October 2013 Archives

09:22 AM
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It's Halloween, and so naturally, I had to fill this space with the dark and eerie ... and so naturally, this space belongs to the master of the dark arts, Paul Booth of Last Rites Tattoo Theater and Gallery.

Last month, Tattoo Artist Magazine posted a beautifully produced video interview with Paul (below), where you can get a glimpse inside Last Rites and hear Paul tell tales, with his signature dry humor.

Also check the latest exhibition of Last Rites Gallery, The 13th Hour, either online or in person, as the show runs until December 7th. More images posted to the Last Rites Gallery Facebook page.

You can also find Paul on Twitter & Instagram.

08:47 AM
my arm the comic 2.jpgmy arm the comic.jpgA bit gimmicky, but cute idea:  artist Patrick Yurick had blank comic frames tattooed on his forearm, and illustrates a story in them near-daily. The comics are then posted on his site, "My Arm" The Comic.

As for the tattoo, Patrick says on his site: "My Arm the Comic is brought to you by an impulsive purchase from Groupon.com and the good folks at Blue Tattoo Cafe in San Diego, CA."

See more on Facebook and Instagram.

[Via PSFK.com.]
10:12 PM
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Last week, Global News Canada reported that "tattoo concerns" were abound in Edmonton among those who got some incredibly bad tattoos after participating in one tattooist's quest to break a world record for most tattoos within 24 hours. I know what you're thinking:  How can one possibly get a bad tattoo for $20 in the back of a bar & grill along with 818 people? Mysteries of the world are often unfathomable, my friends.

It all went down last July when young tattooer Diankh Lopez broke (or claimed to have broken) the previous Guinness World Records mark of 801 tattoos within 24-hours set by Hollis Cantrell of Arizona in 2008. Dianke, who had only been tattooing for four years, marked 818 people with either paw prints or an infinity symbol. And she did it for charity, damn it! All the proceeds ($4,795) allegedly went to the Edmonton Humane Society.

You'll often find charities tied into these world record attempts. Artists trying to balance their need for some sort of fame, but saying it's a selfless act to help the puppies or the children. There are, in fact, many great tattoo fundraisers for charity, and most of them are not bound to scar as many people as possible within a short period of time.

Of course, these world records wouldn't take place if there weren't the willing bodies. Many of those bodies in the Global News video said they participated to help the puppies, but I'm guessing the cheap tattoo ticket price was also a factor. And considering the "you get what you pay for" maxim, you'd think that they wouldn't be so shocked and appalled that their infinity symbol looks like, well, that I did it.

There should be no surprise at all, in fact, because Diankh made participants signed a waiver that specifically stated that the tattoos would be "rushed" and she could not vouch for quality. She did, however, promise free touch-ups. And when people went to get those free touch-ups, she "disappeared."

Diankh resurfaced when Global News caught up to her. Evidently, fellow Edmonton tattooers weren't happy with her stunt and refused to hire her or let her work at their shops. Now people just have to wait until she can find a place to work.

It's a sad lesson for a young tattooer, but we should all take heed not to support these world record rip-offs.
08:36 AM
Into_You_Wall3.jpgPhotos above and the portrait of Daisuke Sakaguchi below by Nick Delaney.

On view at London's iconic tattoo studio and art gallery, Into You, are fantastic new works by Daisuke Sakaguchi, from canvas paintings to skateboards, and also collaboration pieces, such as jewelry with The Great Frog; artful sex toys with Illicit Touch; and a gorgeous vintage Yamaha motorcycle with Black Skulls. It's an incredibly diverse collection, but with all pieces imbued with Sakaguchi's evident passion for Irezumi, traditional Japanese tattooing, and Ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese woodblock prints. The show closes this Thursday, October 21st, so head to Into You, from 12pm - 7pm, and don't miss it.

It's wonderful that an esteemed artist has teemed up with an esteemed tattoo studio, making his work accessible to all, especially as his art has been shown in quite exclusive venues. Just last year, Sakaguchi's stunning hand painted transformation of the 1935 BT Phone Box was auctioned at The National Portrait Gallery by Sotheby's, followed by his one off "Chikara" bicycle helmet being showcased and sold at the Legacy List 2012 exhibition at the Sotheby's London Gallery. He also created a collection of hand-painted limited edition Faberge African Ostrich eggs for Selfridges London.

