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For years people saw tattoos as a sign of rebellion. A middle finger salute to the rest of the world. Outlaw bikers got tattoos. Sailors on leave in Singapore got tattoos. Lifers in the joint got tattoos. But now in the United States one out of every three adults under forty has a tattoo! So what happened? How did tattoo go from something that was put on you to an expression that comes from within you? Tattoo Nation tells the story of a few people who helped transform the world of tattoo, and the way we think about tattoos, forever. This is the true story of the ink revolution.
The documentary "Tattoo Nation," has been lauded as one of the best contemporary films to explore tattooing to date. While the basis of the movie is black & grey tattoo culture, overall, it educates on the roots of how the art form arose from the streets to the galleries. Now the film is available for viewing straight to your computer or TV.
Last night, the much-anticipated "Tattoo Nation," a documentary on the history and evolution of black & grey tattooing, premiered in Los Angeles, complete with a red carpet laid out for tattooing's own A List, including Don Ed Hardy, Jack Rudy, Freddy Negrete, Good Time Charlie Cartwright, Tim Hendricks, and Cory Miller (who narrated the film), among many others.
Danny Trejo was also in attendance, as his own experience getting needled in prison plays heavily into the narrative of the film. There's even footage of him taking his daughter to get tattooed (in a studio, not a cell).
Check the Tattoo Nation Facebook page for photos from last night.
As noted in my last post on the film, the nationwide release is next Thursday, April 4th. In some cities, like LA and Modesto, the film will play for a week, but in most others, it is an initial two-day limited engagement. There are over a hundred cities and locations for the screening, which are largely listed on www.Dandeentertainment.com.
** For those in NYC, I'll be hosting one of the Manhattan premiers: The April 4th showing at AMC Empire 25 at 234 West 42nd St. in Times Square at 8pm. I'll be handing out N+S stickers and buttons and also selling copies of my Black & Grey Tattoo box set in the lobby. The screening may sell out, so it's best to buy your tickets in advance. **
I've given this film a thumbs up already, but it's also been given shout-outs from outlets like the Hollywood Reporter, LA Weekly and a mention in Variety. And as a number of reviews have noted, this isn't just a movie for tattoo collectors, but anyone interested in art, culture, or just a shirtless Trejo. Director Eric Schwartz may not have any tattoos, but he really does our community justice, reflecting the true reality of tattoo culture.
While black & grey is the central theme, the film examines tattooing in contemporary US history overall. It's strength lies in the oral histories of those who created history, like Hardy, Rudy, Cartwright, Negrete, Mark Mahoney, Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand and the other greats featured. Check the preview below to get a taste, but I highly recommend you going out to see it.
And for those in New York, I hope you'll see it with me on Thursday.
There's been tons of buzz for the film "Tattoo Nation," which explores black & grey tattoo culture -- but really so much more.
Announced yesterday was the first 118 cities and locations for the screening of "Tattoo Nation," which you can find listed here on their Facebook page. This is huge for a tattoo-centered film, and I'm sure there will be more dates added.
I'm also fairly certain that these screenings will sell out in a lot of theaters, and so keep checking www.Dandeentertainment.com for info on buying tickets in advance in different cities. In some cities, like LA and Modesto, the film will play for a week but in most others, it is an initial two-day limited engagement.
I had the opportunity to see the entire film and I feel it really does justice, not just to the black & grey genre, but to tattoo history in general as well as contemporary tattoo culture. I'll have a full review as time nears for the premiers. Meanwhile, check the trailer below.
One really wonderful development in the tattoo community lately has been a greater prominence of women's voices. There's the third edition of Margot Mifflin's Bodies of Subversion being released (review to come); tattooed woman-centered Things & Ink magazine, the Ladies & Ink blog, and more features on female tattooers in general industry mags.
Now a new project is set to be released that is getting tons of buzz: "From Voodoo to Vogue," described as "A look into the breakthrough of female artists in the tattoo industry through one of its leading pioneers, Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand."
Filmmaker Eric Cannon has been capturing Kate's stories and her adventures as she travels the world, but there are also the stories of fellow tattoo legends, and even an interview with Louise Collins, Sailor Jerry's widow, among much of the footage. The potential for this film is immense, but it needs funding to get off the ground.
