July 2012 Archives

02:53 PM
This past weekend, we checked out the United Ink Tattoo Expo at Nassau Coliseum along with an estimated 20,000 others (that number hasn't been confirmed). Tattooed people in various states of cut-up tee shirts lined up to get work from internationally renowned artists as well as new comers to the craft.

The tattooists all looked like they were working hard. I watched Nikko Hurtado do this portrait above on Yall Quinones of San Juan, PR (who has an extensive collection of beautiful tattoos). Jose Lopez was working his black & grey magic along with other members of the Lowrider Tattoo crew. You can easily tell their clients by the massive pieces repping LA-styled tattooing at its finest, like this backpiece below. Their black & grey brethren Marshall Bennett, Shane O'Neil, among many others, were also making some lucky collectors very happy.

jose lopez lowrider tattoo.jpg But all genres of tattooing were represented. Jason Ackerman and Kristel Oreto were dropping color bombs. Myke Chambers offered his signature Americana, and there was a full contingent of artists from China & Japan. Traditional Tebori (hand tattooing) was on view on a platform in the middle of the Coliseum for all to view, and there were plenty of eager spectators trying to maneuver their camera phones to get a shot. I was one of them. Here's the not-so-awesome pic of mine.

united ink tattoo Japanese.jpgAnd as an added treat, Bowery Stan and Philadelphia Eddie, two of guards of the Old School, were another main attraction for serious tattoo fans.

For the less serious, there were tons of reality TV stars to ogle and pose for pictures with. And these "celebrities" were heavily promoted to draw a crowd to fill the very large space. Drita from Mob Wives and some of those, um, ladies from the Bad Girls club were there, and thankfully, they all managed not to punch anyone. Brandon from The Real World St. Thomas did a suspension, and naturally, a bunch of artists from reality tattoo TV were signing autographs in between tattoos. It was interesting to see one tattooist with a massive banner touting his tattoo competition fame when he was kicked out early in the show; nevertheless, he's reaping tons of benefits from his 15 minutes. Bless his heart.

alinfection.jpg On the fine art front, work from famed Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger was on view and there was even a very special prize for the collector who won the Giger tattoo contest (more on that coming up). Francisco Poblet, a student of Salvador Dali, was also a central feature with his "Dali Dynasty" art show.

The draw of tattoo shows for us is meeting up with so many friends who we don't often get to see if it was not for these traveling circuses. Very happy to hang with artist Phil Padwe of "Mommy Has a Tattoo" fame (we'll be doing a give-away donated by Phil soon), and filmmaker Beverly Yuen Thompson, the heavily tattooed woman behind "Covered," a documentary on other heavily tattooed women and female tattoo artists.

Oh, I guess I should mention that I wanted to punch some dude who came up to me saying he was looking for people to be in a pilot on bad, stupid and funny tattoos. Was he talking about me? Did he know that being short I have a low center of gravity that helps knock idiots on their ass? Many questions were not answered. He was one of a number of people shooting pilots. There were also the girls from "Tattoo Wives." I'm going to become an alcoholic with all these drinking games we have to create.

What I missed was the United Ink Award Ceremony & Hall of Fame Celebration, which I heard was a blast. There was a red carpet walk-through, iconic tattooists were honored and awards were given out to tattooists in different tattoo specialties. [Alas, there was no tribal/blackwork category.]

Add all this to seminars, shows, and even a United Ink anthem by Quiet Storm (!!), it was a massive production and special props go out to Frankie Scorpion-Espejo, who worked tirelessly on this, and to the crew at Tattoo Lou's who put on the show.

For more of my bad pics, hit up our N+S Flickr (although there aren't many).  Also on Flickr, Hardcore Shutterbug has way better images.

LI Newsday has a write-up & photo gallery as well.

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11:03 AM
Horitomo Immovable.jpeg

Last we checked, there were only a few seats left for the Horitomo, Fudo Myo-o drawing seminar that's happening this Sunday at Kings Ave NYC (all attendees will also receive a copy of his book Immovable, which we wrote up earlier in the year).

Head on over to the Kings Ave blog to for details on how to enroll in the class.