Daisuke_Sakaguchi_eggs.jpgPhoto above by Nicola Saint-Marc.

Currently, Sakaguchi is learning to tattoo by master artist Alex "Horikitsune" Reinke, who has created stunning tattoos on Sakaguchi. I asked the artist about his tattoos and tattooing. Here's a bit from our chat:

Are you heavily involved in the design process of your tattoos?

In regards to me being a customer, I put forward the motifs that I would like along with the essence that I would like it to convey. However I give Alex the freedom to layout the placements and the composition. He knows best. As an artist and designer myself, I totally appreciate that a creative person needs the space and opportunity to execute the best work possible.

Have you ever been asked to design tattoos for another?

Yes, I have designed some small tattoos for friends of mine. I enjoy designing tattoos as well as creating paintings that are an expression on tattoo imagery. These are some of the reasons why I am very passionate about continuing to learn about the art of tattooing itself.

Daisuke_Sakaguchi.jpg As you've said, there is that strong influence of Irezumi and Ukiyo-e in your work. What was it particularly about these arts that drew you in?

As a Japanese man born and brought up in London, I had two upbringings. At home, both of my parents spoke to me in Japanese. At school, I spoke English. I learnt both English and Japanese cultures simultaneously. I am a fan of all kinds of traditional, modern, conceptual and visual art. It is Japanese art that I saw was so relevant to my blood line and ancestors from a symbolic perspective. It was also something that I was just naturally drawn to purely for it's beautiful aesthetics.

The more I looked at it, the more I wanted to research what all the motifs and stories meant and to see how I can incorporate these messages in to my own paintings and visual art work.

In addition to tattooing, Sakaguchi has some exciting upcoming projects: His friend, Wendy Meakin, the art collector and dealer, has recently purchased a vintage 1940 UK Test Bomb, and he will be painting on to the bomb to give it a brand new life. He says, "We love the idea of taking something that is a symbol of destruction and creating a new positive purpose for it. It will become a powerful peaceful statement piece. The test bomb will be reborn as the "Love Bomb"!"  Sakaguchi will also be collaborating with Steven Marlow to create a custom built and hand painted guitar.

If you can't make it to London to check Daisuke Sakaguchi's exhibit at Into You, you can get a taste from this 3-minute video (below), by Rino Pucci, of the opening.

Black, white and red / Daisuke Sakaguchi -- by Rino Pucci from Rino Pucci on Vimeo.

08:06 AM
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Joy Rumore breast tattoo.jpgAbove: Blackwork tattoo by Roxx 2Spirit. Floral tattoo by Joy Rumore.

On Monday -- P.Ink Day -- a group of truly exceptional tattooers, exceptional in their art and in their spirit, dedicated their time to transform mastectomy scars of kickass women into beautiful life-affirming creations. Just taking a look at Gigi Stoll's photos of what went down at Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn that day, offers a glimpse into just how powerful and magical tattooing can be.

As I've posted here before, P.Ink or Personal Ink Project 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 Monday, P.Ink brought artists and survivors together in person, and picked up the tab via an Indiegogo campaign -- that still needs help with funding.

To learn more about P.Ink and the transformation of mastectomy scars from the perspective of the tattoo artist and the client, check
this HuffPo video (below) featuring P.Ink's founder Noel Franus, artist Joy Rumore and Megan Hartman, whom Joy tattooed on Monday (tattoo shown above).  Joy also blogged about her experience, which is a great read.

For all the inspiration and beauty, thank you, P.Ink and the artists who made it all possible: Stephanie Tamez, Virginia Elwood, Ashley Love, Michelle Tarantelli, Roxx, Shannon Purvis Barron, Nikki Lugo, Miranda Lorberer, Jen Carmean, and Joy Rumore.

08:50 AM
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We've all seen them. Those tattoo "fan" pages with the billion "Likes" on Facebook where you'll find beautiful tattoos but without any information on the artist, photographer, or collector.

Photos of me have popped up on these sites, and I have commented, "That's me. My artist is Dan DiMattia, Calypso Tattoo," but that all gets lost in the barrage of subsequent comments, often asking who did the work because they could not find my attribution. I've gotten tired of them and now simply report their use of my photos to Facebook, particularly because I don't want to be associated -- and even used by -- these sites.