The Kickstarter campaign for From Voodoo To Vogue launched yesterday and is seeking a hefty sum to move forward. It's a gamble, but as Eric says on the Kickstarter page, a smaller fundraiser won't cover the goals of the full scale production planned. There's a listing of expenses from production to publicity, and donations can be made as low at $1 ($10 and over gets you perks).
Here's more on the film from:
Through Kate's colorful stories and anecdotes, we will be highlighting the female role in the art of tattooing from the beginning of time. Key Messages: A brief historical overview of how the modern tattoo industry evolved globally from prehistory Ice Age through the industrial age mechanization of electric tattooing to the "Old School" days of military paydays to the current trendy embracement of modern tattooing.And here's a taste of the footage here:
There's been a lot of buzz over the documentary "Tattoo Nation," and if you check this official trailer, you'll understand why.
The film, directed by Eric Schwartz, explores tattooing largely from the perspective of black & gray culture -- a tattoo genre that found its origins in prisons and growth into a fine art. Heavily tattooed film and TV star Danny Trejo narrates the film and shares his own stories of getting tattooed with guitar strings and homemade machines while behind bars. His professional tattoo work, done by some of black & gray's finest, is continued during shooting, with Mark Mahoney working on Trejo's backpiece while the actor discusses the evolution of the art form.
Mahoney is joined on screen by his fellow godfathers of black & gray: Charlie Cartwright, Jack Rudy, and Freddy Negrete. Other legendary artists sharing their stories are Ed Hardy, Kate Hellenbrand, Henk Schiffmacher, Filip Leu, Rick Walters, and Tennessee Dave. The younger generation of black & gray greats, including Chuey Quintanar, Mister Cartoon, Jose Lopez, Franco Vescovi, among others, are repped as well. It's a Who's Who of the tattoo world.
Beyond the history of prison and LA street style of tattooing, the film delves into tattoo acceptance and battling stereotypes. Indeed, it's an important film for lovers of all tattoo art and culture. We're counting down the days to its release in theaters nationwide this October.
For updates, follow Tattoo Nation on Facebook and Twitter.
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).
In May, I raved about the documentary Travelling Ink, a film that was part of a collection of films made for the Body Arts exhibition at the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford, UK. Now the films, including the one above on Tatau and Ta Moko, are available to download for free as part of Oxford's iTunes University podcasts.
What's particularly cool is that you can enjoy the films without being tied to a computer as the podcasts can be viewed on any device. But if you prefer to stream them online without downloading, you can watch them here.
Travelling Ink was created by anthropologist Cyril Siorat, and directors Dr. Udi Butler and Alan Mandel.
This video contains footage of extreme body modification & some nudity. It would fall under the "Not Safe For Work" category, unless you're at Goldman Sachs where you can get away with anything.
This week, a film exploring various body modification has been released in the UK on DVD:
Tattoo's: A Scarred History is a documentary that claims to take a "sociological look at tattoos and tries to answer the question of why tattoos have become such a large part of today's society."
The why question of tattoos, to me, is just as fascinating as the art. When constantly asked about why I have become heavily tattooed, I often simply say. "Because I like it," but naturally there are deeper layers to it, some I may not even be conscious of. In tackling this question, the documentary talks with a variety of experts as well as collectors:
"With help from sociologists, psychotherapists, MP's and Bishops, we delve into the minds of people to discover their emotional and personal reasons for getting a tattoo, including Meg Gaffney's powerful story as she seeks a tattoo artist to replicate her nipples after battling breast cancer."
This promo text from the film got me excited that we'll finally see a film on modern tattooing that takes a serious look at the art and psychology of body modification. Unfortunately, the video above seems to tell another story -- the usual freakshow you see on most tattoo-related films including, but not limited to, the green-scaled tattooed penis. It also discusses other body art like tongue splitting and scarification but with the presenter wincing while saying, "Personally, I'd never have this done [looks off into the distance and sighs]." Sigh, indeed.
Keep in mind that I'm only responding to what is presented in the trailer. As it has only just been released in the UK, I've yet to see the full film and thus this post is not meant as a review. In fact, it has gotten praise from trusted tattoo source Skin Deep Magazine. So I may be unnecessarily harsh here and the trailer may simply have the shock elements up front to attract those beyond the tattoo community.
I reserve full-on snobiety when it becomes available for purchase in the US. For those in the UK, you can now buy the film on Amazon.UK for about eight pounds.