Photo above: Jimmy Bissette tattooing Miranda. Photo by Geoff Livingston.
The recent tattoo headlines had some interesting coverage, from conventions to tattoo cultures in South Korea, Turkey & Iraq, and much more. Here's the rundown:
I admit, I was pretty jealous when my friends' social media feeds were filled with fun pics from the DC Tattoo Expo, and even more so when photos also came up in my tattoo news alerts from the press. DCist.com had the most extensive slideshow from the event, capturing the scene from the floor as well as the tattoo and pin-up contests. The Washington Post particularly focused its coverage on the "My Tattoo F'n Sucks Award" portion of the contests, and although only one regrettable tattoo competed for the award, it was enough to pass along the lesson that you get what you pay for, especially with tattoos. Then there was ABC News, which skipped hiring a photographer and just swiped Instagram photos tagged #DCtattooexpo for their article. But their "social gallery" did offer some unique perspectives from the show, so that's worth a look.
Surprisingly, there wasn't too much photographed or written about of the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival show this past weekend, but The Statesman has a few good shots and there's some short video footage from Keye TV, which is meh. Better to check the #txrevival hashtag on Instagram for more.
And Rio's Tattoo Week was repped with a few pics in the Sacramento Bee. It's interesting to see just how much tattoo conventions have in common all over the world.
Beyond conventions, there were headlines that explored tattoo culture in countries with still many obstacles to the art form. For one, the AFP's piece entitled "South Korea's outlaw tattoo artists starting to find a mainstream niche," found its way in a lot of publications with its interesting look at how the laws of South Korea are not keeping up the greater acceptance of tattoos in the country. Here's a bit from that:
Tattooing itself is not illegal in South Korea, but the law states that it can only be carried out by a licensed medical doctor.NPR had a similar story about changing attitudes in Cuba and the law concerning tattoos, with the following:
Tattoos have long been taboo in Cuba, but the recent emergence of a large-scale distinctly Cuban tattoo culture is a vivid example of cultural change . As recently as a few years ago, tattooed Cubans were not permitted on beaches and there are unofficial rules against employing tattooed people. Tattooed Cubans reportedly can't work in the airport.Some older articles from the previous week are also worth checking for a glimpse into tattoo culture around the world, such as: "Turkey issues fatwa against tattoos: Remove or repent" and "In Iraq, ex-interpreter makes his mark as tattoo artist."
And my personal favorite tattoo story of the past week is that of the kickass tattoo of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Nikki Lugo, shown below. I only wish I had gotten it first!
Feel free to share your thoughts on the news in our Facebook group or Tweet at me.
Sometimes marketing campaigns that use tattoos to sell their products can actually work to help our community. As Ad Week wrote this week, in Brazil, sunscreen brand Sol de Janeiro had oncologists train 450 tattoo artists throughout the country to check their customers for signs of skin cancer.
The video (embedded below) features the training, however, the most interesting part is the footage of tattooers advising their clients about skin cancer. As noted in the video, the 450 tattooers checked an average of about 6 clients per day, so that about 18,900 people a week were screened. In fact, a number of the artists actually identified problematic moles, and the clients were seen by doctors who were able to remove them at early stages.
The ad campaign also has a site where artists can get a "diploma" for skin cancer screening: tatuadorconsciente.com.br.
The video is captioned in English and worth a look.
Also check our previous post "Skin cancer and tattoos."
One of the reasons I love traveling to tattoo conventions is meeting artists and getting excited about all new kinds of work that I haven't seen before. At the last London Tattoo Convention, one artist whom I fell in love with is Lore Morato -- not just for her beautiful tattoo work but for her generosity of spirit. After many years tattooing outside her native Brazil, particularly in Germany, Lore has returned home and is opening her own tattoo atelier Golden Times Tattoo in Belo Horizonte. She took a break from building her shop to talk to us about her fascinating life and work.
When did you first dream about becoming a tattooist?
Since I was 16, when I used to hang out with friends and sketch their tattoos on paper.
What were some of the most important moments in your path to fulfilling this dream?
When I went to Europe as a 20-year old, I was already dreaming of being a tattooer. I arrived with no money at all. I was a punk seeking adventure. I had no idea what would happen to me, but it was better not to think too much... hehehe. So in the beginning it was really hard because I had no home. I used to live in squats in Barcelona and eat recycled food out of the trash ("freegans" you know? Hehehe). I needed to work really hard in small jobs, like babysitting or handing out flyers on the streets, in order to get money to buy my first used machine. The path was long, but I knew that good moments would eventually come.
There were so many important moments for me, for example, when I finally found a cool lady: Petra Kempka, who helped me a lot and got me a job in my first good tattoo shop in Germany. Or when I finally started tattooing only what I really love; and also when people write me telling me they are so happy with their tattoos, and I see that I can help them with my machines... like when they go through an important moment or when they need to heal wounds from the past, and they want to transform this in tattoos and choose me for that! This is the best part.
Your distinct style of tattooing blends Neo-traditional with the spiritual. Could you explain your approach to this work?
My mother and grandmother back in Brazil raised me in a very spiritual way, teaching me about magic stones, plants, making wishes and believing in the universe. My mom always said we women are powerful witches. Their teachings are the greatest source of inspiration for my work. Since then, I started studying and celebrating the Divine Feminine, the magic and mystery about being a woman: worshiping different goddesses, seeking the balance between male and female. My work is part of me, is part of what I believe. It's all together, all in one.
You have very strong female archetypes represented in your work. What are your influences and inspiration behind them?
As I said before, all the goddesses that I worship are sources of inspiration, but mostly I draw on the archetype of the Sumerian Goddess Inanna, my favorite goddess and also my guide. She is the queen of heaven in the Sumerian mythology and goes down to the underworld to face her sister, who is also her own darkside at the same time. She learns to embrace her shadow in her journey, and when she does it, she goes back to heaven as the queen of both heaven and hell. I am fascinated with this story!
What are your thoughts on being a woman tattooer -- do you believe there are still obstacles women in the industry must overcome today? What have been the more positive aspects of being a woman artist?
I believe there are still obstacles for we women in many places around the world, not only in the tattoo industry but in most other jobs as well. This is so sad and something we can't deny, even when we think it's 2014! There is still a lot of things to fight for. As one of my favorite singers, Melissa Auf Der Maur, says in one of her lyrics : "As we stumble together, we fall alone". So if we want to overcome sexism or any other "ism" that diminishes us, we need to stand together as artists, as workmates, as sisters.
The most positive aspect of being a woman artist is just the fact of being a woman! We were all born powerful, and when we start to realize it, the tattoos we make will become more than just tattoos, they will become tools for healing.
Tell us about the creation of your new studio. What are your goals for Golden Times Tattoo?
This a dream coming true for me, and in my own tropical country. Can you imagine a "tropical new-traditional tattoo shop"? Hahahaha! My boyfriend and I are the owners and we expect to bring some artists from Europe and the rest of the world to work with us as guest artists. The new-traditional scene in Brazil isn't that strong yet, but people are always curious and very excited about it, so interest in neo-traditional here is definitely growing. We are also an art gallery, and every month we will have space for artists to make exhibitions, not only tattooers but all kinds of artists we want to support. Our goal is to make this place a place for dreamers, for inspired people to give and receive inspiration, a place that people feel good and at home.
What conventions/guest spots do you have planned for the new year?
I will be in Europe from August to the middle of October: I will be at the London Convention (26 to 28th September) and at the Stockholm Ink Bash (29 to 31th August) also making some guest spots in Zurich (Switzerland), Leeds (UK), Berlin and Cologne (Germany). Dates and shop names will be in my page very soon: Facebook.com/goldentimestattoo.
What is it you most want to accomplish in the new year?
I want to paint more oil and watercolors and do other projects besides tattooing, and dedicate this year to enjoy my shop here. I also hope to continue following my spiritual path since I am now back in Brazil, which is my home.
If there is one thing you'd like people to know about you, what is it?
That it doesn't matter where I am and what I am doing, I will always believe in dreams and magic; and that my tattoo equipment are healing tools for me, I do my job from the bottom of my heart. If you get a tattoo from me, it will not be "just a tattoo," we will be doing magic together!
What do you love most about your life?
The fact that I can travel a lot while doing my job, because I looooove traveling so much!
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.
Really excited to find Sean Bonner's post on Boing Boing featuring this mini-documentary on Brazilian tattoo artist Maneko. In the 8 minute video, created by 13th Unit, Maneko discusses his life in tattoo, the vegan straight-edge lifestyle, and his personal philosophy of gratitude and enjoying life.
[I'm grateful to have Maneko as one of the featured artists in Black & Grey Tattoo]
Thanks to Dr. Matt Lodder for the link!