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.
Today, at 2PM Eastern Time, the wonderful Joseph Ari Aloi aka JK5 -- tattooist, writer, designer, toy creator, filmmaker, and family man -- will be on WNYC's "Music Ink" program with musician-artist Bryan Kienlen of the Bouncing Souls. But you don't need be in NYC to catch it -- hear it streamed live on WNYC.org, AM 820 channel, by clicking "Listen Now" in the right side audio box.
The station had put out a call for listeners to share their music tattoo images and stories, like this cassette tattoo (shown right) tattooed by JK5 himself. It's part of a slideshow that largely contains music note tattoos. The images aren't incredibly exciting but I'm sure the discussion will be fun and interesting.
Beyond music nostalgia, JK5's portfolio is filled with tributes in a variety of tattoo genres. What he is renowned for, however, is his lettering -- always perfect flow and readability, with a wide vocabulary of typographic forms. See examples below.
JK5 can be found at Daredevil Tattoo in Manhattan.
Back from the holiday daze and looking for some fun, so I roped in Orrin Hurley of Daredevil & Fun City Tattoo studios in NYC to take our Proust Questionnaire for Tattoo Artists. At the shops, Orrin tattoos in all styles but is particularly known for bio-organic and painterly work, taking clever approaches to playing with the form of the body and using a wide color palette. That said, the "bold will hold" traditional ethos is ever present throughout his portfolio.
You can see more of his tattoo work on Facebook. For a look into this personality, here are his answers to the Q&A:
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? A world without art and music.
What is your idea of earthly happiness? To reach my full potential as an artist, father, and human.
Your most marked characteristic? Being unpredictable and well rounded.
What is your principle defect? I have a habit of focusing so hard I lose the big picture.
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction? Dexter, Hannibal Lecter -- for the workings inside their mind, not their murderous tendencies.
Who are your favorite heroes in real life? Be your own hero. Blaze your own path.
Your favorite painters? Robert Venosa, Dali, Flemish painters, Chris Mars, Femmke.
Your favorite musicians? My music taste is so out there. Anything with musical value. I've been a Drum and Bass DJ for years so Electronic is close to my heart. Hardcore, Metal, Death Metal as well.
Who are your favorite writers? I dont have a fave, just whatever I'm reading at the time.
The quality you most admire in a man? Consistency of character.
The quality you most admire in a woman? Consistency of character.
Your favorite virtue? Empathy
Who would you have liked to be? No one but me ... my journey in life is mine to live.
Where would you like to live? Maybe Japan, Portland OR, or somewhere in Cali.
What are your favorite names? My son and daughters names: Kai Maynard and Aeris Jane
What natural gift would you most like to possess? I'd like to take the ones I have to the next level instead of trying a new one. I was born to do this.
How would you like to die? Something epic that makes everyone remember ... like some crazy 15 min long Family Guy skit type thing. A massive fight with a giant chicken.
What is your present state of mind? Clear. Perfect clarity.
What is your motto? Ride the wave of life.
In the November issue of Inked mag, on newsstands now, editor Rocky Rakovic interviews Michelle Myles, boss lady of NYC's Daredevil and Fun City tattoo studios (which she co-owns with Brad Fink).
In this refreshingly frank Q&A, Michelle talks about tattooing in NYC when it was still illegal and underground (the tattoo ban was lifted in 1997), the popularity of Americana tattoos among hipsters and how NY Ink is "cast like the Jersey Shore." Here's a taste of that talk:
Speaking of competition, how do you feel about NY Ink?
It's embarrassing. I mean, I really like Tim Hendricks -- nothing but respect for him and I actually don't know much about the other people or whoever it is on the show. But I think it is unrealistic and gross the way it is portrayed. It's so heavily scripted. They're not even New Yorkers. Chris Torres is the only one from New York; they cast NY Ink like its the Jersey Shore. But it's not even reality TV -- just bad acting. They think there's some kind of truth in it, and there isn't. I think I wrote on my blog DevilCitPpress.com, that to me, their tattoo shop is equivalent of Monica's apartment on Friends because it's so unrealistic. And to hear Ami [James] whine, "I'm not going to be able to pay the rent"... I heard he made two million dollars.
You seem pretty offended by it.
It's just absurd and gross to anyone trying to pay their rent in NYC for any amount of time to hear them say, "Oh, I hope to get business" when they have ads on the sides of buses. I mean, my neighborhood used to be a shit hole and now it's super trendy, but we somehow managed to hang on. So if anybody takes away from that and saunters in with a TV show, yes, I resent that.
But don't you want to riffraff tourists to fill up that shop and not yours?
