Results tagged “abstract tattoo”

May201401
08:54 AM
Kiriakos sake tattoo crew 1.jpgKiriakos sake tattoo crew 2.jpgIn Athens, Greece, the Sake Tattoo Crew is an incubator for top tattoo talent -- not just respected in the country, but worldwide. One artist from this collective is Kiriakos Balaskas. Tattooing for 8 years after a tough apprenticeship with Sake, Kiriakos developed a style combining abstract expressionism watercolors and graphic art. But I wanted to learn from him how he views his work, and tattoo culture as a whole, so I took him away from organizing the Athens Tattoo Convention, which is May 23-25, for a quick Q&A.

If forced to define your style, how would you describe it? What are the strongest influences on your work?


My tattoo style in general has always been a combination of heavy themes/ lines/ shapes, and naive -- almost childish -- color details. I've always found this invasion of joy into strictness (two sides that equally attract me) very interesting and exciting. As soon as I started experimenting with the watercolor technique, I felt I had finally found the absolute way of expressing this ultimate combination. My pieces mainly include these distinctive elements: a black graphic stencil or sketch, and either a brush or wide, "clean," kid-style watercolors -- usually two colors only. It is hard for me to define it in a sole, strict term as there is no one else in Greece who practises this style, but if forced to define it, I'd use the term my costumers use when they ask for it, "Kiddo."

Some old school artists believe that "only bold will hold," and that every tattoo needs a heavy outline to stay strong longer. What is your response to this?

I agree and I myself use total black outlines in the stencil/sketch part. But as far as the watercolors outline is concerned, I feel the lines should create an ephemeral impression -- if you take the loose element out of the watercolor, the very substance of it is gone.

Because you are doing something new and innovative with your work, what kind of reactions do you get to it?

The reactions are positive, if not overwhelming. People are interested in trying this new technique or inflowing the style into their tattoos, and their eagerness to experiment with unconventional styles sincerely moves me.

What are some of the greatest lessons you learned in tattooing?

I've learned the greatest lessons and values of tattooing from the person who initiated me to this art, Sake. It was a tough apprenticeship by his side that I had to go through in order to become a respected tattoo artist, and one of the greatest lessons he gave me was to pay this respect back to the customers. They will have that piece on them forever, and that is something we always have to keep in mind.

What do you think makes a good tattoo -- and what do you think makes a good tattoo artist?

A good tattoo is a tattoo that remains the same over the years, as if it was only done two weeks ago. I consider good artists to be the artists who won't rest or let themselves go as far as their technique, style and inspiration are concerned.

How have you seen tattoo culture in Greece evolve? How has mainstream culture in Greece adapted to the art's popularity?

It's growing stronger and stronger, meaning that it is not considered a taboo anymore. It took a long time for tattooed people not be thought of as being gang members or criminal figures! I think this progress was a combination of famous, successful people flaunting their pieces and the evolution of the Greek tattoo scene that managed to establish itself as art.

As the organizer of the Athens Tattoo Convention, what do you think are the highlights of your convention?

Except for a good sum of about 180 artists (30 of them from around the globe), the Athens Tattoo Convention combines all kinds of inspiring subcultures through BMX and skate ramps, graffiti and custom bike shows to live music and little surprises every year, from aerial dance to Fuel Girls performances. Last but not least, the venue is located by the sea side.

Personally, what do you love to do when not tattooing?

Motocross!

If you had to sum up your personal life philosophy, what would it be?
 
"Be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. In that case, you should always be a unicorn". I love that quote.

***
Check more of Kiriakos' work on Facebook and Instagram.

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Nov201307
07:33 AM
loic lavenu xoil tattoo 1.jpgloic lavenu xoil tattoo 3.jpgOne of the most renowned tattooers of the graphic mash-up tattoo movement, Loic Lavenu, aka Xoil, was recently listed in "The 13 Coolest Tattoo Artists In The World" -- which is actually a pretty decent list.

