Results tagged “old school”

Nov201322
09:03 AM
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One hundred years ago, Amund Dietzel (1891-1974), of Kristiania, Norway, arrived in Milwaukee with a knowledge of tattooing he picked up on a merchant shop. Deciding to make the city his home, he opened up a tattoo parlor that attracted tattoo collectors far beyond Milwaukee. Sailors and marines during two world wars came to see Dietzel before leaving for battle, choosing powerful designs from his handpainted flash that hung on the shop's walls. 

Dietzel
"helped define the look of the traditional or old school tattoo," the Milwaukee Art Museum wrote of their "Tattoo: Flash Art of Amund Dietzel" exhibition, which ran from July to October.

That wonderful archive of Dietzel's painted flash, stencils and drawings,
from the collection of Jon Reiter, will be exhibited at Great Lakes Tattoo in Chicago, from November 29th to January 5th.

During the November 29th opening, not only can you view Americana tattoo history, but also have a piece of it tattooed on you, as artists will be offering tattoos from Dietzel's flash sheets from 12 to 10 PM that day. The opening party, with food & drink, runs from 5 to 8 PM.

Proceeds from the tattoos, as well as beautiful limited edition prints (shown below) and shirts, will go towards the hefty medical expenses Jon incurred from an ICU stay.

For more on
Amund Dietzel's life, pick up Jon's fantastic books, These Old Blue Arms: The Life & Work of Amund Dietzel, Volumes 1 & 2.

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Nov201319
05:32 PM
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I know. I've been remiss in not featuring more Traditional and Neotraditional tattoos lately, so what better way to get back on track than to showcase new work from Americana maestro Myke Chambers.  Myke is a prolific tattooer and painter, making his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, which he regularly updates, incredibly dynamic online art galleries.

While Myke's home base is Northern Liberty Tattoo in Philadelphia, PA, he frequently works conventions and guest spots around the world.  You can check his 2013-2014 schedule here, and as noted on his site, appointments book up fast.

For reality TV lovers, Myke appeared as an expert advisor on the show Tattoo Rescue. You can watch the full episode in which Myke appears here

Also check him on his live tattooing webcam.

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Oct201303
06:16 AM
Henning Jorgensen tiger tattoo.jpg Henning Jorgensen tattoo.jpgThirty years ago last month, Henning Jorgensen opened Royal Tattoo in Helsingor in Eastern Denmark, and as a tribute to how he has inspired generations of tattooers around the globe, Lars Stig Moller created this video (below) in which fellow tattooers offer their gratitude for all Henning has done for the tattoo community. Some clips are serious, heartfelt messages, while others are fun & ridiculous, but all attest to just how much of an impact he has made.

Henning is renowned for his flawless Japanese-inspired compositions, as well as his classic old school works.  Tattooing since he was 18 years old, Henning began his career in Copenhagen's Red Light District, and worked with the legendary Ole Hansen (who was known as "King's Tattooer" for the work he did on Frederick IX, King of Denmark, according to the Tattoo Archive).  When American tattoo legend Mike Malone visited Copenhagen, he opened the door for Henning to the world of Japanese tattooing. Henning also traveled to the US to get tattooed by Don Ed Hardy and, according to Henning, watching Hardy work solidified the desire to pursue the Japanese aesthetic.

Today, Henning himself is a legend in this style and has influenced countless others just like the greats before him.

For more on Henning's work, check the Royal Tattoo site, Facebook page and Instagram.  I also love this blog post by Jason Tyler Grace on his visit to Royal Tattoo in 2011.

Aug201312
08:42 AM
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Tattoo above by Nick Colella.

mario desa tattoo.jpgTattoo above by Mario Desa.

This Saturday, August 17th, is the grand opening celebration of Great Lakes Tattoo at 1148 West Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL. The studio motto is "Cleanliness & Civility," with an emphasis on an attitude-free atmosphere where one can walk in daily, from 12-8pm, and get a strong tattoo, or make an appointment for larger pieces.

