My portrait above painted by Shawn Barber.
Painting above by David Allen.
At a time when media is hyper-focused on tattooists on TV or those with a billion Instagram followers, it was refreshing to find a piece focused on the fine art of tattoo artists: "9 Tattoo Artists Who Have Also Made a Career as Painters."
While it doesn't go too deep, the list features artists particularly renowned for their paintings: David Allen, Tim Lehi, Mike Davis, Carlos Torres, Adrian Dominic, and Shawn Barber, who honored me by painting my portrait (shown above). I also learned of the work of SupaKitch, and Vancouver-based artists Nomi Chi and Alison Woodward.
Of course, today, there are countless tattoo artists showing in galleries around the world, and this list could reach 900 rather than 9; however, noticeably absent were Paul Booth, Filip, & Titine Leu, who co-founded the Art Fusion Experiment in 2000 to encourage tattooers to create fine art spontaneously and collaboratively.
Nevertheless, the article is worth a look and more posts like this should be encouraged. It certainly beats those "Top Ten Infinity Symbol Tattoos" lists.
Painting above by Nomi Chi.
Making the social media rounds in tattoo circles is The Atlantic's "Highbrow Ink" article, which discusses the growing acceptance of tattoos in the fine-art world. Excusing the horrid opening with the cliche that tattoos are no longer a symbol of rebellion, the article raises some interesting issues about custom designs versus flash, tattoos versus the gallery business model -- and also how the fine art world just doesn't know what to do with tattooers, as noted by our friend Takahiro Kitamura, who is interviewed.
For me, the gem of the piece is the mention and link to the 1995 NY Times article "Tattoo Moves From Fringes To Fashion. But Is It Art?", which I've cited a number of times in my own writing. Here's what The Atlantic says of it:
The New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman argued in 1995 that tattoos were most interesting to the art world because of their "outsider status," even comparing them to "self-taught art, prison art, and art of the insane." But this shouldn't be seen as a knock against them. "If you look through art history, there's always an art form that's emerging that's not as accepted," says Lee Anne Hurt Chesterfeld, a curator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. One example is woodblock printing, a key influence in Japanese tattooing. "It wasn't exactly considered museum-worthy for a long period, and now every museum you walk into will have something related to woodblock printing," Chesterfeld says.What is not discussed is how tattooers themselves view their work. There are some very staunch traditionalists that say that tattooing is only a craft and not an art. Others ask how tattoos can be anything but an art. And I've heard others describe themselves as "skin mechanics." I say that tattoos can be all of the above and more so, depending on the work, relationship and context.
Whatever you call it, tattoos will always hold a fascination because of its very nature -- a work that can walk out of a gallery on its own and not belong to anyone but the one wearing it.
Particularly for those, like myself, with a passion for ornamental tattoos, the carved skulls of Portland-based artist Jason Borders are incredibly engaging, with their hypnotic patterns and beautiful lines. They're the ultimate in postmortem adornment.
Using a dremel, akin to using a tattoo machine, Jason approaches his work on bone through "personal subliminal exploration," adding in his artist statement, "my work reveals the blurred line between imagination and reality, animal and human, life and death."
A number of these works are available for sale at Paxton Gate in San Francisco and their online store, such as the Dremel Drill Bull Scapula for $275 or the Dremel Dril Horse Skull for $1,500, among others.
Also, check Jason's work in other mediums, which also offer a nod to tribal tattoo culture.
The iPad can be a fantastic tool for tattoo artists, from sketching ideas and creating tattoo designs, to using it as a slim and portable portfolio showcase. And the gadget itself can be customized to be more artful as well.
Offering more options than Apple's standard wallpapers is 2048px.com, a site that allows you to download higher resolution retina artwork by top designers for free. I was excited to see some of my favorite paintings there from tattooist Lea Vendetta, including "Big Kahuna" above and "La Clef De Mon Coeur."
While Lea is garnering attention lately for her Ink Masters performance and fashion spreads in magazines like Maxim and Inked, she's also a highly accomplished painter whose work weaves tattoo culture with Parisian underground imagery (among other subjects).