Loic, who is based in Thonon les Bains in France, has been doing numerous guest spots, and here are some recent Wow works he's done on his tattoo tour.  For more on his travel dates and booking appointments, check his Facebook page. FYI: there's already a waiting list for his 2014/15 NYC dates.

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Oct201318
08:59 AM
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Multidisciplinary artist duo Jade Tomlinson and Kevin James, also known as Expanded Eye, have been spreading love around London with their installations and street art -- and according to Culture 24, they've also been putting their distinct visual storytelling on skin, spending 6 months with abstract tattoo maestro Loic Lavenue, aka Xoil of Needles' Side, in Thonon-les-Bains, France.

The duo's approach to tattoos are particularly engaging and also well constructed. On Expanded Eye's Facebook Page, they offer more on their approach:

Each and every unique tattoo we create is our visual interpretation of concepts and stories provided by the client which hold significant meaning to the individual. We encompass as much personal detail possible whilst allowing each design to evolve organically into a contemporary piece of art, which is then transferred from paper to skin.

ONE TATTOO, ONE STORY, ONE PERSON.
Expanded Eye is now taking bookings for November through June 2014 when they are back at Needles' Side. Hit them up with your concept & placement ideas to info@expandedeye.co.uk.

If you're in London from October 25-29, check their exhibition of new works entitled A Thousand Fibres, showing at Arch 402 Gallery, Hoxton. Read the exhibition statement for more on the show.

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Sep201303
09:02 AM
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It's not uncommon for tattooers to offer free tattoos to clients who are willing to take or to leave the design presented by the artist, and with free rein, he or she is able to experiment and evolve a personal tattoo style. It's this process -- and trust -- that is often cited when talking about tattooing rising to the level of "a fine art."

Tattooer Roddy McLean of Timeless Tattoo in Glasgow, Scotland is skilled in a variety of tattoo genres, although particularly influenced by Japanese traditions in his tattooing. However, when he wanted to create tattoo designs based around the concept of "dissolution," and put into skin the drawings he had been doing of dissolving images, Roddy decided that he would offer one free tattoo a month through the year to clients willing to accept, as is, his artwork on their bodies. Roddy explains, "By doing this it gives me a break from being the dancing monkey that tattooing makes you." And clients jumped at the chance. He's already booked every month until the end of the year.

The tattoos shown here are part of Roddy's dissolution project. Check more on his blog.

Roddy also put together a video art project, shown below, which explores dissolution themes and also offers a glimpse into the tattoo process of the sleeve featured in this post.

May201309
08:14 AM
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The wonderful Amanda Wachob is no stranger to this blog as she continues to expand tattooing's vocabulary, beyond representational art, with her experimental work. Largely known for her brushstroke effects, Amanda takes a painterly approach to the art form but still keeps the strength of a traditional tattoo.

Amanda talks about this approach on Boston's NPR news station, Here & Now, with a segment entitled "Turning Tattoos Into Fine Art." Along with photographer Paul Nathan, who is the author of "Generation Ink," she also answers some of the standard questions like, Does it hurt? or What will happen if you no longer like it? And she does so in a way that best represents our community. You can stream the show or download it to your media player for offline listening.

A few weeks ago, Amanda was also featured on Huffington Post with a short profile and slideshow of her tattoo and fine art. 

Amanda works out of a private studio in Brooklyn. Find out more about her on AmandaWachob.com.

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Feb201314
09:41 AM
marc couple tattoo.jpgmarc couple tattoo 1.jpgOn this Valentine's Day, I want to share the ultimate in tattoo love -- being part of a larger art work beyond one's own skin. Artist Little Swastika has been creating full scale tattoos that span two and even three bodies.

I asked him to tell me a bit more about his work. Here's what he shared:
   
Skin is just a canvas. I try to use the human body as such. To go so far as I can away from what I know about classical tattooing. To create my work free on the body. To play with the shape and dimension of it. I never search the technical perfection or go too much into details. I love it bold and big. To create art not tattoos...