Resident artists include Nick Colella, Erik Gillespie, Mario Desa, Mike Dalton, Beatdown, and Frank William -- all who have a particular expertise in the Americana tattoo traditions, although the repertoire is not necessarily limited to old school; for example, Nick is also renowned for his fine tattoo lettering, particularly, script work. The studio will also welcome top tattooers as guest artists throughout the year.

Check their portfolios on the Great Lakes Tattoo site, Facebook, and Instagram.

The opening party on Saturday runs from 5-10PM with complimentary rum cocktails from Sailor Jerry, micro-brews from Revolution Brewing and tacos and more from Big Star.

eagle tattoo erik.jpgTattoo above by Erik Gillespie.
Jul201304
10:51 AM
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On this day in 1776, Americans won their freedom so that future generations can get tattoos without fear of retribution. This is actually stated in the Declaration of Independence -- right under the freedom to take photos of yourself making a kissy face in the bathroom mirror. All true.

Tattoo above by Americana maestro Nick Colella, whose new studio, Great Lakes Tattoo, will be opening its doors on July 15th in Chicago. More on Nick and the Great Lakes crew to come.
Jul201303
09:01 AM
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Today is the opening of the Milwaukee Art Museum's first-ever tattoo art exhibition:
"Tattoo: Flash Art of Amund Dietzel." The exhibit, which runs to the Fall, celebrates one of tattooing's most remarkable forefathers, particularly the one hundred years since the Norwegian artist arrived in Milwaukee in 1913 and made it his home.

Dietzel's studios attracted tattoo collectors far beyond Milwaukee. As the Museum notes, he "helped define the look of the traditional or old school tattoo," and his tattoo flash remains just as powerful today as it was during the two world wars he tattooed through and the many years afterward until his death in 1974.

I'd venture a guess that, if Dietzel were alive today, he'd be having a laugh at the city's museum featuring his work, especially as he put up a good fight against the Milwaukee City Council, along with Gib "Tatts" Thomas, when the city banned tattooing in 1967. 

There are so many great stories of Amund Dietzel's life, and they are wonderfully shared in tattooist
Jon Reiter's book These Old Blue Arms: The Life & Work of Amund Dietzel, which I reviewed here in 2010. 

This exhibit is drawn exclusively from the book and Jon's collection of Dietzel flash, photos and "peripheral Dietzel Studio material." It should be an excellent show for all tattoo lovers and Americana art buffs.

Here's more on Dietzel from the museum:

Born in Kristiania, Norway, Dietzel (1891-1974) learned the art of hand-tattooing on a Norway merchant ship. When the ship was wrecked off the coast of Quebec, Dietzel and a few others decided to stay. Dietzel traveled with his close friend William Grimshaw, working carnivals as tattooed men and tattooing between shows.

Passing through Milwaukee at twenty-three, Dietzel decided to make the city his home. He opened a tattoo parlor and soon had a reputation as the region's premier tattoo artist--and the one to whom World War I and II sailors and Marines went before leaving for battle. In 1964 at the age of seventy-three, Dietzel sold his shop to his friend Gib "Tatts" Thomas. The two worked together in the studio until the city banned tattooing, effective July 1, 1967. "At least it took the city fifty-one years to find out that it doesn't want me," said Dietzel.

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Jun201311
08:32 AM
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Normally, when I get a press release about "free tattoos," I'm wary, as per Sailor Jerry's famed maxim: "Good work ain't cheap. Cheap work ain't good." But when the tattoos are Sailor Jerry's own flash, timeless and powerful, then I have to share the news.

Tomorrow, June 12th, is the 40th anniversary of Sailor Jerry's passing, and to celebrate his life, top tattooers across the US will be offering free tattoos of iconic Sailor Jerry art in the "102 Tattoos for 102 Years of a Legend" campaign. The cities include NYC, LA, New Orleans, Ybor City, Chicago, Austin, Denver, Jersey City & Secaucus. See details on each city here.

Some venues will be making you "Aim for your ink"; that is, you'll have to throw a dart on a board of Sailor Jerry flash and wherever it lands, that's the tattoo you'll get. So ya better practice your throw. And as usual, there will be Sailor Jerry Rum on hand.

