March 2012 Archives
Artwork by Timothy Hoyer
Over the years, when interviewing renowned tattooists about the greatest influences on their work, the name Eddy Deutsche is constantly being dropped. As part of the first crew of artists at Ed Hardy's legendary Tattoo City and later working with Horitaku of the Horitoshi family, Eddy developed a style that has inspired other artists to go beyond traditional tattoo tenets and experiment in their compositions and techniques, to meld various artistic influences and create unique works of tattoo art.
Eddy is a consummate innovator, and his latest project, featuring the fine art of tattooists, is another exciting example of this: Raking Light Projects is an online art gallery featuring fine arts and collectible prints created by stellar tattoo artists. With co-owner Andrew Fingerhut, Eddy invites a select group of artists to create a work of fine art based on their interpretation of a theme, along with several single-edition prints to showcase their individual artistic style and creative perspective. The work is then made available for viewing and purchase exclusively on RakingLightProjects.com.
The first theme is "Liberation," interpreted by Guy Aitchison, Jondix, Timothy Hoyer, Bert Krak, Carlos Rodriguez and Derrick Snodgrass. It's fascinating to see the vastly different approaches to the theme. Andrew offers more on this:
The overall collection successfully showcases the diverse perspective and the true depth of talent found among a select group of working tattooists. Some art proudly reflects the expressive, bold elements long associated with the best tattoo work. Other work reveals alternative facets of creativity that are as uniquely suited to paper and canvas composition as they are distinct from ink on skin. The tattoo commonality among participating artists can be celebrated, critiqued or ignored because the body of work stands strongly on its own.
Andrew also explained more about the process:
A variety of traditional and digital printmaking techniques were utilized to create the prints. Each participating artist created original artwork that served as source material for a single edition of 20 or 25 prints. Once the prints were produced, the original artwork was destroyed or cancelled to preserve the underlying value of the edition and to ensure that the prints are objectively considered limited edition works of art. All prints are signed, numbered and include an artist-verified Certificate of Authenticity. Each artist was closely involved in the printmaking production process and their time, attention to detail and effort is proudly reflected in the resulting artwork.
I can personally attest to the print quality, having a hand-signed mixed media print on canvas of Timothy Hoyer's "Void," which hangs near my desk as I write this. As noted on the Raking Light site, it is giclee on gallery-wrapped canvas with silk-screen overlay; printed on Lyve fine art canvas using Epson archival pigmented inks; coating applied and pulled by hand on silk-screen machine using Glamour II varnish. The result is a powerful piece that is worth much more than its $250 price.
To view all available works, check the Raking Light gallery.
Tim Lehi laser etched wood print (above).
Mixed media print by Jondix.
Artists Cy & Caro have made their appearance on this blog before for their black graphic tattoo work, but today I want to share their collaboration with German designer Julie Springer on a limited series of gorgeous scarves & leggings that bear their signature artwork.
For this series, they experimented with discharge paste (which removes colors from the textile) and different fabric combinations, including jersey, wool and silk. All are silk-screen printed. The result is one-of-a-kind artful apparel with a special feel to it for a visual and tactile experience. Some of the designs were also printed on paper for an exhibit planned over the next couple of years.
While the artists say the collaboration was largely sparked by the desire to display their work in another medium, the scarves and leggins are available for purchase. Prices range from 60 Euro (approx. $80) to 120 Euro (approx. $160).
For more information, email cyface3 at gmail.com or kontakt at juliespringer.de.
And if you haven't seen the work of Cy & Caro, check their blogs SkinTraces and TravelTraces as well as Facebook.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say this: TV is not killing tattooing. I know. Crazy talk, especially from a person who has been mocking reality tattoo shows from Miami Ink to NY Ink and all those shirtless promos of Ami James in between. [We even took time out of our lives to make a drinking game for the latest Ink show.] But the intense outcry today against these shows and the so-called "sell-outs" (I hate this term) who populate them has grown exponentially and really seems disproportionate to the actual harm.
The biggest issue of course is that there really isn't anything real about reality TV. Tattooing is not as dramatic and glamorous as seen on TV and many fear the shows attract people who just want to get into it for the fame and fortune. This is very true but then reality does set in for these types of "artists" to help weed many out.
