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.
Illustrating just how artful and interesting a family tribute tattoo can be is this sleeve (in progress) by the wonderful Stefano Alcantara of Paul Booth's Last Rites Tattoo Theater.
The work is on native New Yorker Cesar who began the sleeve -- his very first tattoo -- with a reflection of himself being put together by demons (shown below) on the top portion of his arm. The work then moves down to his forearm with a portrait of his 6-year-old son (above), to be followed by another portrait of his other son. Cesar will also add a work commemorating his French bulldog that passed.
Looking forward to seeing how Stefano brings it all together.
Men's lifestyle magazine Complex put out this list of "50 Tattoo Artists you Need to Know," which is an interesting compilation that includes the usual big names, like Paul Booth, but also some exciting new comers. [I was glad to see my own artist Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo featured at No.11.]
The list was advised by tattoo historian and journalist Nick Schonberger who is also behind the wonderful Curatedmag.com and Selectism.com. There are a few mistakes, like misidentification in the photos of a couple artists, and I would have liked to see more biomech and organic work repped, but overall, I'd recommend checking it out and perhaps discovering new talent through the picks as I did.
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.
In working on my upcoming Black & Grey Tattoo book, I came across rockin realism in the form of tattoo artist portraits, including Paul Booth, Bob Tyrrell, Jack Rudy, Tim Kern (above), and other greats. And so I had to learn more about the man who pays tribute to these artists with his own skin. Here's the story of Broken from the UK:
Please tell me about your tattoos and who did them.
I have some horror-inspired tattoos from different artists in the 80s/early 90s. But, about 10 years ago, thanks to the internet and increased number of tattoo magazines, my passion for tattoos was re-awakened. Paul Booth and Bob Tyrrell were top of the list, although I never thought for one moment I would ever be tattooed by them. Then in 2005, London started with a new tattoo convention and the following year, I decided to take a chance and email Bob Tyrrell. I knew I wanted a portrait tattoo and horror movie stars were the obvious choice for me, but having seen so many, I wanted something more unique. Then it hit me. Tattoo artists! These guys were creating masterpieces and yet tattooing was still seen as something only criminals, bikers and the lower end of society would get.
So, as Paul Booth was top of my list, I asked Bob to do a portrait of him [shown right]. Ten minutes later, I got a reply and it was all set for the London Convention. It was also very important to me to have Bob tattoo the Paul Booth portrait because they are close friends. With all my portrait tattoos, I have the same philosophy. I think that a close bond with the subject they are tattooing makes for a more personal and unique tattoo. [Also at that convention I met Tim Kern and got a severed wrist tattoo.]
The following month I had decided on getting a tattoo sleeve of tattoo artist portraits. I met Bob in New York and he was more than happy with the artists I had in mind. So, over the next few years, I got portraits of Filip Leu, Jack Rudy and Robert Hernandez, from Bob. Before the Hernandez portrait, I needed to find a suitable artist to tattoo a portrait of Bob. The obvious choice was Robert Hernandez. He was very happy to do it and he ended up doing it at the London Convention 2008, with Bob watching.
Very interesting experience.
He told me he was honored to be part of my project. The following year at the convention, Bob tattooed the portrait of Robert on, with Robert watching. Again, it was a surreal experience, but that made it even more special.
[In between the portraits, another artist who I was desperate to get a tattoo from, was Milosch. His black and grey is amongst the best in the world. In 2008, I planned to set up an appointment with him in the Czech Republic. After emailing him, he told me was doing a convention in the UK and a guest spot at a studio beforehand. When I found out the studio was 20 minutes from my house, I knew it was fate. He created an amazing demon on my calf and we have become good friends.]
Tim Kern and Benjamin Moss [shown left] were next on my list, but I felt that these artists would be better suited to doing a self portrait. I had already met them both and they are extremely friendly and gracious people. When I asked them, they were more than happy to do it. I wanted them to do a more horror inspired portrait and they both came up with something amazing.
What has been the reaction by the tattooists to your requests?
When I asked Bob Tyrrell to do the Paul Booth portrait, he told me that he would get Paul to pose for the photo reference. I've met Paul a couple of times since and he is genuinely honored by it. In fact, all the portraits I've had done, have been specifically photographed for each one. I haven't met Jack Rudy yet, but Filip thought his was really cool when I showed him and all the others say it's an honor to be a part of it too.
Why tributes to tattooists?
I chose tattooists because, since getting back into tattoos about 10 years ago (after 10 years when I didn't get anything), I realized just how far tattooers had come as artists. Nowadays, so many tattooers also work in fine art. People like Paul Booth, Robert Hernandez, Jeff Gogue and Carlos Torres etc...could easily have a career as fine artists. Yet, many people still don't see tattooing as an art. So this is just my small way of showing my appreciation for such an under appreciated art form.
Your portraits are largely in black & grey--what do you love about this style?