11:25 AM
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I was excited to see that the Chicago Reader featured David Allen yesterday as "This Week's Chicagoan." In it, David talks about pain, facial tattoos, reading clients, and his own "practice leg." I've known of David's work from his practice leg years. I'd been following his tattoo blog religiously -- Allen Tattoo -- since he began it in 2006 as an apprentice at Bluebird Tattoo. [His last entry was in February.] Early in the blog, he often showed how he used his graphic design background in the construction of his tattoo designs -- and this was at a time when you didn't really see that -- so I got hooked right away. It was also cool to see how quickly he progressed from his first tattoo to large-scale intricate works. Now he's a sought-after artist with a year waiting list.

david allen tattoo 1.jpgDavid is also known for working with breast cancer survivors. We posted one of his beautiful mastectomy scar tattoo cover-ups in 2010 here. He offers more on those tattoos that in the article:
For some of the women I tattoo, I cover up mastectomy scars. A lot of them come in with their head down. I hear about their journey--thinking they're gonna die, losing both breasts. What do you do with that information? Do you just act like you care, or do you actually pay attention? That's a living, breathing person that matters. I tell 'em, 'Look what we're able to do, how we're gonna draw the eye away.' In our heads, there's a default round shape to a breast, so we'll create a swooping line, usually floral, that corrects the form.
To see more of David's diverse and exciting portfolio, check him on Instagrid, Facebook, and Twitter. In person, you can find him at Pioneer Studios in Chicago with Tim Bierdron, Harlan Thompson and Josh Howard.

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12:36 PM
Many thanks to all of you who sent in the link to Flavorwire's "Literary Ink: Famous Authors & Their Tattoos." It's a wonderful piece on the stories behind the tattoos of ten writers and also tattoo quotes from their books, like this one below by punk poet, novelist, & feminist writer Kathy Acker. She wrote in Empire of the Senseless:

The tattoo is primal parent to the visual arts. Beginning as abstract maps of spiritual vision, records of the 'other' world, tattoos were originally icons of power and mystery designating realms beyond normal land-dwellers' experience... In decadent phases, the tattoo became associated with the criminal -- literally the outlaw -- and the power of the tattoo became intertwined with the power of those who chose to live beyond the norms of society.
As Flavorwire notes, she dedicated the book to her tattooist.

Also check the tattoos of China Mieville, Elizabeth Hand, Harry Crews, John Irving, Jonathan Lethem, Kevin Wilson, Patti Smith, Philip K. Dick, Rick Moody, Stephen Elliott, and Shelley Jackson. Jackson is well known in the tattoo community for her "Skin" project, "a 2095-word story published exclusively in tattoos, one word at a time, on the skin of volunteers."

The article inspired me to re-post some great tattoo-related fiction that I recommended in 2009. Perfect summer reading.

* Until I Find You by John Irving is an 800-page tome that follows the wild life of a tattoo artist's son and their search to find his "ink addict" father. It took me a while to get used to reading about many of the "fictional" characters who are real tattooists living today but overall it was a gripping read of a tattoo Odyssey.

* The Tattoo Artist: A Novel by Jill Ciment is another great work of fiction that explores the life of a New York artist who is marooned in the South Pacific and eventually becomes an revered tattooist among the Tu'un'uu people at the turn of the century. It then flashes forward, 30 years later, when she returns as a heavily tattooed woman to New York.

* The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall follows a young man in the early 1900s as he learns the craft of tattooing in his small English seaside resort town (with a horrid  apprenticeship) and later as he makes his way to tattoo Mecca, Coney Island, NY, where he finds love and the canvas of his most bizarre works.

* Dorothy Parker's Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos Kim Addonizio and Cheryl Dumesnil curate fiction, poetry and personal essays that pay homage to tattoos.

And of course, there's Ray Bradbury's "The Illustrated Man," a collection of short stories that are told through the images that come to life on one drifter's skin -- from stranded astronauts to robotic clones. We did a special tribute to the book in this post last June, with an excerpt and video.

Happy reading!
11:19 AM
doll.jpegThe last time I was in Liverpool was ten years ago, but despite all the cider drinking, I vividly remember the city's electricity and creativity, whether it be in music, street art and naturally tattoos.

One studio that embodies Liverpool's energy is Richie Clarke's Forever True Tattoo. Established in 1995, Forever True offers strong tattoo work in many styles, but pays particular tribute to the city's maritime history with traditional (and neo-traditional) art, which Sailor Jerry would approve of. 

