My portrait above painted by Shawn Barber.
Painting above by David Allen.
At a time when media is hyper-focused on tattooists on TV or those with a billion Instagram followers, it was refreshing to find a piece focused on the fine art of tattoo artists: "9 Tattoo Artists Who Have Also Made a Career as Painters."
While it doesn't go too deep, the list features artists particularly renowned for their paintings: David Allen, Tim Lehi, Mike Davis, Carlos Torres, Adrian Dominic, and Shawn Barber, who honored me by painting my portrait (shown above). I also learned of the work of SupaKitch, and Vancouver-based artists Nomi Chi and Alison Woodward.
Of course, today, there are countless tattoo artists showing in galleries around the world, and this list could reach 900 rather than 9; however, noticeably absent were Paul Booth, Filip, & Titine Leu, who co-founded the Art Fusion Experiment in 2000 to encourage tattooers to create fine art spontaneously and collaboratively.
Nevertheless, the article is worth a look and more posts like this should be encouraged. It certainly beats those "Top Ten Infinity Symbol Tattoos" lists.
Painting above by Nomi Chi.
Picasso's Girl before a Mirror above by David Allen.
Roy Lichtenstein's Drowning Girl above by Cathy Johnson.
Yesterday, I found Jerry Saltz's "The Best Art Tattoos of All Time" slideshow for NY Mag, via the wonderful Margot Mifflin's Facebook page. I appreciate Jerry's love for looking at tattoos and his note on how some people are so moved by art that they wish to place it on their bodies forever. However, rather than a slideshow of "fandom" tattoos, as he puts it, he could have curated custom tattoo art by tattooists that he finds to be worthy of the term "fine art." But that's a lot more work.
Margot summed up my biggest problem with the piece when she posted the following with the link:
Nice that Jerry Saltz rounded up this collection. Unfortunate that not one artist--tattoo artist--is identified in it. It crystallizes the art world's chronic inability to understand that the best tattooing is not about copying. Now for a slideshow of the best art tattoos of all time showing original work by tattooists.It really is time that the art world takes a serious look at custom tattooing, or at the very least, the fine art of those who tattoo. Seems only Scott Campbell -- who is the only artist actually credited within the article -- is really getting that kind of media attention, with other few exceptions.
With Saltz's slideshow are tiny credits (in small grey font) with "Photo: Courtesy of ..." and some of those photos are provided by tattooers like David Allen, Cathy Johnson and Pete Zebley shown here, but other credits belong to photographers and collectors. Crediting the artists should not be seen as just a courtesy but a legal responsibility.
Don't worry, though. I won't even bring up the tattoo copyright issues here!
Alberto Giacometti drawing above by Pete Zebley.
Tattoo over mastectomy scar by David Allen.
The true power of tattoos to transform lives is exemplified in Personal Ink aka P-ink.org or P.ink, a volunteer project, produced by the wonderful folks at CP+B, with a goal of connecting breast cancer survivors with tattoo artists who create art on mastectomy scars and offer nipple and areola tattoos as well. You can also find P.ink on Pinterest, which provides tattoo inspirations, ideas, and artist info.
On 10/10, 37 artists and 38 survivors in 12 locations will come together on P.ink Day to take that tattoo inspiration and make it a reality. Last year's P.Ink Day, which you can read about here, was a huge success, and this year, it's even bigger. P.ink Day artists this year include: David Allen (whose work is shown above), Ashley Love (NY Adorned), Joy Rumore (1228/Brooklyn), Friday Jones (Tattoo Couture), Darren Hall (Rising Tide/Boulder), Shannon Purvis Barron (Indigo Rose), Shane Wallin (Twilght Tattoo, Minneapolis) and Stacie-Rae Weir (who just finished a book on mastectomy tattoos). Find the full artist list here.
In addition, P.ink has just launched its Inkspiration app (a video of which is below). Here's more on the app from P.ink:
Inkspiration offers survivors a way to try on mastectomy tattoos in the privacy of their own home. Select a body type or upload a photo to get a better idea of what designs might look like. Inkspiration houses a growing library of tattoo inspirations and helps survivors identify and connect to tattoo artists who have mastectomy experience.Download the Inkspiration app for iPhone here.
P.ink is looking to grow the tattoo library in the app, and welcomes (vector-based) art to share through the site, which would also be sold/printed as temporary tattoos. [Think tasteful, eye-opening work that could inspire someone who's not initially used to tattoos, particularly vines, florals, and anything that's a bit flowing.] If you'd like to donate your artwork, contact email@example.com.
When two fantastic artists get together to chat about their work, and their lives in general, I have to share. Check this Life+Limb podcast with tattooer and painter David Allen, which can be streamed here and downloaded via iTunes.
