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.
Tattoos by Justin Weatherholtz
Recently, on the SwallowsnDaggers blog, Justin Weatherholtz announced that he and co-founder Joe Johns are putting on the first annual Pagoda City Tattoo Fest (PCTF) in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. It's a planned East Coast extravaganza with a ton of talent and what Weatherholtz has already called a "no bullshit lineup." Slated for the second weekend in August, Weatherholtz already has top tattooers on board like Scott Sylvia, Steve Byrne, BJ Betts, Chad Koeplinger, and is showcasing talent from shops like Three Kings, Olde City and, of course, King's Avenue. We've got a few months until kick-off but we caught up with Justin to get a little more info.
You've stressed the East Coast a lot in getting the word out about PCTF. Is that a big deal for you?
It is, actually, I'm from Reading, and Wyomissing is basically the town right next door. Berks county is where I grew up, where my family and many friends still are, and it's where I served my tattoo apprenticeship under Joe Johns, who I'm organizing the show with.
So has this part of Pennsylvania had a convention before?
It has. When I was doing my apprenticeship under Joe at Wizard's World, there was a show put on every year but they stopped doing it a while ago. After I moved to New York to work at King's Ave., I'd come back for the convention and it always felt like a homecoming of sorts. Since then I'd always hoped it would return but it just never did. Joe approached me a few times about having one again but the time never seemed right.
Until now, yeah. I've always had a strong connection to home, like so many of us do, and I've always thought that Reading was a great centrally-located part of the northeast with New York, Philly, Jersey, DC, and Baltimore all being so close. It's a good size venue and the caliber of artists that are coming and the seminars we're putting on is definitely reason enough to attend. We've already got seminars lined up with Bob Tyrrell, Joe Capobianco, Jime Litwalk. You know, it's funny because I never set out to be a convention organizer... but [PCTF] came about because we just wanted to bring a show back to my hometown. That was my motivation.
The response has been great so far. What kind of feedback are you getting?
The feedback from tattooers has been really great. I've been hearing from tattooers that its refreshing to see that tattooers are putting on the show, not just promoters who are trying to take a bite out of tattooing's popularity and make a profit. The industry people who are involved seem really excited to be part of the show, too, and I feel like we can organize a show that will be a great weekend for all concerned -- the tattooers, the people attending the seminars, getting tattooed or just coming to hang out and be a part of it. Pagoda City is just about bringing a positive show to the area that caters to the artists and puts the focus on where it should be.
You've been at King's Avenue for the better part of a decade now. You've obviously evolved from Wizard's World but also evolved with King's Ave...
Serving my apprenticeship under Joe was great. I was fortunate enough to accompany him on a lot of convention trips, where I was exposed to so much in the tattoo world and met so many talented people just by being associated with Joe. So when I was looking to leave PA, it was based solely on the idea of being in a new town and new environment. Getting that call from Mike made the decision easy.
[Working at King's Avenue] has been such a game changer for me in so many ways. My tattooing and drawing has matured exponentially working around Mike, Grez, and the crew and the guest artists we have coming through. I've made friendships with so many solid people from the industry I otherwise might not have ever met. And I work among some of the most dignified, funny, and creative people on the planet that I have oceans of respect for.
If you want to learn how to handle yourself as a man, spend some time at Kings Avenue. Seeing the shop grow and being a part of something that you can actually feel the magic in, is pretty awesome. Especially since the Bowery location opened. Being a part of the energy of the city has been great for Kings Avenue and myself.
What do you find yourself tattooing these days? Traditional has become super popular but you seem pretty comfortable across the board.
One thing that I've always made a point of is not going too far in one direction. Versatility is a priority. If I see my schedule going too hard in one direction, I'll lean the other way and post different styles online or on Instagram just to change it up. I would hope that my drawing style is the one constant that comes through no matter what I'm tattooing... and that's what makes it mine.
Where is there left for tattooing to go?
It's like music. For example, take rock and roll. There will be genres and sub-genres and styles that grab the general public's attention for that moment in time. But a solid, well-drawn tattoo or well-written rock song always holds up. If there's sincerity in it, it comes through.
Travel plans coming up for folks not on the East Coast?