I life far away from out tattoo society. I read no magazines. I go to no conventions and work no where else than in my private galerie. All my inspiration is life and my mind. I don't know how to categorize my work, and I don't want to. It's just the art I created in my mind and use it on a human body as my point of view.....

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Jun201107
04:05 PM
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In the latest issue of Skin & Ink magazine (August 2011), I take a look at the progressive work coming out of Brooklyn's own Tattoo Culture via resident artist Gene Coffey (whose work is shown here) and a host of international talent including Belgium's blackwork specialist Dan DiMattia, and France's avant-garde artists Noon and Loic [aka Xoil], among many others. In fact, owner Chris Budd acts as a "tattoo concierge," helping tattooers from outside New York find places to stay, procure temporary permits, and build a local fan base.

While Tattoo Culture is a full-service custom shop where clients get tattoos in a variety of styles, the focus of the article is the more controversial work that push the definition of what a tattoo should be. Here's a bit of that discussion:

[Gene] credits the roster of guest artists at Tattoo Culture for his artistic growth. "We just feed off of each other's creativity. If I had never worked with people like Noon or Loic, for example, I wouldn't have even tried something weird like what I've been doing lately."

The "weird" tattoos that Gene refers to are abstract pen and ink watercolor styled designs. [Shown below] It began when a long-time client was flipping through Gene's sketchbook and said she wanted to get one of his drawings tattooed on her. They agreed on the drawing, and after it was permanently inked, they both loved the result. Gene says, "It felt really awesome. It was the first time a tattoo was a hundred percent my art. It wasn't drawn to be a tattoo. It was drawn because of something I felt, something that just came out of my head."

Since that time, Gene has further explored translating his fine art on skin, but he's quick to note that he still employs traditional tattoo technique. "The things that I tattoo - even the weird abstract work - still follow the fundamentals of tattooing. There's line work, there's contrast, there's shading, there's saturation of the colors. It's still a tattoo, just different imagery."
Beyond the weirdness (and Gene himself is a strange egg), Tattoo Culture has a relaxed friendly vibe that seems to stand in contrast to the cooler-than-cool attitude of their Williamsburg neighborhood, also known as ground zero for hipsters. The studio also holds regular art shows, exhibiting classic tattoo-inspired painting, photography, mixed media and modern works. 

Check their Facebook page for events and guest artists. Gene regularly updates his portfolio on his own Facebook page as well.

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May201105
04:52 PM
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French born, Los Angeles based tattooist, painter and sculptor BUGS will be exhibiting a new body of work entitled Purity in Motion at Sacred Gallery in SoHo. The opening reception is 7-11PM next Thursday, May 12th -- the night before the NYC Tattoo Convention, where Bugs will also be tattooing. The show will run through May 29th.

I talked with Bugs about his upcoming exhibit in our Q&A for Inked Magazine and learned that he had just returned to sculpting, a medium he was exited to get back into. When I further asked him about it, he replied:

I'm sketching new cubic women, starting small. I'm going to make them in bronze. Near my house is a foundry that deals with a lot of artists. I think it will be interesting to see my work in 3D, to see my work freely with all the angles of my design. I don't know if it will be popular or will sell but I don't care. I do it for me.
Bugs will learn soon enough how the sculpture is received with this first unveiling of the work. The sculpture will be on view along with paintings that "reflect a mix of different techniques showing images of nudes." He adds, "Also included will be other subjects close to my heart from my background in France."

If you can't make it to the show, you can appreciate his distinct cubist and modern abstract style (like the work below) in his tattoo portfolio online. Bugs works at the Tattoo Lounge in LA, Thurs-Sat, and Victory Electric Tattoo Co., in Studio City, CA on Wednesdays.

