What better gift can one give than of art and inspiration, especially when the source is a family who has given so much themselves to our tattoo community?
The Leu Family, for generations, has transformed the way we view tattooing, a craft that can be a fine art in itself. And in doing so they have excited a movement among tattooists to pursue mediums outside of skin.
In the recently published The Art of the Leu Family, the Leu's continue the tradition of enlivening the creative spirit by sharing their own art work in a beautiful 192-page volume, complete with 152 color and 38 black & white images. The book is authored by Aia Leu, daughter of Felix and Loretta Leu, and one of the many talented artists of the clan. Aia, who studied art in Vevey, Switzerland, lives and paints in Ireland and has been exhibiting her work since 1999. The foreword and preface are by Eva Suszkiewicz and Loretta Leu.
The book is now available for pre-order on the Seed Press site for 40 Euro (approx. $53 US), and it ships worldwide in January.
Here's more on The Art of the Leu Family from Seed Press:
With a unique approach, this colourful book illustrates the work of a creative family of artists from Switzerland, spanning the years 1953 to the present. Eva Aeppli the first wife of Jean Tinguely, was the artistic pioneer of the family. Her children are Felix Leu aka Don Feliz and Miriam Tinguely.
Ok, maybe it's the gift of ouchless-er tattoos, but numbing creams, gels, and sprays are a great present for those looking at some major time in the tattoo chair. Face & Body Professionals has a special bundle for only $85, which includes three of their most popular pre- and post-procedure anesthetics:
Prepcaine is a pre-procedure topical anesthetic.
You can also buy them individually here.
Holiday shopping is painful enough; order online at Face & Body Professionals for a quick and easy way to bring some comfort to those on your gift list, or even a present to yourself.
One of the greatest gifts you could get any tattoo fan is the re-release of Ed Hardy's historic TattooTime series. Here's more from Hardy Marks:
Hardy Marks Publications is excited to announce the re-release of all five issues of our historic Tattootime magazine in one boxed set. This year marks the 30th anniversary of our premier publishing effort, New Tribalism, the book that detonated the explosive growth of tattooing in the late twentieth century.
The set is excellently priced at $50 plus shipping. Order it online here.
It's that time of year when social obligations of the holiday variety outweigh one's attempt to maintain a basic grasp of sanity and reality. Fear not, however, gentle reader... I am here to help you get dressed for these events quickly and in style.
Snowflakes? Check. Inverted pentagram and crosses? Check. Goat skull in a Santa hat? Check. While they bill it as a "sweater" (it's actually just a sweatshirt), Century Media is offering this awesome, "Black Christmas" accoutrement for just $20.
Additionally, if you despise all the Christmas music that's undoubtedly being jammed into your ear-holes, might I recommend an album I recorded a few years ago with The Priestess and The Fool? It's totally free to download and we cover a handful of off-the-beaten-path holiday gems (plus, I love playing The Pogues at a country rhythm).
Click here to visit the site or click here to directly download the zip file.
So, as anticipated, "Black Friday" was gross.
Nevertheless, it hasn't put me off to gift giving, which I think can be fun and warm and fuzzy without crushing small children. A better alternative to the mall store melee is "Small Business Saturday," where shopping can be done to support your local business and independent sellers. My Small Business Saturday starts at Etsy, where awesome (and not so awesome) illustrators, crafters, and other badass people with glue guns offer creative wares you won't find at Walmart.
As in years past, I'm highlighting tattoo-themed holiday cards early on to give you enough time to order the greetings, write sweet nothings, and mail them (by post!). A couple were highlighted last year but are worth a re-order.
One of my consistent favorites is Sugar Beet Press's "Tattoo Lady Holiday Cards," with the words "Peace on Earth, Good Will To Men" illustrated within the backpiece (shown above). Each card is $3.50 and a ten pack is $22.50 plus shipping. They are A2 size (4 1/4" x 5 1/2"), printed on heavyweight watercolor paper, and are blank inside. Red envelopes are included.