Check more of her paintings here and her tattoo work here.
Artwork by Timothy Hoyer
Over the years, when interviewing renowned tattooists about the greatest influences on their work, the name Eddy Deutsche is constantly being dropped. As part of the first crew of artists at Ed Hardy's legendary Tattoo City and later working with Horitaku of the Horitoshi family, Eddy developed a style that has inspired other artists to go beyond traditional tattoo tenets and experiment in their compositions and techniques, to meld various artistic influences and create unique works of tattoo art.
Eddy is a consummate innovator, and his latest project, featuring the fine art of tattooists, is another exciting example of this: Raking Light Projects is an online art gallery featuring fine arts and collectible prints created by stellar tattoo artists. With co-owner Andrew Fingerhut, Eddy invites a select group of artists to create a work of fine art based on their interpretation of a theme, along with several single-edition prints to showcase their individual artistic style and creative perspective. The work is then made available for viewing and purchase exclusively on RakingLightProjects.com.
The first theme is "Liberation," interpreted by Guy Aitchison, Jondix, Timothy Hoyer, Bert Krak, Carlos Rodriguez and Derrick Snodgrass. It's fascinating to see the vastly different approaches to the theme. Andrew offers more on this:
The overall collection successfully showcases the diverse perspective and the true depth of talent found among a select group of working tattooists. Some art proudly reflects the expressive, bold elements long associated with the best tattoo work. Other work reveals alternative facets of creativity that are as uniquely suited to paper and canvas composition as they are distinct from ink on skin. The tattoo commonality among participating artists can be celebrated, critiqued or ignored because the body of work stands strongly on its own.
Andrew also explained more about the process:
A variety of traditional and digital printmaking techniques were utilized to create the prints. Each participating artist created original artwork that served as source material for a single edition of 20 or 25 prints. Once the prints were produced, the original artwork was destroyed or cancelled to preserve the underlying value of the edition and to ensure that the prints are objectively considered limited edition works of art. All prints are signed, numbered and include an artist-verified Certificate of Authenticity. Each artist was closely involved in the printmaking production process and their time, attention to detail and effort is proudly reflected in the resulting artwork.
I can personally attest to the print quality, having a hand-signed mixed media print on canvas of Timothy Hoyer's "Void," which hangs near my desk as I write this. As noted on the Raking Light site, it is giclee on gallery-wrapped canvas with silk-screen overlay; printed on Lyve fine art canvas using Epson archival pigmented inks; coating applied and pulled by hand on silk-screen machine using Glamour II varnish. The result is a powerful piece that is worth much more than its $250 price.
To view all available works, check the Raking Light gallery.
Tim Lehi laser etched wood print (above).
Mixed media print by Jondix.
Dr. Lakra photo by Chad Batka for The New York Times
Yesterday, the New York Times profiled Dr. Lakra and his first solo show in NYC. The article is accompanied by a great photo gallery of his work. The exhibit is currently on view at The Drawing Center at 3 Wooster Street in Manhattan and runs until April 23rd.
The Mexico City tattooist, born Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez, got the name Dr. Lakra because he used to carry around his homemade tattoo machine in a doctor's bag, as the NY Times notes, and "lacra" is slang for a mark on skin and "scum of the earth." In 1993, he moved to Oakland, CA and soon met Ed Hardy who helped him evolve from scratcher to, well, an artist who's having his solo show profiled in the NY Times. Here's more from the article:
Mr. Hardy, impressed by Dr. Lakra's drawings, traded him professional tattoo equipment for a painting and took the younger artist under his wing. 'I couldn't do a proper apprenticeship because I was working,' Dr. Lakra said, referring to his job as a dishwasher. 'He let me be in the shop just watching. I became friends with all the other workers, and I got many, many tattoos.'Eventually, Dr. Lakra went back to Mexico City and got hooked up with the Kurimanzutto gallery, which encouraged him to do large scale work beyond his tattoo-styled drawings on vintage magazines and found objects. This show at The Drawing Center features large scale wall drawings as well as paintings he created during the 10-day installation of the show.
