Results tagged “san francisco”

09:00 AM
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Thanks to Facebook, I was reminded that today is the birthday of one of my favorite blackwork artists: Roxx of 2Spirit Tattoo in San Francisco. Happy birthday, Roxx!

So when I went to the 2Spirit Facebook page, I found stunning new work that I had to share. Roxx is not only known for some of the boldest blackwork around (as shown below), but she is also able to create light and intricate sacred geometry patterns and, as evidenced by the very top photo, use the simplest forms to the greatest effect.

You can catch Roxx at the Bay Area Convention of the Tattoo Arts, Oct. 25-27.  She'll also be in NYC working to transform mastectomy scars on P.Ink Day, October 21st at Saved Tattoo.  [More on P.Ink Day here.]

I'm also honored that Roxx is one of the featured artists in Black Tattoo Art 2.

More of her work can be found on Instagram.

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04:32 PM

It's always a little weird when you get a phone call that asks, "Can you come by the shop so we can photograph your back? And... be sure to shave." (It's even weirder when you find yourself saying to your girlfriend, "No one is gonna see that part and it's gonna suck when it grows back - DON'T SHAVE ME THERE!")

But these are the sacrifices I will make for Horitaka - an amazing man, tattooist, publisher, event-organizer, and friend.

October 25-27th brings us the inimitable Bay Area Convention of the Tattoo Arts at the SFO Hyatt Regency. This year, Horitaka is presenting a seminar from Shige and a talk and book signing from Ed Hardy in addition to a "who's who" litany of tattooists grinding away in their booths.

If you're anywhere near San Francisco, it would behoove you to be at this amazing show. Trust me.

Click here to get more info on hours and pricing.

11:37 AM

While we've learned a great deal about the stellar artists featured in the Vice TV series Tattoo Age, the latest video, Part 2 of the Freddy Corbin profile, goes even further and offers a modern tattoo history lesson as Freddy muses on his start in tattooing over 27 years ago and the greats who have guided him.

Weaving old photos and archival video from Michael O. Stearns' tattoo documentaries from the 90s, the episode charts Freedy's life from his first tattoo at Lyle Tuttle's old San Francisco studio (which he paid for with a $75 tax return), to how he got Erno Szabady to give him his first shot, to that fateful call at 9am when Ed Hardy asked him to come work at his Realistic Tattoo studio. Along the way, Freddy tells stories about how he learned history from Sunny Tufts, how Henry Goldfield was a great mentor artistically and technically, and how he was inspired working alongside Dan Higgs and Greg Kulz.

Once again, another must see.

If you missed Part 1, you can find it here. See Freddy's work on

Tattoo Age has a contest where you can win this Dan Santoro print. Details on Twitter.
01:52 PM
For my San Francisco treats:  this Sunday, November 6th, an event celebrating the collaboration of tattooist Idexa Stern and photographer Aurora Meneghello will take place at Idexa's Black & Blue Tattoo, 381 Guerrero at 16th, from 6-9PM. More details on Facebook.

Aurora's beautiful portraits of Idexa's tattoo clients are featured in the hardcover I edited for Abrams Books, "Tattoo World," which will be available for purchase as well as prints of the images. A number of those portraits will be on display at the event. Here's some background on their collaboration:

Idexa and Aurora shared a common vision for this project and together decided to approach Idexa's tattoos in a different way than traditional tattoo photography. Idexa specifically asked Aurora to work on this project because of her love of the natural landscape and her experience photographing people. Aurora brings a different aesthetics to the genre, one that captures Idexa's original style which is rooted in the body of her clients. Idexa and Aurora share a love of collaboration and community and brought their values to this common project.

Idexa's work is inspired by shapes and forms found in urban and natural spaces. Just as tattoos become part of a person's body, so people are part of our environment. These photographs were taken outside, on Bernal Hill in San Francisco and At Helen Putnam Park in Petaluma, to free the artists from the constrains of traditional studio photography. The tattoos were given light and breath to shine on the skin.
Read more about it and see more photos on Aurora's blog.

