January 2012 Archives

06:54 PM
jason lambert tattoo.jpg
There are many wonderful blogs written by tattooists that not only exhibit the latest works but share their thoughts on the works and the industry in general. Some even offer their own philosophies, offering a glimpse into the artists' personalities.  One blog that has the complete package is Tattoo Zen by Jason Lambert of Black Cat Tattoos in Pittsburgh, PA.

Jason's latest post, "10 bits of advice for beginning tattooers," is particularly a great read and one that can be enjoyed by those who are not learning to tattoo as many of the lessons can be applied beyond the industry -- and are even applicable to our personal lives.

I also dig reading Jason's online portfolio to get the stories behind some of the tattoos, like the Momataro Japanese folk tale shown below.

Beyond the stories, Jason's portfolio is interesting (especially the before and after shots), strong and diverse. Check it.

jason lambert tattoo 3.jpgjason lambert tattoo 2.jpg
12:20 PM
tattoo hands.jpg

tattoo hands 1.jpgThe label "anatomical art" is often assumed to be tattoo art on skin, but in a fun twist, Repop Mfg and thirteen renowned tattoo artists are changing the meaning by creating collectible art pieces, which can be purchased as easily as a US Senator.

These beautiful limited edition "hands" are real leather printed and sewn by hand in the US; then stuffed and mounted on a wood base and numbered. Curated by Takahiro Horitaka Kitamura, each piece in the collection embodies the signature style of the artists chosen for the project. In addition to Horitaka, the artists include Steve Byrne, Colin Baker, Thomas Hooper, Chris Trevino, Chris Brand, Tim Hendricks, Horiken, Dan Wysuph, Chuey Quintanar, Chad Koeplinger, Chris Yvon, and Scott Sylvia.
On February 1st, the hands will be made available for purchase by Repop Mfg. but be quick to click "checkout" as it's a limited run of 100/100.

tattoo hands 2.jpg
05:33 PM
TS_AlmostForever_blk.jpgWe have a another freebie for ya, courtesy of Sullen Clothing:  a special edition tee from the Sullen Art Collective designed by legendary lettering and black & grey guru Boog. The shirt, which is part of their upcoming Spring 2012 line, hasn't dropped yet but the winner of the contest will be one of the first to sport Boog's signature artistic style.

To get a behind the scenes look at Boog works his lettering, check the video below where he, Big Sleeps and Ryan Smith have a drawing session at Sullen headquarters.

As usual, here's how we're gonna play this: one winner will be selected randomly from those who comment -- with their t-shirt size  -- on this post in our Needles & Sins Syndicate Group on Facebook or hitting up @NeedlesandSins on Twitter. In one week, on Feb. 2nd, we'll put all the names of the commenters into Randomized.com and the internet gods will offer up the chosen one. When the shirt is ready to launch, Sullen will mail your prize. Easy breezy.

If you want to grab some other Sullen goodness, you'll get a discount off of any purchase by putting in this code at checkout: NEEDLESANDSINS. The promotion runs until Feb. 29th

10:55 AM
black & Grey tattoo.jpg
Black & Grey tattoo case 480.jpg In one week, my worldly possessions will be transplanted into a new home. Granted, that new home is only five blocks away from the one I'm typing in now but that doesn't make these boxes any lighter. For many, the heavy lifting is furniture or Bigfoot Garden Yetis. But for me, it's my big-ass books. Please don't make me carry them all.

As an incentive, from today until February 1st, I'm reducing the price of my author copies to reduce any potential back problems. Here's the offer:

* Black & Grey Tattoo 3 Volume Box Set: All 3 books in sleeve and carrying case are now $320 including shipping in the US (a great deal as shipping this 20lb box is pretty pricey).

* Black & Grey Tattoo individual volumes:  Each book -- Traditional Black & Grey, Dark/Horror, & Portraits -- is now $120 each including shipping in the US.

* Color Tattoo Art: Cartoon. Comics. Pin-Up. Manga. New School: Now available for $130 including shipping in the US (retails for $199).

For US orders, you can hit up our Needles & Sins Bookstore, or contact me at marisa at needlesandsins.com. For orders outside the US, email me for shipping info. Again, this offer ends February 1st and as supplies last.

I'll even write a love note in the books if ya want. Because I do love you. xo
12:17 PM

The fabulous Hope Blog posted this clip from Portlandia, which begs the all important question:  Is a bad tattoo on someone you like a relationship "deal breaker"?

