My portrait above by James Hole.
Portrait of tattoo artist Bugs.Portrait of Alice Snape, editor of Things & Ink magazine.
One of my favorite tattoo gatherings that I attended last year was the Brighton Tattoo Convention, right on the beautiful English seaside. It had this real communal vibe, set up for top tattooing but also for hanging with old friends and new. It really stood in sharp contrast to the ever-increasing sterility of corporate-sponsored tattoo conventions.
While I was there, I had the absolute pleasure of being photographed by James Hole (as shown by the top photo above). I felt like I was being shot for Vanity Fair, with a real editorial sophistication but also laid back approach. James got me to relax and giggle through it, but I also understood that this was serious work and not once did I throw devil horns or try to make funny faces, like usual. He also beautifully captured my friends like Bugs & Alice, above.
The wonderful Brighton Tattoo Convention Blog has more of Jame's portraits from last year's show. A must see.
This year's convention is coming up, April 30th to May 1st at the Brighton Centre, and it promises to be even better, with stellar artists from the world, and some wonderful events such as the Tattoo Identity exhibit on women in the history of tattooing, a film screening of "The Point of No Return" - A Journey into the Ancient Past of Tribal Tattooing in Borneo, the custom car and barber expo, the infamous after-parties, and more.
Check more on the convention here and also see more of James Hole's work here.
Portrait of Kelly Violet.
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.
Editor Alice Snape brings us the third installment of her marvelous tattoo magazine, Things & Ink where the theme is all about love, baby! In her words:
The issue is all about love, in all it's glorious forms. It explores love between lovers, friends and family, passion and romance throughout history. Paralleling love as an emotion with a love for tattoos. There's also an in-depth interview with Rachel [Baldwin], an exclusive competition to win an original by the cover star herself, plus lots more...
They've also put together a wonderful behind-the-scenes video of Rachel's cover-shoot (which is scored to a NoFX tune so, obviously, I'm pretty giddy about that fact alone).
Things & Ink pride themselves on their tagline: "Embracing Female Tattoo Culture," but I personally find the magazine to be gender-neutral - or in the words of the Slinky jingle: "It's fun for a girl and a boy!" Everything from the articles to the paper-stock to the typography are a pleasure to read, hold and view.
More importantly: they eschew what, in my opinion, is the blatant misogyny of the majority of tattoo magazines. When I pick up a tattoo magazine, I want to see great features on tattooing and images of great tattoos. If I wanted to see images of naked, minimally-tattooed women in provocative poses, well, that's what my subscription to Playboy is for; and to be honest, I only read that for the articles. (No, seriously, I swear).
Perhaps that's what "Embracing Female Tattoo Culture" actually means: we're here to appreciate the art, not objectify the person wearing it. If so, it's a sentiment that I strongly support and I'm glad that it's done so through such a quality product; and it's also a sentiment from which other publishers in the industry could certainly learn a lesson.
So, I tip my Vassar College cap to everyone involved with Things & Ink on a job well done and encourage everyone of all genders out there to dive into this magazine!
When we got home from vacation, I had the lovely surprise of finding The Face Issue of the UK's Things & Ink magazine, a publication that I described in my first post on it as "a love letter to tattooed women."
This second issue is cover-to-cover fantastic. Bob Baxter, the former editor of Skin & Ink magazine, once said that you need a woman on the cover of a tattoo magazine because sales drastically drop when you don't. Well, Things & Ink shows how you do it right, respecting tattooed women who make up at least half of the tattooed masses according to recent US polls.
The front cover, featuring tattoo artist Cassandra Frances, is fabulous, with a close-up of her beautiful face and facial tattoo, and the back cover is the back view of that portrait, with an up-close look at her neck tattoos and sleeves. Cassandra is not clutching her boobs or sucking on her finger. I know, crazy! You can watch a video of the cover shoot below.
The concept of focusing an issue primarily on facial work is one I really dig. As noted on the Things & Ink site,
The face issue examines what it means to be a woman and have facial tattoos. It also asks a number of artists their rules when it comes to tattooing the face, explores cosmetic tattooing for people to regain control over their bodies while recovering from illness and features all the usual tattoo artwork and artist interviews.Other highlights for me is the profile on Mo Deeley, a 54-year-old "Glam-ma," who is covered in tattoos after only started getting tattooed a year ago. Her photos and story are inspiring. I also really enjoyed Amelia Klem Osterud's article on whether Lady Randolph Churchill really did have a snake tattoo, which so many have speculated on. A sexy bit of tattoo history.