Sailor Jerry Day events are also taking place across the UK in London, Brighton, Edinburgh and Manchester, where 40 Sailor Jerry fans will be able to get tattooed for just 12BP. And again, there will be rum.

For more, check the Sailor Jerry US Facebook page and UK Facebook page.

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Jan201307
08:50 AM
charlie wagner tattooing.jpgToday, we have another wonderful installment from Paul Roe of Britishink for you tattoo history buffs!

By Paul Roe:

 
Now as I sit down to write this, that Shirley Bassey song just kept popping in to my head. Tattooing, like most things human, has been re-invented many, many times.

What is "Old School"? This question arose from a discussion on the way historic tattooing is presented in an exhibition setting. Some learned institutions are displaying comic book portrayals of anything tattoo related, which only perpetuates the myths, usually the bad ones, and ignores the rich social context and cultural significance of the art.

Generally, the stereotype is a grubby man in a one room shop, cigarette butt in mouth; this was the case in most major metropolitan cities -- and here's the key -- after the Wall Street Crash of 1929. This is the common perception of "Old School" tattooing that most people have today. The hardships and honest sweat of the working class man, purveyor to the working class around him, scraping a living from his street front shop. Bleak? Definitely.

The worn and weathered face of Charlie Wagner personifies the "Old School" so I'll use him as an example. He lost his life's savings in the crash -- about $11, 000 in 1929 -- equivalent to about $150,000 today. That tidy sum had been built up over a period of time starting as the apprentice to Samuel O'Reilly, the inventor of the electric tattooing machine. O'Reilly died in 1908, and by this point, Wagner had taken over the shop. So let's go back a little further to get an idea of what Mr. Wagner had as a working environment and mentor before America got broke.

Tattooing has always been a cross-class activity; in the vast majority of indigenous tattooing, the hierarchy of the group carries the most and best tattoos. Westerners spread the practice on board ships and the hand poked tattoos of ocean crossings took a great deal of time to complete. Some of those sailors settled in port towns to tattoo by hand primarily serving the military of that port.

charlie wagner tattoo.jpg Let's look at NYC before Wagner...

Martin Hildebrandt, a German immigrant, settled in New York City in 1846 and did great trade up to and through the Civil War, crossing the line to tattoo both Yankees and Confederates, establishing himself as the tattooist in NYC. In 1875, Samuel O'Reilly opened his Chatham Square location and became Hildebrandt's competition. Remember at this point all tattooing was done by hand and a growing interest was stirring in the society class of New York as wealthy British and Europeans returned from India and Japan with handmade body decorations as souvenirs of their travels, men and women alike. European aristocracy had embraced tattooing for decades and the news was spreading west.
 
The 1870's New York tattoo craze was on. And of course with each dinner party, each ball, each of those tattooed aristocrats needed to out-do their peers with the delicacy of their tattoo work, the price was often bragging rights too (and one carefully cultivated among the tattooists). But this was an age of revolution -- every process that could be mechanized was being mechanized. O'Reilly sped up the process a hundred fold with his rotary machine, which meant more tattoos could be done, and bags of cash could be made.

Marketing himself directly at the wealthy O'Reilly followed the names of Sutherland MacDonald (London) and Hori Chyu (Yokohama) as the go to tattooist on this side of the Atlantic, and by the time Charles Wagner joined him in the 1890s, O'Reilly ran quite a fine establishment. His Japanese assistants not only served tea to the clients but also would be sent uptown to apply a tattoo in the residence of a wealthy patron. This cost extra I'm sure.

The Japanese studio layout was emulated too, the first room you entered had couches and pillowed nooks to sit and take your tea, the second room contained the apprentices, both Japanese and American in O'Reillys case, and this is where Wagner started. The third room was the masters studio and if you had enough money and influence you got tattooed there. This layout and hierarchy is very similar to the western "atelier". The atmosphere would have to be pleasant for the upper class customers, a surrounding they would feel comfortable in with its damask cushions and elegant artwork strewn walls.