In the case of an Eddie-Vedder-playing-tambourines tattoo ... yes, it is.
12:46 PM
el bara clown tattoo.jpg Tattoo by El Bara

A surge of independent videos featuring tattooists around the world have made their way across social media, and really, I think it's a good thing. The films offer a close-up look at the process of creation in addition to animated portfolios of the finished tattoos, and often we get a sense of the studio vibe as well. 

All this goodness can be found in Ronink Films' video on True Love Tattoo in Madrid, Spain. The 8-minute production may be long for some looking for quick sketch-to-ink action, but I enjoyed sitting back with my coffee and watching all the details that go into putting on a solid tattoo. The artists at True Love -- El Bara, Know & xGastx -- are particularly regarded for their traditional & neo-traditional work, and in the video, you can see them employing time-old tattoo tenets with skill. My favorite clips are of the neck tattoo, which you can see being worked midway in the film. And stay till the end for a fun way of rolling credits. 

See more of their work on Facebook.
 xgastx tattoo.jpgTattoo by xgastx
 know tattoo.jpgTattoo by Know
02:15 PM
image001.jpg As a follow up to our mention of tattoo anthropologist Dr. Lars Krutak in the earlier post, I wanted to let you know that Sacred Gallery in NYC is hosting the photographic exhibit Shamanic Skin: The Art of Magical Tattooing, which features thirty selected works from Lars' portfolio. The opening is Saturday, February 4th from 7 to 10PM and runs until February 29th.Here's more:

In 1777, the word 'tattoo' was defined as 'an indelible mark or figure fixed upon the body by insertion of pigment under the skin or by the production of scars.' For thousands of years before that date, however, indigenous peoples practiced various forms of tattooing and scarification not only to beautify themselves or mark significant life achievements, but also to please or seek protection from particular spirits which inhabited their world.

For the past fifteen years, Dr. Lars Krutak has traveled the globe to document the religious beliefs behind permanent forms of tribal body modification. His photographic exhibition focuses upon the deeply spiritual realm of tattoo through an examination of these fascinating rituals.
For a copy of the show catalog, email Kevin@SacredGalleryNYC.com. Lars' books "The Tattooing Arts of Tribal Women" (2007) and "Kalinga Tattoo: Ancient and Modern Expressions of the Tribal" (2010) will be available for signing at the opening as well.

Sacred Gallery is located at 424 Broadway 2nd Fl (between Canal and Howard) in NYC.
01:29 PM
Gond and Kolam tattoo.jpg There's an interesting article in The Hindu called "Tweaking Traditions," which looks at how the ancient tribal art of tattooing among the women of the Gond and Kolam tribes is fading as the younger generations "adopt modernity" and follow clothing fashions rather than decorate themselves permanently.

Reporter and photographer S. Harpal Singh says, "Traditionally, Gond and Kolam women wore meagre clothes which left a good part of their body exposed to sun. Much of bare skin used to be covered with tattoos, or 'kohkana' in Gondi, which gave the individual a decent look." Singh then quotes expert Guruji Ravinder Sharma: "Tattooing on the back, waist, arms and face was done during infancy of the girl child. The practice continues to this day but the size of the tattoo is much smaller."

Tattooing was also practiced for curing illness according to the article; for example, severe headaches were treated with tattoos on the temples and forehead.

While the article is a quick and easy read, it inspired me to look into India's tattooing traditions, and naturally, I came upon a more in-depth discussion by our favorite tattoo anthropologist Lar Krutak on The Vanishing Tattoo.

Read Lars' "India: Land of Eternal Ink" for a history lesson along with images of some beautiful tribal art.
11:26 AM

The Gypsy Gentleman - Episode 02: Austin, Texas from Marcus Kuhn on Vimeo.

Taking us on a tattoo tour through different cities and experiencing them through renowned tattooists, The Gypsy Gentleman video magazine by Marcus Kuhn has just released its second episode. In this 30 minute production, Marcus hits Austin, Texas to explore the "birth of tattooing in America in the mid-twentieth century" along with Steve Byrne and Tony Hundahl of Rock of Ages Tattoo.

The three artists visit The National Museum of the Pacific War, filled with WW II memorabilia and imagery that largely inform traditional Americana tattooing. They then each create tattoos based upon what inspired them in the museum. Really interesting work. There's also discussion on the essence of what traditional tattooing is, beyond subject matter.

Also throughout the video, you'll hear Marcus offer some fun facts on Austin and visit other sites like the Cathedral of Junk and the studio of master sign painter Gary Martin.

A fun trip the whole ride through.