Forever True studio also hosts many international guest artists throughout the year, and Richie himself guest spots at tattoo conventions and studios. Richie's next spot will be at the "Tattican" -- the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum -- on the 28 & 29th of July. He'll be taking appointments by email: forevertruetattoo@yahoo.co.uk.

For more on Richie's work, also check the Forever True Facebook page with photos taken daily at the studio.

09:16 AM
Randy Engelhard tattoo3.jpgThe last decade has seen an evolution of portrait tattoos -- whether they be hyper-realistic or conveyed through a surrealistic lens. Artists throughout the world have dedicated their craft to mastering this difficult tattoo style with explosive results.

In Germany, one such artist specializing in this genre is Randy Engelhard of Heaven of Colours studio. Tattooing since 2001, Randy began working in all styles until he came to color portraiture about five years ago, inspired by his mentor Boris Zalaszam and other realism wunderkinds including Mike De Vries and Roman Abrego. Film and animation characters make up a great deal Randy's portfolio as well as personal portrait tributes of his clients.

Now clients need not travel to Zwickau, Germany for work. Randy will be doing his first guest spot in NYC at Sacred Tattoo from August 13th to the 18th. [His rate is $250/hour.]
If you're interested in an appointment, email Kevin@SacredTattoo.com.   

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09:33 AM

Electric Tattoo from Adam Worth on Vimeo.

Our friend Shawn Porter at the magnificent blog Occult Vibrations posted this video on Robert Ryan of Electric Tattoo in Bradley Beach, NJ.

The video, by Adam Worth, is beautifully produced, highlighting Robert's different artistic talents, from music to painting and of course, tattooing -- the "age old prehistorical process we are all taking part of," as he says.

Influences from India and Hindu iconography are ever-present in his tattoo and fine art (he's made a number of trips to the country) and it's interesting to see how he fuses those influences with the Americana tattoo aesthetic.

See more of Ryan's work on his blog and on the Electric Tattoo site.

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02:39 PM
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Photo of Miya Bailey by Nick Burchell.

Atlanta-based tattooist and painter, Miya Bailey of City of Ink, is no stranger to this blog. Last month, we posted on the screening and DVD of Color Outside the Lines, the first documentary to explore the experiences of professional black tattoo artists in America -- a film I highly recommend. And back in 2009, Miguel Collins interviewed Miya about his art and career, and also techniques special to tattooing black skin.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Miya myself a couple of months ago for Inked magazine, and that Q&A is featured in the August issue, on newsstands now and available as a digital download. Let's just pretend that "
television personality" JWow-whatever from the Jersey Shore is not on the cover (classing up the image of tattooed women, of course) and focus on our talk, which touched on how art got Miya out of the projects, how he developed his tattoo craft, racism in the tattoo community, and what Color Outside the Lines is about.

Here's a taste:

In the film, you also say that you were really attracted to tattooing artistically and even took a needle and thread and starting poking your own skin at a young age. What was the main attraction?

It wasn't just one thing. I'd see my father with tattoos growing up and that was really the spark of it because every young boy wants to be like his father growing up. As I got older and came into my own, I was really into music and the first people I noticed who had really artistic work on them was a rock group called Fishbone. When I saw these brothers, it blew my mind. I'm from North Carolina, this country boy, seeing a rock band that's black with tattoos that weren't just names or stereotypical stuff. And just imagine what they had to go through from their own community. People didn't have sleeves or work like that in the eighties in the black community. When I started tattooing in the early nineties, the people dogging me the most were my own people saying, "Why are you doing that?" "Are you trying to be white?" Wow. But it's part of our culture. Tribes did it. I always knew this.

What was your start like, professionally?

I started off as a scratcher like everyone else because I couldn't get an apprenticeship then, but I wasn't satisfied. So I moved to Atlanta, which I considered a big city at the time, and took a chance and knocked on every tattoo shop I found. Everybody told me no until I got to West End and Julia Alphonso said, "Come on in; let me see your portfolio." She trained me for three years. Back then, I didn't understand none of the stuff she was putting me through, but I appreciate it now. She gave up so much. She was blackballed in the industry for teaching black people how to tattoo. I would hear at tattoo conventions, "She's a nigger lover." This was in the nineties! When we'd go to conventions, they would call us so many racial slurs it was unbelievable. That was some Rosa Parks shit. The first time I ever faced hard racism at a convention was in Philadelphia in '95. The people who stood out were the people who were nice to me. Paul Booth, out of everybody, was super nice to us. He said, "Y'all can sit and watch me work." And Cap Szumski too. He made me watch him do a portrait for two hours straight at the tattoo convention. He said, "I know Julia. She told me to keep an eye on you. Sit your ass down and watch me do this tattoo." You had to see people's facial expressions when they saw black kids, teenagers, sitting in his booth and watching him work. The looks on their faces inspired me forever.
Read more of our interview in Inked

