Photos above from the Montreal Tattoo Convention by David Wong.
Tattoo stories in the news this past week included a number of profiles on great artists as well as some interesting features on the intersection of tattoos and economics. Here's the run down:
So, all my social media feeds were blowing up with photos and dispatches from this weekend's Montreal Tattoo Convention. In fact, as I'm typing this, photos are still streaming from the after party. [These days, "after party" for me is a cheeseburger post Zumba class.] For a look into the success behind the show, the Montreal Gazette profiled power couple Pierre Chapelan and Valerie Emond, who fully took over the reigns this year in organizing the show on their own. [They had co-organized it with others for the past 11 years.] I particularly liked that they discussed Pierre's experience learning to tattoo from his father Michel, also a highly respected artist.
For some great shots from the Montreal convention, check David Wong's Flickr photostream, which include the images above of Mikel Tattoo Sangha and tattooing.
In addition to Pierre, another top artist making mainstream headlines is Pietro Sedda, featured in the Daily Star. Granted, his work is shown under the unfortunate headline, "Freaky faceless tattoos! Is this the world's weirdest ink?" but if that's what it takes to get people's attention to exciting and innovative work, well ... it could be worse. We posted on Pietro last October. You can find his latest work, including the tattoo below, on his site, Instagram, and Facebook.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find in The New Yorker a profile on Scott Campbell, tattooer/artist/designer and more recently wine maker. It's a quick read, but an interesting one. Here's a taste:
At sixteen, he got his first real tattoo (after a small starter skull): a huge purple scarab on his left shoulder. His beloved mother had recently died of cancer, and he'd run away from home to Houston, and "the cultural value of anything was how much it irritated my father"--an oil-company executive. "He'd never get a tattoo, so if I got a tattoo it was a promise to myself to never become like him." Texas yawned at his feet. "Now that I'm about the age he was then--well, if I had to deal with my wife dying, and having two kids to raise, I don't know if I could do it without crawling into the bottom of a bottle, either." (Charlie Campbell says that he quit drinking before his wife died.)Beyond artist profiles, The Economist wrote about tattoos and recidivism, that is, how visibly tattooed prisoners tend to find themselves back in jail. Kaitlyn Harger, a PhD student at West Virginia University, states that employers are less likely to hire those with facial/neck/hand and other visible tattoos, which can lead to recidivism. According to Harger, it can cost $30,000 a year to house one prisoner, and so she argues, "free removal for every prisoner would be sensible economics."
Finally, in our Needles & Sins Facebook group, Anna Felicity Friedman pointed to the SF Gate article on the safety risks of tattoo kits, particularly the "Stick & Poke kits," which I wrote about in January. The article also reminds readers that the FDA does not regulate tattoo inks (or these kits). It's my hope that, with all the great features on top tattooers in the news, people will skip the stick & pokes, and go for something safer and artful.
Tattoo above by Yann Black.
Tattoo above by Mel of Sin City studio.
Tattoo above by Anam of Kustom Kulture studio.
The MTL blogs' "Best Montreal Tattoo Artists" is an extensive list of top tattoo talent, which also shows the breadth of unique styles, expertly rendered in that one fabulous city. It seems that the MTL blog culled Instagram for their choices, and did a good job of doing so; although, as one commenter of the post noted, some of the choices of tattoos picked to represent the artists did not reflect their most dynamic work. Nevertheless, I highly recommend scrolling through the 47 picks, a number of which I've posted here.
Many of these artists, as well as renowned tattooers from around the world, will be working the Montreal Tattoo Convention coming up September 5-7. It's one of my favorite shows and I'm bummed that I can't be there this year, but I welcome pics and stories from the show from anyone who attends.
Tattoo above by Pierre Chapelan, owner of Studio TattooMania.
Tattoo above by Vero of Studio TattooMania.
Tattoo above by Simon Golygowski of POL Tattoo studio.
Influencing and inspiring the international tattoo community for generations, The Leu Family transformed tattooing, pushing it further into the realm of a fine art -- and they've done so with openness and kindness, spearheaded by their wonderful matriarch Loretta Leu aka Y Maria.
Our friend (and wine expert) Demetra Molina of The Hand of Fate Tattoo Parlor sat down with Loretta at the Montreal Art Tattoo Show in September and spoke about a myriad of topics, from Loretta's travels, early days tattooing, her adorable dog, and the freedom of getting older. Here's a taste from their talk:
Demetra: I asked about all of the travel she had done over the years with her husband Felix and their four children. Was that a difficult undertaking?
Loretta Leu: I had traveled a lot already in my life with my mother, I had traveled a lot with Felix before we ever got into tattooing. We didn't start until we were thirty-five, both of us. Tattooing was really a Godsend; it saved our asses, because we always lived an alternative lifestyle, with four kids, already. So, it was always difficult finding ways of surviving. We didn't want to go work in a shop, we found things to do, we made crafts, we went and lived in Spain, cheaper places, we would find ways of being able to carry on, the way we wanted to live with our kids...you know, without working for the man kind of thing...but it was always difficult. We got a bit of help from my mother sometimes, Felix's mom when things were really tough, so when through sheer coincidence this chance came into our life, it seemed the perfect thing, you know, because you are your own boss, you don't need to sell it in the sense that they come to you because they want a tattoo. You could be on a beach in Brazil with a little tattoo case, start talking to someone in a cafe, go back to your hotel room or whatever, settle on a price, and if they want a tattoo you tattoo. It is a very direct thing. We were both already artists, started that way originally, so it seemed perfect.
Read more here.
As Demetra Molina wrote in her guest blog on the Montreal Art Tattoo Convention, collaborative one-sitting backpiece projects were created each day by Filip Leu and Kurt Wiscombe on some very lucky -- and strong -- collectors. One such collector is tattoo artist Lee Conklin, whose backpiece is shown above.
I sent Lee some questions on what the experience was like, and here's what he said:
The design was left mostly up to Filip and Kurt, aside from the fact that I wanted it oversized, so the whole image goes beyond the space provided. My input was just that of the scale. The drawing took about two hours and the tattoo itself was about four and a half.I also asked Lee, rather morbidly, I know, if he would ever consider preserving his backpiece port-mortem, considering it is such a work of art. He replied, "I haven't thought much about whether I'd like to preserve the piece or not. Being a skull, it's somewhat of a reminder of our mortality and to just live life as it comes."
You can see more photos from Lee, and check his own tattoo portfolio, here on Facebook.
Tonight, at the Yves Laroche Art Gallery in Montreal, Shawn Barber and Turf One will present their unique style of portraiture in Life Size, a dual exhibit that will run until September 13th. The show is being presented in conjunction with the Montreal Tattoo Convention, which takes place at the gorgeous Gare Windsor. Always a fabulous convention.
The opening is from 6-9pm and both artists will be in attendance. Should be a fantastic exhibit, which pays homage to beautiful freaks.