Check our first post on The Gypsy Gentleman here.
01:00 PM
martin-luther-king-tattoo-print1.jpgPortrait by Remis Tattoo

On this day celebrating Martin Luther King Jr., I will try to refrain from my usual groaning over the search to find tattoos honoring the civil rights leader and coming up with more odes to rapper Old Dirty Bastard. [Do a Google image search on each to see what I mean.] 

Then I think of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream Speech" and I'm reminded to judge people by the "content of their character," not color of their skin -- whatever colors and characters people chose to mark their bodies with.

One of the greatest things about tattoos is that they inspire communication. People are naturally curious over what others painstakingly and permanently put in their own skins. We hunger for a good story ... and many of us hunger to tell one. A mother may want you to know that the name above her heart is her beloved daughter. The veteran with the memorial tattoo on his arm lets you know about the courage of his lost friend. My own tattoos are largely decorative but the patterns come from my Greek ancestry and places I've traveled. Buy me a drink and I have tons to talk about. This communicative value also allows for teaching moments. A Dr. King tribute speaks not only about the how the activist inspired the tattoo collector but may also educate another who does not know of King's life and legacy. 

It's powerful, what tattoos can do. And it's why I appreciate it when I do find tributes to inspiring figures, as they can be daily reminders to be better to each other and ourselves.

martin luther king tattoos.jpgTattoos (above left to right) by Joshua Carlton, Mike DeMasi, and Logan Aguilar.

martin luther king jr tattoo by jason grace.jpgTattoo above by Jason Grace.

colorblind tattoo.jpgMLK-inspired "Colorblind" tattoo above by Watson Atkinson on musician Killick Hinds. For the great story behind that tattoo, see our 2010 MLK post. [Photo by Louis Cahill.]

07:53 PM
rising_dragon_tattoo.jpgI love New York but sometimes I feel New York doesn't love me back. The rents continue to soar, with a middle finger up at the recession. What were once my favorite dive bars now have velvet ropes and lists to get in. Our rock & roll institutions are vanishing: CBGB's is a high-end boutique, punk mecca Coney Island High on St. Marks now is a noodle joint, and then there's the heartbreak of the Chelsea Hotel.
The landmark hotel was once home to musicians, artists, writers, and all forms of beautiful freaks like Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Charles Bukowski, Sid & Nancy ... and it was the home of Darren Rosa's Rising Dragon Chelsea Tattoo Company. That is, until this past Halloween when the tattoo studio had to move because the new management decided it didn't fit the "lifestyle" they wanted the property to embody. [The NY Times did a great story on how the developers squeezed Darren out and also some residents.]

Darren operated the shop at the Chelsea since 1997, when tattooing became legal in NYC. In 2007, when his lease was not fully renewed (only month to month), he had the foresight to open a second Rising Dragon, which is located at West 14th, just off of Sixth Avenue -- a busy Manhattan location. To house all of his artists, from the original shop to the new, Darren then negotiated a space at the top floor of the West 14th building. And now the studio expansion is ready to get blood and green soap all over it.

rising drogon tattoo2.jpg Naturally, this is cause for a party! This Sunday, January 15th, Rising Dragon will be celebrating with live music and drinks in its new warm and cozy studio, from 6:30PM to midnight. See photos of the new space here. More info on their Facebook page

When the music is over and the bottles are empty, the Rising Dragon artists will be back at work hustling -- including those coming over from the old Chelsea shop like Carlos Gonzales as well as Horisei of Yokohama, who is a regular guest artist doing machine tattooing and traditional tebori.

And so Rising Dragon Tattoo continues to grow, ascending beyond adversity. It's a New York story and a reason to keep my love affair with the city.

4th floor thai buddha.jpg
05:16 PM

KA-BAR "Blizzard" from Joshua Frankel on Vimeo.

The slogan for knife makers Ka-Bar is "Hardcore Lives. Hardcore Knives." It makes sense as a large part of their brand are blades that can slice through a boar, or boarish person. Understanding that every tattooed person is of course "hardcore" (except when I'm dancing to Beyonce), Ka-Bar hired Joshua Frankel to create video shorts illustrating real stories of badasses using the knives via animated tattoos. He explains: "Hunting knives and tattoos share an inherent primal nature, and tattoo art is an aesthetic that the customer base connects with. It's a strong connection between concept and product." Damara Kaminecki, Johnnie Kravetz, Brett Zarro created the tattoo art that comes to life under Joshua's direction. See more videos on the Ka-Bar  homepage.

