oxygen's own tattoo competition, "Best Ink." But we'll get to that.

"Ink Master" is Spike TV's version of Project Runway produced by Original Media, the ones you have to thank for Miami, LA & NY Ink as well as The Rachel Zoe Project and BBQ Pitmasters. Like these shows, "tension and stakes are high" as tattooists battle it out for $100,000 and a feature in Inked Magazine. Here's more from their PR peeps:

"Ink Master" contestants will compete in various tattoo challenges that not only test the artists' technical skills, but also their on-the-spot creativity, where they must create and execute an original tattoo on command. Challenges focus on different tattooing techniques, such as shading, line and proportion, and styles including photorealism, Tribal, American traditional, and pin-up.
Ok, that doesn't sound too bad. Essentially, it's a Hollywood version of the first and most wonderful tattoo competition series, "Tattoo Wars," which was never picked up because people with tattoos actually liked it.

In addition to Navarro, Chris Nunez ("Miami Ink") and Oliver Peck (Elm Street Tattoo) make up the show panel with guest judges, like tattooers Scott Campbell and Jack Rudy, weighing in on certain episodes. Other guest judges are Inked creative director Todd Weinberger, "Auction Hunters" Ton Jones and NBA player Chris Andersen [because reality stars and basketball players are the taste makers in fine art tattooing.]

Considering the roster of artists competing, which include many well respected tattooers -- some who are friends of ours -- we have hopes for Ink Master, or at least we don't think we'll be getting as drunk as we do with our NY Ink Drinking Game.

That said, we'll just pretend this show trailer ever happened. And let's forget the tag line "You don't get to be a master without drawing some blood." Instead, click the videos with our girl, Lea Vendetta and Brooklyn's own Al Fliction. Here's the full artist list:

  • Al Fliction, 42 - Owner and artist at Bklyn Ink in Brooklyn, NY.
  • Jeremy Miller, 27 - Owner and artist at Pigment Demographics and Fine Art in Austin, TX.
  • Tommy Helm, 38 - Owner and artist at Empire State Studio, Oceanside, NY.
  • Shane O'Neill, 39 - Owner and artist at Shane O'Neill Tattoo shops in Middleton, DE and Willow Grove, PA.
  • Brian 'B-TAT' Robinson - Owner and artist at Moving Ink based out of Essex County, NJ.
  • Heather Sinn, 41 - Co-owner and artist of The Tattoo Room in Simi Valley, CA,
  • James Vaughn, 38 - Owner and artist at Straight A Tattoo in Asheboro, NC.
  • Bili Vegas, 29 - Owner and artist at Sacred Tattoo in New York, NY
  • Lea Vendetta, 40 - Artist at A Stroke of Genius Tattoos in Boca Raton, Fl.
  • Josh Woods, 30 - Owner and artist at Black 13 Tattoo in Nashville, TN.

Ink Master premiers January 17th. We'll make a drinking game for this one just in case.

Oh, and yeah, that competition show for the Oxygen network. Well, it's pretty much the exact same thing -- ten artists compete for $100,000 and a spread in a magazine, but in addition to the American Idol non-winner, the awesome Joe Capobianco and Sabina Kelly hold court. Oxygen's PR machine is a bit behind on Spike's, but when [more] photos and videos are out, we'll be posting them, especially if they come with kicky taglines. Best Ink premiers January 30th.

UPDATE:  Tattoo magazine has a cover feature on Best Ink. For more, check the Hope Gallery Blog.

UPDATE 2Best Ink site has a few pics on their site with more content to come.
Dec201106
08:59 PM
ed perdomo tattoo.jpg In the latest issue of Skin & Ink magazine (February 2012), I profile Ed Perdomo, who works his illustrative awesomesness in Gothenburg, Sweden at Heidi Hay Tattoo. Before settling in Gothenburg, the Columbia-born artist traveled the world to learn more about tattoo culture and improve his skills -- and of course have some fun personal adventures. Over time, he developed a style that reflects his personality: he is an eternal optimist, and his outlook on life is most evident in his bright, humoristic tattoo work.

