Results tagged “Bob Roberts”

Feb201308
07:16 PM
elayne angel trademark tattoo.jpgI had a wonderful time yesterday at Fordham Law School for the Fashion Law Institute's discussion entitled Art Attacks: Perspectives on the Use of Fashion Logos, where I chatted on their panel along with Ralph Lauren's in-house counsel Anna Dalla Val; brand consultant and former in-house counsel of Louis Vuitton, Michael Pantalony; and David De Buck, owner of the De Buck Gallery, whose roster includes prominent street artists. The panel -- and the Fashion Law Institute as a whole -- is the brainchild of Susan Scafidi, whom I've had a law nerd crush on for a long time after discovering her fantastic blog, Counterfeit Chic, many years ago. She's a pioneer in fashion law, which -- like tattoo law -- is constantly developing and is pretty exciting.

The focus of the discussion was fashion logos and their appropriation in art as well as commerce. Naturally, I gave the tattoo perspective. As requested in our Facebook group, I'll give y'all a taste of my talk.

But before we get to it ... What is a Trademark or Servicemark?
  • Trademark & Servicemark protect the owner's reputation and goodwill.
  • A Trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.
  • A Servicemark is the same except it relates to the source of a service, like tattooing.
So, think of it as protecting your brand, identity and logo. Now, as the US Trademark & Patent Office says, federal registration isn't required to establish your rights in a trademark/servicemark. Common law rights arise from actually using of a mark, which could be in advertising, your shop signage, business cards, and the like. But you get perks with registration: greater protection of your name or logo; it discourages others from ripping off your brand; and you get more money should you sue for infringement and win. There are many other benefits as well, but the big motivators are protection & profit.

registered tattoo.jpg Ok, with that in mind, I started my talk off with the very first tattoo to be issued a registration by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Master piercer Elayne Angel's famous wings backpiece, tattooed by the infamous Bob Roberts in 1987 -- a tattoo that inspiring a myriad of copies throughout the world.

Those wings just didn't become easily identifiable with Elayne, but her piercing services and Rings of Desire studio in New Orleans (which closed post-Katrina). It was Elayne's brand.

In 2003, when I wrote "The Tattoo Copyright Controversy," I interviewed Elayne about her servicemarked tattoo, which had been registered the year before. She explained that a customer, who was a lawyer, told her that he felt her wings were recognizable enough -- in relation to her as a professional piercer -- that protection was warranted. The process took six years but, on November 5, 2002, her backpiece was registered. It was not just the first tattoo registered, but it is believed to be the first feature of the human body to be registered. Cool!

But then I turned my discussion to people who get the brands of others on their bodies. People like the Gucci face guy or the Louis Vuitton sleeve dude below.

tattoo logos.jpgI tried to get in touch with these logo lovers, but to no avail, so I put out a call on the Facebook group page asking people to tell me about their logo tattoos. I'm grateful for all the responses. Many of y'all have band tattoos and great stories behind them, but as the focus was fashion for the panel, I was particularly interested in the story of talented tattooist Ania Jalosinska, of Kolektiv Tattoo in Warsaw, Poland.

Ania wears the United Nude logo and shoe design, which you can see here. The work was designed and tattooed by JEF. Here's what she said about it:

It says nothing more then a total loyalty, love and appreciation of a brand. Their shoe design is brilliant, both from an aesthetics standpoint and engineering standpoint. Getting a logo wasn't an initial idea; I wanted a leg on a side of my leg, but since I love UN shoes and wear them all the time, it was a no brainer what shoe the leg will wear. Their logo is just one of the graphic elements, which I also put in there because, as a tattoo artist and a graphic designer, I do appreciate design of it as well.
I also think the Coco Chanel quote, "Elegance is refusal," is a nice touch to the tattoo.

Naturally, I also had to talk about how some brands are banking on tattoo cool in their marketing, like Marc Ecko's Branded for Life promo, where those who get Ecko logo tattoos also get "20% off For Life" on Ecko merch. When I first heard about the promo, I really couldn't imagine anyone would buy into it. I was really, really wrong. The Ecko tattoo fan gallery goes on for pages, filled with thumbnails of the tattoos like those shown below.

marc ecko tattoo.jpgIn the Ecko case, the brand courts the tattooed masses.

But what about luxury brands?
Do they want the great tattooed unwashed repping their fashion houses?
And if they don't, what can they do about?

