Swastika tattoo on Guido Baldini by Thomas Hooper.
The recent tattoo headlines had some juicy news items, including debate over the use of the "gentle swastika," battling tattoo conventions in San Antonio, tattoo ink regulation in Europe, a new tattoo museum in New Orleans, a Jesus tattoo ad court case, and another reason not to get your girlfriend's name tattooed on you. Here's more:
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, there's been some controversy over one tattooer's use of the swastika in his artwork. In KRQE News' piece "Tattoo artist defends swastika-Zia design," there's video footage of tattooer Guido Baldini discussing how he wants to revisit the positive and auspicious symbolism behind the swastika and reclaim it from being a mark of Nazi-driven hate. Baldini also notes in the article that the symbol has history with Native American culture in the southwest, explaining that the symbol is referred to as "the weaving log or whirling log." In essence, his goal is change people's minds by sparking conversation -- even heated debates -- in the same vein as the forefather of the "gentle swastika" movement, ManWoman. It's an interesting read and watch.
Also seeking to offer some history lessons, although more contemporary ones, The New Orleans Tattoo Museum & Studio hosted its grand opening March 21st, and already has been featured in various press outlets, including the Gambit and the New Orleans Advocate. The museum is a partnership between 40-year tattoo veteran "Doc" Don Lucas and fellow tattooer and history buff Adam Montegut. They will be tattooing in the back of the 2,000 square foot space, while the front-end gallery space will house tattoo memorabilia, classic flash, machines, books and research materials. The space is also slated for artist talks and other events. The Gambit article shares some of Lucas' tattoo lessons:
Lucas says New Orleans' port city status was pivotal in bringing tattoo artists to the city, though the often transitory, traveling roadshow of early 20th-century tattooists and their shops largely is undocumented. [...] Lucas estimates there were 150 traveling artists by the turn of the century, and nearly one artist for every major city.
On the legal front, the "Jesus Tattoo" advertisement, which I wrote about back in 2013, was the subject of a federal appeals court case, in which the people behind the ad sued a Texas school district because they wouldn't display the ad on the video scoreboard of its football stadium. Here's why Little Pencil LLC v. Lubbock Independent School District is particularly interesting: It's not just an issue of the First Amendment's prohibition against government establishment of religion. The school district also argued that they didn't want to display the ad because the tattooed Jesus pic would violate its policy against visible tattoos. The appeals court upheld the lower court's ruling that the school district's tattoo restriction rationale for rejecting the ad was "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns." What that could mean is the school has a right to ban any ad with tattoos because it goes against the school's policy of mere mortals showing ink. So maybe that could apply to athletic gear ads that feature tattooed ballers!
In European tattoo law news, the EU Commission is mulling over action on tattoo inks, assessing whether there should be some European-wide rules governing them, in addition national action that some European countries have taken to regulate tattoo pigments. I've been speaking with people involved in these regulatory discussions, so watch out for a detailed post on subject coming up.
Ok, I'll stop geeking out over the tattoo law stuff. Moving on...
In this article entitled "Back-To-Back SA Tattoo Conferences Expose Rift," there's talk of the beef behind competing shows in San Antonio, Texas. The 12th Annual Slinging Ink Tattoo Expo was held this past weekend (see coverage here), and next weekend the Texas Tattoo Jam will also take place in San Antonio. Seems to be based on a lot of personal bad blood -- which isn't uncommon in other cities' competing shows as well. Part of me wishes conventions were held only a few times a year -- as big international community events -- rather than watered down weekly gigs. There's also a related article that's worth a read: "Veteran Artists Lament SA's Tattoo Scene Turning Into Competitive Industry." It hits on the "art versus craft" debate in tattooing.
Finally, there's this piece: "Man says ISIS tattoo led to him getting fired." Isis was his ex's first name. Another reason why it's not a good idea to get boyfriend-girlfriend tattoos, kids!
Photo above of Master Barber "Teddy Boy Greg."
Tattoo above on "Teddy Boy Greg" by Fernie Andrade.
Traditional hand tattooing by Brent McCown.
All photos above by Rebecca Holmes.
I'm back in NYC after the non-stop party that was the Brighton Tattoo Convention. With the miserable winter weather, one would think I'd spend my vacation days flying south to Caribbean beaches and not the cold English seaside, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend my birthday with friends who were traveling from around the world to be a part of this show. I most definitely made the right choice.
The convention took place at the Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel, located directly on the seafront in the center of the city. It was a massive labyrinth of booths throughout the hotel's convention center, with over 350 artists from over 16 countries working.
In sharp contrast, down the aisle, rap music blared from the booth that housed Norm, Big Sleeps, & Big Meas doing their sought-after script. Crowds also formed around other big names from the US such as Thomas Hooper, Bugs, Bong, and BJ Betts, among many others.
Tattoo above by BJ Betts.
UK legends George Bone, Lal Hardy, and Alex Binnie drew
plenty of fans as well. [As a side note: Alex had a gathering on Thursday night before
the show for the release of Charles Boday's Handpoke Tattoo book, and it was great
to check out his Brighton shop, which has that same cool vibe as his
iconic London studio.]
