Tin Tin gets ready to tattoo Filip Leu (above).
One of the world's best tattoo shows -- the London Tattoo Convention -- celebrated ten years running, September 26-28, with the world's best tattooists (over 350 of them!) working and partying through the weekend. I was at the very first London show and almost all of them since -- including last year's debaucherous gathering -- but as work kept me in NYC, I was relegated to enjoying the show via photos, status updates, and tweets in endless streams on social media.
My friend Ino Mei, founder/editor of the Greek publication Heartbeat Ink (which is in English & Greek), just posted truly fantastic coverage of the convention, with what seems like a billion photos in her London Tattoo Convention Review (including those posted here). [Ino interviewed me at last year's London convention, posted here.]
For this year's show, Ino captured everything from artists tattooing, the scene outside and inside the venue, close-ups of stunning tattoo work, and tons more. Wonderful to see all the smiles throughout the image gallery. Her video footage should be up soon, and I'll update this post with the link, but I couldn't wait to share all the London tattoo goodness!
Having a Greek father who once told me that tattoos would never be accepted in the motherland, it's with true pleasure (and a bit of "I told ya so") to see a tattoo publication rise to international popularity, which happens to come out of Greece.
HEARTBEATINK is an online tattoo magazine in English and Greek with excellent photography and videos, and thoughtful interviews with tattooists, musicians, and collectors. I'm honored to be among those collectors interviewed by the magazine's most excellent editor Ino Mei. Our Q &A was just posted today.
I first met Ino in person at the last NYC Tattoo Convention, where she beautifully captured the scene in her convention coverage for her mag. Then we got to hang at the London Tattoo Convention in September, for which she also took wonderful images and video. There, we found a moment to chat about a possible "tattoo gene," the comparisons between tattooing & plastic surgery, tattoo law, and what happened when my dad did find out I was heavily tattooed (and more). It was a fun talk. Here's a bit from it:
How did you get into tattoos?
Me: Ed Hardy once told me in an interview that he believes that there could be a "tattoo gene." It made a lot of sense to me because, when you ask somebody who has a visceral response to tattooing -- who sees tattooing and has an actual physical reaction and is attracted to it -- that is something that's ingrained; people can think back and say, "Well, I've always felt that way". I remember when I was very young, looking at my mother's National Geographic magazines and coming across tattooed tribal women, and I was instantly thinking that this is really beautiful, mysterious and bad-ass. Of course, this is an ideal way of looking at it. really, if I would be honest with myself, it is because I liked tattooed boys when I was teenager (laughs).
HEARTBEATINK: Where you then tattooed when you were a teenager?
I was a nerdy teenager, did good in school, and my parents were very conservative. I didn't run around a lot. So when I found myself at tattoo shops at a young age, it held a kind of magic for me. Keep in mind that getting a tattoo was illegal back then, until 1997, in New York, so it was more secretive. You had to know where to go and ring the right buzzer. It was like a clandestine operation. However, when you were "inside", it wasn't what you'd expect, like a biker shop. At least in my experience, when I was first exposed to it, I was seeing really beautiful custom tattooing. There were art books rather than trendy flash for inspiration. I respected it so much that I felt I really wanted to wait until a had the right idea and do it at the right time. So, I didn't get tattooed until I was in my early twenties. Actually, I got my first tattoo during the early weeks of law school. I felt I didn't fit it, and was afraid that I'd become something that I wasn't. I love the study of law, but I've never been super competitive and I've never felt that I had to be above somebody else to be better. It was really at that time that I started thinking about art and tattooing a lot in terms of individuation.
HEARTBEATINK: That sounds very mature...
I was a very mature kid (laughs). Now, I'm regressing. I'm like a thirteen-year-old boy (laughs). Back then, I was like a forty year old women (laughs).
Read more here.
HEARTBEATINK also posted some photos from my latest book, Black Tattoo Art 2. Tons of tattoo goodness!
My friends at the Greek tattoo magazine Heartbeat Ink have a fantastic in-depth Q&A with Mike The Athens, in English and in Greek. Tattooing for 24 years, Mike The Athens is not only one of Greece's preeminent tattooers, but has garnered international acclaim for his work, which is largely inspired by Tibetan and Himalayan Art, Sak Yant, and mantras, but also moving towards Japanese-influenced tattooing.
Today, Mike The Athens splits his time between Athens, Greece, and Goa, India. In the Heartbeat Ink interview, he explains what living and tattooing on two continents is like, how tattooers must have a conscience, and even the fun way he got his name. Here's a taste:
Where are you now in 2013?Read more, and view some wonderful photos, here. Also check Mike The Athens' site and blog.
Mike is also one of the featured artists in Black Tattoo Art 2, which is currently available for pre-order.