Results tagged “flash”

08:40 AM
Vintage Tattoo Flash.jpgVINTAGE_TATTOO_FLASH.jpgFlash above: Indio Tatto Studio, San Juan, Puerto Rico ca. 1940s.VINTAGE_TATTOO_FLASH_mermaid.jpgFlash above: Ed Smith, Bowery, New York City ca. 1900-20s.

In the 1980s NYC, I'd cut class and head to the then-gritty East Village following around tattooed skater boys, like a nerd-girl puppy. Tattooing was still illegal but you could get work done in the city, just in largely unmarked studios. Then, in the early 1990s -- still years before the tattoo ban was lifted in 1997 -- I remember a passing by a storefront with a brazen sign advertising the tattoo services inside. I thought it was badass and a little crazy for its open disregard of the law. I later learned that this essentially exemplified its owner,
Jonathan Shaw.

In his Fun City Tattoo, Shaw tattooed punks and celebrities (most famously Johnny Depp and Iggy Pop). Fun City was also a guest home to top artists around the world, like Filip Leu. Shaw later sold the shop to Michelle Myles and Brad Fink (who later sold it Steve Pendone), and he moved to
Rio de Janeiro to focus on his writing.

Through the years -- as tattooer, author, and artist -- Shaw amassed
one of the largest collections of vintage tattoo flash in the world. Now, he has gathered these treasures into a hardcover art book, published by Powerhouse Books, to be released next month.

Vintage Tattoo Flash: 100 Years of Traditional Tattoos From the Collection of Jonathan Shaw is 256 pages of flash that "spans the first roughly 75 years of American tattooing from the 1900s Bowery to 50s Texas, and from the Pike in the 60s to the development of the first black and grey, single-needle tattooing in LA in the 70s," reproducing "unpublished sheets of original flash from the likes of Bob Shaw, Zeke Owen, Tex Rowe, Ted Inman, Ace Harlyn, Ed Smith, Paul Rogers, the Moskowitz brothers, and many, many others relatively known and unknown."

In his interview with Crave, Shaw says of his collection:

Tattooing is a popular art form that reflects the times and culture in which it is produced. The designs of the 1930s and '40s became irrelevant in the '60s and '70s as new styles emerged. But I always had this love for them; I didn't want to see them completely destroyed. People were literally throwing away sheets in some places. I began collecting them. I remember asking, 'Hey Bob? What are you doing with these old designs?' Bob said, 'You want 'em? Take 'em.' This scenario repeated itself as I became more well known.
Mens Journal described Vintage Tattoo Flash as
"not so much a design catalog as it is a record of a time and place in the history of this very vibrant, very important folk art." For more on what's inside, LA Weekly has a slideshow from the book.

You can pre-order the book
for $60 at the Powerhouse online store

If you're in LA next week, you can pick up a copy in person,
May 3 & 4, 6 to 9 p.m., at the famed La Luz de Jesus Gallery, which is hosting a book-signing party, as well as  a classic tattoo flash art exhibition.

Vintage Tattoo Flash is far from Shaw's first published work. In 2015, Harper Collins published the first trade edition of his novel Narcisa: Our Lady of Ashes about the relationship between a nomadic outlaw poet and crack-smoking philosopher prostitute. I read the book eagerly, although I recommend not doing so on the subway during rush hours when people can read over your shoulder the non-stop and highlighted sex scenes. Shaw's next publishing venture, which is scheduled for later this year, is a collection of his memoirs, entitled Scab Vendor. I'll be sure to pick that up as well.
01:17 PM
Alex Kass military tattoo.png
Tattoo above by Alex Kass.

Mario Desa tattoo Nick Colella flash.pngMario Desa tattoo above based on Ralph Johnstone design from a sheet by Nick Colella.

J Shaw marine tattoo.pngTattoo above by J Shaw.

In honor of Veterans Day here in the US today, I'm sharing the fantastic @Americanatattoos Instagram account, which is dedicated to traditional tattoos and includes history takeovers, so that there's some learning associated with the images posted.

They've been posted military themed tattoos for Veterans Day and the the 240th birthday of the US Marine Corps. Check more here.

Scott Ronin marine flash.pngFlash sheet honoring the US Marine Corps by Scott Ronin.
02:49 PM
Sailor Jerry Flash.jpg Sailor Jerry Flash 2.jpgSome hot news from the SXSW fest that doesn't involve protesting potential robot overlords

From March 19-21, the entire collection of Norman "Sailor Jerry'" Collins' original flash, art and sketches will debut -- for the first time in the US -- at the pop up Sailor Jerry Gallery at SXSW. The collection, which underwent an extensive conservation process, is comprised of 70 framed pieces: 14 drawings/rubbings on tracing paper, 20 sheets of flash, 36 groups of acetate stencils. Entrance is free and for any age (as no Sailor Jerry Rum will be served in the gallery space.).

I think it's exciting to have the opportunity to view original works from the "Godfather of American tattooing," considering how his bold-will-hold aesthetic, and visionary melding of Americana and Japanese technique and design, has influenced generations and generations of tattooers. There's word that the exhibit may travel to other US cities so keep an eye out for it. 