These sites are not tattoo fan pages. They are "Like Farms." As Yahoo News explains:

Here's how it works. Someone creates a page and starts posting photos inspirational quotes or other innocent content. You like the page and it now shows up regularly in your news feed. Anytime you interact with a post, that activity shows up in your friends' news feeds.The more likes the page gets, the more it shows up. The more comments each picture gets, the more power the page gets in the Facebook news feed algorithm.And that makes it more and more visible.
When the page gets enough fans (a hundred thousand or more)the owner might start placing ads on the page. Those ads show up in your news feed. They could be links to an app, a game, or a service they want you to buy. It could be a "recommendation" for a product on Amazon where the page owner gets a commission for every purchase made through the link. Or more nefariously, the page owner could be paid to spread malware by linking out to sites that install viruses on your computer for the purposes of identity theft. Bottom line: access to your news feed is lucrative.
I came across the Yahoo News article thanks to Birmingham-based tattoo artist Goldilox, whose work was featured on the Facebook page Myttoo Tattoos & Piercings, without credit and with a caption linking to a clothing line (as shown in the screen capture above). Goldilox then shared with her own many fans how tattoo Like Farms are scamming tattoo fans, and encouraged people to speak out, report these sites to Facebook, and especially Unlike them.

Then the Facebook page "Credit My Work" was created to raise awareness of the issue. Now, that's a site you should like!

It's natural for us to want to follow sites that feature inspiring work, but we should do so only to those who support our community -- not exploit it.
07:20 AM
NYC Tattoo Convention freak.jpgOne of the most acclaimed tattoo gatherings  -- the NYC Tattoo Convention -- has brought beautiful freaks worldwide to New York in spring time, as it has been held each May for 16 years. However, with the sad news that the convention's venue, the historic Roseland Ballroom, will be shutting down in April 2014, I worried about the fate of my hometown show.

Thankfully, we'll still be able to party in this iconic spot, if not for one last time, as the convention dates for 2014 are MARCH 7TH, 8TH, AND 9TH, 2014 [updated]. While the news has been spread around social media, I've still been hearing people talk about making travel plans for May or even setting up appointments at that time, so I wanted to help get the word out there that the show will go on, but in March.

We'll be there and hope to see you too!  Check my bad camera phone pics from past shows on Flickr.
08:59 AM
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Multidisciplinary artist duo Jade Tomlinson and Kevin James, also known as Expanded Eye, have been spreading love around London with their installations and street art -- and according to Culture 24, they've also been putting their distinct visual storytelling on skin, spending 6 months with abstract tattoo maestro Loic Lavenue, aka Xoil of Needles' Side, in Thonon-les-Bains, France.

The duo's approach to tattoos are particularly engaging and also well constructed. On Expanded Eye's Facebook Page, they offer more on their approach:

Each and every unique tattoo we create is our visual interpretation of concepts and stories provided by the client which hold significant meaning to the individual. We encompass as much personal detail possible whilst allowing each design to evolve organically into a contemporary piece of art, which is then transferred from paper to skin.

Expanded Eye is now taking bookings for November through June 2014 when they are back at Needles' Side. Hit them up with your concept & placement ideas to info@expandedeye.co.uk.

If you're in London from October 25-29, check their exhibition of new works entitled A Thousand Fibres, showing at Arch 402 Gallery, Hoxton. Read the exhibition statement for more on the show.

Expanded Eye tattoos.jpg
09:00 AM
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Thanks to Facebook, I was reminded that today is the birthday of one of my favorite blackwork artists: Roxx of 2Spirit Tattoo in San Francisco. Happy birthday, Roxx!

So when I went to the 2Spirit Facebook page, I found stunning new work that I had to share. Roxx is not only known for some of the boldest blackwork around (as shown below), but she is also able to create light and intricate sacred geometry patterns and, as evidenced by the very top photo, use the simplest forms to the greatest effect.

You can catch Roxx at the Bay Area Convention of the Tattoo Arts, Oct. 25-27.  She'll also be in NYC working to transform mastectomy scars on P.Ink Day, October 21st at Saved Tattoo.  [More on P.Ink Day here.]

I'm also honored that Roxx is one of the featured artists in Black Tattoo Art 2.

More of her work can be found on Instagram.

