Last Friday, November 22nd, would have been the 76th birthday of an iconic tattooer and a truly good man, Walter Moskowitz of the legendary "Bowery Boys."
Walter and his brother Stanley (who still tattoos today) learned the craft from their father Willie Moskowitz. Willie emigrated from Russia and opened up a barbershop on The Bowery in NYC, but soon learned that he could support his family better through tattoos than cutting hair, and so he had his friend Charlie Wagner, another legend, teach him the craft. Along with tattooing came the drunken shop brawls between (and with) rowdy clients, police harassment, and the general hustle to make a living during and after the Depression. Not an easy life, but it made for good stories.
Many of those stories are captured on the Last of the Bowery Scab Merchants, a wonderful two audio CD set (more than 2 1/2 hours of tattoo tales) accompanied by a 24-page color booklet with photos and articles. The audio documentary also includes guest commentators, and I'm honored to be one of them.
As I wrote on this blog in 2011 when the audio collection was released, Walter's son Doug recorded these stories in the last year of his father's life so that they may live on. The stories are funny, educational, sad and triumphant. As Doug says, "You will not only get to hear great tattoo stories but you will also get a nice perspective of who my dad was as a person; the era he, his father, and brother tattooed in; and how that related to what he did."
In commemoration of Walter's birthday, Last of the Bowery Scab Merchants will be discounted for the next few days, and can be purchased for just $15 on Amazon. It is the perfect gift for tattooists, collectors, history buffs, and, really, for yourself (you deserve it!).
By sharing his stories, Walter gave us a gift, one I'm grateful for.
Yesterday, the Miss America pageant crowned its first beauty queen of Indian descent, which led to an onslaught of racist tweets by those who take beauty pageants seriously. "America's Choice," as decided by an online vote, was not the winner, but instead, a pretty blonde from Kansas who represented "American Values": she's a sergeant in the National Guard, she's a hunter who can skin a deer herself, and she's tattooed.
Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail strutted across the stage with a large-scale rib tattoo of the serenity prayer, which she says she used to recite when bullied as a child. Her tattoos were a big part of her platform, which centered around "empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers." She told ABC News:
"What I really want is just to inspire people by showing my tattoos," she said. "That's a bold move! And it's risky, it could very well cost me the crown. And if it does, I just want people to see that you can step outside of the box, you can be yourself. And I can only hope that it inspires them to do the same."She didn't win the crown, but she won a lot media attention for being the first Miss America contestant to openly display her tattoos. Or at least that what the headlines touted.
But Teresa Vail was not the first tattooed beauty queen. It was Betty Broadbent, shown above on the cover of the first edition of Margo Mifflin's "Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women & Tattoo" (a must-have book). This cover photo captures the iconic circus attraction as she made history competing in the first televised beauty pageant at the 1937 World's Fair. As Margot Mifflin notes, "She knew that as a tattooed contestant she didn't stand a chance of winning, but she gladly reaped the free publicity." The same could be said for Miss Kansas.
I'm not a fan of beauty contests. Despite the fact that Miss Kansas has a degree in chemistry and speaks Chinese, she still had to put on stilettos and a bikini to put forth her "empowerment" platform. But I am a fan of those working in some way to stir a little trouble, to change up beauty ideals. So good on Miss Kansas for following in Betty Broadbent's high heels.
Tattoo above by Amanda Wachob.
My morning has gotten off to a great start thanks to BBC Radio 4's "A Mortal Work of Art" -- a wonderfully produced program that explores the intersection of the tattoo and fine art worlds. With the program 28 minutes long, I figured I'd just let in play on my laptop while I busied myself with other tasks; however, the really insightful discussion on the artistry of tattooing stopped me from doing anything else, so I just sat down and learned something.
What makes the program so compelling is that Mary Anne Hobbs, who hosted the piece, talks to the very people who have changed tattooing in the fine art context and who have shared very different ways of viewing tattoo art:
The legendary Spider Webb brought tattooing into galleries, museums, and even Christie's auction house, particularly for his conceptual tattoo projects, which he still continues to innovate today. He also talks to the BBC about fighting NYC's tattoo ban (which wasn't overturned until 1997).