One particular thing I found interesting in the lead-up to the show was that many artists -- who normally book their convention appointments months in advance -- were advertising that they would be doing almost all walk-ups, so lucky convention goers who got in early could get prized time without being on a waiting list. I wonder if they knew how lucky they really were.The tattoo competitions were limited to Best of Day entries with Guen Douglas winning Friday for a neo-traditional lady hand tattoo; Ryan Evans winning Saturday for his black and grey portrait of Marlane Dietrich; and Alex Gotza of Dirty Roses Tattoo in Greece winning Sunday for a full thigh gypsy tattoo (shown below).
As for me, I spent much of my time helping the convention organizer Woody manage the press, as there was a lot of interest in this eighth year of the show. But when I wasn't doing that, you'd most likely find me at the opulently decked out booth -- complete with gold drapery and Moroccan lanterns -- of tattoo witches Alicia Cardenas, Goldilox, Delphine Noiztoy, and Lorena Morato. Other stunners at that booth were model Moniasse, Frank Doody, and Drew Becket. [All of whom are shown in the pic below.] I shared a rented house with these beautiful people, kind of like a Real World Brighton, and ... I think I'll leave the exploits (and damaging photos) off this blog. Moving on ...
More seriously, there was also a lot of tattoo history shared at the show. Our friend Dr. Matt Lodder gave a wonderful talk on Sutherland MacDonald, "the first tattoo artist." And just outside his roundtable discussion, you could view the artifacts and archival photos from the famed Bristol Tattoo Club. I also particularly loved the fine art exhibition of Ramon Maiden (a post on him is coming soon).
Most of the hard partying took place at the Sailor Jerry cocktail lounge and by the main stage where crowds of psychobilly babes gathered on Friday to see The Meteors, who still can bring a mosh pit to action after 35 years (with an older shirtless crowd). Other bands through the weekend included The Sex Pistols Experience, as well as King Salami and the Cumberland 3.
Prettying up the Rockabilly set pre-concerts were barbers flown in from California, although lumberjack beards and skull caps dominated over pompadours. Really, I could barely recognize friends underneath all the hirsute hotness.
It's all these different offerings, in addition to top tattooing, that make a great convention. Most important to me, these gatherings are an opportunity to share love with friends from across the globe and reaffirm that we are one community of beautiful freaks. And that's better than any beach vacation.
For more on what went down at the convention, check the Brighton Tattoo blog, and these news items:
By Matana Roberts
One of the most sought-after artists for blackword ornamental and sacred geometry tattoos is Thomas Hooper of Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn. [In fact, he's currently not booking new clients.] Thomas is also a prolific painter and has worked on numerous design projects.
Thomas recently discussed tattoos, fine art and fatherhood with the designers at 3sixteen for their Singularities project, in which they highlight creative people in various industries.
You can read the full Singularities interview here, but I'll give you a taste:
Tell us about your first tattoo apprenticeship. What's something you learned that still rings true for you today?Check more work from Thomas on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The label "anatomical art" is often assumed to be tattoo art on skin, but in a fun twist, Repop Mfg and thirteen renowned tattoo artists are changing the meaning by creating collectible art pieces, which can be purchased as easily as a US Senator.
These beautiful limited edition "hands" are real leather printed and sewn by hand in the US; then stuffed and mounted on a wood base and numbered. Curated by Takahiro Horitaka Kitamura, each piece in the collection embodies the signature style of the artists chosen for the project. In addition to Horitaka, the artists include Steve Byrne, Colin Baker, Thomas Hooper, Chris Trevino, Chris Brand, Tim Hendricks, Horiken, Dan Wysuph, Chuey Quintanar, Chad Koeplinger, Chris Yvon, and Scott Sylvia.
On February 1st, the hands will be made available for purchase by Repop Mfg. but be quick to click "checkout" as it's a limited run of 100/100.
Brooklyn's own Saved Tattoo is a powerhouse of talent with collectors traveling the world to get work that spans all genres. What's particularly exciting is when tattooists collaborate on a piece, melding their own unique artistry into one cohesive work on a very lucky client. This is brilliantly illustrated in Taylor Toole's video of Chris O'Donnell and Thomas Hooper working together on a backpiece for Ryan Begley (founder of Shirts & Destroy). The film pulls together footage from sessions 2 through 8, and it's a great peak into the process, especially for such a large tattoo.
Outside of tattooing, Chris, Thomas and Ryan are collaborating on a publishing venture specializing in hand crafted books and art editions: Artifact Publishing recently released Winter Solstice: Black Mandalas, Series One, which is a set of 28 prints each measuring 5.5" x 5.5". Each collection of prints is enclosed in a hand-stained wooden box and is a limited edition of 100. Details here. Chris and Thomas have also designed for Shirts & Destroy collections.
Looking forward to seeing more from them on skin, canvas, print and apparel.
Earlier this week, we featured the first episode of a new tattoo show by Spike TV called Tattoo Age. We're happy to post that there's another series without the faux drama, featuring the adventures of a tattooist who reveals the realities of tattooing along with cultural highlights of different cities beyond the art.
Markus Kuhn says of The Gypsy Gentleman project: