Results tagged “tattoo culture”
I thoroughly enjoyed this Heartbeat NY video profile on Gene Coffey, resident artist of Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn, in which he shares his thoughts on originality, plagiarism, and finding one's own voice in tattooing, among other great discussions on the art.
Gene is just as adept in painting images with words as he is with a tattoo machine and with brushes. I love how he phrases his work as a remix of images and experiences said with a slightly different accent, and also how he explains how he came to develop his distinct tattoo style, in the vein of his fine artwork, with the encouragement of innovating French tattoo artists Noon and Loic (aka Xoil), who are regular guests at Tattoo Culture. Gene says that Noon advised him to take out every image in his portfolio that he no longer wanted to tattoo and just to leave those works that represented the type of work he wanted to take on going forward. He did so, and in the process, became a tattooer renowned for expanding the definition of what a "tattoo" is.
I also found myself nodding my head and saying Amen when he talked about "tattoo plagiarism" and finding copies of his custom tattoos. He shares that it's not just a copy of an image that someone is stealing, but all his life experiences that it took to make that tattoo.
Of course he says this in a much more quirky and interesting Gene Coffey way, so I recommend watching the full video, which was created by Snorri Sturluson.
Find more of Gene's tattoos on Instagram, and the Tattoo Culture site.
Almost three years ago, we posted an artist spotlight on Russia-born tattooer George Bardadim at the time when he was doing his very first guest spot in the US at Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn. Today, George has made NYC his home, working as a guest artist at Tattoo Culture, along with residents Gene Coffey and Brian Wren, and also tattooing in Pennsylvania at Sink the Ink in Doylestown. A great reason to toast with some vodka!
What I particularly love about George's portfolio is the incredible versatility he has in rocking a hyper-realistic black & grey piece one day and then creating a vibrant and harmonious Japanese-inspired work the next. It's not easy to find an artist who truly excels in so many different tattoo genres.
I just saw on the Tattoo Culture Facebook page that George is now taking new consultations, so this post isn't just a tease for an artist whose work you can't get for another few years.
See more of George's tattoos on his site, Facebook, and Instagram.
The greatest gift of this blog is getting messages from y'all sharing your own beautiful works of art and the stories behind them. Unlike what reality TV shows tell us, not every tattoo has to have some great deep meaning. Much of my own tattoos were done simply because I like the way they look. But surrounding the tattoo -- whether it be the process, the symbolism, the design, and even just what your mama said about it -- is, indeed, a story.
Fellow New Yorker, Elaine, sent me a message about how she arrived at her recent work of art and was gracious to let me share it with you.
Elaine, who is of Filipino heritage, had commissioned West Coast-based artist Christian Cabuay for her own original Baybayin calligraphy. Baybayin was the ancient written language of the Philippines prior to the Spanish arrival in the 16th century. Christian is an expert in Baybayin, and I highly recommend exploring his site for tutorials and further information. Interestingly, Christian has a Baybayin translator on his site, but it comes with the warning not to use it for tattoos, as "the program is accurate but it's only as good as what you enter." As in most general tattoo advice, it's best to get it done custom and by an expert.
With her custom calligraphy in hand, Elaine was looking for an artist to translate the design on her body. She found Black Tattoo Art and my writing on the Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon Tribe -- a group of people, largely based in the US, of Filipino ancestry, who are reviving Filipino tattoo traditions. The Tribe works with a number of tattooists around the world in translating the ancient tattoo patterns and writing on skin, and one studio they work with is Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn, NY.
Tattoo Culture's renowned resident artist, Gene Coffey, worked with Elaine to create her Baybayin tattoo, incorporating his trademark splatter and color swath, resulting in this wonderful work shown above, which Elaine is "over the moon about." I love hearing that!
In sharing her story, I wanted to convey that coming up with a work like Elaine's could often take time and a lot of research, but the result is worth every bit of it all.
