My portrait above painted by Shawn Barber.
Painting above by David Allen.
At a time when media is hyper-focused on tattooists on TV or those with a billion Instagram followers, it was refreshing to find a piece focused on the fine art of tattoo artists: "9 Tattoo Artists Who Have Also Made a Career as Painters."
While it doesn't go too deep, the list features artists particularly renowned for their paintings: David Allen, Tim Lehi, Mike Davis, Carlos Torres, Adrian Dominic, and Shawn Barber, who honored me by painting my portrait (shown above). I also learned of the work of SupaKitch, and Vancouver-based artists Nomi Chi and Alison Woodward.
Of course, today, there are countless tattoo artists showing in galleries around the world, and this list could reach 900 rather than 9; however, noticeably absent were Paul Booth, Filip, & Titine Leu, who co-founded the Art Fusion Experiment in 2000 to encourage tattooers to create fine art spontaneously and collaboratively.
Nevertheless, the article is worth a look and more posts like this should be encouraged. It certainly beats those "Top Ten Infinity Symbol Tattoos" lists.
Painting above by Nomi Chi.
Rose HardyFilip Leu
Claudia De Sabe
UPDATE: In just a little more that a month, the fine art exhibit "Time: Tattoo Art Today," on view at Somerset House in London, will close on October 5. Our friend Serinde recently visited the show and sent photos, which we've posted to our Flickr stream. Serinde described the show as "surprising, striking, and above all extremely well executed." If you plan on attending the wonderful London Tattoo Convention, make sure to put this exhibit on your must see list while you're there.
Garnering rave reviews in London, "Time: Tattoo Art Today" presents the fine art of 70 some of our finest tattooers around the globe, including Filip Leu, Ed Hardy, Horiyoshi III, Paul Booth, Guy Aitchison, Kore Flatmo, Rose Hardy, Mister Cartoon, Chuey Quintanar, Volker Merschky and Simone Pfaff, among other artists. "Time" opened at Somerset House in London last week, and drew a great deal of media attention, highlighting just how skilled the artists in our community can be in mediums beyond skin. For a glimpse into the exhibit, the BBC offers this video.
Curated by tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe and publisher Miki Vialetto, the tattooers were asked to create a new work for the exhibition on the theme of time. Here's more from Somerset:
The resulting collection ranges from oil painting, watercolours and traditional Japanese silk painting to paint layering on real skulls, airbrush and bronze sculpture. Time and all it infers (such as life and death) is a classic, common motif in tattoo art, expressed through a vast variety of iconographic combinations. For example, the popular inkings of butterflies, blossoms and the handled cross signify life, while memento moris such as skulls or the goddess Kali denote death. Many of these symbols are also present in the original pieces displayed.See more works from the exhibit on the museum's site and on Miki's Tattoo Life site.
"Time: Tattoo Art Today" will be on view at Somerset House until October 5, 2014. All artworks on display, as well as the show's catalog, prints and other memorabilia, are available to purchase at the Rizzoli Bookshop.
Painting by Billy Morrow Jackson.
Today is Election Day in the US, and while it may not sound punk rock, I do believe in being part of the democratic process and that voting does make a difference. If it didn't, why is so much money being poured into campaigns to court us? As my friend Steph tweeted, "It's punk as f*ck to stick to your beliefs." And so I hope that you will head to the polls and honor those women, Native Americans, African Americans, the poor and so many others who struggled so we can have some say in our democracy.
For more on the Uncle Sam painting by Billy Morrow Jackson, check out this N+S post.
On April 1st, Holly Ellis celebrated the 7th Anniversary of her Idle Hand studio with a monster bash, where bands played on the roof of her shop while the hopeful crowded outside to be a part of Get What You Get Night. As Holly explains on her blog, people lined up to put a quarter in a gumball machine and whatever design came out, that's the tattoo they would get. Here's more:
I think we've done somewhere around 6 or so of them and there are some people who have been to Every.Single.One. I believe the final count was around 45 tattoos during our most recent one. We had to start turning people away at 10pm because we were already so deep in people waiting that if we took any more we'd be there all night. So we felt bad having to say no, but we aren't robots, dammit! The last tattoo was finished around 1:30 AM! What an awesome night! We had people buying tattoos off each other, trading tattoos, getting several tattoos, it was insane!Tattoos included skulls, snakes, dragons and even these mini-portraits shown below.
