Results tagged “Dotwork”
I was excited to learn that, earlier this month, one of NYC's premiere tattoo studios, Kings Avenue Tattoo, welcomed a new tattoo artist to their roster: Zac Scheinbaum. Zac rounds out the Kings Ave crew with a portfolio filled with my favorite things: dots, geometry and lots of black ink. I hit up Zac with a few questions about his work:
You've recently become a part of Kings Avenue Tattoo, coming from Saved Tattoo. As both studios have a high bar for excellence, what was your path like in tattooing to reach that bar?
I learned to tattoo in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at a shop called Four Star Tattoo. Mark Vigil apprenticed me. He is a very knowledgeable and incredibly talented tattooer. When I met him, and the years that followed, he showed me everything about how tattoos should be done, and the right and wrong ways that he thought to do things. I feel like I still learn and recall things he said to me all those years ago and they are totally relevant. But he also definitely "raised" me in a sense to have a high volume of respect for everything dealing with the craft...and artists that do it.
I initially came to New York to get my arm done by Mike Rubendall. He was a huge influence on me and definitely helped me to be where I am today even from back then. I also would've never met Chris O'Donnell without Mike. I had gotten tattooed by Scott Campbell over at Saved many years before and always thought that it would be so awesome to work there.
Long story short (sort of, after a rocky goodbye and a few months on St. Mark's), I ended up at Saved. Both Kings Avenue and Saved have always been gigantic influences on me and my work. It is a fulfillment of life dreams and goals to have the opportunity to work around these amazing artists.
How do you work to become better and better at your craft?
I never feel satisfied with my work, and I think that's important. I'm always trying to learn and get better. I sort of think of it as getting an education from all of these different amazing teachers, then taking things you like and don't like about what advice you are given, and deciding how to implement that to best fit your clients and your vision of the final piece of work.
I'm a fan of your style of blackwork and dotwork tattooing. How did you come to your style and what references do you seek out for your work?
The use of black and white imagery is what I have always been the most comfortable doing. I would love to do more color work also, but it is definitely a little harder for me to grasp sometimes. That being said, the strong use of dotwork and geometric tattooing that I do, I can attribute directly to Thomas Hooper. When he came to Saved, it definitely changed my mentality -- whether it was about my philosophy for tattoos, work ethic, design, and overall aesthetics, he had such a smart and different way of doing things. I really admire him and wouldn't be where I am without him. I've always loved this type of tattooing (Xed Le Head, Tomas Tomas, Jondix, Mike the Athens), but never understood how it was even possible. Thomas showed me how to make mandalas and how he suggested doing things, and I sort of took that, then just ran with it on my "own" after he left.
I'd say that, just within five years, the appreciation for blackwork and dotwork tattoos has grown exponentially in the US. Do you think that's accurate \? What are your thoughts on the growing interest in these styles?
I think every style of tattooing has a time and a place, and this just happens to be the time where this type of tattooing is getting a little bit more notoriety and acknowledgment, but I'm sure, as with all things, it will pass and something else will come up instead of it. Not that that's a bad or a good thing, but I think it's definitely something that, when people think of tattoos, this was just something they hadn't seen before and that's why it got so big -- because they didn't realize what was possible, or that a tattoo could be so detailed.
What do you love about tattooing?
I love tattooing because it's has given me the opportunity to do art every single day. I feel so honored that anybody would like to get tattooed by me. It means the world to me. Not only has tattooing integrated itself into every aspect of my life, whether I'm reading or having dinner or whatnot, I always can find new ideas everywhere. It lets you create all the time! You get to make people happy, and give them something that can change their lives.
What projects, travels, events are coming up for you that you'd like to share?
I'm working on a series of new paintings, and hopefully some flash. I am planning a trip to Japan early next year, but am not sure the exact dates yet.
Find more of Zac's work on his site and Instagram.
Using the stippling technique to beautiful effect, Karrie Arthurs of Blackbird Electric Tattoo in Alberta, Canada, creates detailed and refined blackwork tattoos, which could catch your eye from across the room. While she utilized her fine arts degree to build an extensive tattoo portfolio in different genres when she first began tattooing in 2000, in the past three to four years, dotwork has dominated her work. In 2007, Karrie opened Blackbird Electric Tattoo, which is not limited to custom tattooing, but also accommodates walk-ins.
I shot Karrie a few questions about her work and also some personal tidbits, and she graciously took the time to share her thoughts:
I'm partial to dotwork, being covered in it myself. When did you start working with the technique?
I started heavily experimenting with textures in my tattoo work, such as dotwork, between 3 and 4 years ago. Being inspired by tattooers who use it, and also making the transition to have my tattoo work mirror my art work, which was already a play on textures.
What are some of the challenges and also the highlights of working primarily in black using stippling?
The challenges for me are trying to achieve levels of contrast and dimension with textures. Its also easy to get pigeonholed into repeating a certain thing, but luckily I have I'm happy working in this medium now, and I am blessed with great clients. The great things about blackwork are it is timeless and dynamic, and ages so well on all skin. And I save money on ink. Haha!
