Results tagged “Dotwork”
Last night, I was reminded just how much tattoos hurt. It hurt in a way that I wanted to travel back in time and slap my 20-year-old self who would proclaim, "Oh, it's just like scratching a sunburn" because, back then, I had never sat for hours while needles drilled into my bony shin [or 5 hours of line work on the ribs like last year.]
Over the past 4+ years, since I've moved back to my native Brooklyn, I've only been getting tattooed once or twice a year, when my artist, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo travels to NYC or when I make a trip back to Liege, Belgium -- home to Calypso Tattoo and where I lived for almost 8 years.
As I work on a unified body suit, a year can feel even longer because I'm excited to see my body continue to transform and to become the person I envision myself to be. At times, when working piece-by-piece on the design, it can feel like I'm in a state of flux. That "I'm not done." But the pace is important for a number of reasons.
In an age of instant gratification, there's something special about having to wait for what you want. It offers a greater sense of gravity and even ritual to the tattoo process. On a practical level, it also allows for more time to research patterns and gather ideas on how to bring all these motifs on my body together. Dan is really a master at creating that harmony and flow and taking a holistic approach to how the tattoos look on the body overall.
And then there's the fact that I have enough time to forget the pain.
The new tattoo on my calf and shin, is comprised of all dots. No lines this time. When it heals, I'll post better pictures so you can really see how Dan worked the density of the dots to create some beautiful light effects. Using a rotary machine, which doesn't have the harsh buzz of the coil, Dan worked tirelessly for over four hours to make every point perfect. And as always, I'm thrilled -- although my happy dance will have to wait until the swelling goes down.
I just secured my next tattoo appointment with Daniel DiMattia, of Calypso Tattoo when he comes into New York for the NYC Tattoo Convention, May 17-19, so I'm excited, especially considering that I only get tattooed once a year now. But it's interesting to watch how my body suit is slowly coming together, piece by piece. Last May, he tattooed my ribs -- which wasn't fun -- but this time it should be easier with small calf work. I'll be posting photos in two weeks of my new work when it's done.
Dan is booked out for the time, but consider taking a trip to Liege, Belgium, the home of Calypso Tattoo. Dan will also be working the London Tattoo Convention in September. Oh, and we'll be there too!
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I naturally had to feature work from The Celtic Tattoo Queen herself, Pat Fish.
Collectors from around the world travel to Pat's Santa Barbara studio for her intricate knot and dot work tattoos. Last year, I posted an excerpt from my Inked mag profile on Pat, and I figure it's fitting today to post a bit more from our Q&A, where we talk about how she earned her royal title:
You're called the "Queen of Knots" in the tattoo community. How did that get started?
Lyle Tuttle gave me the name "Queen of Knots, and the title "Celtic Queen of the West Coast" came from a Skin & Ink magazine article. When I started [to tattoo], I was thirty years old. You can really do what you want till you turn thirty, but at that point, you better specialize and chose a profession, something that you are. I put myself through college doing research interviewing, and then I got hired by the local weekly newspaper to interview people. I did it for over a decade. But after a while, I got to where I didn't want to be edited anymore, where they'd brutally cut my work to make room for more advertising. I finally just decided that I wanted to do art full time. At that point, I thought that tattooing seemed to be the most legit way to do art. That's when I went on my quest to find who I should learn from and the rest is history. Now it's almost 28 years. Simultaneously, I decided something else I really needed was to find out my true identity because I was an orphan and lived all my life with a chip on my shoulder that somewhere, in some office, was the truth of about where I came from. I put a private eye on to find out who I was, and it turns out that I'm Scottish. It just made sense to me that everyone else in the world has ethnic pride--has an identity--and here I was finding it out and at the same time learning to do this new skill. So I decided to specialize in Celtic art, bringing back that tattoo tradition of the Europeans.
Like what traditions?
People think that the Europeans started getting tattooed when Captain Cook came back from Tahiti with tattooed sailors, who had gotten souvenirs when they went and explored. That isn't true. The Pictish people were known for their tattoos. It turns out that I'm a Campbell and the clan Campbell are Picts. It's an extremely small ethnic group. I thought it was something I should explore and one of the ways to do that would be to bring back alive this tradition of the heavily tattooed Pictish people--to bring these designs back to life in skin. One of the better choices of my life was to learn to tattoo and then to specialize in this.