You can see more of that party in this video by Corduroy films.
Beyond gumball tattoos, Holly has a seriously solid and diverse tattoo portfolio, from classic Americana to vibrant florals to buttery black & grey work. And her fine art must not be missed. Holly, who holds a BFA from Texas State University, has been painting since 1990; she has a passion for printmaking & book arts as well.
To get tattooed by Holly, or any one of the talented artists at Idle Hands, you must go to the shop (no email or phone appointments), or you can catch her at one of these upcoming conventions:
An exciting solo show of paintings inspired by tattoo art opens November 19th at the Gebert Gallery in Venice, California: The Human Canvas by Paul Ecke.
Paul contacted me after finding my Black Tattoo Art book last year and being inspired by work he saw in it. I helped put him in contact with a number of the tattoo artists in the book like Yann Black, Rory Keating and Roni Zulu among others, which led to the beautiful collaborations that comprise The Human Canvas series. In this video interview below, Paul and Zulu discuss "how both artist's passions cross over into each other's mediums."
For more on the paintings, Virginia Repasky of Art Management says:
In "The Human Canvas," artist, Paul Ecke explores the reality that each of us is tattooed, some on the outside but all on the inside, where we all hide our burdens and pleasures in a very secret way. This suite is a continuation of the artist's earlier work "Men Behind Gates." "Men Behind Gates" represented a return to his classical figurative training and became an awakening of man's emotional struggles--struggles imposed by society as well as self. Like "Men Behind Gates," this is a raw and an emotionally driven series that is both bold and honest in content. Yet "The Human Canvas" forgoes the implementation of the painted gate and instead propels the viewer to a more provocative and passionate exploration through the form of the tattoo.
The Human Canvas will be on view at the Gebert Gallery until December 15th.
Yet another tattoo-themed museum exhibition just opened in Boston: The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) presents Dr. Lakra, the first solo show of Mexican tattooist and painter Jerónimo López Ramírez, aka Dr. Lakra.
Dr. Lakra gained popularity as a tattooist in the 1990s but this popularity led to his frustration with the business of tattooing (although he still tattoos on occasion) and toward a different canvas. He tells the Boston Globe:
"People tattooing in Mexico were doing it with homemade machines. I went and got the stuff and built myself a machine, and then I didn't know exactly how to use it. It was totally different. I had to learn how to draw again with this machine.
His paintings, however, manifest his love of tattoo imagery, as seen in the works exhibited at ICA. The show's introduction makes a particular note of this: "Referencing diverse body art traditions from Chicano, Maori, Thai, and Philippine cultures, Dr. Lakra layers spiders, skulls, crosses, serpents, and devils over these existing images." The existing images they refer to are vintage prints of pin-up girls, luchadores,1940s Mexican businessmen, and Japanese sumo wrestlers. The predominant themes throughout the work: sex and death.
In describing the exhibit's commissioned wall mural, the Globe says it is "the raunchiest imagery...from which parents may wish to shield young children." They add:
"[the mural] oozes impish devils, drawings of brains, and other internal organs, vampires, piles of dung, tribal totems, and ugly-looking deep sea creatures. It makes absolutely no sense, and it's rather wonderful.
To which I say, yeah oozing imps and phalluses!
Dr. Lakra is on view at ICA until September 6th. Check the online preview of the show; you can also listen to audio commentary on the works here. The show is sponsored by Converse, which made this video below on the artist's inspirations and process [via Highsnobiety.com]
Tonight, The Shooting Gallery in San Francisco presents Shawn Barber's Tattooed Portraits: Snapshot,18 new works capturing the spirit and soul of tattoo artists and collectors.
I've been a fan of Shawn's Tattooed Portrait series since he began it in 2004, particularly for the seductive, fluid renderings of tattooists, whether it be full portraiture or intense focus on their hands. Tattoo artists can be hard people to crack, to convey their soulfulness beyond tough exteriors, but Shawn's open, friendly nature brings down those barriers and the results are very personal and engaging.
One of my favorites is actually not of a tattooist but of actress/activist/hottie Margaret Cho, who is shown (below) getting tattooed by Mike Davis and sucking on a loli (the minx!).
Read more about Shawn's work in his Fecal Face interview. Also check his latest book Forever and Ever available for purchase on his site.
The Shooting Gallery show opens at 7pm tonight and runs until September 8.