Simply wearing the logo will not necessarily get you in trouble as there's little "likelihood of confusion," whereby, one could believe that the brand sponsored or is associated the wearer of the logo tattoo. Do we really look at the Gucci face guy and think he really is the new face of the brand?

Then there's the argument of "trademark dilution," in which the brand believes that the tattoos would "tarnish" their identity by presenting it in an inferior light or associated with "unseemly services." It's a fun legal argument, but practically, I don't think we have to worry about Louis Vuitton going after our skins.

I ended my presentation by acknowledging the power of logo tattoos and the desire to brand oneself with a brand that speaks to them, which can be beautiful. Of course, I couldn't help but note that we should also honor our very own identities, and like a couture gown, get a work of art that is specifically tailored to our own bodies.

**
Like everything else on this blog, it's not intended as legal advice. Just my personal blah blah.
Nov201221
07:55 AM
bob roberts tattooing.jpg
I'm a big fan of blogs that chronicle the evolution of large scale work -- watching someone's transformation from what mama gave them to their own artful individuation (like Brian's Bodysuit to Fit).  One that I'm following now with great interest is David Bragger's The Battle Royale Tattoo by Bob Roberts blog.

Bob Roberts and his Spotlight Tattoo are legendary. I know the word "legend" gets thrown around a lot but in this case it's incredibly apt to describe an artist who came up in the craft at The Pike in Long Beach from 1973, was taught by Bob Shaw and Col. Bill Todd, worked with Cliff Raven and Ed Hardy, and pushed tattooing to an even greater level of artistry. Spotlight remains a vigorous shop as well as a tattoo landmark.

backpice bob roberts.jpgDavid has been spending a lot of time this year at Spotlight. Bob finished up his leg work, which you can check on Flickr. It's a fantastic piece with some great art by Robert Ryan mixed in as well.

And with the leg done, it was time to move on to this back. In September, David began the blog with the sketches Bob had done for the backpiece. The posts then follow to stencil placement, lining, passing a kidney stone (!!), and the latest post shows the start of shading (and notes the soundtrack to that session). I'm loving the comments David adds along with the images. I highly recommend you give the blog a click.

Beyond being a tattoo connoisseur, David is also a player and instructor of old-time fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar. Watch some of his lessons on YouTube.

For more on Bob Roberts, you gotta pick up the definitive book on the artist: "Bob Roberts: In a World of Compromise...I Don't" published by State of Grace.

Mar201131
02:13 PM


If you missed our post earlier this month on Shawn Porter's Occult Vibrations blog, then here's a reminder to bookmark and check it often for online videos (which Shawn largely transfers from old VHS tapes) of decades old footage that offers an intimate look into tattooing's modern history. 

In this video excerpt from the 80s documentary "Tattooing Reality", Ed Hardy, Bob Roberts, Bill Salmon, Chuck Eldridge, and Leo Zulueta (who joins in towards the end), are hanging out at Realistic Tattoo and saying everything you want to listen in on -- from jokes about creating a "Safeway of tattooing" (a foreshadowing of studios in mega-shopping malls?), to serious discourse on being flexible in having a diverse portfolio of work, even if one is known for a certain style, as Ed has been for Japanese and Leo for Neo-Tribal tattooing. Another excerpt from "Tattooing Reality" can be found here.

Beyond the videos, Occult Vibrations posts artist profiles and other tattoo goodness. Check it.
Jul201026
10:13 PM
bob roberts event.jpg
For my LA homies, this Saturday July 31st, Known Gallery will present Bob Roberts & Bert Krak's Ladies Welcome show, which will run until August 21st.

What's particularly exciting about the show, in addition to the art on view of course, is the release of In A World of Compromise...I Don't by Bob Roberts -- the first book ever on the tattoo legend. [Read more on the book in our May post.]

Who really is Bob Roberts?

I'll have Takahiro 'Taki' Kitamura, publisher of the book (and renowned tattoo artist), tell ya:

The man, the myth, the legend: Bob Roberts. Few people have had the impact on tattooing that Bob Roberts has. His sheer artistic genius is sublime, and his biography reads the same way. For over thirty years he has been part of the vanguard of talented tattoo artists who, unbeknownst to them at the time, have pushed tattooing from a craft to an art form.