This past Saturday I added to my tattoo collection by getting both sides of my ribs done, courtesy of Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo. Here's how it went down:
I woke up to the smell of steak and eggs (sorry, vegans), which Brian was preparing especially for my appointment. While this may seem like a frivolous detail -- akin to me seeing photos of everything my friends eat posted on Facebook -- my point in mentioning it is the importance of a fueling up before a session because, really, getting needled takes a toll on your body and you need to feed it to keep going. [Keep in mind that I'm Greek, and we eat like we're getting tattooed every day.]
After breakfast comes outfit choice. Something loose fitting and slung low on the hips so as not to rub against and irritate the fresh tattoo. When I got my hips done last time, I wore breakaway pants -- the kind sports figures and male strippers tear off (woohoo!) -- so I can undo the snaps along the sides to expose just the skin being tattooed and not flash everyone at the shop. I highly recommend them. But they weren't necessary this time as we decided to extend the tattoo from the existing flowers and snakes on my hip bones and not lower down. Yoga pants did the trick.
Fed and dressed, I headed to Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where Dan was guesting, along with fabulous abstract artists Noon & Loic Lavenu aka Xoil. There were a lot of jokes in French throughout the day but they largely centered around genitals than Jerry Lewis. I was entertained.
Pay attention: Ok, here we go about the actual tattooing part in case I lost you at the food and fashion. Days before the session, Dan took my measurements and we decided how we wanted to shape the tattoos on the ribs to bring a more cohesive look with my existing stomach and hip work. I chose to keep to floral and mehndi-inspired motifs, which flowed inward along the shape of my waist. It's slimming and way better than lipo. While Dan is brilliant at freehand designs directly on the body, he drew the design in advance for better symmetry and because we didn't have time to spend hours coming up with something on the spot. He was leaving for Belgium the next day.
Stencil on. Mirror check. Great. Let's do this.
Ouch. No really, ouch.
Tattoos hurt, yes. Some people feel them in certain spots more than others, and the ribs were my unhappy place. Couple that with a large Belgian bearing down on me (see above) and the inability to move because it's all line work, with some dot shading. Not much room for error if I twitched.
Not much room for sympathy either. Most of my big work (back, sleeves, etc) is by Dan. Dan and I were once married. There's no need for polite client relations. This pain was payback for the times I didn't do the dishes. He is quick to mention, however, that he enjoys tattooing me because it's the only time I shut up. He's right.
There were some short breaks here and there. Dan's lovely fiance Devanei shared great stories about her experiences on this NY trip. Brian showed up with the most important tattoo provision ever: a Snickers bar. Chocolate and peanuts. It satisfied.
Within five hours, including breaks, both sides were done. Dan works fast, and you want fast on the ribs.
Three days later, the healing has been super-quick as well. I've been doing my usual LITFA method: Leave It the F*ck Alone, with just a thin layer of A&D ointment here and there. I'll switch to moisturizer soon.
The tattoos are perfect. The work harmonizes with the existing designs and also lends itself to further additions as we continue my bodysuit, slowly. I love the way I look in them.
That's why I get tattooed.
In the past decade, we've seen an explosion of fine art by tattooists in galleries and museums, and it's been quite an exciting movement in the industry; however, there seems to be a lack of progress when it comes to representing the work of women tattooists in many of these shows.
Giving a platform for these women from around the world is the Ladies, Ladies Art show at Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn, NY opening next Thursday, May 17th from 7-11PM.
This exhibit, curated by Elvia Iannaccone Gezlev (Miss Elvia), Emma Griffiths and Magie Serpica, is in its second year and promises to be just as phenomenal as the first, with the work of nearly 100 female tattoo artists featured. The first show was primarily a salute to the modern godmothers of tattoo including Madame Vyvyn Lazonga, Pat Sinatra, Debbie Lenz and Juli Moon, who were all in attendance. For this show, the focus is largely on the next generation of women artists, largely from NYC but hailing from all over the country and around the world. Check their site for the list of talent. Here's more from the curators:
We can't help but notice the growing number of amazing women who choose to pursue the art of tattooing in its finest forms, as a job and as a lifestyle -- a craft that was only reserved to men until a few decades ago. A real revolution of the arts is happening! This is a chance to celebrate the female presence and spirit in tattooing, from the masters who paved the way to the established professionals who set the trends and to the talents of tomorrow. Enjoy, support and buy a piece of original art!For a preview of the art on display, see the Ladies, Ladies Facebook photo gallery.
