View from the Keystone Lodge, and Johnny of 13 Roses Tattoo, Atlanta.
My trip to the Paradise Tattoo Gathering began even before my bags were packed. The party kicked off in beautiful Keystone, Colorado last Thursday, and I followed along in real time on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Most posted their images with #paradisetattoogathering so it was easy to follow. Check them here.
The photos highlighted the tattoos being created on the convention floor but also what was going on behind the doors of the many seminars -- like 3D works from Chet Zar's sculpture workshop, and portraits in progress from those lucky enough to get into Shawn Barber's sold-out painting class. And naturally there were VIP party pix. Horns-high group photos in various Instagram filters.
I flew out of NYC Friday afternoon. With enough frequent flyer miles, I scored a roomy business class seat. Once settled in for the flight, the grey-haired grandfather sitting next to me smiled and said, "I love your sleeves." Turns out his kids have sleeves of their own. We spent a good portion of our flight making fun of the freaks: the tattoo-free suits getting drunk off the free booze soon after take-off. But I guess I was the freak to some. Heavy tattoo work is not as common outside of coach, and I found myself having to answer (again) the question: What band are you in? Because, ya know, hot towelettes are only for tattooed hands with record deals.
But within hours, I was amongst our people at the Keystone Lodge, with tattoo's rock stars like Bob Tyrrell, Nick Baxter, Durb Morrison, Nikko, Noon, Jeff Gogue, Damon Conklin ... the list goes on. Check the full artist line-up.
Jeremiah Barba tattoo on Mr. Scary.
Throat tattoo by Tim Pangburn on the wonderful tattoo journalist Mary D'Aloisio.
The big buzz Friday afternoon was Adrian Lee's "Bloodwork: Bodies" exhibit. It is a stunning collection of backpieces and bodysuits created by 53 tattooers around the world and documented in meticulous detail. Adrian gave a talk about the work with a slideshow presentation and also signed copies of his must-have book.
The evening closed with a Drink and Draw party, compliments of Graceland Tattoo. Considering how Keystone's high elevation [9,280 feet] was messing with us, I gave props to those who could manage more than a couple of drinks. Lack of oxygen makes for lower bar tabs. I did find myself surrounded by three tattooists taking full advantage of altitude inebriation, and they suckered me in to judging a napkin art contest. There were a lot of animated penis drawings -- all artfully done of course.
Ashley's neck and backpiece by James Kern. Fantastic cover-up work.
Saturday was another full day of tattooing and seminars. One seminar that I found particularly interesting was "The not so secret secrets of the tattoo world" by Kris Richter of Beyond the Ink. The seminar (free to all with admission passes) focused on how to choose the right work and artist, and while beneficial to even long-time collectors, it was really a great primer for those new to the art and especially those trying to navigate the whole convention scene. One of the most popular seminars that day was James Kern's Advanced Cover-Ups For Tattooists. Artists completely packed the room to learn from and get critiqued by the cover-up guru himself. My Copyright, Trademark, and Licensing Seminar with John Kastelic followed James's class, and while far from packed, I had a blast talking tattoo law with a fabulous group of artists. [I was also honored to be included on the tattoo business panel Sunday night.]
Sunday rounded out with the completion of some large-scale tattoo works going on that weekend -- with so many fantastic artists from around the world, attendees took full advantage of the opportunity. But whether local or international, all tattoo artists working there had a reputation for excellence. This curating of tattoo talent is a key component of Gabe Ripley's events. You can't get a bad tattoo at Paradise.
Another component is community -- that friendly, laid-back vibe throughout the show where you feel you are a part of something, kinda like the Island of Misfit Toys except on a mountain and the dolls all look like Tim Burton creations.
We all closed down the lounge of the Keystone Lodge that Sunday night/Monday morning. It was filled with hugs and hook-ups, booming laughs (including my own notorious cackle), and wholehearted promises to connect before the next show. It was a tattoo Shangri-la. Paradise, even.
Gabe's next event is the tattooer-only Paradise Artist Retreat in New Mexico, March 25-28.
Tara's sleeve by Vince Villalvazo.
Thigh tattoo by Gene Coffey.
Gene Coffey himself.
Painter, tattooist and artistic mentor to many, Shawn Barber, has a tattoo that reads "GSD" -- Get Shit Done. That he does. At his Memoir Tattoo studio in LA, which he co-owns with partner Kim Saigh, Shawn divides his time expanding his explosive tattoo portfolio, hosting art workshops, and painting portraits that largely document the tattoo world.