See more of Pat's work on Luckyfish.com. Slainte!
As my next volume of Black Tattoo Art is in its final stages, set to launch later this Spring, I wanted to offer you a preview of some of the work that will be featured. And considering it's the birthday of my tattoo artist today -- Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Belgium -- I figured I'd post one of his more recent works that will be in the book: this adorable dotwork Matryoshka dolls (or Russian nesting dolls) tattoo . I love the background dot patterns with the henna-inspired line work as well.
Check more of Dan's work here. You can also read about my last couple of sessions with him as we continue my body suit here and here.
More previews to come!
I'm often asked about blackwork and dotwork tattooing in NYC, and really, compared to other parts of the world, there aren't as many who specialize in the style (although the number of greats is growing). So, I'm always excited when those who need nothing to travel with but black ink arrive for guest spots in NYC.
One of my faves is Kenji Alucky of Black Ink Power.
The native of Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido, Japan has been tattooing on the road and is now a guest artist at NY Adorned in Manhattan. I believe that appointments are still available, but not for long as Kenji will only be a guest until January 31st. You can hit up NY Adorned by phone at 212.473.0007 or via email: info [at] nyadorned.com.
As I finish up the second volume to my very first book, Black Tattoo Art, I'm really enjoying pouring over the hundreds and hundreds of images of neotribal, blackwork, dotwork, ornamental, abstract and traditional tattoo art. I'll be highlighting a number of artists from the book here, in addition to those I've profiled in the past.
Let's start the new year with the work of Mikel Johnson of 4 Truths Tattoo Sangha in Victoria, B.C., Canada.
Tattooing since 1996, Mikel more recently opened up his new studio 4 Truths Tattoo Sangha, where he tattoos largely in tribal and blackwork, although he says that he happily works with clients on other ideas if he feels he can do the piece justice.
As he notes on his site, Sangha is a word in Pali and Sanskrit meaning association, assembly or community. The tattooist and Reiki Master has a strong passion for the sacred and communal aspects of tattooing and that comes forth in his work.
I spoke with Mikel about his studio and work. Here's a bit from our chat:
What is the vibe of the studio like?
Comfortable and really mellow. I wanted the studio to be really relaxing...no unwanted distractions. I guess it's maybe inevitable that I wanted to work in the kind of environment that I, personally, like to be in and get tattooed in. That's what I have done.
What is your particular approach to tribal and blackwork work?
Honestly, I think I am still learning this. I find I look at a lot of old reference. I truly stand on the shoulders of a lot of giants. I think, right now, my style may come out in how I visually balance things. I am not sure I will ever be done working at trying to make it my own, maybe that's why I like this style of tattooing so much. There are so many subtle layers to this work.
What do you love about this style of tattooing and tattooing in general?
It's hard to put into words what I love about these styles of tattooing. It just makes sense to me, feels right to me. Given the time, I would ramble on about this for longer than I should. I think there is a point in a tattooer's career where they find a style they really love working in. I feel fortunate enough to have found mine. Tattooing is maybe one of the last things that is still magical. The whole process is really quite amazing. It's such a unique and human experience. How can you not love that?
What's the best way to make an appointment?
The best way to reach me is by email: info [at] mikel.ca. As I am a one-man show, I find it works best.
Any conventions or guest spots coming up?
Right now, I haven't any solid plans to work conventions. I am looking to work the Edmonton convention next year, and I would love to go to the Montreal convention as well. Internationally, I think the Tattoo Convention in Nepal would be amazing to go see. Who knows? Maybe I will try and make that work somehow.
For now, my main focus is getting the studio running smoothly.
I feel fortunate. Thanks to my wife April, my clients, and all my friends that support and encouraged me to do what I do. Be good to each other. We are all more connected than we think.
Mikel - 4 Truths Tattoo Sangha
#31 - 532 Herald St. * buzz #133
When I released "Black Tattoo Art" in 2009, there were very few tattoo artists in the US specializing in dotwork and blackwork (not to be confused with black & gray tattooing). Strong, bold, all-black works and refined compositions created by stippling have been hugely popular in Europe for a while, but only recently have flourished stateside.
