Senior Medic Ron Riveira of the California Army National Guard's 184th Air Assault. (Courtesy of War Ink.)
There were a few tattoo headlines that have been making major news, so I figured I wouldn't wait until Monday to share.
The biggest headline is the US Army just announced that it will revise its tattoo policy. As I wrote about last May, the Army banned tattoos below the knee or elbow (although soldiers who already had those tattoos were "grandfathered" in). In explaining why the Army's appearance policy has been changed again, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey stated that the message he got from the soldiers he talks to is "Soldiers have tattoos, tattoos are acceptable now, and the tattoo policy might affect a decision to re-enlist." Another factor was that the discontent with the policy wasn't just coming from soldiers, but officers as well. So, with the new changes, "soldiers will no longer be limited to a particular size or number of tattoos permitted on the arms or legs, provided those tattoos are not extremist, indecent, sexist or racist." The policy will continue to prohibit tattoos above the t-shirt neckline, on the head, face, wrists and hands. But wait -- there will also be an exception allowing one ring tattoo on each hand. Who said the Army isn't romantic?!
Tattoos are so entwined with the armed forces -- and are also an outlet of expression for what servicemen and women have gone through. A perfect example of this is War Ink, a virtual exhibit that explores the experiences of 24 veterans (most of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan), as illustrated by their tattoos. I highly recommend spending time on the War Ink site is you haven't already.
In other news, there was a collective "Oh, damn!" online when links hit social media with this story: "Texas Tattoo Sham: Promoter Red Neilson Escorted Out Of Own Show For Nonpayment." As I wrote about in my last Tattoo News Review, there was some beef behind competing tattoo shows in San Antonio, Texas: The 12th Annual Slinging Ink Tattoo Expo and then the Texas Tattoo Jam, which was held the following week. Well, as the headline notes, the promoter of the Texas Tattoo Jam was escorted from San Antonio Event Center ("SAEC") by security. According to the San Antonio Current, she was asked to leave for failure to pay the venue -- but also for her own safety. Turns out that she is also accused of not paying her guest tattoo artists, performers and musicians, venue security, and a local event management company. "To stop a pending riot, she was basically evicted from the show," Michelle Coben , co-owner of SAEC, told the San Antonio Current. The article also reports:
Coben said Neilson initially paid her a $1,000 deposit to book the venue. SAEC usually asks renters to pay the remaining balance 5-15 days prior to the event, but Neilson did not. Coben said since she knew tattoo artists had travelled from California, Florida and even as far away as Italy to attend the show, she made the decision to open the doors for the expo anyway. Coben said they also had Neilson sign a new contract that stated she would pay the remaining balance hour by hour during the expo until the entire amount - $13,000 - was paid in full.I've been hearing a lot of tattoo convention drama recently, but that's the most dramatic. So far.
In more artful news ...
The Daily Mail featured legendary London tattooer Lal Hardy, focusing on how he's taken botched tattoos and made them beautiful. The article offers some Before & After pics like the one below.
Another renowned artist, Tim Hendricks, is featured in OC Weekly, in which he talks about "Tattooing's 'Glamorous' Misconception."
Finally, in less artful news ...
Some rapper got drunk with Tara Reid on a flight and got her name tattooed on him. Sigh. It's no "Marisa Love Me" tattoo for sure.
Cover up by Lal Hardy.
What the internet has deemed the "World's Worst Portrait Tattoo" (which is a pretty fair assessment) was given a great make-over by Scott Versago of Empire Ink in Akron, Ohio ... and the world has rejoiced.
I'm actually really surprised how this became an international news sensation, but it is a sweet story. Here's what Scott posted on Facebook along with the photo above.
I got to tackle the official "#1 worst portrait tattoo in the world" today. I'm sure you've all seen it a million times online, as had I. I couldn't believe my eyes when this guy walked in and showed me this project. I think my jaw literally hit the floor. He went on to tell me the story behind the portrait; He had just married his beautiful wife and not even a month afterwards she was killed in a horrible house fire accident leaving him to raise their child alone. Shortly after he went to a local tattoo studio to memorialize his wife and was left with this abomination. He later returned to that studio for one more session, thinking that perhaps "he had done something wrong in the healing of the tattoo" and they butchered it even more the second time. Finally, he drove all the way to my studio, Empire Ink, just to meet me and to see what his options were. Touched by his story, I gifted the entire project to him for free. Now he has closure and I have an amazing story to add to my portfolio!For more on the story, you can check this Fox News TV interview with Scott and Chad Stahl, who now has a more fitting tribute to his wife.
We've written about the wonderful Tattoo Education site before but I thought I'd revisit it in this post to update you on some new and interesting info recently posted.
In the latest entry, Hyperspace Studio's Guy Aitchison discusses how he approaches complex cover-up projects like the one above. While primarily targeted towards tattoo artists, the post is a great read for anyone wanting to learn more about the possibilities of turning a less artful tattoo into something beautiful without hitting a laser center. It's like a tattoo make-over. [That actually wouldn't be a bad reality show. You heard it here first!]