For more on Miya, check him on Blogspot, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
11:41 AM
Gunnar_Turkey_Tattoo.jpgOn Tuesday, July 31st, Elixirs and Eats presents Inks, Drinks & Hi-jinks! - a celebration of indie spirits, hot sauce, The Blues and tattoos here in NYC! 

The price of admission will get you unlimited tastings from distilleries like Tito's Vodka, Scorpion Mezcal and Philadelphia Distilling (amongst many others); food and hot sauces from Scoville peddlers like Jimmy's No 43 and High River Sauces; live music; and most importantly, a food-related tattoo competition, MC'd by yours truly and judged by an esteemed panel, including our own Editrix-in-Chief.

So, if you have a food/booze/cooking-related tattoo and you're interested in competing, send your info and a photo to kitchen@uglyfoodtastesbetter.com - not ONLY do you get to waive the admission fee if you're selected to compete, but you also have the chance to win prizes from Jarlsberg, Sailor Jerry and Father Panik Industries!

(Additionally, if you can't attend the event, you can always send us your food/booze/cooking related tattoo and we'll feature the best in a special blog post!  Please include your name, the artist's name and shop when submitting to us.)

More information about the event can be found here and you can order your tickets online over here.

["Mad Chef" tattoo by Gunnar]

09:01 AM
Magical_Tattoos_Cover.jpgIn this second post on upcoming titles by Edition Reuss, we share our great excitement over Dr. Lars Krutak's new book "Spiritual Skin: Magical Tattoos and Scarification."

The 400-page, large format hardcover looks at healing, protective and shamanic tattooing and scarification across the tribal world -- a world that Lars has explored in his 15+ years researching tattoo traditions and rituals (a number of which he has experienced himself). [Read our profile on Lars here.]

More on the book from Edition Reuss:

[...] "Spiritual Skin: Magical Tattoo & Scarification"  journeys into highly sacred territory to reveal how people utilize ritual body modification to enhance their access to the supernatural.

The first part delves into the ancient art of Thai tattooing or sak yant that is administered by holy monks who harness the energy and power of the Buddha himself.  Emblazoned with numerous images of dramatically tattooed bodies, this chapter provides tattoo enthusiasts with a passport into the esoteric world of sak yank symbols and their meanings. Also included is an in-depth study into the tattooing worlds of the Amerindians. From Woodlands warriors to Amazonian shamans, tattoos were worn as enchanted symbols embodied with tutelary and protective spirit power. The discussion of talismanic tattooing is concluded with a detailed look at the individuals who created magical tattoos and the various techniques they used. Krutak writes about many tribal tattoo designs permeated with various forms of power and explains what these marks mean for the people who wear them.   

Part two of "Spiritual Skin: Magical Tattoo & Scarification" is an absolute must-read-and-see for anyone seeking knowledge about the religious meanings of tribal scarification. The rituals, techniques, and spiritual iconography of scarmasters in Benin (Bétamarribé), Papua New Guinea (Kaningara), and Ethiopia (Hamar) expose a relatively undocumented world of permanent body symbolism created through painful and bloody rites of self-sacrifice and restraint.

The book will also be out in September, and can be purchased for 98 Euros. You can pre-order the book in the US on Amazon for $150 or contact Lars directly for signed copies and special offers at bodymarks@larskrutak.com.

08:33 AM
Horikazu_cover_72dpi.jpgGerman publishers Edition Reuss -- those fine folks who have published my tattoo books -- have two gorgeous new hardcovers that will be released this September. I'm writing about them in two posts today.

