September 2013 Archives

02:58 PM
London Tattoo Convention.jpgLondon Tattoo Convention3.jpgBefore I post my redux tomorrow from this weekend's London Tattoo Convention, I wanted to share these fantastic photos by London-based photographer Edo Zollo. Edo's work focuses on street life and events, so he was perfectly suited to capture the excitement of the convention.

See more of Edo's images from on Flickr. You can check him on Twitter & Facebook.

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03:51 AM
One of the world's premier tattoo exhibitions, The London Tattoo Convention, kicks off today at noon and runs through the weekend -- and so I'll be running around all weekend, tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking, and all the things those damn kids are doing today at a tattoo convention.  Then I'll do a proper blog post when it's all wrapped up because I'm old school.

You can also find me at the Edition Reuss Publishing table on the upper level, shilling my new book, Black Tattoo Art 2: Modern Expressions of the Tribal, as well as my other babies. As freebies, I have Needles & Sins stickers and a limited supply of "Marisa Loves Me" temp tattoos, so follow the loud laugh coming outta the short redhead and share some love.
09:11 AM
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mandala designs.pngWhen looking for design inspiration, particularly pattern work for my tattoos, I've often poured over Dover Books -- publications that contain hundreds of thousands of Copyright Free, permission free or royalty-free images.

Considering that our mega-bookstore chains in the US don't usually carry too many of their extensive titles, I would take a special pilgrimage to the Dover Bookshop in Convent Garden when I'd head to the London Tattoo Convention. I was bummed to learn that the shop closed in March, that is, until I found out that the books, or even just select pages from the books, can be purchased for download on DoverPictura.

DoverPictura offers instant digital image gratification. As noted on the website, the "vast archive of royalty-free images is organized in collections that range in focus from vintage Americana, to period ornament & decoration, to exotic ethnic imagery from around the world."

I purchased Neo-Classical Design & Ornament (as a nod to my Greek culture) and Floral Ornament. Immediately after making the purchase, via PayPal, I was able to download a zipped file, which contained not only the PDF of the book, but each individual design in the book was a separate file. For Floral Ornament, for example, that came out to 380 images. Now all I need is a free moment to go through them all for ideas.

Also check the DoverPictura blog for ideas on using the images in design & craft projects, as well as technical info on working with certain files.

Dover Books will also have a stand at the London Tattoo Convention.
05:17 PM
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Tattoo by Tim Kern.

Stricter new rules governing tattoos and other appearance issues in the US Army have been approved, and once signed, will take effect in a matter of weeks. According to Stars & Stripes,
the Army will soon ban tattoos visible below the elbows and knees, and above the neck; however, existing tattoos may be "grandfathered" in.

The new rules also continue the prohibition on racist, sexist or extremist tattoos, but go even further and make removal of such tattoos mandatory. Here's more from Stars & Stripes:

Once the rules are implemented, soldiers will sit down with their unit leaders and "self identify" each tattoo. Soldiers will be required to pay for the removal of any tattoo that violates the policy, [Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond] Chandler said.

While some soldiers at the meeting asked whether the Army will ever allow more visible tattoos, Chandler said it is a matter of maintaining a uniform look and sacrificing for the sake of the force.

When a soldier gets a tattoo that contains an curse word on the side of his neck, "I question 'Why there?' Are you trying to stand out?" Chandler said.

He said the Army wants soldiers to stand out, but because of their achievements, not because of the way they look.

I understand the ban against tattoos that are racist, sexist, and the like -- although, these tattoos do offer an upfront insight into the person you're dealing with (and whether he/she may have your back in combat). But does the prohibition on artful tattoos take things too far? There is such a historic tattoo tradition in the military; tattoos are used to express loyalty & commitment to one's division; to memorialize fellow soldiers who died; and to mark personal achievements and milestones.

I asked a friend who spent a long time serving in Iraq & Afghanistan what he thought about the rules, and he said that there are more important reasons than simply maintaining a "uniform look," and he shared instances where being tattooed actually affected a soldier's performance of his/her duties. Leaving aside that those in covert ops need to stay, well, covert, a big problem my friend witnessed was that tattooed soldiers faced issues when dealing with Iraqi military as well as civilians because of the negative stigma attached to tattoos. He said that he witnessed an Iraqi officer refuse to deal with a tattooed US military officer because he did not believe that someone with a tattoo could hold any rank. My friend added that it's hard to "win the hearts of minds of the people" when their minds are clearly occupied with cultural bias, and even fear, of tattoos. 