And of course there's the bemoaning of the death of tattoo's magic, something I've done more times than I'd like to admit. But Kat Von D didn't put the final nail in the tattoo cool coffin. The art was securely woven into the fabric of pop culture long before the shows. Maybe I did it. Every time a lawyer gets tattooed, a biker dies. True fact.
All the foregoing blah blah does not mean I'm a fan of all the tattoo series, but I am keeping an open mind and looking at the good and bad of these programs. And that's what I did when I got an advance screener of Best Ink, a(nother) tattoo competition show.
Best Ink premiers tonight at 10/9c on the Oxygen network. You can catch video previews of the show here. I've only seen the first episode and promos, so my Pros and Cons list below reflects this and nothing more.
The judges Joe Capobianco and Sabina Kelly. Joe has been tattooing for nearly two decades and developed a tattoo style that is sought after worldwide. Joe has paid his dues. He's speaks his mind. And he has great hair. Perfect judgey material. You'll also be happy to know that he makes people cry on the show. People who you want to see cry. Bonus! Sabina was a "tattoo model" before the term was even used as a job description. [80% of tattooed women under 25 are tattoo models. True fact.] She's run a shop, she's judged and presented at international tattoo conventions, and she's beautiful. TV likes beautiful.
The host Kimberly Caldwell, seventh place finalist on the second season of American Idol. I don't get it. At least Dave Navarro on Ink Master had a lot of freakin tattoos to distract us from his overly groomed facial hair. In the first episode, Kimberly tries explaining why on earth she would be running this show by saying something to the effect that "she's all business in the front, and party in the back," turning around to reveal a lettering tattoo on her shoulder blade. I threw something at my computer screen. I think it was a Clay Aiken cd.
I would have loved to see a celebrity who has a passion for tattooing. I would have loved to see Margaret Cho, who is getting tattooed by some of the best in the business and sharing her experiences being a tattooed woman on her amazing blog. A pro here is that Margaret does make an appearance as a judge. The thing is that Margaret, with all her tattoos, biting wit and dirty mouth, is not safe for a mass audience. Kimberly is safe. My mom will like her.
There are some strong tattooists on the show like Roman Abrego and Jon Mesa. Viewers have an opportunity to see what a "good" tattoo can be by those who have experience and skill.
There are some inexperienced tattooers on the show who do damage to the sad people who agree to get tattooed under the ridiculous conditions of a competition show just to be on TV.
The biggest con: presenting all the contestants as the "top tattoo artists" in America.
The biggest pro: the actual judging of the tattoos -- the dissection of the elements of how a tattoo should be crafted, which could educate a mass audience on the possibilities of the art. The drama here is largely derived from achieving the best execution of the work, rather than, say, the backstory of a transsexual war veteran who lost her cat during a house fire and that's why she wants a tattoo of Garfield engulfed in flames holding an AK-47 with Old English script that says "RIP Odie" underneath. True story.
Bottom line: I'm going to watch it. There will be moments when it will make me mad. And there will be moments when Joe schools the kids on tattooing that will make me cheer. In any case, it's entertainment. Not reality. Perhaps it needs a drinking game.
I've been meaning to post this excellent Miami New Times article on Florida's tattoo laws sooner but my own legal work took over last week. The story raises so many interesting issues on the regulation of the industry, which warrant serious discussion, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on our Facebook group page or via Twitter.
Reporter Chris Sweeney discusses the history and implementation of "The Practice of Tattooing," which went into effect January 1st. But even more interesting are the different factions of tattooers for and against enforcement of the law. Chris begins the article by setting the scene of a scratcher, Louie, tattooing a howling woman in his apartment. The woman's boyfriend had just gotten tattooed as well and is sleeping off the pain under a SpongeBob blanket. The family schnauzer roams into the room, looking for attention. Taking a break, putting his machine on a folding snack table (with a blue medical napkin on it), Louie grabs a Bud Light Platinum and tells his wife and daughter, "She's gonna take a crap when she sees how awesome this is."