***
TONIGHT AT SACRED:  There will be a special one-night only Benefit for Japan in which all artwork will be priced at $200 or less, and all proceeds go to the Red Cross. Prints and original drawings from a stellar line-up of artists will be available. More info here.

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Nov201029
03:01 PM
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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?
Well, it's been about fourteen or fifteen years since I started doing my own style. I've been improving my style over these years and now it's kind of strong and powerful. When people see my work on others, they recognize it right away. I reached what I was looking for. To keep it fresh is a lot of work. You take a lot of time to progress but to stay on top of your game is the hardest part. Every day I draw. I paint a lot. I practice, and the more I do it, I discover new things.

How do you find the balance between very angular design and the contours of the body?
That's hard to explain. It has become natural to me--it's the way I draw things. When it comes to designs like flowers or women (there are a lot of women in my work), I try to avoid too much detail and information. I try, in just one outline, to show the silhouette of the body, for example.

What do you think is one of the biggest challenges?
It is to be creative every single time. Consider that all my work is custom and original--that's where it becomes complicated. When you do flash, you can do the same design ten or a hundred times with little variation, but when it comes to my kind of work, people are expecting original art. It's a lot of work. How many cubic women or flowers can I do? They all have to be different--in my style--but different. I never do the same tattoo twice.

Read more in Inked. You can make an appointment with Bug's at The Tattoo Lounge in LA.

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Aug201002
09:58 AM
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One of my favorite styles of tattooing is the feverish abstract art movement that has its greatest popularity in France, Belgium and even Montreal but is created by top artists around the world. One of those artists is Loic of Needles Side Tattoo in France.

Loic, who has been tattooing for ten years, has his studio in Thonon Les Bains but you can also find him doing regular guest spots around the world. [This October, you'll find him in Brooklyn, NY at Tattoo Culture.]

He likens his tattooing to DJing: "A DJ uses different musical elements and effects to create one unified sound. I do the same but with images, using different artistic styles to create one discernible picture."

To see more of Loic's work, check his Facebook page.

[Very Shameless --> For more on this style of tattooing, check the "Art Brut" chapter in my Black Tattoo Art book.]


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Oct200902
10:33 AM
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Tonight, at Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is the Fourth Annual Group Show featuring the fine art of tattooists. One of the artists is Amanda Wachob of Daredevil Tattoo. Her paintings have been shown across the US and in Canada to great acclaim, but I wanted to particularly talk to Amanda about her experimental tattoo work and how she's pushing the boundaries of what makes a tattoo fine art in itself. Here's how the conversation went...


I wanna get the dirt on the experimental tattoo projects you're working on now. Tell me about them.


I have so many ideas I can't sleep at night! 

Ten people in symbiosis with their own painting. The design starts on the participant's body and travels onto the canvas behind them. I am not charging for the tattoo work, I am asking that people make a donation to the Henry Street Settlement. Henry Street is a non-profit organization that has been active in providing healthcare, housing, senior services, etc. for the Lower East Side community in Manhattan for over 100 years. They also recognize the importance of art and have many wonderful art-based programs and workshops....this is area where I am hoping to direct the money. When the project is completed, I'd like to have an exhibition showcasing all of the work.

What inspired it?

I'm trying to push an abstract tattoo to the next level.  It's a big experiment and hopefully it will be visually successful!  If not, at least a really great organization has been given some funds to help the community.

You bring fine art concepts to your tattoos but do you consider tattooing as a fine art itself?

I see it as a tool. In the same way that a paintbrush can be used to paint the exterior of a house, it can also be used to apply paint to a canvas. It depends on how you are using it, and who is doing the tattooing.

Let's talk about your conceptual art tattoos. Describe your bloodline tattoos, the process, the designs, the type of people who get them and why. Is there something symbolic or magic to them?

