While we weathered the storms here in Brooklyn, so many of our friends were working and playing at the Hell City Tattoo Festival in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. Reading their twitter feeds, it was clear that Durb Morrison and his exceptional crew put on another top show. And the press agreed.
According the the Phoenix New Times, there was even a greater turn-out than last year with thousands in attendance at the Arizona Biltmore "to show off their tattoos, get new ink, watch live painting, and gawk over the art gallery." The article paints the scene of busy tattoo booths and fine art created live. It even finishes off with a note that tattooing should be considered an art form itself:
And if the fistfuls of reality TV tattoo shows, the thousands of people who showed up to Hell City, and the countless jaw-dropping tattoos they sported weren't proof enough, the dozens of detailed acrylic and oil on canvas works there (ranging from fantastical landscapes to realistic portraits) further proved that tattooing is not just something sailors and convicts do anymore -- it's clearly a mainstream art form.
Check their extensive gallery of photos by Ryan Wolf, including those shown here.
You can find more photos from the show on the ABC15.com's gallery, and Fox News has this quick video and write-up. If you have photos you'd like to share, hit us up.
Starting off 2010 with a mega-news review, from tattooed skin bags to more eyeball tattooing.
In perhaps the most creepy cool headline we've read in a while, a pocket-book from the 1800s made of human skin -- which was tattooed -- was found in a flea market (car boot sale) in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK. According to the Daily Mail (which published the photograph above):
"The skin is believed have been taken off the back of a man who was executed after he tried to shoot a British major in the first Chinese Opium War of 1839."
The skin eventually came off the pocket-book and was then preserved in oil in a bottle, which was how it was sold at the market to a Dorset historian. Clues to its original ownership are found in a letter with the bag, which traces its origin to the Egerton family. In 1901, one family member alluded to the skin in her memoir: "Behind the green and beige doors of the bookcase of my mother's bedroom was one of the most gruesome of all her possessions." Read more on the history and details of the tattoos in the article.
The tattoo news that garnered the most headlines in the US surround parents who gave six of their under-age kids home tattoos and were subsequently arrested. The Georgia couple used the typical jail-house method of taking a pen tube, guitar wire and electric motor to tattoo small crosses on their kids' hands. The parents' defense, "They wanted it. They asked me." They're charged with three counts each of illegal tattooing, second degree child cruelty and reckless conduct. They may soon find out what a real prison tattoo looks like.
And speaking of jailhouse tattoos...
Idiot inmates tattooing their eye balls does not make for a trend, HipHop Wired!
In 2007, Modblog first wrote about the eyeball tattooing of three bod mod practitioners. The post began with this caveat: "Warning: This entry documents a highly experimental procedure that should not be emulated." It also stated that it was extensively researched and meant as an experiment. Afterward, mainstream media called eyeball tattooing a "dangerous trend" even though there were no reports of others doing it. This is the first report since then. It raises the question whether these inmates were inspired by the Modblog post or decided to do it on their own without any information (the former was an argument against publishing the procedure). Of course, there's the question of whether we will see more extreme forms of the art and legitimize the trend label now that tattooing losing its badass stigma. As for trends, I'd rather see MC Hammer pants come back in style.
In tattoo law news ...
On New Year's day, a new tattoo law in Iowa went into effect that requires tattoo studios and artists to keep records on every client they tattoo for at least three years. Specifically, shops & artists must record every client's name, birth date, photocopy of his or her driver's license or birth certificate, date of the procedure, artist's name and client's signature.The question raised here: Is it a burden to the artists and violation of the client's privacy, or is it a measure to protect artists from potential suits? Considering that the tattoo design is not part of the record requirement -- police have indeed used tattoo records against accused -- I believe the law does greater good than harm, especially in light of the increasing law suits and criminal investigations against studios for tattooing minors. By copying the drivers license, studios can instantly prove that they checked ID (they're not asked to decipher whether an ID is fake). This is a deterrent to minors seeking a tattoo but also lawsuits from angry parents. As many, if not most, professional studios keep records, the burden seems to be minimal. Do you think the law is fair? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments section.
And while we're on the law, I wanted to point out again that local bans against studios still exist even if state law permits them, but city councils are finally coming around across the US and re-examining their bans like in Jefferson City, MO. I'll say it again and again, the best way to combat tattoo bans and heavy handed laws is to vote for the right council people or run yourself.
In "this is a bad idea" news ...
In Chicago, a mom opens up a tattoo school in memory of her dead son. Whatever the motivation, I still think these tattoo schools are a bad idea, especially under a women who says things like this: "Baron said students need not worry about possessing artistic skills, " and remarks that apprenticeships can cost up to $10,000. Anyone hear of that? One of her greatest lessons should be how to deal with the taunting and laughter from studios once students try to find work with their "tattoo degree."
In this profile on Doug Phillips of Torture Chamber Tattoos in central NY, the best argument against tattoo schools is offered by Mike Hynes
[Correction: Bill Pogue at "The World's Only Tattoo School" in LA apprenticed Phillips. See the comments for further clarification.]
Mark Moford of the SF Chronicle agrees with Phillips in his essay on young tattoo collectors and their bad choices:
"...I couldn't help but look down and realize she had something inscribed high up on the back of her neck, just beneath the hairline.
Yes, something must be done.
In dirty but maybe not so quick links ...
phew. I'm done.
I was looking forward to attending the Hell City Tattoo Vacation at the Arizona Biltmore but with my book being released early (this Thursday), I couldn't swing.
Thankfully, many of my friends attended and are happy to share their photos with all of us.
The first batch in is by the fabulous Ryan Keough. Check over a hundred of his photos here. Ryan focused his camera on the top roster of artists tattooing as well as the competitions. View some amazing tattoos. More on the show coming up.
UPDATE: The beautiful Chris Stauber just sent me the link to her photos from Hell City, including her husband Peter picking up a bunch of trophies at the tattoo contest. Congrats!