In California, 2Spirit Tattoo, is renowned for beautiful blackwork. Last year we profiled Roxx, studio owner and badass. But 2Spirit has an incredibly talented crew, and today, I want to spotlight another artist from the shop: Michael E. Bennett.
I particularly wanted to talk to Michael when I learned that he'll be doing a guest spot on the East Coast next month at NY Adorned from October 30th to November 3rd. I shot him a few questions, and he graciously replied. Here's our quickie Q&A:
Which dotwork artists have inspired you and how you do approach this style of work to make it your own?
The list of inpirations for my tattooing is endless, but off the top of my head, recently I've been influenced by the work of Gerhard Wiesbeck, Matt Black, and Kenji Alucky as well as Jondix, Hooper, and of course Xed le Head. Aything with power in it, though, it doesnt really matter what style. I suppose my approach is more based in 'traditional' tattooing. The Coleman kinda heavy lines and shading, that was the way I was taught to apply them.
Do you see a growing demand for this style in the US?
It seems so! I think that's exciting. I feel there's alot of energy in these types of tattoos. The actual act of recieving a tattoo definetly has its own power, demanding a calm composure of yourself while being put through pain is no easy feat, but I think when people see tattoos done in Blackwork/dotwork it effects them. It's just so ANCIENT. It's an art purely for application on the human body.
Is there a certain type of clientele that's attracted to this type of work?
Hmm. That's hard to say. It varies, certainly. More and more people are starting to see the beauty of it. Younger people are always the prominent collectors in tattooing, but this seems to attract all types of folks, which I love.
What types of tattoo projects are you most attracted to?
I like the spiritual aspect of tattooing, not necessarily religious, but something that speaks of a deeper meaning. That's the beauty of this kind of work, it seems so powerful even when there's no real subject matter apparent. It makes you think about form and structure, how things are put together.
Check Michael's work on his blog and the 2Spirit site. You can reach him at childthepeacemaker [at] yahoo.com.
This past Saturday I added to my tattoo collection by getting both sides of my ribs done, courtesy of Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo. Here's how it went down:
I woke up to the smell of steak and eggs (sorry, vegans), which Brian was preparing especially for my appointment. While this may seem like a frivolous detail -- akin to me seeing photos of everything my friends eat posted on Facebook -- my point in mentioning it is the importance of a fueling up before a session because, really, getting needled takes a toll on your body and you need to feed it to keep going. [Keep in mind that I'm Greek, and we eat like we're getting tattooed every day.]
After breakfast comes outfit choice. Something loose fitting and slung low on the hips so as not to rub against and irritate the fresh tattoo. When I got my hips done last time, I wore breakaway pants -- the kind sports figures and male strippers tear off (woohoo!) -- so I can undo the snaps along the sides to expose just the skin being tattooed and not flash everyone at the shop. I highly recommend them. But they weren't necessary this time as we decided to extend the tattoo from the existing flowers and snakes on my hip bones and not lower down. Yoga pants did the trick.
Fed and dressed, I headed to Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where Dan was guesting, along with fabulous abstract artists Noon & Loic Lavenu aka Xoil. There were a lot of jokes in French throughout the day but they largely centered around genitals than Jerry Lewis. I was entertained.
Pay attention: Ok, here we go about the actual tattooing part in case I lost you at the food and fashion. Days before the session, Dan took my measurements and we decided how we wanted to shape the tattoos on the ribs to bring a more cohesive look with my existing stomach and hip work. I chose to keep to floral and mehndi-inspired motifs, which flowed inward along the shape of my waist. It's slimming and way better than lipo. While Dan is brilliant at freehand designs directly on the body, he drew the design in advance for better symmetry and because we didn't have time to spend hours coming up with something on the spot. He was leaving for Belgium the next day.
Stencil on. Mirror check. Great. Let's do this.
Ouch. No really, ouch.
Tattoos hurt, yes. Some people feel them in certain spots more than others, and the ribs were my unhappy place. Couple that with a large Belgian bearing down on me (see above) and the inability to move because it's all line work, with some dot shading. Not much room for error if I twitched.
Not much room for sympathy either. Most of my big work (back, sleeves, etc) is by Dan. Dan and I were once married. There's no need for polite client relations. This pain was payback for the times I didn't do the dishes. He is quick to mention, however, that he enjoys tattooing me because it's the only time I shut up. He's right.