Where do you look to for reference?
Reference is found in my daily life, music, a passage of words, antiques....it approaches me from anywhere; you just have to look.
What do you love to tattoo and what do you shy away from?
I love to tattoo work that inspires me, challenges me and that I wholeheartedly love to do. I typically stay away from anything that doesn't, or something that someone is better at. I work with great tattooers who I refer readily.
What are you currently ...
Reading? Eckhart Tolle
Listening? Black Angels
Watching? The Leftovers
Following? Too many cool artists to list. Literally following my kids.
Find more on Karrie's tattoo work on the Blackbird Custom Tattoo site, and Instagram. Also check her online store for some wonderful artwork, including an original drawing in ink on an 1895 US postmarked envelope -- 119 year old paper.
This weekend, I received a succession of excellent text messages: they began with a video of an Argentinian tattooer dancing in his underwear...followed by photos of that same tattooer creating a dotwork masterpiece on another talented artist and friend. These are the very reasons smart phones were created.
Nazareno Tubaro of Buenos Aires, in his signature stippling style, adorned the face of his Brazilian blackwork brethren, Garcia Leonam. The tattoos meld with existing work on the top of Garcia's head, then flow in beautiful symmetry down along his face and scalp. You can get a glimpse of the painstaking technique of building a bold composition out of small dots by this close-up below (before Naza tattooed the second line along the ear).
Naza and Garcia created a short video from their session, which you can find on Naza's Instagram. You can find Garcia on Instagram as well. You won't, however, find the half-naked dancing video online. Not yet.
On Friday, I added another piece to the full leg tattoo I'm slowly working on with Dan DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Liege, Belgium. Building on the existing dotwork ornamentation, bit by bit, is a lesson in patience. I just want it to be done, but with the full composition done in the stippling method, the sessions take longer, even for smallish pieces. When it all comes together, however, it'll be worth it all. Dan will be back in NYC in March for my next session, when we'll start tying all the pieces together. Can't wait!
If you haven't already seen them blasted shamelessly all over the internet, here are some tattoos Dan has already done on me below.
UPDATED POST: Limited author copies are still available. You can order via Paypal here or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get a sneak peak inside the book here.
We live in a time when images of tattoos are in a constant stream online. Your eyes may light up at the artistry, as you scroll through your Instagram and Facebook feeds, click "Like," maybe even "Share" ... and then on to the next one. For me, when I want to really find inspiration, to spend time with a work of art, I want a book in my hands. That's why I continue to give birth to these monster tomes that are great big love letters to various genres of tattoos -- books that are meticulously crafted and published by Edition Reuss.
Black Tattoo Art II: Modern Expressions of the Tribal is my latest book; it's the second volume to my very first baby.
At the time, when we published the first volume in 2009, I had no idea that we would have such an incredible response. I just thought that there wasn't really any comprehensive books on works created only with black ink, such as neotribal, ornamental and abstract work, and so Edition Reuss and I made one. What came out of it was a community. Artists and collectors from the book contacted each other, shared ideas, and had a few drinks. It was the greatest gift I ever received from a project. So when asked if I'd do a second volume, I said, "Hell yeah!"
Within this hardcover are 448-pages containing over 600 images, in addition to text, featuring the works of over 75 artists from around the globe. That texture of the paper, the weight of it in your hands, the details that can be enjoyed from such a large format book ... it adds to the experience of marveling at fine tattoo art.
Here's more info on Black Tattoo Art II: Modern Expressions of the Tribal:
Black Tattoo Art II: Modern Expressions of the Tribal, the second incarnation of what has been deemed the "Bible of Blackwork Tattoos," continues the first volume's photographic journey across the globe, showcasing the absolute best of tattoos that capture the magic of the ancient art form in exciting contemporary interpretations on the body. Within the 448-pages of this massive tattoo tome, readers will explore particular movements in tattoo art that, much like most indigenous tattooing, are more decorative and less literal; elaborate patterns predominate; harmony and flow with the body is paramount; and the color palette is primarily black--hence, the name Black Tattoo Art. This second volume follows the direction of the first, but takes it even farther.
The most important addition to Black Tattoo Art II is the greater roster of international artists: 75 top tattooists from Saint Petersburg to Sao Paolo, Austin to Aotearoa, Barcelona to Brooklyn and beyond. They share their creativity, innovation, and spirit in presenting images of their tattoo and fine art work for this book. There are also more hand poked and tapped tattoos represented, and an entirely new chapter has been added celebrating Nordic and Celtic-inspired art. Along with the "Celtic/Nordic" works are those that fall under the chapters of "Dotwork," "Ornamental/Neotribal," "Abstract/Art Brut," and "Traditional Revival." Together, these works convey the endless possibilities of art that can be created with needles and black ink--although readers will find a splash of color in many of the tattoos on these pages.
