Results tagged “documentary”

08:06 AM

I'm a longtime fan of blackwork artist Jun Matsui, particularly for his play on indigenous tattooing with a neo twist. [Jun is featured in my Black Tattoo Art 2 book.] His portfolio stands out with the fluidity of his lines anchored by thick solid black, expertly executed.

This week, Jun has been on social media's tattoo radar with the full release of the short film on his life and work by Brazilian director Andre Ferezini.

It's a gorgeously produced film -- with stunning shots of Natividade de Serra as well as Sao Paulo -- which not only showcases Jun's work through video portraiture of his clients, but also his philosophy and approach to his work through in-depth interviewing. The video above has English subtitles, but it is also available with a Japanese translation of the Portuguese conversation.   

The documentary, which was filmed between 2010-2014, moves from heartwarming early childhood memories of his first drawing to his misery working at a Toyota factory in Japan to how he came to tattooing, what he describes as rather innocently.

Jun also makes some statements that can be interpreted as controversial when he discusses tattooing as a "male oriented practice," and states that its origins were once the sole province of men (which we know is untrue considering, in numerous indigenous cultures, tattooing was the craft of women).

Then you see the more personal side to him with his family, holding his beautiful baby, and that intimate look seems to offer greater context to the statements made throughout the film.   

I highly recommend taking 18 minutes to enjoy the film.

See more of Jun's work on his site and Instagram. And check more on the film on Facebook.
08:04 AM
Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry.jpg Today is Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins' 105th birthday, and to celebrate, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum will be providing free streaming of the "Hori Smoku" film on the Sailor Jerry website for the rest of January.

"Hori Smoku" is a feature length documentary exploring the roots of American tattooing through the life of Norman Collins. The film showcases rare interviews from Collins' protegees, Don Ed Hardy and Mike Malone, features archival footage of the birth of tattooing as we know it, and explores the evolution of the global tattooing phenomenon.

Here's a glimpse from the trailer below. Watch the full film here.

06:15 PM

You Won't Regret That Tattoo from angie bird on Vimeo.

Today, Brian posted in our N+S Facebook Group, a link to a gorgeous film entitled "You Wont Regret That Tattoo."  I watch a lot of great tattoo-related videos, but Director Angie Bird did a phenomenal job discussing some familiar issues in a fresh way with wonderful characters.

On its Vimeo page, the film is described as "a short documentary that explores the meanings and memories behind the tattoos of an older generation, and challenges the belief that ink is something we will come to regret." It's much more than that. The context surrounding many of the tattoo decisions of those featured challenged the way I look at some tattoos -- ones that I may have seen as poorly done or trite. It was a reminder that something like a small bear paw tattoo could represent personal renewal or a butterfly could be the first time a woman in her 60s asserted independence in her life.

The film is heavy. There are many smile-worthy moments -- particularly about love & drunken decisions -- but there are also discussions of sexual abuse, illness, and death.

Above all, it is inspiring. As Bernice Williams -- who first got tattooed at age 68 -- sings at the end of the film, Que Sera Sera. She highlights that, indeed, the future is not ours to see, and so we must lives our lives on our own terms, the way we want, with no regrets.
02:13 PM
Morten Transeth tattoo.pngTattoo above in progress.

tiger head tattoo.pngI love to get an insider's look into tattoo shops around the world, not just for their art, but also for the vibe of the studio and tattoo culture in their city. And so I really enjoyed this video documentary short (embedded below) by Ivar Myhrvold featuring Morten Transeth of Blue Arms Tattoo in Oslo, Norway. The video is in Norwegian, but captioned in English -- just turn captions (CC) on for subtitles.

What I find particularly interesting is how artists across the globe who are heavily influenced by traditional "old school" tattooing, such as Morten, offer their own spin and approach to iconic themes. Morten talks about that as well as the history of the shop, Oslo clientele, and other insights into Blue Arms Tattoo. Definitely worth a watch.

Find more of Morten's work on Instagram.

Kreativitet & Tradisjoner (Creativity & Traditions) from Ivar Myhrvold on Vimeo.