Life+Limb is created and hosted by artist & designer Chuck Anderson (@NoPattern), and features interviews with "some of the world's most interesting, passionate, and creative people about their lives and work." David certainly is one such person.
Chuck interviews David on his transition from the graphic design world to the tattoo world, his apprenticeship and learning curve (including his tattoo practice leg), and his thoughts on tattoo culture overall. They also discuss David's wonderful work serving breast cancer survivors by transforming their mastectomy scars, as we've written about here.
When asked at the very outset of the podcast, "Who are you?", David responds, "An artist and a father." From there, an interersting discussion develops as to what that fully entails.
I hope you'll find inspiration in David's experience (and a push to hustle more) as I did.
See more tattoo work and paintings by David on his site, Facebook, and Instagram. Also check Chuck's art and design work here.
I've been a long-time fan of David Allen of Pioneer Tattoo in Chicago. I began following his blog about 8 years ago when he started his tattoo apprenticeship after leaving his graphic design career. His site not only charted his progress from novice to the sought-after tattooer he is today, but also showed the tools and methods he used in his learning process. Expert use of technology has played a big part of that progression.
David will be sharing his tattoo process using Apple devices -- from iPhone, to iPad to Macbook Air -- on Wednesday, Jan. 8th, 6pm at the Lincoln Park Apple Store in Chicago. David will also be going over scheduling and sharing that information between tattooer, assistant and client. He describes the hour seminar as super geeky (which I love). Should be a great learning event for experienced and new tattooers a like, as well as collectors.
For more on David's work, check his Facebook page and Instagram.
We also profiled David in 2012 and featured his beautiful mastectomy scar tattoo in 2010.
While I get a regular stream of emails asking for tattoo artist recommendations, in the past couple of years, more of these messages have been from women who have fought breast cancer and are looking to transform their mastectomy scars into beautiful works of art.
I attribute the greater number of emails to two particular posts on this site:
Now, there is a wonderful resource I can point to for tattoo inspiration as well as artists adept at working with mastectomy scars: the Personal Ink Project aka P-ink.org or P.ink.
P-ink is a Pinterest-based forum that "provides tattoo inspirations, ideas, and artist info to breast cancer survivors." The site invites artists, collectors, patients, supporters -- everyone -- to share or pin your own stories, design ideas, and favorite artists by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The people behind P-ink are those at Crispin Porter + Bogusky and David Clark Cause, which explains the sharp design and outreach.
One of the most beautiful pins is the video of 47-year-old Molly Ortwein, who had a double mastectomy and then kicked some more ass by getting a 7-hour tattoo over her scars. The video shows Colby Butler of UnFamous Miami creating the work, from start to finish, and Molly glowing at the end, proclaiming that she can't wait to be naked on the beaches of Brazil soon. It's beautifully badass.
In light of the recent headlines about Facebook banning an image of a post-mastectomy tattoo, we need to put even more info out there to inspire these types of tattoo transformations, and P-ink is a great source to do so.
Many thanks to Lisa Solomon for the link!
I've gotten a number of emails in the past couple of years asking me about tattooing over mastectomy scars and nipple reconstruction, and I've referred breast cancer survivors to long-time practitioners, listed below, for this type of tattooing. [It's an issue close to my heart as my both mother and aunt have had breast cancer.] Beyond realistic tattooing in creating the look of the nipple & areola, decorative tattoos over these scars can be a beautiful option.
A perfect example is this work by tattoo artist David Allen, whose blog I've been a fan of for years. I talked to David about the tattoo and he gave me some interesting info on the process and procedure. His client, fellow New Yorker Adriana, also offered her thoughts on her tattoo.
Adriana was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at age 31 in September 1999. She had a modified radical mastectomy removing a 5cm tumor. At the time of the surgery, she had reconstruction and several follow-up surgeries after chemotherapy and radiation. As the radiation ruined her skin, she was unable to have a nipple reconstruction. Almost exactly 11 years to the date from her surgery, Adriana made an appointment for her first tattoo.
Adriana came to David with a basic idea of "vines or branches with flowers" that could "go across the scar." But because she knew the skin texture varied along the area, she was open to suggestions. Before her appointment, David picked out a number of floral designs but no matter how many photos he saw of the scar, he needed her presence to make the tattoo flow and fit her form. Here's how he described the tattoo process:
"After sizing and spending awhile figuring out placement, I realized I could mask the scar by pulling the eye away from a horizontal line, accentuate the curve of the implant and make sure the organic nature of the flower blended in with the most obvious areas of the scar tissue. The implant was directly under her muscle, as the fat layer was removed, so the transition from chest to implant was abrupt. Making sure the design blended the two was important.
David adds that he'd like to see Adriana again to darken the blacks and see how well it hid the scar. He says that he's never done this type of work before, but would definitely love to do it again.