That's all set out in the first three paragraphs of this 5-page article, and I'm already scared shitless. Maybe it's because Louie doesn't have an autoclave and operates in an unsterile environment. Or that people off of Craigslist come to him -- when he's not working at the hardware store -- to "salvage" the already bad tattoos they have, as you can see from the hot mess above. But what bothers me most are that there are tons of Louie's out there putting people at risk for more than just a shitty tattoo.
As Chris reports, the Center for Disease Control released a review of studies that found "no definitive evidence for an increased risk of HCV infection when tattoos and piercings were received in professional parlors." BUT the risk was "two- to three-times higher risk for HCV infection when the tattoo was received in a nonprofessional setting."
The new Florida law would make Louie's operation a second-degree misdemeanor (a felony if charged three times) and he could be fined $1,500 per violation. The law requires a yearly tattoo license for artists and shop registration, a 70% score on a blood-borne pathogens exam, and the studio must pass inspection by its county health department. No animals, no sleeping quarters, and there's got to be a working autoclave.
Most professional tattooists wouldn't have a problem with such regulations, especially compared to the previous law, which required shops to be under "direct supervision" (later changed to "general supervision") of a physician. Where the controversy really lies, as detailed in the article, is in its enforcement.
Tom Meyer, President of the Florida Tattoo Artist's Guild says his organization will work with health officials to crack down on violators:
"The big thing with the new law is it's all complaint-driven," [...] "So now, every time people come in with bad tattoos or tattoo infections, we as professional, legitimate shops will get as much information as we can on who did it and give that information to the health department or local police."Tom adds that this is all necessary to protect professional tattooing as a "viable livelihood." But other artists quoted in the article disagree with tattooists "ratting" each other out. Many expressed that self-regulation of the industry -- and just being a better tattooist -- is the best way to keep tattooing viable. In fact, some professional tattooers like Stevie Moon are seriously pissed off about this:
"You're supposed to help your brethren, not fucking burn them down," [...] "This is an organization I thought was supposed to support the community, and instead they want to try to police it. They're a bunch of scared little fucking boys still trying to start a tattoo mafia and make it legit by hiding behind this law and the whole scratcher thing."Personally, I can see both sides of the argument here. I'm in favor of regulation if it is drafted based on recommendations from the tattoo industry, which this was. But I feel that enforcement should be done systematically by health officials and not a tattoo witch hunt. [The fees and fines will pay for it.]
Many great artists started on kitchen tables, but today, with the easy accessibility of information, kits, supplies and clients looking for a deal, the risks are greater. Anyone looking to make extra money on the side can find a way to do it, not just the artist who truly wants to tattoo but can't find an apprenticeship.
So what do you think? Are you for stricter rules or self-regulation, and who should police those who don't follow the rules?
Geek blogs have been blowing up over Nokia's "Haptic Communication" patent application for a device that is either attached to -- or even tattooed into -- the skin and is "capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus relates to the magnetic field."
Essentially, the device could give you a literal buzz when someone calls or texts you. [The sex industry must have some similar patent for this.]
Breaking down the tech so that I even I can understand it, Vlad at Unwired View explains:
Haptic tech is employed, for example, when your phone vibrates as you type on its touchscreen. Haptics deal with appealing to your sense of touch by applying forces or vibrations to your skin.Roberto at Wired notes that "it's unlikely most Nokia users would get inked just so their latest Nokia smartphone could announce the arrival of a text message." I'm not so sure. After posting articles like scannable barcode and augmented reality tattoos as well as numeric control tattoo machines, I'm guessing there are a bunch of people out there willing to try the tech and permanently keep their phones in vibrate mode.
The Horiyoshi III apps we talked about on Monday got a love of love from y'all, so I figured I'll post another fun one: the Sailor Jerry app for iPhone and iPad.
When you hit the home page of the app -- shown above -- head straight to "Ink View" where you can try on classic Americana art by tattoo legend Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins. Easy to use, you can scale and rotate the designs on a photo from your camera roll or take a new photo, and play around with flash of pin-ups, anchors, ships, hearts and many more iconic images. You can then email or post your photo to Facebook and Twitter.
There are also features that allow you to find an artist (which needs work) as well as a link to the Sailor Jerry Facebook page, but it's the Ink View that makes this app worth the download. And hell, it's free!
Here's one I did on a baby pic of me below. [Yes, my delts were that big.] Try it out for yourself.