We want the riffraff! We want anyone's money! Anyone who comes into my shop is going to be treated well. I mean, as long as they're in line. We don't tolerate someone who comes in and acts like a jerk. But we welcome anybody in our shop. It doesn't matter if you don't have tattoos or never have been to a tattoo shop. There are no stupid questions, and we're happy to take anybody. We're not going to make anybody feel bad because they're not cool enough.
In the rest of the interview, Michelle discusses how she came to the art, her influences, and why she loves being a New York tattooer. A fun read.
See more of Michelle's work here and check her musings on tattooing here.
This morning, the NY Times Magazine online profiled the work of the wonderful Amanda Wachob, fine artist and tattooer at Daredevil Tattoo.
Amanda briefly discusses how she began playing with abstract expressionism influences in her tattooing:
I was looking at a lot of Hans Hofmann, thinking about the squares and rectangular shapes in his paintings. I wondered if these shapes were dictated by his rectangular canvas? And if he were going to make an abstract painting that wasn't on a rectangle, but perhaps on an organic form like an arm, what would the shapes look like? That's when I had the idea to try it with a tattoo.In blurring the lines between fine art and body art, Amanda continuously pushes the boundaries of what a tattoo can be. For further info on her process, you may also want to read an old Q&A with Amanda we posted back in October 2009 in which she talks about her more experimental work.
Check her online portfolio for more.
This fun video of DareDevil Tattoo apprentice Mina had me laughing (and impressed) as she does her first tattoo on co-owner Brad Fink -- under some very extreme circumstances. Tattooing Brad is pretty rough in itself, but she came through and got his nod of approval. And earning the respect of Brad and partner Michelle Myles isn't easy. Michelle explains on Devil City Press how Mina did it:
"In the time that Mina has been at the shop, others have come and gone with the same aspirations. I get constant requests for apprenticeships. Why did we decide to teach her? Because Mina was happy to put in the time and didn't come to the shop with a sense of entitlement and just put in her time starting at the bottom. Mina earned her place by impressing everyone at the shop with her progress as an artist and by her willingness to do whatever was asked of her just for the opportunity to work in an environment where she knew she would learn whether we ever offered to teach her or not."
If you want a free starter tattoo by Mina, contact DareDevil.
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.
Yesterday, I mentioned Michelle Myles and how she has posted clips of the Tattoo Wars Old School episode on her Daredevil Tattoo site. I just saw the video she took and edited (shown above) on the London Tattoo Convention (which I blogged about here and here). The female tattooed Fellini did a great job capturing the show, and I'm diggin the tune by Mike Mok and the Em Tones.
Contraband Candy, who specialize in metal and alt culture videos, has this fantastic video below from last year's show, which includes interviews and the best part -- the tattoos shown in the video have the artist credits!! A rarity, and an appreciated one. The video is accompanied with a sweet Rockabilly sound as well.
Tonight, at Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is the Fourth Annual Group Show featuring the fine art of tattooists. One of the artists is Amanda Wachob of Daredevil Tattoo. Her paintings have been shown across the US and in Canada to great acclaim, but I wanted to particularly talk to Amanda about her experimental tattoo work and how she's pushing the boundaries of what makes a tattoo fine art in itself. Here's how the conversation went...
I wanna get the dirt on the experimental tattoo projects you're working on now. Tell me about them.
I have so many ideas I can't sleep at night!
Ten people in symbiosis with their own painting. The design starts on the participant's body and travels onto the canvas behind them. I am not charging for the tattoo work, I am asking that people make a donation to the Henry Street Settlement. Henry Street is a non-profit organization that has been active in providing healthcare, housing, senior services, etc. for the Lower East Side community in Manhattan for over 100 years. They also recognize the importance of art and have many wonderful art-based programs and workshops....this is area where I am hoping to direct the money. When the project is completed, I'd like to have an exhibition showcasing all of the work.
What inspired it?
I'm trying to push an abstract tattoo to the next level. It's a big experiment and hopefully it will be visually successful! If not, at least a really great organization has been given some funds to help the community.
You bring fine art concepts to your tattoos but do you consider tattooing as a fine art itself?
I see it as a tool. In the same way that a paintbrush can be used to paint the exterior of a house, it can also be used to apply paint to a canvas. It depends on how you are using it, and who is doing the tattooing.
Let's talk about your conceptual art tattoos. Describe your bloodline tattoos, the process, the designs, the type of people who get them and why. Is there something symbolic or magic to them?