London's Alex Binnie, owner of the famed Into You Tattoo, shares his thoughts on tattooing's impact on pop culture -- an impact greater than any the fine art world has had. The program ends on a strong note with his assertions on why tattooing doesn't need validation from anyone other than those wearing it.
Amanda Wachob discusses what motivated her to experiment with nontraditional tattoo imagery, to offer something different to clients beyond the standard menu, which has made her one of the most sought-after tattooers in New York.
Of course, our good friend Dr. Matt Lodder, art historian, is brilliant when he discusses what tattooing can gain by being accepted as an art form; that is, real critique of what is good, bad, derivative, ethical, new ... rather than looking at tattoos as one homogenous thing. He's currently writing a book on tattooing in the UK from an art historian perspective, which will be an important contribution to our community.
Also in the BBC program are Shelley Jackson, renowned for her "Skin" project, where a story she has written is conveyed through words tattooed on people around the world; artist Sandra Ann Vita Minchin discusses how mortality & legacy inform her own use of tattooing in her performance art -- and how she plans to grow skin through her DNA and tattoo it as an extension of her body project; and Sion Smith, editor of Skin Deep, and Trent Aitken-Smith, editor of Tattoo Master, weigh in on tattoo culture today.
Again, this is a fantastic listen and worth the time. Check it here.
My friends at the Greek tattoo magazine Heartbeat Ink have a fantastic in-depth Q&A with Mike The Athens, in English and in Greek. Tattooing for 24 years, Mike The Athens is not only one of Greece's preeminent tattooers, but has garnered international acclaim for his work, which is largely inspired by Tibetan and Himalayan Art, Sak Yant, and mantras, but also moving towards Japanese-influenced tattooing.
Today, Mike The Athens splits his time between Athens, Greece, and Goa, India. In the Heartbeat Ink interview, he explains what living and tattooing on two continents is like, how tattooers must have a conscience, and even the fun way he got his name. Here's a taste:
Where are you now in 2013?Read more, and view some wonderful photos, here. Also check Mike The Athens' site and blog.
Mike is also one of the featured artists in Black Tattoo Art 2, which is currently available for pre-order.
Nike's limited edition "Pro Tattoo Tech Tights" had a limited run, as the company pulled the line after rightful outrage over its appropriating the ancestral art of the Samoan pe-a -- the traditional tatau of the Samoan men. Receiving the pe'a is a sacred right of passage, and so naturally, Nike's exploitation of the patterns for women's exercise gear was seen, at the very least, as insensitive to Samoans.
But this isn't the first time Nike and other companies have been accused of being "culturally exploitative." Check this video for more.
Yesterday, FirstWeFeast.com reported that Jayceon Terrell Taylor, the rapper known as The Game (or just Game), was refused service at Houston's Restaurant in Pasadena, CA on Sunday because the manager allegedly said that his tattoos were threatening to customers.
The tattoos in question were on his arms and not the LA Dodgers logo on his face or the President Obama portrait on his torso. His sleeves include portraits of 2Pac as an angel and G-Unot -- which I find threatening to good taste -- but it's not like they are gang tattoos (or ones that could be identified as such). And so it appears that it was the manager's personal fears and prejudices that led to the total sh*tstorm that one with over a million Twitter followers could easily unleash. The hashtag "#DontEatAtHoustonsPasadena" began trending, leaving the restaurant to extinguish Game's flame by asserting, according to Grub Street, that the manager was only "enforcing its strict dress code that requires sleeves" (not the tattooed kind).
The problem is that these dress codes are often subjectively enforced. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that a bunch of non-tattooed arms have been bared at Houston's before. Also, the manager supposedly told Game that his tattoos were "threatening," and did not simply say that tank tops were not allowed in the restaurant.
While the Game was able to mobilize his Twitter masses to get Houston's attention about the problem, many of us don't have that kind of clout.
Last week, Jeffrey posted in our N+S Facebook Group that he was with friends who wanted to celebrate a birthday at San Antonio's The Riverwalk; however, a number of places along the strip had a "No Neck or Facial Tattoo" policy. Jeffrey said that he's had his hands tattooed for ten years now and his neck tattooed for four and this was the first time he's had such a problem. His post led to an interesting discussion with differing opinions: Shouldn't private establishments be allowed to set their own dress standards? Are tattoos considered "dress"? Are the policies there to protect against having gangs in these establishments? Or as Elaine stated, "And/or does it also function as de facto discrimination against certain ethnic groups?"