I've pumped the brakes a bit on traveling since we started organizing Pagoda City. After Pagoda City, I'll be attending the London convention in September.
And, of course, I just want to say a huge thank you to my business partner and the guy that brought me into tattooing, Joe Johns. Also a big thank you for all the support from tattooers that are a part of this, and to the many hands we have helping through this whole process. It's gonna be a great weekend!
More info available at www.pagodacitytattoofest.com. See more of Justin's tattoo work on the King's Ave site and Instagram.
Some of the most creative of expressions are those that reflect on love. Flash mob proposals. Bikers stopping traffic to get romantic. Having someone's name tattooed on your face. And naturally, many will say that you can never go wrong with diamonds.
Now, if you take tattoo art and diamonds...you have my attention.
David Cooper is heavily tattooed gemologist and designer at Jeff Cooper Designs -- a family business specializing in classic, handmade bridal jewelry. David teamed up with the renowned Mike Rubendall of Kings Avenue Tattoo (who's spent plenty of time with Brian), and together they created a beautiful collection that melds Mike's artistic eye with the jewelry designer's signature refinement.
The Heirloom Diamond Pendant, in gold and diamonds, is the first pendant design of their collaboration. To celebrate the launch of the collection, David is offering a Valentine's Day Giveaway. To enter, head to the Jeff Cooper Designs Facebook page, "Like" them, and fill out the contest entry form. The winner gets picked on February 14th.
There's a sweet backstory to this collaboration, which is noted on the Jeff Cooper blog. Here's a bit from it:
Anyone can network on the golf course, but our own David Cooper launched a new creative venture right from the tattoo chair.
Legendary NYC artist/tattooist Thom deVita (featured in a five-part series from Tattoo Age) will be a part of a major event at Kings Ave Tattoo NYC in conjunction with VICE all this weekend. There will be an art sale of Thom's work featuring books, art boxes and stencil-rubbings - plus, Thom himself will be there all weekend!
If that weren't enough, a crew of heavyweight artists will be tattooing on location all weekend. Scott Harrison will be there will be tattooing deVita-inspired tattoos on Saturday and Sunday and we'll witness the work process of Chris O'Donnell as well as the stellar King's Ave crew: Mike Rubendall, Grez, Brian Paul, Justin Weatherholtz, Jason Tyler Grace and Frankie Caraccioli (check out the whole Kings Ave team's portfolio here).
PLUS, should you want to get tattooed, some of the guys will be taking walk-ins all weekend and Grez will be taking walk-ins all day Sunday.
What: Thom deVita Pop Up Gallery with VICE's Tattoo Age
When: January 11th-13th
Where: King's Ave | 188 Bowery (at Spring St), NYC - 2nd floor
Time: 12-9pm daily Friday and Saturday, 1-7pm on Sunday
(Full Disclosure: Marisa and I will be there on Friday around 6pm should you want to stop in and say hello to two blogger-dorks)
"Tattourist" Jason Tyler Grace sold his possessions and set out to travel the world in early 2010, immersing himself in life-changing experiences, personally and professionally. He says in his first Tattoo Artist Magazine column: "I had no idea at all what a huge fucking impact this [traveling] would have on me and my work or what it would do for my outlook on tattooing, the craft, the industry and the community." In that column and subsequent writing on TAM, he shares his wild and wonderful adventures, and you can indeed see the impact of them in the tattoo works he posted along the way.
Now, JTG is settling down and making NYC his home. This month, he joined the stellar crew of Kings Avenue Tattoo and will be working at both locations -- two days a week in Massapeque, Long Island and three days a week on the Bowery in Manhattan. He says on his blog:
Jason employs vastly different visual imagery, so that you may find old school traditional work next to LA-styled black & gray next to graphic abstract art throughout his portfolio. Check his tattoos on Facebook as well as his blog and website.
To make an appointment, contact Kings Avenue Tattoo via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone [LI: 516-799-5464 and NYC: 212-431-5464].
Dedicating his life to Japanese tattooing and educating others on the art, Kazuaki "Horitomo" Kitamura -- resident artist at State of Grace in San Jose -- not only keeps the tebori hand tattoo traditions alive but also the rich history of the art and the meanings behind its iconic motifs.