There were some short breaks here and there. Dan's lovely fiance Devanei shared great stories about her experiences on this NY trip. Brian showed up with the most important tattoo provision ever: a Snickers bar. Chocolate and peanuts. It satisfied.
Within five hours, including breaks, both sides were done. Dan works fast, and you want fast on the ribs.
Three days later, the healing has been super-quick as well. I've been doing my usual LITFA method: Leave It the F*ck Alone, with just a thin layer of A&D ointment here and there. I'll switch to moisturizer soon.
The tattoos are perfect. The work harmonizes with the existing designs and also lends itself to further additions as we continue my bodysuit, slowly. I love the way I look in them.
That's why I get tattooed.
The inimitable Pat Fish -- "The Queen of Celt" -- is internationally renown for her powerful and intricate Celtic knot work tattoos. She is also known for being quite outspoken, calling bullshit on issues she believes harm the tattoo industry and collectors. Pat does just that in our Icon Q&A for Inked mag.Your work has moved towards pointillism and other new directions, but still largely keeps to the traditional Celtic designs. Where are those influences coming from? Conventions?
In the interview, she raises some of those controversial issues, like potential dangers in color tattoo ink as well as the ethics of giving clients exactly what they want. Pat also shares some of the lessons she learned from her mentor, the legendary Cliff Raven, who changed her life, and how her pet mule, Tobe, has done the same. Here's a taste:
Absolutely. When I worked at the NIX Tattoo Convention up in Toronto, I met both Colin Dale and Cory Ferguson, and I was stunned by their pointillism. All the time when I was at UCSB art school, I was using pointillism, using dots to do my shading. But I had never done it in tattooing. Why not? I don't know. So I started exploring how to pull that into my style. Also, I had a pretty strong feeling that the governments of the EU and the US were going to outlaw colored tattoo ink, but I was wrong about this. I figured, well, maybe it will just happen that I have to adapt my style so that black ink is all I'll have, and it's good enough. I can't imagine why [colored ink] is still legal. It's just wrong. It's a hugely dangerous thing to have something that nobody knows what's in it. There's no oversight or MSDS [Material Safety Data Sheet] provided. Here we are hoping for the best and sticking it in our clients.
Don't you think that there would be an epidemic, with so many color tattoos, if the inks were dangerous?
I think the big risk is that there are so many more suppliers today than there were in the past. It used to be that you would get powder and put it with your own preferred suspension agent and there you go, you have your ink. Now there are, what, a hundred ink suppliers and none of them have any MSDS, and even the really famous ones have ended up with fungus in a batch.
Beyond health issues, there are also moral issues to consider in tattooing. For example, there was a lot of buzz over a woman getting a huge "DRAKE" tattoo (in honor of the singer) on her forehead and whether the tattooist should have done it. What do you think about that?
I interact with a lot of the older generation of tattoo artists and they say, "Somebody is going to do that tattoo. Why do you pretend that you care about that person? It's money." My attitude is that I rather have them angry with me over something I didn't do than something I did. I have morals, and I have to be responsible in this life for everything I do. If I really feel that it will make them a person who relied on welfare because now they made themselves into a freak and can't get a job, then I need to step up and tell them No. I've had people come in and thank me later for not having done a tattoo that I refused to do. That's a nice moment.
You have a lot of people flying into Santa Barbara from all over the world to get tattooed by you, but is Celtic work still as popular as it was, say over ten years ago?
I've been selling my designs online now at Luckyfishart.com since 2001, and there was a point where people were buying a lot more Celtic stuff than they are now, but it's hard to tell. Right now the trend is words. People will call me and go on and on about how much they love my designs and then just ask for two Gaelic words on their arm. Give me a break. For me, words age badly and look goofy. Unless they are really big, they don't have a graphic quality to them. I usually decline to do it, which is hard to do in this economy.
Well, I'm still molting but because some of y'all have been asking about my new snake hip, here's a sneak peak while it heals.
On Monday, Belgian blackwork maestro, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo spent nearly 8 hours on a stippled snake that winds up my left thigh to my hip. Dan was a guest artist at Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn so I didn't have to travel to his studio in Liege (although I recommend doing so for a European tattoo vacation). The work mirrors and balances out the snake on my right thigh, which Dan tattooed in November at his shop. More on that in this post.
