According to some dedicated tattoo history research by Daredevil Tattoo co-owner Michelle Myles, the likely first permanent place of business for tattooing in the United States was that of Martin Hildebrandt over 150 years ago. Michelle notes, "Hildebrandt's 'atelier' was a few blocks southeast of the Bowery and Chatham Square, where Samuel O'Reilly later patented the first electric tattoo machine and other Bowery legends, including Charlie Wagner, worked until tattooing was banned in NYC in 1961."
That tattoo atelier was just steps away from the current location of Daredevil Tattoo, a highly respected place for tattooing today, and also, what will become a tattoo museum, which will be a resource for others to connect with that NYC's tattoo history through their collection of artifacts and documentation. Daredevil co-owner Brad Fink has been collecting tattoo memorabilia for over 20 years and has amassed a collection with items including a Thomas Edison engraving pen (that the O'Reilly patent was based on) and original O'Reilly artwork, among many other gems. But before Michelle and Brad can bring the pen and other artifacts to their museum, they need to to complete the work on the space and finish the display cases so the entire collection can be secured. They are asking for some help in doing that.
While I have a "no-Kickstarter rule" for this blog (as there are way too many requests), I'm making an exception here because this is an important project that will benefit the tattoo community overall.
On Daredevil Tattoo's NYC Museum of Tattoo History Kickstarter page, you'll find this beautiful video, embedded above, which I highly recommend watching, even if you cannot contribute, because it is so chock full of wonderful history lessons, including archival footage and a NYC tattoo history timeline. You'll also get to peak inside the Daredevil studio and growing museum space.
If you do contribute, even as little as $1, there are some fantastic perks, like beautiful prints from Daredevil's artists, tees, customized lighters, even a sideshow banner. For bigger spenders, Michelle will give you a tattoo history walk and lunch in Chinatown, along with the other perks, and for the top contribution, there's 12 hours of tattooing in the package, dinner for 6 at the chic Beauty & Essex, original artwork, and all the other goodies. Some serious swag, and for a good cause.
You can find more on it all here. But, as I said, I highly recommend you check out the video for a little learning.
The "birthplace of modern American tattooing" is often traced to The Bowery, and even more specifically, Chatham Square. It was home to Samuel O'Reilly and Charlie Wagner, both of whom patented the first modern tattoo machines. Mildred Hull tattooed in a barber shop on the Bowery. And naturally, it was home to the famed Bowery Boys: Stanley and Walter Moskowitz.
So it seems fitting that a long-time fixture in today's NYC tattoo scene, Daredevil Tattoo, would chose a spot just a few blocks from Chatham Square to make it their new home. Daredevil is a place where you could get a stellar custom backpiece or a small flash banger and be treated with equal courtesy and respect. The no-attitude tattoo studio is owned by Michelle Myles and Brad Fink, who you'll often find at international tattoo conventions when they're not at Daredevil or Brad's regular home base, Iron Age Tattoo in St. Louis, where they both hail from.
Daredevil's new home will officially be open for business by June 1st, as Michelle writes in her blog post on the move. Here's a bit from that post.
And with that trend comes fancy highrises, boutique hotels, and very high rents. While Michelle adds that it felt like she was "punched in the stomach" when her landlord said he'll be raising the rent by 50%, it prompted a move to a bigger and better space--a place where they can properly pay tribute to tattooing's roots. She adds:
The most exciting news for the new shop is that Brad will be bringing his historical tattoo collection to be on display at Daredevil. Brad's collection is massive. It includes a Thomas Edison engraving pen that the original electric tattoo machine patent by Samuel O'Reilly was based on. He also has an original O'Reilly sheet of tattoo flash. We love that the new space is only a few blocks from Chatham Square, which is the birthplace of modern tattooing. New York City is so important to tattooing historically we are honored to pay tribute to that history and to create a destination to share that history with others.With an expanded shop, comes the need for an expanded crew, and so they are looking for a new artist to join their tattoo family. More info on Devil City Press.
The new space is at 141 Division Street, and their hours continue to be noon until 10 pm seven days a week.
Check the work of Michelle (see below), Brad (see above), and their tattoo crew here.
In last week's post on Erin Chance's Kat Von D portrait tattoo, I linked the online casting calls for the next season of LA Ink and a new show, NY Ink. I had also sent a tongue-in-cheek email around to tattoo artist friends here in NYC asking if they'll be trying out to be the new tattoo TV sensations. Turns out, well, a bunch of them are.