In "Immovable: Fudo Myo-o Tattoo Design By Horitomo," he shares this knowledge in a beautifully illustrated 9" by 13" softcover art book. Fudo Myo-o (also known as Acala, which translates into "immovable") is one of the Five Wisdom Kings in Buddhism. His role is to fight ignorance and delusions, and lead people to self-discipline and peace. He is shown sitting on a pedestal, surrounded by flames (among other representative elements), but of course there are many artistic ways to embody this Esoteric Buddhist icon. In these pages, Horitomo presents various interpretations of Fudo Myo-o, often with information on that particular composition.
What I particularly enjoy about this book is how he breaks down the elements of many of his drawings; for example, he highlights the different manifestations of weapons, hairstyles and garments. He even devotes pages to close-ups of postures. It's an excellent study for artists, but also a great resource for anyone fascinated by Buddhist art and stories.
"Immovable" is available at State of Grace Publishing for $120 (US orders) and $150 (outside US).
If you'd like to learn about Fudo Myo-o drawing and design from Horitomo himself, he'll be giving a seminar with Horitaka on July 29th at 10am at the Kings Avenue NYC location (188 Bowery 2nd floor at the corner of Spring St). The cost of the seminar is $200 ($220 by PayPal). Space is limited. More info on the Kings Ave blog.
I also recommend checking out Horitomo's spectacular portfolio, which includes the tattoos shown below.
In the August issue of Inked Magazine, on newsstands now, I interview the tattooer's tattooer, Mike Rubendall of Kings Avenue. In our Q&A, we discuss the new Kings Ave on the legendary Bowery in NYC (also posted here), his grueling apprenticeship when he was 17, and what it's like tattooing a dead body. Here's a taste:
What is the tattoo that you've done that sticks out most in your memory?
Read more in the "Icon" section of Inked.
You can also follow Brian's own experience getting tattooed by Mike here on N+S.
Even though King's Ave NYC opened their doors to the public back on April 1st, it's now time for us to party!
On Thursday, May 12th, Mike Rubendall, Grez and the rest of the crew invite you to stop by the shop at 8pm for "drinks, friends and family" (and, at the very least, I can assure you firsthand that the shop is utterly gorgeous and well worth a visit). Barring a plague of locusts, I'll be there with our estemeed editrix in tow so come on out and say "hello."
What: Kings Ave NYC Grand Opening Party
When: Thursday, May 12th - 8pm
Where: 188 Bowery (at Spring St) - New York City
Why: Like you gotta ask...
[UPDATE: Over at Tattoosday, you can enter for the chance to win a Kings Ave T-shirt!]
[Logo by Ryan Begley]
As a loyal client of Mike Rubendall and an admirer of the superlative tattooing that occurs at his Massapequa, NY shop, Kings Avenue Tattoo, news like this comes as a blessing for all of us City-Rats: Kings Avenue will be opening a location in downtown Manhattan.
With his associate, Grez, Rubendall has decided to open a shop in New York City, "for the simple fact of wanting to be a part of the energy, life, and creativity that Manhattan possesses. We have always been tremendously motivated and inspired by the people and art in NYC, and felt it was time for Kings Ave to grow."
Personally, I look forward to seeing their new space (their Long Island location is a beautiful, relaxed and sanitary sight to behold), not to mention a much shorter train ride home as I'm wrapped in plastic and reeking of green soap.
Tattoo collectors and enthusiasts can look forward to work from Rubendall and Grez in addition to the very talented Matt Beckerich, Justin Weatherholtz, Brian Paul, Shaun Nel and Sarah Schor (see the Kings Ave Artists Page for their portfolios). Kings Ave NYC will also host gifted guest-artists, having previously opened their autoclave doors to the likes of Chris Nunez, Chris O'Donnell, Kat Von D, Henning Jorgenson, Juan Puente and Tim Hendricks.
Kings Ave NYC, located at 188 Bowery (at Spring St) will open this Friday, April 1st. The shop will be open from 12pm-9pm on Monday through Saturday and 12pm until 6pm on Sunday.
For more information please visit kingsavenuetattoo.com or friend them on facebook.
[Backpiece by Mike Rubendall]