I've been a long time fan of tattooer-Viking Colin Dale of Skin & Bone in Copenhagen, not just for his dotwork/blackwork creations -- many handpoked -- but also for his Jedi wisdom on tattoos and life in general.
Colin's tattoo work and words are wonderfully presented in Hampus Samuelsson's short film "Colin Dale Roots," which is embedded below. The film just made its debut at the Tattoo Arts Film Festival in Saskatoon, Canada -- Colin's hometown -- and has been spreading across social media.
The footage includes Colin freehand drawing a Nordic-inspired tattoo, his tattooing by hand and machine, and also an up-close look at his performing native Inuit skin sewing. But what I really love about this film is his musings on tattooing as a rite of passage and how, at a time where there is so much lack of permanence in our lives (whether it be marriages, jobs, or homes), tattooing is something that can't be taken away from us. There's also a great discussion on how his work developed over the 18-19 years he's been tattooing, and his interest in the roots of it all.
I highly recommend watching the film.
Find more of Colin's work on his site, Facebook and Instagram.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
And check our artist profile on him here. I'm hoping he'll be doing a US tour soon.
In the last 120 years, have you ever seen a tattoo machine tattooed by hand?
This Paul Roger's Mad Bee machine tribute is hand-poked by Colin Dale of Skin & Bone Tattoo in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Colin is no stranger to this blog. We've filmed him skin stitching at the Traditional Tattoo & World Culture Fest. We wrote about him tattooing a 103-year-old woman. And featured his own 3D Celtic Tattoo, a collaboration with Pat Fish & Cory Ferguson. Colin is not just one of our favorite artists, but a pal and confidant. We thank him for being a friend.
For more of the tattoo viking's work, check his online gallery.
This post is a love letter to my Copenhagen homies, with links to videos, photos and books on Denmark's rich tattoo history and its most recent international convention, the Copenhagen Ink Festival.
First up is this wonderful Cool Hunting video (below) in which Jon Nordstron, photographer and author of Nordic Tattooing and Danish Tattooing, takes us back to a time when tattooists would ride their bikes to the Port of Copenhagen to drum up business among the sailors. In the video, you'll see the oldest tattoo shop in the city, which is still buzzing today. And he offers background on prominent artists who shaped tattooing in the country and beyond. Lots of goodness in 3 1/2 minutes.
In more recent history, photographer Hampus Samuelsson captured this video (below) and some gorgeous stills from the Copenhagen convention [April 1-3]. The video offers wide shots from the floor to give you a feel for the show but also intimate close-ups of tattoos, including traditional hand-tapped work. In addition to tattooists working and clients wincing, you'll see clips of the Lizardman's performance, Viking sword fighting, and at the very end, there's a bonus clip of California's Rory Keating and Borneo's Jeremy Lo doing a drinking dance, which I plan on reenacting myself at the next convention. Fun stuff. [See more of Hampus's photos on his Facebook page.]
Special thanks to Colin Dale of Skin & Bone Tattoo for the video link.
Tattooing ultimately began to fade when missionaries and modernity arrived at the beginning of the 20th century. Furthermore, as new medical advances became known, tattoos of the medicinal kind were no longer believed to "hold power" or to cure. Chris Koonooka (Petuwaq), a local teacher at the Gambell School stated, "It seems like those folks who were born after 1915 stopped getting tattoos. Some were actually feeling fortunate for not being tattooed and some were feeling ashamed for being tattooed. Perhaps some were embarrassed about their tattoos, as some may have been influenced by the Christianity of those times."
But Lars was also hopeful that the younger generations of Yupik women would revitalize their tattoo traditions. It seems that this hope is being realized.
Last week, the Anchorage Daily News featured Yaari Kingeekuk (shown above), an artist and educator who wears the tattoos of her ancestors and also teaches native Alaskan songs and dances. While her tattoos were done by machine, not sewn, they still hold their original meanings:
Yaari credits her grandparents Jimmy and Mable Toolie for her interest in reviving St. Lawrence Island arts. Mable was one of the women Lars interviewed for his research into Yupik tattooing, and the first photo in his article.
Also reviving the skin sewing practices is Colin Dale of Skin & Bone Tattoo in Copenhagen. We got to see Colin stitching first hand at the Traditional Tattoo & World Culture Fest this past summer, and Brian posted a video of it here. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend you check it out to watch the intricate (and painful) process.
Even more on skin sewing can be found in "Tattoos of the Hunter-Gatherers of the Arctic."
Tattoo by Uncle Allan
When Americans think of Denmark, images of Vikings and Brigitte Nielsen come to mind; a mythic country that has exported Legos, Lars Von Trier, and Lars Ulrich. Actually, it's more likely that most Americans think Denmark is that place on the corner where you can get milk for under two bucks and a cheap but decent ham. When I think of this Scandinavian kingdom, it's all about some royal tattoo work that is being done across the country.
One of my favorite studios there is Conspiracy Inc. in Copenhagen, home to tattooists Uncle Allan, Electric Pick, and Eckel. Co-owner Amalie, aka Princess Inferno, keeps everything running smoothly, all the while making her fabulous hats and accessories.
I had a chance to meet Allan and Amalie at this last London Tattoo Convention, and they were a blast. It's always cool when artists whose work you really dig end up being just as awesome (despite their love for watching "How I met your Mother" on DVD). Allan has been tattooing his stellar Americana work since 1999. Here's just a taste. Check more on his blog.
Tattoo by Uncle Allan
Also, rockin the traditional and neo-traditional tattoo work is German-born Eckle, who joined the Conspiracy crew in the summer of 2009. When not at the shop, Eckel can be found on the road at conventions and guest spots. [From Jan. 24-28, he'll be at London's Frith Street Tattoo.]
Tattoo by Eckle
For trippy animated art, there's Electric Pick whose work I'll be featuring in my upcoming monster tattoo book called "Color Bomb" [to be released in September, following the series of encyclopedic volumes published by Edition Reuss]. Pick's is a sexy illustrative style of kick-ass characters. His blog offers a look into his design process. As you can see from the photos stolen from his site below, he shows how the work is sketched out on the body and then posts the finished tattoo. There are some fun stories behind the works plus his musings on culture and politics. Also check his original art, prints and shirts, available for purchase online here.
With all these artists in one place, I'm thinking of Copenhagen for my next tattoo vacation.
Tattoo above ( and freehand sketch below) by Electric Pick
Drawing by Electric Pick