In the article, Ed shares stories of his travels, how he developed as an tattooist, and highlights of his career. Here's a bit from that:

I had a collector from Germany who refused to look at the tattoo (on his back) until I finished. It was his first tattoo, and he traveled to Sweden for a 10-hour session. When we were done, he finally looked at it and then just broke into tears. He couldn't stop crying and laughing at the same time. When he caught his breath, he hugged me and thanked me for it. It was quite satisfying knowing that what I do makes some people really happy.
ed perdomo tattoo 2.jpg
Ed also discusses his first tattoos, done by his own hand:

Back in early '90s, maybe '92 or '93, I wanted to have a tattoo so badly, but I didn't know anyone who could do it, so I attached a little motor to a mechanical pencil and tattooed myself. It was a little tribal that I saw in a magazine. [It's gone now.] I did five tattoos on myself before I did any on friends. And that's how I got started. [...] It wasn't my plan to make my living out of tattooing. I was just trying it for fun, but rapidly the word spread, and at some point I didn't need to work at anything but tattoos. Eventually I fell in love with it.
And as is stressed in the profile, Ed believes the key to creating better tattoos, is constantly bettering your drawing. He says that he continues to learn, adding humbly that he hasn't succeeded in where he wants to be artistically, but he won't give up.

I think his work is playful and bold and inspiring, especially to those with a particular bent towards cartoon-styled work. See more of his tattoo and fine art on EdPerdomo.com and his Facebook page. You'll also find him working various international tattoo conventions.

Ed is featured in my Color Tattoo Art book, available for purchase in our online store.

Ed Perdomo_4.jpg
04:51 PM
Needles and Sins has a new supporter, Face & Body Professionals, and we're excited about all they have to offer the tattoo, piercing and permanent make-up communities. Face & Body is not some newcomer to these industries. They have been developing products for permanent cosmetics and tattooing professionals since 1995 and offer pigments, topical anesthetics and studio supplies.

There's been some debate over the use of numbing creams and gels, and it seems that more and more artists are using them for larger works. Even the esteemed Horiyoshi III has said, "Sure, it's better if it doesn't hurt" when guest blogger John Mack asked about anesthetics for his body suit. And Robert Atkinson told us that he numbed up for his last sitting with Filip Leu, adding, "At the end of the day, no one is giving out trophies for being tough."

Those looking into topical anesthetics should check the pre-procedure numbing cream Super Trio and the during-procedure numbing gel Sustaine Blue Gel. Face & Body also carries After Inked and H2Ocean aftercare products that help keep tattoos looking new.

Find all Face & Body products on Face-Body.com and "Like" them on Facebook. By supporting Face & Body, you support this site. And we love you for it.
Dec201105
02:12 PM
love_hate_tattoo.jpgToday on culture blog Flavorwire.com, Emily Temple offers the illustrated list Marked Men: The 10 Coolest Tattoos on Film, which include some of my classic and newer favorites.

It starts off with the most iconic knuckle tattoos on film:  the "Love" and "Hate" on serial killer Reverend Harry Powell in the 1956's movie Night of the Hunter. I was also happy to see the inclusion of Ray Bradbury's 1960 film The Illustrated Man in which the tattoos on Rod Steiger's dreary character come to life in different stories. [It's not a perfect movie but I still recommend it. And like in most cases, the book holds a better story.] Of course the list includes more contemporary films like Memento, Harry Potter and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Naturally, it's impossible to list every tattooed character in film, but there are some notable ones I would've added:  George Clooney's neo-tribal sleeve and neck work in From Dusk till Dawn, which inspired tons of copies on fans. Then there's Sylvester Stallone's character in The Expendables, who gets tattooed by Mickey Rourke. In fact, many of Stallone's existing tattoos were incorporated into the faux designs. In Eastern Promises, Vigo Mortensen looked super fine in his Russian prison tattoos. Who could forget the killer backpiece on Ralph Fienes' psycho character in the Red Dragon? And don't get me started on the Mike Tyson facial tattoo copy on Ed Helm's character in The Hangover 2 that sparked a law suit.

While many of the tattoos in movies are created by design teams with make-up artists, more and more productions are using actual tattooists to create them -- and with that comes more realistic and hopefully more artful ink on the big screen.

Thanks to all who sent me the Flavorwire link!

illustrated man.jpg
11:35 AM

Our friend Phil Padwe - the talented illustrator who gave us the delightful children's book, Mommy Has A Tattoo - has launched a kickstarter project to help fund his latest work, the follow-up to Tattoo Coloring Book 1.  I'm a big fan of this kind of crowd-sourced funding, so break out your credit card so the rest of us can break out the Crayolas!