Editor's note: I've been a big fan of the work of the Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon Tribe, a group made up of largely young Filipino-Americans seeking to revive the tattoo traditions of their ancestors. One of the founders of the Tribe, tattooist Elle Festin, opened Spiritual Journey Tattoo last year, which offers traditional, hand-poked Filipino tattoos in addition to being a full service studio of all tattoo genres. For more info on Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon and Elle's work, here's Tribe member Tina Astudillo-Ash's guest blog.
By Tina Astudillo-Ash
In the past few years, Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon (Mark of the Four Waves) Tribe has been blessed with continued momentum in their efforts to revive indigenous Filipino tattoos. The Tribe's family has grown throughout the United States, especially in California, as more people have reached out to get in touch with their Filipino roots through tattooing.
The growing interest in the Tribe's work has allowed tattooist Elle Festin to continue to hone his skills at hand-poked tattoos. Elle utilizes several different hand-made tools, which he has been able to model after indigenous tools.
In 2008, the Tribe's work was further validated when Elle and other Tribe members including Zel Mayo and Jyroe (Jose Jimenez) traveled to the Philippines to participate in the Cordillera Festival and meet Whang Od, one of the last Kalinga tattooists in the world. Whang Od questioned and tested Elle extensively about his tattoos and the motifs behind the patterns. She was satisfied with his responses and she realized the Tribe was sincere in its efforts to revive the art form. Whang Od had confidence in Elle's skill and knowledge, and she invited him to tattoo her. Elle obliged, applying a simple yet beautiful centipede design on her upper back. Elle would later remark that even at over 90 years old, Whang Od did not flinch when getting tattooed. Elle also had the opportunity to meet Whang Od's apprentice, her grand-niece. Although still very young, her apprentice was eager to learn and continue the sacred tradition. An encouraging sign tattooing will continue to flourish in Kalinga culture.
In 2011, Elle opened the Tribe's official tattoo studio, Spiritual Journey Tattoo & Tribal Gallery. The art found throughout the shop and applied on the walls pay homage to many indigenous cultures and their tattoo traditions. The shop also has a special room reserved only for applying tattoos by the traditional methods. Although a great majority of clients are seeking Filipino tattoos, the artists also do traditional American, Polynesian, color and black and grey tattoos.
The opening of Spiritual Journey Tattoo has resulted in more positive exposure for the Tribe and Filipino tattooing. In recent years, Filipino tattoos have gained well-earned respect from other tattooing cultures. [Support and encouragement have always been given by respected artists like Aisea Toetu'u, Po'oino Yrondi, Orly Locquiao and Gilles Lovisa.] It is a testament to the significant impact of the beauty of Filipino tattoos. Perhaps the most important result of this is reflected in the growing number of older Filipino tattoo clients -- those who always wanted to be tattooed but avoided getting them because they did not want to be associated with the negative stigma surrounding tattoos.
Through Spiritual Journey Tattoo & Tribal Gallery, the Tribe continues to educate the community about indigenous-style Filipino tattoos, as well as offer other traditional work and contemporary tattoo art.
Spiritual Journey Tattoo & Tribal Gallery is located at 7159 Katella Avenue in Stanton, CA.
[I'm gonna put the full-disclosure up front: there's full-exposure on the click-through link. If seeing a naked man's behind isn't appropriate for your workplace - or if it just plain skeeves you out - don't click, just enjoy the cropped photo above]
After another four-and-a-half hours last Thursday, Mike Rubendall of Kings Ave Tattoo finally wrapped up all of the black-work/background for my dragon back-piece. I couldn't be happier, if only because it means that we're done tattooing my butt-crack which is - to say the least - an unpleasant experience.
Head on over to my blog, Bodysuit To Fit, to read about my latest sitting and see the uncropped version of the above photo.
Remember, it's NSFW.
Tons of tattoo-related apps have flooded the iTunes store, but a number are indeed worthy of precious space on your iPhone and iPads. Two such apps, which share the work of Horiyoshi III (one of Japan's foremost tattoo masters), are Horiyoshi 3 and "100 Demons."
