While it's not even out on newsstands yet, the "Skin Deep" cover by Barry Blitt for next week's The New Yorker magazine is getting tons of buzz. The image is a play on Norman Rockwell's classic painting, The Tattoo Artist (1944). The traditional sailor flash background is replaced with tongue-in-cheek critiques of Mitt Romney; for example, the pin-up is styled as a "Binder of Babes," and the classic schooner tattoo reads "Cayman or Bust." And of course, Blitt has fun by taking the crossed-out names of the sailor's old girlfriends and changing them to political positions. [If this was a Bill Clinton satire, I'm sure the girls' names would've stayed.]
For some history on the original painting, check the Tattoo Archive's page on Norman Rockwell, which offers insight into the work, including the following info:
Rockwell worked from various photographs while painting The Tattooist, which was used as The Post cover on the March 4, 1944 issue. In fact, Rockwell used photographs as an aid in doing most of his paintings. For The Tattooist, Rockwell borrowed a tattoo machine from the Bowery tattooist Al Neville. Tattoo shop signs seen here is from the Rockwell collection. Rockwell obviously consulted with Al Neville along with former sailors to insure accuracy in his painting of The Tattooist.The Selvedge Yard also has a great post on the painting, with photos like the one below.
Photo of Miya Bailey by Nick Burchell.Read more of our interview in Inked.
Atlanta-based tattooist and painter, Miya Bailey of City of Ink, is no stranger to this blog. Last month, we posted on the screening and DVD of Color Outside the Lines, the first documentary to explore the experiences of professional black tattoo artists in America -- a film I highly recommend. And back in 2009, Miguel Collins interviewed Miya about his art and career, and also techniques special to tattooing black skin.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Miya myself a couple of months ago for Inked magazine, and that Q&A is featured in the August issue, on newsstands now and available as a digital download. Let's just pretend that "television personality" JWow-whatever from the Jersey Shore is not on the cover (classing up the image of tattooed women, of course) and focus on our talk, which touched on how art got Miya out of the projects, how he developed his tattoo craft, racism in the tattoo community, and what Color Outside the Lines is about.
Here's a taste:
In the film, you also say that you were really attracted to tattooing artistically and even took a needle and thread and starting poking your own skin at a young age. What was the main attraction?
For more on Miya, check him on Blogspot, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Patrick Moore on the beautifully produced Dan Smith, which follows the tattooist and musician as he draws, tattoos, and drives without a license through Hollywood.
In the film, the English born, New Zealand-bred artist muses on music, his first tattoo at 16 years old, and coming to the craft himself, where he learned the importance of history, respect and hard work. Many know Dan from LA Ink, and he discusses his experience on the show and what it was like to do what he loved and hand it over for someone to cut and paste it all to make the series a success; however, he's positive about how the show reached such a wide audience and showcased strong tattoo work.
Dan's Straight Edge lifestyle is also credited with his success. He paid tribute to it by creating a gorgeous hardcover, "With the Light of Truth," featuring the tattoos, art, and profiles of 60 Straight Edge tattoo artists from around the world. [We wrote about the book last November.]
While the video films Dan working on one particular work, you can see more of his tattoos on his site and blog. And to hear his music, head to Thedearanddeparted.com.
Also check Patrick Moore's fabulous photography, with many portraits of the tattooed.
I've told many artists "Do a book." It's a rather selfish suggestion/command as I love turning pages filled with stimulating imagery, firing my neurons up and kicking my ass to create more. And practically, it's a way to view art that won't fit in my tiny Brooklyn apartment.
I wanted Chris Dingwell to do a book. Every time I see one of his works or live painting projects, I know I need to see it again. And I'm happy to say that I now can with his wonderful 150-page collection, "Inside Out," which can be purchased at TattooEducation.com.
"InsideOut" looks at Chris's body of work over the past eight years, featuring full views of the paintings as well as close-ups where you can see the movement of the brush strokes. A fantastic foreword by Johnny Thief opens up the book, giving the reader a better sense of just who Chris Dingwell is beyond his acrylics. Johnny also talks about Chris's tattoo work, which -- like his fine art -- defies categorization. An easy catch-all would be "painterly," but it is so much more than that. Johnny says, "If I had to try and label it, I would call it 'Kineticism'." [He wants 20% every time that term is used.]
As all good things must come to an end, Vice TV's Tattoo Age has posted its final video of its stellar series, which offers a truly real look into the lives of renowned tattooists. And as we expected, Part 3 of the Freddy Corbin profile keeps to its high standards.