Because I wasn't jet-lagged, and I had the ridiculous and wonderful Tattoo Culture crew as entertainment (plus Brian Grosz feeding me candy), the pain seemed significantly less than the first snake, even though it was the same tattoo and same amount of hours under the needle. A testament to mind over matter and optimal tattoo conditions.
Like the other snake, I decided not to use the numbing spray because the hurt was manageable, but yeah, by the seventh hour I was seriously ready to have it be done. After seven hours and forty-five minutes (with only a quick lunch break) of tattooing, I was standing (on shaky feet) completely in love with both of my hips. I still can't stop shimmying.
The snakes will form the foundation on my legs for different decorative elements that will surround them, but I think I'll take a little break for a while.
See more of Dan's work here.
A fierce artistic energy emanates from London's illustrious/infamous Into You Tattoo. Owner Alex Binnie opened Into You in 1993, and since that time, the studio has garnered worldwide praise for innovative tattoo work from all members of its tattoo family. While tattoos in a variety of genres are created, Into You has a particular reputation for blackwork, and one of the artists renowned in this style is Tomas Tomas.
When asked about his life in tattoo, Tomas says that the search for his very first was disappointing after visiting many studios and feeling uninspired by the work he saw. He explains that he had his own vision for tattooing and spent the past 18 years unearthing and sharpening the style he yearned for as a child.
After some years, thanks to the rare tattoo publications available at the time, he discovered the work of various artists at Into You and connected with it. He became an avid customer there, spending hundreds of hours getting tattooed entirely from head to toe by the several resident artists. So it was only natural he found his way on the other side of the needle in these walls.
At Into You, Tomas hit upon a version of tribal blackwork that he says is his "attempt to reveal a new tribal graphic vocabulary in tune with the technological world." While still committed to the ancestral essence of this type of tattooing, he looks toward the future in London. He explains:
Further exploration of this practice revealed that, often, tattoos in tribal societies were poetic visual representations of the environments and cultures in which people lived at the time. It was also a celebration of the mysteries of life. I then realized, rather unconsciously, these same desires and values still fuel many to get tattooed today worldwide.
Tomas further discusses his tattoo philosophy, references and new works on his blog. Check it for tattoo inspiration and a great read.
It's red. It's swollen. And it needs to be lubricated.
My new tattoo, that is. But before I head off to the Brussels Tattoo Convention to show it off, I wanted to give y'all a sneak peak. This baby took 7 1/2 hours of straight tattooing and done by none other than blackwork guru Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Liege, Belgium. While I've been tattooed by a few others, Dan is my main artist, having done my sleeves, back, belly, ribs, and my pretty hobbit foot last May. You can see all my tattoos on Flickr here.
The photo and the work itself now is dark but as you know, once it settles, we'll get a better idea of what the tattoo will look like when I'm eighty years old.
I arrived in Liege on Wednesday, ignored the jet lag and headed to Calypso Tattoo to start drawing out the work with Dan. My idea was to have two snakes winding from my hips down to my thighs. Sexy, huh? Dan thought that we should add flowers on the hips as a base for the work and have the snake moving up towards them. [I also have dotwork floral designs on my belly.] The movement and then placement of the snake took the longest time to figure out. While Dan does mostly freehand, for this work, he sketched it all out and made a stencil for tattooing the next day.
Ok, Thursday. Game day. I leave my hotel and the city is a ghost town. Nothing is open. Barely a car on the road. I walk into the studio nervous -- about the zombie apocalypse and all -- and find Dan refining the dot patterns in the stencil.
"Dan, where is everyone?"
"It's November 11th, a national holiday."
"What are we celebrating?"
"The Armistice that marked the end of the war [in 1918 -- more here]."
"Well considering we're divorced but live in peace, this is my armistice tattoo."
But hell, that armistice tattoo was a battle. I always like to start the needling at the more painful part first, when endorphins really kick in. My right hip was particularly sensitive because I had zapped an old tattoo a few times and there was some minor scaring and skin sensitivity. But the pain was nothing like my foot or upper ribs.
