Around the beginning of the month, I received the premier issue of Things & Ink magazine from the UK. I dragged myself home after an extremely trying day at work, and in zombie mode, made my way to the mailbox; as usual, I started opening up the envelopes in the notoriously slow ride up the elevator to our apartment. I get to Things & Ink just as the elevator stops at my floor. I stay in the elevator pouring through the magazine. Brian says, "Babe, let's go." I say, "Look at this," and show him the magazine. He says, "Ah, you're finally happy now."
With Things & Ink, editor Alice Snape has created a love letter to tattooed women.
It's an answer to the growing misogyny in tattoo media, especially in the US, where the presence of female tattooists is limited, but there's an abundance of women sucking on their fingers and grabbing their breasts, barely showing any tattoos at all. Now, I have no problem with T&A. Hell, some of my good friends (as the cliche goes) are porn stars. But porn is porn. Don't dress it up in the name of body art when it's just about young, skinny, and mostly caucasian bodies. The great hypocrisy here is that I write for such magazines. The editors have graciously allowed me to feature women artists and also men who don't normally get the press they deserve. For this, I'm grateful. But my little articles are sandwiched in between the hot tattooed chick of the month and an interview with some rock star with bad tattoos. And it makes me sad.
What Alice has done is show the tattoo world that you can have a sexy but also smart, inclusive, and fun publication without bowing down to the lowest common denominator of sleaze and celebrity gossip. I'm getting real tired of reading about Kat Von D's different boyfriends.
Things & Ink describes itself as a "magazine that embraces female tattoo culture, for artists, collectors and those yet to go under the needle. [...] Each issue is filled with beautiful images, real-life stories, tattoos, opinion pieces, fashion, inspiration, art, artists, history, beauty and much more." And it absolutely delivers, all 92 pages, from front to back cover.
Speaking of, it was a fabulous idea to put well respected tattooist Claudia De Sabe on the front cover, recreating the iconic image of Artoria Gibbons, a heavily-tattooed circus lady in the 1920s. All the wonderful people behind the creation of the cover are listed in this blog post, and you can check the backstage footage from the shoot in a video by Papercut Pictures, embedded below.
Inside the magazine is everything from beauty and fashion to personal essays to artist profiles to tattoo history (including text from the wonderful Amelia Klem Osterud, author of "The Tattooed Lady: A History," a must read). I particularly dug the Old School for Girls article, which recreates the traditional pin-up for a female audience, exploring "women's ruin," with fun artwork of some male cheesecake in old school tattoo fashion. But really, it's hard to list all my favorite things in the mag because it's all a refreshing delight. So I asked Alice what her highlights are and here's a bit from what she replied:
The current issue is everything I want to read about myself. I love reading people's opinions about tattoos, so I love the pieces about people's first time. Before I got tattooed, I would love to have read something like this. The thing I am most proud of is the cover, it is perfect. I adore the picture of Artoria and I have always admired Claudia so it is so perfect. It was an honour that she said yes to being on the cover, it really does mean so much to me.Things & Ink can be purchased online here -- either a single issue or full subscription.
It's a quarterly magazine, and the next issue is out in February, just in time for the Brighton Tattoo Convention. Alice says the issue will explore cosmetic tattooing and face tattoos. Even more awesome, they just wrapped a photo shoot with Mo Deeley, a 54-year-old woman who is covered in tattoos and only started getting tattooed a year ago. Also, Amelia will be writing about Lady Randolph.
We'll let you know when that next issue is out. Meanwhile, you can view the latest news about Things&Ink on Twitter and Facebook.
Inked Magazine was the first tattoo magazine for black skin. It had a short run of two issues, when Easy Riders Publications (later known as Paisano Publications) decided to stop the magazine for reasons unknown.
Don't get the 1999 Inked Magazine confused with the glitzy, glossy 2009 Inked -- they are two completely different beasts. Today's Inked is a progressive publication that pays homage to all of tattoo culture, unlike others in the industry.
Before this review goes any farther I would like to give special thanks to Sandra at Paisano Publications for sending me their last two copies of this groundbreaking magazine.
I remember buying Inked when it first hit the newsstands; boy, was I psyched. Finally a magazine about something I could relate to: black skin. I was even blown away by the cover. How did they get all that color into that black chick's skin, was the first thing on my mind.
In 1999, I had been collecting tattoo magazines for about 6 years and had just received my first tattoo from Pedro Baluga (who happened to be a guest editor for the premier issue). I was hungry for anything with information on tattooing black skin. The majority of magazines were a disappointment to me -- there was rarely a black person in any of them, and I just wanted to see an example of what was possible on my own complexion. I also just wanted a tattoo magazine to discuss something I could relate to: being a black kid from the inner city.
Inked gave me what I was looking for: reviews of black bands, articles on African body modification rituals, articles on black tattooists. But all good things must come to an end. When I asked the publishers why they stopped after only two issues, no one knew.
I can only guess that 1999 just was not the time for a magazine like this. Now there are so many more examples of black folks with extensive tattoo coverage. Then, less so. Then, I was looking at 2pac as being "tatted", now he would just be a dabbler.
Easy Riders Publications should be commended for even putting this magazine out at the time. It also published Tattoo, Tattoo Flash, Easy Rider, Biker, Savage, V-Twin and In the Wind, and considering most of these titles were geared largely towards biker readership, creating a mag about tattooed black skin was a progressive and gutsy move.