05:41 PM

For an absolutely fantastic look at ATL's tattoo scene, check Hypebeast's The Atlanta Project: Navigating through Tattoo Culture.

The film features tattooers Miya Bailey, Jason Kelly, Russ Abbott, Keet D'arms, and Eddie Stacey -- renowned artists working in various styles -- and takes the viewers into their studios as the artists discuss the city's tattoo community. It's a great watch, and although I wish the experience of at least one woman tattooer was included, these artists all have some great insight into the dynamic art scene in Atlanta and share that energy in a really engaging way.

Here are some tattoo samples from Miya, Jason, Russ, Keet and Eddie below. Oh, and if you haven't checked it yet, Miya's documentary on professional black tattoo artists in America -- Color Outside the Lines -- is a must watch as well.

russ abbott tattoo.jpgRuss Abbott tattoo above.

miya bailey tattoo.pngMiya Bailey tattoo above.

keet darms tattoo.png
Keet D'arms tattoo above.

jason kelly tattoo.pngJason Kelly tattoo above.

eddie stacey.pngEddie Stacey tattoo above.
07:42 AM
gideons army tattoo.pngWhen my tattoo world and legal world collide, in some very powerful ways, I want to share it with you.

I attended NYU Law School's screening of Gideon's Army, a film that takes a tough look at the American criminal justice system through the lives of three young public defenders in the the South who struggle with an overwhelming case load, long hours, and very low pay in order to ensure that those who are poor and cannot afford a lawyer in a criminal trial have the right to representation -- a right guaranteed by the 6th Amendment of the US Constitution and the 1963 case of Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the Supreme Court ruled that defendants in criminal cases have the right to legal representation in state courts, and if they cannot afford a lawyer, the state would have provide one. Public defenders are such lawyers.

Gideon's Army, brilliantly directed by Dawn Porter, is not a documentary where tattoos play heavily. This film, at its core, is about how some of the greatest civil rights abuses lie in a broken criminal justice system, as noted by Jonathan Rapping, who heads the Southern Public Defender Training Center, now known as Gideon's Promise.

However, one of the most powerful moments in the film comes in the form of tattoos. As seen in the short clip below (which is not all entirely in the film), Travis Williams, a public defender in Hall County, Georgia, calls himself and other public defenders who fight for the constitution a "True Believer" -- words he has tattooed on his back. Along with that tattoo are the names of the clients whose cases he has lost: 8 at the time of this film (which was filmed over 3 years). Travis had won 24 jury trials. Travis says that he wears the names of those clients who have gone to jail as a constant reminder to be vigilant when defending the accused because a person's freedom is in his hands. And when he loses, another client's name goes on his back, so that he always carries that weight.

There's also a key moment in the film where a client of Brandy Alexander, another Georgia public defender, is found not guilty by a jury because his prominent tattoos were not part of the witness identification of the suspect -- an interesting example in which tattoos helped, rather than hindered, the defendant in a criminal trial.

I highly recommend seeing the film, beyond the short tattoo scenes, because it tells truly compelling stories about those wrapped up in a continuing civil rights fight that is a travesty in our country today.

Check more videos on the film here.  You can also watch it in its entirety on Netflix, Amazon Video, and iTunes, among others.

02:44 AM

UPDATE:  You can watch the full program online here.

In a much needed respite to the onslaught of terrible tattoo TV, the PBS Arts in Context series offers "A Moving Canvas" in which the history as well as the artistry and spirit of tattoo culture is explored through discussions with prominent tattooers. One such tattooer is the legendary Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand who does a good bit of the voiceover for the film as well.

If you check the video clip above, there are already some juicy nuggets of wisdom. I love when Kate says (I'm paraphrasing here) that a tattoo awakens a primal global impulse, the same impulse to sing and to dance, and that it is an innate part of us. She also discusses how tattooing was once the province of women. Should be a great watch.

"A Moving Canvas" airs tonight on PBS CHANNEL KRLU, Austin, 7:30 PM Central time, and then will be available for all to watch online tomorrow, May 30th, on PBS online.
12:34 PM
color outside teh lines film.jpg
In my top five of tattoo documentaries, there is Color Outside the Lines -- the first film to explore the experiences of professional black tattoo artists in America. I wrote about the film here, and I interviewed Miya Bailey, the tattoo artist who conceived and produced the film, which was directed Artemus Jenkins.

