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.
I'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.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.
UPDATED POST: Limited author copies are still available. You can order via Paypal here or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
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.
The "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.
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.
The "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.
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).
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
The possibilities of dotwork tattooing are incredibly exciting, and you can see just how far the stippling effect is taking artists' compositions to new levels. One artist who brings a unique perspective to this tattoo genre is Delphine Noiztoy, who owns the The Lacemakers Sweatshop, a Victorian and Steampunk-inspired tattoo studio in London.
Formerly of the renowned Divine Canvas studio and mentored under dotwork guru Xed Le Hed, Delphine has a particularly interesting portfolio: she doesn't just use the stippling effect for beautiful fluid ornamental tattoo designs, but she is able to use only dots to shape fantastic realism. She can also switch gears and rock some heavy blackwork tattooing.
While Delphine's home base is London's arty Hackney wick, she does frequent guest spots at shops around the world, including at one of my favorites: 2Spirit Tattoo in San Francisco.
Check more of Delphine's work on Facebook, and Instagram @delphine noiztoy. Delphine is also a featured artist in my latest book Black Tattoo Art 2.
My friends at the Greek tattoo magazine Heartbeat Ink have a fantastic in-depth Q&A with Mike The Athens, in English and in Greek. Tattooing for 24 years, Mike The Athens is not only one of Greece's preeminent tattooers, but has garnered international acclaim for his work, which is largely inspired by Tibetan and Himalayan Art, Sak Yant, and mantras, but also moving towards Japanese-influenced tattooing.
Today, Mike The Athens splits his time between Athens, Greece, and Goa, India. In the Heartbeat Ink interview, he explains what living and tattooing on two continents is like, how tattooers must have a conscience, and even the fun way he got his name. Here's a taste:
Where are you now in 2013?Read more, and view some wonderful photos, here. Also check Mike The Athens' site and blog.
Mike is also one of the featured artists in Black Tattoo Art 2, which is currently available for pre-order.
Here's a spotlight on another artist featured in my upcoming Black Tattoo Art II book: blackwork legend Andreas Curly Moore, who works in Oxford at the Tattoo Club of Great Britain.Curly was raised in the City of Oxford, close to the Pitt Rivers Museum -- a place that houses one of the most comprehensive ethnographic collections in the world, including Maori art, which has had a strong influence on Curly's tattoo work. He began tattooing in 1993, after drawing several designs that he wanted tattooed upon himself, and soon, several of his friends were asking him to tattoo them as well. Curly then met Alex Binnie of Into You Tattoo in London, and for six years, was part of the most renowned contemporary blackwork specialist crews in the world.
According to Curly, "at the dawn of the New Millennium, it was time for a change," and so he returned to Oxford and is now working at the Tattoo Club of Great Britain's studio in the Cowley Road, Oxford. Curly says that the change has given him an opportunity to do more varied styles of work, including more traditional tattoos, but he's still rockin the NeoTribal and Abstract work for which he has been long admired.
Check more of Curly's work on Facebook, and in Black Tattoo Art II when it drops in September.
I'm super stoked to announce that Black Tattoo Art II, the second incarnation of my very first book, Black Tattoo Art, will be released September 15, 2013, and will have its convention debut at the London Tattoo Convention, September 27-29, 2013. So, to give y'all a taste of what I'm been working on the past year and a half, I'll be doing spotlights on some of the artists featured in the book.
Today's feature is on the fabulous Amanda Ruby of The Jewel in the Lotus, her private studio in Folkestone, Kent, UK. Amanda has an unique style in combining realism with pattern work to a beautiful effect. It has earned her accolades including "Best Female UK Artist 2012" and various profiles in international magazines.
What I particularly love is how her florid, ornamental approach has the power of blackwork without needing big bold swaths of ink. She incorporates intricate detail and dotwork, but constructed in a way that's built to last.
Amanda works by appointment only. She recently opened up her diary for January - March 2014, and appointments book up quickly, but fine art tattoos are worth waiting for.
Check more of Amanda's work on Facebook.
I just secured my next tattoo appointment with Daniel DiMattia, of Calypso Tattoo when he comes into New York for the NYC Tattoo Convention, May 17-19, so I'm excited, especially considering that I only get tattooed once a year now. But it's interesting to watch how my body suit is slowly coming together, piece by piece. Last May, he tattooed my ribs -- which wasn't fun -- but this time it should be easier with small calf work. I'll be posting photos in two weeks of my new work when it's done.
Dan is booked out for the time, but consider taking a trip to Liege, Belgium, the home of Calypso Tattoo. Dan will also be working the London Tattoo Convention in September. Oh, and we'll be there too!
