Happy New Year, beautiful freaks!
As we begin lucky 2013, we wouldn't be a proper blog if we didn't take a look back on a very interesting year in tattoo culture. So, I've pulled ten of the most popular posts of the past year -- "popular" being determined by the less-than-scientific method of seeing what got the most hits, Tweets, Likes, FB Comments, and hate mail. Naturally, it was free giveaways that garnered the most love, but outside of our contests -- and there will be many more in the new year to come -- here's what was hot in no particular order:
The Eyeball Tattooing Video. Surprised?
Vice's Tattoo Age Series. An absolute favorite for thoughtful and fun filming of tattoo life, without drama.
WM3's Damien Echols on Tattoos & Tattooing. We were all thrilled for the release of the West Memphis 3, and even more so that Damien Echols found comfort in the tattoo community, and even picked up a machine himself. Here's my Q&A with Damien about his tattoo experience.
Contaminated Tattoo Inks. Risk of serious infection found through the use of non-sterile water in inks.
Arizona Supreme Court: "Tattoos are Free Speech." Our big legal victory of the year! [Many legal posts were also popular, including my usual blather on tattoo copyright, new state legislation, as in Florida's tattoo rules, and how tattoos have weighed on immigration issues.]
Of course, artists profiles are a huge part of the site and they get lots of love. Some of the most linked were posts on Miya Bailey, Chris Dingwell, David Allen, Jef Palumbo, Kristel Oreto, Pat Fish, and more recently, Guy Aitchison & Michele Wortman.
The most shared guest post was that of Paul Roe of Britishink: "The Skuse Family, Batty About Tattooing." It's packed with fantastic tattoo history. Another guest post that was incredibly "Liked" and "Retweeted" was the beautiful tribute Doug Moskowitz wrote on Father's Day about his legendary father Walter Moskowitz in "The Dad Royal."
A Tattoo to Transcend a Breast Cancer Battle. The story of Allison W. Gryphon -- and how she kicked cancer's ass and got the tattoo that marks her victory -- inspired many.
The Latest Tattoo Statistics. People just love nice, neat numbers.
Finally, we're grateful for the love you've shown us as we continue our own tattoo collection. While the actual 8-hours of rib tattooing wouldn't be the highlight of my year, the result certainly was a big one. Thank you, Dan DiMattia! And Brian also started and finished his backpiece by Mike Rubendall (55 and a half hours under the needle). It's nothing short of stunning. But yeah, after long, grueling sessions, your support really has meant a lot.
In fact, we appreciate any time you spend with us, reading the blog or sharing your thoughts on our social media forums and in person at conventions and other events. You have my thanks and most passionate kisses.
In September, we posted on the L.A. Skin & Ink exhibit, which is currently on view at the The Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles until January 6, 2013. We won't be able to make it to the West Coast before its closing, and so we're grateful to Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman, who offers this insightful review of the exhibition -- and a bit of a tattoo history lesson. The value of her expertise here is not limited to her thoughts on this particular show but also makes an excellent guide for those seeking to organize their own tattoo exhibitions. For more from Anna, check her Tattoo History Daily blog.
By Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman
As a tattoo-history scholar and curator, I'm always excited for the opportunity to see new exhibits that highlight the art form I love so much. My recent Thanksgiving trip to Los Angeles gave me the opportunity to stop by the LA Skin & Ink show at the Craft and Folk Art Museum. From the press release, I was expecting an in-depth investigation that "explores the unique role of Los Angeles in the Tattoo Renaissance over the last 60 years.
Sadly, the exhibit did not fulfill my expectations. Instead it presented a curatorially confused mishmash of flash, photographs, and artwork. Was this a tattoo history show? A show of fine art by tattoo artists? A show of art somehow generally related to tattooing? Upon rereading the press release post-visit, I probably should have tempered my enthusiasm in advance--it trots out many of the usual myths about tattooing pre-Renaissance being the purview of sailors and criminals (not to mention the typographical errors, which usually predict a general lack of attention to detail or consistency).
From my first steps into the exhibit, a disconnect between what the museum wanted the exhibit to be and what the exhibit ended up being became immediately clear. The wall text promises an exhibit about LA tattooers who "have been instrumental in researching and refining the distinct styles of Japanese, Tribal, and Black and Grey tattooing." It was a shock to turn around and then see, situated across from the wall text, essentially, an installation art piece rooted loosely in old-school Americana (described in the exhibit label as a "site-specific installation" by Lucky Bastard, Buzzy Jenkins, and Lincoln Jenkins). A wall filled with sheets of mid-20th-century flash hovered above an artist's evocation of a "historic" tattoo "station."
After a video monitor screening interviews with LA tattoo artists and collectors, the exhibit then transitioned into a brief tattoo-technology section. The press-release promised "tattoo equipment" which would make one assume there would be a sizeable selection. Two power supplies, two machines, and a single photograph of a machine, with a short 3-paragraph text about "How It Works" didn't really do any justice to an understanding of this aspect of tattooing nor was any unique LA angle with respect to tattoo technology obvious.
The next section started the confused mix of work that would characterize the rest of the show. Under the heading "American Traditional," classic old-school artists Bert Grimm and Bob Shaw shared a wall with Cliff Raven's work--much of it from his Chicago days, not his California ones. Across from them, tagged as "Japanese," hung Sailor Jerry flash and some contemporary fine-art pieces by Ed Hardy. At the end of the room a selection of "Tribal" tattooing highlighted Leo Zulueta's blackwork, which along with one of the pieces representing Zulu's work around the corner, appeared to be the only "tribal" included in the show.
Especially problematic for me in this gallery, I struggled to grasp why Sailor Jerry, who as far as I know did not work in LA, had been included in the show (and given such a large and prominent section). Also, none of the Hardy pieces were either from his LA days (the pieces were dated 1999-2007) nor particularly tattoo related (all of Hardy's fine-art work aesthetically draws at least a bit from his many years as a tattooer, but many, many other pieces would have been better choices for this exhibit--I would have loved to have seen in person some of the Bert-Grimm-inspired flash Hardy drew as a kid living in Orange County reproduced in "Tattooing the Invisible Man."
The slogan for knife makers Ka-Bar is "Hardcore Lives. Hardcore Knives." It makes sense as a large part of their brand are blades that can slice through a boar, or boarish person. Understanding that every tattooed person is of course "hardcore" (except when I'm dancing to Beyonce), Ka-Bar hired Joshua Frankel to create video shorts illustrating real stories of badasses using the knives via animated tattoos. He explains: "Hunting knives and tattoos share an inherent primal nature, and tattoo
art is an aesthetic that the customer base connects with. It's a strong
connection between concept and product." Damara Kaminecki, Johnnie Kravetz, Brett Zarro created the tattoo art that comes to life under Joshua's direction. See more videos on the Ka-Bar homepage.
Considering these are the first commercials ever for the 100-year-old brand, according to Joshua, they did some big promotions and even sent me a hunting knife as a sample for review. While many New Yorkers fantasize about stabbing people who block the subway doors or use monster golf umbrellas on crowded sidewalks, I really didn't have a way to properly (and legally) test it for y'all, so I gave it to my friend Jonas Sherman, a martial arts combatives teacher and tactical shooting instructor who knows a thing or two about guns, knives, and the impending zombie apocalypse.
Jonas put the Becker companion knife through a series of tests and found that the only way he could destroy it was with heavy artillery. See what went down below:
Note to self: Do Not anger Jonas.
Overall, a positive review for Ka-Bar regardless of the tattoo angle.