On January 30th, 1880, the New York Times explained "...that the noble savage has become the newfangled ideal...and hence to be tattooed is to put one's self in sympathy with Nature and to protest the sickly conventionalities of civilization..."

The poet Andrew Lang, in his 1884 Rhymes a la Mode proclaimed a high-caste person when tattooed was really an Art's Martyr:
"...The china on the shelf is very fair to view,
And wherefore should mine outer self not correspond thereto?
In blue...my frame I must tattoo..."
So with the newspapers, the society balls and dinners, artists and statesmen alike buzzing with the tattoo fad from Europe, American tattooing flourished. High society names of the day wore tattoos from O'Reilly's establishment which could well have been tattooed by his assistant Wagner; among them Mrs. George Cornwallis West boasting a delicate snake around her left wrist, which she covered during the day with a matched gold bracelet, and Mrs. Clara Ward who's daytime dresses all had a long right sleeve and a short left sleeve but her evening dresses were constructed in reverse to reveal a snake circling her right shoulder and a butterfly.

1Clara_Ward_OReilly_snake around R shoulder butterfy on shoulder.jpgThe fashion waxed and waned each few years and those tattooists who endured were those who actively targeted their audience directly. In a 1905 publicity photo of Wagner, he's seen wearing a top hat and large fresh flower in his lapel, interestingly enough holding an O'Reilly machine when he had patented his own device (a side by side twin coil machine) only the year before.

But with the death of O'Reilly the socialites slowly stopped visiting Chatham Square as the fashions were changing and high society, in both Europe and the US, shunned the bold lines and "the American style" even straying from the patronage of Sutherland MacDonald in search of finer lines and more delicate work at the hands of Japanese masters such as Hori Chyu of Yokohama. This trend had started in the late 1890s, and by 1900, a New York millionaire had offered Hori Chyu an establishment in NYC at the annual salary of $12,000 (about $180,000 today). Sadly this arrangement never came to fruition.

The Bowery "fun zone" with its dime museums and amusements, displays of tattooed men and women and of course tattoo shops was falling out of vogue with the rich but not the average American. The tattooed men and women of the sideshow and circus were bread and butter for the tattooists of the day but sideshow wages were dropping and their novelty with the public wearing off. Just around the corner was the First World War and a new batch of tattoo hungry customers would descend upon the port city of New York...the military.

The latest and greatest development in the tattoo business was flash -- the stock images displayed usually on the walls and ready to be tattooed. These images had been around a long time, each individual artist making their own travel books and sketches but the wholesale distribution of pre-drawn flash really took off during WWI. The name "flash" is from the carnival days - a canvas roll of brightly colored images hanging outside the tattooist tent - to "flash" and catch the eye of the passing customer. Regimental badges, patriotic eagles and sweetheart remembrances are still with us as standard flash today.

Prior to about 1900 all the aristocratic atelier tattooing was custom drawn, made once and not repeated, in fact the  derogatory term "Jagger" (still in use on the Bowery until the mid-thirties) meant someone who uses stencils and does not draw the tattoo on the body or even tattoo the image without the use of guide lines. Jagger is from the Scottish slang "to jab wildly". The act of replication was frowned upon by the great names but proved to be the saving grace for the industry as electric tattooing equipment had been for sale through various gentlemen's magazines and publications and now sheets of designs could be purchased too.

Lew the Jew tattooed in NYC from the early 1900s and is the person most responsible for the proliferation of tattoo flash. A former wallpaper designer, he returned home from the Spanish American war tattooed and entranced by the tattoo business. His basic designs are those that set the western traditional style and are still seen today on the walls of shops across the world.

Harry Lawson took a different approach. His three room studio in Los Angeles had examples of tattoos framed on every wall -- not flash painted on paper or card but preserved human skin, contracted from people he had met, bribed from the local coroner's office and otherwise obtained by unknown methods. His workspace contained a large desk with medical books and implements giving him a learned air.  Mr. Lawson disappeared in 1920 and had advertised he was retiring in 1919, selling his entire operation and giving it up. He resurfaced on the Pike twenty years later. The stories of the high ranked officials and military officers he had tattooed were told until his death in 1950.