You really can't get more adorable than the "Tattoo Carnival People Holiday Cards" by Crankbunny. You can purchase the set of ten "Miss Suzy" and "Sir Craig" cards for $20 plus shipping, or get 3-packs of each character for $12.50. The extra cool thing is that you can personalize the cards and choose what cut-out paper object each character holds -- a huge candy cane, a gift present, a dreidel, or gold star that is each detailed with festive glitter! Also check out Crankbunny's wonderful tattooed paper puppets.
In the UK, Vickilicious Designs is offering these "Tattooed Sugar Skull" cards for 2.60 GBP (approximately $4.15) plus shipping in the UK & internationally. The snow-flaked skull is "printed onto a silver mist card, pale blue/white dusted with silver finished with ice blue jewel." It's blank inside and comes with the envelope. Customized cards are also available.
If you're feeling crafty, get the "Tattoo It Yourself" cards by Canadian illustrator Andrew Kolb. Take the tattoo-free minx or gent, and draw your own greeting on their animated bods and inside on the blank banner. The cards are $18 Canadian dollars for a pack of five plus shipping in Canada and worldwide.
It's all much sweeter than a Facebook post.
We kick off our N+S Holiday Gift Guide with our friends at Sullen Clothing, who have been giving us free swag for you to win all year. Today, they have a special 40% off sale, where you can get serious deals on apparel designed by some of your favorite tattooists, including Jack Rudy, Nikko Hurtado, and Bob Tyrrell, among many others. Also check their tattoo travel bags and cases.
And remember, their contest to win a free tattoo from Bob Tyrrell is still on.
Cheap and free ... we like these offers.
It's "Black Friday" -- a day where people camp out at malls and beat each other for flat screen TVs and the last run of Elmo dolls.
I can't let you do that.
So, once again, we've put together our own gift guide where purchases can be made with just a click and will go to support indie artisans. Our advertisers also have special deals for N+S readers coming up as well. We kick it off today and will have a bunch of posts for you peppered throughout the weeks up until January 1st.
Along the lines of stellar art books by stellar tattoo artists in our gift guide today, I present "18 Angles of the Human Skull" by Kore Flatmo in Cincinnati, Ohio.
This second edition -- now in easy to carry book form -- takes the original content of the popular first version and adds even more value, including five pages of new drawings, sixteen paintings and a tattoo section. The book is not only a collection of exciting art but also is an excellent reference for those seeking to refine their memento mori tributes in their own work. If you're looking for a great way to tip your artists this holiday, "18 Angles of the Human Skull" will do the trick. You can purchase it for $100 on the Plurabella online store.
While you're there shopping, also check his fine art prints and apparel. Prints by Brenda Flatmo -- like this Nick Cave portrait -- are also available.
I've told many artists "Do a book." It's a rather selfish suggestion/command as I love turning pages filled with stimulating imagery, firing my neurons up and kicking my ass to create more. And practically, it's a way to view art that won't fit in my tiny Brooklyn apartment.
I wanted Chris Dingwell to do a book. Every time I see one of his works or live painting projects, I know I need to see it again. And I'm happy to say that I now can with his wonderful 150-page collection, "Inside Out," which can be purchased at TattooEducation.com.
"InsideOut" looks at Chris's body of work over the past eight years, featuring full views of the paintings as well as close-ups where you can see the movement of the brush strokes. A fantastic foreword by Johnny Thief opens up the book, giving the reader a better sense of just who Chris Dingwell is beyond his acrylics. Johnny also talks about Chris's tattoo work, which -- like his fine art -- defies categorization. An easy catch-all would be "painterly," but it is so much more than that. Johnny says, "If I had to try and label it, I would call it 'Kineticism'." [He wants 20% every time that term is used.]
Seems like the tattoo art books listed in our Holiday Gift Guide are a hit, so we have another great pick: "Life Under My Skin -- 40 portraits de tatoues" by Paris-based journalist Anna Mazas.
This 168-page paperback features beautiful portrait photography of 40 tattooed people from around the world as well as interviews with these collectors about their work. The text is in English and French -- a great way to brush up or pick up some language skills.