Shawn began his tattoo portrait series in 2004, coming to the art as a collector then tattooist himself. He already has published two books on this series, "Tattooed Portraits" (2006) and "Forever and Ever" (2008), and now has a third book and solo show of all new works coming up.
"Memoir: The Tattooed Portrait Series", a 256-page, 10x12 hardcover, will be released by Last Gasp in July. It features 110 full color paintings, 30 color photos and essays. The wonderful Margaret Cho wrote the foreword and introductions are by Kim Saigh, C.W. Eldridge and myself. I am honored to have contributed in a small way and also be a subject of one of his paintings -- being in the company of Don Ed Hardy, Bob Roberts, Grime, Paul Booth, Marcus Pacheco, Jack Rudy, Thomas Woodruff, Aaron Cain, Mike Giant, Adrian Lee, as well as Kim and Margaret, among many others.
In conjunction with the book is Shawn's second solo show at the Joshua Liner Gallery, located in New York City's Chelsea Arts district. The "Memoir: The Tattooed Portraits Series" exhibit opens June 28th through July 28th. The opening reception on June 28th is from 6-9 PM.
The gallery says of the show:
Memoir, the exhibition, will include over twenty oil-on-canvas paintings by Barber that have been reproduced in Memoir (the book) in rich, full-color plates. Many of these subjects are tattoo artists, such as the celebrated Shige of Yokohama, Japan. A stunning 9-x-6-foot triptych, Barber's Portrait of the artist Shige (2010-12) is a panorama with nine full-length views of the artist, rendered in the nude to reveal the splendor of his own corporeal canvas.Read more on the exhibit and see a preview of works here. Looking forward to the show and hope to see you there!
Portrait of the artist Shige, 9 views, Triptych, 2010-2012 (oil on canvas)
James Spencer Briggs at Work, (with Aaron Wahlman), 2011-2012 (oil on canvas)
Freddy Corbin's Temple, 2011-2012, (oil on canvas)
A three-day dark arts extravaganza at Paul Booth's Last Rites Tattoo Theatre and Gallery will take place from Friday throughout Sunday including art exhibitions, comedy, music, live painting, and the unveiling of the studio's "grand reincarnation." Here's the line-up:
* Friday, July 22nd, the Gallery will host the opening reception of Craig Larotonda's "Eternal Consequences" and Chet Zar's "Faces of Death." An interview with Chet and a preview of his work (including the image below) can be found at Arrested Motion. Doors open 7pm until 11pm. No cover.
* Saturday, July 23rd, Paul drops the black curtains and unveils the all new Tattoo Theatre area. It promises to be an experience that would make even Beelzebub blush. MC'd by MINIcHRIST, the evening will be filled with performances by one of my favorite comedians, Jamie Kilstein of Citizen Radio, and by Attila Csihar, vocalist from Mayhem, presenting his solo dark ambient project VOID OV VOICES. And of course attendees will be able to take in the art exhibits a second night. Doors open 7pm until "real late." There is a $10 cover charge after 10pm. [18 and over]
* Sunday, July 24th, there will be live painting by Last Rites' family of artists including Shawn Barber, Kim Saigh, Chet Zar, Genevive Zacconi, Angie Mason, Fred Harper, Billy Norrby, Matt Rota, Martin Wittfooth, Paul Booth, The ArtFusion Experiment & more. Doors open at 3pm until 11pm. No cover.
Details can be found on the Facebook event page. Last Rites Tattoo Theatre and Gallery is located at 511 West 33rd Street, 3rd Floor, (btwn 10th and 11th ave).
We'll be there for at least one of these fabulous events. Hope to see ya!
Based on the flood of emails we've been getting over this exhibit, it seems London's art circles are amped over the upcoming Pens and Needles show at the London Miles Gallery, opening Friday, February 25th.
Pens and Needles will feature original paintings, stencils and photographs from over 20 highly respected tattoo artists, including Shawn Barber, Claudia Sabe, Nick Baxter, Nick Colella, Alex Binnie, Mike Davis, Xam, Daniel Albrigo, Holy Fox, Jeff Gogue, Shad, Jondix, Jee Sayalero, Lea Nahon, among many others.
More information on the show can be found here. I particularly like this part of the exhibit description:
Attitudes towards tattoo art and tattooed individuals continue to evolve for the better. Nowadays, it's getting harder and harder to draw a distinction between fine art and the best of modern tattooing. Doesn't this then make tattooed individuals the new cultural ambassadors of a truly new and distinctive 'modern art'?Just call me Cultural Ambassador Kakoulas!
The opening will also feature live music and live tattooing in their pop-up tattoo parlour. The party runs from from 7 to 11pm. And all are welcome to show off their own body of art.
I was once told by a Maori artist, who wore and tattooed his ancestral Ta Moko designs, that you're not really tattooed unless you have a badass skull on you. [His was an 80s metal version.] Skull imagery hold a sort of power, a reminder of our mortality that can evoke fear or defiance (a la 80s metal skulls). Its artistic interpretations are vast, particularly in our tattoo community. Paying homage to memento mori is Cranial Visions: Exploring The Skull Through Artistic Interpretation.
This 240-page hardcover, released by Memento Publishing, is the brainchild (sorry) of Mike DeVries and Jeff Johnson and edited by the wonderful Jinxi Caddel. Here's what Jinxi says of the project:
Cranial Visions honors the skull through artistic interpretations and many different mediums, including: tattoos, paintings, sketches and drawings, mixed media, digital art, graffiti, photography, and "skullptures." Each chapter is dripping with inspirational images created by masters of their crafts. Over 800 diverse, bold, and creative images of skull-related artwork. An outstanding book for reference if you are a tattoo artist, as it features angles and ideas from all sorts of perspectives.You can purchase the book on Mike's online store for $69.99. I highly recommend it.
Cranial Visions: painting by Shawn Barber
Cranial Visions: tattoos by Daniel DiMattia
See more samples from the book on Jinxi's blog.
(but you can feel free to write your own...)
Painter, tattoo artist, and overall mensch Shawn Barber will be showing new paintings in his wonderful tattoo series at the Joshua Liner Gallery in Manhattan from April 24th to May 22nd.
Entitled Tattooed Portraits: Chronicle, the exhibit is Shawn's first solo show in NYC and comprises twenty paintings and eight works on paper.
I'm particularly excited about this exhibit because, well, I'm in it! [I'm particularly restraining myself from adding more exclamation marks.] In December, Shawn and Kim Saigh came over to our Brooklyn hood and photographed me in my naked tattooed glory for a portrait evoking the Hindu goddess Durga. Kim, a yogini, inspired the idea of representing Durga's ten arms with symbolic hand gestures (and wild curly hair) framing my backpiece. [See below] I loved the idea because Durga's a warrior badass with a sense of humor -- something I aspire to should I ever leave my computer. But enough about me ...
For more on the show and Shawn, check recent interviews in ChinaShop Mag and Arrested Motion. The Q&A in Arrested Motion is a great read covering everything from Shawn's first tattoo to his new studio with Kim, Memoir Tattoo, to the tattoo portraits series. Here's a taste:
My favorite painting has to be the James and Tim Kern piece, also a fave of ChinaShop Mag and highlighted in their article. ChinaShop also previews other works and offers a look into Shawn & Kim's Memoir Tattoo in LA. [For a closer look, check the Fecal Face videos.]
GritCity Inc. recently released a tattoo photo-book focusing on Philadelphia's tattoo culture: Tatted: A Documentation of Self Expression the Most Permanent Ways.
The Pure Gold Gallery, host to the book release party, exhibited images from the 160-page hardcover with this tag: "3 City Blocks, 1 Year, 1 Pad of Paper, and 1 Photographer."
That photographer is Philly's own Marianne Bernstein who hunted tattooed strangers along the three-block stretch of South Street for a year, asking if she could photograph them and their tattoos. She says that she approached about 100 people and only one refused. In addition to taking their portrait, she gave them her notebook and asked if they could write down what their tattoos mean to them.
The book opens up with an essay by Independence Seaport Museum curator Craig Bruns, who offers a history of the art in Philadelphia. He calls the city "the cradle of the American tattoo," noting that sailors brought tattooing to the "New World" when Philadelphia was the nation's largest port. Other essays include those by tattooists Guy Aitchison, Shawn Barber, Troy Timpel, and the old salt himself Philadelphia Eddie, among others.
Read more about the book's genesis in the Philadelphia Inquirer article, which also includes an extensive photo gallery from the release party and the book itself.
You can buy Tatted directly from GritCity for about $35.
PS: Ok, you know how much I hate the word "tatts" and any derivative thereof, but as Miguel keeps telling me, it's part of street culture and I need to chill. Considering the book is about street photography and tattoos, I will.
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.
Tattoo by Swastika Freakshop
After spending most of last week at my Ohm-tastic yoga retreat, I came back feelin goooood, and so I promise a zen like news review, free of blogger snark but full of tattoo goodness.