Check the article for more on Dr. Lakra, and the The Drawing Center's site for an online peak at the show.
Based on the flood of emails we've been getting over this exhibit, it seems London's art circles are amped over the upcoming Pens and Needles show at the London Miles Gallery, opening Friday, February 25th.
Pens and Needles will feature original paintings, stencils and photographs from over 20 highly respected tattoo artists, including Shawn Barber, Claudia Sabe, Nick Baxter, Nick Colella, Alex Binnie, Mike Davis, Xam, Daniel Albrigo, Holy Fox, Jeff Gogue, Shad, Jondix, Jee Sayalero, Lea Nahon, among many others.
More information on the show can be found here. I particularly like this part of the exhibit description:
Attitudes towards tattoo art and tattooed individuals continue to evolve for the better. Nowadays, it's getting harder and harder to draw a distinction between fine art and the best of modern tattooing. Doesn't this then make tattooed individuals the new cultural ambassadors of a truly new and distinctive 'modern art'?Just call me Cultural Ambassador Kakoulas!
The opening will also feature live music and live tattooing in their pop-up tattoo parlour. The party runs from from 7 to 11pm. And all are welcome to show off their own body of art.
I'm crazy excited about this upcoming exhibit opening December 10th at Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Ladies Ladies Art Show features the fine art of 50 women tattooists, from long-time veterans of the craft to rising stars. See the full artist list below.
It's an event where tattooed women are celebrated for their artistry and not how they fill a bikini. [So let's just see how many tattoo mags actually cover the show.] I'll be there with my signature out-of-focus photo skills and let you know how it goes down. The opening party runs from 7-10:30PM.
Here are a couple of paintings that will be on view. See more on their Facebook page.
Painting by Titine Leu.
Painting by Maria Sena
An exciting painter, tattoo artist and new dad, Chris Dingwell, recently rolled into Brooklyn on his way to a painting jam, and I managed to pin him down for brunch to chat about his work, tattoo law, convention gossip and convince him to be in my next tattoo book. [He didn't have much choice in the latter as he was in my hood, and I know people who could help me be very convincing.]
Chris works expertly in a variety of styles, and I particularly dig the work in which he takes his own unique painterly approach. Here's what he says of his portfolio:
"The simplest way that I can put it is to say that my work is about taking things apart--visually that is. Obviously, to me at least, my tattooing is very different from my painting for the simple reason that the tattoos I create are for other people; they are my client's ideas. It's simply my job to take their ideas, disassemble them, work out the most visually interesting parts, and re-assemble into a cool tattoo. Unlike other tattoo artists who become known for doing a signature type of tattooing, or a signature style--Traditional, Bio-Mech, Pin-up, what-have-you--I strive to apply myself to a wide range of ideas, images and styles. Every client is different, and every tattoo idea as well, so I try to work as broadly as possible. In the end, my work still looks like mine, but I hope it expresses as much of the client as well by the end of the process."
See more of Chris's artwork here.
I was going to entitle this "Me in Oil" but that would make me a tease on the RSS feed. With the naked bod and come-hither stare, I already look like a Suicide Girl den mother, but the beauty of portraiture is that the painter transforms the tattooed lady from minx to muse. I'll take it.
Juango Martinez Canovas of Spain is the artist behind my portrait, who has placed me in the beautiful company of tattooist Jo Harrison and painter Titine Leu. Also check his Memento Mori series, which showed at the Laboratorio d Arte Joven this past summer.
Beyond canvas, Juango has been creating art on skin for over 12 years. He's currently working at Other Side Tattoo in Murcia, Spain.
Tomorrow, October 17th -- for one night only -- at La.Venue, in Chelsea NYC, Harley-Davidson presents 10 of the most exciting poster artists and their takes on the spirit of rebellion.