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08:36 AM
Last week, a site called jesustattoo.org came across my radar in which there is a video (shown below) of an actor, with a bad wig and faux facial hair, who plays Jesus as a tattoo artist. Tattoo Jesus transforms tattoos that say "useless" and "outcast" to "brave" and "purpose." The big reveal is when he takes off his shirt, and we see that the negative marks are now on his body.

Even as a heathen, I thought it was a nice concept, but I just couldn't get past the fake hair and cheezy production, so I decided not to post it.  BUT, when I learned of the "outcry" against the jesustattoo.org billboard in Lubbock, Texas, well, that to me is newsworthy because it's a reminder that many still view tattoos as "blasphemous," and people take the tattoos of others -- no matter what the subject matter -- as personally offensive to their beliefs.

Also interesting is that the evangelicals behind jesustattoo.org are really digging the backlash. According to Vibe, media relations coordinator for the organization, Ashleigh Sawyer, stated: "Certainly, like with all deeply personal relationships, not everyone approves of the image of Jesus with tattoos, but we welcome the controversy because we understand that a dialogue on the issue is the best way to spread the message."

Well, the message is out. Even I ended up posting it.

12:34 PM
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In my top five of tattoo documentaries, there is Color Outside the Lines -- the first film to explore the experiences of professional black tattoo artists in America. I wrote about the film here, and I interviewed Miya Bailey, the tattoo artist who conceived and produced the film, which was directed Artemus Jenkins.

I'm revisiting the film today because I just found out that Miya has graciously posted the film in its entirety on YouTube, which I've embedded below. I highly recommend the film for its insightful interviews with legends such as
Jackie Gresham, the first professional black tattoo artist renowned in the US, and Zulu, (whom Miguel interviewed for N+S, posted here), as well as talks with the new generation of tattooers of color. Engaging storytelling and a history lesson, all in an hour & a half.

You can also purchase the DVD for $10 online here.  For more, click Miya Bailey's site.

04:32 PM

It's always a little weird when you get a phone call that asks, "Can you come by the shop so we can photograph your back? And... be sure to shave." (It's even weirder when you find yourself saying to your girlfriend, "No one is gonna see that part and it's gonna suck when it grows back - DON'T SHAVE ME THERE!")

But these are the sacrifices I will make for Horitaka - an amazing man, tattooist, publisher, event-organizer, and friend.

October 25-27th brings us the inimitable Bay Area Convention of the Tattoo Arts at the SFO Hyatt Regency. This year, Horitaka is presenting a seminar from Shige and a talk and book signing from Ed Hardy in addition to a "who's who" litany of tattooists grinding away in their booths.

If you're anywhere near San Francisco, it would behoove you to be at this amazing show. Trust me.

Click here to get more info on hours and pricing.

09:11 AM
bad journalism.jpg
On Monday, io9.com posted the photo above from YourLocalGP on Twitter, via PZ Myers, in which a "journalist" from The Sun "urgently need[s] an expert who will say tattoos can give you cancer."  And he can plug and PAY you to say it!

There has never been a study that links tattoos to cancer. The closest discussion on the topic recently has been on how tattoos may mask melanomas, but not cause them.

But this isn't about tattoos and cancer. It's about how the media constantly sensationalizes and even demonizes an art form because ... really, I don't know why anymore.  Are tattoos still scary to society? Do tattoo taboos remain even if Miley Cyrus wears them? Or maybe it's just getting too boring to write about Syria or the US government shutdown?

This is how your tattoo news gets made by tabloids, folks.

[Thanks, John A., for the link!]
09:02 AM
Daniel Meyer tattoo 1.jpgDaniel Meyer tattoo 3.jpgI'm a big fan of highly graphic, woodblock print-stylized tattoos for their bold effect and staying power. One artist who employs this style beautifully -- blending it with his fascination with the occult, symbolism, and dark aesthetics -- is Daniel Meyer of Kassel, Germany.  

Daniel, whose background is in media design, quit his job on impulse one day and decided to devote his time to following his life-long passion of creating tattoos. Self-taught, he began by learning on his own skin. Daniel credits his friend David Rinklin for offering "hints" when he began to learn to tattoo, but says that he's a natural autodidact, and just put all his energy into this one goal:  to achieve perfection in tattooing.

In 2013, Daniel started to work under the pseudonym "LEITBILD", which can be roughly translated as "guiding principle", but it can also be spelled in German with a double meaning (leit = guiding, bild = picture).