Next Thursday's opening is sure to bring tons of people, especially as it's the night before the NYC Tattoo Convention and many tattooists are in town, so it's probably best to get there early. If you can't make it Thursday, the exhibit will be up for two months at Tattoo Culture.
Hope to see y'all there!
UPDATE: Just learned that Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand will be at the opening, showing a special historic tribute to the women tattooers of the past and onward. Another reason to head over there!
Art by Claudia DeSabe
Art by Miss Elvia
Art by Karin Schwaiger
As I mentioned in the artist profile on George Bardadim a couple of weeks ago, the veteran tattooist from Russia is doing a guest spot at Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn until October 30th. I just learned that he does still have appointments available, so it's a rare opportunity to get work from this multi-talented artist.
To make an appointment, hit him up at bardadim(at)gmail.com or through his contact page. Check his online gallery and Facebook page to see more of his tattoo portfolio.
Tattooing since 1988, Russia's George Bardadim has gone from hand-poking with a needle and thread to building tattoo machines and achieving international acclaim for his stellar realism as well as other genres in his expansive portfolio. When asked about his work, George says:
Black and grey tattoos were much more popular in Russia--then color through years--that's why I did a lot of them back then. Nowadays, the situation has completely changed. I also changed my mind a little and tried to learn how to work with colors in a way modern young artists do. I do my best to learn different styles, though sometimes it's not easy at all.George's studio is in St. Petersburg but he travels extensively throughout Europe, working conventions and guest spots. His next shows are Frankfurt and Milan as well as a few smaller conventions.
Good news for those in the US: George has just arrived for the first time in the States. He says, "I hope I will be able to find new friends and probably take part in local conventions. I really like to learn things through experience sharing, and I'm always open to new relations and guest spots."
From October 23rd to October 30th, George will be a guest artist at our Brooklyn homebase, Tattoo Culture, and he still has some appointments available! You can reach him via email at bardadim(at)gmail.com or through his contact page.
Check his online gallery and Facebook page to see more of his work.
On October 1st, my latest book project "Tattoo World," which I edited for Abrams Books, hit the shelves of book stores in North & South America as well as in Europe. And now it's time to party.
Once again, we're joining forces with our homies at Tattoo Culture to celebrate the book's release and their sixth anniversary this Friday, October 7th. Drinks and snacks will be served to all you fabulous people. The party starts at 7PM and ends promptly at 10PM. For more info, check our Facebook Event Page. Tattoo Culture is located at 129a Roebling Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. [Map]
Hope to see ya there!
In the latest issue of Skin & Ink magazine (August 2011), I take a look at the progressive work coming out of Brooklyn's own Tattoo Culture via resident artist Gene Coffey (whose work is shown here) and a host of international talent including Belgium's blackwork specialist Dan DiMattia, and France's avant-garde artists Noon and Loic [aka Xoil], among many others. In fact, owner Chris Budd acts as a "tattoo concierge," helping tattooers from outside New York find places to stay, procure temporary permits, and build a local fan base.
While Tattoo Culture is a full-service custom shop where clients get tattoos in a variety of styles, the focus of the article is the more controversial work that push the definition of what a tattoo should be. Here's a bit of that discussion:
[Gene] credits the roster of guest artists at Tattoo Culture for his artistic growth. "We just feed off of each other's creativity. If I had never worked with people like Noon or Loic, for example, I wouldn't have even tried something weird like what I've been doing lately."Beyond the weirdness (and Gene himself is a strange egg), Tattoo Culture has a relaxed friendly vibe that seems to stand in contrast to the cooler-than-cool attitude of their Williamsburg neighborhood, also known as ground zero for hipsters. The studio also holds regular art shows, exhibiting classic tattoo-inspired painting, photography, mixed media and modern works.
Check their Facebook page for events and guest artists. Gene regularly updates his portfolio on his own Facebook page as well.
Well, I'm still molting but because some of y'all have been asking about my new snake hip, here's a sneak peak while it heals.
