Results tagged “Spider Webb”

07:25 AM
tattoo video.png If you didn't see it on our Needles & Sins Facebook group, Paul posted the "Invasion of the Flesh Eaters" video (embedded below), which has been on YouTube for a while, but it's the first time it crossed my radar and definitely worth a look.

Between Groucho Marx's "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" footage, the 8 1/2 minute video features scenes from the Third World Tattoo Convention in St. Louis in 1978 and interviews with collectors, such as Elizabeth Weinzirl and artists including Spider Webb. Spider, as usual, has some fantastic soundbites. At one point he says, "Anyone can tattoo somebody but, being an artist ... who's holding the crayon? [...] If you gave Picasso a tattoo machine, maybe people would think different."

A fun fact from the film:  In anticipation of that convention, the Minnesota governor declared January 20th "Tattoo Art Appreciation Day."

Paul also posted the video link for the film "Zebra Man" on the Great Omi. Also an interesting watch. Thanks, Paul!

09:04 AM
9-11 tattoo.jpg
On this 12th anniversary of September 11th, my thoughts are with friends who lost family, fellow firefighters, and friends. Many get tattooed to honor loved ones, mark moments that should not be forgotten. These 9/11 tattoos offer pause to reflect on the courageous and beautiful acts that took place that day in the face of tragedy and evil.

Photographer Vinnie Ammese, of Staten Island, NY began documenting 9/11 memorial tattoos in 2003, which you can find on his online portfolio here, including the photo shown above. Firefighter tattoo site Strike The Box also has an extensive gallery of 9/11 member-submitted tattoo tributes.

Spider Webb also obsessively drew 9/11 flash the months following the tragedy. He's quoted on his 9/11 gallery page as saying:  "I picked up a pencil because I didn't know what else to do. Between trying to help and cursing at the TV, I began drawing tattoo flash about this event and for this event. I was consciously thinking in terms of tattoos because I knew people would need them."
08:32 AM
amanda wachob.jpg
Tattoo above by Amanda Wachob.

My morning has gotten off to a great start thanks to BBC Radio 4's "A Mortal Work of Art" -- a wonderfully produced program that explores the intersection of the tattoo and fine art worlds. With the program 28 minutes long, I figured I'd just let in play on my laptop while I busied myself with other tasks; however, the really insightful discussion on the artistry of tattooing stopped me from doing anything else, so I just sat down and learned something.

What makes the program so compelling is that Mary Anne Hobbs, who hosted the piece, talks to the very people who have changed tattooing in the fine art context and who have shared very different ways of viewing tattoo art: 

The legendary Spider Webb brought tattooing into galleries, museums, and even Christie's auction house, particularly for his conceptual tattoo projects, which he still continues to innovate today. He also talks to the BBC about fighting NYC's tattoo ban (which wasn't overturned until 1997).

London's Alex Binnie, owner of the famed Into You Tattoo, shares his thoughts on tattooing's impact on pop culture -- an impact greater than any the fine art world has had. The program ends on a strong note with his assertions on why tattooing doesn't need validation from anyone other than those wearing it.

Amanda Wachob discusses what motivated her to experiment with nontraditional tattoo imagery, to offer something different to clients beyond the standard menu, which has made her one of the most sought-after tattooers in New York.

Of course, our good friend Dr. Matt Lodder, art historian, is brilliant when he discusses what tattooing can gain by being accepted as an art form; that is, real critique of what is good, bad, derivative, ethical, new ... rather than looking at tattoos as one homogenous thing. He's currently writing a book on tattooing in the UK from an art historian perspective, which will be an important contribution to our community.

Also in the BBC program are Shelley Jackson, renowned for her "Skin" project, where a story she has written is conveyed through words tattooed on people around the world; artist Sandra Ann Vita Minchin discusses how mortality & legacy inform her own use of tattooing in her performance art -- and how she plans to grow skin through her DNA and tattoo it as an extension of her body project; and Sion Smith, editor of Skin Deep, and Trent Aitken-Smith, editor of Tattoo Master, weigh in on tattoo culture today.

Again, this is a fantastic listen and worth the time. Check it here.
09:06 AM
spider webb tattoo.jpg
The latest issue of Inked magazine has one of the most favorite interviews I have ever done: a Q & A with the inimitable tattoo legend Spider Webb. I have interviewed Spider before, and every time, there's another fantastic story I have never heard before -- and I want our talks to go on for as long as he doesn't get bored with me, but then there's that limited magazine word count in which only the highlights get put into the article. With Spider, every word is a highlight.