What do you think? Weigh in on the Needles & Sins Facebook Group or Tweet at me.

However, you look at it, with this grandfather clause in effect, I'm guessing tattoo studios, especially those near military bases, are going to be pretty busy over the next few weeks as soldiers either get new work or finish sleeves and other major work in progress. 

09:23 AM
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Gritty yet beautiful photographs of Bangkok's Chinatown and criminal underworld comprise artist Phil America's solo exhibition The Nefarious Face of Chinatown, which opens September 28th at Vess in Copenhagen, Denmark -- despite Danish police confiscating a number of artifacts from the show (I believe the trademark infringing fake Rolex watches, and other knockoffs). According to, the show is still complete and will run until November 10th, 2013.

Here's more about the exhibit:

Over the course of 30 days he spent nearly every day in Bangkok's Chinatown, betting on Fan-tan and Hi-lo with the old men and got tattooed with a magical sak yant tattoo by a master. He built relationships with prostitutes outside the tea shops, painted fake license plates and put together knock-off Louis Vuitton bags with local workers. He even spent a day with a young gang members riding around dropping off fake Valium and Viagra to shops around Bangkok. During the process he gathered artifacts relating to the neighborhood and it's crime, some of which were confiscated by the law-firm owning the rights to Rolex and by the Danish police.

The series of photos shows a strong, underlining strength in the eyes of the pimps and drug lords and contrasts that with the tattooed hands of the criminals on the street. Phil America takes his time to show that, here, the face of the criminals and crime itself are both honest and nefarious.
See more photos from the show here. Also check Phil America's blog.

[Via Susannah Breslin.]
08:06 AM
Onna yu ("Bathhouse Women") by Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815) via Wikipedia.

Last week, a bunch of new outlets worldwide picked up the story that a bathhouse in Hokkaido, Japan refused entry to a Maori woman because of her Moko. As notes, the woman, Erana Te Haeata Brewerton, was in Japan to attend an indigenous language conference, "staying with a group of Ainu people indigenous to Japan whose ancestors wore tattoos similar to the traditional chin tattoo."

The tattoo bans at bathhouses throughout Japan are nothing new and not really news to many in our community -- it's almost become a joke to pack a long-sleeved wetsuit when traveling to the country if you want to take a soak. The bans are based on the association of tattoos with the Yakuza crime syndicates, and designed to keep the bad guys out. Indeed, Yakuza are heavily tattooed (and often beautifully so). But so are a lot of people who aren't in the Japanese mafia.

The reason this incident is getting media traction is because Japan was just awarded the right to host the 2020 Olympics, which means a lot more tourists, including the tattooed. At the press conference for the Olympics announcement, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stated that "it is important to respect the cultures of foreign countries, considering we will host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and expect many visitors ... to come to Japan."

Perhaps, we won't have to pack our wetsuits after all.
09:02 AM
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It's been a while since I featured work from my own tattoo artist, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Liege, Belgium; however, I'm also posting because it's a rare opportunity to grab the limited available appointments he has when working outside of his studio.

Next week, from September 23rd to the 26th, Dan will be working at London Tattoo, and has a couple of session times available. To make an appointment, email or call 02078335996 in the UK. There may also be a session free on Friday, September 27th during the London Tattoo Convention. Email him at for more info.

Check the Calypso Tattoo site for more of Dan's signature dotwork and blackwork. He is also featured in Black Tattoo Art 2: Modern Expressions of the Tribal.

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08:27 AM
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In March, we wrote about the Personal Ink Project or P.INK, which is an incredible resource that offers tattoo inspiration, ideas and info for breast cancer survivors. It also is a place where these women can research and perhaps even connect with skilled artists who can transform mastectomy scars into beautiful works of art.

On October 21, 2013, that connection will be made when 10 tattoo artists will tattoo scar-coverage or nipple-replacement tattoos on 10 breast cancer survivors at Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn, NY.

You can help make this event happen by being a part of the crowd-funded project for as little as $10. There are also tons of perks for those who can give more. For $50, there's digital swag and temp tattoos. For $500, you get an art print of one of the tattoos you helpedg fund.

