Results tagged “Best Ink”

May201322
07:24 AM
black and grey virgin mary.jpgPhoto by Edgar Hoil. Tattoo by Josh Lin.

Despite being covered in ornamental blackwork tattoos, I love all genres of the art, which is why it has been fun exploring them all in my books when I can't have them all on my bod.

One of the volumes from the Black & Grey Tattoo box set, focused on photo realism in tattooing, and on its pages were lush renderings of images, from pop culture portraits to wild animals to family tributes, and much more. There are so many ways to explore photorealism in tattooing, which makes it an exciting art form.

And when something is exciting, well, it usually ends up on TV.

The folks at Oxygen's tattoo competition show, Best Ink, have asked me to do a post on photorealism in light of tonight's episode, which pits the tattoo artist contestants against each other as they vie to create the best realistic drawings, and tattoos on clients who expect an artistic miracle in five hours.  You can catch a preview of the episode here.

insect tattoo by tim kern.jpg Insect tattoo by Tim Kern, Tribulation Tattoo.  

Realistic tattooing has not merely developed in in the past decade--it has mutated, leaping far beyond normal progression in its artistry and execution. There has been explosion of photographic representations tattooed with great precision and depth. It has invigorated the tattoo community with the possibilities of mastering a difficult art on a difficult canvas.

Both new and experienced artists face a number of challenges in realistic tattooing; the most obvious one is making it look real--capturing the look, and even the soul, of the subject. Many portrait tattoos, for example, commemorate the loves of the wearer: family, pets, cars and even fictional characters. The personal significance prescribed to these tattoos adds to the great responsibility of the artist.  Another challenge concerns the longevity of the tattoo. A skilled tattooist may choose not to render certain details in the tattoo exactly as they appear in the photo because, as skin ages, lines blur and ink fades, which could leave a portrait of Marilyn Monroe looking more like Marilyn Manson. Realism specialists also find ways to create a harmony with the body so that the tattoos don't look "slapped on" but appear organic to the wearer. It's particularly difficult to have this balance and stay true to the image but stellar artists find the right mix.

Beyonce Tattoo.jpg
Beyonce portrait tattoo on Karolina by Andre Tenorio.

Keeping all this in mind, it will be interesting to see if the contestants on Best Ink do justice to the genre and come up with work that demonstrates the true artistry and exciting possibilities of photorealistic tattooing. The show airs at 10 PM EST ... and yes, we'll be drinking.
May201301
08:37 AM
sean herman-monazappa.jpgSean Herman's Mona Lisa/Frank Zappa tattoo above.

ed perdomo tattoo.jpgEd Perdomo tattoo above.

Throughout the day, I'll be posting on the Needles & Sins Pinterest Tattoo Board images of some of my favorite cartoon and comical tattoos, beautifully executed by tattooing's top artists from around the world.

The idea behind it is that funny tattoos don't need to be funny looking. They don't need to be a Patrick Swayze as a Chippendale centaur tattoo. Cute tattoos need not be a catastrophe.

I was asked to pull some of top picks for humor tattoos by Oxygen media, the folks behind Best Ink, the tattoo competition show judged by Joe Capobianco, Hannah Aitchison and Sabina Kelly, and hosted by Pete Wentz. Turns out that they have a sense of humor and liked out Best Ink Drinking Game. And as I wrote in my post on the show, perhaps it's time to help offer a better representation of tattooing by reaching the massive audience these shows possess. That's what I'll be doing today on Pinterest.

So, tonight's episode, which airs at 10PM EST, looks at tattoos that convey a sense of humor. The artists are asked to draw caricatures of each other (some are really good!) in their Flash challenge. You can get a preview here.  For the tattoo challenge, they have to create positive and fun tattoos based on the hardships faced by the clients. I know. Drama. I'm not a fan of hearing about someone's drug addiction before they get tattooed, but that's television.

I got a sneak peak at the episode and I have to say that some of the tattoos created in that five hour period are really strong. And some are a mess.