I'm revisiting the film today because I just found out that Miya has graciously posted the film in its entirety on YouTube, which I've embedded below. I highly recommend the film for its insightful interviews with legends such as
Jackie Gresham, the first professional black tattoo artist renowned in the US, and Zulu, (whom Miguel interviewed for N+S, posted here), as well as talks with the new generation of tattooers of color. Engaging storytelling and a history lesson, all in an hour & a half.

You can also purchase the DVD for $10 online here.  For more, click Miya Bailey's site.

04:15 PM
black tattoo documentary.jpg
In April, I posted the preview to an important and incredibly engaging film on the experiences of professional black tattoo artists across the US"Color Outside the Lines."

The documentary is conceived and produced by Miya Bailey and directed by Artemus Jenkins, and features tattoo icons, like Jackie Gresham -- the first professional black tattoo artist renowned in the US -- a woman who more people need to know about and will thanks to this film. A preview clip with Jackie is below.

In Atlanta, on June 21st, there will be a screening of "Color Outside the Lines" at the Midtown Art Cinema from 7-9:30PM.
You can buy your tickets in advance here for $10 tickets or get the premium ticket for $20, which comes with an advance copy of the DVD.

You can also order the DVD when it drops on June 27th on the film's site.
01:41 PM
signatures of the soul.jpg
From TAM blog & Occult Vibrations, I learned that the 1984 documentary, "Signatures of the Soul" is now available in full and free on NZ On Screen.

Directed by Geoff Steven and hosted by Peter Fonda, the film explores the history of tattooing as well as its role in contemporary society -- that is, up until 1984. Here's the site's synopsis:

"Shot in NZ, Samoa, Japan and the United States, it traces the history of tattooing from Ancient Egypt through its tribal importance in the Pacific, to a counter culture renaissance that began in the 1960s. Leading practitioners (including superstar Ed Hardy) are interviewed and observed at work, while their clients wince their way towards becoming living canvasses."

Also on NZ Screen are short clips from other tattoo documentaries:  "Tattoo" (2000) and "Ta Moko" (2007).
11:30 AM

Congratulations to Amelia Klem Osterud and H Dwight Raymond IV, the lucky winners of our "Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World" contest, which we posted last Tuesday.

Picked by, Amelia and Dwight will each receive a DVD of the documentary by Emiko Omori, which also includes fun extras like deleted scenes, more tattoo and artwork images, and additional interviews.

I interviewed Ed earlier this month for Inked mag, which will appear in their next issue, and asked him what he thought was the most important thing he wanted people to take away from the film. Here's what he said:

I think the key thing, above and beyond any kind of subject is -- it's corny to say it but -- if you really have a dream, kids...For me, in the mid-fifties, the dream was tattooing. It was so not cool then. It was such a marginalized thing, and I was just driven to do it. When I got into it coming out of art school, it still was totally looked down upon, and I just thought it had a lot of great potential, primarily as a medium, and I wanted to pursue that. That's an important thing for people to know.

But I know the playing field is so completely different now. People are always coming up to me saying, "Oh, I have a nephew or niece or whatever, who wants to be a tattooer, what's your advice?" And I say, "Well, they probably shouldn't do it. It's so crowded. It's not a sure thing, but if they are really driven to do it, maybe it will work." There was an interview with Bob Dylan, maybe about a couple of years ago, and someone asked him, "If you were 18 and going to get into music today, what would you say to people?" and he said, "I would never do it." Because he got into music at a time when it was right. I got into tattooing at a time when it was right.
Ed speaks further of his start in tattooing and his thoughts on tattoo culture today in the film. You can catch clips online or purchase the DVD on outlets like

Thanks to all y'all for playing along. More contests to come!