In Oakville, Ontario, Canada, some of the best blackwork/dotwork in the world is being created at Good Point Tattoos, home to Cory Ferguson. [And yes, he's another featured artist in my upcoming Black Tattoo Art II book.]Tattooing since 2000, Cory is a second-generation tattoo artist. His father, tattooist "Harley Charlie" Duarte, introduced him to the art at a young age but he got his start in the business by working under Crazy Ace Daniels at Way Cool Tattoos.
Cory is best known for his blackwork and dotwork tattoos. His signature style is a fusion of Polynesian tribal designs, geometrics, optical illusions, Asian art, and pointillism. I particularly love the way he plays with perspective and negative space in his blackwork.
In this recently released video profile (below) by CreateMedia and Christoph Benfey, Cory talks about his style and what drives him in the tattoo process. He has a great line where he explains how he prefers to focus on the visual rather than any deep meanings behind the tattoos:
"I'm not here to tug at your heart strings. I'm trying to mess with your eyes."
Watch the video to hear more on Cory's art and get an up-close look as he creates a refined dotwork piece.
One of my favorite blackwork tattooers -- actually one of my favorite artists in general -- is Nazareno Tubaro of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He's no stranger to this blog, but I had to share this photo he posted on his Facebook page of work he did on a client because it is truly exemplary of how beautiful hand tattoos can be.
Check more of Naza's work here.
As I finish up the second volume to my very first book, Black Tattoo Art, I'm really enjoying pouring over the hundreds and hundreds of images of neotribal, blackwork, dotwork, ornamental, abstract and traditional tattoo art. I'll be highlighting a number of artists from the book here, in addition to those I've profiled in the past.
Let's start the new year with the work of Mikel Johnson of 4 Truths Tattoo Sangha in Victoria, B.C., Canada.
Tattooing since 1996, Mikel more recently opened up his new studio 4 Truths Tattoo Sangha, where he tattoos largely in tribal and blackwork, although he says that he happily works with clients on other ideas if he feels he can do the piece justice.
As he notes on his site, Sangha is a word in Pali and Sanskrit meaning association, assembly or community. The tattooist and Reiki Master has a strong passion for the sacred and communal aspects of tattooing and that comes forth in his work.
I spoke with Mikel about his studio and work. Here's a bit from our chat:
What is the vibe of the studio like?
Comfortable and really mellow. I wanted the studio to be really relaxing...no unwanted distractions. I guess it's maybe inevitable that I wanted to work in the kind of environment that I, personally, like to be in and get tattooed in. That's what I have done.
What is your particular approach to tribal and blackwork work?
Honestly, I think I am still learning this. I find I look at a lot of old reference. I truly stand on the shoulders of a lot of giants. I think, right now, my style may come out in how I visually balance things. I am not sure I will ever be done working at trying to make it my own, maybe that's why I like this style of tattooing so much. There are so many subtle layers to this work.
What do you love about this style of tattooing and tattooing in general?
It's hard to put into words what I love about these styles of tattooing. It just makes sense to me, feels right to me. Given the time, I would ramble on about this for longer than I should. I think there is a point in a tattooer's career where they find a style they really love working in. I feel fortunate enough to have found mine. Tattooing is maybe one of the last things that is still magical. The whole process is really quite amazing. It's such a unique and human experience. How can you not love that?
What's the best way to make an appointment?
The best way to reach me is by email: info [at] mikel.ca. As I am a one-man show, I find it works best.
Any conventions or guest spots coming up?
Right now, I haven't any solid plans to work conventions. I am looking to work the Edmonton convention next year, and I would love to go to the Montreal convention as well. Internationally, I think the Tattoo Convention in Nepal would be amazing to go see. Who knows? Maybe I will try and make that work somehow.
For now, my main focus is getting the studio running smoothly.
I feel fortunate. Thanks to my wife April, my clients, and all my friends that support and encouraged me to do what I do. Be good to each other. We are all more connected than we think.
Mikel - 4 Truths Tattoo Sangha
#31 - 532 Herald St. * buzz #133
In a city teeming with many of the world's stellar tattooists, David Sena has consistently stood out as one of NYC's finest for his exceptionally strong and vivid Japanese tattoos as well as bold and beautiful blackwork -- some of the best in the US.
I met David over a decade ago at a tattoo convention in New Jersey. Actually, I first met his client with a blackwork aquatic-themed bodysuit, whom I accosted to find out who did the work. He then took me to David, who seemed a bit confused by this short redhead spewing all kinds of questions at him in the usual hyper state I'm in when I excited by exceptional tattoos. Thankfully, I didn't scare him off and we became friends.