Feel free to share your opinion in the group under this post or hit me up on Twitter.
The postscript to Game's story is that he ended up taking his business to California Pizza Kitchen, tweeting: "Went 2 #CPK & they were happy to let me, my tank top & tattoos in 4 lunch. The mgr Kong even gave me a FREE desert." Manager Kong is a smart man.
And really, that's how I plan to play it myself -- take my money to places that will appreciate this "Handsome Ass Redhead" ... and maybe even give me free dessert.
[Thanks, Nick Schonberger, for the link.]
Walter White tattoo by Mark Bester of Marked for Life Tattoo Studio.
Tonight is the US premier of the final season of one of the most badass television shows Breaking Bad. The life a sympathetic chemistry teacher with cancer turned meth cook turned diabolical drug king pin has enthralled viewers around the world. That degeneration of a man (or evolution to some) is a compelling concept -- what would we do in similar circumstances?
And so it's no surprise that fans -- a number of them -- have tattooed permanent odes to the show's themes and its protagonist.
Flavorwire recently posted "14 Totally Creepy Breaking Bad Tattoos," which includes the Walter White portrait above by Mark Bester of Marked for Life Tattoo Studio in Stockton-on-Tees, UK. But Flavorwire missed another cool BB tattoo: this Walter White portrait below by Jamie Parker of MD Tattoo Studio in Northridge, CA.
Now I'm on the hunt to commandeer someone's cable TV and enjoy some Blue Sky.
UPDATE: In the Needles & Sins FB group page, Kimberly posted links to great Breaking Bad portraits by Benjamin Laukus. Check them here and here.
Walter White portrait above by Jamie Parker of MD Tattoo Studio.
Tattoo by Patrick Hüttlinger. Photo by Sven Walliser.
As promised, I'm sharing the work of another fantastic artist featured in my upcoming Black Tattoo Art II, which will be released in September. I'm thrilled to have Patrick Hüttlinger be a part of this project. Here's how Patrick describes his work:
When I started tattooing just before the turn of the millennium, I solely concentrated on the color black and I am still fascinated with the limitation which using this one colour offers, opening doors for new graphical challenges and at the same time giving justice to the medium of skin, through it's bold simplicity. Nevertheless, to be able to satisfy my inner-drive, the desire to create and change, I need to make use of a variety of artistic media. In the world of art, with its unlimited variety and infinite possibilities, I feel most at home.Another art form Patrick has engaged in is the creation of exceptionally beautiful rotary machines, which you can learn about here.
Check more of Patrick's tattoo portfolio on his site, Facebook, and Instagram.
Cover of the Boston Herald above.
The tattoo headlines this week have focused on these mythical beings called "Tattoo Scouts," men with special skills who will be able to weed out athletic thugs and protect the delicate sensibilities of America's bastion of good taste and propriety: the National Football League.
The newly coined "tattoo scout" term came about from a Tweet by Bruce Feldman, in which the CBS Sports columnist was commenting on the arrest of Aaron Hernandez, a former New England Patriots tight end, who was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. The Tweet stated: "Spoke w longtime NFL personnel man who said in wake of Aaron Hernandez teams may use police experts to check prospects tattoos."
And from there, it all became about tattoo witch hunts -- exploring the morass of bad football player tattoos to uncover a secret past that myriads of background checks and 1,000+ hours of Google searches could not uncover.
It's dangerous precedent to start deciphering the body art of countless NFL hopefuls and base draft decisions on unscientific and flawed beliefs of what constitutes criminal tattoos, especially as motifs that were once relegated to gangs have entered into mainstream tattoo culture. For example, this Fox News article references the "Smile Now, Pay[Cry] Later" tattoo, which is a tattoo that one can now pick out from flash sheets at shops across the country and is not limited to those with prison records. And while the tear drop tattoo may represent the lives a person has taken, for many today, it also represents loss that did not come from one's own doing.
Beyond background checks, NFL scouts should look to those with greater academic performance, community service, and other positive indicators when picking players, and leave the tattoo reviews to snotty bloggers for art critique and not criminal assumptions.