"Traditional Tattoo in Japan: HORIKAZU. Lifework of the Tattoo Master from Asakusa in Tokyo" is another monster hardcover with more than 460 photos by photographer Martin Hladik who has documented the life and work Japanese tattoo master Horikazu for years until his death. Stunning images -- from rows of men with full bodysuits by the master to intimate looks into his family life -- populate the 492 pages along with interviews with Horikazu (2011) and text (German, English, & French) on Japanese tattoo traditions by Miho Kawasaki, Fiona Graham, Agnes Giard, and Eberhard J. Wormer. The master's successor, Horikazuwaka, further offers insight into the art of tattooing in Asakusa and "the recognized dynasty of tattoo artists."

Horikazu_low.jpg Photo by Martin Hladik.

Portraits and close-ups of Horikazu's work are presented in the large format (29.2 x 29.2cm), full cover art book. There are also photos from the Sanja Festival in Asakusa, and finally, images from Horikazu's funeral where his close friends pay their last respects.

A must for lovers of Japanese tattooing -- and all forms of tattoo art.

Look out for it in September on Amazon.com, Hermansky Books, and Last Gasp, among other book sellers. The book retails for 120 Euro, about 146 Dollars.

Horikazu_Sanja_historial_low.jpgHorikazu_head tattoo.jpgPhotos by Martin Hladik.
02:15 PM

DAN SMITH - TATTOOER from patrick moore on Vimeo.

Here's a beautifully produced video by Patrick Moore on the beautifully produced Dan Smith, which follows the tattooist and musician as he draws, tattoos, and drives without a license through Hollywood.

In the film, the English born, New Zealand-bred artist muses on music, his first tattoo at 16 years old, and coming to the craft himself, where he learned the importance of history, respect and hard work. Many know Dan from LA Ink, and he discusses his experience on the show and what it was like to do what he loved and hand it over for someone to cut and paste it all to make the series a success; however, he's positive about how the show reached such a wide audience and showcased strong tattoo work.

Dan's Straight Edge lifestyle is also credited with his success. He paid tribute to it by creating a gorgeous hardcover, "With the Light of Truth," featuring the tattoos, art, and profiles of 60 Straight Edge tattoo artists from around the world. [We wrote about the book last November.]

While the video films Dan working on one particular work, you can see more of his tattoos on his site and blog. And to hear his music, head to Thedearanddeparted.com.

Also check Patrick Moore's fabulous photography, with many portraits of the tattooed.

04:52 PM
Many thanks to all who sent me the link to this article, which was front page news in the Wall Street Journal: "Tattoo Checks Trip Up Visas." 

At issue here is concern over granting green cards or permanent citizenship to members of foreign gangs. The applications are denied on national-security grounds, but even those who do not have a criminal record could be flagged on the basis of gang-related tattoos. Here's more from the article:

The presence of tattoos isn't enough to deny an application, according to a spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs. She said "more attention has been paid to tattoos as indicators of a gang affiliation during the visa process" as law enforcement has better understood the relationship between "certain tattoos" and gangs. The department doesn't comment on individual cases, she said.
But what's a gang tattoo?

The article discusses the plight of two Mexican-born applicants for US residency, Hector Villalobos and Rolando Mora Huerta. Both were denied visas because of their tattoos. The article particularly cites the popular "Smile/Laugh Now, Cry Later" design, which US officials believe to be gang related. While the origins of the motif in Latino art are arguably rooted in prison culture, the symbol has come to mean more than criminality.

As I wrote in the introduction to Edgar Hoill's Latino Art Collection, the ethos behind the Payaso (or Payasa) centers on the belief that one cannot show weakness but should appear strong and happy in the face of adversity and later deal with troubles when alone. It is also said that the motif reflects the ideal of living life fully in the moment without regard to consequences and suffering them afterward. Some even believe that music may be behind the imagery, noting songs like "Smile now, cry later" by Sonny Ozuna.

You don't have to be a criminal to wear this tattoo. Indeed, both men deny any criminal affiliation.

Particularly in black & grey tattoo culture, some of the artwork may find its roots in gangs and prisons, but as a gang expert cited in the article states, a number of these tattoos have become part of "popular culture at large" over the last ten years.

US officials should not decide critical immigration decisions based on how they interpret tattoos and nothing more. What about swastika tattoos? Will all those "gentle swastika" proponents be barred from residency for being in a Neo-Nazi gang?

Perhaps it will take a lawsuit to clear up this issue.
09:31 AM

There's been a lot of buzz over the documentary "Tattoo Nation," and if you check this official trailer, you'll understand why.