As his friend, I've gotten a front row seat to watch the transformation of his large-scale tattoo projects as well as his fire art; however, David describes his work best:
My fine artwork is created with a technique of drawing by burning marks on paper with fireworks and other volatile materials. These techniques are rooted in one of humankind's earliest technologies: fire, and as such they speak to something elemental in the human condition. Inspired by cosmology and the interconnection between terrestrial and celestial fires, my drawings become a record of their creation, a map pointing to the reason for human existence, or rather the outer limits, the infinite, the space not yet grasped. These two means of creating - tattooing and burning-- have a unique synergy, as they both entail physical and ritualistic processes of mark-making while transforming matter/people.David now has a new space to create his tattoos and fine art: Senaspace in NYC's Little Italy. And he's inviting all of you to its grand opening on 12.12.12, from 6-10pm (afterparty to follow). At the opening, there will be an exhibition of his latest works and live fire drawing demo.
David says of the space: "This gallery and tattoo studio is a reflection of my lifelong interest in diverse modes of artistic expression, and my conviction that art is not a luxury but a sublime human need. I hope this space speaks to you on an aesthetic, visceral, and personal level."
I've already visited the studio and it's a gorgeous space. He plans to regularly feature expositions, projects and guest spots by local and international artists in all mediums. So you'll be hearing more from David here.
SENASPACE, 229 Centre St. NY NY 10013, 212-966-5151, senaspace.com
One of the most sought-after artists for blackword ornamental and sacred geometry tattoos is Thomas Hooper of Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn. [In fact, he's currently not booking new clients.] Thomas is also a prolific painter and has worked on numerous design projects.
Thomas recently discussed tattoos, fine art and fatherhood with the designers at 3sixteen for their Singularities project, in which they highlight creative people in various industries.
You can read the full Singularities interview here, but I'll give you a taste:
Tell us about your first tattoo apprenticeship. What's something you learned that still rings true for you today?Check more work from Thomas on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
When I released "Black Tattoo Art" in 2009, there were very few tattoo artists in the US specializing in dotwork and blackwork (not to be confused with black & gray tattooing). Strong, bold, all-black works and refined compositions created by stippling have been hugely popular in Europe for a while, but only recently have flourished stateside.
In California, 2Spirit Tattoo, is renowned for beautiful blackwork. Last year we profiled Roxx, studio owner and badass. But 2Spirit has an incredibly talented crew, and today, I want to spotlight another artist from the shop: Michael E. Bennett.
I particularly wanted to talk to Michael when I learned that he'll be doing a guest spot on the East Coast next month at NY Adorned from October 30th to November 3rd. I shot him a few questions, and he graciously replied. Here's our quickie Q&A:
Which dotwork artists have inspired you and how you do approach this style of work to make it your own?
The list of inpirations for my tattooing is endless, but off the top of my head, recently I've been influenced by the work of Gerhard Wiesbeck, Matt Black, and Kenji Alucky as well as Jondix, Hooper, and of course Xed le Head. Aything with power in it, though, it doesnt really matter what style. I suppose my approach is more based in 'traditional' tattooing. The Coleman kinda heavy lines and shading, that was the way I was taught to apply them.
Do you see a growing demand for this style in the US?
It seems so! I think that's exciting. I feel there's alot of energy in these types of tattoos. The actual act of recieving a tattoo definetly has its own power, demanding a calm composure of yourself while being put through pain is no easy feat, but I think when people see tattoos done in Blackwork/dotwork it effects them. It's just so ANCIENT. It's an art purely for application on the human body.
Is there a certain type of clientele that's attracted to this type of work?
Hmm. That's hard to say. It varies, certainly. More and more people are starting to see the beauty of it. Younger people are always the prominent collectors in tattooing, but this seems to attract all types of folks, which I love.
What types of tattoo projects are you most attracted to?
I like the spiritual aspect of tattooing, not necessarily religious, but something that speaks of a deeper meaning. That's the beauty of this kind of work, it seems so powerful even when there's no real subject matter apparent. It makes you think about form and structure, how things are put together.
Check Michael's work on his blog and the 2Spirit site. You can reach him at childthepeacemaker [at] yahoo.com.
I'm excited to be working on the second volume of "Black Tattoo Art," finding artists around the world doing bold, black and badass work. One such artist Laszlo Kis of Windhorse Tattoo in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
What's particularly exciting about Laszlo, or Laci's, portfolio is how he can seamlessly move from heavy, tribal infused pieces to electric Americana to buttery black & grey to Japanese iconography. His artistic diversity is ever-present in his new book documenting his life in tattooing: "Windhorsetattoos by Kis Laszlo" available on Blurb.