The Art of Rebellion features original, one-of-a-kind pieces created on Iron 883 tanks, as well as signature posters from their collection. They're all available for purchase and a chunk of the proceeds go to the CUE Art Foundation.
Poster artists and painters include: The Pizz,Tara McPherson, Art Chantry, Brian Ewing, Dirty Donny, Frank Kozik, Lindsey Kuhn, John Van Hamersveld, Harpoon, Derek Hess. There will also be photography by Adam Wright and Steven Stone.
It's a free event with free booze and free music by DJ Ody Roc. A rebellious free-for-all from 8 til midnight. La.Venue is at 608 West 28th Street (Between 11th & 12th Ave).
Gonna try and make it if I'm not passed out from this crazy week. Hope to see ya there.
Tonight, at Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is the Fourth Annual Group Show featuring the fine art of tattooists. One of the artists is Amanda Wachob of Daredevil Tattoo. Her paintings have been shown across the US and in Canada to great acclaim, but I wanted to particularly talk to Amanda about her experimental tattoo work and how she's pushing the boundaries of what makes a tattoo fine art in itself. Here's how the conversation went...
I wanna get the dirt on the experimental tattoo projects you're working on now. Tell me about them.
I have so many ideas I can't sleep at night!
Ten people in symbiosis with their own painting. The design starts on the participant's body and travels onto the canvas behind them. I am not charging for the tattoo work, I am asking that people make a donation to the Henry Street Settlement. Henry Street is a non-profit organization that has been active in providing healthcare, housing, senior services, etc. for the Lower East Side community in Manhattan for over 100 years. They also recognize the importance of art and have many wonderful art-based programs and workshops....this is area where I am hoping to direct the money. When the project is completed, I'd like to have an exhibition showcasing all of the work.
What inspired it?
I'm trying to push an abstract tattoo to the next level. It's a big experiment and hopefully it will be visually successful! If not, at least a really great organization has been given some funds to help the community.
You bring fine art concepts to your tattoos but do you consider tattooing as a fine art itself?
I see it as a tool. In the same way that a paintbrush can be used to paint the exterior of a house, it can also be used to apply paint to a canvas. It depends on how you are using it, and who is doing the tattooing.
Let's talk about your conceptual art tattoos. Describe your bloodline tattoos, the process, the designs, the type of people who get them and why. Is there something symbolic or magic to them?
I am fascinated by symbols and ideograms, simple graphic images that contain multifarious meaning. The bloodlines are only magic in the sense that the idea is based on that of a sigil. A "seal," or sigil, is a visual thought form charged with a particular magical intent and magicians often employed these abstract glyphs in spells. Austin Osman Spare has been a big inspiration. He was an artist and a visionary who created the magical technique of sigilization, focusing your will on an symbol to manifest a change in the material world. Most of the people that have gotten the bloodlines are people close to me, people who fit with the symbol.
When is a tattoo not just a tattoo, that is, when is it more than art for art's sake?
Hahaha, sometimes I wonder why a tattoo can't just be a tattoo for Pete's sake! I don't think people have a problem explaining why they are getting tattooed and what their design means to them. If anything, people over-explain almost as if they have to justify the reason why they are altering their appearance. Why not get something just because you think it's beautiful, why not get tattooed just because you like the commitment of a permanent change?! To get something in and of itself, there is no pretension in this and no extraneous meaning.
You're abstract tattoos have gotten much attention recently. They are not just beautiful but also harmonize so well with the shape of the body. What's interesting is that not all are outlined like traditional tattoos. Some may argue that the old tenets of tattooing, like strong outlines, are the key to a work's longevity. How do you respond to that in the context of your tattoo work?
I think you said it best Marisa ~ old tenets.
You also do a lot of strong traditional tattooing. How do you approach each style?
Traditional in the sense that I also do a lot of work with a black line, but I have never really tattooed a lot of traditional American imagery. I love traditional tattoos: skulls, daggers, pinups, roses, they are classic images that have a rich history in American culture. But I also like to think beyond the repetition of those designs. And for each tattoo I try to accommodate the desires of my customer...I don't always put "my spin" on it....after all, the tattoo is not about me.