I am fascinated by symbols and ideograms, simple graphic images that contain multifarious meaning. The bloodlines are only magic in the sense that the idea is based on that of a sigil. A "seal," or sigil, is a visual thought form charged with a particular magical intent and magicians often employed these abstract glyphs in spells. Austin Osman Spare has been a big inspiration. He was an artist and a visionary who created the magical technique of sigilization, focusing your will on an symbol to manifest a change in the material world. Most of the people that have gotten the bloodlines are people close to me, people who fit with the symbol.
When is a tattoo not just a tattoo, that is, when is it more than art for art's sake?
Hahaha, sometimes I wonder why a tattoo can't just be a tattoo for Pete's sake! I don't think people have a problem explaining why they are getting tattooed and what their design means to them. If anything, people over-explain almost as if they have to justify the reason why they are altering their appearance. Why not get something just because you think it's beautiful, why not get tattooed just because you like the commitment of a permanent change?! To get something in and of itself, there is no pretension in this and no extraneous meaning.
You're abstract tattoos have gotten much attention recently. They are not just beautiful but also harmonize so well with the shape of the body. What's interesting is that not all are outlined like traditional tattoos. Some may argue that the old tenets of tattooing, like strong outlines, are the key to a work's longevity. How do you respond to that in the context of your tattoo work?
I think you said it best Marisa ~ old tenets.
You also do a lot of strong traditional tattooing. How do you approach each style?
Traditional in the sense that I also do a lot of work with a black line, but I have never really tattooed a lot of traditional American imagery. I love traditional tattoos: skulls, daggers, pinups, roses, they are classic images that have a rich history in American culture. But I also like to think beyond the repetition of those designs. And for each tattoo I try to accommodate the desires of my customer...I don't always put "my spin" on it....after all, the tattoo is not about me.
In the eleven years you've been tattooing, what have been the most important lessons you've learned, whether they be about the art or human nature?
Listen to the people you respect, watch the people who are skilled, and wear a thick skin.
Working at Daredevil, a very busy studio, you must get some strange tattoo requests. What has been the most memorable tattoo that you've done there?
A cupcake on a crotch with a cherry on top.
Have you ever tattooed one of your paintings on a client? Would you want to?
Sure, if the painting speaks to them I would gladly tattoo it. I have tattooed images from my paintings before, but skin is more limiting than canvas, you can only go so far with detail and color.
Let's talk more about your painting. What's the process like for you -- is it cathartic, heavy, serene or intense?
Sometimes it's tedious. I like immediate results, and the kind of oil painting that I do...layering and glazing, requires diligence. It's good practice for leveling out my impatient nature though. In the end painting is an emotional release for me.
I see themes of sexuality, gender and race. Do such themes inspire the work? Do you look to make a social statement in your art?
Yes, those themes occasionally inspire the work. I think it's important to address some of those issues because they veil our true nature -- we are all a small slice of a larger whole, at the core we are all coequal. We forget this and judge one another based on gender and race. Sometimes I like to be subversive, other times I just like to make something pretty.
I'm looking forward to seeing your work in the Tattoo Culture Art show. Do you have any other exhibits coming up?
I have a solo show at the Castellani Art Museum next year and have been focusing on making work for this.
For the last two questions, I'm gonna get intimate. First, what is your personal philosophy?
Cultivate a boundless heart!!!
Ok, now finish this sentence: A happy life for me is ...
100 mph on the highway, the final layer of varnish, and belly laughing over a big plate of bacon.
You can find Amanda at Daredevil Tattoo in Manhattan's Lower East Side four days a week by appointment: Wed., Thurs., Sat. and Sunday. She's always on the prowl for people who want to participate in her various tattoo projects. Her next one is called the Love Club, which will be in February for Valentine's Day. We'll have details on that soon.
Amanda and I will be at Tattoo Culture tonight between 7 and 10pm. Hope to see ya there!
It's a good day when a hot tattooed blond -- who knows how to wield a tattoo machine -- hands you a check and says, "Sweet. I'm your first advertiser." Sweet, indeed.
Le blonde is the fabulous Michelle Myles of NYC's Dare Devil and Fun City Tattoo who has put together a site called Devil City Press, where you can not only learn of all the behind-the-scenes action from those two inconic studios, but also see the latest tattoo work from their roster of top artists, and read the artists' musings on tattoo culture, like Michelle's take on the Jeff Johnson book or why it's not cool to suck on your boyfriend's fingers when he's getting tattooed. That kinda stuff.
The latest post was on Dare Devil and Le Roi shackin up, which I'm excited about because I'm looking for a surface piercing to cover up a scar and Le Roi is renowned for top piercers and quality jewelry [will blog on that myself when I make my appointment].