We did the lining of the hip and upper thigh part of the tattoo -- and damn, Dan does looooong lines in one shot -- and then worked in the dotwork patterns. This took up most of the time. You have to have A LOT of patience for dots. It also does a number on the artists' wrists. The effect is beautiful, however, and settles in nicely over time.
Then came the snake's tail end. That was around the 6th hour and I was shot. I really wanted to grab the bottle of Vasocaine numbing spray I bought, desperate, like a pregnant woman begging for an epidural. But Dan encouraged me to tough it out with only an hour or two left because he wasn't sure how the skin would react. So I toughed it out.
Remember when we talked about tattoo pain in the Robert Atkinson post?
Robert said that he had no problems with people using the numbing sprays, adding: "At the end of the day, no one is giving out trophies for being tough." But I also took your thoughtful comments into consideration where many had negative experiences with healing tattoos that had been sprayed, so I did it old school. No trophy. But I came out of it with a tattoo I adore.
Will post pics once it's healed. My session for the other hip is in May. I have time to forget what it feels like until then.
Ok, off to the Brussels convention!
PS: There was some reason for having a Shakira song in the title of this post but now I forgot why. I should practice my snake hip moves just in case.
Hand-poked. Dotwork. Skull.
Three of my favorite words in the tattoo language, so naturally, I had to know more about this chest piece on musician Johnny Kowalski tattooed by Clare Deen, aka Goldilox.
The work was done all by hand over eight hours in a couple of sittings. Beyond the logistics, the stories behind the tattoo are what's really compelling. Johnny wanted a tattoo to celebrate his thirtieth birthday and here's the inspiration behind it, in his own words:
"I've always appreciated the beauty of animal skulls, and it seemed an appropriate symbol of adulthood because of the obvious connection with hunting. I also liked the connection with the Norse rune Algiz, which I have tattooed in red ink on my left big toe.
I like these kind of stories. But I'm nosy and wanted more.
Considering the large work, I asked Goldilox about her process in hand-poked tattoos and surprisingly, she told me that she had only been tattooing by hand for about a year (she had been using a machine since her start in the art). Goldilox is a self-taught tattooist, originally from rural Wales and now working at Painted Lady Tatoo Parlour in Birmingham, UK. She's has worked in many artistic disciplines: pin-striping cars, sign-writing, airbrushing, sculpting, drawing, painting, and sewing (among others) and so working by hand in tattooing "feels right" to her.
Here's more on what Goldilox said about her hand worked tattoos:
"I started tattooing by hand initially on myself. It felt intuitive. The fine lines I could create using just a needle just inspired me. My artwork has always been intricate, and tattooing like this felt like an extension of this...a very natural progression, and within no time at all, all my clients wanted hand-poked work...
It looks like I'll be seeing Goldilox at the Traditional Tattoo and World Culture Festival this weekend, and hopefully, will bring back more examples of her work.
Check more of her work here. And hear Johnny's music here.
In what can only be described as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, tribal/blackwork tattoo specialist Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo is adding more color to his tattoos!!!
[Not enough exclamation points exist to express this shocking news.]
I just saw the half-sleeve above on Tattoo Now's Tattoo of the Day -- a feature I check religiously -- and thought, "Wow, interesting use of color in dotwork shading amongst blackwork. I wonder who the artist is..." Wait, that's my tattoo artist (and yes, the dude I was once married to for all y'all gossip mongers)!
Considering Dan is tattooing my foot next month when he's in for the NYC Tattoo Convention (May 14-16), I figured I'd head to the Calypso Tattoo website and see what other new things Dan's been doing to mix up his portfolio. Alas, I didn't find anything crazy like a biomechanical portrait tattoo of Beyonce surrounded by Koi fish (I wish!), but there were new artistic influences like this modern art tattoo and this Egyptian-inspired piece; however, it seems he is staying true to what he is renowned for: a powerful blend of tribal-inspired art like these works and more feminine henna-inspired tattoos.
While Dan is booked for his New York trip, the best way to get work from him is to head to his studio in Liege, Belgium for a tattoo holiday. [Hit him up via his contact page.]
Once it's healed, I'll be sure to post pix of my new foot tattoo, which will complement the other one prettied by Jacqueline Spoerle (wrote about healing that one here).
If you haven't seen Dan's tattoo work on me, check 'em here.