03:09 PM

Got one more excellent tattoo artist video profile for you today:
Part III of the Tattoo Age feature on Grime of Skull & Sword in San Francisco.
Check Part I here and Part II here. Enjoy!
01:19 PM
Just back from vacation and catching up on the tattoo goodness I missed while helping the Greek economy with my food and bar tabs.

One such piece of goodness is the latest in Vice's VBS.TV series "Tattoo Age," which profiles renowned tattooers without any stomach-churning faux drama. Last month, the show featured Dan Santoro. Now August's three-part close-up is on the inimitable tattoo, graffiti and fine artist Grime of Skull & Sword in San Francisco.

Part 1 of Grime's profile focuses on his "tweeked out" portfolio, with plenty of tattoo images interspersed between commentary from the Skull & Sword crew as well as Saved Tattoo's Chris O'Donnell and Civ of Lotus Tattoo. In the video, Grime discusses how he approaches his work so that it "doesn't look like anyone else's" (otherwise, why would clients go to him, he says). Chris adds that he believes Grime came onto the tattoo scene "angry at the status quo" and wanting to change things up; while Civ talks about how Grime's burn accident as a kid shaped his intense drive to continually challenge himself. Watch the episode below.

At midnight, Vice will air Part 2, a more intimate view of the artist. I got a sneak peek and enjoyed watching Grime riffle through his old drawings and stencils, and show of his custom skate deck collection. Of course, there's plenty of tattoo talk, especially on his artistic influences like Marcus Pacheco of Primal Urge in Oakland. Also well worth the watch.

UPDATE:  Here's the direct link to Part 2 of the Grime series.

Following Grime's profile is Troy Denning, Mike Rubendall, and Freddy Corbin. Will post links to those videos when they're up.
10:54 AM
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In San Francisco's Mission District, Shannon Archuleta works in her private tattoo atelier creating custom decorative pieces that harmonize beautifully with the shape of the body.

Shannon says of her work, "I seem to be sought out for my lines and floral, but I enjoy all sorts of styles. Lately, I am really enjoying a more narrative style." 

Tattooing since 1994, the Sonoma County, CA native says that she continues to learn every day and tries to "keep up with all these new, talented young'uns pouring out of every corner." When she's not tattooing, she's hiking, antiquing, and taking pretty pictures.

Shannon has a positive vibe about her that is really infectious. I met her at the NYC Tattoo Convention years ago and liked her instantly. She has a great ability to put people at ease, which is so important in tattooing. And she's got a wicked sense of humor.

In this spotlight, I chose to highlight Shannon's Mehndi-inspired blackwork above, a feminine paisley rib piece and white ink nouveau poppy chestpiece below. To see more of her portfolio, you can check her website or her Flickr page (where there's more work in progress and cover-ups).

For appointments, contact her via email at shannon at or call 1.415.336.9406.

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11:00 PM
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I've really tried to put a moratorium on my use of the term "badass," but I gotta make an exception here as it so perfectly fits the body of work -- and tattooist herself -- in this artist spotlight:  Roxx TwoSpirit (aka Bling Bling Roxx) of 2Spirit Tattoo in San Francisco.

Roxx is on my A list in the US for exceptional blackwork tattoos -- whether they be big, bold and heavy black or delicate, highly stylized line and dotwork. Roxx says that her inspiration stems from "a fusion of indigenous art, the beauty found in nature, urban street culture, and fine graphic design." She has a particular talent for harmonizing the art to the bodies of her loyal clientele, so that the tattoos appear almost organic to the wearer. It's powerful work.

Her tattoo career began on the streets of London in the late 80s, hand-poking punk rockers. She's lived and worked all over Europe and has finally settled down in San Francisco, CA. When Roxx is not painting San Francisco black, it's all about photography, her girlfriend Corey and their pitbulls Sumo and Apache.

See more of her work on Tumblr and Facebook.

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12:11 PM
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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.

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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.

holly ellis painting.jpgTo 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:
12:22 PM
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Celebrating its sixth successful year, A Convention of the Tattoo Arts will take place October 22-24, this year in SF at The San Francisco Airport Hyatt Regency. Organized by State of Grace Productions, the show is run by tattooists for tattooists and collectors, and not by a convention corp trying to squeeze a buck out of the "tattoo fad." In addition to the hand-picked roster of artists, there are a number of exciting events that weekend.