The list of artists Bob has worked alongside reads like a star-studded who's who of the tattoo artist hall of fame, of which Bob would no doubt be a member if such a thing existed. He apprenticed with Colonel Todd and Bob Shaw at the infamous Pike and then worked alongside Cliff Raven, Greg Irons, Paul Rogers, Jack Rudy and Don Ed Hardy. His own shop, Spotlight Tattoo, continues to house a roster of talented artists bent on following in Bob's footsteps.

Bob's creative genius is not limited to tattooing and painting, he is also an accomplished musician. His musical career reads much the same as his tattoo resume. Bob has played with Ruben and the Jets, Hot Tuna, The Offs, New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders, to name a few. His life has been 'rock and roll' as well; Frisco, New York, LA, Europe, Japan, Bob has done the world tour.

He's also ridden across most of the United States on a Harley, and he's 'ridden it like he stole it.' That is how Bob lives his life, and his artwork reflects it.
But the thing that stands out the most to me about Bob is his persona. Ungovernable, fiercely independent, Bob does not compromise.... He does it HIS way. And thankfully for us, Bob Roberts has forever changed tattooing for the better.

It's guaranteed to be an exciting book. If you can't make it to the show, you can pre-order it here for $320 (US). The books, signed and numbered, will be shipped in mid-August.
May201020
11:24 AM
bob roberts book.jpgIn 1973, Bob Roberts began his life in tattooing at The Pike in Long Beach, a waterfront amusement park that was home to many tattoo legends--legends like Bob Shaw and Col. Bill Todd who taught Bob the craft. It was an apprenticeship where one learned to be equally adept at removing a drunk from the shop as well as putting on a solid tattoo. Bob went on to work with Cliff Raven and Ed Hardy, who pushed tattooing to an even greater level of artistry.

With this education, he took off for NYC and opened his Spotlight Tattoo studio, and after three years, he returned to LA where Spotlight has established its place as a tattoo landmark, where top tattooing continues to be the mainstay.

In these past 37 years, Bob has garnered underground cred and mainstream popularity for his tattooing and paintings. In this time, he's also racked up a lot of stories. Yet these stories and artwork have never before been published in one volume.

To ensure this important part of tattoo history is not lost, State of Grace Publishing has created the very first book ever on the tattoo legend:

Bob Roberts: In a World of Compromise...I Don't. 
 
The 304-page hardcover (10" by 13") will include never before seen tattoo and painting photos, an extensive interview with Bob Roberts with a foreword by Don Ed Hardy.

The first edition will only be a 1,000 copies, with a hardcover sleeve, signed and numbered. The pre-sale will be at the Ink-n-Iron show in Long Beach (June 11-13) and the All American Tattoo Fest in Sacramento (June 18-20).  Then in late June, you'll be able to purchase the book on the State of Grace online store via PayPal for $300 US/$325 world. The book will ship out in August. 

With a limited print-run for a book this rare (and rumored to be the best volume State of Grace has ever done), it's almost a certainty that the book will sell out in pre-sale so put it on your calendars. I'll also post a reminder next month. If you miss it, however, the softcover will be released next year.

Another must-have for your tattoo library.
Aug200918
11:36 AM
BReagle.jpgIn 1973, learning to tattoo at The Pike in Long Beach, CA was trial by fire. Also known as the "Coney Island of the West," tens of thousands were drawn there for the surf, sideshows, and shooting galleries -- and many came to get tattooed by greats like Bert Grimm, Bob Shaw, Zeke Owens, Col. Todd, among many others. The Pike in 1973 is where the legendary Bob Roberts also got his start, a start to a career that has not only impacted generations of tattooers but beyond to fashion, fine art and pop culture.

I mention this bit of history because, from this starting point and spanning nearly four decades, his experiences inform the collection of over 30 original paintings that Roberts will be exhibiting at his solo show Alive at Canvas Los Angeles.

The opening reception is this Thursday, August 20th, from 8pm to midnight. It will also serve as the official pre-party for the first annual Tattoo Hollywood convention, August 21-23rd at The Renaissance Hotel in the heart of Hollywood, CA.

While the opening is public, there is a large turnout expected, so organizers suggest sending an RSVP to info@canvasla.com to be added to the guest list, as those on the list will be guaranteed entry.

For more on the life of Bob Roberts, check the history page on Spotlight Tattoo's site.

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