The recently released Horiyoshi 3 app is a digital compendium of "photos and drawings for an intimate view of his life and works" -- with some never-before-seen sketches. There are also images of his studio and his Yokohama tattoo museum. You can do a keyword search through images and bookmark your favorite images. They can also be emailed, which could be handy if you want to give your tattooist some ideas for your next work (for inspiration, not copying of course). It's available on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch for $4.99.
The "100 Demons" app is the digital version of the Master's 1998 book of illustrations of Japanese demons and mythological creatures and warriors -- which is no longer in print nor available digitally elsewhere. As stated in its iTunes description, "By working closely with the original publisher, we have been granted exclusive rights to release the book in this form. In addition, Horiyoshi III himself has personally reviewed and approved this release." The chapters are easy to navigate and images can be viewed in picture frame mode for a better look. It's available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch for $9.99.
Both are worth the money, especially for fans of Japanese tattoo art.
Our friends over at Sullen Clothing are offering yet another chance to get tattooed for free. Free! This time you can get up to five hours of work from black & grey specialist Big Gus over at their headquarters plus $500 worth of Sullen Clothing, a hotel for one night, and a feature on Sullen TV. Sweet!
All you have to do is go to Sullen's Facebook page, become a fan by clicking Like, and then click the sweepstakes link. That's it. But in the video below, Big Gus explains the rules in his own special way.
Must be 18+ years of age and winner is selected the beginning of April. Contest ends March 31st.
Today is International Women's Day. I know, every day should be women's day, men's day, animals' day...But with things like women's access to health care being eroded and the mere existence of Rush Limbaugh, it seems I just have to take any day I can get. For me, the value of this day is the reminder and opportunity for reflection on the trials and triumphs of being a woman -- a tattooed woman.
Since becoming visibly tattooed over the past decade, I've been quick to say, "My tattoos do not define me!" I believed them to be a small part of a small woman with a big mouth who likes to make grand proclamations. The whole "tattoo as a lifestyle" rhetoric never really sat well with me, largely because I felt it could further marginalize heavy collectors, who may not want to be viewed as just part of a subculture. I want to be a part of every fun, exciting, loving, weird culture. I'm wacky like that.
But the truth is that my tattoos really do play a big part of who I am. They do so in the way I view myself and also in the way I am viewed by others. As I get older and become less stupid and more confident, my tattoos are an expression of beauty and badassness. I love the way I look in them. Instead of mourning the wrinkles, dimples, and toll of gravity, I stick a pretty picture on my body and call myself MaMA, the Marisa Museum of Art. And hell yeah, tattoos are still badass. They still hurt. You still have to manage stares, strangers touching you, dumb questions, and lecherous come-ons from guys who still quote Wedding Crashers. And you got to do it all even on those days you want to hide under your desk. When I'm getting tattooed and don't think I can last through the session, the mantra that runs through my head is, "You're a freakin warrior. You're a freakin warrior!" [Imagine the Brooklyn accent.]
Tattooed women are warriors.
And we need to be respected in this way, in popular culture and in our own "subculture."
Our industry media should reflect a diversity of beauty from the diverse community of tattoo collectors. Equal page counts should be given to pin-ups, painters and professors in our magazines. Female tattooists should be known for their portfolios and not just a sexy spread and cool nickname. And, ya know, sexy spreads are great but can we have some male eye candy in our media as well? I'll pay good money for it. Once we start showing this respect in our own community, those outside will follow. We can show that girls with dragon tattoos need not always be sullen, vengeful hackers or hard-partying vixens. We can show that we are scientists, school teachers, bankers, bakers, moms, mathematicians, lounge singers, lawyers and nerdy holier-than-thou bloggers.
However we define ourselves, tattooed women should be celebrated and valued, today and every day. And we shouldn't be satisfied with just taking what we can get.
Over at Last Sparrow Tattoo forum and gallery, there's a fabulous interview with the Henk Shiffmacher, aka Hanky Panky, conducted by Juan Puente, in which the Dutch tattoo legend discusses the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum and his vision for it as "Tattoo Disney Land Ikea" (he says laughing). There's also an interesting discussion on changes in the industry, which Henk describes as "fast food" tattoos, and the need to go back to the roots of the craft -- where tattoos were built to last through rigamortis, as Henk says.