Considering these are the first commercials ever for the 100-year-old brand, according to Joshua, they did some big promotions and even sent me a hunting knife as a sample for review. While many New Yorkers fantasize about stabbing people who block the subway doors or use monster golf umbrellas on crowded sidewalks, I really didn't have a way to properly (and legally) test it for y'all, so I gave it to my friend Jonas Sherman, a martial arts combatives teacher and tactical shooting instructor who knows a thing or two about guns, knives, and the impending zombie apocalypse

Jonas put the Becker companion knife through a series of tests and found that the only way he could destroy it was with heavy artillery. See what went down below:

Note to self: Do Not anger Jonas.

Overall, a positive review for Ka-Bar regardless of the tattoo angle.
04:02 PM

Miami tattooist Dave Sedano graciously shared this Funny or Die video on the Needles & Sins group wall, but I had to repost in case you missed it.

Whoever wrote this script has to be tattooed because it is so spot on in its ridiculous, from mocking the "deep meaning" stories behind the art to the hyper-hipster ironic tattoo. Gotta see it.
10:56 AM
sailor jerry tattoo.jpg
This Saturday, January 14th, to commemorate what would have been the 101st birthday of Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins, the rum brand inspired by the iconic tattooer will be sponsoring events in Chicago and NYC where lucky Americana fans could get original Sailor Jerry tattoos ... for free.

The Chicago Tattoo Co. and Fineline Tattoo will each be offering 101 complimentary tattoos from the flash sheet above, on a first come-first serve basis from noon to midnight at Chicago Tattoo and to 10PM at Fineline. Must be 18 or older to get tattooed and obviously 21 or older to get in on the rum drink specials. The Sailor Jerry peeps will be offering those drink specials at nearby Lil' Frankies in NYC and early customers in Chicago will get drink vouchers to be redeemed at Schuba's Trader Todd's (3216 N. Sheffield Ave). SJ swag will also be handed out to those who beat the rush -- definitely expect crowds. [While there are tons of freebies, tipping your artists and bartenders is appreciated.]

The two tattoo studios are a perfect fit for this celebration. As Nick Colella says:
Chicago Tattoo has a direct lineage to Sailor Jerry through Tatts Thomas. Jerry got his start in Chicago in the mid-twenties with Tatts on South State St. He later moved on to Hawaii. Tatts stayed in Chicago on South State St. until the early sixties when he traveled to work with Amund Dietzel in Milwaukee. After Milwaukee outlawed tattooing, Tatts moved back to Chicago to work with Cliff Raven at what is now The Chicago Tattoo Co; thus, Chicago Tattoo is in the direct and unbroken lineage to Sailor Jerry.
And Mike Bakaty's Fineline Tattoo -- the longest continuing running shop in Manhattan -- also keeps the Sailor Jerry tradition of letting the work speak for itself in its non-pretentious, hardworking old school storefront that welcomes everything from large intricate work to a piece of Traditional flash.

If you can't make it this Saturday to the events, check the artists' portfolios at both shops for Sailor Jerry strong tattoos.

UPDATE: AAlso this Saturday, from 12pm to 12am, Uptown Tattoos at 575 S. Carrolton Avenue in New Orleans, is offering 101 free tattoos of one of several original designs from the flash sheet above. Afterward, patrons are invited to join in on a bar crawl kicking off at 10pm at Flanagan's Pub (625 Saint Philip St.) where they can raise a glass to Norman Collins and sip on signature Sailor Jerry cocktails.
11:30 AM
cassette_whutsiznaim_storyslide_image.jpgToday, at 2PM Eastern Time, the wonderful Joseph Ari Aloi aka JK5 -- tattooist, writer, designer, toy creator, filmmaker, and family man -- will be on WNYC's "Music Ink" program with musician-artist Bryan Kienlen of the Bouncing Souls. But you don't need be in NYC to catch it -- hear it streamed live on WNYC.org, AM 820 channel, by clicking "Listen Now" in the right side audio box.

The station had put out a call for listeners to share their music tattoo images and stories, like this cassette tattoo (shown right) tattooed by JK5 himself. It's part of a slideshow that largely contains music note tattoos. The images aren't incredibly exciting but I'm sure the discussion will be fun and interesting.

Beyond music nostalgia, JK5's portfolio is filled with tributes in a variety of tattoo genres. What he is renowned for, however, is his lettering -- always perfect flow and readability, with a wide vocabulary of typographic forms. See examples below.

JK5 can be found at Daredevil Tattoo in Manhattan.

IMG_2034.jpg JK5 tattoo.jpg
12:35 PM
toy tattoo machine.jpg Over at Complex Mag, from western cedar.