For one, there's the groundbreaking seminar by Chris Conn Askew: "Drawing Women for Tattoo, the Chris Conn Way." The class, which costs $200 a person, entails a slide-show presentation and lecture, live sketching, and Q&A with the artist (who retired from tattooing in 2006). Program details can be found on Chris's Tumblr blog. Each attendee will also receive an instructional sketchbook, signed and numbered, exclusive to this convention. The seminar is a limited-enrollment event and is already 90% booked, so if you're interested, it's best to get in touch with Chris at right away (no drop-ins will be accepted). You can view more of Chris' fine art, like the one above, on his gallery page.

A number of book releases and signings are taking place as well:  Grime's much anticipated book covering his last ten years, and Jill "Horiyuki" Mandelbaum's Tattoo Artist: A Collection of Narratives. Also for sale will be the Bob Roberts: In a World of Compromise I Don't and These Old Blue Arms: The Life & Work of Amund Dietzel, among other books.

The show kicks off Thursday evening, October 21st, with an opening party hosted by Black Heart Tattoo. For more info, check the convention site.
11:25 AM
idexa stern tattoo.jpgFor the past couple of weeks, I've been posting some previews of tattoos featured in my upcoming books because I'm so psyched (exclamation point) every time I get a new batch of photos and can't wait to share. While the focus has been on the tattoo art of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't give props to the wonderful photographers who are a part of these projects. So today, I'm doing both.

Check the tattoo work of Idexa Stern of Black & Blue Tattoo and photographer Aurora Meneghello who's captured Idexa's clients here (and in the book).

Idexa, who was also featured in my Black Tattoo Art book, specializes in abstract and blackwork tattoos drawn freehand on the body so that the art--whether it be geometric lines or soft flowing patterns--appears organic, just really natural, on the wearer. Idexa is about making the tattoo experience a personal and spiritual one in the belief of self-transformation through art. She says, "One could think of tattooing as a way of making the outside of the body look more the way it feels from the inside."

idexa stern tattoo3.jpgAnd so, with this philosophy, it seems such a natural fit to be working with photographer and filmmaker Aurora Meneghello whose mission it is to not only make her subjects look "beautiful in the photo but also feel beautiful inside."  
In shooting tattooed beauties, Aurora keeps the art in focus but never loses the crux that it is on a living canvas. There's also a gentleness and serenity in her photos, which is far from the rock & roll candied pin-up imagery often seen today (which I dig, there's just so much more of it).

On her blog, Aurora discusses her collaboration with Idexa:

"Idexa loves what she does, and her enthusiasm is contagious. She told me she wanted to move away from the usual pictures of tattoos in the studio, in front of a black background, so we got creative, looking for a background that matched each tattoo, and shooting outside, using natural light. Luckily the weather cooperated." 

The risk of doing this is that the environment can overwhelm the very point of the photo--to show the tattoo. Not so here. You can see more of the images from that shoot on Aurora's  blog.
Ok, and it's also cool to see talented women combining super-powers. Idexa's women owned and gender inclusive shop has been around since 1996 and continues to thrive. Idexa won "Best Tattoo Artist" last year in the SF Bay Guardian's Best of The Bay poll.  

Aurora has also won numerous awards and her work has been shown at Intersection for the Arts, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts and Galeria de la Raza. As a filmmaker, she's worked on fiction and non-fiction projects, including her role as Director of Photography to the multimedia piece Hey Sailor. She's also the co-writer and director of Default: the Student Loan Documentary.

And so for kicking butt--in a loving, gracious way--these are my "hot inked" women of the day!

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02:07 PM
ink-n-iron photo by nicole reed.jpgInk-n-Iron Fest photo by Nicole Reed

Tattoo events are taking place every thirty seconds throughout the summer, from New Jersey to Taiwan. Here's our pick list for the next few months to get you planning your own tattoo tour.