When I asked Daniel where he finds reference and ideas for his work, he said:
I find reference everywhere. If I see something in a book, I keep the page. If I see something in the nature, I do a picture. If I see something in the Internet, I do a screenshot. Most of my ideas are just happening during a process. When I'm making the design, it's like every element tells me where it should be placed and how it should be combined, that's why I require much flexibility from my customers.

I like the quote from Salvador Dali, which says: "The fact that I, myself, at the moment of painting, do not understand their meaning doesn't imply that these paintings are meaningless."
Daniel is currently moving his workspace and is looking to do more guest spots in 2014.

To see more of Daniel's work, check the LEITBILD site, Facebook page, and Instagram.

Daniel Meyer tattoo 2.jpg
07:09 PM
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If you are a regular reader of this blog, you're probably tired of my tattoo copyright posts, but I just had to mention the latest news concerning the issue because it really doesn't sit well with me at all.

Forbes reported that one guy decided he could make money by taking the tattoos of celebrities and putting them on merchandise, so he hit up six tattooers of at least eight athletes, including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, and purchased exclusive licenses for the "art," including personal, custom work such as Bryant's wife's name, Vanessa, and a tattoo inspired by her hair (shown above).

Legally, I agree that the tattooists have the right to license the tattoo work, without an agreement in which they assign all the rights to the clients. Arguably, both the artist and the client can be joint owners in the tattoo art and would share any profit they make from the artwork, 50/50. I discuss this more in my last post on tattoo copyright and celebrities.

But, outside of the law, this kind of deal seems like a breach of the trust and respect between artist and client. Particularly in Bryant's case, these are works that have individual significance to the collector, a tribute to family and faith, and to commercialize it like this seems, well, gross. Just because it may be legal, doesn't make it right.

When I started writing about tattoo copyright ten years ago, my focus was on protecting artists from companies trying to appropriate tattoo artists' work for merchandise, media, etc, without permission. I had faith that the tattoo industry could police itself when it came to managing the rights to artwork among artists & clients themselves. [For an excellent article on tattoo copyright & self-governing in the tattoo industry, read Aaron Perzanowski's Tattoos & IP Norms.] However, tattoo ethics seem to face a tough fight when business men make big money promises for less-than-stellar artwork.

Maybe clients, especially celebrities, do need to be bringing contracts into their tattoo sessions if they don't want their custom tattoos blasted on hoodies and condom wrappers.
07:52 AM
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At the London Tattoo Convention, I got to pour through the portfolio of Pietro Sedda of
The Saint Mariner  -- a gorgeous studio in Milan, Italy.

In a sea of exceptional artists, for me, what stood out about Pietro's work is his often surreal compositions stylized in a very real traditional tattoo way. It's as if Sailor Jerry & Rene Magritte had a love child, and that love child was a big bearded Italian tattooer.

Every time I passed by Pietro's booth, he was working, so I didn't get to stop him for an interview, but I found this video (below) by Flash Factory that features his work -- in an uncoventional way, naturally.

Check more tattoos by Pietro on his site, Instagram, and on Facebook.

Pietro Sedda - The saint mariner professional tattooing from Flash Factory on Vimeo.

07:04 AM
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On Friday, I added another piece to the full leg tattoo I'm slowly working on with Dan DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Liege, Belgium. Building on the existing dotwork ornamentation, bit by bit, is a lesson in patience. I just want it to be done, but with the full composition done in the stippling method, the sessions take longer, even for smallish pieces. When it all comes together, however, it'll be worth it all. Dan will be back in NYC in March for my next session, when we'll start tying all the pieces together. Can't wait!

If you haven't already seen them blasted shamelessly all over the internet, here are some tattoos Dan has already done on me below.

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06:16 AM
Henning Jorgensen tiger tattoo.jpg Henning Jorgensen tattoo.jpgThirty years ago last month, Henning Jorgensen opened Royal Tattoo in Helsingor in Eastern Denmark, and as a tribute to how he has inspired generations of tattooers around the globe, Lars Stig Moller created this video (below) in which fellow tattooers offer their gratitude for all Henning has done for the tattoo community. Some clips are serious, heartfelt messages, while others are fun & ridiculous, but all attest to just how much of an impact he has made.