This raw and intimate episode begins with personal footage of a 24-yr-old Freddy jumping out of an airplane with friends, who happen to be tattoo greats themselves: Eddy Deutsche, Guy Aitchison and Igor Mortis. The video then jumps to Freddy today reminiscing on those early years in his career. When he's telling stories about working at Ed Hardy's Realistic Tattoo then Tattoo City, there's wonderful film from that time (in the early to mid 90s) woven through the narrative. He reveals that the pressure of performing at these exceptional studios was a factor in his "shit storm" of drug use. The accessibility of drugs when he lived in the Red Light District of Amsterdam didn't help either. Being "strung out," he was fired from Tattoo City and rumors swirled through the tattoo community as to Freddy's future.
But he did get his life together, crediting his close friend Vinny and his wife Lisa. Indeed, his family life is a big part of his profile and there's gorgeous film of them playing with their son Sonny. His spiritual side is also a large focus of the latter half of the video, and again, there are some fascinating images accompanying his travel tales, from his trips to India to Burning Man.
Moving from the dark to light in his personal journey, this feature on Freddy Corbin is inspiring and the perfect way to bring the series to a close.
To celebrate the success of Tattoo Age, we're giving away this Dan Santoro print. Just leave a comment on this post in the Needles & Sins Syndicate FB page or Tweet us and we'll chose the winner next Wednesday via Randomized.com. Good Luck!
It's been a while since we've done the Proust Questionnaire for Tattoo Artists, and so I roped David Tevenal into playing along. Dave does strong, graphic tattoos influenced by Americana, folklore, contemporary art as well as traditional Japanese work. You can find him at Memento Tattoo & Gallery in Columbus, Ohio.
The Proust Questionnaire for Tattoo Artists
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Living for nothing. Having no sense of purpose.
What is your idea of earthly happiness? Watching my daughter grow, and also making fun tattoos on great people.
Your most marked characteristic? I obsess over art, more so - my work. I literally drown myself in it constantly. I'm also rather loud, and lack an inner-monologue.
What is your principle defect? I often struggle to please everyone.
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction? The Marvel Universe.
Who are your favorite heroes in real life? My fiance and daughter. They put up with so much and are extremely supportive in my endeavors. They are there for me when nobody else is and take me as I am.
Your favorite painter? James Jean. Hands down.
Your favorite musician? Well, I have a ton of favorite bands. I guess I'd have to say Glassjaw.
Your favorite writer? I don't really read for leisure's sake as much as I should, but theoretical physicist Michio Kaku's books always have a way of putting into perspective how infinitesimal we really are in the grand scheme of things.
The quality you most admire in a man? Hard work.
The quality you most admire in a woman? Well considering my search is over, the qualities I admire most in MY woman is her sense of humor and her dedication to our family.
Your favorite virtue? Sincerity.
Who would you have liked to be? Nothing, I'm pretty stoked on how I turned out. Dents and all. But I would have loved to live in Feudal Japan or be a Roman Gladiator. Death was the central aspect of their lives, so they embraced it. That's pretty deep shit.
What are your favorite names? Chloe. Lisa.
What natural gift would you most like to possess? Music. I've never been musically inclined ever in my life. I always admired those who could play music.
How would you like to die? I don't care, as long as my job here is done.
What is your present state of mind? Crush, Kill, Destroy.
What is your motto? "Plow deep while sluggards sleep." - Benjamin Franklin
See more of David's work here. Also check this beautiful time-lapse tattoo video of the artist at work, directed Sean Grevencamp.
In this latest Inked magazine (the Rock-n-Roll issue), I interviewed veteran tattooist (and rock star in her own right) Annette LaRue of Electric Ladyland Tattoo in New Orleans. We had a fun time chatting about everything, from inking her first tattoo at 13 years old to handling French Quarter drunks to her upcoming retirement. Here's a taste:
You must tattoo a lot of characters. Any favorites?
Well, we had this one guy we called "The Sheriff of Frenchmen Street." He sat outside on the bench all day long and drank draft beer. I had an apprentice and told him, "You got to go out there and tattoo that guy. He's out there every day, he's got tattoos and you can do better than what he's got." So he went over and got the guy, Dave (The Sheriff), to come in. He became one of our favorite customers. All our apprentices tattooed him. For every five apprentice tattoos, I'd do one good tattoo on him. He was awesome. After Katrina, he moved away and couldn't get back. We found out a couple of years later that he drank himself to death. There are a lot of characters like him who we don't see anymore.