UPDATE:  If you'd like to see Ed's paintings in person and you're in Chicago, head to his "3 of a Kind" art show with Bob Roberts, Nick Bubash and Thom deVita from October October 28 - November 26, 2011 at Firecat Projects. The opening reception is October 28th, from 7-10 PM.
10:55 AM

I'm loving this wonderful tattoo documentary, Travelling Ink, by anthropologist Cyril Siorat, directors Dr. Udi Butler and Alan Mandel and the crew from the Pitt-Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford. Here's the official description:

Through conversations with leading tattooists [and historians] from around the world, this film explores the artistry, philosophy, meaning and history of tattooing at the site of the 2010 London Tattoo Convention. The film conveys the importance of travelling and the tattoo convention, the commitment of members of the tattoo community to their art, and the challenges they face in reconciling tradition with modernity, and spirituality with mass-appeal.
The film is 25 minutes long and worth every second. I've watched it a number of times to pull my favorite quotes but I couldn't narrow it down to just a few perfect sound bits. It's just all good -- from conversations on tattoo's ancient history to its sensuality to philosophies held by the tattooists interviewed. I can't recommend it enough.

Also check out the Museum's full collection of video and audio on body art.

Special thanks to Colin Dale and Dr. Lars Krutak (who are featured in the film) for the link.
11:50 AM

It's no secret that black artists are under-represented in tattoo media, but there is film in the making that seeks to remedy that. "Color Outside the Lines: A Tattoo Documentary" is a documentary by Artemus Jenkins and City of Ink's Miya Bailey with the goal of educating people about the possibilities of fine tattoo art and the skilled artists behind it. Here's more:

The film highlights the history of black tattoo culture and how it began in the south despite a heavily segregated climate for black artists seeking entry. We cover signature styles and how those styles have developed and influenced newer artists over the years. Tattooing in the media is another important aspect, as it is the biggest factor of how the cultures influence has spread. It is no secret that entertainers and athletes dictate the trends younger generations pick up on and tattooing is no different. What is suprising is despite the money these cultural icons have, some of their work is no better than the kid who got his in a basement down the street from his house. This further deludes the public as to what great artwork looks like and what is available to everyday people.

Aside from the art, we delve into the personal struggles associated with being an artist; how it affects your social life, personal relationships and other dreams you may have.

The film is still in production and set to be released early next year but they need help raising money for further filming and post production. More details on how you can contribute on their Kickstarter page.

For more discussion on tattooing in the black community, read Miguel's interviews with Miya Bailey and Roni Zulu.

[Via the wonderful InkButter blog.]
01:20 PM

Since last April, we've been talking about Dr. Beverly Yuen Thompson's "Covered": a much needed and appreciated documentary focused on women tattoo artists and collectors.

Now the film is available on DVD and can be purchased for just $25 here. This is one of my favorite picks for the holiday gift guide. For a look into the film, see the trailer above and other clips here on YouTube.

Public screenings of Covered have also been taking place across the US. The next one will be this Saturday, December 11th, from 7-9pm at Emma Griffith's Porcupine Tattoo studio in Brooklyn, NY. The screening is in conjunction with the Ladies, Ladies Art show at Tattoo Culture, which opens the night before. For more screenings, check the film's site

In the first post on "Covered," we quoted Thompson on what inspired her to do the film. It's an important commentary on how women have been and still are generally treated in the tattoo community and bears reposting:

"Tattoo culture has now entered the mainstream with its exponential growth in popularity, reality television shows, and nationwide tattoo conventions. While Kat Von D might have made it to television stardom as a female tattooist, other women's voices from the tattoo community have been notably absent. When women are present, such as in tattoo magazines, they are often sexually objectified. Covered sets out to remedy these oversights by shedding light on the history of women in the tattoo industry and to share the voices and perspectives of heavily tattooed women in the United States."

Hope to see y'all Friday and Saturday!
04:37 PM

What could be better than discussions and close-ups of tattoos in the seventies set to music my parents had on 8-track tape?  Watch the video above and try to come up with something.

Also check Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

The third and fourth are mostly close-ups of tattoos, with a lot of boobs and butts and creative posing. The tattoos include facial work and a big penis in one's armpit. In Part 5, there are some large gauge nipple and genital piercing, so yeah, not work safe.