Originally from Monor, a Hungarian city near Budapest, Laci began tattooing at sixteen years old in his hometown. He traveled throughout Hungary, working in Budapest, Balatonfured, and Sopron before moving to Sao Paulo, where Misi Karai, a long time friend from Hungary, invited him to work at his studio, Misi Tattoo. After three years, they decided to open up a new studio called Tattoo Tradition, where Kis worked for over five years until going out on his own in early 2010 and establishing Windhorse Tattoo.
When asked why he's chosen not to concentrate on one particular tattoo genre, Laci says he feels it is important not to limit himself to one style in order to fulfill the wishes of different clients: "I believe that, for some strange reason, people know what they will have on the body -- as if the tattoo has been there all along even before they enter the studio. Therefore, I cannot ignore their request, but must work with it."
I was hoping that he'll make a trip to the US soon, but with two young children, he's staying in Brazil for a while. Time to start planning a South America tattoo vacation.
See more of Laci's work on his blog and website.
I got something for my European homies: One of my favorite artists, Nazareno Tubaro, has left his Buenos Aires studio for a bit and is doing a Scandinavian tour this summer hitting Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Here's where he'll be:
From June 23rd to the 27th, he'll be at another favorite -- Colin Dale's SKIN & BONE in Copenhagen.
From June 28th to the 30, he's tattooing in Helsinki at TATUATA.
From July 2nd to the 4th, he's tattooing in Alesund (Norway) at TATTOOS.NO.
From July 7th to the 10, he's tattooing in Halmstad (Sweden) at AMIGO INK.
Contact Nazareno at email@example.com.
And check our artist profile on him here. I'm hoping he'll be doing a US tour soon.
This past Saturday I added to my tattoo collection by getting both sides of my ribs done, courtesy of Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo. Here's how it went down:
I woke up to the smell of steak and eggs (sorry, vegans), which Brian was preparing especially for my appointment. While this may seem like a frivolous detail -- akin to me seeing photos of everything my friends eat posted on Facebook -- my point in mentioning it is the importance of a fueling up before a session because, really, getting needled takes a toll on your body and you need to feed it to keep going. [Keep in mind that I'm Greek, and we eat like we're getting tattooed every day.]
After breakfast comes outfit choice. Something loose fitting and slung low on the hips so as not to rub against and irritate the fresh tattoo. When I got my hips done last time, I wore breakaway pants -- the kind sports figures and male strippers tear off (woohoo!) -- so I can undo the snaps along the sides to expose just the skin being tattooed and not flash everyone at the shop. I highly recommend them. But they weren't necessary this time as we decided to extend the tattoo from the existing flowers and snakes on my hip bones and not lower down. Yoga pants did the trick.
Fed and dressed, I headed to Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where Dan was guesting, along with fabulous abstract artists Noon & Loic Lavenu aka Xoil. There were a lot of jokes in French throughout the day but they largely centered around genitals than Jerry Lewis. I was entertained.
Pay attention: Ok, here we go about the actual tattooing part in case I lost you at the food and fashion. Days before the session, Dan took my measurements and we decided how we wanted to shape the tattoos on the ribs to bring a more cohesive look with my existing stomach and hip work. I chose to keep to floral and mehndi-inspired motifs, which flowed inward along the shape of my waist. It's slimming and way better than lipo. While Dan is brilliant at freehand designs directly on the body, he drew the design in advance for better symmetry and because we didn't have time to spend hours coming up with something on the spot. He was leaving for Belgium the next day.
Stencil on. Mirror check. Great. Let's do this.
Ouch. No really, ouch.
Tattoos hurt, yes. Some people feel them in certain spots more than others, and the ribs were my unhappy place. Couple that with a large Belgian bearing down on me (see above) and the inability to move because it's all line work, with some dot shading. Not much room for error if I twitched.
Not much room for sympathy either. Most of my big work (back, sleeves, etc) is by Dan. Dan and I were once married. There's no need for polite client relations. This pain was payback for the times I didn't do the dishes. He is quick to mention, however, that he enjoys tattooing me because it's the only time I shut up. He's right.
There were some short breaks here and there. Dan's lovely fiance Devanei shared great stories about her experiences on this NY trip. Brian showed up with the most important tattoo provision ever: a Snickers bar. Chocolate and peanuts. It satisfied.