And the art is guaranteed to be stellar considering the line-up:

I've had the pleasure of working with the P.INK team, in a small way, on this event. P.INK is a "nights-and-weekends passion project" of a handful of employees at the Boulder-based ad agency CP+B who had been affected by cancer. Their goal is to see this project expand, including more P.INK Days should this first event be a success.

If you can't contribute, spread the word by sharing this page and using #PinkTattooDay. You can follow P.INK on Twitter and on Facebook.

Learn more about the project from the video below.

08:27 AM
661016fa.jpg Yesterday, the Miss America pageant crowned its first beauty queen of Indian descent, which led to an onslaught of racist tweets by those who take beauty pageants seriously. "America's Choice," as decided by an online vote, was not the winner, but instead, a pretty blonde from Kansas who represented "American Values":  she's a sergeant in the National Guard, she's a hunter who can skin a deer herself, and she's tattooed.

Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail strutted across the stage with a large-scale rib tattoo of the serenity prayer, which she says she used to recite when bullied as a child.  Her tattoos were a big part of her platform, which centered around "empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers." She told ABC News:

"What I really want is just to inspire people by showing my tattoos," she said. "That's a bold move! And it's risky, it could very well cost me the crown. And if it does, I just want people to see that you can step outside of the box, you can be yourself. And I can only hope that it inspires them to do the same."
She didn't win the crown, but she won a lot media attention for being the first Miss America contestant to openly display her tattoos. Or at least that what the headlines touted.

But Teresa Vail was not the first tattooed beauty queen. It was Betty Broadbent, shown above on the cover of the first edition of Margo Mifflin's "Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women & Tattoo" (a must-have book). This cover photo captures the iconic circus attraction as she made history competing in the first televised beauty pageant at the 1937 World's Fair. As Margot Mifflin notes, "She knew that as a tattooed contestant she didn't stand a chance of winning, but she gladly reaped the free publicity." The same could be said for Miss Kansas.

I'm not a fan of beauty contests. Despite the fact that Miss Kansas has a degree in chemistry and speaks Chinese, she still had to put on stilettos and a bikini to put forth her "empowerment" platform. But I am a fan of those working in some way to stir a little trouble, to change up beauty ideals. So good on Miss Kansas for following in Betty Broadbent's high heels.
08:54 AM
Leu Wiscombe tattoo.jpgAs Demetra Molina wrote in her guest blog on the Montreal Art Tattoo Convention, collaborative one-sitting backpiece projects were created each day by Filip Leu and Kurt Wiscombe on some very lucky -- and strong -- collectors. One such collector is tattoo artist Lee Conklin, whose backpiece is shown above.

I sent Lee some questions on what the experience was like, and here's what he said: 

The design was left mostly up to Filip and Kurt, aside from the fact that I wanted it oversized, so the whole image goes beyond the space provided. My input was just that of the scale. The drawing took about two hours and the tattoo itself was about four and a half.

Having two artists working at the same time was a new experience, they almost balanced each other. When one would stop, I could really feel the other. I preferred when they were both working.

It didn't bother me at all having an audience. It was nice to have a bit of a distraction when I could lift my head and look around. 
I also asked Lee, rather morbidly, I know, if he would ever consider preserving his backpiece port-mortem, considering it is such a work of art. He replied, "I haven't thought much about whether I'd like to preserve the piece or not. Being a skull, it's somewhat of a reminder of our mortality and to just live life as it comes."

You can see more photos from Lee, and check his own tattoo portfolio, here on Facebook.

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07:53 AM
tattoo_montreal.jpgPhoto above from the Montreal Art Tattoo Show. Photos below by Demetra Molina.

We have another wonderful guest blog from Demetra Molina of The Hand of Fate Tattoo Parlor in Ithaca, NY. Instead of talking wine, she shares the highlights of the Montreal Art Tattoo Show, which took place last weekend.


Montreal is a magical city. It's beautiful, cultured, and the ideal place to hold an exceptional tattoo convention. This past weekend, September 6-8, was the 11th annual Montreal Art Tattoo Show, presented by Mr. and Mrs. Pierre and Valerie Emond of Studio Tattoo Mania in Montreal. Once again, there was magic in the air, and the weekend was truly like no other. The level of artistry is top notch, as you can easily see from the roster of renowned tattooers. The setting, the performances, the fine art exhibitions -- all quality, year after year.

For the very first time, my husband Eddie Molina and I did not work the actual show. Things at our shop worked out a certain way, and we saw an escape for a quick weekend road trip. Art, tattoos, good friends, and Montreal smoked meat with poutine? Yes, and yes, please. 