One of my fave online features of the Dare Devil sites is the videos -- especially the Tattoo Wars show where Michelle won for best Americana tattoo.
Check the tattoo goodness!
To also advertise on Needles + Sins, hit me up through the contact link. The news is up next.
A lot has been going on at DareDevil Tattoo in NYC's Lower East Side: an in-studio marriage proposal (read the fun story here), bosslady Michelle Myles tattooed the hotness of Dean Winters (who will always be my badboy crush, Ryan O'Reily, of OZ fame), and the amazing Terry Ribera is now a regular guest artist (read his Prick Q&A here).
One of the bigger deals in the studio is the addition of well respected piercing boutique Le Roi.
And to celebrate, this Friday at 7pm, they'll be having a gallery show featuring artwork inspired by, naturally, devils and lions.
Hope to see y'all there!
Abstract Tattoo by Amanda Wachob of DareDevil Tattoo.
I got some private messages last week admitting a forbidden love for the truly WTF tattoo galleries linked to in the news review, so before I get to the real newsworthy items, I'll satisfy more guilty pleasures with this first one:
It's a fun photo essay that includes Joe Letz's flying penis tattoo on his leg, the Hawaiian shark teeth on Brent Hind's face, and Jeffree Star's JonBenet Ramsey & Sharon Tate portraits.
To cleanse that frightening bunch outta ya mind, check out the exciting tattoo artistry of Amanda Wachob of DareDevil Tattoo, who experiments with abstract forms and conceptual design but can also do a solid, clean traditional tattoo. I met Amanda at our launch party Friday and she told me about an abstract tattoo project she's working on -- also mentioned on DevilCity Press -- where 8-10 people will be chosen to get a large tattoo, free. More details on that coming up later this week.
Amanda's conceptual art got me thinking of the lines and dots found on the oldest recorded tattooed person: Otzi the Iceman; however, a recent news item discusses how his tattoos have proved to be medicinal, not aesthetic. The article explains:
"There are groups of one, two, three, four and seven tattoo lines parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body, and so they're parallel to Chinese acupuncture meridians." The cross-shaped tattoo on his knee, and another one on his left ankle, also lay over Chinese acupuncture "trigger points," the researchers believe. Strengthening their argument is the fact that the soot-made markings are located on parts of the iceman's body not typical for tattoo displays, diminishing the notion that they served a more ornamental, aesthetic function.See a video on how the first tattoos were created.
Despite the millennia of tattoo history, many still think it's an unsavory fad. Here's yet another weekly news item on tattoo discrimination -- this time, an Ohio town does not think tattoos are a "fit."
But this prejudice is not so surprising after also reading weekly stories of idiots who use the art as a gimmick like this guy who got a tattoo to win a PalmPre phone. Of course, with the cost of the tattoo (and subsequent lasering I'm sure), he coulda just bought the PalmPre and been spared our mockery. Mock, mock, mock.
Some may also mock this dude above who proposed marriage -- permanently -- but today I'm feelin the love and just grateful that Caroline said "Yes." Now, let's hope the marriage lasts.
Cleveland.com has a new feature called Tat Chat where they "celebrate body art" and "find folks with interesting tattoos and the often even more interesting stories behind them."
My favorite blog find this past week, however, was Coolhunting.com post on Carlos Alvarez Montero, and his photographs of the counterculure in NYC and Mexico City -- particularly the heavily tattooed.
Quick & Dirty Link time...
Photos by Jolie Ruben & Roxana Marroquin for Time Out NY
With the NYC Tattoo Convention kicking off it's 12th year today at 4pm, Time Out NY has gotten behind the show, giving out free tickets and publishing a 3-part article in tribute to tattooed New Yorkers.
Part 1 showcases six locals and their New York-themed tattoos, like Joshua Newberg above and his backpiece by Ray Jerez of Inborn Tattoo. I also love the Coney Island tribute sleeve by Michelle Myles of Daredevil tattoo on Brooklyn lawyer Suzanne Bivins.
Part 2 is Three Must-Dos at the Convention, a short and sweet list of this weekend's highlights including Sunday's Best Overall competition, and tebori, traditional hand Japanese tattooing, taking place on the second floor.
And Part 3 is TONY's own tattooed employees and their stories.
Catch Brian, and I at the show Saturday and Sunday giving away free Needles and Sins stickers. I also plan to give y'all a live breakdown of the art and events via Twitter.
Can't make it tonight, though, because we'll be at the opening night for Rooftop Films, and while this eve is sold out, check the rest of the schedule for some of the best indie shorts and full length features screened outdoors this summer.
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.