The film, directed by Eric Schwartz, explores tattooing largely from the perspective of black & gray culture -- a tattoo genre that found its origins in prisons and growth into a fine art. Heavily tattooed film and TV star Danny Trejo narrates the film and shares his own stories of getting tattooed with guitar strings and homemade machines while behind bars. His professional tattoo work, done by some of black & gray's finest, is continued during shooting, with Mark Mahoney working on Trejo's backpiece while the actor discusses the evolution of the art form.

Mahoney is joined on screen by his fellow godfathers of black & gray: Charlie Cartwright, Jack Rudy, and Freddy Negrete. Other legendary artists sharing their stories are Ed Hardy, Kate Hellenbrand, Henk Schiffmacher, Filip Leu, Rick Walters, and Tennessee Dave. The younger generation of black & gray greats, including Chuey Quintanar, Mister Cartoon, Jose Lopez, Franco Vescovi, among others, are repped as well. It's a Who's Who of the tattoo world.

Beyond the history of prison and LA street style of tattooing, the film delves into tattoo acceptance and battling stereotypes. Indeed, it's an important film for lovers of all tattoo art and culture. We're counting down the days to its release in theaters nationwide this October.

For updates, follow Tattoo Nation on Facebook and Twitter.
09:30 AM
A couple of weeks ago, 11-year-old Willow Smith (of the Will & Jada Smiths) whipped the media into a little tizzy by revealing what most thought was a tongue piercing. It was actually a magnet.

Silly gossip, but it put a spotlight on the question: How young is too young for a piercing & tattoo? Over the weekend, Fox News & CNN ran a story asking this very question. As noted in the article, there are instances where families are letting kids as young as 10 years old get tattoos -- like Jerry Garrison who lost custody of his grandson for allowing him to be part of "family tradition" as a pre-teen, or Chuntera Napier who was arrested after her young son got a memorial tattoo for his brother.

According to the National Conference on State Legislature's on "Tattoos & Body Piercings for Minors," there's a fight going on between parents who want final say in how they raise their kids and the government:

The battle over whether or not teenagers may receive tattoos or body piercings is typically one fought between parents and children, but the same debate has entered state legislatures. Advocates of prohibiting minors from getting tattoos or body piercings want state laws to reflect parental rights and allow them to have the final word on minors altering their appearances in this way.

A number of states have laws prohibiting these practices on minors without written parental consent. At least 39 states have laws prohibiting minors from getting tattoos. Thirty-one states have laws that prohibit both body piercing and tattooing on minors without parental permission.  Many of the laws across the country establish financial penalties, prison time or both for violators.  Most of the laws define "violator" as the person who performed the tattoo or piercing.
Legal battles aside, what about the ethical duties of tattooists? Should some obligation be placed on them to decide whether this is the right thing for the child? If so, would it be a case-by-case basis or general rule -- no one under a certain age no matter what?

My friends and I like to joke around about what our bodies would look like if we were able to get tattooed as teenagers. I'd probably be covered in Duran Duran portraits. Then again, I ended up removing a good tattoo that I got at age 24 (to celebrate passing the Bar exam) because it didn't fit with the overall body plan, which developed in my thirties. And how will I feel about this plan decades from now?

As we change and evolve, our tattoos remain fixed in one moment. That's what makes them wonderful. And that's what makes them difficult.

What do you think about the "how young is too young" question? Share your thoughts on the Needles & Sins FB group page under this post's comments section.   
09:57 AM
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I'm excited to be working on the second volume of "Black Tattoo Art," finding artists around the world doing bold, black and badass work. One such artist Laszlo Kis of Windhorse Tattoo in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

What's particularly exciting about Laszlo, or Laci's, portfolio is how he can seamlessly move from heavy, tribal infused pieces to electric Americana to buttery black & grey to Japanese iconography. His artistic diversity is ever-present in his new book documenting his life in tattooing: "Windhorsetattoos by Kis Laszlo" available on Blurb.