As for Adriana, she had lived with what she saw as a disfigurement for ten years. David said that when she looked in the mirror, she was amazed and proud of what she saw, which was overwhelming for both of them. Adriana told him, "I feel repaired and whole for the first time in ten years. Incredible. I want to flash everyone to show them. It's a beautiful piece."
It's an inspiring story, and I'm grateful to Adriana and David for sharing it.
See more of David's tattoo work here.
Noted studios who do do nipple & areola reconstruction as well as decorative tattooing over mastectomy scars:
A new tattoo app has just been released and it's a must have for those wanting top tattoo art at their finger-tips and information on where to find those who've created it.
The Tattoo List is created by tattoo artist David Allen (check his an amazing blog), so this is an app created by someone with the knowledge and passion for the art, and not some company trying to cash on "the tat craze."
The Tattoo List isn't a game like Tattoo IQ or photo app like Tattoo Shop--it's a beautifully designed and easy way to find new artists or check in on your favorites. You can also sort and search by tattoo style or location, then save your own list in the "Favorites."
David offers some history behind the app and how the featured artists were chosen:
A year ago I was putting together a list of tattoo artists for personal inspiration. I wanted a single resource to keep track of those I enjoyed. While researching, I found many of the artists have information scattered all over the place... the process took a few months and was just too tedious.
The Tattoo List will continue to add artists--and their sample images--after each monthly judging session, so the app will continue to grow.
Another feature will be updates from us! You'll soon be able to get select N+S posts in the "News" section.
The app sells for $1.99 on iTunes and we think it's well worth it. If you do download it, let us know what you think.
Tattoo by the fabulous David Allen
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and tattoo studios across the country are working for the cause.
In Aurora, Colorado, 5280 Tattoo is tattooing free pink ribbons every Saturday this month on breast cancer survivors and the loved-ones of breast cancer victims. Reni Soto has already made her appointment, telling Fox 61 News "I'm getting 'faith' underneath it. I kept my faith through the process. Every time I look down I remember what I went through."
In Pomona, CA, this Saturday, October 10th, is the Second Annual Tattoos for a Cure where the artists of Ink'd Chronicles will be tattooing the pink ribbons and other designs at their Pomona Art Colony location (there's an $80 minimum). All the proceeds will go to the Breast Health program at the Robert & Beverly Lewis Cancer Care Center. There will also be an art show and live bands.
For years now, the Healing Art Foundation has been "Saving the Boobies" bringing awareness and raising money through tattoo and fine art. They also hook survivors up with tattooists for tattoos, permanent make-up, areola repigmentation, and cover ups.
Those interested in getting a pink ribbon tattoo with a Celtic twist, see Pat Fish's story of how she created her endless knot of remembrance tattoo design, which can be downloaded for purchase here.
One of my favorite tattoos is this F*uck Cancer rendering that I found on Punk Rock Mommy a couple of years ago, but be warned, it's a heartbreaking tale of one badass woman's fight against the disease.
On a personal note, my mom is a breast cancer survivor, and in her 70s, is still kickin major butt. She did tell me that if I wanted to honor her battle, "a nice Italian dinner" would suffice and not to get needled on her behalf. No worries, mom. Reservations -- no tattoo appointments -- have been made.
On Wednesday, I put out a call for my 666th Facebook friend and got an amazing response, making new homies from around the world. Apparently the offer of my soul -- and crap from my parents' attic -- is an international motivator. But the beast brought me a very special friend the moment I confirmed the triple 6 request...
The most fabulous Terry!
And when I went on Terry's page, what did I see? Absolutely beautiful tattoos AND photos and videos of some fine ballroom dancing of his. Double score!
See more of Terry's tattoos on Flickr.
Naturally, I geeked out and asked him about his work. Here's what he said:
"My muses piece was done up for me by Adam Foreman of High Voltage Tattoo in LA. For my first piece, I wanted something that represented balance and inspiration, so we went with an Art Nouveau Rodin-inspired muses. So awesome!
Then there are the arm things: a super cool phenoix-like bird coming out of a burning lycoris with gears and craziness, which was done by Tim Biedron of Deluxe Tattoo and inspired by the art work of James Jean.
The clock that the bird is chilling out on (also James Jean inspired) was done by David Allen at Insight Tattoo who is SUPA COOL." [David is also behind one of our fave blogs: AllenTattoo.com]
Terry's next work will be a pin-up with the wonderful Hannah Aitchson; hence his profile pic for pin-up inspiration (with ballroom dance hands no less!).
So, this weekend it's back to my parents house to raid the chintz that hauts their rafters. It'll also serve as an early grad gift as Terry will be graduating (in Economics and English) from the University of Chicago in five weeks!
As for my soul, Terry plans to put it in a marble and let his cat play with it.
It could have suffered worse fate.