Woodworker Michael Riley of Arkansas created these toys, which measure 6 inches long by 3 inches wide, to hold most types of crayons. He also does custom orders should you, say, opt for a rotary than coil machine. The handmade awesomeness is only $20 plus shipping.

I plan on buying a bunch for my friends' little girls to replace their Princess Barbies and get them started on their art careers early.
05:36 PM

Today, in the Charlotte Observer, there's an extensive feature on South Carolina tattoo and fine artist Rodney Raines of Ace Custom Tattoo. Here's a taste of that article:

Over a decade ago Penny Craver, then owner of Tremont Music Hall, unknowingly inspired Raines. "She asked, 'Where did you have that done?' " he recalls about one of his full sleeves. "What she said next hit me like a bolt - 'Oh, you couldn't get that around here.' I thought, 'I've got to change that mentality.' "

He set out to change the perception of tattoo art in Charlotte. Through events that showcased his fellow tattoo artists' fine arts pursuits as painters, illustrators and mixed-media artists, he attempted to change the perception of tattoo as an art form.

Rodney furthered this goal by opening up the art gallery and wine bar Twenty-Two, where he displays work that is affordable and unique from Charlotte's usual gallery fare.

Check out Rodney's own fine art here and more of his tattoos here.



11:49 AM
Brooklyn tattoo.jpg
I like to think of myself as a bit of a Brooklyn badass ... but then there are things that bring me back to reality. The embodiment of badassery in my borough can be seen in this fascinating slideshow on Flavorwire of a gang "of 'troubled teenagers coming of age' in 1959 Brooklyn." Legendary photographer Bruce Davidson captured these kids getting into fights, making out with tough looking girls, and naturally, getting tattooed (as shown above). It's all very sexy. Hit up Flavorwire for more photos.
06:12 PM
sake tattoo joker.jpgCriminality, ownership, and even secret codes among spies -- tattoos in ancient Greece largely served these purposes and it was rare to look at them as any kind of attractive adornment. In Greece today, however, there is an explosion of artful tattoos that defy the ancients and decorate their descendants in ways that have caught the attention of the international tattoo community.

One such Greek artist is Sake, of Sake Tattoo, -- a studio that has been beautifying Athens (and clients well beyond) since it opened in 2005. Sake's notable style, developed since he began tattooing in 2001, is color bombed portraits framed in graphic backgrounds, influenced by his long graffiti history. [You can still find him burning walls with his graffiti crew, the Till Death Squad.] While Greece remains a gorgeous vacation destination, here's an added reason to take a trip.

See more of Sake's work here.

sake tattoo greece.jpgsake tattoo.jpg
See the full size images of the tattoos in the montage above on our Flickr page.
01:52 PM
A good way to start the new year is with a freebie, especially if it's an engaging illustrated novel by prolific tattooist, painter and now author, Dan Henk.

The Black Seas of Infinity is described as a dark thriller with a sci-fi and horror vibe. Publisher's Anarchy Books are offering the eBook version of the novel free for the Kindle and viewing via the Kindle app (which works on multiple devices). This promotion is limited, just the next few days during the post New Year's hangover. The paperback is available for $10.88 on Amazon. 

The novel is written from the first-person perspective of the lone protagonist, who is working for the military, when he makes a discovery that will forever alter his life. Pulled from his job building surveillance drones, the antihero is brought into a clandestine military group investigating downed alien crafts. As a man who pined for a career in advanced physics, this was a dream come true -- but a short-lived one. He soon finds himself at odds with the powers that be and is expelled from the group. The problem is he knows too much. The story follows him through a bloody heist turned coup, the fall of the US government, and a subsequent maze of viperous confederacies. Society crumbles around him, and he flees to the jungles of Mexico. There he finds an even worse fate.

dan henk illustrations.jpgFor Dan, art and writing are intertwined. His eleven years tattooing and his fine art education clearly influence his prose, a fact that he doesn't deny. "I've been told I write with an artist's eye. I tend to fully describe a scene, not just flit through the highlights. I imagine myself there, in the midst of the scenario I'm creating, and I try to bring it to life with words." He's is currently working on a book of short stories, which Anarchy Books will also release as a paperback later this year.

Tattooing still dominates Dan's days. Check his site for tattoo work and his upcoming convention schedule.
connect with us

Marisa Kakoulas
Miguel Collins
Craig Dershowitz
Brian Grosz
Sean Risley
Patrick Sullivan
Needles and Sins powered by Moveable Type.

Site designed and programmed by Striplab.

NS logo designed by Viktor Koen.