Photo above of Master Barber "Teddy Boy Greg."
Tattoo above on "Teddy Boy Greg" by Fernie Andrade.
Traditional hand tattooing by Brent McCown.
All photos above by Rebecca Holmes.
I'm back in NYC after the non-stop party that was the Brighton Tattoo Convention. With the miserable winter weather, one would think I'd spend my vacation days flying south to Caribbean beaches and not the cold English seaside, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend my birthday with friends who were traveling from around the world to be a part of this show. I most definitely made the right choice.
The convention took place at the Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel, located directly on the seafront in the center of the city. It was a massive labyrinth of booths throughout the hotel's convention center, with over 350 artists from over 16 countries working.
In sharp contrast, down the aisle, rap music blared from the booth that housed Norm, Big Sleeps, & Big Meas doing their sought-after script. Crowds also formed around other big names from the US such as Thomas Hooper, Bugs, Bong, and BJ Betts, among many others.
Tattoo above by BJ Betts.
UK legends George Bone, Lal Hardy, and Alex Binnie drew
plenty of fans as well. [As a side note: Alex had a gathering on Thursday night before
the show for the release of Charles Boday's Handpoke Tattoo book, and it was great
to check out his Brighton shop, which has that same cool vibe as his
iconic London studio.]
One particular thing I found interesting in the lead-up to the show was that many artists -- who normally book their convention appointments months in advance -- were advertising that they would be doing almost all walk-ups, so lucky convention goers who got in early could get prized time without being on a waiting list. I wonder if they knew how lucky they really were.The tattoo competitions were limited to Best of Day entries with Guen Douglas winning Friday for a neo-traditional lady hand tattoo; Ryan Evans winning Saturday for his black and grey portrait of Marlane Dietrich; and Alex Gotza of Dirty Roses Tattoo in Greece winning Sunday for a full thigh gypsy tattoo (shown below).
As for me, I spent much of my time helping the convention organizer Woody manage the press, as there was a lot of interest in this eighth year of the show. But when I wasn't doing that, you'd most likely find me at the opulently decked out booth -- complete with gold drapery and Moroccan lanterns -- of tattoo witches Alicia Cardenas, Goldilox, Delphine Noiztoy, and Lorena Morato. Other stunners at that booth were model Moniasse, Frank Doody, and Drew Becket. [All of whom are shown in the pic below.] I shared a rented house with these beautiful people, kind of like a Real World Brighton, and ... I think I'll leave the exploits (and damaging photos) off this blog. Moving on ...
More seriously, there was also a lot of tattoo history shared at the show. Our friend Dr. Matt Lodder gave a wonderful talk on Sutherland MacDonald, "the first tattoo artist." And just outside his roundtable discussion, you could view the artifacts and archival photos from the famed Bristol Tattoo Club. I also particularly loved the fine art exhibition of Ramon Maiden (a post on him is coming soon).
Most of the hard partying took place at the Sailor Jerry cocktail lounge and by the main stage where crowds of psychobilly babes gathered on Friday to see The Meteors, who still can bring a mosh pit to action after 35 years (with an older shirtless crowd). Other bands through the weekend included The Sex Pistols Experience, as well as King Salami and the Cumberland 3.
Prettying up the Rockabilly set pre-concerts were barbers flown in from California, although lumberjack beards and skull caps dominated over pompadours. Really, I could barely recognize friends underneath all the hirsute hotness.
It's all these different offerings, in addition to top tattooing, that make a great convention. Most important to me, these gatherings are an opportunity to share love with friends from across the globe and reaffirm that we are one community of beautiful freaks. And that's better than any beach vacation.
For more on what went down at the convention, check the Brighton Tattoo blog, and these news items:
One of the best presents I got this holiday was the Things & Ink "Stripped Back" issues of awesome, with three special covers featuring tattooers Flo Nuttall, Brian Wilson, and Delphine Noiztoy as well as Yann Brenyak. While the content is the same on the pages, it's worth collecting all three. How often do you see men on covers of tattoo magazines?
Once again, I cite Things & Ink as a way to present tattooed women, even nude, in ways that are sexy without being sleazy. For example, the El Wood shoot, an image from which is shown below, is gorgeous and elegant. El has modeled for many other tattoo magazines, and if you do a Google image search on her, you'll see differences in which her beauty is portrayed.
I'm also a huge fan of "The New Normal" spread, in which women, and a man, who normally don't fall under the "tattoo model" category as per today's industry standards, are photographed and art directed by Josh Brandao as "human curiosities" "to challenge what society deems as acceptable, to shatter the boundaries of attraction and redefine what we see as beautiful." Check the video preview below for a peak at those pages.
Beyond the fashion, my favorite articles also included an intimate look into the home of Lianna Moule of Immortal Ink (with her husband Jason Butcher); the Q&A with tattooer Ashley Love of NY Adorned; and Amelia Klem Osterud and Carmen Forquer Nyssen offer another fantastic historical piece, this time on "Mr. & Mrs. Ted Hamilton," tattooed performers who worked for smaller circuses in the 1920s.
And so, once again, I highly recommend picking up the latest Things & Ink. You can grab it online here.
The possibilities of dotwork tattooing are incredibly exciting, and you can see just how far the stippling effect is taking artists' compositions to new levels. One artist who brings a unique perspective to this tattoo genre is Delphine Noiztoy, who owns the The Lacemakers Sweatshop, a Victorian and Steampunk-inspired tattoo studio in London.
Formerly of the renowned Divine Canvas studio and mentored under dotwork guru Xed Le Hed, Delphine has a particularly interesting portfolio: she doesn't just use the stippling effect for beautiful fluid ornamental tattoo designs, but she is able to use only dots to shape fantastic realism. She can also switch gears and rock some heavy blackwork tattooing.
While Delphine's home base is London's arty Hackney wick, she does frequent guest spots at shops around the world, including at one of my favorites: 2Spirit Tattoo in San Francisco.
Check more of Delphine's work on Facebook, and Instagram @delphine noiztoy. Delphine is also a featured artist in my latest book Black Tattoo Art 2.