On Monday, Belgian blackwork maestro, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo spent nearly 8 hours on a stippled snake that winds up my left thigh to my hip. Dan was a guest artist at Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn so I didn't have to travel to his studio in Liege (although I recommend doing so for a European tattoo vacation). The work mirrors and balances out the snake on my right thigh, which Dan tattooed in November at his shop. More on that in this post.
Because I wasn't jet-lagged, and I had the ridiculous and wonderful Tattoo Culture crew as entertainment (plus Brian Grosz feeding me candy), the pain seemed significantly less than the first snake, even though it was the same tattoo and same amount of hours under the needle. A testament to mind over matter and optimal tattoo conditions.
Like the other snake, I decided not to use the numbing spray because the hurt was manageable, but yeah, by the seventh hour I was seriously ready to have it be done. After seven hours and forty-five minutes (with only a quick lunch break) of tattooing, I was standing (on shaky feet) completely in love with both of my hips. I still can't stop shimmying.
The snakes will form the foundation on my legs for different decorative elements that will surround them, but I think I'll take a little break for a while.
See more of Dan's work here.
Since last April, we've been talking about Dr. Beverly Yuen Thompson's "Covered": a much needed and appreciated documentary focused on women tattoo artists and collectors.
Now the film is available on DVD and can be purchased for just $25 here. This is one of my favorite picks for the holiday gift guide. For a look into the film, see the trailer above and other clips here on YouTube.
Public screenings of Covered have also been taking place across the US. The next one will be this Saturday, December 11th, from 7-9pm at Emma Griffith's Porcupine Tattoo studio in Brooklyn, NY. The screening is in conjunction with the Ladies, Ladies Art show at Tattoo Culture, which opens the night before. For more screenings, check the film's site.
In the first post on "Covered," we quoted Thompson on what inspired her to do the film. It's an important commentary on how women have been and still are generally treated in the tattoo community and bears reposting:
"Tattoo culture has now entered the mainstream with its exponential growth in popularity, reality television shows, and nationwide tattoo conventions. While Kat Von D might have made it to television stardom as a female tattooist, other women's voices from the tattoo community have been notably absent. When women are present, such as in tattoo magazines, they are often sexually objectified. Covered sets out to remedy these oversights by shedding light on the history of women in the tattoo industry and to share the voices and perspectives of heavily tattooed women in the United States."
Hope to see y'all Friday and Saturday!
I'm crazy excited about this upcoming exhibit opening December 10th at Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Ladies Ladies Art Show features the fine art of 50 women tattooists, from long-time veterans of the craft to rising stars. See the full artist list below.
It's an event where tattooed women are celebrated for their artistry and not how they fill a bikini. [So let's just see how many tattoo mags actually cover the show.] I'll be there with my signature out-of-focus photo skills and let you know how it goes down. The opening party runs from 7-10:30PM.
Here are a couple of paintings that will be on view. See more on their Facebook page.
Painting by Titine Leu.
Painting by Maria Sena
While I sit here trying to find ways to battle the rogue army of Comment Spam-Bots that took Needles and Sins offline for a little while yesterday, I've just received this video from our good pal Bill Buschel, compiled from footage he shot at the release party for Marisa's "Black & Grey Tattoo Art" at Tattoo Culture. If you haven't had a chance yet to see the monstrous tome in person, this video will give you a little peak at the art within (and a glimpse of the work upon our party-goers).
I believe that Marisa still has a few copies of the book at a reduced rate (US customers only), so click on the email link in the top right column for more information; and if you're interested in getting a copy of "Lady On The Low" (which Bill used as the soundtrack for this video) for just $0.50, please click on my BandCamp page.
I want to thank all the very beautiful people who came out Saturday night to party with us at Tattoo Culture for the NYC release of Black & Grey Tattoo: From Street Art to Fine Art, my latest tome co-authored with the excellent Edgar Hoill, who also shot many of the images in the book including the one above.
Alas, we were so busy drinking, eating, and dancing Saturday, that we didn't take many party pix. [If you took some, send 'em my way please.] Here are a couple below and more to be found on our Black & Grey book Flickr set.