To prove my tantric love, I wont even mock Miami Heat's Michael Beasley's new "Super Cool Beas" tattoo (and ganja love), nor say things like the Kat Von D concealer for Sephora "looks like an amazing product. If you like eczema." I'm too full of peace and oneness for that even if it does prove what I said about my own trial of the concealer (noted here).
So let's get on with the love fest ...
Check this 7x7 interview with Shawn Barber, where the painter and tattooist discusses his own love of the craft:
"Tattooing gives so much more than it takes. It allows an individual to acknowledge life with permanent markers. Getting tattooed is a leap of faith that reminds you of that exact time and place for the rest of your life."
This past weekend, Shawn was one of the many great artists working the Tattoo Hollywood Convention in LA, reported on by Modblog here and here.
Other conventions covered this weekend were Rhode Island's Rock the Ink, and the Alberta tattoo convention, where Lucky Diamond Rich -- the world's most tattooed person shown below -- stole the show.
Only more beautifully freaky than Lucky is this news item: "A man with a tattoo of Britney Spears' name on his arm or neck allegedly stole a Chihuahua with pink earrings from a South Florida gay bar." I'll just leave it at that, thank you.
But please explain why people with distinguishing tattoos continue to commit crimes. [Indeed, a Hitler tattoo will be used in a hate-crime trial.]
In Russia, however, hate symbols like the Nazi swastika, can be ordered removed on offenders. I disagree, if only because I like to know what kinda haters I'm dealing with. Tattoos can be a great personal filter for people you meet in life.
[Tattoos will also give you away if you try to have sex with your twin's girlfriend.]
For those who want a fresh star, British Columbia's Gang Task force will remove affiliate tattoos, but only for gang intel. The comments are particularly interesting. [Thanks, Brayden!]
Thankfully, some bod mod over-achievers were celebrated in the news this week: pierced and tattooed Olympians.
And finally, the bonus quiz: Guess the celebrity tattoos.
That's it this week. Namaste, friends.
If there was a "Henry Lewis is My Homeboy" tee, I'd drape it over my D's with pride. The SF tattooist and painter is featured in this month's Juxtapoz magazine and it's a must read. In fact, the whole issue is cover-to-cover good this month.
Henry tattoos at Grime's Skull & Sword in the Mission District, and paints in a wild studio space he shares with Shawn Barber, also profiled in last month's Back Talk section of the mag.
Juxtapoz online also features other tattoo goodness; check the following:
The news is up next!
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.
Painting from Shawn Barber's Tattooed Portraits Series
Today I took a vow of poverty for the next few months to finish my two tattoo-related books and get this site running on an even buzz, but that doesn't mean I plan on sitting home with my ramen and tippin the box wine every night.
Plenty of events going on around the world and I got my faves for the month right here:
First up, in LA next Tuesday, March 17th, the infamous Mark Mahoney of the Shamrock Social Club presents his annual St. Patty's Bash at the Roxy Theater featuring The Pricks and tattooed man-whore Mickey Avalon ["For twenty you get Chachi but fourty gets you Fonzie..."]. You can buy your tickets online for $21.50 at Ticketmaster. Doors open at 8pm. Shamrock Tattoo is also doing $25 shamrock tattoos all day and night Tuesday.
Next up, in Tampa, Florida, March 21st, our beloved Shawn Barber will be showing his Tattooed Portraits series at the RedLetter1 tattoo studio and art gallery (home to mega-talented Phil Holt). The show includes recent works and selected pieces from the past three years. The opening is from 7-11PM and is free to all. Then the next day, Sunday, March 22nd, Shawn will be doing a demo in the gallery where seasoned painters, aspiring artists, and art groupies can witness and learn Shawn's creative process. Admission to the demo is $100. [For a great interview with the artist, check his Fecal Face Q&A.]
While you're in Tampa, head to the 10th Annual Tampa Bay Tattoo Fest the following weekend, March 26-29. What's particularly interesting about the show is their $5 Thursday event. From 6-11PM, you can check out artists' portfolios, talk with them about work you'd like, and hopefully make an appointment -- leaving plenty of time for actual tattooing Friday through Sunday. I think it's a great idea but keep in mind that top artists usually book their shows in advance, so it's often better to plan further ahead. Check the artist list here.
Finally, in NYC, I'm gonna see if I can schedule a sexy Saturday afternoon to
PS: If you're in Bridgeport, CT tonight, check out Brian Grosz playing at Two Boots at 9PM.