April 2012 Archives
From TAM blog & Occult Vibrations, I learned that the 1984 documentary, "Signatures of the Soul" is now available in full and free on NZ On Screen.
Directed by Geoff Steven and hosted by Peter Fonda, the film explores the history of tattooing as well as its role in contemporary society -- that is, up until 1984. Here's the site's synopsis:
"Shot in NZ, Samoa, Japan and the United States, it traces the history of tattooing from Ancient Egypt through its tribal importance in the Pacific, to a counter culture renaissance that began in the 1960s. Leading practitioners (including superstar Ed Hardy) are interviewed and observed at work, while their clients wince their way towards becoming living canvasses."
Also on NZ Screen are short clips from other tattoo documentaries: "Tattoo" (2000) and "Ta Moko" (2007).
My iPhone and iPad are littered with tattoo apps, from portable art references to fun photo games where I give my mom big tribal face tattoos. Today's technology can keep an ancient art thriving with educational offerings and digital creative tools. It can hit hit the mark with apps like the art of Horiyoshi III & Sailor Jerry or it can be a bit creepy with fetish galleries of tattooed feet (don't Google it).
The new Instattoo iOS app is neither awesome nor creepy. It's meh.
The app is largely designed as a creative tool but with little creativity. Billing itself as "The World's First Tattoo Design Generator" (which I doubt), Instattoo gives you a bunch of squiggly lines and let's you morph the patterns in a kaleidoscope-like fashion with a few swipes across your iPad or iPhone screen. "No need to draw!", their headline says! Once you create your "unique" work of art, you can then broadcast it to thousands of your closest social networking friends ... and even better, bring it to a tattoo shop where of course no one there will laugh at you.
[You may think this is just ugly blogger sarcasm, but what's uglier is that someone actually did get a tattoo from this app, as shown in the video below.]
Snark aside, I don't completely hate it because digitally manipulating patterns to create custom tattoos is often used by top artists today and has great potential. Granted, an app like this is too simplified, but it could be a way to play with ideas on the road and then flesh them out in a more sophisticated program or on paper. Or even skin. The idea is there with Instattoo but not the execution, especially with such limited and banal patterns available. It's also worth repeating, although obvious, that a design on a 2D surface doesn't always translate on skin; for example, lines not properly spaced can blur together.
When considering your next tattoo, sometimes it's best to put the tablet down and just talk with a good artist.
Tattoo by Raffaela Olomhe Ricci
Drawing & Tattoo by Brunella Ricci
Italian-born tattoo nomads Raffaella Olomhe Ricci & Brunella Ricci travel the world soaking up the art and culture of the places they visit, translating these influences into very different but highly skillful tattoo work that reflect their own approaches to the craft.
In the late nineties, the sisters owned and operated Stigmata Tatuaggi, one of the first female run studios in Milan. While the shop was highly successful for many years, Raffaella Olomhe and Brunella wanted to concentrate more on their art, while seeing the world, rather be addled with the extra work tattooists must manage for a busy shop. So they closed Stigmata and hit the road. Brunella says, "Traveling is a great way to open your mind, to get to know other realities and meet other artists."
In Raffaella Olomhe's work, indigenous tattoo art of the tribes she has visited have had quite an impact on her own art. She says of her style:
I specialize in ornamental tattooing, solid black, shading and dotwork. I work exclusively freehand and custom, strongly influenced by Maori and Pacific tattoo art. My work is more aesthetic than symbolic with a careful study of shapes and patterns. I mix different styles from many cultures. I also specialize in Celtic dotwork.
In quite another artistic direction is Brunella's tattooing, which she describes in this way: "My style is black and gray. I'm inspired by old lithographic prints, comics, graphic design, and look to interpret them in my own way."
At the moment, the sisters are based at Tribe2 Tattoo in Glasgow, Scotland. They will then head to New Zealand in November & December 2012 and do some guest spots as well as work the New Plymouth tattoo convention on November 24 & 25th.