The Sailor Jerry Gallery at SXSW is open from Noon - 6PM and is located at 908 E. 5th Street, #106, Austin, TX 78702.

Sailor Jerry flash1.jpg
01:58 PM
proto tattoo flash.jpgThis weekend, our friend Dr. Matt Lodder, an art historian with a particular expertise in tattoo art, posted to Facebook his recent find:   A side-by-side comparison of a painting by J. Trivett Nettleship (c. 1900) and a tattoo of that painting by Alfred South (before 1903).

In his Facebook post, Matt notes that the foregoing, among other examples, could be regarded as a sort of "proto-flash." He explains that there is evidence that tattooers had in their studios pattern books and print collections, which were not what we would consider flash, however, he says, "I think it makes sense to think about this as a genealogical precursor (especially as some of these paintings and prints were reference for actual flash...)."

Matt also writes that South's tattoo was "not the most complex find ever as the tattooer had the foresight to admit the rip, but still a fun comparison I think," adding, "Also shows South was no MacDonald in terms of tattoo ability." Matt is referring to Sutherland MacDonald, on whom he will be giving a lecture entitled "Sutherland MacDonald: The First Tattoo Artist," on January 29th at Cock a Snook Tattoo in Newcastle, UK. In that talk, Matt will delve "into the birth of English tattooing as an artistic profession in the 1880s," discussing the life and work of MacDonald and even show never-before-seen images of MacDonald's work. For tickets to that lecture (which are limited), email

I'm also anxiously awaiting the tattoo flash collection hardcover, to be published by Edition Reuss, that will feature artwork from the world's very best tattooers and Matt's introduction, which will go into further detail on these types of tattoo art history finds. I'll let y'all know when it is released.   
07:06 AM
star wars tattoo.jpg
I'm a huge fan of, which never disappoints in offering cool, unique items -- from jewelry to home goods to apparel -- created by independent artists, including a good number of tattooers. So, for this Holiday Gift Guide I spent a lot of time on Etsy to find products with interesting tattoo twists.

First up, with all the buzz over the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser, I just had to share these Star Wars/Tattoo Mash-Ups by Adam Hayes of Red Rocket Tattoo, especially, the Holy Princess Leia, shown above. [* Side Note: There already is a Force Awakens tattoo. That was quick!]

The kid in me couldn't resist these beautiful handmade tattoo lady paper doll puppets, with their moving joints and adjustable parts, although I'll probably display rather than play with them because they're so pretty (shown below). I also dig Tessa the Tattooed Paper Doll, with all her kicky outfits. Ok, maybe I'll play with that one.

tattoo doll.jpgWhile I never get them out on time, holiday cards with tattoo themes offer a little more motivation to do so. Some of my favorites on Etsy are the MargaretaGR tattooed women of Xmas greetings (shown below), the tattooed Mike Tyson "Merry Chrithmith" card, and may favorite for the past couple years -- Sugarbeet Press' tattooed lady set.

For more shopping fun, check these tattooists' Etsy shop items:

* Sailor Whale tees from Olivier of Glamort Tattoo in Montreal.
* Handmade original book art by Tom Tapit of Triple Diamond Tattoo in Brooklyn.
* "Sex Flash" in the signature "bubble girlie style" of Kristel Oreto in Philadelphia.

Something for everyone's stockings!

tattoo xmas card.jpg
09:36 AM
tattoo greeting cards.jpg
Star Wars greeting cards.jpg
It's been a while since I've done a shopping post, and I wanted to share my latest Etsy find: tattoo stylized cards, prints, and even apparel by Quyen Dinh of Parlor Tattoo Prints.

I had vowed to do more letter writing and was looking for some fun stationery. Rather than give my cash to Hallmark, I always prefer to support independent artists, and so I just typed in "tattoo greeting cards" into Etsy and was wonderfully surprised to find Quyen's work.

These Star Wars Themed Tattoo Flash Note Cards are my faves; they're a set of 8 blank greeting cards, measuring approximately 4.5" x 5.5", with white envelops for $28.

Also check out her flash sheets and prints. This 11"x14" ode to Sailor Jerry is a fantastic tribute to the tattoo master, also for $28.

See all of the Parlor Tattoo Prints artwork here.

Sailor Jerry print.jpg
04:00 PM
2011_skin_and_bones.jpgThis Saturday, March 19th, is the official opening of Skin and Bones: Tattoos in the Life of the American Sailor at the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.

The traveling exhibit from Philadelphia's Independence Seaport Museum (which we first wrote about in April 2009) explores the connection between tattooing and maritime life:

Skin & Bones presents over two centuries of ancient and modern tattooing tools, flash, and tattoo-related art, historic photographs, and artifacts to tell the story of how tattoos entered the sailor's life, what they meant, and why they got them.
Nick Schonberger, consulting curator, says one of the highlights of this exhibit is the C.H. Fellowes book of flash, one of the oldest surviving American flash books. Also on view is Samuel O'Reilly's electric tattoo machine of 1891. Read more on the exhibit's other artifacts and programs here

Skin & Bones runs until September 5th. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

[As I noted in my initial post on the exhibit: If you're wondering what the pig and rooster on the feet mean, read the Tattoo Archive's article on the symbolism of sailor tattoos.]
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