I'm working on a new tattoo book project, and in it, I'd like to show how artists interpret popular tattoo themes in their own style. That's where I could use your help.
If you have a skull, dagger or heart tattoo that you would like to share in my project (for a major American publisher), please email a high-res image (or send a link for me to download it) to email@example.com along with information on the artist who tattooed you.
UPDATE: I should've clarified that tattooists can submit as well BUT the artist will need express permission from the client to use the image in the publication.
My eternal love,
Dotwork skull tattoo by Daniel DiMattia, Calypso Tattoo.
Black is beautiful, my friends.
In fact, I've taken the statement to heart (and skin) with enough black ink in my dermis to fill the Library of Congress. And with this passion for blackwork tattoos, I began collecting images and some stories of the world's best tattoo artists only working in black ink with the help of my primary tattooist, former hubby, and friend, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo, renowned himself for this style. The result ...
Black Tattoo Art: Modern Expressions of the Tribal.
The book will be released this Thursday, September 10 and yes, there will be some partying. Join me on Thursday at Tattoo Culture from 7 to 10:30pm for drinks, food, and an awesome playlist of tunes by the fabulous Ron Worthy.
I'll be selling some of my author copies at a discounted rate of $120 at the party. You can click the link (above right) to order my copies while supplies last for $159.
The book is available through LastGasp.com and from Hermansky books.
UPDATE: Get Free Shipping from LastGasp.com on Black Tattoo Art by using the promo code "Needles" at checkout.
Keep in mind that the book -- published by fine art and erotic publishers Edition Reuss -- is a 536-page, thread-bound hardcover with silver embossing that weighs over six pounds. A friend suggested that it will also nicely double as a home defense device. Or free weight.
Evan's sleeves by David Sena of North Star Tattoo
So yeah, my first tattoo book is done and out soon. All I can say right now is freakin finally!
Apologies for the lack of highbrow here but I did write a fancy press release with big words. What I didn't mention in the release is the year-long process of seeking out pictures and stories of the top blackwork artists. Many of whom shun online communication and enjoy long stretches of time without any worldly contact so to rejuvenate and become inspired for the masterful tattoos featured. But try to explain large size 300 DPI format to 'em ...
I joke. Kinda.
Seriously, it was a great honor to curate the very first English language book EVER dedicated to blackwork tattooing in its many forms. It was inspired by Ed Hardy's TattooTime premier issue entitled New Tribalism. In it, the legendary Cliff Raven said one of my favorite quotes:
"The perfect tattoo -- the one I believe we are all struggling toward -- is the one that turned the jackass into the zebra."Raven, one of the pioneers of the fine art tattoo movement, wrote that after 20 years of tattooing, he found "decorative art" was the tattoo style that best fit the human canvas. He explained that creating two-dimensional elaborations on a three-dimensional object is akin to "pin striping an auto as opposed to copying Frazetta paintings onto the sides of vans." It was a bold statement, but one perfectly suited to the tattoo movement it trumpeted.
He called this style "Pre-Technological Tattooing." Hardy called it "New Tribalism." Most have used the term "Neo-tribal" to define the tattooing of Leo Zulueta, one of the first contemporary tattooists to fully dedicate his body of work to interpreting the arts of indigenous cultures (also featured in Black Tattoo Art).
More recently, many tattooists have been defining their portfolios as "Blackwork," taking their tribal interpretations even farther but still adhering to the decorative arts tenets. Indeed, there is a rainbow of terms to describe this monochromatic art form.
Work by Vincent Hocquet of Beautiful Freak Tattoo
For this book, we kept it simple with the title "Black Tattoo Art: Modern Expressions of the Tribal" to encompass the various designs and aesthetics that have sprung from the Neo-Tribal movement; a movement which took root in the late sixties, flourished in the eighties and nineties, and pollenized the beautiful offshoots of today.
The title is deceptively simple, however, because what really is "modern black" tattoo art?
It's not a book on traditional tribal tattooing. There is a chapter that looks at a few artists today reviving their ancestral tattoo arts, but this is a very small part of this monster volume.
It is a book that looks at how today's tattooists have taken the tenets of tribal arts -- the soulfulness and harmony with the body -- and applied it in contemporary, imaginative ways.
To see sample pages of their work in the book, check the Black Tattoo Art Flickr set.