Akin to the "London Tattoos" book, what is particularly excellent about "Life Under My Skin" is -- not only the full credit given to some stellar tattooists whose work is featured -- but also the discussion of the relationship between these artists and clients. Anna's text reveals more than just choice of artists and art work, but also something intimate about the wearers.
The portraits are engaging, with 10 photographers bringing their own different perspectives to capturing tattoo culture. These photographers include: Chris Coppola, Julien Lachaussee, Thibault de Saint Chamas, Nicolas Menu, Christophe Klain, Brice Beillant, Aline Dery, Aude Grandveau, Rosario Sanz, and Aurelie Verdie.
You can purchase "Life Under My Skin" for 24.90 Euros here. For more images and info, also check the book's Facebook page.
Seductive, feminine, and most definitely rock-n-roll. Adha Zelma jewelry are true statement pieces that, like tattoos, command attention for unique and sexy adornment. And for this reason, we just had to include these Brooklyn artists, who have an international following, in our gift guide.
Creators (and best friends) Sheanan Bond and Cherise TrahanMiller hand-craft each line, which they say "centers on bringing elements of indigenous art and culture into our contemporary world." They approach each piece as sculpture for the body. Sheanan and Cherise say that they're inspired by "the organic shapes found in bone, shed antlers and shells -- along with the incredible colors and graphics seen in naturally molted feathers, the texture of skins such as stingray and the rawness of rough stones."
I'm particularly in love with one of the richly layered pieces I have from their Solstice Collection, with its mixed metals, gem stones and plumes. The line is described as evoking "the night sparkle of NYC and a little Mad Max." And I do feel likeTina Turner rockin it.
Hit up their online store for a full array of their collections and sale pieces.
Even sweeter, they're offering a special 20% off if you put in the code: Needles&Sins at checkout. The promotion ends 12/23/11.
Have a small child you one day hope will follow in your tattoo footsteps but aren't sure how to plant the seed when they're so young? Or are you itching to do a long-term sociological experiment with family members' kids to see if they'll get tattooed when they turn 18, or maybe even make a homemade rig from that old VCR up in the attic before they're even of age? The Matching Tattoo Memory Game from Seven Acre Toys might be just the thing to get started.
Seven Acre Toys was founded by Chris and Hannah Blackburn (married master woodworkers turned toy company entrepreneurs) with the goal of creating better wooden toys that promote creativity and imagination. The Tattoo Game features six classic tattoo images, all drawn up by Chris himself (who recently visited Brian Mullen at Art Freak Tattoo in Providence for a full sleeve of dogwood flowers).
Here's more on the Seven Acre philosophy from Chris:
I tend to disagree and am hoping Drunk, Loud, and Arrogant will be the name of any future toy endeavors. Even better, Seven Acre Toys uses only FSC certified hardwoods that promote responsible forestry practices. Now, you'll have a clear conscience when you're one-upping all those other parents and their crappy non-green, made in China toys when you see them at the Knitting Factory's Mommy 'n' Me classes, or whatever the hell goes on there in the mornings.
One of the most common questions tattooed people get on a regular basis is: "What does it mean?" There's an assumption that some momentous event must occur to inspire those who permanently mark themselves. For many, it is hard to understand tattoos as "art for art's sake."
With this in mind, I was pretty thrilled when I opened up Alex MacNaughton's new "London Tattoos" book, and read this in the very first portrait profile, which is of 43-year-old Alice Temple:
My tattoos don't mean anything to me other than I like being covered in tattoos. It's a purely visual thing. I like the look of almost anyone who is covered, and I knew I wanted the same. What I have on me is almost irrelevant. What is important is the artist who works on me.Alice's story is her lack of a story. It may not make for good reality TV but it's a great way to start a beautiful photography book where the subjects reflect on their tattoos and tattoo artists. Indeed, it is the props to the artists -- where the tattoos featured are specifically credited to each tattooist -- that makes London Tattoos more than just pretty pictures and personal musings. You may actually fall in love with a tattooist's work based on what you find in these pages. [Alice's primary work was done by Nikole Lowe, which she further explains.]
