Results tagged “Valerie Vargas”

10:27 AM
Tattoo above by Alex de Pase.

sugar skull tattoo.jpg
Tattoo above by Valerie Vargas.

Isnard Barbosa tattoo.jpgTattoo above by Isnard Barbosa.

Some of the most beautiful tattoos have been created honoring the art and symbolism of El Dia de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead -- Mexico's greatest celebration of life that honors the deceased. The Day of the Dead commemoration begins today through the weekend -- All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day in the Catholic faith -- and so it follows that religious iconography is ever-present. However, its roots can be traced to rituals practiced in ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, particularly through the presence of skulls and skeletons. It's this imagery, along with other elements of Latino culture, that have draw so many to translate these themes artistically in skin.

A big misconception is that the Dead of the Dead is a party, like Halloween, particularly as there are often parades and customs in celebration. Yet, the holiday is also quite solemn as families build altars to reflect on those who passed, offering gifts of sugar skulls to the dead and living, and visiting grave sights.

I was really fascinated to learn more about the Day of the Dead as I worked with Edgar Hoil on his books Latino Tattoo Art Collection and Day of the Dead Tattoo Artwork Collection: Skulls, Catrinas and Culture of the Dead, writing their introductions. As I noted in the latter book, what's particularly engaging is how the calaveras, literally, "skulls," are artfully manifested in various forms among the artwork. Many are familiar with the calaveras de azucar, the "sugar skulls," which are the edible offerings placed on altars, intended to bring forth life's sweetness to friends and relatives who have passed on.

"La Calavera Catrina," which originated in the works of Jose Guadalupe Posada, is another Day of the Dead icon. The Catrina is a wealthy woman in haughty dress depicted as a skeleton to denote that everyone, even the rich, face death. Satirical images of Catrina often demonstrate how the artists view death as something to be laughed at and not feared.

And of course, one of the most popular motifs that gets translated into tattoos are beautiful women with skeletal features transposed over their faces, bringing to mind the joy and suffering of love.

I've chosen a just a few tattoos to present here in honor of this day.

Day-of-the-Dead-tattoos.jpgTattoo above by Adriaan Machete.

79_Eva+Schatz+Tattoo+LaCatrina_Sonja.jpgTattoo above by Eva Schatz.

jun cha tattoo.jpgTattoo above by Jun Cha.
09:48 PM
lal hardy tattoo.jpg
While we're waiting for the premiere of Tattoo Age's highly anticipated Thom DeVita episode, check the wonderful Valerie Vargas Bonus Footage on VICE YouTube.

In this video, Valerie visits the legendary Lal Hardy, who has been tattooing since 1975, and is definitively one of the people who elevated tattooing in the UK in the 1980s. Lal is deserving of a 10-part episode because he's got stories ... lots of them. I've hung out with him until the morning hours laughing hysterically as he shared them like the perfect showman -- and as Lal says in the video, back in the day, old time tattooists had to be showmen because "you had to fight for your work, but wanted people to come for the experience as well."

Check the video and get a taste of what it was like tattooing in London's punk scene in the eighties and how Lal keeps his passion for tattooing decades later today.

11:55 AM

The final installment of the Valerie Vargas feature in Vice's Tattoo Age video series is online, and like the previous episodes, it does not disappoint.

The particular focus in this one is her relationship with Stewart Robson who also works at Frith Street Tattoo in London. Their interactions are pretty adorable but without the cheeziness you find in reality TV programming. It's more about the "mutual respect," as Valerie says, for one another as artists as well as friends who later on became a couple. They also discuss how their tattoo careers have progressed alongside each other.  

In case you missed them, here's Part 1 and Part 2 of the Vargas feature.
01:59 PM
valerie_vargas_tattoo.jpgOnline today is Part 2 of the fabulous Tattoo Age video series featuring Valerie Vargas of Frith Street Tattoo.  In this episode, a great deal of the footage discusses the studio itself and its owner, Dante DiMassa. Dante talks about encouraging the young artists who work there, including Valerie whose own "pretty lady head" style developed at Frith.

Valerie became known for her particular twist on Traditional and Neotraditional work
early on in her career. You'll see, when she goes through her portfolio on camera, that her earlier book isn't filled with a lot of the other genres. This focus has allowed her to hone her style and further her reputation. Currently, she has about a three-month waiting list. As in all the Tattoo Age episodes, there are lots of photos of art, the shop, and those personal shots that tell a lot of the tattooist.

As mentioned in our post on Part 1 on Valerie, she'll also be working the London Tattoo Convention, Sept. 28-30, and then in California at the 8th Annual Bay Area Convention of the Tattoo Arts, Oct. 26-28.

For more Tattoo Age goodness, check the bonus short film Vice posted over the weekend.
12:15 PM
rock of ages tattoo.jpg
Last week, we posted the trailer to the highly anticipated second season of Tattoo Age,'s video series profiling stellar tattooists around the globe.

The premier episode of season 2 is now online and features Valerie Vargas of Frith Street Tattoo in London. Valerie is renowned for doing "the prettiest lady heads in the world" -- strong pieces in which each tattooed lady has her own mood, expression and personality but are nevertheless distinct as a Valerie Vargas tattoo. In this episode, Valerie discusses how she came to tattooing and then Frith Street; how drawing with her mother as a child left a lasting impression; and how she and her boyfriend Stewart Robson are able to tattoo side-by-side at the studio without killing each other.

Tattoo Age keeps to the winning formulas of its first season: let the work speak for itself and reveal the artists the way they are in their daily lives without scripts or drama. Because the artists are so good at what they do and have their own interesting stories, there's no need to create them.

I'm looking forward to seeing the next two installments on Valerie. Vice rolls out a new episode every Wednesday.

As noted on her website, Valerie is not taking any new clients but if she has any cancellations, she lets her followers know on Twitter and then it's first come first serve for appointments. Valerie will be at the London Tattoo Convention, Sept. 28-30, and then in California at the 8th Annual Bay Area Convention of the Tattoo Arts, Oct. 26-28.

11:23 AM

Vice TV's fantastic video series, "Tattoo Age," is coming back for a second season with promises of more kickass artist profiles. The line-up includes the legendary Thom Devita, Japan's Mutsuo of Three Tides Tattoo, and London's Valerie Vargas, the first woman tattooist profiled on the series.

The first episode goes online next week. Here's more info from Vice:

First up, on September 12, we have Valerie Vargas, who lives and works in London and is widely know for doing the most beautiful "lady head" tattoos around. Then on October 10 we have Mutsuo, a tattooer from Osaka, Japan, who learned from the great American artists who traveled to the shop where he worked in the early 00s. Mutsuo is known for his ability to flawlessly tattoo in just about any style. The season finale, on November 10, will feature Thom deVita, who started tattooing in New York City in the 60s, when tattooing was illegal in all five boroughs. Thom synthesized his environment into his tattoos and created quite possibly the most unique style of all time.

We'll be posting the videos as they go live so you don't miss an episode.
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