With Katrina and the oil spill, and the people of the Gulf experiencing a lot of heartache, how does this translate in the tattoo business? Do you see a lot of people getting memorial tattoos for example?
Oh yes. People here like to wear their strong emotions. And they do it through tattoos.
That's got to be heavy.
It was horrible the first year or two after Katrina. Everyone who came in had a tragic story. Three guys who worked for me lost everything they owned. So yeah, it changed everything. But it made business great. We never had an appointment book before that; we were a walk-in shop. A couple of guys would have appointments a couple of times a week, but now over half of our tattoos are by appointment. It shocks me everyday just how many people come in. I'm not trying to brag, and I'm sorry for other people not doing well, but we've been blessed and really lucky. It's also been a lot of hard work. I'd like to give my crew the credit. These guys are really the life of the shop.
Read more in the latest issue of Inked on newsstands now and available for download online.
This morning, the NY Times Magazine online profiled the work of the wonderful Amanda Wachob, fine artist and tattooer at Daredevil Tattoo.
Amanda briefly discusses how she began playing with abstract expressionism influences in her tattooing:
I was looking at a lot of Hans Hofmann, thinking about the squares and rectangular shapes in his paintings. I wondered if these shapes were dictated by his rectangular canvas? And if he were going to make an abstract painting that wasn't on a rectangle, but perhaps on an organic form like an arm, what would the shapes look like? That's when I had the idea to try it with a tattoo.In blurring the lines between fine art and body art, Amanda continuously pushes the boundaries of what a tattoo can be. For further info on her process, you may also want to read an old Q&A with Amanda we posted back in October 2009 in which she talks about her more experimental work.
Check her online portfolio for more.
Here's an idea whose time has come: custom tattoo bandages that replace the old practice of slapping on tape and Saran Wrap over a fresh tattoo.
Ink Health is an indie company -- owned and operated by tattoo artists and collectors -- that manufactures and distributes non-allergic and water resistant surgical grade bandages. The cool part is that it takes these dressings and pretties them up with the tattoo studio logo, design, contact info and the date and time to remove the bandage for fairly idiot-proof aftercare. [If only it slapped your hand away when you go to scratch.]
The logos and designs (which can be done in multiple colors) are printed before sterilization so the bandages are 100% sterile. The bandages come in the following sizes: 5x5, 7x7 and 8x10 inches. Ink Health also does custom orders. More info here.
Yes, I've walked around in bloody Saran Wrap plenty of times and my tattoos did not fall off, but I much prefer a less gooey, safer, and better looking bandage to protect my next work.
I'm loving this this playful video of blackwork badass Nazareno Tubaro, which offers an up-close look at his set-up (with a wink). The video is shot by Emiliano Vargas and Macarena Magnani, and edited by Magnani and Bruno Gradaschi (who also did the post-production work). A fabulous collaboration.
I'm a long-time fan of Naza. [He's featured in Black Tattoo Art.] His powerful black tattoos -- from geometric dotwork to twists on Borneo tribal -- have earned him a reputation that reaches far beyond Argentina. He began his career in 1996 in his hometown of Bahia Blanca. It was at a time when information on the art of tattooing was extremely scarce. Without industry magazines or tattoo blogs to guide him, Nazareno set out for a more traditional arts education to further his craft and enrolled in the state university of fine art in Buenos Aires. He says that the lessons learned in art school opened him up to new ways of expression in his tattoo work. He continued to practice and study tattooing while at the university, and shortly after graduation, he began working as a tattoo artist professionally.
Art school, however, did not provide all Nazareno needed to know to master his craft so he traveled, visiting artists around the world, including those in Borneo, Spain and Mexico, to learn different tattoo approaches and also make a network of friends who share information and support each others' work.
In 2009, Nazareno opened his private tattoo studio in Buenos Aires. He also does frequent guest spots at Windhorse Tattoo in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Now I just need to convince him to make a trip to Brooklyn.
Back in 2009, Pat interviewed Brooklyn-based tattooist John Reardon -- author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting a Tattoo -- when John was working at Saved Tattoo. Check the Q&A here.
Today, the bearded bombshell tattoos out of his own private studio in Williamsburg and continues to work in a broad range of styles, with a particular bent toward Neo-Traditional imagery. Capturing the vibe of the studio, Bryce Ward created this video above for our viewing pleasure.
* More of John's tattoo work here.
* Bryce's still photography here.