I'm super stoked to announce that Black Tattoo Art II, the second incarnation of my very first book, Black Tattoo Art, will be released September 15, 2013, and will have its convention debut at the London Tattoo Convention, September 27-29, 2013. So, to give y'all a taste of what I'm been working on the past year and a half, I'll be doing spotlights on some of the artists featured in the book.
Today's feature is on the fabulous Amanda Ruby of The Jewel in the Lotus, her private studio in Folkestone, Kent, UK. Amanda has an unique style in combining realism with pattern work to a beautiful effect. It has earned her accolades including "Best Female UK Artist 2012" and various profiles in international magazines.
What I particularly love is how her florid, ornamental approach has the power of blackwork without needing big bold swaths of ink. She incorporates intricate detail and dotwork, but constructed in a way that's built to last.
Amanda works by appointment only. She recently opened up her diary for January - March 2014, and appointments book up quickly, but fine art tattoos are worth waiting for.
Check more of Amanda's work on Facebook.
Yesterday, France 24 News had an interesting story on underground tattoo studios in Iran, and how artists operate to stay far from the reach of officials, who use Islamic law to arrest and prosecute those practicing the trade.
Outside of the law, Iranian tattooists face other challenges, such as finding decent tattoo machines, ink and other supplies -- much of which is brought in from abroad through friends and travelers willing to take the risk.
Sara, a tattooist who has been working in Tehran for several years, talks about the challenges he faces:
Sadly, the authorities are against this art form, for the same reason that they oppose things like men's ties - they think it is a sign of Westernisation. They shouldn't worry, because many customers actually request tattoos with Iranian elements, like images of Zarathustra, Akhemenid soldiers, Faravahar symbols, Nastaliq calligraphy, and even images of The Book of Kings.In the article you'll also find images of tattoos, like the ones by Kambiz, shown here, as well as a video of Kambiz working (and copying another artist's tattoo from a printout). It's an interesting look at what people will risk for the art form.
Fahavar, a symbol of Zoroastroanism by Kambiz.
One of my favorite tattooists to follow on Instagram is Chad Koeplinger, but not simply because he puts on some of the boldest and strongest tattoos around, but also because, in between his tattoo pix, are mouth watering meals, often from the swankest of restaurants. His refined taste buds have become just as known as his tattoo skills, and so FirstWeFeast.com featured Chad Koeplinger's 10 Best Meals of 2013 (So Far).
Here's a taste from the article intro:
Consider Chad the ink-slinging Anthony Bourdain. Fellow tattooer BJ Betts calls him "the king of $500 solo meals." His quest for the best dining experiences is matched by only a few, and worthy of envy by all. Crushing all pedestrian foodie dreams, here are the best meals Koeplinger's consumed thus far in 2013, from Nepal to his new home of Napa.It's a great read and already has me trying to make reservations at Sammy's Roumanian Steakhouse. Check all ten favorites here.
And for more on Chad's tattoo work, such as these pieces below, find him on Facebook as well as on Instagram (@chadkoeplinger).
[Thanks to Nick Schonberger for the link.]
This past weekend, while taking in the sights of all the beautiful freaks at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, Brian & I noticed something a little less fabulous: tattooed skin on parade goers becoming sun burnt as we all partied under the strong rays for hours. And many tattoos looked like they'd never seen a bottle of sunscreen before.
We hear it from our tattooists all the time: "protect your investment," "keep it out of the sun to keep it looking new longer," "don't make my work look bad--wear sunscreen!"
But slathering on creams and sprays every day takes time. It can be greasy. The protective film may mask the brilliant colors and bold blacks underneath. And the reapplying it...yeah, it's a pain. What's the alternative, however?
Beyond faded tattoos, the greater concern is skin cancer. And heavily tattooed people need to be extra vigilant because melanoma can be hard to detect among our artwork.
To be clear, tattoos do NOT cause skin cancer. Once in a while you'll see some bogus puff piece in the news citing statistics about more and more tattooed young people with melanoma. But that's just because more young people in general are getting skin cancer.
Nevertheless, tattooed people are at a greater risk because the signs of melanoma may be masked.
My friend Kathleen, a beautiful tattooed redhead, was diagnosed earlier this year with melanoma. Read her post on her experience, which has some great links on what to look for and how to prevent it.