Check their blogs for updates on their travels and for new tattoos and art.
For an in-depth article on the Ricci sisters, pick up the May 2012 issue of Tattoo Revolution magazine (also available as a digital download).
Celtic Tattoo by Raffaela Olomhe Ricci
Tattoo by Brunella Ricci
Here's a contest for tattooists looking to share their realism work and also get the chance to win prizes that could help further their craft:
The Nikko Color Contest is a collaboration between portrait phenom Nikko Hurtado, Sullen Clothing, Tattoo Artist Magazine and Fusion Tattoo Ink.
The contest is on Sullen Facebook, where artists can post up their color portrait tattoos and the fans will vote on the best. The winner will be chosen by Nikko Hurtado himself, Ryan Smith of Sullen Clothing and Kent from Tattoo Artists Magazine. Submissions are being accepted until May 2nd and the finalists will be posted May 11th. The winner will be chosen May 16th. That lucky artist will receive a FREE Nikko Fusion Ink Set, Nikko DVD, Sullen Clothing gear, a feature in TAM Blog and more.
Good luck to all you talented readers!
Nikko Hurtado tattoo via Twitter.
Tattoos are sexy. Tattooed people are sexy. Sexy sells.
And so, naturally, many brands jump onto tattoo cool to market their products with an edge -- a little bit crazy, a little bit bad. But hey, don't us girls just love that?
Thankfully, some ad campaigns get it right by doing it in a way that involves the tattoo community and puts a spotlight on the artistry along with the branding. One such campaign is Diesel's Only The Brave Tattoo Gallery for their fragrance Only the Brave Tattoo. [And yup, I'm a part of it.]
For this fragrance, Diesel founder Renzo Rosso -- whose hands are tattooed-- approached renowned black & gray artist Mister Cartoon to design a tattooed clenched fist bottle and packaging. Rosso discusses this collaboration with Cartoon in an interview with Cool Hunting. When asked about how he thought to translate a tattoo into a perfume he says:
I'm going to tell you the story. It all started with the bottle. It was my 55th birthday, which is a special anniversary for I was born in 1955. Fifty-five is my magic number. I wanted to give my friends a gift, so I had my hand sculpted into a bottle that was all black and customized with Only the Brave. It was such a success and everybody liked it so much that we decided this bottle should be distributed worldwide. I have these tattoos on my hand as well. So I thought I could do something out of this. Then I met Mr Cartoon who I found to be very much like me--he has a sense of honor and creativity, and he's crazy. He designed the bottle and the logotype. After that, I asked L'Oréal to make a new perfume and translate my new rock 'n' roll attitude, my mentality, my passion, my positive energy into a perfume.[...]Beyond the bottle design and logo, Cartoon's work is also featured in promotions for Only the Brave Tattoo, like this video below, directed by Estevan Oriol. It follows the tattooist around LA, from the streets where he grew up to the studio where he tattoos celebrities today, and in the film, he talks about melding his street art aesthetic with a luxury product.
A host of other creatives, including NY tattooist Michelle Myles, form Diesel's tattoo gallery collage, highlighting the diversity among tattoo lovers and their stories. Even more tattoo stories can be found on an accompanying blog by Anna Mazas, who wrote and curated the awesome "Life Under My Skin."
Indeed, there are many layers to this campaign. It reflects, in some way, how tattooing and our community are being considered seriously by luxury brands -- artistically but also as a market for their goods. It wasn't that long ago when I was being followed around Fifth Avenue stores because I fit the shoplifter profile. Today, I'm one of the faces for a fancy fragrance. And that does feel pretty sexy.
One of my most favorite tattoo conventions is soon upon us, and I'm giving y'all a heads up so you'll join us for another awesome show: Mark your calendars for the NYC Tattoo Convention, May 18-20, at the historic Roseland Ballroom in the heart of Times Square. Can't get any better than that.