In the eleven years you've been tattooing, what have been the most important lessons you've learned, whether they be about the art or human nature?
Listen to the people you respect, watch the people who are skilled, and wear a thick skin.
Working at Daredevil, a very busy studio, you must get some strange tattoo requests. What has been the most memorable tattoo that you've done there?
A cupcake on a crotch with a cherry on top.
Have you ever tattooed one of your paintings on a client? Would you want to?
Sure, if the painting speaks to them I would gladly tattoo it. I have tattooed images from my paintings before, but skin is more limiting than canvas, you can only go so far with detail and color.
Let's talk more about your painting. What's the process like for you -- is it cathartic, heavy, serene or intense?
Sometimes it's tedious. I like immediate results, and the kind of oil painting that I do...layering and glazing, requires diligence. It's good practice for leveling out my impatient nature though. In the end painting is an emotional release for me.
I see themes of sexuality, gender and race. Do such themes inspire the work? Do you look to make a social statement in your art?
Yes, those themes occasionally inspire the work. I think it's important to address some of those issues because they veil our true nature -- we are all a small slice of a larger whole, at the core we are all coequal. We forget this and judge one another based on gender and race. Sometimes I like to be subversive, other times I just like to make something pretty.
I'm looking forward to seeing your work in the Tattoo Culture Art show. Do you have any other exhibits coming up?
I have a solo show at the Castellani Art Museum next year and have been focusing on making work for this.
For the last two questions, I'm gonna get intimate. First, what is your personal philosophy?
Cultivate a boundless heart!!!
Ok, now finish this sentence: A happy life for me is ...
100 mph on the highway, the final layer of varnish, and belly laughing over a big plate of bacon.
You can find Amanda at Daredevil Tattoo in Manhattan's Lower East Side four days a week by appointment: Wed., Thurs., Sat. and Sunday. She's always on the prowl for people who want to participate in her various tattoo projects. Her next one is called the Love Club, which will be in February for Valentine's Day. We'll have details on that soon.
Amanda and I will be at Tattoo Culture tonight between 7 and 10pm. 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.
I had a chance to talk to Miya Bailey at the Tattoos For a Cure Convention in Los Angeles back in April. Miya, with Tuki Carter, have built Atlanta's City of Ink Tattoo into a household name in the city, and garnered a well deserved rep beyond. Here's how the conversation went...
I've been tattooing since '93.
How did you start out, was it an organic process?
It started out, first, because of poverty. I was living in the projects. I had a baby. I was a father. I was really trying to make a way for my children.
So what I did, like anybody from the hood, I started to do it the home way, but I knew I couldn't get past hood money doing it that way. I knew I was a businessman by nature so I decided to follow the right path and get an apprenticeship, which was hard in the early '90's -- it was '93 so trying to find an apprenticeship took a long time. I researched a couple of shops and ended up West End Tattoo.
How did you choose that shop?
I wasn't choosing it. I went down the phone book in alphabetical order and was denied down to the W's.
Almost 3 years. From Julia [Alponsio, formerly of West End], I learned the aspects of sterilization, professional tattooing and also the business aspect. I believe that you can be a talented artist, but if you have no business sense, you're not really going to make it.
How did your experiences as an apprentice affect how you choose your apprentices now?
My apprenticeship was hard. For my shop, I like competition; everyone wants to feel that they are the best artist. The way to prove that you're the best artist is to outdo the next person. That's what I try to instill in my apprentices.
Tuki and I learned tattoo from bikers, old school bikers, so we had to learn the traditional way and learn the aspect of old school biker culture. The shop was run by the Outcasts Biker gang.
The owner of the shop was female property of the Outcasts Biker club; therefore, everyone in the club was our boss, her husband was our boss also. So we learned and worked a lot.
I assume these were white boys?