I am fascinated by symbols and ideograms, simple graphic images that contain multifarious meaning. The bloodlines are only magic in the sense that the idea is based on that of a sigil.  A "seal," or sigil, is a visual thought form charged with a particular magical intent and magicians often employed these abstract glyphs in spells. Austin Osman Spare has been a big inspiration. He was an artist and a visionary who created the magical technique of sigilization, focusing your will on an symbol to manifest a change in the material world. Most of the people that have gotten the bloodlines are people close to me, people who fit with the symbol. 

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When is a tattoo not just a tattoo, that is, when is it more than art for art's sake?

Hahaha, sometimes I wonder why a tattoo can't just be a tattoo for Pete's sake! I don't think people have a problem explaining why they are getting tattooed and what their design means to them. If anything, people over-explain almost as if they have to justify the reason why they are altering their appearance. Why not get something just because you think it's beautiful, why not get tattooed just because you like the commitment of a permanent change?!  To get something in and of itself, there is no pretension in this and no extraneous meaning.

You're abstract tattoos have gotten much attention recently. They are not just beautiful but also harmonize so well with the shape of the body. What's interesting is that not all are outlined like traditional tattoos. Some may argue that the old tenets of tattooing, like strong outlines, are the key to a work's longevity. How do you respond to that in the context of your tattoo work?

I think you said it best Marisa ~ old tenets.

You also do a lot of strong traditional tattooing. How do you approach each style?

Traditional in the sense that I also do a lot of work with a black line, but I have never really tattooed a lot of traditional American imagery. I love traditional tattoos: skulls, daggers, pinups, roses, they are classic images that have a rich history in American culture. But I also like to think beyond the repetition of those designs. And for each tattoo I try to accommodate the desires of my customer...I don't always put "my spin" on it....after all, the tattoo is not about me.

In the eleven years you've been tattooing, what have been the most important lessons you've learned, whether they be about the art or human nature?

Listen to the people you respect, watch the people who are skilled, and wear a thick skin.

Working at Daredevil, a very busy studio, you must get some strange tattoo requests. What has been the most memorable tattoo that you've done there?


A cupcake on a crotch with a cherry on top.

Have you ever tattooed one of your paintings on a client? Would you want to?

Sure, if the painting speaks to them I would gladly tattoo it.  I have tattooed images from my paintings before, but skin is more limiting than canvas, you can only go so far with detail and color.

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Let's talk more about your painting. What's the process like for you -- is it cathartic, heavy, serene or intense?

Sometimes it's tedious. I like immediate results, and the kind of oil painting that I do...layering and glazing, requires diligence. It's good practice for leveling out my impatient nature though.  In the end painting is an emotional release for me. 

I see themes of sexuality, gender and race. Do such themes inspire the work? Do you look to make a social statement in your art?

Yes, those themes occasionally inspire the work. I think it's important to address some of those issues because they veil our true nature -- we are all a small slice of a larger whole, at the core we are all coequal. We forget this and judge one another based on gender and race.  Sometimes I like to be subversive, other times I just like to make something pretty.

I'm looking forward to seeing your work in the Tattoo Culture Art show. Do you have any other exhibits coming up?

I have a solo show at the Castellani Art Museum next year and have been focusing on making work for this.

For the last two questions, I'm gonna get intimate. First, what is your personal philosophy?

Cultivate a boundless heart!!!

Ok, now finish this sentence: A happy life for me is ...

100 mph on the highway, the final layer of varnish, and belly laughing over a big plate of bacon.

--

You can find Amanda at Daredevil Tattoo in Manhattan's Lower East Side four days a week by appointment: Wed., Thurs., Sat. and Sunday. She's always on the prowl for people who want to participate in her various tattoo projects. Her next one is called the Love Club, which will be in February for Valentine's Day. We'll have details on that soon.

Amanda and I will be at Tattoo Culture tonight between 7 and 10pm. Hope to see ya there!

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EDITOR IN CHIEF:
Marisa Kakoulas
CONTRIBUTORS:
Miguel Collins
Craig Dershowitz
Brian Grosz
Sean Risley
Patrick Sullivan
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