But so many reasons to love, love, love:
  • * Straight-razor shaving
  • * Rotary machines
  • * Rusty Skuse
  • * Flash of pin-up girls in bell-buttomed jumpsuits
  • * "Thunder pussy"
  • * And other quotes like, "Most men tend to go for animals and fierce animals, at that ...You certainly don't find cows or ordinary field animals." Indeed.

And yeah, there are a couple of things that aren't pretty like tattooing with no gloves and dirty fingernails and lots of rings.

Overall, this movie made me very happy. And inspired to wear bell-buttomed jumpsuits.

Thanks again, Broken.
01:35 PM

I've posted a number of tattoo videos here but this documentary short on Royal Street Tattoo in Mobile, Alabama is by far the very best I've seen. My friend Dave just sent it over, and I had to share it with you right away.

Written by Bijani Casalan and directed by Michael Howell, Live Free is described as a portrait of Royal Street, which "covers the philosophy of tattooing as seen from the eyes of the artists at the shop." And indeed it does, but there is so much more to it. I don't think it's hyperbole to say that it also gets to the soul of tattooing with these artists meditating on what it is that impels them to tattoo and to be tattooed.

My favorite quote is from artist Sean Herman, whom I'm a fan of professionally and personally:

"There are no such things as bad tattoos...they're all something. My stepdad tattooed me, he's 86 and doesn't tattoo at's just a blob of ink but it's probably one of my favorite tattoos ever.[...] It symbolizes something more than if I were to get a portrait of him after he has passed away; it is something he touched, he did.Tattoos have that magical art to it."

Founder of Royal Street, C.W., as well as the studio's artists Pete, Dony, Drew and apprentice Dusty also offer insightful commentary on many aspects of tattooing, such as why the art draws a diverse group of people (including a Southern Baptist preacher), and even their own motivations. [C.W. says tattoos are "milestones of where you are in time."]

Live Free is 15 minutes long but worth every second. To view the art of the Royal Street crew, see their profile in last month's Prick Mag or head to their MySpace and Facebook. pages.
01:37 AM

The "tattooed woman" obsession in the media has not yet waned since the unfortunate Michelle McGee graced tabloid covers for being tattooed and sleeping with Sandra Bullock's husband [her resume in a nutshell]. The upside, as I've mentioned before, is that heavily tattooed women are getting some sort of voice in the news to dispel stereotypes and address tattooing as an art form.

What's been largely left out of this discourse, however, are the stories of female tattooists, so when my friend Kari filled me in on a documentary on these artists, I was stoked.

The doc is called Covered, and based on the trailer (shown above), it appears to cover a range of experiences, from foremothers of modern tattoo like Vyvyn Lazonga who fought to learn the craft to new apprentices who say that haven't met with any discrimination at all. The film also goes beyond the tattooists and addresses how "heavily tattooed women must negotiate social sanctions from strangers, family, friends, and employers, in order to enjoy their love of tattoo artwork."


Director and producer Beverly Yuen Thompson, Ph.D. further explains what sparked Covered:

"Tattoo culture has now entered the mainstream with its exponential growth in popularity, reality television shows, and nationwide tattoo conventions. While Kat Von D might have made it to television stardom as a female tattooist, other women's voices from the tattoo community have been notably absent. When women are present, such as in tattoo magazines, they are often sexually objectified. Covered sets out to remedy these oversights by shedding light on the history of women in the tattoo industry and to share the voices and perspectives of heavily tattooed women in the United States."

The film is recently released and will start making the film festival as well as academic circuits. Will keep you posted on screenings.
11:50 AM

Haven't seen the Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry documentary yet? Buy a DVD now  (Amazon Sale: $22.49).

It's not only an intimate look into a man who revolutionized tattooing, as told through his contemporaries including Don Ed Hardy and Mike Malone [RIP], but it also includes ridiculously funny scenes with Philadelphia Eddie.

Just check the scene with him above that didn't make it or this Pineapple Juice outtake. Granted some may question the veracity of Eddie's tales but he can pour a good story.

Via Jason at Inked Mag
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