But I really do dig the pretty pictures and reflections of the collectors. In these reflections, there are some compelling narratives behind the tattoos, answering the "what does it mean" question for those unsatisfied with the "because I like it" response. One of my favorites is that of Professor Richard Sawdon Smith, head of the Art and Media Department at London South Bank University. [A part of his spread is shown below.] Here's an excerpt from his story:
My tattoo is a very personal project made public. It speaks of living with a long-term incurable illness that requires regular blood tests on a tri-monthly cycle for the last 16 years, making the visible the internal and highlighting this regular routine.
If you're not a big reader, the photographs are sure to hold your attention. The award-winning photographer -- who has authored three street art books -- offers intimate close-ups of the tattoo work that accompany the portraits. See more in this gallery. But Alex states that his goal is not to have a book simply showing tattoos: "I want to show how tattoos are a reflection of a person's character and lifestyle, how to live with them and how tattoos can enhance confidence and success in life." Right on!
Extra bonus: The foreword is written by our tattoo history guru, Dr. Matt Lodder, who also takes off his clothes in the latter portion of the book.
You can purchase the 304-page paperback from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com in the US.
BUT before you do, enter to win a free copy! The Prestel Publishing sent us a copy for one lucky reader. As usual, the winner will be selected randomly from those who comment on this post in our Needles & Sins Syndicate Group on Facebook or who Tweet at me. In one week, December 16, we'll put all the names of the commenters/tweeters into Randomized.com and the internet gods will offer up the chosen ones.
UPDATE: It seems the fabulous Dr. Lodder is offering a copy of his own to a reader in the UK. So when you comment in Facebook or on Twitter, let us know if you're in the UK.
The most perfect gift for tattoo artists, collectors, and anyone with a love of history and a good story is the Last of the Bowery Scab Merchants -- a two audio CD set filled with over 2 1/2 hours of tattoo tales by Walter Moskowitz, one of the legendary "Bowery Boys." More than something you put on your iPod or listen to in your car, it's truly a collectors item -- richly designed, with cover art by CIV, and a 24-page color booklet with old photos and essays written by Mike McCabe, Chuck Eldridge, and Brian Kates. I am also very honored to have contributed as well in the text and in audio.
Walter's son Doug offers a wonderful introduction and weaves his narration through Walter's stories, which were recorded prior to his passing in 2007. You'll hear about a great race-fixing horse caper, black eyes tattooed to look natural, life on the Bowery, and the Human Autograph, among so many other gems.
Read more in my initial post on the set in April. There are also some great reviews on Amazon, Book Mistress, and on the CDs' Facebook page.
For the holidays, Last of the Bowery Scab Merchants is being offered for only $19.99 on ScabMerchant.com. A must have!!
Today is Cyber Monday, a day in which the masses are encouraged to shop for online deals, largely during work, and dodge knockoff scams. Instead of leading you down the path of faux Fendi's, our Cyber Monday encourages secure purchases from independent artists and craftspeople with a tattoo twist.
I promised myself that I'd do some old fashioned letter writing this year and send out cards that will actually arrive before the holidays. So I spent (too much) time on Etsy and found these gems. Check 'em.
First up are the tattooed lady and man cut-out card packs (shown above) by artist Crankbunny, who also makes cool Victorian tattooed paper puppets. You can purchase a set of ten with either "Miss Suzy" or "Sir Craig" or get the set with 5 of each of them. As noted in the description: "Personalize each set too -- choosing what cut-out paper object each character holds. Choose between a huge candy cane, a gift present, a dreidel, or gold star that is each detailed with festive glitter!" Yeah, glitter! Each set is $20 plus shipping.
Next, I'm diggin' the handmade Tattooed Sugar Skull cards by Vickilicious Designs in the UK. The snowflaked skull is "printed onto a silver mist card, pale blue/white dusted with silver finished with ice blue jewel." Yeah jewels! It's blank inside and comes with the envelope. Customized cards are also available. Each one is 2.60 GBP (approximately $4.15) plus shipping in the UK & internationally.