One of my favorite things about the show -- in addition to an impeccably curated list of international artists -- is the feeling you get that there is still indeed a tattoo community. Lots of people trading tattoo stories, picture posing with friends and strangers, and hell, you just may meet your future ex-husband or wife there! Or at least a colorful one-night stand.
Also part of the fun will be performers, tattoo contests, and an array of merch and book sellers ... like me! Look for my table Saturday and Sunday by the stage, where I'll be selling discounted copies of my latest tomes and giving away free N+S buttons and stickers.
And if you don't see me there, I'll probably be by the bar because, ya know ...
Here are some pics below from last year's show. Hope to see you there!
I had such a blast talking to Zane Claes and Mark Shore for their "Let Us Present" podcast, where they invite a variety of bloggers, musicians, podcasters, etc. from across the web to join them for a conversation. I talked about top tattoo art, scratchers, Leviticus and the law, among other things. Surprise, surprise.
You can listen to me blah blah for 30 minutes(!) here or subscribe to their Podcast on iTunes. [It says "explicit" in the description but I said nothing salacious, I swear.] The podcast is delivered every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Zane and Mark are the brains behind Streamified, an iPhone and iPad app that takes all your social streams and puts them in one sweet journal. It's not just a reader, however. You can update your status, capture pics, retweet, bookmark your favorite posts -- like me talking for a half hour? -- and all those wonderful time wasters.
Learn more about Streamified on iTunes. Also check them on Facebook and Twitter: @letuspresent, @streamified, @inZania, and @markshore12.
And remember, we're also on Twitter and Facebook, so feel free to comment there.
Photo by Steve Prue
I'm writing this drunk. Or at least a bunch of French researchers think so according to their study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
In fact, I'm stone sober and the only thing wasted is my time reading tons of international press latch on to this study and blow it out of proportion with outrageous headlines. The Alcoholism journal is a peer-reviewed publication, and I'm guessing there could be something to the finding that tattooed people drink more than non-tattooed people, but it also appears simplified and flawed in a number of ways.
Here's how the study went down according to io9.com: French undergrad business students went to college bars in four different cities and hit up almost 2,000 people -- around the average age of 20 -- asking them how many tattoos and piercings they had and then giving them a breathalyzer test. Those with tattoos had more alcohol on their breath. And the more tattoos they had, the more "risky" their behavior.
Thus, naturally, tattooed people drink more.
I can hear the primal scream of tattooed StraightEdge kids now.
It seems silly to state the obvious that 20-year-old college kids in France are not representative of the world tattoo population. However, in light of all the media buzz, perhaps it does need to be said. So there. I said it.
Now, I'll just go make myself a Bloody Mary.
Over the weekend, the Army Times reported on potential new grooming regulations that govern tattoos as well as other appearance standards. And if soldiers don't comply, they could face some serious trouble.
According to the article, here are the new tattoo and piercing rules proposed:
Tattoos will not be visible above the neck line when the physical fitness uniform is worn. Tattoos will not extend below the wrist line and not be visible on the hands. Sleeve tattoos will be prohibited. (This rule may be grandfathered.)The regulations still have to be "tweaked" to make sure they are "feasible, affordable and reasonable." And legal. One of the big problems I have, in relation to these standards, is forced tattoo removal -- which was actually mentioned as a possibility by a Sergeant Major and other senior leaders. While I don't know anything about military law, it's not improbable that a removal requirement could face a legal challenge.
The removal discussion follows a note on "inappropriate tattoos," but it seems that, for those with existing tattoos not deemed inappropriate, the work could be "grandfathered" in and soldiers wouldn't be penalized.
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Read more about the rules in the Army Times.
Starting off your week with this personal essay from our Craig Dershowitz on scoring a tattoo appointment with a booked artist, and the disappointment of having to cancel.
