Results tagged “redux”

02:05 PM
Chad Koeplinger tattoo.jpg
Tattoo by Chad Koeplinger on Cian Wright of

When do you people leave?

I was pulled aside and asked this, rather politely, by the night manager of the Ibis hotel where tattooists packed the bar and restaurant celebrating the end of a successful London Tattoo Convention. They'd all soon go back to their studios around the world, but as I looked at the mass of scary looking dudes beer swilling and back slapping, I knew that it wouldn't be soon enough for this frazzled hotel employee.

We weren't badly behaved. We were just intense. Three days in a place where thousands converged to feel and give pain, to preen and gawk--all surrounded by buzzing, blood and the blare of heavy metal--well, it demands a little steam letting.

The London convention is one of the world's largest. As I mentioned last week, over 20,000 people descended upon the historic Tobacco Dock in 2009; this year, however, it seemed a bit less although the organizers didn't give an official head count yet. Lines to get in still went down the block (and we won't even discuss the bathroom lines). But everywhere you looked, tattooists were working.

The artist roster was a Who's Who of Tattoo. Any type of tattoo could be had; the masters of all these styles were there and some even opted to take some appointments from the floor and not book up completely in advance. I wonder if those who managed to score time appreciated their luck.

sharon of classic ink and body mods.jpgTim Hendricks tattoo on Sharon of Classic Ink & Mods.

The last tattoo show we attended was the Traditional Tattoo & Wolrd Culture Fest in Ireland, which felt like a mini-Woodstock. In sharp contrast, the London show was an amped Warped Tour:  kilowatts of commotion, crowds to lose your friends in, packed pubs, freakshows and Fuel Girls. The energy was just bouncing off the vaulted brick halls.

Within this historic warehouse, artists worked in a maze of glass enclosures. It was like an art zoo, where tattooists were fed cash to perform artistic feats. This menagerie was easy to get lost in, but one you want to get lost in; where you could unintentionally find a tattooer whose work you've never known before that blows you away.

This year, however, I didn't have the luxury of getting lost and making these discoveries. I stayed in my own glass exhibition space with Edgar Hoill as we sold out our massive "Black & Grey Tattoo" box sets and displayed Edgar's photography on the gallery walls.

Also with us was Lars Krutak, our favorite tattoo anthropologist, whose latest book "Kalinga Tattoo" is a stunning--and also massive--hardcover featuring photos and stories of the ancient tattoo tribe in the Philippines. [More on that book coming up.]

indio signing.jpgIndio Reyes signing his artist pages in "Black & Grey Tattoo."

Because I spent most of my time shilling books, I didn't do my usual flitting about. Thankfully Brian did, taking plenty of photos and bringing back some good stories, which he'll post once he recovers from the hand-poked toe tattoo he got from Clare Goldilox.

[I also did a hand-poked tattoo, my first tattoo ever actually. And I did it on Clare's bum. It was not my finest moment. [Although she does have a fine bum.] When I'm feeling more shameless, I may just do a post on it. Or maybe not. Needless to say, I won't be tattooing ever again.]

In fact, lots of post-convention late night tattooing takes place, and sometimes it takes place after a bottle of Jack Daniels. You know the stories of people taking a sharpie marker to draw all over the guy who passes out at a party? Ok, now imagine that with a tattoo machine.

Those stories were traded during that final convention night revelry at the Ibis bar, but no machines were whipped out and skin scratched. We left with hugs and handshakes, and the hotel employees finally got their rest.
02:39 PM
joe and cammy.jpg It was a tattoo love fest this past weekend at the Traditional Tattoo & World Culture Festival -- festival being the key word as Phil Cummins made it clear that he set out to organize a gathering that was far from the impersonal mega-conventions ubiquitous around the world. And he did so.

See over a hundred of Brian's photos here.

The fest felt like a cross between a family reunion and mini-Woodstock (or Glastonbury for my UK homies). Most tattooists worked in yurts surrounding the Marlogue Inn, and in adjoining fields, you found a big circus-like tent for bands and burlesque; a small group of vendors selling jewelry and clothing; and some convention-goers pitching their own tents to crash close-by after all the partying. Overlooking the fields, by the tree line, a suspension rig was hung for flesh-pulling fun.

Flowers adorned women's hair (mine with a skull barrette courtesy of Goldilox).
Shirtless kids ran around tattooing each other with marker pens.

Vegan yummies were sold just steps away from flaming burgers.

Booze, booze, booze.

And of course, there were drunken sing-a-longs around a Pan-like punk with an accordion.

Yup, it was pretty hippie.

But Brian and I dropped our Brooklyn badittudes, threw ourselves into the spirit of it all, and came outta the weekend smiling and (largely) unscathed.

I'm gonna break down my highlights below, but for full festival coverage, check my upcoming review for Total Tattoo magazine.

durga tattooing.jpg The festival stayed true to its "Traditional Tattoo & World Culture" label. Hand tattooing was ever-present, which was best considering the downpour on Saturday making electric tattooing in the main tent troublesome. In the smaller tattoo yurts, you had Durga from Indonesia (shown above) hand-tapping traditional Mentawai and Dayak Borneo tattoos. It was wonderful to watch and learn, and I'm grateful to him and Janti for letting me hang out.