The entrance line was down the street when we arrived at the convention site, Gare Windsor Station, a stunning historic venue. Glass ceilings in the old train station allow the artists to work with natural sunlight, a rare luxury at any venue. Tattoo machines  were already humming away, as collectors excitedly looked at artist portfolios. We slowly made our way around the main aisle, saying hello and wandering, and noticed several other artists had also had the same idea -- a weekend away networking and enjoying Montreal. One of the main reasons? The Leu family had travelled from Switzerland to be part of the show.

The Leu Family Iron booth was an experience unto itself. Crowds lined up to watch Swiss tattoo artist Filip Leu work in collaboration with artist Kurt Wiscombe on one-sitting backpiece projects each day. Absolutely an amazing opportunity, and several tattooists had "art nerd moments" rarely witnessed in public. The entire Leu family was very gracious, talking with everyone and posing for endless photos. I even had a chance to interview artist Loretta Leu, matriarch of the family (photographed below). She was a delight to talk to, answering my questions with smiles, colorful stories of living an amazing life, and of course Frank Zappa lyrics.

Montreal Tattoo Art Show 2013 was a convention weekend completely out of the ordinary. The level of talent, artwork, and enjoyable company is something every tattoo lover should experience.  I had no time for wine touring this trip, too much for us to do at the show...rare on all accounts...and I didn't miss the booze.

For more photos of the convention, photographer John Whelan captured some great moments and posted them to Facebook here.

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08:35 AM
Continuing to make serious tattoo collectors smile, Things & Ink magazine -- which I have described as a love letter to tattooed women -- marks its one-year anniversary with The Art Issue, and also a group exhibition, opening in London tonight, entitled "Under Her Skin."

"Under Her Skin," which runs until September 30, 2013, at Atomica Gallery, Hackney Downs Studios, features fine art celebrating modern female tattoo culture by some of the best female tattooers. "Under Her Skin" will be also exhibited during the London International Tattoo Convention, September 27-29.

At tonight's event, you'll get you hands on the latest Things & Ink issue, which, once again, has a gorgeous cover, proving that you can show beautiful tattooed women in a way that isn't cheap. The cover art is inspired by Millais' iconic artwork, Ophelia, with tattoo artist Tracy D. Check the video below for a behind-the-scenes look at the shoot. Within the magazine are more fantastic recreations of iconic fine art work with their own "tattoo twist," along with art historical commentary from Doctor Matt Lodder

As editor Alice Snape notes in her Letter from the Editor:  "The issue covers tricky topics, such as tattoo etiquette (when does inspiration turn into copying?), and tattoos as art. We also spoke to artists who have had their own work used as tattoo inspiration. One of my personal highlights  is an interview with iconic artist Jack Vettriano, as I have been a huge fan of his work since my teenage years."

If you can't make it to the "Under Her Skin" opening tonight, you can buy Things & Ink online here, and at these stockists.

Things and Ink Cover Shoot (Issue Four) from Papercut Pictures on Vimeo.

09:04 AM
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On this 12th anniversary of September 11th, my thoughts are with friends who lost family, fellow firefighters, and friends. Many get tattooed to honor loved ones, mark moments that should not be forgotten. These 9/11 tattoos offer pause to reflect on the courageous and beautiful acts that took place that day in the face of tragedy and evil.

Photographer Vinnie Ammese, of Staten Island, NY began documenting 9/11 memorial tattoos in 2003, which you can find on his online portfolio here, including the photo shown above. Firefighter tattoo site Strike The Box also has an extensive gallery of 9/11 member-submitted tattoo tributes.

Spider Webb also obsessively drew 9/11 flash the months following the tragedy. He's quoted on his 9/11 gallery page as saying:  "I picked up a pencil because I didn't know what else to do. Between trying to help and cursing at the TV, I began drawing tattoo flash about this event and for this event. I was consciously thinking in terms of tattoos because I knew people would need them."
08:32 AM
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Tattoo above by Amanda Wachob.

My morning has gotten off to a great start thanks to BBC Radio 4's "A Mortal Work of Art" -- a wonderfully produced program that explores the intersection of the tattoo and fine art worlds. With the program 28 minutes long, I figured I'd just let in play on my laptop while I busied myself with other tasks; however, the really insightful discussion on the artistry of tattooing stopped me from doing anything else, so I just sat down and learned something.