I also love this "Pierced Blue Matryoshka" greeting above by Alexandra Winthrop, who offers this design & tattooed goddess giclee prints on her Etsy page. Yeah tattooed goddesses! The 5x7" "Pierced Blue Matryoska" card is "made using matte finish, 55lb, acid-free cardstock and archival pigment inks. It comes with its own envelope & will ship in an acid-free cellophane sleeve for added protection." Each one sells for $3.50 plus shipping.
Finally, my long time favorite, Sugar Beet Press's Tattoo Lady Holiday Card, with the words "Peace on Earth, Good Will To Men" illustrated within the backpiece. Yeah goodwill! They are A2 size (4 1/4" x 5 1/2"), printed on heavyweight watercolor paper, and are blank inside. Red envelopes are included. Each card is $3.50 and a ten pack is $22.50 plus shipping.
More Holiday Gift Guide goodness coming up later in the week! Yeah!
In the US, today is deemed "Black Friday": a day in which people pepper spray, stampede and shoot each other for discount prices. It is a dark day of consumerism with many advocating a "Buy Nothing" campaign. While my cash has stayed firmly in my wallet today, I do buy gifts for family and friends during the holiday season, and in recent years, I've sought out indie sellers and artists to fulfill the wish lists.
We'll be sharing ideas for holiday gifts every week to support small businesses and artisans. And all these goods -- including books, jewelry, apparel and art work -- can be purchased online. No need to camp out at Macy's department stores.
If you have ideas for our Gift Guide, feel free to hit me up at marisa at needlesandsins.com. We won't be able to post all, but we do appreciate any suggestions.
I'll now start off by being shameless:
Buy my books! [Please.]
These monsters from my own personal stash are available at reduced rates and are a generous gift to express your awesomeness to tattooers, collectors ... and hell, treat yourself. I'll even write a personal love note upon request. At the moment, Color Tattoo Art and the Black & Grey Tattoo box set are left in my author collection. I'm also making some individual volumes from the Black & Grey box set available if you don't want the whole set and carry case. Free shipping for those in the US. For non-US orders, contact me for shipping rates.
No more shamelessness in upcoming posts, just indie gift goodness.
We survived yet another holiday, rather unscathed albeit with lighter wallets. Sucked into the consumer industrial complex, we have fulfilled our shopping list for friends and family. Now it's time to treat ourselves. Our Holiday Gift Guide has been filled with goodness from largely indie designers and artisans, and for this last Guide posting, we want to give a shout out to these tradespeople who help keep Needles+Sins running.
An advertiser who has been getting a lot of media attention is MIR Russian Criminal Tattoo Apparel, not just for their sexy clothing but for the info they offer on all the tattoo designs featured on their shirts, dresses, jackets and accessories. Check out their newest ShtrafBat military line.
Offering an extensive selection of plugs and ear stretching jewelry at a low cost is Ear Gauges, run by a group of people who are a part of our community looking to promote safe and beautiful body adornment. [I'm wearing their organic spotted wood plugs right now.] Also check their forums on healing and aftercare.
And of course we love our trouble makers Father Panik Industries, who have been kicked out and banned from a number of indie markets for their blasphemy, particularly in the form of their brass knuckle rosaries. Their latest rosary piece is the hand-carved, sterling silver tattoo machine charm on semi-precious stones shown above.
So hit them up and show some self-love for making it through another Festivus.
The motto of tattoo journalist Travellin' Mick is "Wherever I lay my head is home," and over the years, "home" has often been remote villages where Mick has stayed with indigenous people documenting their culture and body modification practices. While he has written extensively about his experiences for many tattoo magazines, the images and essays have never been collected into one comprehensive volume. He's now setting out to do so.
The first step in his publishing projects is a calendar and traveling exhibit called "In Your Face: The Beauty of Traditional Tattooing." The engaging wall calendar can be ordered via Trust Bodymodification's online store for 20 Euros or by contacting Mick through his website. The US price is $30 and the UK's is 20 BP.