I asked editor Alice Snape what her highlights are, and here's what she said:
My highlight of Issue 2 is the article by Kelli Savill on the sexualisation of women with tattoos (page 54). It explores how tattooed women are portrayed in the media, including Suicide Girls, and how women's bodies are used to market objects including the tattooed Barbie Doll. It has received such a powerful reaction to readers and it seems to have really resonated. The feature is accompanied by a beautiful shoot by Kristy Noble, of a mannequin tattooed by Dominique Holmes, Inma and El Bernardes. I also loved hearing such diverse opinions of how people feel about face tattoos, it made me question how I feel about them myself. The cover photo of tattoo artist Cassandra Frances is stunning, I am so happy she said yes to being on the cover. She is an amazing artist and person, and I would love to work with her again in the future.You can purchase the magazine online here, and from the stockists listed here. For updates in between issues, check Things & Ink on Twitter and Facebook.
Around the beginning of the month, I received the premier issue of Things & Ink magazine from the UK. I dragged myself home after an extremely trying day at work, and in zombie mode, made my way to the mailbox; as usual, I started opening up the envelopes in the notoriously slow ride up the elevator to our apartment. I get to Things & Ink just as the elevator stops at my floor. I stay in the elevator pouring through the magazine. Brian says, "Babe, let's go." I say, "Look at this," and show him the magazine. He says, "Ah, you're finally happy now."
With Things & Ink, editor Alice Snape has created a love letter to tattooed women.
It's an answer to the growing misogyny in tattoo media, especially in the US, where the presence of female tattooists is limited, but there's an abundance of women sucking on their fingers and grabbing their breasts, barely showing any tattoos at all. Now, I have no problem with T&A. Hell, some of my good friends (as the cliche goes) are porn stars. But porn is porn. Don't dress it up in the name of body art when it's just about young, skinny, and mostly caucasian bodies. The great hypocrisy here is that I write for such magazines. The editors have graciously allowed me to feature women artists and also men who don't normally get the press they deserve. For this, I'm grateful. But my little articles are sandwiched in between the hot tattooed chick of the month and an interview with some rock star with bad tattoos. And it makes me sad.
What Alice has done is show the tattoo world that you can have a sexy but also smart, inclusive, and fun publication without bowing down to the lowest common denominator of sleaze and celebrity gossip. I'm getting real tired of reading about Kat Von D's different boyfriends.
Things & Ink describes itself as a "magazine that embraces female tattoo culture, for artists, collectors and those yet to go under the needle. [...] Each issue is filled with beautiful images, real-life stories, tattoos, opinion pieces, fashion, inspiration, art, artists, history, beauty and much more." And it absolutely delivers, all 92 pages, from front to back cover.
Speaking of, it was a fabulous idea to put well respected tattooist Claudia De Sabe on the front cover, recreating the iconic image of Artoria Gibbons, a heavily-tattooed circus lady in the 1920s. All the wonderful people behind the creation of the cover are listed in this blog post, and you can check the backstage footage from the shoot in a video by Papercut Pictures, embedded below.
Inside the magazine is everything from beauty and fashion to personal essays to artist profiles to tattoo history (including text from the wonderful Amelia Klem Osterud, author of "The Tattooed Lady: A History," a must read). I particularly dug the Old School for Girls article, which recreates the traditional pin-up for a female audience, exploring "women's ruin," with fun artwork of some male cheesecake in old school tattoo fashion. But really, it's hard to list all my favorite things in the mag because it's all a refreshing delight. So I asked Alice what her highlights are and here's a bit from what she replied:
The current issue is everything I want to read about myself. I love reading people's opinions about tattoos, so I love the pieces about people's first time. Before I got tattooed, I would love to have read something like this. The thing I am most proud of is the cover, it is perfect. I adore the picture of Artoria and I have always admired Claudia so it is so perfect. It was an honour that she said yes to being on the cover, it really does mean so much to me.Things & Ink can be purchased online here -- either a single issue or full subscription.
It's a quarterly magazine, and the next issue is out in February, just in time for the Brighton Tattoo Convention. Alice says the issue will explore cosmetic tattooing and face tattoos. Even more awesome, they just wrapped a photo shoot with Mo Deeley, a 54-year-old woman who is covered in tattoos and only started getting tattooed a year ago. Also, Amelia will be writing about Lady Randolph.
We'll let you know when that next issue is out. Meanwhile, you can view the latest news about Things&Ink on Twitter and Facebook.
Filmed at the London Tattoo Convention this past year, Zeitgeist Magazine's "Behind the Needle" series, produced by Alice Snape, features noted artists talking about their art and inspiration, and musing on the state of tattooing, often while tattooing clients at the show.
In this fourth installment, Alice & Papercut Pictures interviewed Zele of Zagreb Tattoo, Jason Donahue of Idle Hand, and Alex Binnie of IntoYou. These artists, from very different backgrounds, discuss their individual tattoo styles and also address the good and bad of the "tattoo fad." [Zele remarks, "Tattooing has become a victim of its own popularity."]
In all of the interviews, the passion for the craft is most evident. I particularly enjoyed hearing Alex Binnie's thoughts on tattooing being a beautiful private contract between the client and tattooist -- an art that is outside the exploitative nature of the gallery fine art system. No fad can say that.
Watch the full video above or catch it on Zeitgeist. Also check the previous episodes: