The Dark Lord of Tattooing, Paul Booth, just broke his facial tattoo taboo and created his version of Moko in this demonic piece on a fellow tattooer. As noted on Paul's Instagram post, the tattoo is designed to change depending on the point of view.
Naturally, with a work like this, the tattoo has gone viral across social media, garnering hundreds of comments -- and within those comments are critiques on changing someone's appearance so drastically and the ethics in doing so. The discussion of tattoo ethics has been a hot topic lately, particularly driven by the "f*cking neck tattoo" debate, in which Dan Bythewood at NY Adorned refused to put a neck tattoo on a women who only had three little tattoos; the woman then whined about his refusal on the internet.
This is different.
I'm a fan of beautifully done facial tattoos on those who are seriously committed to tattoos and in a good place in their lives, and I feel that the decisions to tattoo people wanting this type of work is best done on a case-by-case basis. In this case, Paul felt that this client and this type of work made the right moment to break his taboo.
Here's how Paul explains it:
[T]o answer some questions I'm getting a lot of, I thought I would answer some here. Old School Tattoo shop Mythology dictates we don't do hands and faces. My reasons included not wanting to be responsible for... At THAT time... A truly regret filled bad decision. Society did not find tattooing even remotely acceptable. Of course, even today, a face tattoo severely limits you with career options. So it is generally unethical practice and therefore "taboo". However... While i have thought up heaps of sick ideas for faces over the years because after all, isn't what is taboo to you always quite alluring?! It was just my ethics wouldn't allow it. Now it's not that i have lost them by choosing to do a face... It's that i was finally approached by someone who not only met the requirements for me to keep my ethics intact but also was doing it for many of the same reasons i did it. It was a Ritual for both of us. He is a 30 year old tattoo artist who needed and was ready for the ultimate commitment to our craft. Do you have any concept of what it takes to literally go to your mentor and say tattoo whatever you want all over my face. It's about extending trust at a level most couldn't understand. He is tattooed to his knuckles and the reason his chest and shoulders are bare is because he has been saving them for me for years. He endured the suffering for 3.5 hours as he insisted on one sitting from the start. It's important to suffer... Especially if this is a Rite Of Passage for you. He barely squirmed. Seriously dedicated tattoo warrior right here and he deserves respect, not opinionated scorn. Besides... "Mr. Can't get a job " probably makes more money than you. He's a Tattoo Artist.Yup. He probably does. Kudos to them both for a beautiful tattoo and the discussion surrounding it.
It's Halloween, and so naturally, I had to fill this space with the dark and eerie ... and so naturally, this space belongs to the master of the dark arts, Paul Booth of Last Rites Tattoo Theater and Gallery.
Last month, Tattoo Artist Magazine posted a beautifully produced video interview with Paul (below), where you can get a glimpse inside Last Rites and hear Paul tell tales, with his signature dry humor.
Also check the latest exhibition of Last Rites Gallery, The 13th Hour, either online or in person, as the show runs until December 7th. More images posted to the Last Rites Gallery Facebook page.
You can also find Paul on Twitter & Instagram.
One of my favorite art magazines, Hi Fructose, has a great feature on Paul Booth with a focus on his Last Rites Gallery, the fine art companion to Paul's inimitable Last Rites Tattoo Theater. The feature includes images from the gallery and some works from its recent shows, offering a feel for what you'll often find on view. And in the Q&A, Paul discusses what led him to the fine art scene, what "dark art" means to him, and the link between tattoos and fine art. Here's a bit from that:Read more here.
How do you see the relationship between tattooing and fine art, Last Rites Gallery and Last Rites Tattoo Theatre?
It has come a long way, especially in the last 5 to 10 years. As tattoo art has grown in popularity, it has evolved towards a greater acceptance as an art form. It has been a personal battle for 25 years to open minds and tolerance in this regard, as the process is so different and sometimes intimidating for people. After all, it involves a human canvas that becomes more of a collaboration with the artist. Our aim is not to equate its worth as fine art per se, but to interest [people] in its artistic value. I've always made it my mission to engage and exhibit the best talent out there with the Last Rites Tattoo Theatre. The art of tattooing is a complex technique that requires certain expertise and strong ethics, as well as being an artist from the get-go. The mission of Last Rites is the convergence of these two art forms in one space to create a harmonized atmosphere of skill and aesthetic appreciation. This is not only be seen on a day-to-day basis through the exhibitions and open floor plan of the tattoo studio (allowing guests to experience the tattoo artists at work), but during our opening receptions as well. Every opening reception, we invite both tattoo artists and fine artists to collaboratively paint on stage during "Art Fusion," uniting their talents and creative vision for all to experience.
One of the great things about tattooist Stefano Alcantara -- aside from his most excellent portfolio and super friendly personality -- is that he is on the road a great deal so you may actually score an appointment near you!
He's been at Last Rites tattooing these days, where he was a full time member of Paul Booth's family, but you can check his tour page and FB fan page to see where he'll be next.
Stefano's fine art work will be part of the "Zombie" exhibit, curated by Travis Louie, at Last Rites Gallery, which opens May 25th and runs until June 26th.
Today is birthday (the 666th?) of the inimitable Paul Booth. For those new to the art, Paul has been tattooing his own brand of dark imagery, for almost 25 years, on faithful minions seeking beauty through demons, satanic sirens and an alien fetus or two.
He was crowned the "The new king of rock tattoos" by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2002 for his extensive work on metal bands including Slayer, Pantera, Slipknot, and Lamb of god. He's also the only tattoo artist to be accepted into the prestigious The National Arts Club. In fact, he has been a driving force behind fostering fine art endeavors among tattooists, particularly with the creation of "ArtFusion Experiment," which he co-founded with Filip and Titine Leu, to champion collaborative painting and drawing among tattoo artists worldwide.
Ten days ago, his Last Rites Tattoo Theater in NYC celebrated its 5-year anniversary with an art show featuring an exceptional roster of artists, including many tattooers. The show runs through May 18th. You can also view many of the works here.
In 2010, I interviewed Paul for Black & Grey Tattoo, in which his tattoo and fine art work are featured. Here's a taste of our Q&A:
You've been interviewed so many times by so many different people. Is there one overriding message that you really want to get across-about you personally-in any interview?
That's a big one to start with.
I'm sorry there's no foreplay here.
Foreplay is important... especially for women... or so I've read. [laughs]
Would you rather I begin with the usual, "How did you get your start in tattooing?"
Well, foreplay was involved there.
We can get back to that first question or hit it at the outset.
For me, it's always the misconceptions to address. I almost feel like a walking contradiction because there's a strong part of me that keeps a real I don't give a fuck attitude, I don't care what people think or say. But there's another side of me that gets frustrated with a human being's ability to believe without any validation. I'm amazed at the number of people in the world who follow rumor without any verification. They are perfectly fine with "Well, Joe Shmo told me that, so it's true."
What I have heard a lot of over the years is how negative my work is. People don't seem to understand that dark does not necessarily mean evil, baby eating, Satanism. [I always use "baby eating" because I keep hearing that one ever since I said it jokingly in an interview years ago!] And here's where the contradiction comes in: As I have gotten older, I'm trying to debunk misconceptions, but I kinda like having the misconceptions.
The general public tends to think that the people who come to me for work are a bunch of deviant, social misfits looking for shock value. But for my clients, underneath all the initial surface shock or negative tones, ultimately there's a positive. Not everyone is here looking for some kind of therapy. There are some like myself who just want to freak out the old ladies in the grocery store. [And when you're able to freak out old ladies in the grocery store, you realize how empowering it is... as silly as that analogy may sound!] But a lot of people leave here feeling empowered for many reasons and I don't know how that could be negative in the end.
I've also heard people say that Paul Booth clients are a bunch of dark, self-harmers. However, if you're making them more beautiful and feel good about themselves, that's not self-harm.
A lot of my clientele, I relate to them on levels that are surprisingly deep. It's because we come from backgrounds where there's a greater degree of feeling like outcasts I suspect.