Mick recently showed "In Your Face" in Singapore, and his next exhibition will be at Melbourne's Rites of Passage Festival, January 28th to 30th. He plans to bring the series to cities across Europe throughout 2011.
Describing the motivation behind "In Your Face," Mick says:
Over the last ten years of traveling, I accumulated a vast archive of photographs of traditional tattoos on people from around the world. Even though they were originally taken for documentary purposes, over time I realized that many of the portraits I did have an undeniable aesthetic quality: They tell stories of those people, show their pride and beauty. Often they are the very last ones of their kind, maybe 100 years old, and in their faces and eyes you can clearly see the history of their people.
Here are just a couple of images from the calendar and the stories behind them:
"March: I was looking for traditional tattoos in Gujarat province of India near the Pakistan border. I came to an old weaver's house, who was maybe in his 50s. He said: 'Oh, I don't have any tattoos, but my grandmother has!' She was 96 when I took those photos, and she was very alert and funny."
"April is a crazy one: This boy is a refugee kid from Myanmar. There is a monastery on the Thailand side of the border, where those kids are taken in, given an education, learn how take responsibilities by training horses and practicing martial arts. They get marked by the head monk, with a bee, because it is a social animal, one that labours for the well-being of the whole society, not just himself."
I'm looking forward to seeing the next stage in this project, a large-format book filled with his photographs with detailed descriptions of the images along with travel stories, his personal philosophy, and more.
Here's another lit pick for our gift guide:
The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide, by Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor, is a beautiful compilation of literary tattoos, whether they be favorite lines from Shakespeare, Shel Silverstein illustrations, a Kafka portrait, or the truly hardcore--a full backpiece of Theodor Adorno's essay "For Marcel Proust."
The Word Made Flesh comprises 150 photos of these tattoo tributes accompanied a statement from the wearer about the work. Some offer a few paragraphs on the significance behind their tattoos while others just have a few words like the Brooklyn College professor with the Adorno backpiece who simply said: "I'm always shocked at how few people make themselves into a lifelong monument to their favorite prose or verse."
This book, however, proves that there's a significant group of people who do. And it seems most live in my Brooklyn backyard. [Our humble borough is home to many writers and has more "coffices" per capita than anywhere in the world (maybe), and considering it's also ground zero for NYC's top tattoo work, the connection seems natural to fill a book.] The authors are also Brooklyn residents. They explained in an interview with GalleyCat that the project was inspired by seeing literary tattoos on the streets and even on their roommates. Justin said, "We decided to see if this was a coincidence or an actual trend, and put a call for submissions up on HTMLGiant.com. Pictures started pouring in immediately and we were off to the races."
View more tattoo submissions on their site TattooLit.com.
Tattoo by Thor at Yonge Street Tattoos in Toronto
I was also happy to see Shelley Jackson's Skin project featured in the book. Skin is "a 2095-word story published exclusively in tattoos, one word at a time, on the skin of volunteers." Read more about it (and how you can participate) here.
My one big issue is that the tattoo artist credits are at the back of the book in list format, which is hard to follow. I think the artists who render the words on skin should have equal billing with the authors on the very page the work is shown. That said, I recommend it as an interesting (and affordable) softcover for tattoo word nerds on your holiday list. Amazon sells it for $10.19.
Eva's next project will be a collection of music tattoos. She's looking for song lyrics, band logos, record labels, musician portraits, and the like. Check this post for more info on that book and how to submit your own photos.
For more on literary tattoos, also hit the Contrariwise blog.
For my fellow toy collectors, gadget geeks & nerdists, behold Mimobot's tattooed flash drive, "Yakuza" designed by Scott Lee. While the new Star Wars series has everyone's light sabers in a bunch, this Horimono homeboy remains my fave functional toy and has accompanied me to many a convention to help collect and store tattoo photos from artists.
A capacity of 4GB will cost about $35. You can also get 8GB for $55 & 16GB for $80.
For more wonderful and weird flash drives, check Hongkiat's (oldie but goodie) Top 50 list. [I also own the Humping Dog thanks to Brian Grosz.]