Originally from Monor, a Hungarian city near Budapest, Laci began tattooing at sixteen years old in his hometown. He traveled throughout Hungary, working in Budapest, Balatonfured, and Sopron before moving to Sao Paulo, where Misi Karai, a long time friend from Hungary, invited him to work at his studio, Misi Tattoo. After three years, they decided to open up a new studio called Tattoo Tradition, where Kis worked for over five years until going out on his own in early 2010 and establishing Windhorse Tattoo.

lazslo kis tattoo 4.jpg When asked why he's chosen not to concentrate on one particular tattoo genre, Laci says he feels it is important not to limit himself to one style in order to fulfill the wishes of different clients: "I believe that, for some strange reason, people know what they will have on the body -- as if the tattoo has been there all along even before they enter the studio. Therefore, I cannot ignore their request, but must work with it."

I was hoping that he'll make a trip to the US soon, but with two young children, he's staying in Brazil for a while. Time to start planning a South America tattoo vacation.

See more of Laci's work on his blog and website.

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05:21 PM

Storybook by Nora Flanagan from Emma Coleman on Vimeo.

I have a new crush and her name is Nora Flanagan -- mom, poet and badass English teacher, among many other wonderful titles I'm sure -- who is shown in this video taking on the masses who ask "those questions" and giving beautiful voice to the pictures on her skin in "Storybook." A must see. 

Thanks, Silke, for the link!
02:50 PM
tattoo copyright.jpgThis morning I received an email from Shannon Larratt (founder and former owner of BME.com) regarding the use of his images -- as well as those from BME, tattoo artists' portfolios and even my own images -- without permission on TattooDonkey.com and TattooMeNow.com.

Read Shannon's FB post on how he's pursuing this. 

The sites market themselves as vehicles to help people "find your tattoo design" and "the quickest and easiest way to find your dream tattoo." The problem is that the dream tattoo could be your own custom work. And we all know how I feel about tattoo copyright.

It does not appear that the use of the images on these sites falls under Fair Use -- for example, using an image to comment or critique a work; however, I've been unable to further explore the TattooMeNow.com site without a membership. It seems I have to pay to view my own work.         

I've sent a request to TattooDonkey.com to take down my images from their site, and many others are doing the same. I've also emailed TattooMeNow.com to discuss this further. Will keep you updated.

It's perhaps fitting to also mention that I'm doing a seminar on "Copyright, Trademark & Licensing for Tattoo Artists & Collectors" in September at the Paradise Tattoo Gathering. More info here.
09:46 AM
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Misspelled tattoos are not uncommon. Sadly. And unlike the many tiepoos typos that pepper this blog, they are not as easily fixed by the delete button. Diligent artists take care to check and double check text before tattooing, offering clients opportunities to make sure the word or phrase is exactly what they had in mind. But mistakes still happen -- and tattoo studios get sued.

In Canada's National Post yesterday, Armina Ligaya reports on a memorial tattoo gone wrong where a Nova Scotia small claims court ordered a shop to pay almost $9,000 to a client for laser sessions, travel and legal fees, and general damages. This is after the shop offered to cover up the spelling mistake -- which the client refused -- and then paid for eight laser sessions prior to the judgment.

The problem is that the studio stopped paying for the laser sessions, which is what sparked the suit. Personally (not in my legal opinion), if a shop is going to make amends for a mistake, it should do so in a clear and organized way, following through on promises, which should be written out and agreed to by the parties. For example, knowing how long and expensive laser removal can be, the studio could have limited its obligation by offering to pay for a set number of sessions -- say 10 to 12 sessions -- or until a certain percentage of the ink is gone. Then they could have had the client agree not pursue further action against the shop after those sessions. Everybody signs. Everybody knows what to expect. And hopefully, everybody abides by the agreement.

The client, who had the opportunity to review the lettering before it was tattooed, should also burden some responsibility, and maybe that's what the studio was thinking when they stopped paying. In fact, the article cites another Nova Scotia case where a judge ruled that a client with a misspelled tattoo was "the author of her own misfortune" when she reviewed the design on a computer design and stencil, and did not pick up the mistake. 

But not returning the client's phone calls, as alleged, is not the right way to do business. People sue when they are unhappy and feel they're being mistreated. So many law suits can be avoided by better handling of client issues ... and of course, spell check. 
09:01 AM
tots with tats.jpg
This Saturday, July 7th, Sacred Gallery in SoHo, NYC opens a double header exhibition, with a collection by Martina Secondo Russo entitled "Tots with Tats" and Angie Mason's "Project 30: The Hand Picked 10." Curated by Frankie Velez, the shows are distinctly different in style, medium and method but are equally compelling.