What makes the program so compelling is that Mary Anne Hobbs, who hosted the piece, talks to the very people who have changed tattooing in the fine art context and who have shared very different ways of viewing tattoo art: 

The legendary Spider Webb brought tattooing into galleries, museums, and even Christie's auction house, particularly for his conceptual tattoo projects, which he still continues to innovate today. He also talks to the BBC about fighting NYC's tattoo ban (which wasn't overturned until 1997).

London's Alex Binnie, owner of the famed Into You Tattoo, shares his thoughts on tattooing's impact on pop culture -- an impact greater than any the fine art world has had. The program ends on a strong note with his assertions on why tattooing doesn't need validation from anyone other than those wearing it.

Amanda Wachob discusses what motivated her to experiment with nontraditional tattoo imagery, to offer something different to clients beyond the standard menu, which has made her one of the most sought-after tattooers in New York.

Of course, our good friend Dr. Matt Lodder, art historian, is brilliant when he discusses what tattooing can gain by being accepted as an art form; that is, real critique of what is good, bad, derivative, ethical, new ... rather than looking at tattoos as one homogenous thing. He's currently writing a book on tattooing in the UK from an art historian perspective, which will be an important contribution to our community.

Also in the BBC program are Shelley Jackson, renowned for her "Skin" project, where a story she has written is conveyed through words tattooed on people around the world; artist Sandra Ann Vita Minchin discusses how mortality & legacy inform her own use of tattooing in her performance art -- and how she plans to grow skin through her DNA and tattoo it as an extension of her body project; and Sion Smith, editor of Skin Deep, and Trent Aitken-Smith, editor of Tattoo Master, weigh in on tattoo culture today.

Again, this is a fantastic listen and worth the time. Check it here.
07:10 AM
DC tattoo law.jpgOn Friday, Washington D.C.'s Health Department released a 66-page notice of new proposed regulations governing "body artists and body art establishments," which has caused a huge buzz -- and rightfully so -- because of some ridiculous provisions thrown into the mix.

One such proposal is the 24-hour waiting period to get a tattoo. As reported in the Washington Post, regulations governing tattoos and piercings were passed by the D.C. Council last year. D.C. Council member Yvette M. Alexander introduced the body art bill when she discovered that D.C. was one of the few places that did not regulate the industry. Naturally, many professional tattooers support reasonable regulation to maintain health and hygiene standards; however, within these new proposed regulations are "moral" not health protections, which could, in fact, subvert the whole purpose of having any regulation at all.

As Paul Roe of British Ink told the Washington Post: "Simple regulation is effective regulation. Overregulation will kill the profession and drive it underground and make it less safe for everybody." Paul also noted in the Needles & Sins FB page: "D.C. released these with no input from the industry, just unqualified council and health dept committee patchwork regulations."

The 24-hour waiting period proposed was inspired by rules passed in two Wisconsin municipalities, but it has not passed in big cities like D.C. One reason is that it would be an incredible drain on city resources to actually enforce. Will city health officials become tattoo regret police? Perhaps they should also hang out at bars at 1am and help prevent other regrettable decisions, like hooking up with the guy in the Nickleback t-shirt.

The ridiculousness is not lost on many. Tons of media outlets have decried the waiting period and even the Post article notes that the spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray said that "the Mayor has 'serious doubts about the regulations as proposed' and will consider the comments received before issuing final regulations."

The comments are a good way to take action to ensure that provisions like the waiting period are stricken from the rules that get adopted. There's a 30-day period for commenting, which began Friday. You can submit your arguments to Angli Black at (202) 442-5977 or email
08:22 AM
Yesterday, CNN published "Ed Hardy: From art to infamy and back again" -- a feature that largely focuses on the trajectory of the Ed Hardy fashion brand, from celebrity status symbol to "one of the most polarizing brands in recent memory."

The article is inspired by Hardy's excellent memoir "Wear Your Dreams: My Life in Tattoos." As CNN writes, the book does "set the record straight" about the brand, which came about when Hardy entered into a deal with Christian Audigier to produce merchandise with his art. However, the book is so much more. As I noted in my post on the book, it is not just a story about one tattooist's life. It is an ode to the art of tattooing, its philosophy, and its culture.

The greatest thing about the CNN feature is the link it includes to a 1995 NY Times article entitled, "Tattoo Moves From Fringes To Fashion. But Is It Art?"  In fact, I probably would not have even posted the CNN piece at all if it weren't for this wonderful find.

