Photograph by Dr. Gemma Angel, Courtesy of the Science Museum, London.
Top tattoo news from around the world included stories on preserving tattooed skin postmorten, more do-it-yourself tattoo machine madness, court battles over police tattoo bans, traditional tatau, and more. Here are the details:
In Vice's "Human Pelts: The Art of Preserving Tattooed Skin After Death," the article takes a look at those who have offered to have their tattoos preserved and displayed after their deaths. Most notably, Geoff Ostling, whose tattoos are largely done by artist eX de Medici, talks about how he chose to donate his taxidermied body as a work of art to be displayed at the National Museum of Australia museum (as well as all the gory details of skinning his tattoos once he's gone). There's also a great discussion with Dr. Gemma Angel, who shares her expertise on logistics of preserving skin, as well as the history -- and mystery -- behind the acquisitions at London's Wellcome Collection. Here's a taste:
As fascinating as it is, public exhibits of preserved tattooed skin are rare and controversial. That's in part because it's unclear whether many of these skins were acquired ethically. The preserved skins in the Wellcome Collection, for example, were all purchased from a single mysterious individual.I've linked a number of articles here on the blog about Gemma's work, including this one, "Collecting Tattoo Skin."
More buzz over Do-It-Yourself tattoos, this time over Jakub Pollag's art grad project Personal Tattoo Machine, which he claims "democratizes the tattoo industry, " adding, "It puts a tool used only by a limited group of people into the hands of enthusiasts, who are seeking an alternative and unique way to permanently mark their meaningful memories onto their skin." Of course, it also puts, in the hands of tattoo enthusiasts, skin infections, Hepatitis C, scars, and a permanent reminder of bad decision making. Also, if anyone can grab a tattoo kit on Amazon or eBay, what's the big difference here? Last January, I wrote on the Stick & Poke kits, also meant to "democratize" tattooing. Both are bad news.
In Chicago, cops have filed a lawsuit challenging the police department's tattoo ban, which requires officers cover up their tattoos that aren't covered by long-sleeve shirts and pants with skin-toned bandages. While I've written extensively on tattoo bans and employment discrimination, you may want to also check this National Law Review article that was published last week on regulating appearance in the workplace.
I was very happy to see my friend, master of Samoan tatau Pili Mo'o, in Mauitime.com, featuring his handtapped Polynesian tattooing, which he will be offering at Blue Hawaii July 1-15. As Mo'o notes in the article, he carries on the traditions of tatau, taught to him by master Sua Sulu'ape Paulo II, and honors the faith and trust his clients put into it.
Pili Mo'o handtapping tatau.
In other news ...
* Here's a piece on why many people are tattooing semicolons on their bodies.
* An article on "A day in the life of an all-female tattoo studio."
* Corneal tattooing -- as demonstrated at the NYC Tattoo Convention last month.
* Cross-stitch tattoos.
* And a sweet story on a "Tattoo Artist Turns Girl's Leg Braces Into A Pair Of Wicked Awesome Disney Villains."
Tattoo above by Gao Bin of Lion King Tattoo in Taiwan.
On Friday, the first day of the London Tattoo Convention, before I even finished setting up my book stand, I accosted a friend, who is getting a Filip Leu backpiece, and demanded that he drop his pants (for a look at the tattoo, of course). He immediately obliged. Soon after, others joined in and on display were derrieres decorated by Tin Tin & Xed Le Head. There are many reasons to attend tattoo conventions. Pants dropping is one.
What makes the London convention such a draw for the thousands -- who queued up in a line that snaked all around the Tobacco Dock -- was the roster of over 300 hundred artists, who represent the best in the world. Any type of tattoo art you can image was available. Hand tattooing occupied a central arena on the upper level, where artists like Pili Mo'o tapped traditional Samoan tatau, and tattoo viking Colin Dale of Denmark created Nordic inspired dotwork (among others). Colin even offered a few small Inuit stitch tattoos, which you can view here on his Facebook page.
Crowds formed around the booths of reality TV stars like Ami James and Tatu Baby, leaving room for serious collectors to watch artists like Japan's Shige (shown above) create masterful works on those lucky enough to get an appointment.
Aside from watching long-renowned legends of tattooing, I particularly love discovering artists whose work I wasn't familiar with (it's hard to keep track of the incredible talent out there today). Two artists in particular who blew my mind were Pietro Sedda, with his trippy surrealism, and Lore Morato, who does incredibly soulful neotraditional, like the work below done at the convention.
The main reason of all for my attendance at these shows is that I get to meet up with my beautiful freak friends from around the world and make new friends. I'm grateful to all of you who came to my booth and shared your stories (and took your clothes off for me). Despite being such a massive gathering, the London convention always feels like an intimate family reunion.
I brought my "Marisa Loves Me" temp tattoos, and throughout the weekend, I stamped all sorts of body parts with my tokens of affection. The greatest love, however, was shown when two wonderful friends and artists, Goldilox and Garcia Leonam, got the temps permanently tattooed on them after the convention by Lore Morato. And they were sober when they decided to do it! [See below.]
It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.
I posted a few of my usual bad phone camera pics on Flickr. You can also find some great images and mass media coverage of the London Tattoo Convention via the links below.
I'll soon be off to Belgium to get tattooed, but I do have posts lined up for y'all this week ... because I love you.
Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage
This past weekend, the "Biggest Tattoo Show on Earth" in Vegas' Mandalay Bay Convention Center housed some the world's best tattoo artists -- from Samoan master Sulu Ape Pili Mo'o to Japan's Horitoshi to today's tattoo prodigies like Mike Devries.
And while the list of those names make me tingle, the media didn't find it too sexy, so most of the coverage was on a shirtless Dave Navarro and other Hollywood homies in attendance.
Thankfully, I can get gossip from friends who attended. Here's what Chris Stauber said:
"I was really up in the air about what I expected from this convention. I think that was mainly due to how lame every other Vegas show has been. This one was OK. They tried and I think they get credit for pulling off the best convention we've locally attended. There was a little disorganization between the entry lines and the competition format and the whole space seemed a bit big for the show. Attendance seemed decent taking the crappy economy into account. I heard it was free to locals and I know there were all sorts of links for websites to sign up for free passes....I really enjoyed the international presence. Seeing the Horitoshi tattoo family and the booths of traditional tapping was amazing. The tattoo museum was fun and somewhat educational. Sylvester Stallone walked around with his body guards and was kind enough to take a picture with our good buddy Jared from Next Generation Machines. I smiled pretty for a lot of cameras."Chris took photos, which you can find here. Also check Soo Serious' Flicker for great shots.