Sacred offers more on these shows:

In TOTS WITH TATS, Martina Secondo Russo presents a new series of life-sized tattooed babies. She cuts the figures out of plywood and paints the skin tones in acrylic. She then applies all kinds of "tattoos" with enamel markers. Most of the "tattoos" are drawn from Traditional American Flash, but she also uses Halloween decorations, found images, or her own drawings. The "tattoos" are used to tell a story and create a new kind of visual dialogue. Each "Tot" has his own personality, which is reflected through his tattoos.
Read more on the work here. 

angie mason art 2.jpgFor Angie Mason's PROJECT 30 THE HAND PICKED 10, Sacred says:

This idea started as a social media art experiment, a way for the artist to interact with fans who follow the her work. Fans were asked to "hand pick" their top ten artworks from the 30 original drawings which Angie created for Project 30. Encouraging fans to "Be a part of the process!" by liking and commenting on their favorites. Project 30 - The Hand Picked 10 was utilizing social media platforms as way to interact in ways never used before during Angie's creative process. It was a fun interactive project that now is coming to the moment of truth the solo exhibition showcasing all 30 drawings and the Hand Picked 10 paintings.
Focusing on twisted combinations and dual opposites (such as sweet vs. sour, happy vs. sad or life vs. death) she paints truths about being human. Varied influences are found within her work ranging from such things as nature,love, relationships,dreams,memories,humor, loss and health to name a few. These mixed influences cause a balance of light and dark that intermingle with each other creating a visual playground, bringing to life quirky characters that are beautifully rendered yet with a painterly hand giving them an innocent raw touch. Mason's works are both horrific and humorous, yet speaks of what it means to be human.
The opening on the 7th is from 7-10pm and the show runs to August 3.
01:14 PM
the visionary tattoo.jpgFor those on the East Coast, I have another fantastic event, also on Saturday July 21:  The worlds of tattooing and visionary art will come together in a live event at Alex Grey's historic Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in upstate New York. Veteran tattooists Guy Aitchison and Michele Wortman will be teaching a workshop on Visionary Tattooing -- that is, tattoos that come from the imagination that are done with the intention of healing, empowerment or positive transformation. There's limited seating available. Click here for ticket info.

For those who can't make it in person, there will be a free live webcast of the evening's events beginning at 5:00pm EST. Go to www.tattoonowtv.com/visionary_tattoo.html to tune in and be a part of it online.

The events will include the following:

** A screening of the documentary "Innerstate," nominated for Best Documentary at the 2010 Great Lakes Film Festival, about tattooists creating visionary paintings. Here's the trailer below.

** A dynamic panel talk on visionary, magical and ritual tattooing, featuring Alex and Allyson Grey, Guy Aitchison, Michele Wortman, James Kern and Natan Alexander.

** A live painting event that will go from the end of the panel talk until the wee hours. Alex, Allyson, Guy and Michele will be creating visionary paintings while DJs keep the energy going. You can check out some previous live painting events here and here.

Check this short promo trailer for The Visionary Tattoo below.

To view Guy & Michele's tattoo work, including the pieces below, head to Hyperspacestudios.com and their studio's Facebook page.

guy aitchison tattoo.jpgTattoo by Guy above.

michele wortman tattoo.jpgTattoo by Michele Wortman.
12:15 PM
art driven show.jpgOn July 21st, over 100 artists, including some of the top tattooists & painters in the world, will be exhibiting their fine art work in the "Art Driven" group show hosted by Sullen Clothing at their gallery & headquarters in Los Alamitos, CA. 

ArtDrivenFlyer.jpgWhat's also pretty exciting is that they have one spot open for an artist to display his or her work alongside the likes of Jack Rudy, Bob Roberts, Kari Barba, Freddy Negrette, Rick Walters and many other legends as well as tattoo prodigies. It's an amazing opportunity to share your art in a serious exhibition.

To participate, you have to "Like" Sullen on Facebook, then you submit your artwork on their wall. After that, the fans will vote on their favorite to choose "Whose Art Can Hang?". Already, there have been some excellent submissions.

I know there are tons of talented Needles & Sins readers, and I encourage you to be a part of the contest. And if you're near the Sullen HQ, definitely check out the "Art Driven" show. The opening runs from 7pm-midnight on Saturday the 21st of July. Sullen is located at 11081 Winners Circle, Los Alamitos, California.
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