My mom is sick. I am in a bitter court battle. My new apartment requires two months security plus first month rent. They say that when someone gives multiple excuses, they are probably all lies. Believe me, I wouldn't believe this if I wasn't living through it. It is not believable. I cope with tattoos, through tattoos. Tattoos are cathartic and liberating. They remind me that I have control and power over myself, regardless of how many things are conspiring against me. They bring physical pain that, when there is so much mental pain, is a welcome respite. You know when the pain of a tattoo will end and you know how it will end.
For the initiated, tattooing seems like a never-ending process. We are constantly picking our next piece, considering our next artist and, usually, in the midst of a large project. But, there is a finite amount of skin and as each session closes, so too, eventually, does the body. It was my goal to have my body complete by the end of 2012. Tim Kern is in the middle of my back piece (above). Claire Reid is in the middle of my thigh (below right), and I had an appointment with Yoni Zilber for portions of my chest.
And, I had to cancel them all. Not only was it personally upsetting, it was professionally problematic. I know these guys. Their schedules are beyond packed. I wonder how many seconds it took for any of them to fill my spot with someone off of a waiting list. Getting another appointment can be difficult. Getting a reputation for being a flake is worse. Getting them to believe an excuse or three that you yourself wouldn't believe is the worst.
In a small shop in the Village, a tattoo artist told me that he wished he could get work from Yoni and asked if I could get him an appointment. Tim is enigmatic and booked--constantly. Claire travels the world and is only in the States about once a year. All three are legends in the community. All three are incredibly talented. All three have spots on my body reserved for them that, until complete, feel even more empty and naked than if they had nothing on them at all.
I was whining to Marisa about this situation and she told me what a controversial problem it is. Some artists are so booked and full of willing subjects to take any open spot so it's not that big an issue. Others take great offense as if it was a personal slight. The reasons, true reasons, for cancelling are equally across the board. Whether it is financial constraints, laziness, forgetfulness or some serious, life-altering change, the reasons for cancelling an appointment range from meaningful and necessary to insulting and rude.
How each artist copes is probably based on their own personality mixed the experiences they have had in the past both with that particular collector and with random others. I am lucky to consider Yoni a friend and know him to be a genuine, caring and family-oriented man. When I told him about my mother, he knew I was telling the truth and had immediate concern. He returned the money I had Pay-pal'd him and gave good wishes. Tim said not to worry and was extraordinarily flexible and kind. Claire was still in Australia but promised to ask the earth for healing. If you know Claire, you know this is completely in line with her beliefs and personality.
Their generosity was, mostly, their general nature. But, it was also coupled with what they know about me. I had never blown off an appointment with them before. I had sat through long sessions and I have recommended them and promoted them as much as possible. Each one deserves it too. Such a familiarity between artist and subject is, however, not the norm. And, in the interest of preserving an important relationship, there are standards everyone should abide. I am going to get deep now!
I've been called a Harpy. A pariah. A vampire sucking the soul of tattoo culture.
There are probably many other reasons for them, but often the context of such compliments are my writings on tattoo copyright.
During the legal circus surrounding the Mike Tyson tattoo in "The Hangover" film, which later settled between the tattooist and Warner Bros., I wrote about copyright particularly in light of this law suit.
I revisited this case in the March issue of Inked magazine, but also discussed further issues in tattoo copyright. Now that full article is available online for free. [For some reason, Inked decided to illustrate the article with tattooed boobs and butts, perhaps because they thought no one would read it.]
Entitled "Who Owns Your Tattoo?", the title and opening are intended to spark a bit of controversy. It starts off like this:
If you think that you alone have the rights to your own skin, you may be wrong. The idea of another person, or even a corporation, claiming ownership over your body may seem absurd, but as recent lawsuits for copyright infringement of tattoo art have implied, the courts could very well decide who gets a piece of you tomorrow.See what I mean? Harpy-like.
But beyond being controversial, there's serious talk about Fair Use, Work for Hire, Rights of Publicity, and Licensing. [In fact, licensing the artwork of tattooists has been a big part of my own legal practice lately.]