This weekend, June 11-13th, at the Ink-n-Iron show, custom cars, pin-up girls, Rockabilly bands, and top tattooists converge around and aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. I've been following the road trips of artists and vendors on Twitter as they make their way over for the seventh year of this sleep-less event.  Too much to do there: live shows, the International Pole Performer Showcase, the Pin-Up Pageant, Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School, hot rod and kustom car contests, and of course, you could get tattooed by these excellent artists. Check the photos from previous shows, like the one above, on this page.  

I noticed a few of my faves weren't going to be at Ink-n-Iron this weekend but instead are working the Krakow Tattoo Fest in Poland--artists like Robert Hernandez, Victor Portugal, Zsolt Sarkozi and even Jeremiah Barba will be there (and not in his Long Beach homebase--I also think Slayer has something to do with this).

Next weekend, June 18-20, artists will also be divided among two popular shows, Northern Ink Xposure (NIX) in Toronto, Canada and the Evian Tattoo Show in France. The longstanding NIX show will host seminars, Art Fusion and a fine art gallery, among the mix of tattoo goodness. On Thursday before the convention kicks off, there will be a silent auction benefit for Skate4Cancer where tattoo artists donated custom painted skate decks for the charity.

I'm a little bummed that I won't be able to make it to the Evian Fest as it's the last show in this beautiful city. Gene Coffey of Tattoo Culture offered his thoughts on last year's show here (from friendly crowds to dapper mustaches.) He also took some photos, including this one below of a tattoo he did there. The client wanted Gene to tattoo the words "Bonjour Mademoiselle" but in the way he thought it would be spelled. Gene has never taken a French lesson. Obviously.

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So, remember the Pint Size Paintings exhibit I've been talking about, which launched at Hell City Killumbus? Well, the show is coming to NYC's Sacred Gallery but for one night only, July 9th. Don't miss it!

Alas, I will miss it myself because Brian and I will be in County Cork, Ireland, July 10 & 11, for The Traditional Tattoo and World Culture Festival. I am so excited for this! It's going to be a small gathering, in Cobh, of artists and collectors who love traditional tattoo--not in the Americana sense, but the tribal. For me, it's really a family reunion with Colin Dale and Xed Le head, who were featured in my Black Tattoo Art book, and a chance to hang out once again with the audacious Pat Fish, Queen of Celt. If you're looking for a tattoo vacation in a sea-side town with a bunch of beautiful freaks, please join us.  

July 30 through August 1st, Asbury Park, New Jersey will be home to the  Visionary Tattoo Arts Festival. I usually don't list first conventions because most have a rough start but when I saw the artist roster, I had to include it. It's another beachfront party--albeit a bigger one--with live painting, music and sideshow performances. We'll be there handing out Needles and Sins swag so look down. I'm short.

That weekend is also the Taiwan Tattoo Convention. Paul Booth, Shige, and Jason Stewart will be the main attractions but the tattoo art that's coming out of Taiwan itself demands attention, like the work of Andy Shou shown below. For more info on the show, hit the page.

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August 6-8, over 300 tattooists will descend upon Doncaster, England for Skin Deep's Tattoo Jam, one of the biggest conventions in the UK. When I went to the Tattoo Jam in 2008 (held in Wales), I had such a blast and got a hand-poked Thai tattoo as well. [See the photos here.] The diversity of artistic styles is vast so there's something for everyone at this show.

Also, Tattoo Jam has teamed up with the best named tequila brand ever for the Hornitos Design Competition where you get a chance to design a limited-edition Hornitos bottle, and if you win, oh, prizes abound.

August 27-29 is Hell City Phoenix's "Let It Burn" fest. What more can I say? If it's as good as last month's Killumbus show, then it's worth braving Arizona, even if you look like "an illegal."

For some advance planning, here are our favorite shows in September and October:

And with that, I'll leave y'all to update your calendars.
01:12 PM

I wanted to share this fabulous video to the fabulous song, San Francisco by Jill Sobule,
which includes footage at Everlasting Tattoo.  Tattooists Mike Davis and Henry Lewis give good face in this video directed by our personal goddess and savior, Margaret Cho.

The record comes out on April 14th. Pre-order it here.

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