Henning is renowned for his flawless Japanese-inspired compositions, as well as his classic old school works.  Tattooing since he was 18 years old, Henning began his career in Copenhagen's Red Light District, and worked with the legendary Ole Hansen (who was known as "King's Tattooer" for the work he did on Frederick IX, King of Denmark, according to the Tattoo Archive).  When American tattoo legend Mike Malone visited Copenhagen, he opened the door for Henning to the world of Japanese tattooing. Henning also traveled to the US to get tattooed by Don Ed Hardy and, according to Henning, watching Hardy work solidified the desire to pursue the Japanese aesthetic.

Today, Henning himself is a legend in this style and has influenced countless others just like the greats before him.

For more on Henning's work, check the Royal Tattoo site, Facebook page and Instagram.  I also love this blog post by Jason Tyler Grace on his visit to Royal Tattoo in 2011.

07:13 AM
Tattoo by Gao Bin, Lion King.jpg
Tattoo above by Gao Bin of Lion King Tattoo in Taiwan.

On Friday, the first day of the London Tattoo Convention, before I even finished setting up my book stand, I accosted a friend, who is getting a Filip Leu backpiece, and demanded that he drop his pants (for a look at the tattoo, of course). He immediately obliged. Soon after, others joined in and on display were derrieres decorated by  Tin Tin & Xed Le Head. There are many reasons to attend tattoo conventions. Pants dropping is one.

What makes the London convention such a draw for the thousands -- who queued up in a line that snaked all around the Tobacco Dock -- was the roster of over 300 hundred artists, who represent the best in the world. Any type of tattoo art you can image was available. Hand tattooing occupied a central arena on the upper level, where artists like Pili Mo'o tapped traditional Samoan tatau, and tattoo viking Colin Dale of Denmark created Nordic inspired dotwork (among others). Colin even offered a few small Inuit stitch tattoos, which you can view here on his Facebook page.

Shige tattooing.jpgCrowds formed around the booths of reality TV stars like Ami James and Tatu Baby, leaving room for serious collectors to watch artists like Japan's Shige (shown above) create masterful works on those lucky enough to get an appointment.

Aside from watching long-renowned legends of tattooing, I particularly love discovering artists whose work I wasn't familiar with (it's hard to keep track of the incredible talent out there today). Two artists in particular who blew my mind were Pietro Sedda, with his trippy surrealism, and Lore Morato, who does incredibly soulful neotraditional, like the work below done at the convention.

Lore Morato tattoo.jpgThe main reason of all for my attendance at these shows is that I get to meet up with my beautiful freak friends from around the world and make new friends. I'm grateful to all of you who came to my booth and shared your stories (and took your clothes off for me). Despite being such a massive gathering, the London convention always feels like an intimate family reunion.

I brought my "Marisa Loves Me" temp tattoos, and throughout the weekend, I stamped all sorts of body parts with my tokens of affection. The greatest love, however, was shown when two wonderful friends and artists, Goldilox and Garcia Leonam, got the temps permanently tattooed on them after the convention by Lore Morato. And they were sober when they decided to do it! [See below.]

Marisa Loves Me.jpgIt was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

I posted a few of my usual bad phone camera pics on Flickr. You can also find some great images and mass media coverage of the London Tattoo Convention via the links below.

I'll soon be off to Belgium to get tattooed, but I do have posts lined up for y'all this week ... because I love you.
07:05 AM
Black Tattoo Art II.jpgUPDATED POST:  Limited author copies are still available. You can order via Paypal here or contact me at marisa@needlesandsins.com. Get a sneak peak inside the book here
We live in a time when images of tattoos are in a constant stream online. Your eyes may light up at the artistry, as you scroll through your Instagram and Facebook feeds, click "Like," maybe even "Share" ... and then on to the next one. For me, when I want to really find inspiration, to spend time with a work of art, I want a book in my hands. That's why I continue to give birth to these monster tomes that are great big love letters to various genres of tattoos -- books that are meticulously crafted and published by Edition Reuss.

Black Tattoo Art II: Modern Expressions of the Tribal is my latest book; it's the second volume to my very first baby.  

At the time, when we published the first volume in 2009, I had no idea that we would have such an incredible response. I just thought that there wasn't really any comprehensive books on works created only with black ink, such as neotribal, ornamental and abstract work, and so Edition Reuss and I made one. What came out of it was a community. Artists and collectors from the book contacted each other, shared ideas, and had a few drinks. It was the greatest gift I ever received from a project. So when asked if I'd do a second volume, I said, "Hell yeah!"