Harry Lawson 1919.jpgSo "Old School" should be a term used lightly.

In my humble opinion it correctly describes any tattooing pre-electric device, which would make the great names of O'Reilly, MacDonald, Burchett and Wagner..."New School"!

The image of the grubby man sitting outside his one room street front shop, hungry and, surly with it, are what we consider to be right for the Old School label. But as with most of the industrial revolution we remember the grit, grime and soot, the appalling sanitary conditions of the very end of this historic period. We forget the lavish interiors, the splendor of presentation, the exotic visual influences from Asia and India and the titled men and women of leisure who were old or new money and would spend it to out-spend their peers as a kind of competition of worth, capitalized on by the tattooists of the day.

So as we begin 2013, we see that it's not too dissimilar from 1913 in terms of tattooing. There are excellent custom tattoo studios out there producing quality work on a small scale and there are street shops banging out flash all day long. Each has its market as history repeats itself.

That was the Golden Age of tattooing as this is the Golden Age of tattooing.
 
At your service,
Paul Roe
--
Britishink Tattoos
Tattoodles Online Inc.
508 H St. NE
Washington DC 20002
202-302-1669
www.britishinkdc.com
www.tattoodles.com
Feb201125
01:01 PM
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This week I received a copy of Homeward Bound: The Life and Times of Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry and devoured it instantly. This limited edition hardcover is 128 pages filled with rare photos of the tattoo legend and his work, as well as images of turn-of-the-century newspaper clippings, vintage flash sheets, circus sideshow promos, snapshots of WWII sailors on shore leave and "hula girls," and so much more. It is quite rightfully described as using "the life of Sailor Jerry as the conduit to deliver a visual ethnography of American tattooing."

Beyond the images, what makes this book noteworthy are the essays on his Sailor Jerry's life and the historical information on tattooing in America that precedes it. Tons of fascinating facts and stats can be found right at the beginning, including bios on the first notable tattooers in the US, a glossary of sailor tattoos, and the general income of brothels that surrounded tattoo parlors in Hawaii where servicemen shipped off and returned home. ["Honolulu brothels took in $10 million during the war."] Then there are tattoo tidbits on the man himself, like the story behind the iconic Aloha Monkey design, and how Sailor Jerry got his name:

Although born Norman Keith Collins on January 14, 1911, his father nicknamed him him "Jerry" after the family's unruly mule. The nickname and the stubborness stuck.
As we noted in January, this year Sailor Jerry would've turned 100 years old. Perfect timing for this tribute. The book is a companion to the Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry film written and directed by Eric Weiss, who is also the creative director and a contributor to the book. Other contributors are Jason Buhrmester, David Farber, Beth Bailey, & Nick Schonberger.

Homeward Bound can be purchased for $75 on the SJ online store. For a better look inside the book, check the video below.

Nov200903
02:55 PM
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The Selvedge Yard blog -- whom we've link loved before -- has a fabulous array of vintage photos in today's post: "BTC Bristol Tattoo Club: The Skuse Family, Generations of Killer Ink."

The post offers historic info along with the many photos of the legendary tattoo family, whose studio, Les Skuse Tattoo, still operates in Keynsham, Bristol. You can read more about the Skuses's 80+ years in tattooing here and here (check the lip tattoo pic!).

Here's my favorite quote from Les (which we should all heed today):

"I have always been ready and willing to learn, never thinking I knew it all and continually searching for ways in which to improve my work and equipment. It is my firm belief that the more tattooists meet, correspond and exchange ideas, the better it will be both for the individual and the profession."

Thanks to Matt, Jake, and Rafe for the link!

--
UPDATE: The Lizardman just reminded me that many of these images can be found in Taschen's 1000 Tattoos book.
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EDITOR IN CHIEF:
Marisa Kakoulas
CONTRIBUTORS:
Miguel Collins
Craig Dershowitz
Brian Grosz
Sean Risley
Patrick Sullivan
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