Check out the article and feel free to offer your thoughts via our Needles & Sins Group on Facebook or Twitter.
This stunning biomechanical corset tattoo is by Sebastian Zmijewski on model and artist Milena Zmijewska. The image has been making its way around the Internet, and I'm thankful to all y'all who have sent me links to it on Tattooist Art's FB page. For those, who haven't seen it, I figured I'd share it here as well and also highlight other work by Seb.
His studio, Bloody Art in Gdansk, Poland has catered to those who want rich, beautifully structured large pieces as well as clients looking for small fairies and flowers. But it's his soft black & grey tattooing that seems to dominate his body of work and what is often most striking. Seb's cover-ups, like the one below, are pretty killer as well.
See more via his online portfolio.
Randomized.com just picked our winners from Facebook & Twitter for the EarGauges.net giveaway: Congratulations to Alex (aka Merle Singer) and Steve Gramenopoulos, who will each receive a $25 gift certificate to spend on anything at Ear Gauges online store.
There are tons of deals right now on EarGauges.net, so if you didn't win this time, you can still score on affordable & pretty plugs, tunnels and tapers.
Many more contests to come!
Photo by Allen Falkner
This Friday the 13th, we'll be getting our freak on at the Congress of Curious People's Opening Night Party, featuring our friend The Lizardman performing classic stunts but also nearly an hour of all new material he's never performed at Coney before. The event is sponsored by Ripley's Believe It or Not, where you can feel up The Lizardman's waxy dobbleganger at their various museums.
The show starts promptly at 8PM, with the annual inductions into the Sideshow Hall of Fame immediately following, so be sure to get there on time. Tickets to the party are $15 (click here to purchase), which include one free Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.
Hope to see you there!
Me, Erik "The Lizardman" Sprague, & Brian at the Coney Island Freak Bar.
April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, Bill Cohen's Tattoosday blog is featuring the tattoos and writing of poets daily until May 1st.
Here's what Bill says of the Tattooed Poets Project:
Whereas Tattoosday is mostly about my random encounters with tattoos in and around New York City, back in 2009, I saw a poet had shared their tattoos over on the Best American Poetry [BAP] blog. As a poet, blogger, and fan of tattoos, I wondered if there were enough tattooed poets around who would be willing to share their ink on Tattoosday to fill thirty days of posts for April, National Poetry Month. I reached out to Stacey Harwood, who runs the BAP blog, and she thought it was an excellent idea and posted about it on her site. I also reached out through social media, asking poets on Facebook if they were either tattooed, or knew poets who were. The rest is history.One of my favorite features is that on poet Eric Morago, whose Bukowski-inspired tattoo -- done at Body Art Tattoo in Whittier, CA -- is shown above. In the post, Eric discusses what inspired the tattoo and also offers his tattoo-related poem "Entangled." [Not all poems on Tattoosday are tattoo themed.] Check that feature here.
Bill starts accepting submissions in January (he's pretty full up for 2012 already), but poets who have publication credits in journals, magazines or books, can submit their work to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've gotten some backlash from last week's "Best Ink" post for daring to even mention reality TV, so what better way to make it up to you than by sharing this tattoo video by the people who bring us Sesame Street and Downton Abbey (addicted!).
PBS's Off Book is a web series on the arts and those who make it and share it online. One of their latest videos is "Tattoos, the Permanent Art," which explores tattoo culture through interviews with super-skilled NY artists: Vinny Romanelli of Red Rocket Tattoos; Kiku of Invisible NYC; and Stephanie Tamez of Saved Tattoo.
Here's what PBS says of the video:
It seems that no matter how far we advance into the digital age, our bodies remain a place where we want to express ourselves. In this episode, we talk to three tattoo artists of differing styles. Vinny Romanelli embraces pop culture, tattooing detailed portraits of entertainment idols, Kiku works with the traditional Japanese form, and Stephanie Tamez embodies an eclectic mix of influences, with the occasional use of nice typography.It's a fantastic discussion of tattooing with thoughtful artists and a quick look into their work. And as expected of PBS, no drama.