So what I've done is taken an excerpt from the article and put it below. Following that, you can read more and get another crazy tale -- about grave robbing, porn star Annie Sprinkle and more -- which wasn't published.

Learn more about Spider at

spider webb tattoo 2.jpgFrom Inked magazine:

Spider Webb, born Joseph O'Sullivan, is considered one of the most important people in contemporary tattoo history. With more than 50 years in the industry, he has legitimized tattooing as an art form, helping to bring it into galleries, museums, and even Christie's auction house, where a tattoo by Spider Webb was deemed "priceless." He fought to legalize tattooing in New York City after it was banned in the '60s by tattooing on the steps of museums. He expanded what some viewed as the limitations of tattooing through his conceptual art pieces and tattoo performances. And he's done all this with humor, flair, and mischief. Spider Webb, who holds a master's degree in fine arts, continues to create art, tattoos, tattoo machines,and trouble at his tattoo museum in Charlotte, NC. You'll also find him at tattoo shows and galleries around the world.

You've been bringing tattoo art into fine art galleries since the '70s. You're particularly known for your conceptual art pieces. How did that get started?

How it all happened was a girl was interviewing me for a magazine, and she said, "Spider, what are the limitations of tattooing?" Being a big fucking know-it-all, I said that it's the size of the human body; that's the limitation. Then after I saw the interview in print, I thought, What kind of bullshit is this? What limitations? We have to get rid of limitations. So I thought to use a whole bunch of people in X 1000. I tattooed one X on 1,000 people, with a big X on the last person made up of 999 Xs to complete a conceptual piece. ... Then I started to do the Tattoo Vampire. It's a conceptual piece with just two simple dots on your neck. I've been doing that act for 30 years all over the world, from Studio 54 to the sewers of Paris, in Gracie Mansion, and in museums and galleries. It's a great show because there's sex, blood, kiss- ing, and you get to live forever. It's a very beautiful performance. Then I thought to myself that what would be real cool is if I become cupid and just tattoo one dot. So it's the same as the vampire act except I use an arrow and I make one dot for love, usually on a girl, but on men too-- and there'll be the fake blood and a breast exposed. That's what every- one wants, and I give it to them.

What other conceptual pieces have you done?

Do you remember Pulsating Paula? She was one of the photographers when they first started tattoo magazines. She's a biker girl. She's great. I tattooed her clitoris one time with a monkey tooth I pulled out of an alligator's skull. She was one of the first people I did the cupid tattoo on. Now I'm thinking to myself, What am I going to do next? I know what I'll do. I'll become the Invisible Man. And that's what I did. So I started to do the Unwanted Tattoo. I would be invisible. I wouldn't even be there. The first fucking thing I did was I took my doorbell apart, and I took out the black piece that you push to ring the bell, and I put in a piece of an ink an and a thumb tack. Then the mailman of all people rings my bell and he tattoos his thumb. I said, "Oh shit, that's fucking cool." Then I started to make other ones. I made the unwanted tattoo toilet seat. Then I did the greatest one of all: the gas pump. A guy tattoos his hand when he squeezes the thing. A lot of these things I had to rig up a video camera because I don't want to be there when the guy or girl freaks out. They think they can wash it off but they can't. There's a lot of humor in tattooing--people who don't want it, not wanting what I'm giving that day. Isn't that cool? [Laughs.] Children laugh about 2,000 times a day, and most adults laugh about 40 or 50. People are so afraid. I think tattoos take a little bit of fear away. Makes them a little stronger.

Read more from the article here. Keep reading for an unpublished Spider story.
04:33 AM
I'm still on vacation in Greece and have been yelled at repeatedly by the guys to stay offline, but this quickie Photoshop job by my friend Les (of Barany Artists) made me giggle -- highlighting the ridiculousness of the tattoo star face story and the worldwide media's fascination with it -- and I wanted to share it wih y'all.

Les played with a photo of the infamous tattoo artist/trouble maker Spider Webb using one of many wonderful shots by Efrain John Gonzalez [NSW], whose images from the NYC Tattoo Convention over the years can be found here.


Now I'll make you a promise: Unless there's a major legal breakthrough in this case, no more posts from me on this story ever again, and I'll be back to objectifying young tattooed men very soon. Ok, back to the pool!
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