The tattoos I'm posting today, like those here, are what fun tattoos should look like.

genko tattoo.jpg
Tattoo by Genko.
Apr201303
07:33 AM
best-ink-2-cast.jpgThe times they are a'changin, my friends.

Over the past few years, when I'd interview tattooers, many--if not most--would decry "the scourge" of reality TV in the tattoo world. I've done it myself. But recently, the cries have become more muffled, even muted.

It could be a shoulder shrugging "if you can't beat them, join them" mentality. It could be that a lot of our friends are on the shows. It could even be that the shows have gotten a bit better.  For me, it's all three.

The shows are here to stay. My non-tattooed neighbors watch them. My dentist watches them. My mother watches them. Polite dinner party conversation has moved from Nathan Lane on Broadway to Ami James on NY Ink.

And so, considering the vast audience these shows have, perhaps it's time to help shape them and offer a better representation of tattooing, through constructive critique and support of strong artists featured.

Which brings me to the second season of Best Ink, premiering tonight, April 3rd, at 10PM ET/PT on the Oxygen network.

For those who may have missed the first season, Best Ink is one of the tattoo competition shows in which twelve tattooers compete in different art and tattoo challenges to be the last one standing, winning $100K and a feature in Tattoo magazine.
 
Best Ink Hannah.jpgI got a preview of the show and jotted down my Top 5 Pros and Cons based on the first episode. Here they are:

PRO:  Renowned tattoo artist Hannah Aitchison joins the awesome Joe Capobianco and Sabina Kelly as a judge. When I talked to Joe about the show, he was particularly excited about this too, saying:

My personal favorite new addition to this season is judge Hannah Aitchison. I'm a huge fan of Hannah's work and was insanely jazzed that she agreed to take on the role of the third permanent judge this season. I think that she added an educated, almost 'teacher' approach to the judging that Sabina and I sometimes lacked in the past season.
CON:  Hannah's got a lot of teaching to do, as many of the tattooers are young, with only a few years in the industry under their spiked belts.


PRO:  Pete Wentz replaced Kimberly Caldwell as the show's host. Pete actually has more than one tattoo! He appears cool and comfortable on the set, and more of an insider than an American Idol contestant hanging with the cool kids.

CON: I have no cons about Pete at this moment. He's just too cute.


PRO:  There's a lot more discussion on the design process and what the judges are looking for to create a solid tattoo. It's more educative to the general public, and hopefully, will lead to more educated clients.

CON:  There's a lot more discussion on the design process, and what the judges are looking for to create a solid tattoo. And this will likely lead to more people thinking they know how to tattoo by just watching a TV show.

Best Ink .jpg
PRO:  Joe will make contestants cry.

CON: Contestants do stupid things that makes Joe make them cry.


PRO:  The tattoo clients--or "Skins"--bring the drama. It's a "pro" if you like that kind of thing. Joe thinks it adds to this season, explaining:

There will be a bit more emphasis on the "Skins" (tattoo clients) story this season, which is really cool. Some of these folks have really heartfelt and interesting stories. The show also does quite a bit of background on the artists themselves. My hat goes off to these guys for stepping up to the challenge of the skins' sometimes crazy requests, as well as the Flash and Ink Challenges.
CON:  Not every tattoo has to have a story. The public should also be aware that many of us get tattooed simply because we just like the way it looks. Alas, that doesn't make for a compelling show for the masses.


So, how can we make it more compelling for us? 
 

Best Ink Bingo [And/Or Drinking Game].

I made this simple, sample card below, which you can remix if playing against others. Every time the scene noted in the card plays out on the show, mark an X and take a drink. When you get five across, vertical, or diagonal, finish the bottle. Caveat: based on the choices, you'll be hurting in the morning. [For non-drinkers, take a sip from a frosty protein shake.] You can download a slightly bigger bingo card here on Flickr.

Cheers!

best ink bingo head.jpgBest Ink Bingo 3.jpgPhotos above by Ben Cohen for Oxygen Media.
Aug201206
09:36 AM
London Reese tattoo.jpgThe cameras are on Best Ink winner Brittan London Reese once again but, instead of a reality TV competition, the focus is more on he came to tattooing, what he loves about it and what keeps him going. The film is  beautifully directed and edited by Jon Ryan Films. Check it.