London's Somerset House is exhibiting silk paintings and photographs of Japanese tattoo master Horiyoshi III in a special series entitled Kokoro: The Art of Horiyoshi III.The exhibit is open daily from 10am to 6pm until July 1st and admission is free.
The arts center describes the work:
Kokoro means 'heart' in Japanese; it is the 'feeling', the 'inner meaning' that underpins the Japanese approach not only to art, but to Japanese life as a whole. It is what makes Japan quintessentially Japanese. With this selection of paintings by Irezumi master Horiyoshi III, we hope to make you 'feel' Kokoro; leading you on a journey where the typical japanese nature and legends take life in silk paintings and photographs.
Those who can't swing a London trip can purchase the limited edition "Kokoro" book online from Kofee-Senju Publishers for 199 Euro plus shipping.
For more on Horiyoshi III's work, as well as some historical information on Japanese tattoo, check Don't Panic magazine's article "Horiyoshi III Inks Japan." In it, Kate Kelsall interviews Hiroyoshi's apprentice and assistant Alex Reinke, aka Horikitsune, of Holy FoxTattoos in Germany. Alex is renowned for his own masterful interpretation of Irezumi. He offers his thoughts on Japanese tattooing:
The mystery involved in a Japanese tattoo is beyond Western comprehension as all the designs have deep philosophical meaning. They are heavy with messages of great virtue and portraits of the human condition, so important to the Japanese - to wear a Horimono or Irezumi [that's a full body suit tattoo to you and I] shows character, personality and perseverance and the tattoo master is purveyor of all these things. [...] Basically everyone carries the same designs like koi (carp), dragons, heroes and tenyo (she-angels) but the tattoo artist adapts the story for each individual, changing clothes, expressions and shades to fit that person.Hit up Don't Panic for more discussion on the art.
Well, you didn't win the MegaMillions lottery, but we got a contest with better odds. Our friends at EarGauges.net are offering two readers a gift card worth $25 each for anything in their online store. And considering that much of their selection is under $25, winners are looking at plugs, tunnels and tapers for free.
I particularly love their new Goonie Glass Plugs above and their Single Flare Oceano Glass Plugs below. There's also a wide selection of tapers for stretching. Think of it as yoga for your lobes.
As usual, here's how we're gonna play this: the two winners will be selected randomly from those who comment -- with their gauge size -- on this post in our Needles & Sins Syndicate Group on Facebook or Tweet at us with their size. In one week, on April 10th, we'll put all the names of the commenters into Randomized.com and the internet gods will offer up the chosen ones.
While you're at it, head to the EarGauges.net Facebook page and "Like" them. Because we all want to be liked.
In 2009, Miguel Collins interviewed Miya Bailey, tattooist, painter and co-founder of Atlanta's City of Ink. It remains one of our most popular posts, particularly because it dispels a lot of myths about tattoos and people of color. In their Q & A, Miya explains that, yes, you can put color in dark skin, but no, don't think you need to drill it in there. He also talks about his difficulties getting an apprenticeship as a black artist, what he's taught his own apprentices in turn, the relationship between tattooing and fine art, as well as the business behind running a successful shop. It's a great read.
Since that interview, Miya has been working on a film, with director Artemus Jenkins, on the experiences of professional black tattoo artists across the US:
Color Outside the Lines is one of the first of its kind to tackle the issue of race in the tattoo community. It does so in a way that is at times serious and at other times really funny; however, the film is informative and engaging throughout. [I had the pleasure of seeing a preview at the Complex Mag screening.] The documentary is not yet released -- they are entertaining offers and looking for the right distributor -- but you can get the feel of it from the trailer.
My own Q&A with Miya about the film and his art will be in an upcoming issue of Inked magazine. You can also check Miya out on Blogspot, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
UPDATE: For an excerpt on my Inked interview with Miya, check out this post.