Emma Griffiths tattoo above.
NYC's The Villager recently published two features on veteran women tattooers, Michelle Myles and Emma Griffiths, who have been tattooing in the city since before the NYC tattoo ban was lifted in 1997.
In the article, (unfortunately) titled "Female tattoo artists are really making their mark," Michelle talks about her start in tattooing in 1991, working illegally on the Lower East Side in a studio on "the worst heroin block in the whole city." [She adds, "I tattooed all the drug dealers and never had problems."] The article also notes how, when the ban was lifted, Michelle wasn't too happy at the time:
Myles had moved to the second floor above the music venue Pianos at 158 Ludlow St., and had just spent money to renovate the loft -- she was living in the back and was tattooing in the front. "And then I was walking down the street and I saw Clayton Patterson and he was like, 'Did you hear, they're going to legalize tattooing?' And I was like, 'Noooo,' " she said with a laugh. "It wasn't really the sort of place you would want a legal shop because it was old-school L.E.S., where you threw the keys out the window when somebody yelled up.In the end, legalization turned out to be a great thing for Michelle, and her partner Brad Fink, with the success of their Daredevil Tattoo. The gentrification of the Lower East Side and outrageous rents pushed them out of the area, but they found a new home in Chinatown, with a tattoo museum being built into the studio.
When asked about being a woman tattooer starting out in a male dominated industry, she says:
I think, at first, people kind of don't take you seriously," she recalled. "I specifically remember somebody once saying, 'Oh, you tattoo, too. That's cute.' But in the long run, it's what set you apart. At first, it might be a drawback, but in the end, it's what makes you stand out. Although, these days there are so many girls in tattooing, it's not like it used to be."That feature also includes the experience of Linda Wulkan, a tattoo artist at Whatever Tattoo, who has been tattooing in NYC for 11 yrs. Read more of the article here.
In the article "A lifelong love of tattooing fuels her artistry," Emma talks about coming to NYC from the UK in 1990 and becoming a tattooer under the ban. Here's a taste of that talk:
Tattooing in the East Village in the early '90s was amazing and something I will honestly cherish till the day I die. Back then it was illegal, it was hidden. Tattooers to me were mythical, magical, scary people who you had to search out and get the bottle up to go into their shop.Emma's appointment-only Porcupine Tattoo is located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where she works in a variety of tattoo styles.
Check more of their work on Instagram: @daredevilmichelle and @emmagriffithstattoo.
Michelle Myles tattoo above.
In the past decade, we've seen an explosion of fine art by tattooists in galleries and museums, and it's been quite an exciting movement in the industry; however, there seems to be a lack of progress when it comes to representing the work of women tattooists in many of these shows.
Giving a platform for these women from around the world is the Ladies, Ladies Art show at Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn, NY opening next Thursday, May 17th from 7-11PM.
This exhibit, curated by Elvia Iannaccone Gezlev (Miss Elvia), Emma Griffiths and Magie Serpica, is in its second year and promises to be just as phenomenal as the first, with the work of nearly 100 female tattoo artists featured. The first show was primarily a salute to the modern godmothers of tattoo including Madame Vyvyn Lazonga, Pat Sinatra, Debbie Lenz and Juli Moon, who were all in attendance. For this show, the focus is largely on the next generation of women artists, largely from NYC but hailing from all over the country and around the world. Check their site for the list of talent. Here's more from the curators:
We can't help but notice the growing number of amazing women who choose to pursue the art of tattooing in its finest forms, as a job and as a lifestyle -- a craft that was only reserved to men until a few decades ago. A real revolution of the arts is happening! This is a chance to celebrate the female presence and spirit in tattooing, from the masters who paved the way to the established professionals who set the trends and to the talents of tomorrow. Enjoy, support and buy a piece of original art!For a preview of the art on display, see the Ladies, Ladies Facebook photo gallery.
Next Thursday's opening is sure to bring tons of people, especially as it's the night before the NYC Tattoo Convention and many tattooists are in town, so it's probably best to get there early. If you can't make it Thursday, the exhibit will be up for two months at Tattoo Culture.
Hope to see y'all there!
UPDATE: Just learned that Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand will be at the opening, showing a special historic tribute to the women tattooers of the past and onward. Another reason to head over there!
Art by Claudia DeSabe
Art by Miss Elvia
Art by Karin Schwaiger
I'm really excited for the opening of Tattoo Culture's anniversary group art show in Williamsburg this Friday, October 8th from 7-11PM. The tattoo studio/art gallery is our second home -- an attitude-free zone that welcomes top artists around the world to work alongside resident tattooer Gene Coffey. This week, France's Loic and Noon have arrived to create their abstract/art brut badassness.
Gene and Noon will be showing their fine art in this group show with Emma Griffiths, Bailey Hunter Robinson, Fade Kainer, Dan Marshall and Liorcifer, among others. There'll be beer, snacks, and as usual, really hot people in attendance.
Hope to see ya there!
This Friday, October 2nd from 7-10PM, join the Needles and Sins crew in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at Tattoo Culture's Fourth Anniversary Group Art Show opening.
On view, the fine art work of tattooists including the legendary Bugs, Dan Marshall, Liorcifer and Tim Kern, Dana Helmuth, David Sena, Emma Griffiths, Noon of France, and TC's resident artist Gene Coffey (whose oil painting is shown above), among other artists.
Many of you know most of our Needles and Sins events are held at Tattoo Culture because it's a large beautiful space close to subways and easy parking, but more important, it's an attitude free zone where people can enjoy the art work, chill, and party without pretension.
And yes, there will be free booze.
The show runs until November 13th. Hope to see y'all Friday.