Mar201227
10:33 AM
best ink.jpg
I'm going to go out on a limb and say this:  TV is not killing tattooing. I know. Crazy talk, especially from a person who has been mocking reality tattoo shows from Miami Ink to NY Ink and all those shirtless promos of Ami James in between. [We even took time out of our lives to make a drinking game for the latest Ink show.] But the intense outcry today against these shows and the so-called "sell-outs" (I hate this term) who populate them has grown exponentially and really seems disproportionate to the actual harm.

The biggest issue of course is that there really isn't anything real about reality TV. Tattooing is not as dramatic and glamorous as seen on TV and many fear the shows attract people who just want to get into it for the fame and fortune. This is very true but then reality does set in for these types of "artists" to help weed many out.

And of course there's the bemoaning of the death of tattoo's magic, something I've done more times than I'd like to admit. But Kat Von D didn't put the final nail in the tattoo cool coffin. The art was securely woven into the fabric of pop culture long before the shows. Maybe I did it. Every time a lawyer gets tattooed, a biker dies. True fact.

All the foregoing blah blah does not mean I'm a fan of all the tattoo series, but I am keeping an open mind and looking at the good and bad of these programs. And that's what I did when I got an advance screener of Best Ink, a(nother) tattoo competition show.

Best Ink premiers tonight at 10/9c on the Oxygen network. You can catch video previews of the show here. I've only seen the first episode and promos, so my Pros and Cons list below reflects this and nothing more.

Pros:
The judges Joe Capobianco and Sabina Kelly. Joe has been tattooing for nearly two decades and developed a tattoo style that is sought after worldwide. Joe has paid his dues. He's speaks his mind. And he has great hair. Perfect judgey material. You'll also be happy to know that he makes people cry on the show. People who you want to see cry. Bonus! Sabina was a "tattoo model" before the term was even used as a job description. [80% of tattooed women under 25 are tattoo models. True fact.] She's run a shop, she's judged and presented at international tattoo conventions, and she's beautiful. TV likes beautiful.

Cons:
The host Kimberly Caldwell, seventh place finalist on the second season of American Idol. I don't get it. At least Dave Navarro on Ink Master had a lot of freakin tattoos to distract us from his overly groomed facial hair. In the first episode, Kimberly tries explaining why on earth she would be running this show by saying something to the effect that "she's all business in the front, and party in the back," turning around to reveal a lettering tattoo on her shoulder blade. I threw something at my computer screen. I think it was a Clay Aiken cd.

I would have loved to see a celebrity who has a passion for tattooing. I would have loved to see Margaret Cho, who is getting tattooed by some of the best in the business and sharing her experiences being a tattooed woman on her amazing blog. A pro here is that Margaret does make an appearance as a judge. The thing is that Margaret, with all her tattoos, biting wit and dirty mouth, is not safe for a mass audience. Kimberly is safe. My mom will like her.

Pros:
There are some strong tattooists on the show like Roman Abrego and Jon Mesa. Viewers have an opportunity to see what a "good" tattoo can be by those who have experience and skill.

Cons:
There are some inexperienced tattooers on the show who do damage to the sad people who agree to get tattooed under the ridiculous conditions of a competition show just to be on TV.

232347580-15155247.jpg
The biggest con:  presenting all the contestants as the "top tattoo artists" in America.

The biggest pro:  the actual judging of the tattoos -- the dissection of the elements of how a tattoo should be crafted, which could educate a mass audience on the possibilities of the art. The drama here is largely derived from achieving the best execution of the work, rather than, say, the backstory of a transsexual war veteran who lost her cat during a house fire and that's why she wants a tattoo of Garfield engulfed in flames holding an AK-47 with Old English script that says "RIP Odie" underneath. True story.

Bottom line:  I'm going to watch it. There will be moments when it will make me mad. And there will be moments when Joe schools the kids on tattooing that will make me cheer. In any case, it's entertainment. Not reality. Perhaps it needs a drinking game.
Dec201108
04:01 PM
INK-MASTER_Spike-CAST.jpgI know. I know. You're upset.