UPDATE: the fabulous Jeff Rojas took some wonderful photos from the party and posted them in a Flickr set here.
** I still have a few author copies left at a reduced rate. Contact me at marisa @ needlesandsins dotcom for details. **
More on the book here.
All these people rock.
I don't think I have one photo with Tim Kern that doesn't have us throwing up devil horns. Photo courtesy of the beautiful Hang Tran--soon to be Mrs. Kern (not pictured here).
And speaking of Tim Kern, I'll leave you with one of his many works highlighted in the book.
I'm really excited for the opening of Tattoo Culture's anniversary group art show in Williamsburg this Friday, October 8th from 7-11PM. The tattoo studio/art gallery is our second home -- an attitude-free zone that welcomes top artists around the world to work alongside resident tattooer Gene Coffey. This week, France's Loic and Noon have arrived to create their abstract/art brut badassness.
Gene and Noon will be showing their fine art in this group show with Emma Griffiths, Bailey Hunter Robinson, Fade Kainer, Dan Marshall and Liorcifer, among others. There'll be beer, snacks, and as usual, really hot people in attendance.
Hope to see ya there!
One of my favorite styles of tattooing is the feverish abstract art movement that has its greatest popularity in France, Belgium and even Montreal but is created by top artists around the world. One of those artists is Loic of Needles Side Tattoo in France.
Loic, who has been tattooing for ten years, has his studio in Thonon Les Bains but you can also find him doing regular guest spots around the world. [This October, you'll find him in Brooklyn, NY at Tattoo Culture.]
He likens his tattooing to DJing: "A DJ uses different musical elements and effects to create one unified sound. I do the same but with images, using different artistic styles to create one discernible picture."
To see more of Loic's work, check his Facebook page.
[Very Shameless --> For more on this style of tattooing, check the "Art Brut" chapter in my Black Tattoo Art book.]
I'm in pain.
Yes, we know tattoos hurt. It's what gives the art much of its badassness. I used to think that the pain was absolutely necessary to be part of the tattoo tribe. That is, until I got my feet tattooed and all I wanted was a Vicodin. [I didn't get one.] There was a time when I would've said tattooing my ribs had to be the worst, but now I know that my freshly tattooed foot--all swollen and throbbing (and not in a good way)-- wins for the most suckage.
But I'll stop my whining here and give you the lowdown on my new pretty tootsie.
Yesterday, I was at Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where Dan DiMattia works as a guest artist when he's in town, away from his Liege, Belgium studio. Dan has done most of my tattoo work: my sleeves, backpiece, ribs, stomach, and small hand tattoo.
In advance of my appointment, I sent Dan an email with images of my other foot tattoo by Jacqueline Spoerle--which you can read about here--and told him I wanted a floral design as well with a shape symmetrical to the other. That's all I said.
When I got to Tattoo Culture, he had a bunch of designs he drew up for me to choose from for the top of my foot; I picked my fave and then he freehanded the side up by my ankle and added a few extra touches all around. Perfecto.
Now the hard part.
The needles went it, the endorphins kicked, and all was cool for a hot minute until my foot then wanted to twitch and do a little dance. I kept it steady but it caused my body to tense up, so it took a while to relax and get into the shop banter. And there was plenty of it.
Loic from France is also guesting at the shop along with Noon--two of my absolutely favorite artists of the French Avante Garde/Art Brut style. The same way he needles humor into his tattoos, Loic offered comic relief. Or maybe it was just easy to make fun of him. Or maybe it was easy to make fun of both he and his client, a young girl who wanted a French sentence on her wrist that didn't make much sense but still insisted on getting it even after two native Francophones advised against it. [In the end, Loic did word it in a way that was understandable, albeit still retaining its desired idiocy.] Beyond that, I think the dude has a foot fetish, but I'll leave it at that.
It makes such a difference to get tattooed in a friendly and relaxed shop where the art is serious but the people are goofy. Or at least my own goofiness was allowed to flourish and shine.
The downside of being in a friendly shop, is that the guys are too friendly. When a woman walked in with a stroller asking if she could calm her screaming baby down inside the shop instead of outside, they said Ok. She didn't stay long but I was more annoyed by the audacity than the wailing. If there was ever a final nail in the coffin of tattoo studio intimidation, this was it. Again, a trade-off.