The "Ornamental/Neotribal" chapter encompasses works that enhance the body through motifs that fit so organically with the collectors, they appear as if they were born with the art on their bodies. Within the "Neotribal" genre, patterns from various cultures are melded and often infused with a modern, even punk rock, aesthetic. In this volume, with the addition of the more expansive "Ornamental" label, the chapter also includes art featuring geometric elements, some representational forms, and big, bold swaths of black ink.
The "Dotwork" chapter displays excellence in tattooing that utilizes the stippling technique in a painstaking process, creating sophisticated works out of small points to huge effect. From Sacred Geometry and Eastern Iconography to pop culture portraiture and folk art imagery, the tattoos presented in this chapter depict a large range of subject matter created from a small mode of articulation: dots.
The new "Celtic/Nordic" chapter will inspire readers, not just with its stunning ancient designs, but also through the fantastic stories of the myths and lore behind much of the imagery, as conveyed by tattooist Colin Dale, who wrote the chapter's introduction and assembled the finest practitioners of Celtic and Nordic tattooing today for Black Tattoo Art II.
A newer tattoo movement that has defied easy classification is exhibited in the pages of the "Abstract/Art Brut" chapter. "Art Brut," or "raw art," evokes the intensity, feverishness, and freedom of creation when not bound by strict artistic formulas and conventions. This section has been further opened to include "Abstract" tattoos that possess the same flow and feeling but stylized in different ways.
The "Traditional Revival" section of this book is just a glimpse into the work of those carrying on the techniques, ceremony, and spirit of ancestral tattoo practices. While the focus of this book may be the "modern expressions of the tribal," respect must be paid to the origins from which these works flowered. In this chapter, readers will find Iban hand-tapped works of Borneo, Mentawai tattooing of Indonesia, Ta Moko of the Maori, Tatau of Samoa, magic-infused Thai tattoos, and Kalinga tattoo practices being revived in the Philippines.
One of the greatest successes of the first volume of Black Tattoo Art was that it helped forge bonds among artists and collectors who find particular allure in blackwork tattooing. The goal of Black Tattoo Art II is to expand this community and further inspire those seeking to carry forth the beautiful and powerful traditions of the art form.
Tattoo credits from top to bottom: Cover tattoo by Tomas Tomas; Leon Lam; Roxx 2 Spirit; Thomas Hooper; Celtic/Nordic chapter by Colin Dale; Buena Vista Tattoo Club; Filipino tattoo revival by Elle Festin/ Mark of the Four Waves (Photos by Joe Ash).
It's been a while since I featured work from my own tattoo artist, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Liege, Belgium; however, I'm also posting because it's a rare opportunity to grab the limited available appointments he has when working outside of his studio.
Next week, from September 23rd to the 26th, Dan will be working at London Tattoo, and has a couple of session times available. To make an appointment, email email@example.com or call 02078335996 in the UK. There may also be a session free on Friday, September 27th during the London Tattoo Convention. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Check the Calypso Tattoo site for more of Dan's signature dotwork and blackwork. He is also featured in Black Tattoo Art 2: Modern Expressions of the Tribal.
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.
Tattoo by Patrick Hüttlinger. Photo by Sven Walliser.
As promised, I'm sharing the work of another fantastic artist featured in my upcoming Black Tattoo Art II, which will be released in September. I'm thrilled to have Patrick Hüttlinger be a part of this project. Here's how Patrick describes his work:
When I started tattooing just before the turn of the millennium, I solely concentrated on the color black and I am still fascinated with the limitation which using this one colour offers, opening doors for new graphical challenges and at the same time giving justice to the medium of skin, through it's bold simplicity. Nevertheless, to be able to satisfy my inner-drive, the desire to create and change, I need to make use of a variety of artistic media. In the world of art, with its unlimited variety and infinite possibilities, I feel most at home.Another art form Patrick has engaged in is the creation of exceptionally beautiful rotary machines, which you can learn about here.
Check more of Patrick's tattoo portfolio on his site, Facebook, and Instagram.
I'm super stoked to announce that Black Tattoo Art II, the second incarnation of my very first book, Black Tattoo Art, will be released September 15, 2013, and will have its convention debut at the London Tattoo Convention, September 27-29, 2013. So, to give y'all a taste of what I'm been working on the past year and a half, I'll be doing spotlights on some of the artists featured in the book.
Today's feature is on the fabulous Amanda Ruby of The Jewel in the Lotus, her private studio in Folkestone, Kent, UK. Amanda has an unique style in combining realism with pattern work to a beautiful effect. It has earned her accolades including "Best Female UK Artist 2012" and various profiles in international magazines.
What I particularly love is how her florid, ornamental approach has the power of blackwork without needing big bold swaths of ink. She incorporates intricate detail and dotwork, but constructed in a way that's built to last.
Amanda works by appointment only. She recently opened up her diary for January - March 2014, and appointments book up quickly, but fine art tattoos are worth waiting for.
Check more of Amanda's work on Facebook.
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.