The magic and mystery that tattooing once held has faded into the ether leaving us with, well, Dave Navarro. The heavily tattooed, perfectly manscaped rocker with the smokey eyeshadow is now the arbiter of body art, holding the fate of ten tattooists in his hand as he decides who will be ... "INK MASTER." [!!!]

If only someone who really feels the tattoo passion could command such fate, someone like Kimberly Caldwell ... wait who? Oh, she was the seventh place finalist on the second season of American Idol, who is hosting Oxygen's own tattoo competition, "Best Ink." But we'll get to that.

"Ink Master" is Spike TV's version of Project Runway produced by Original Media, the ones you have to thank for Miami, LA & NY Ink as well as The Rachel Zoe Project and BBQ Pitmasters. Like these shows, "tension and stakes are high" as tattooists battle it out for $100,000 and a feature in Inked Magazine. Here's more from their PR peeps:

"Ink Master" contestants will compete in various tattoo challenges that not only test the artists' technical skills, but also their on-the-spot creativity, where they must create and execute an original tattoo on command. Challenges focus on different tattooing techniques, such as shading, line and proportion, and styles including photorealism, Tribal, American traditional, and pin-up.
Ok, that doesn't sound too bad. Essentially, it's a Hollywood version of the first and most wonderful tattoo competition series, "Tattoo Wars," which was never picked up because people with tattoos actually liked it.

In addition to Navarro, Chris Nunez ("Miami Ink") and Oliver Peck (Elm Street Tattoo) make up the show panel with guest judges, like tattooers Scott Campbell and Jack Rudy, weighing in on certain episodes. Other guest judges are Inked creative director Todd Weinberger, "Auction Hunters" Ton Jones and NBA player Chris Andersen [because reality stars and basketball players are the taste makers in fine art tattooing.]

Considering the roster of artists competing, which include many well respected tattooers -- some who are friends of ours -- we have hopes for Ink Master, or at least we don't think we'll be getting as drunk as we do with our NY Ink Drinking Game.

That said, we'll just pretend this show trailer ever happened. And let's forget the tag line "You don't get to be a master without drawing some blood." Instead, click the videos with our girl, Lea Vendetta and Brooklyn's own Al Fliction. Here's the full artist list:

  • Al Fliction, 42 - Owner and artist at Bklyn Ink in Brooklyn, NY.
  • Jeremy Miller, 27 - Owner and artist at Pigment Demographics and Fine Art in Austin, TX.
  • Tommy Helm, 38 - Owner and artist at Empire State Studio, Oceanside, NY.
  • Shane O'Neill, 39 - Owner and artist at Shane O'Neill Tattoo shops in Middleton, DE and Willow Grove, PA.
  • Brian 'B-TAT' Robinson - Owner and artist at Moving Ink based out of Essex County, NJ.
  • Heather Sinn, 41 - Co-owner and artist of The Tattoo Room in Simi Valley, CA,
  • James Vaughn, 38 - Owner and artist at Straight A Tattoo in Asheboro, NC.
  • Bili Vegas, 29 - Owner and artist at Sacred Tattoo in New York, NY
  • Lea Vendetta, 40 - Artist at A Stroke of Genius Tattoos in Boca Raton, Fl.
  • Josh Woods, 30 - Owner and artist at Black 13 Tattoo in Nashville, TN.

Ink Master premiers January 17th. We'll make a drinking game for this one just in case.

Oh, and yeah, that competition show for the Oxygen network. Well, it's pretty much the exact same thing -- ten artists compete for $100,000 and a spread in a magazine, but in addition to the American Idol non-winner, the awesome Joe Capobianco and Sabina Kelly hold court. Oxygen's PR machine is a bit behind on Spike's, but when [more] photos and videos are out, we'll be posting them, especially if they come with kicky taglines. Best Ink premiers January 30th.

UPDATE:  Tattoo magazine has a cover feature on Best Ink. For more, check the Hope Gallery Blog.

UPDATE 2Best Ink site has a few pics on their site with more content to come.
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