While Dan takes his time in designing, he is really fast at tattooing, which is pretty amazing considering he's meticulous in his line and dotwork. The actual tattooing took less than an hour. *phew*
We wrapped my puffy foot up, and I managed to stuff it into my over-sized rain boots. Today, it's nestled comfortably in monkey slippers. [sexy time!] The big question, however, is what to wear when I'm on my feet all tomorrow and through the weekend at the NYC Tattoo Convention.
As I ponder the great footwear debate, I'll end in all caps: I LOVE MY TATTOOED FEET.
To get us warmed up for the NYC Tattoo Convention next weekend, Tattoo Culture will be hosting an exciting solo show featuring the painting of legendary tattoo artist BUGS on Thursday, May 13th from 7-10PM.
With his signature blend of cubism, art deco and classical art in his paintings as well as tattoos, BUGS continues break ground in melding the fine art and tattoo worlds seamlessly-- something he has done for over 25 years, from his old studio in Camden, London to his new home at the Tattoo Lounge in Los Angeles. And for a short time, you can now find him in NYC for this exhibit and the convention.
Check his site for more tattoos and paintings.
As usual, the Needles and Sins crew will be in attendance enjoying the art and also drinking as wine, beer and light snacks will be served. Hope to see you there.
Tattoo by Gene Coffey stolen from TattooNow.com's Tattoo of the Day.
Beautiful walking works of tattoo art, like ya fine selves, are becoming a tattoo majority, and yet, those who pollute the tattoo gene pool make the big headlines. Sheesh. It wasn't a pretty week for tattoo folk in the news thanks to rabid sports fans, Nazis, and of course, Stephen Baldwin.
Let's begin our review with the burning post-Super Bowl question: What's the ColtsSkinDeep dude feeling like this morning, and will all those autograph tattoos be covered by better memories of yesterday like Betty White/Abe Vigoda portraits or the
Even the Tongan ancestral tattoos of Colts' Fili Moala could not bring the mojo for the team.
While there were plenty of stories on Super Bowl tattoos (even videos), one rebel reporter wrote a feauture on those who prefer the pain of a new tattoo over the Cheetos and beer halftime heartburn. Score!
Indeed, sports tattoos are generally not credited in the evolution of fine art tattooing, but at least they don't further stigmatize the tattooed as criminals like these jackasses:
A Nazi firebombed a tattoo studio in Monterey because they refused his tattoo request: a swastika and an image of President Obama overlaid with crosshairs. He faces seven years in prison for this and another torching.
An upstate NY tattooist was arrested after being found via his social network posts; cops further punked him by leaving this note on his Facebook wall: "Just a quick thank you for giving us your current employer's name and address. Without the help from you and your friends, your arrest would not have been possible. Special thanks for the excellent photos you provided for the U.S. Marshals. Without the help of criminals such as yourself, our job would be much more difficult."
Yet another criminal, this one with a tattoo that reads "Why Try" across his head, is astounded that he was identified (and arrested) for choking a 72-year-old man in a carjacking.
Beyond the criminals, tattoo stereotypes will remain as long as people with bad taste continue to get them. You'd think a bastardized Ed Hardy design tee would be enough, but some need to take their gift of gauche to the next level.
That level being a pornographic Mario Bros tattoo.
Such mistakes can be left behind when we pass -- an upside of death! -- but not for some who wish to enshrine their decorated skin, or at least try to like this dude:
A New Zealand man requested his tattoos be preserved upon his death but because the guy who handles this stuff was on vacation, the body was cremated instead, tattooed skin and all. The family is considering suit over the lost tattoo collection, which includes a Playboy bunny, Aries and Taurus signs, and a DB Export beer logo -- tattoos fiercely mocked by someone other than myself.
And then there are ... sigh ...
... Tattoo. Removal.
I promise to remove such ugly thoughts by focusing on top tattoo work this week like the image above by Gene Coffey stolen from TattooNow.com's Tattoo of the Day.