Black and grey, to me, is a timeless medium. Just like b&g photographs, they have an aura about them that just says class. I also think there is more focus on the subject with b&g. With color, there is the option of moving with each color. Black and grey needs more self awareness.
See more of Broken's tattooist portraits here.
I haven't picked up a copy of Revolver Magazine in quite some time because, with a few exceptions, I find the state of modern/mainstream "heavy" music to be pretty despicable ("Dude, you're wearing eyeliner and skinny jeans; cut out the Bad Boy routine 'cause I ain't buying it"). But, I caught the scoop from the boys over at Metal Sucks that Revolver had released their first ever Tattoo Issue (March/April), so I ran out to a newsstand.
And then another one... and another one.
In fact, I've been to 8 NYC/Brooklyn magazine shops in the last 24 hours and have come up entirely empty handed.
Is it being kept off shelves because of Kerry King's skull (inked by Paul Booth) which has been
Quoth the Prince of Darkness on the matter:
You could make fun of me for making a temporary tattoo--or you could think about the fact that I'm getting to your children. And you know, I'm all about fucking up the heads of little children.
So, if you can find a copy in your town, you're a step ahead of me. Then again, I don't really care about what Tommy Lee and Chester Bennington have to say about their tattoos...
Read more about the issue on Revolver's blog or order your copy from their online store.
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.
Just posted photos on Flickr of the Flesh to Canvas opening Saturday at the Last Rites Gallery.
As usual, it was a packed show with the usual mix of goth chicks, artists with foreign accents who "only paint nude women" (ahem), tattooists and collectors. Paul Booth held court while his minions dutifully hung on his few words; many filled the seats of his theater adjacent to the gallery to watch his documentaries; the Art Fusion experiment, pictured above, also drew onlookers as artists engaged in live collaborative drawing.
Also in attendance, cheesecake tattoo king, Joe Capobianco -- who is consistently the nicest guy in the room everywhere he goes -- and had a piece in the group exhibit. We also bumped into Gene Coffey of Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn -- who is consistently the weirdest guy in the room -- and he told us of the paintings he's been working on for a future show at TC. [Gene and I were brainstorming ideas for a tattoo he'll do on me when I get back from vacation. I'll keep ya posted on that.]
The highlight of the opening, as always: Paul's lovely mother, who has such a saintly glow about her, it's hard to believe she birthed the Dark Prince of Tattoo.
See more photos of the show here.
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.
The tattoo news this week has no love for the hippies. Guns, gangstas, ghouls topped the headlines with some juicy body art bits so let's get right to it:
The biggest headline: Rihanna get's a new tattoo -- guns on each side of her rib cage by East Side Ink's Bang Bang. And it turns out it was the tattooist's idea:
"I'm a big advocate of guns. So I said, 'How about a gun?' I printed out a picture of a gun that I thought would look good, and she loved it. We were thinking of putting it on her finger next to her wrist, or on her shoulders. She loved that, but it took away from her face, and you know, she's a CoverGirl, so we couldn't do that! So we put it under her ribs and she loved it. It took about 15 minutes. She didn't complain while I did the tattoo."
C'mon, this has nothing to do with wanting to bust a cap in Chris Brown's ass? Bang Bang says the singer stayed quiet:
"We didn't talk about why she specifically got it. She's a rock. She's just thinking about having a great time now." [Thanks to Jenni for the links!]
In the best tattoo story written by a business mag: Forbes profiles Paul Booth. And it's not bad. I'm not a fan of "The King of Creepy" headline but the article itself was fairly devoid of the usual cliches, and discussed Booth's other projects including plans for a "dark arts" bed and breakfast, preferably at an old Victorian in the woods. Another cool aspect to the article -- albeit very Forbes-ish -- is the photo gallery of Paul's work, which lists the occupation of the wearer and how much he or she paid for the tattoo.
Ed Hardy is also featured in a article and podcast centering around his solo exhibition of his original paintings, prints and drawings at the Sylvia White Gallery in Ventura, CA. Hardy's famed "Dragon Scroll" is the show's centerpiece: a 500-foot-long scroll painting of 2000 dragons in honor of the millennium and Chinese Year of the Dragon. Interestingly, the article says Hardy "distanced himself" from the clothing brand that bears his name [good thing to stay quiet in light of the law suit] but did say "For me not to have to tattoo and to focus the majority of my time on my personal art -- that to me is like my golden retirement." And well deserved.
Going from the masters to the messes ...
The biggest tattoo "FAILS": The six pack fail and the spelling fail. [Thanks, Brayden.]
In fact, there were a number of spelling fails in the news this week, some with nasty consequences like this one: a Connecticut man pulled a gun on his tattoo artist who misspelled a tattoo then refused to fix it.
Meanwhile, another tattooist who misspelled the name of a couple's son is refusing to fix the mistake, claiming they signed a release. While the release may protect the studio legally, maybe it should take head of the previous story.
[I just wanna know why the tattooers aren't willing to fix their mistakes, guns and law suit threats aside. What happened to responsibility and just not being an asshole?]