When I lived in Asheville, NC, I tattooed mostly white clientele. When I moved to Atlanta, which is a mostly black city, I tattooed all blacks. The actual truth is the Outcasts Biker Gang is a black biker gang. Atlanta is a chocolate city.
I didn't have much experience tattooing white skin until I started to develop my own style in the early 90s. A lot of people don't know this but I was into the Gothic style, you know, zombies and dark imagery.
This was the era of Paul Booth, and anything that Paul Booth was doing at the time, everyone followed.
Let's talk about your inspiration for painting as well. What came first: the tattooing or the painting?
I've been drawing all my life. I'm an illustrator first; I've been doing illustrations since I was a kid. The earliest drawing I have is from '79 -- it's recognizable, you can tell what it was even though I was young. I started painting in '97, and professionally tattooing in '94.
Is there any connection between your painting and your tattooing?
No, with tattooing I have to listen to someone else's ideas and be inspired by them. I have a lot of clients who say, "I just want you to do anything," but you can't really just do anything. I might be in the mood to do a bunny rabbit on somebody, you know, then they are like "I didn't have that in mind." So you have to see the personality -- it has to spark something in me; I have to be inspired by the client. They have to move me some way.
In painting, I'm not thinking about business. In tattooing, I'm thinking about mass appeal -- how other tattooists are going to react to the tattoo. I'm thinking of everyone else except myself. In painting, I'm only thinking about myself, not about sales, the message. I'm not worried about anything; it's just a free flowing of my life and my culture. The life I live, that's my paintings. I see painting as my vacation from tattooing.
I look at tattooing as more as more of a 50/50 of business and art. In painting, I take the business aspect out of it: it's raw pure art.
In Atlanta do you have a lot of contact with other artists? Is there a lot of collaboration.
The tattoo shops really don't collab because of the business aspects to it, but the artists know each other. The tattoo community in Atlanta is pretty close knit. We're cool with the shop that me and Tuki started in. We're cool with all of our apprentices. We paid our dues, we didn't burn any bridges, and we didn't step on anybody's toes. We created our own lane, so everybody gotta have to respect that, unless you're just a real hater. We are cool with all the artists that come to our art shows.
So you have art shows at the City of Ink?
It's an art gallery first and foremost. We do a new show every month. The next is the Corey Davis solo show.
We open up to anybody; we're the only art gallery in Atlanta that doesn't ask for a percentage of the sales. Our goal is to really start a movement where the artists can make money and stop undercutting other artists. My number one goal is to show that artists can be millionaires.
The more freedom you have, the better artwork you have. A lot of times, when an artist is not worried about paying that phone bill, that power bill, you can create what's real and what's raw. In Europe, they respond to artists; they pay artists to be artists. In America, the lack of art is really bad.
Quincy Jones said we don't have an ambassador of arts and music. I think we need one.
In Atlanta is there a black tattoo scene?
We are the black tattoo scene, period. We got another couple of artists, but they all started from one shop. The Atlanta tattoo culture started in West End [...] It's changing now, but in the early 90's, there were no other black shops in Atlanta.
Personally, I think it's totally opposite than tattooing white skin -- it's a completely opposite thing. It's like going to any beauty salon: a white woman would get a perm one way, a black woman will get a perm a different way. You can't use the same methods you would when your tattooing white skin.
If you're a tattoo artist and you master black skin, you can easily move over to white skin. But just because you're good on white skin, doesn't mean you can do just anything on black skin. It's surgery and art, 50/50.
Are there any colors you stay away from?
No, I don't believe in that color thing. You know how they say black skin is limited in colors, but no, it's all about how you slow down -- and who's training you. You know we learned through trial and error at City of Ink. Every artist, we master each color one at a time. The same way you apply yellow, you wouldn't apply purple; the way you apply greens, you won't apply reds. We learn each color in.
On white skin, you can work a lot of colors the same way. On black skin, if you're using yellow, you have to ease up a little bit. A lot of people think you have to drill it in, but if you soften up a little bit, you might have a better result.
So it's about tuning your machine as well?