Wanna know more about Tattoo Education? Check their campy infomercial!
The tattoo news this week was all about celebs, conventions, and a little bit of controversy, and to highlight these top stories, I'm posting this photo of Andy shot by Sean Toussaint at Parkside Lounge for my upcoming tattoo book. Andy's tribal lotus tattoo is by Shinji of NY Adorned. Granted, there is no real connection, but considering that my Inbox has been flooded with "check the hot tattooed chicks" emails this week, I felt compelled to respond in kind. In fact, if you're a tattooed man who would like to be objectified by my girls and gays on this blog, please send your photo to marisa at needlesandsins.com.
Ok, unto the news ...
A Georgia man, who forcibly tattooed his 3-year-old son in their trailer home now faces criminal charges of cruelty to children and tattooing a person under the age of 18. The tattoo is letters DB for Daddy's Boy. This guy should find the same fate in jail, Darrell's Bitch perhaps.
The controversy lies in the response to the story on the Atlanta Journal Sentinel blog, asking Is tattooing a child worse than piercing a baby's ears or circumcising a newborn boy?
"Are tattoos more painful than piercing or circumcision? Not sure that's true.
While there are some obvious responses -- like piercing not having the permanence of tattoos -- the issue does reignite online debates particularly over circumcision. Some of the comments to that post thoughtfully discuss the topic but, alas, most do not. Feel free to share your thoughts below.
In more pleasant conversation, conventions were big news ...
Columbus media was abuzz with stories on the Hell City show this past weekend, especially Columbus Alive, which devoted much of its pages, online and off to the show. Behold the awesome cover of organizer and tattooist Durb Morrison (shown right) and profiled inside as one of their many "Inked Up" features. Also check the audio slideshow.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on the convention's tattoo competitions, calling them a "grittier version of a beauty pageant." Nice ink coverage, media & tattoos. [Stop that eye rolling!]
More coverage for the NYC Tattoo convention, with Fangoria sharing their experience and photos. [Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors comes to NYC"s Jacob Javits Center next Weekend.]
A small convention in upstate NY, the Mowhawk Valley Tattoo Expo, got coverage as well.
In celeb tattoo news ...
HuffPo is excited over Angelina's small embellishment of her existing tattoos, essentially a small frame of the coordinates of her babies' birthplaces.
We do love our Angie, but Megan Fox may be stealing our affections with the latest news of her wanting to get sleeved:
"Every time I get a tattoo, it's a little f***-you to anyone who tells me not to. I like the way getting a tattoo feels."Megan graces the June cover of Elle mag, and as The Insider shows, there's the hot back tattoo-baring cover and the more demure one where her Marilyn Monroe portrait on her arm is covered by text. I found the tattooed one at my local Brooklyn press shop. Which is one is your store carrying?
Ah, nice to write about celebrity tattoos without the overwhelming desire to hurt myself. I do so want to see a fully sleeved leading lady. No matter how vapid the news surrounding the latest A-List ink, the impact on how our society views tattoos is greatly affected by celebrity culture. A culture that has sparked many a tattoo as well.
Then there's tattoos in the "luxury market," like Coach's recent attempt to cash in. A massive FAIL in design but always interesting to me how a lowbrow art is being used to hawk highbrow goods.
To meet the new clientele inspired by these changes, tattoo studios themselves are changing. The LA Times looks at the high-end tattoo ateliers setting up shop in Las Vegas casinos. Check the slideshow here.
Am I depressing y'all with all this?
I remain on the fence, embracing the evolution of the art but also but also fondly looking back at my first tattoos, pre-legalization in NYC, where just finding the studio was an adventure in itself.
And while I find myself trippin down memory lane, I'll leave you with some quick and dirty links:
Photo by Corey Kilgannon for The New York Times
The NY Times blog recently discussed how tattoos are hurting job applicants, especially in this tight economy. And while Bobby Fisher has decided to raise a tattooed middle finger to corporate America, I've never had a problem covering up to pay my rent -- and even welcome the reprieve from the usual stupid questions.
Hey Bobby, just see how "FUCK 401(K)" knuckle ink brings the dumbasses out to play? You'll be invited to every post-collegiate frat party on the Upper East, my friend.
I may have most of my torso and and sleeves covered in tattoos but it's the little one on my finger that has given me the most trouble because it's hard to conceal. And I'm not the only one. The popularity of head, neck and hand tattoos has soared, leaving us with limited cover-up options like hats, ascots, and gloves. Better for ballrooms than boardrooms.
There is the make-up option.
As the Times writes, a public advocacy group in East Harlem, Strive, teaches how to cover-up tattoos with cosmetics, along with providing resume and interview training.
The latest tattoo concealer make-up comes from none other than Kat Von D for her Sephora line. At $25 a pop, it comes in three different shades (light, medium, and tan) but none for those with darker skin tones.
Reviews are mixed so I plan to head to Sephora and pick up the light shade for my hand to see if it really is dumbass questions proof.