Within five hours, including breaks, both sides were done. Dan works fast, and you want fast on the ribs.
Three days later, the healing has been super-quick as well. I've been doing my usual LITFA method: Leave It the F*ck Alone, with just a thin layer of A&D ointment here and there. I'll switch to moisturizer soon.
The tattoos are perfect. The work harmonizes with the existing designs and also lends itself to further additions as we continue my bodysuit, slowly. I love the way I look in them.
That's why I get tattooed.
Tattoo on Ismael by Cy Wilson.
I met Cy Wilson at the Paris Tattoo Convention (photos) in 1997 and was instantly charmed -- not just by his open and affable character, but by his body of work that stood out for its modern yet organic compositions in his tattoos as well as art prints and silkscreen apparel. [I was equally charmed by his artist mother Sylvie, who went around the convention feeding berries to those working.] Indeed, being born of artist parents, you can say he was baptized in Parisian ateliers since the 80s, but it wasn't until he traveled to Asia and met a Japanese tattooist in India (who tattooed a sleeve on him), that his life tattooing began.
In contrast, Caro came to the art through a more academic root. Carolina, born in Heidelberg, Germany, first studied "European Media Culture" at Bauhaus-University Weimar but later pursued research into tattooing and "conceptualizing pain as a catalyst for creation and change whilst inking people in real life." She met Cy, and did her first tattoo on him in Lyon, France. They have been together for 4 years and tattooing together full time for two years on the road between Barcelona and Copenhagen. Next spring, they'll be putting roots down in Barcelona as Caro is seeking to get her Masters degree in Art Criticism at MACBA (Museum for Contemporary Art). Caro says that their different backgrounds inform their creative process, style, and relationships with their clients.
Tattoo on Normann by Caro
When asked to describe their tattoo style, they explain:
We do black, graphic work, everything between bold and very delicate, always body involved and always singular pieces. Our idea is to create tattoos that represent our visual culture as urban young people from the 21st century. Rather than reproducing "ancient" representations of things, we like to interpret even classic themes with a more modern graphic approach. But of course the new does not really go without the old; we consider it is very important to have a solid knowledge about symbols and cultural connotations in order to embrace the new.[...]
Tattoo on David by Cy.
They also have a special approach to client relationships. They first set up a meeting (free of charge) to discuss the idea and design. They always draw directly on the body and very rarely on paper (only if it's very specific motif or small geometrical design). They say that this way the client "can already carry an approximation of the potential tattoo in his/her skin and check it out alone at home, naked in front of the mirror, with different clothing and so on. We feel this helps the people a lot to get a clearer idea of what they really feel themselves like." They make it clear that they are anti-sexist, anti-racist and anti-homophobe and will not work with those who hold such prejudices. While they believe regulations on hygiene tend to be exaggerated, as they are dealt with like surgical procedures, they take special care to "eradicate even the smallest risk of infection." [Cy was misquoted in the French translation of "Tattoo World" as saying the opposite.]
To get tattooed by Cy and Caro, check their upcoming travel dates:
Nov 7 - Nov 17 Zurich, Switzerland at INK TANK
Nov 17- Nov 27 Freiburg, Germany at VISAVAJARA
Dec 28 - Jan 23 Berlin, Germany at CHORUS TATTOO
Jan 23 - Feb 4 Copenhagen, Denmark at Colin Dale's SKIN&BONE
For more on Cy & Caro, check their blogs SkinTraces and TravelTraces as well as Facebook.
Tattoo on Normann by Caro
In San Francisco's Mission District, Shannon Archuleta works in her private tattoo atelier creating custom decorative pieces that harmonize beautifully with the shape of the body.
Shannon says of her work, "I seem to be sought out for my lines and floral, but I enjoy all sorts of styles. Lately, I am really enjoying a more narrative style."
Tattooing since 1994, the Sonoma County, CA native says that she continues to learn every day and tries to "keep up with all these new, talented young'uns pouring out of every corner." When she's not tattooing, she's hiking, antiquing, and taking pretty pictures.
Shannon has a positive vibe about her that is really infectious. I met her at the NYC Tattoo Convention years ago and liked her instantly. She has a great ability to put people at ease, which is so important in tattooing. And she's got a wicked sense of humor.
In this spotlight, I chose to highlight Shannon's Mehndi-inspired blackwork above, a feminine paisley rib piece and white ink nouveau poppy chestpiece below. To see more of her portfolio, you can check her website or her Flickr page (where there's more work in progress and cover-ups).
For appointments, contact her via email at shannon at shannonarchuleta.com or call 1.415.336.9406.