Fine tune your machine and you're good to go. That's what it's about. Your tattoo machine and working the inks that you got. It's not all about the name brand of the ink and all this stuff. It's all about who's training you and how you take your time doing it.
Then it's a longer time to put the tattoo in, you can't rush through it?
You can't rush through it because it will show. It will show.
We talked about the art, now let's talk about the business of tattooing. Many tattoo artists aren't as organized as you are or have your managerial skills. Do you put a lot of thought into this?
I'm really big on leadership, and I'm really big on business. When me and Tuki were putting City of Ink together, my mind state was Barry Gordy, you know how Barry Gordy put Motown together. He groomed his artists, he showed them how to market, he showed them how to dress, he showed them everything.
Tuki is a fashion icon in Atlanta, and he started a whole culture of how people dress in Atlanta. So I thought that would be a good way to market our artists, with a little of Tuki's fashion sense to give an image to the shop. With that image, you can promote it.
With us its not just an [art] apprenticeship about tattoos, we teach all aspects of business. Number one: it's about business. Number 2: it's about appearances and how you carry yourself. A lot of people don't know that we all had dreadlocks, we were all wild. That image scared a lot of people off, so we decided to all cut our hair off. It was a business decision.
We changed the location. We changed the name of the shop [previously, Prophet Art]. People were scared of the word "prophet" so we changed it to City of Ink, based on the movie City of God.
You fine tuned your business model to the masses.
To promote it there is nothing wrong with that; to me, tattooing is commercial now anyway. I didn't want to make it so commercialized that other tattoo artists got mad at me but I wanted to do it before another shop did.
The number one thing is that you tattoo because you love it, but you still have to make money.
We are learning as we go; we haven't mastered everything yet, but we haven't reached a million dollars yet either. We want to inspire other people in other cities that you can be an artist and not be a "starving artist." We want to destroy that whole image of the starving artist. I think artists should make the same money as athletes. We use our minds and bodies. I just think we should make more money than football players and basketball players. That's just my opinion.
What is next for City of Ink?
Next is dropping this Hollyweerd album. It's Tuki and his group. It's a whole culture, it's a lifestyle, it's music, it's fashion, it's art, it's business -- it's all these aspects of being free, and freedom is our number one message.
Please forgive the blog silence the past couple of days but I was on the final text deadline for my book on blackwork tattooing. It's all in and now, my friends, it's time to party!
Here's where we'll be tomorrow night: the opening reception of the Flesh to Canvas group art show at the Last Rites Gallery, from 7-11PM.
The show is exclusively comprised of works by tattoo artists but -- you got it -- on canvas, not skin. And the line-up is very exciting with Filip Leu, Shawn Barber, Kim Saigh, Jeff Gogue and so many other incredible tattooists/painters.
This show will be an annual event and an integral part of Paul Booth's Last Rites Gallery. Looking forward to attending its first installation.
This Friday, tattoo studio/art gallery hybrid and my second home, Tattoo Culture, is hosting the opening reception for an exciting show featuring photographer -mar-, and street and fine artist Dan Witz (profiled in the above video).
-mar- will present works described in art speak that's best quoted rather than me attempting it:
As a result of her unique vision, her photographs- which juxtapose the human form with bold color, stark contrast and intriguing texture- defy simple definition. Interpreted literally, as a record of an external reality, her images often evoke strong, visceral reactions in the viewer. Upon further reflection, her work is an achingly beautiful, emotional expression of an inner reality.I love that sexy talk!
For art speak on Dan Witz, check out his feature in the March issue of Juxtapoz magazine. In this show, his fine art work will be on view -- oils and mixed media on canvas. If you can't make it to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, see his gallery work online here. May faves include MoshPit 2001 and Sapphire Lounge II 2008 (a perfect view of my old stompin ground).
The opening reception, March 20th, begins at 7PM until 10PM and is sponsored by Coney Island Lager (whose awesome logo is designed by TC resident artist Dave Wallin).
Hope to see ya there!