One of my must-read tattoo artist blogs is that of Electric Pick. Beyond his posts of sexy illustrations and trippy tattoo work, his writing on politics and culture are eye-opening reads. Since the beginning of February, he's been sharing his adventures from sailing on a container vessel to Cape Town and now trekking throughout Africa.
We first wrote about Pick in our feature on Conspiracy Inc. in Copenhagen, his home for the last three years (which is the longest he's ever stayed in one studio). His next move, after his African tour, is to Hong Kong--a city he describes as "a constantly busy, evolving and magical environment."
I interviewed Pick about his life as tattooist/part-time spy for my next tattoo tome (on illustrative comic/cartoon work). Here's a taste from our talk:
Your adventures seem to be reflected in your drawings and sketches, but do they also impact your tattoo work?
Read more on Pick's vision of things here and check his tattoo portfolio here.
For this week's artist profile, we're showing our Canadian friends some love with a spotlight on tattooist David Glantz of Archive Tattoo in Toronto.
David and his wife Elyse opened Archive Tattoo in 2008, an appointment-only studio offering a diversity of solid work from classic to modern tattoo genres. He works in a highly graphic style, often using perspective, light and shadow in his illustrations and tattooing. David says that his influences include Art Nouveau, Art Deco, comic books and graffiti. He's also well-versed in Japanese tattooing and fluid, figurative work.
Read more on David here and check his Tublr for updates on his work & studio news.
The most recent news is Archive's participation the Tattooers for Japan project, a global network of tattoo artists raising money for relief efforts. On Sunday, April 3rd, the studio will be donating all proceeds of their work that day to the project. Clients will be able to chose from two to three sheets of Japan-inspired flash, with prices ranging from $50 to $150. The flash set will also be available for purchase as a limited edition.
More on Tattooers for Japan and other ways we can help coming soon.
Last week, we inaugurated a special N+S series called The Proust Questionnaire for Tattoo Artists, which is a modified version of the infamous Q&A popularized by Marcel Proust*.
For this second installment, we hit up Austin-based horror meister Dan Henk. In addition to his tireless tattoo schedule and painting, Dan has been busy creating a Mike Malone comic for Tattoo Artist Magazine, and working on illustrations for his upcoming horror novel, "By Demons Driven." He took a break from all this to give us a glimpse into what drives him.
The Proust Questionnaire for Tattoo Artists
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Sitting in church.
What is your idea of earthly happiness? Finishing a project I was really into and then hitting South America for a vacation in the jungle.
Your most marked characteristic? I hear I'm abrasive. I tell a lot of non PC jokes. I also hear I don't have that social filter most people have on what I say and do, which might go with the abrasive bit.
What is your principle defect? What? I have a defect?! Pshaw!
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction? The Shadow.
Who are your favorite heroes in real life? Frank Frazetta, Ayn Rand, Alan Moore, and more I'm sure I'll remember later.
Your favorite painter? Frank Frazetta. Oh, and John Harris, Ashley Woods, John Totleben...I can keep going.
Your favorite musician? Deadguy!
Your favorite writer? Alan Moore.
The quality you most admire in a man? Determination.
The quality you most admire in a woman? Intelligence.
Your favorite virtue? Honesty.
Who would you have liked to be? The creature from the black lagoon.
What are your favorite names? Anton! Aleister!
What natural gift would you most like to possess? Immortality.
How would you like to die? I don't.
What is your present state of mind? Overkill!
What is your motto? "Words have no meaning when they are said by shallow minds."
Learn more about the artist on DanHenk.com.
* Proust is admittedly hard to get through, but do consider picking up one of my favorite books, How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain De Botton, which is an amazingly fun and much easier read.
On New York's Long Island, there's a treasure trove of tattoo history: flash that dates back to the Civil War era, vintage machines, sideshow memorabilia, a file cabinet filled with acetate stencils from the 1930s and so much more. The real treasure is the collector himself, Cliff White of Cliff's Tattoo in Centereach, LI.
When Skin & Ink Magazine asked me to interview Cliff, I jumped at the chance to hear his stories of a time when tattooing was raw and rough but a respect for the craft prevailed. I also spoke with Cliff's son Rob White who carries on the tattoo traditional and is a collector himself. [He's also a comedian.] Part 1 of the article in the February issue is on newsstands now. Here's a taste:
When Cliff began to tattoo in the early eighties, he had to learn to make his own needles, mix his own pigment from powder, tune his own machines, and search to find the right supplies. As an apprentice to William Averso, he scrubbed toilets and mopped floors. He spent hours cutting acetate stencils, a time-honored tradition that built up the muscle in artists' hands. Cliff's apprenticeship also included throwing out unruly clients--of which there were many. He says that guys who walked into the shop would puff out their chests and felt they had to be the toughest guy on the block. "If you worked in a shop back then, no matter how big and bad this guy was--and the biggest and the baddest were your clients--you couldn't let anyone get over on you in your shop," he explains. "That is your territory. If one person gets over on you, then everyone gets over on you. Nowadays, it's like dealing with the boy scouts."Read more in the article, which includes gorgeous shots by Steve Prue.