It's serious talk but fun nonetheless because of Henk and Juan's relationship and some seedy anecdotes that are dropped. Juan offers a bit on their personal history here.
This video will make you want to head to Amsterdam, straight to the museum, and maybe knock one back with Henk to hear more stories.
Some of my favorite blog posts and videos document the creative process of large-scale tattoo projects by stellar tattooists, offering insight into the way an artist works as well as seeing a collector's body transform into awesomeness. One project I've enjoyed recently is Luke Holley's video series on a backpiece created by Darcy Nutt of Chalice Tattoo in Boise, Idaho.
In November, we posted Luke's video of the tattoo first session on Darcy's client Graham. Since that time, Luke has filmed all 12 sessions, which are available for viewing on his Vimeo page. For those with attention deficit disorder, Luke has also created a video that shows the whole transformation under four minutes, which we've posted below.
To check more of Darcy's work, head to her Facebook page and on the Chalice Tattoo site.
More work by female tattooists coming up during this National Women's History Month.
Photo by Sukree Sukplang for Reuters
This past weekend, thousands of gathered at Wat Bang Phra temple (50 miles West of Bangkok) to honor the founders of the temple and "recharge" the magic of their tattoos, as reported by Reuters. Devotees believe that the sacred tattoos, Sak Yant, performed by monks in Thailand offer protection to the wearers and even bestow upon them magical powers.To maintain that magic, the tattooed must obey certain rules and abstain from lying, stealing, drinking and drug use, sexual misdeeds and killing. However, the magic is not lost forever on rule breakers as the festival allows them to reclaim those blessings.
Reuter's Annie Chenaphun describes the scene at the temple this weekend:
Crowds seethed through the temple grounds, with men roaring, hissing and screaming while imitating the creatures tattooed on their bodies, as if they had been possessed by them. One pecked towards the ground as if he was a chicken, others flung up their arms and danced.You can also see video footage from the festival on MSNBC:
To learn more about Sak Yant tattoos, see Father Panik's guest blog on his quest for the magic tattoos, and also our book review of "Sacred Skin: Thailand's Spirit Tattoos" by Tom Vater and Aroon Thaewehatturat.
The fabulous Mel Noir over at Tattoosday UK posted a link to the photo/plasty reader contest on Cracked.com called "If Tattoos Could Talk," and I figured I'd share in case you didn't catch it.
While I'm not a big fan of people grabbing photos online to point and laugh at "bad" tattoos (and a couple of these tattoos are done really well), there was some creativity involved and a bunch made me giggle, like the contest winner's Lil Wayne entry as well as #15 (shown above), #20, and #23.
It's worth a quick click through the slideshow for some mindless time wasting.
As March is National Women's History Month, we'll be doing even more profiles on female tattooers and collectors over the next few weeks.
To start it all off, it seems fitting that we profile the colorful Kristel Oreto as my feature on her for the UK's Total Tattoo is in the latest issue of the magazine (April 2012), and it also happens to be her first day working at Art Machine Productions in Philadelphia.
Here's a taste of the Total Tattoo article:
There was a time when telling someone they "tattooed like a girl" would get you punched in the face. But Kristel Oreto unabashedly deems her portfolio "bubble girlie style," and has a clientele of both men and women who come to her for work that is sugar and spice, and occasionally, a death metal skull.
Much of her fan base need not travel far as Kristel is a fixture on the tattoo convention circuit but you can find her full time at Art Machine Productions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but she continues to tattoo, four times a year, at Crimson Anchor studio in New Port Richey, Florida, which is owned by her husband Joe Tattoo.
"Bubble girlie style" not only describes her tattoos, but her personality. "I'm a really girlie, over the top, bubbly person, so when people ask me to explain my work, it's just that: my style is me," says the 30-year-old native Floridian. "It's based off of New School--all my influences have come from New School--and things I love. I love filigree, old antique stuff and Hello Kitty. [...] I love the way the candy and cupcakes look. They are so happy and colorful. There's no way you can look at a cupcake or piece of candy and have a bad thought in your mind.
To read the entire piece, look for the issue at booksellers in Europe, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. You can also purchase a copy online.
To see more of Kristel's work, check her online portfolio and Facebook page.