When I was in high school I was a punk rocker, the only punk rocker in school in suburban New Jersey--only Mohawk in the whole place. I'm walking around with blue and red hair, angry (yeah, like that's changed) and my appearance became my filter. If you had the depth of character to get past my appearance and find out who I am, then you're worth my time. I have no time for two-dimensional people. Today, my work reflects that as well. I don't think my work is usually appreciated by two-dimensional people... and that's fine by me!
For more on Paul, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I'm a huge fan of tattoo artist Goethe Silva, and so I'm excited that he's back in NYC doing a guest spot at Paul Booth's Last Rites Theater from October 23-31st. [Goethe, Paul and the Last Rites crew are all in our Black & Grey Tattoo book.]
Mexican-born Goethe pays tribute to his pre-hispanic roots and its dieties, rituals and sacrifices with his signature tattoo style. His dark expressions make him a perfect fit for Last Rites...and Halloween! See more of his work here.
Also check this clip below from Marked, where Goethe explains the inspiration behind his work, and the story behind his own tattoos.
Goethe along with other artists from Black & Grey Tattoo will be partying at our book release soiree, October 23rd (from 7-10pm) at Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Would love for you to join us. More on the party coming soon.
Just saw that Paul Booth's Last Rites has added another excellent tattoo artist and painter to their ranks: Timothy Boor, who does exceptional realism, is the new golden child (sorry, couldn't resist) of the tattoo atelier, leaving Indiana for NYC. Read more about Timothy and his artistic influences on his Last Rites' page. He's currently taking appointments.
An appointment with horror maestro Paul Booth without an eternal waiting list? Yes, it's true. Not April Fools but for Creep-In Day!
Celebrate this first time event at Last Rites Tattoo Theatre, on Halloween, that's next Saturday, October 31st, from 12pm-12am at 511 W. 33rd Street, between 10th & 11th Aves, 3rd floor.
On that day, you may have the rare opportunity to be tattooed spontaneously without an appointment by Paul Booth himself and his cadre of top artists at Last Rites. It's all on a first come, first serve basis and follows standard convention protocol: a one-sitting freehand style work with an approx. 3 hour time limit on a piece. It's recommended that you give the artists your theme and trust them to run with it. It's also suggested that you get there earlier than noon if you are really serious about getting work. [Even if you're there early, if you're "overly aggressive, intoxicated or under the influence of drugs," you won't get tattooed.
There'll be enough artistic stimuli to get ya high anyway, with live painting sessions featuring Esao Andrews, Vincent Castiglia, Fred Harper, Dan Quintana, David Stoupakis, and Genevive Zacconi as well as ArtFusion Experiment collaborative painting performances by tattooists such as Paul Acker, Goethe, Juan Selgado, Jesse Smith, and more. In a new twist, an extra ArtFusion canvas will be open for the public to paint as well.
The Film Chapel will be rolling Paul's personal horror movie picks continuously, and of course, costumes are encouraged -- the event will be filmed for an upcoming Last Rites DVD, so look your evil best (although costumes are not mandatory).
Free food, drink, performances, art, and a Last Rites tattoo = a perfect Halloween.
I'm feeling the pressure of the recession, so to combat it, I'm immersing myself in art shows where my money troubs are pushed aside and I can dive into wild worlds of vastly different imaginations. And yes, it helps that the booze is free as well.
The wildest in NYC are often found at Last Rites Gallery, where this Saturday, August 1st, another sinister show opens entitled New Breed.
Working with the thread of mortality, dark sexuality, beauty and ugliness, the group exhibit features ten artists who have never shown before at the gallery: David R. Choquette, Shay Davis, Mickey M Edtinger, Paul Gerrard, Charlie Immer, Sara Antoinette Martin, Richard Meyer, Reuben Negron, Chris Peters, and Kurt Wiscombe.
In many, you'll also see the influence of tattoo imagery, for example, in the comic grotesque oil paintings of Richard Meyer, in the graphic acrylics of emerging artist Sara Antoinette Martin (see preview/in progress photos here), and in the lush, seductive drawings of renowned tattoo and fine artist Kurt Wiscombe of Winnepeg, Canada (whose tattoo work is a must view).
The opening begins at 7 and runs until 11. And again, the only price of admission -- considering the venue -- is your soul.
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.