Across from Durga's tent was Denmark's Colin Dale, who not only tattooed his signature hand-poked Nordic motifs, but also paid homage to Inuit skin sewing on one brave man who was gracious to allow a stream of convention goers come in and out of the tent to gawk in utter fascination. Yesterday, I posted Brian's video of the skin sewing here. Ya gotta see it.

As I mentioned, most machine work was in the main tattoo tent. Dotwork guru Xed Led Head got an early start on Friday night during the pre-party by continuing a facial tattoo collaboration with Matt Black on fellow blackwork artist Joe Munroe. [That work is the first image shown above.] Matt also got a few dots in the next day (shown below).

matt black tattoos joe munroe.jpg
That pre-party was pretty lubricated, so in our feel-good state at 3AM, Brian had the idea to create a "Tattoo Cribs" video (ala MTV) featuring Matt and his monster suite--three times bigger than our musty micro-room. That video is coming up.

[**Actually, the pre-party for us really began on the flight over when we met Cammy of Metalurgey in Dundee, Scotland, and his beautiful girlfriend Katie on the plane. It appeared that we were grouped together and segregated from the other passengers, like in-flight detention for the tattooed. And that was just fine with us.**]  

The nerve center of the fest was inside the Marlogue Inn's bar and restaurant, where I had a table for signing copies of my Black Tattoo Art book ... and playing Pippi LongShortstocking. As it was the driest area on Saturday with the largest wall space, I was surrounded by beautiful fine art work including that of Boz (his online gallery is a must-see) and Claire Artemyz, of whom I'm a long-time fan for her "body landscapes," which are intense and intimate super close-ups of tattooed skin.

ManWoman.jpgAlso in our indoor space was the incomparable Pat Fish, the Queen of Celt, who surprisingly was the only one tattooing the native art of the Irish. Pat was a machine and didn't stop working the entire weekend, but we did find a moment to chat about tattoos, law and her most excellent mule.

The keynote speaker of the fest (shown right) was ManWoman, an artist who has devoted most of his life to reclaiming the swastika from its Nazi association and bringing it back to its ancient, peaceful origins. This reclamation was an overriding theme throughout the fest and "gentle swastika" tattoos adorned many bods there. I interviewed ManWoman for Total Tattoo and had a lot of questions on whether the symbol could ever shed the horrors that surround it. ManWoman had his own yurt where he sold his books and his "Smiley Swastika" tees.

Another huge highlight for me was finally meeting in person Dimitris of Hellenix Stixis and the gorgeous Clare Goldilox -- both of whom I've featured here for their hand-poked tattooing. Dimitris schooled me on the importance of learning the symbolism and history behind the motifs he extensively researches and then tattoos. And Goldilox, well, she did the wildest tattoo of the weekend: a hand-poked handprint butt tattoo. Ok, this tattoo needs its own paragraph ...

So, the I-will-never-anger-a-man-that-large head of security for the festival, Mick, and his lovely wife Christine approached Clare wanting the imprint of his hand on the right cheek of her behind. Next thing ya know, his hand is dipped in ink to make the stencil, a skirt is lifted, and the task of proper placement on the butt cheek begins ... oh, and with the couple's awesome teenage daughter standing by and offering guidance on whether it should be a little higher up and to the left. Claire spread out rugs on the floor of the restaurant, then had Christine lay upon them, and proceeded to hand-poke her butt.

Wait, it gets better ...

Once the outline was done, Phil's son Callan Cummins arrived to take part in the tattooing. Callan is Ireland's famed 8-year-old tattooist featured in mass media and even this documentary. The decision to have him tattoo went something as nonchalant as this:

"Mum, may I help Clare tattoo Christine's bum?"
"What did ya father say?"
"Ok, but do whatever Clare tells ya."

And this is what it looked like:

Goldilox and Callem tattooing.jpg
Callan was serious and tattooed like a pro.

Clare finished it up after a brief interruption by the cops (the bar/resto was not supposed to be open that late but something was worked out), and Christine was left smiling with her sexy new tush.

Then pints were poured.  A drunkenly exuberant DJ played that funky music.  And it seemed that every single person there was feelin' the love.

Ok, I've written too many words here, but the very best way to get the feel for the fest is to check out our Flickr photo set.

Share and enjoy. 
02:32 PM
rocknroll chirstmas music.jpg
Our Holiday Gift Guide is at an end and we'll be back to our regular news, events, and blah blah next week. Gonna run-down the week's posts but before I do, a gift from us to you:

A full free download of the Priestess and the Fool's album Ride On, Santa (by our own Brian Grosz and Saint Bernadette's Meredith DiMenna). It's a collection of re-imagined holiday music for scrooges, atheists, and all types of bah-humbuggery, which features old classics, cult Muppets and a drunken '80s Irish Pogue. Down a bowl of spiked-eggnog & enjoy.

And now the Holiday Gift Guide Round-up:

I hope we've helped with your shopping lists. The best gifts you could give us are supporting our advertisers; hitting the donate button (right); posting our banners; sharing our posts on your blogs, Facebook pages and in your Tweets; or just simply keep reading and giving us feedback so we can give ya what you want in a humble tattoo blog.

Much love. More Monday.
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