Within this hardcover are 448-pages containing over 600 images, in addition to text, featuring the works of over 75 artists from around the globe. That texture of the paper, the weight of it in your hands, the details that can be enjoyed from such a large format book ... it adds to the experience of marveling at fine tattoo art.     

leon lam spread small.png    Here's more info on Black Tattoo Art II: Modern Expressions of the Tribal:   
Black Tattoo Art II: Modern Expressions of the Tribal, the second incarnation of what has been deemed the "Bible of Blackwork Tattoos," continues the first volume's photographic journey across the globe, showcasing the absolute best of tattoos that capture the magic of the ancient art form in exciting contemporary interpretations on the body. Within the 448-pages of this massive tattoo tome, readers will explore particular movements in tattoo art that, much like most indigenous tattooing, are more decorative and less literal; elaborate patterns predominate; harmony and flow with the body is paramount; and the color palette is primarily black--hence, the name Black Tattoo Art. This second volume follows the direction of the first, but takes it even farther.

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The most important addition to Black Tattoo Art II is the greater roster of international artists: 75 top tattooists from Saint Petersburg to Sao Paolo, Austin to Aotearoa, Barcelona to Brooklyn and beyond. They share their creativity, innovation, and spirit in presenting images of their tattoo and fine art work for this book. There are also more hand poked and tapped tattoos represented, and an entirely new chapter has been added celebrating Nordic and Celtic-inspired art. Along with the "Celtic/Nordic" works are those that fall under the chapters of "Dotwork," "Ornamental/Neotribal," "Abstract/Art Brut," and "Traditional Revival." Together, these works convey the endless possibilities of art that can be created with needles and black ink--although readers will find a splash of color in many of the tattoos on these pages.

thomas hooper spread small.pngThe "Ornamental/Neotribal" chapter encompasses works that enhance the body through motifs that fit so organically with the collectors, they appear as if they were born with the art on their bodies. Within the "Neotribal" genre, patterns from various cultures are melded and often infused with a modern, even punk rock, aesthetic. In this volume, with the addition of the more expansive "Ornamental" label, the chapter also includes art featuring geometric elements, some representational forms, and big, bold swaths of black ink.

The "Dotwork" chapter displays excellence in tattooing that utilizes the stippling technique in a painstaking process, creating sophisticated works out of small points to huge effect. From Sacred Geometry and Eastern Iconography to pop culture portraiture and folk art imagery, the tattoos presented in this chapter depict a large range of subject matter created from a small mode of articulation: dots.

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The new "Celtic/Nordic" chapter will inspire readers, not just with its stunning ancient designs, but also through the fantastic stories of the myths and lore behind much of the imagery, as conveyed by tattooist Colin Dale, who wrote the chapter's introduction and assembled the finest practitioners of Celtic and Nordic tattooing today for Black Tattoo Art II.

A newer tattoo movement that has defied easy classification is exhibited in the pages of the "Abstract/Art Brut" chapter. "Art Brut," or "raw art," evokes the intensity, feverishness, and freedom of creation when not bound by strict artistic formulas and conventions. This section has been further opened to include "Abstract" tattoos that possess the same flow and feeling but stylized in different ways.

buena vista spread small.pngThe "Traditional Revival" section of this book is just a glimpse into the work of those carrying on the techniques, ceremony, and spirit of ancestral tattoo practices. While the focus of this book may be the "modern expressions of the tribal," respect must be paid to the origins from which these works flowered. In this chapter, readers will find Iban hand-tapped works of Borneo, Mentawai tattooing of Indonesia, Ta Moko of the Maori, Tatau of Samoa, magic-infused Thai tattoos, and Kalinga tattoo practices being revived in the Philippines.

One of the greatest successes of the first volume of Black Tattoo Art was that it helped forge bonds among artists and collectors who find particular allure in blackwork tattooing. The goal of Black Tattoo Art II is to expand this community and further inspire those seeking to carry forth the beautiful and powerful traditions of the art form.

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Tattoo credits from top to bottom: Cover tattoo by Tomas Tomas; Leon Lam; Roxx 2 Spirit; Thomas Hooper; Celtic/Nordic chapter by Colin Dale; Buena Vista Tattoo Club; Filipino tattoo revival by Elle Festin/ Mark of the Four Waves (Photos by Joe Ash).
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