We've all heard the arguments against the shows. In almost every interview I've done with artists for Inked and Skin & Ink recently, there's a general lament that no reality exists in the way tattooing is portrayed in mainstream media. No great story need be behind your desire to get tattooed. No sleeve is completed within 48 minutes. And skate ramps in tattoo studios are generally frowned upon.
It's rare to hear of any desire to be a part of the shows, particularly from long-time tattooers, so I was surprised when my friend Michelle Myles of DareDevil and Fun City tattoo studios -- who's profiled in the video above -- sent me a text telling me to read her latest post on Devil City Press. Turns out that Michelle along with co-owner Brad "You Kids Get Off My Lawn" Fink, resident artist Big Steve, and pretty shop boy Reid Waters have put themselves in the running for NY Ink's casting. Here's what Michelle has to say:
Anyone who's been involved with tattooing pre-Miami Ink didn't get tattooed to be a part of a trend. I started getting tattooed because it was anything but trendy or even acceptable. Tattooing was a fringe subculture we worked our way into, and it certainly wasn't seen as a valid career choice. It breaks my heart to see tattooing get sold out to the media and popular culture. TV producers aren't on our side. The tattoo industry doesn't have a say in the way it's portrayed in the media. Overall it depresses me to see our industry be represented by such vapid host. We can only hope for the best with what gets spewed out.Yes, I would love my DareDevil friends repping me. [They are also freakin funny and would make for good TV aside from their strong portfolios.] Where my concern lies is whether one can really control how "you portray yourself" in the quick edits, scenes taken out of context and the faux drama that will be created. Will legal contracts bind the artists into doing something they wouldn't? Will we see Brad Fink in a kicky little pin-up outfit?
Despite my concern, I'm rooting for them because I don't want my NYC tattoo world turned over to scratchers and "professional tattoo models" for the masses to mock. If there will be any mocking, hopefully, it will come from me teasing my friends over the long stories we'll endure waiting to see how their tattoos turn out.
Have your say in who will be on the show by voting on RealityWanted.com. Here are the Daredevil profiles: Michelle Myles, Brad Fink, Big Steve Pedone, and Reid Waters.
I also voted for another dear friend and fabulous artist Lea Vendetta.
The December/January issue of Inked Mag is now out and along with beautiful heavily tattooed women in lesser and lesser states of undress (it is a men's "lifestyle" mag after all), there are a number of features you got to check out, especially because we wrote them.
Our Patrick Sullivan has a great feature on how technology is changing tattooing including the new air-pressured tattoo machine and one-shot laser removal inks.
There are the party photos from my Black Tattoo Art book release shindig at Tattoo Culture.
And my Icon interview with Brad Fink, the most fun I've had interviewing a tattoo artist in a while. Here's a snippet as to why:
[As a young tattoo apprentice] Did you have to clean toilets and all the nasty stuff?
I did it but it wasn't Mitch telling me to do all the disgusting things. It was me knowing it needed to be done and doing it myself. This leads to my disdain for the younger generation coming into tattooing today. Back then there were no references or all the information on the Internet that is readily available. Back then, I had to search and search for it. I had to go to the library, seek out Easy Rider tattoo magazines and Ed Hardy's Tattoo Time series. Today, there are instructional DVDs and all this crap on how to tattoo. They even have premade needles now. When I started, I had to get to the shop two hours early to make my needles for the day or next two days. Today, people get very good in a short time, and there's this sense of entitlement young people have in the business that everything should be handed to them.
We didn't have a "shop person" back then to wipe people's asses. Today, these kids want to come in, do their tattoos, and leave. Back then, I had to make needles, clean the shop, stock my station, and answer the phones.
Did you also walk miles in the snow to the shop barefoot back in your day? [laughs]
Yes, I did! I wrecked enough cars by 17 years old and my insurance was cancelled, so as a matter of fact, I had to ride a bicycle or walk to the shop. Yes, Marisa, I did have to walk to work in the snow. [laughs]
Now you have a young apprentice. What lessons are you passing down?
I teach him life lessons! That there's more to tattooing than actual tattooing. I teach him everything from adapting to every quirky personality that walks through that door without those people you would have nothing. I'm teaching loyalty and respect. I want him to know the history and how tattooing got to this level.
Brad splits his time between his three studios, DareDevil and Fun City in NYC, which he co-owns with Michelle Myles; and Iron Age in St. Louis, which he co-owns with Mark Andrews and spends most his time. Brad is also a partner in Me Against The World clothing, a new advertiser to N+S.