That NY Times piece discusses "Pierced Hearts and True Love: A Century of Drawings for Tattoos," the 1995 exhibition at the Drawing Center in NYC for which Hardy contributed and consulted. [Hardy Marks Publishing also put out the catalog to the show.]  It is an excellent read on the relationship between body art and the fine art world, and almost 20 years later, the questions that Michael Kimmelman asks in that article are just as important today. Here's a bit from the article:

One wonders what tattoos mean, if anything, even unconsciously, to a generation that has grown up with AIDS. Tattooers talk about the erotic aspect of tattooing. The mix of needles, blood and doing something unalterable to one's own body, something taboo, besides, seems germane. So does the fact that tattoos violate the notion of the body as sacrosanct and pure. (And remember when William F. Buckley proposed tattooing everyone with H.I.V.?) Tattooing has to do with taking liberties with one's own body at a time when such liberties have been circumscribed.

And in the end, no matter how popular they have become, no matter how much they have been assimilated and sanitized by fashion and the art world, tattoos are still startling. Which is the bottom line. By now virtually no visual art form has the power truly to startle. But tattoos, not the drawings of them, but the actual things, can. They're genuinely transgressive, and every generation wants to redefine beauty by adopting what seems transgressive to the previous generation. Are tattoos beautiful? Well, to paraphrase the old saying, a tattoo is only skin deep.

I highly recommend you check out the rest of the 1995 NY Times article, and if you have the time, the CNN piece on Hardy is worth a read as well.

If you haven't picked it up yet, grab Ed Hardy's memoir "Wear Your Dreams: My Life in Tattoos."
08:39 AM
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It's true. I only do these monster hardcover tattoo books for the parties.
And also because I enjoy telling people that I've given birth to a nearly-8lb beautiful black bundle of joy.

Black Tattoo Art II: Modern Expressions of the Tribal -- my 448-page love letter to tattoos (mostly) created in black ink -- has officially been released and the first shipment of my author copies has landed in NYC. Naturally, we must drink and dance. Here are the details:

When:  Sunday, September 15th, from 4-7PM

Where: Bar Matchless,  557 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11222. [The back room]
Located on the corner of Manhattan Ave. and Driggs Ave. in Greenpoint near McCarren Park.

Who:   You and anyone else you want to bring.

Why:   Just to party. I will be selling the book, but I'd love to have you there just to hang. No purchase necessary for my love. DJ Les Boogie will be spinning and there will be drink and food specials. In fact, get there early and have an amazing brunch at Matchless in their front room.

If you are interested in purchasing the book, I will be selling it at the reduced author rate of $150 (rather than $199). There will also be limited copies available of the first Black Tattoo Art volume, and also the Black & Grey Tattoo box sets.

We'll also be partying in the UK at the London Tattoo Convention, September 27-29! Look out for the Edition Reuss Publishing booth, where I'll be selling Black Tattoo Art 2, and all my babies. A gathering is being planned; most likely we'll all be raising a glass at one of the bars in the beautiful Tobacco Docks convention hall.

For more on Black Tattoo Art 2, read my full post on the book, and for a sneak peak inside, check this Flickr set. Pre-orders will ship within a week. To order online, contact me at

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09:02 AM
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It's not uncommon for tattooers to offer free tattoos to clients who are willing to take or to leave the design presented by the artist, and with free rein, he or she is able to experiment and evolve a personal tattoo style. It's this process -- and trust -- that is often cited when talking about tattooing rising to the level of "a fine art."

Tattooer Roddy McLean of Timeless Tattoo in Glasgow, Scotland is skilled in a variety of tattoo genres, although particularly influenced by Japanese traditions in his tattooing. However, when he wanted to create tattoo designs based around the concept of "dissolution," and put into skin the drawings he had been doing of dissolving images, Roddy decided that he would offer one free tattoo a month through the year to clients willing to accept, as is, his artwork on their bodies. Roddy explains, "By doing this it gives me a break from being the dancing monkey that tattooing makes you." And clients jumped at the chance. He's already booked every month until the end of the year.

The tattoos shown here are part of Roddy's dissolution project. Check more on his blog.

Roddy also put together a video art project, shown below, which explores dissolution themes and also offers a glimpse into the tattoo process of the sleeve featured in this post.

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