I hope to see y'all at Tattoo Culture. If not, this month I'll also be selling the book at the Paradise Tattoo Gathering September 17-20, and at the London Tattoo Convention September 25-27. More convention dates to come.
And now, gotta rest up for Thursday's party.
I may be on vacation in Greece but I had to take a break from doing nothing to keep my promise of posting regularly scheduled tattooed men to be objectified. Last week, Stefan was a big hit here and on my Facebook page, and I was vigorously encouraged by my girls and gays to continue. For this week, I chose a man who rocks the hot nerd look and has excellent taste in tattoo work, and so without further ado ...
Give some love up for Albert.
* City: Mons, Belgium
* Age: 24
* Relationship status: In a Relationship
* Fun: I like to sing loudly whilst driving
* Music: Ryan Adams and Kanye West
* Website: www.myspace.com/glass_glimpse
* The Tattoo: The sleeve in progress -- shown unfinished here -- is by uber-talented tattooist Vincent Hocquet of Beautiful Freak Tattoo in St. Idesbald on the Belgian coast. Yup, those Belgians know how to rock the dotwork. The stippling tattoo effect creates the 3-D imagery in the shading. Coincidentally, Vincent is one of the featured artists in my upcoming book on blackwork tattooing. He's also a super sweetie.
If you're a tattooed hottie willing to be ogled, send me your pic at marisa at needlesandsins.com.
I'm starting a new section on N+S on interesting tattoo projects, and the stories behind them. Not stories of the dog that died and that's why I got this Kanji on my shoulder, but stories meant to inspire and inform on the creative tattoo process. I'm snotty like that.
Here's the first in the series: Colin Dale's 3d Celtic Tattoo.
Colin's tattoo was a culmination of a project started on his own leg last February in California and involved various artists in the process. The original idea was to design a piece of Celtic knotwork that wrapped in an unbroken piece around the entire leg -- not just a band but also running from top to bottom in a three-dimensional tattoo encompassing the entire calf.
The design came from Pat Fish, aka The Queen of Celtic, a master at knotwork. The design was then given to her technical assistant and webmaster Colin Fraser Purcell who then made a 3D template that could be wrapped around Colin's leg in a cone shape. Pat then applied the design ... and got it right the first time! Not an easy task, even for someone as experienced as she is. Pat then spent 3 hours adjusting and freehand drawing it to fit before she even started to tattoo. The original outlining ran into the early hours of the morning.
Colin returned home and began to thicken up all the lines himself. This was actually more painful on the hip joint and lower back than the actual tattoo. [Imagine tattooing while touching your own toes for 2 hours at a time!] This was followed by Colin dot-shading all the negative spaces on the instep and shin. Unfortunately the tattoo wasn't finished in time for the Northern Ink Xposure convention in Toronto, but Colin took the opportunity to have Cory Ferguson to fill in the negative spaces in the left side and back where he couldn't reach. Cory is another talented award winning artist and friend who specializes in the pointillism technique combined with mandalas and tribal patterns.
After this was completed Colin took it down to Alex at Rites of Passage who did all of the greyshading of the knotwork. Alex specializes in Black&Grey and Portraits work, so this was sort of like asking da Vinci to paint a ceiling...with a roller. But it was decided that a simpler more graphic approach was the best way to compliment the Celtic style and complete Pat's original vision.
After this collaboration of three great artists, plus to artist/collector himself, the Three Dimensional Celtic was completed.
And that's just one way to get a kickass tattoo.
I'm been quiet here because I'm on deadline for my book on blackwork tattoos, but the boys have been blogging wonders, albeit cranky ones.
Blackwork is everything from traditional tribal tattooing, like the timeless Polynesian tatau ...
to neo-tribal made famous by Leo Zulueta and Trevor Marshall ...
to the dotwork technique mastered by artists including Xed Lehead, Dan DiMattia, Erik Reime and Colin Dale, among many others ...
to modern interpretations of non-traditional tattoo motifs like this henna-inspired work above by the fabulous Jacqueline Spoerlee ...
to the all-black graphic art of Yann Black, Jeff, Boucherie Moderne, Noon, and other French avant garde tattooists.
So that's what's keeping me busy these days, but I'll be back tomorrow with your news review.