It's perfect timing that we're introducing our newest advertiser during our Holiday Gift Guide extravaganza (I never get to use this word enough) because this art-meets-fashion brand has limited edition apparel for the design snobs on your shopping list.
Check Me Against the World clothing company and art crew.
The team comprises Josh Rowan, Sean Baltzell, Adam Taylor, and one of my favorite tattooers and all-around funny guy, Brad Fink owner of Iron Age studios in St.Louis, MO. [Brad also co-owns Fun City Tattoo and Daredevil Tattoo in New York with Michelle Miles.]
The artists of Me Against the World translate tattoo imagery in a way that's unique and refined in their streetwear line, just as they do in their tattoo work. You won't find these clothes amidst the tribal flash tees in Hot Topic. You will find them in boutiques across the country as well as in their hometown of St Louis, where they have also thrown numerous art shows, parties, and events.
Better yet, buy the clothes online. The limited edition tees go for $25 and $28 USD. Check out some designs below.
MATW also offers graphic design and merchandise production for many local and national bands, restaurants, clubs, tattoo studios and events. If you are interested in having them create something for you, you can contact them at matwstl [at] gmail [.] com.
Our Needles & Sins team is thankful for the support of MATW and our other advertisers Devil City Press and Tattoo Culture, which helps take care of our server costs, promo items (more stickers & tees on the way) and our bar tabs so that you can read N+S for free. Please support them for great merch and tattoos.
Has it really been over a month since we last objectified tattooed men?
Forgive me. I've been so preoccupied with my upcoming book (and my own hot tattooed man) that I've neglected your one-handed typing needs. Well, I'm making up for it by objectifying one who is not only beautiful but beautifully tattooed by a roster of artists that is a Who's Who of the world's best, from Jack Rudy to Bugs to Brad Fink and beyond.
Behold Jeffrey Larish:
* City: Tucson, AZ ... by way of DC, Chattanooga, TN, Charlotte, NC, Bethlehem, PA
* Age: 38
* Relationship status: Married with a beautiful daughter
* Work: Stay at Home Dad (although we rarely seem to actually be at home)
* Fun: Sometimes I like to play the Rock and/or Roll. Mostly I enjoy hanging with wife & kid.
* Movies: I like to watch the old Universal Monster Movies with my daughter. We also watch the (real) Star Wars trilogy.
* Music: Yes, please!
* The Tattoos: I have tattoos from Rodney Raines & Chris Stuart of Ace Custom Tattoo, NC; Jack Rudy of Good Time Charlie's Tattooland, CA; Bugs of Tattoo Lounge, CA; Steve Lemak of The Quillian, PA; Curtis Richter of Art & Soul, PA; Chad Koeplinger (now at NY Adorned); Nikki Balls (now at Top Shelf Tattoo in Queens, NY); Matt Knopp of Tattoo Paradise, DC & MD; Steve Boltz & Eli Quinters of Smith Street Tattoo, Brooklyn; Jay Cavna of Sanctity Tattoo, AZ; Brad Fink of Iron Age Tattoo, St. Louis; Nick Colella of Chicago Tattoo Co.; with plans for more.
"When I first got tattooed way back in 1992, all I wanted was one little tattoo on my shoulder. Over 17 years and 200 plus hours later, I'm just working on one really big tattoo."
If you'd like to be objectified, send your photo and stats to marisa at needlesandsins dotcom.
What started out as a sweet home movie on Daredevil Tattoo's Friday the 13th special ended with co-owner Michelle 'Tarantino' Myles tattooing swine fornicating.
See the video here.
Michelle may appear like the sweet den mother type, but if you request a dumb-ass tattoo, she will not only oblige but will throw in the words "pig fucker" for free -- and even tattoo with her left hand (she's a rightie) for that extra Special Olympics look. And if he's in town, co-owner Brad Fink will cheer you on. Enablers!
The horny hogs were just one of the designs that the Daredevil crew had fun with this past Friday the 13th. See the '13' flash sheet here for other tattoos you should not get.
I loved the Daredevil flash sheet, offered as well, but as Michelle explained on her blog, the designs were too involved and detailed, slowing the artists; so towards the end of the night, they took that sheet down -- they told confused clients that they ran out (!) -- leaving the pigs, flying penises (or is it penii?), and a few safe "13"s to take home.
As always, it was a blast, but the crew is looking forward to some rest until the next 13th special (in November) after these past two months of back-to-back insanity.