(And for a pledge of $25 or more, he'll send you - or your child - a hand drawn card on your birthday!)
Dec201102
03:23 PM
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Known for his exceptional black & grey tattoo work, Carlos Torres of Timeline Gallery in San Pedro, CA is one of the most sought after artists in the genre with an eager international clientele; so you can be sure that getting an appointment is a win in itself.

Now Sullen Clothing is not just offering a chance to jump in front of that appointment line, but to get five hours of tattooing from Carlos for free, as well as $500 of Sullen gear, a one-night hotel stay and a feature on Sullen TV. Sweet!

To enter to win, head to Sullen's Facebook page and "Like" them. No purchase necessary. The contest goes through the month of December and the winner will be announced the first week in January.

It's easy breezy -- except for Carlos who has a hard time explaining the contest in this video (which is pretty adorable). 

As a tease, I'm posting some of Carlo's work below. You can see more of his tattoo and fine art on his website and Facebook page.

carlos torres tattoo.jpg
carlos torres tattoo2.jpg
12:59 PM
walter moskowitz bowery boy.jpg
The most perfect gift for tattoo artists, collectors, and anyone with a love of history and a good story is the Last of the Bowery Scab Merchants -- a two audio CD set filled with over 2 1/2 hours of tattoo tales by Walter Moskowitz, one of the legendary "Bowery Boys." More than something you put on your iPod or listen to in your car, it's truly a collectors item -- richly designed, with cover art by CIV, and a 24-page color booklet with old photos and essays written by Mike McCabe, Chuck Eldridge, and Brian Kates. I am also very honored to have contributed as well in the text and in audio.

Walter's son Doug offers a wonderful introduction and weaves his narration through Walter's stories, which were recorded prior to his passing in 2007. You'll hear about a great race-fixing horse caper, black eyes tattooed to look natural, life on the Bowery, and the Human Autograph, among so many other gems.

Read more in my initial post on the set in April. There are also some great reviews on Amazon, Book Mistress, and on the CDs' Facebook page.

For the holidays,
Last of the Bowery Scab Merchants is being offered for only $19.99 on ScabMerchant.com. A must have!!
Dec201101
05:10 PM
dermobot by Chris Conte.jpg
"Dermobot" by Chris Conte.

Today on Wired's Underwired blog, Hugh Hart shares some images and information on the Mobilis in Mobili: An Exhibition of Steampunk Art & Appliance show at Wooster Street Social Club (yup, NY Ink headquarters). The exhibit runs through Jan. 14 and the work, like those shown here, are available for purchase.

Bruce Rosenbaum, "steampunk evangelist" offers more on the show:

Mobilis in Mobili:  features work from artists whose work fuses Victorian aesthetics and craftsmanship with salvaged vintage components combined with modern devices to create unique works of art. It showcases the spectrum of Steampunk art and appliance from drawings to entertainment systems. These pieces take an innovative approach, transporting visitors through time, yet maintain a firm hold on contemporary contours and comforts.
I'm particularly attracted the piece above by Chris Conte entitled "Dermobot (Skin Crawler)," which features a functional mini-tattoo machine. And I know Brian Grosz is loving the work shown below, "The Grand Experiment," by Steve Brock. As noted in the Wired blog, it's "a 1964 Norma guitar with turn-of-the-century noodle-cutter handle and solid-brass door plate from Detroit's Book-Cadillac building."

grand-experiment.jpg
Also shown on Wired is the "Steampunk 'Back' Tattoo to the Future" piece by Bruce Rosenbaum and Ken Taylor. Bruce describes the work: "I found this 1918 hand-cranked gas pump and restored it. [...] The hose that had been used to deliver the gas now swoops down and behind where the tattoo subject sits. Out of this nozzle comes a webcam so that when you sit with your back to the camera you can see this monitor attached to the gas pump and watch the work as the artist tattoos your back." I want!

The fantastical and mechanical imagery of Steampunk can often be found in tattoos. Here are some excellent examples below.

chaudesaignes_steampunk_tattoo.jpgTattoo by Stephane Chaudesaigues

nick-baxter-tattoo-steampunk-octopus-amazing-d-a-tattoodonkey.com.jpgTattoo by Nick Baxter.

For more on Steampunk art & culture, check the vast number of links on its Wikipedia entry.
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EDITOR IN CHIEF:
Marisa Kakoulas
CONTRIBUTORS:
Miguel Collins
Craig Dershowitz
Brian Grosz
Sean Risley
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