With almost thirty-years of tattooing behind him, Cliff just recently traded in his tattoo machines for paintbrushes, and has been creating sought-after signage, furniture and decoration--all with an old school tattoo flavor much like his needled portfolio. See more of his work, like the one below, on his Facebook page, or go to Cliff's Tattoo in person, like many do, for an immersion in Americana.
As an added bonus:
Check this video of how Rob White handles crack heads when they come to Cliff's.
Happy New Year to all you beautiful freaks!
Our resolutions have been made and we're looking forward to bringing more art into our lives, revamping the site (including getting back the comment forums), and also doing some good. For this last goal, we were inspired by the philanthropic work of tattoo artist Mike Mendes whose Love Everyday organization seeks to increase poverty awareness and inspire people to get involved and make changes in our communities and beyond. The cause also serves as a reminder to be grateful and appreciate what we have in our own lives, and "pass on the positive mental attitude."
Love Everyday raises money through endeavors like their Clothing for a Cause and New Threat apparel sales. [At the moment, t-shirt orders are temporarily on hold.] All of the proceeds directly go to helping people on the streets with food, clothing, blankets, etc. (particularly those in Toronto but in other communities as well). Mike also does non-profit art workshops as well as educational talks & discussions for other charities, youth groups as well as schools.
Here's a clip from an interview with Mike on what inspired him to create Love Everyday and where it has taken him:
We can spread the love online by posting the Love Everyday site on Facebook or inviting others to the Love Everyday FB page, and offline, bring our kindness to the streets.
Bravo to SoTattooed.com for this hilarious video, which asks the existential question:
Who would you be if you weren't a tattoo artist? The answer from Phillip Spearman: a child entertainer. We're hoping Phillip keeps his day job and continues to do great tattoo work.
Also check SoTattooed's other quick flicks, including artist interviews, on their video map.
Photo from Amelia Klem Osterud's "The Tattooed Lady: A History"
Inspired by the Ladies, Ladies Art Show, today's holiday gift guide post features books that celebrate tattooed ladies through history. These titles have all been mentioned here before but worth repeating for those who haven't scooped them up yet.
* The Tattooed Lady: A History by Amelia Klem Osterud is a beautiful hardcover that explores the lives of tattoo's godmothers, complete with fascinating narratives and photos dating back to the 1880s. We wrote about its release last November, and it still sits close to my desk for reference. For more info, check out Amelia's blog.
* Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo by Margot Mifflin remains a classic. From sideshow ladies to prominent female tattoo artists, the book looks at how tattoo culture has changed & the roles women have played in it. It features great stories and images as well. Margot's latest, The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman, is also an interesting read.
* The Tattooing Arts of Tribal Women by tattoo anthropologist Lars Krutak is a scholarly book on the role of women as tattooists in many indigenous cultures, with over 250 photos & illustrations. Lars has a new book out called Kalinga Tattoo, which is so gorgeous it warrants its own post. That's coming up.
* Madame Chinchilla's Electric Tattooing by Women 1900-2003 is a yearbook of women tattoo artists over a century. It's not a fancy book but it is a Who's Who of Tattoo up until 2003 with quotes from each artist.
* On the fiction front, check out Tattoo Artist: A Novel by Jill Ciment -- a story about a New York artist who is marooned in the South Pacific and eventually becomes a revered tattooist among the Tu'un'uu people at the turn of the century. It then flashes forward, 30 years later, when she returns as a heavily tattooed woman to New York. A fun read.
If you have your own favorites, feel free to share them in the comments.
For the December/January issue of Inked magazine, I had the pleasure of interviewing tattoo artist, painter, and now sculptor BUGS, whose blend of cubism and art deco inspired tattoos have earned him international acclaim as an innovator in the industry. You can pick up a copy at local news sellers in the US & Canada or download the digital mag via Zinio. Here's a taste of our Q&A:
Because there's such a demand for your work, how do you keep things fresh and find new ideas to answer this demand?Read more in Inked. You can make an appointment with Bug's at The Tattoo Lounge in LA.