A few weeks ago, there was a CBS News story on tattoos masking melanoma, in which the tattoos on those featured in the piece partially covered moles, making the melanoma difficult to detect. The CBS story has a bit of a negative slant to it, but it is a good reminder to protect the investment in our overall well being, and not just our tattoos.
So, slather on the sunscreen -- and often. Get regular skin checks by your dermatologist. And stay beautiful and healthy.
Normally, when I get a press release about "free tattoos," I'm wary, as per Sailor Jerry's famed maxim: "Good work ain't cheap. Cheap work ain't good." But when the tattoos are Sailor Jerry's own flash, timeless and powerful, then I have to share the news.
Tomorrow, June 12th, is the 40th anniversary of Sailor Jerry's passing, and to celebrate his life, top tattooers across the US will be offering free tattoos of iconic Sailor Jerry art in the "102 Tattoos for 102 Years of a Legend" campaign. The cities include NYC, LA, New Orleans, Ybor City, Chicago, Austin, Denver, Jersey City & Secaucus. See details on each city here.
Some venues will be making you "Aim for your ink"; that is, you'll have to throw a dart on a board of Sailor Jerry flash and wherever it lands, that's the tattoo you'll get. So ya better practice your throw. And as usual, there will be Sailor Jerry Rum on hand.
Sailor Jerry Day events are also taking place across the UK in London, Brighton, Edinburgh and Manchester, where 40 Sailor Jerry fans will be able to get tattooed for just 12BP. And again, there will be rum.
For more, check the Sailor Jerry US Facebook page and UK Facebook page.
Particularly for those, like myself, with a passion for ornamental tattoos, the carved skulls of Portland-based artist Jason Borders are incredibly engaging, with their hypnotic patterns and beautiful lines. They're the ultimate in postmortem adornment.
Using a dremel, akin to using a tattoo machine, Jason approaches his work on bone through "personal subliminal exploration," adding in his artist statement, "my work reveals the blurred line between imagination and reality, animal and human, life and death."
A number of these works are available for sale at Paxton Gate in San Francisco and their online store, such as the Dremel Drill Bull Scapula for $275 or the Dremel Dril Horse Skull for $1,500, among others.
Also, check Jason's work in other mediums, which also offer a nod to tribal tattoo culture.
The latest issue of Inked magazine has one of the most favorite interviews I have ever done: a Q & A with the inimitable tattoo legend Spider Webb. I have interviewed Spider before, and every time, there's another fantastic story I have never heard before -- and I want our talks to go on for as long as he doesn't get bored with me, but then there's that limited magazine word count in which only the highlights get put into the article. With Spider, every word is a highlight.Spider Webb, born Joseph O'Sullivan, is considered one of the most important people in contemporary tattoo history. With more than 50 years in the industry, he has legitimized tattooing as an art form, helping to bring it into galleries, museums, and even Christie's auction house, where a tattoo by Spider Webb was deemed "priceless." He fought to legalize tattooing in New York City after it was banned in the '60s by tattooing on the steps of museums. He expanded what some viewed as the limitations of tattooing through his conceptual art pieces and tattoo performances. And he's done all this with humor, flair, and mischief. Spider Webb, who holds a master's degree in fine arts, continues to create art, tattoos, tattoo machines,and trouble at his tattoo museum in Charlotte, NC. You'll also find him at tattoo shows and galleries around the world.
So what I've done is taken an excerpt from the article and put it below. Following that, you can read more and get another crazy tale -- about grave robbing, porn star Annie Sprinkle and more -- which wasn't published.
Learn more about Spider at Spiderwebbtattoo.com.
From Inked magazine:
You've been bringing tattoo art into fine art galleries since the '70s. You're particularly known for your conceptual art pieces. How did that get started?
How it all happened was a girl was interviewing me for a magazine, and she said, "Spider, what are the limitations of tattooing?" Being a big fucking know-it-all, I said that it's the size of the human body; that's the limitation. Then after I saw the interview in print, I thought, What kind of bullshit is this? What limitations? We have to get rid of limitations. So I thought to use a whole bunch of people in X 1000. I tattooed one X on 1,000 people, with a big X on the last person made up of 999 Xs to complete a conceptual piece. ... Then I started to do the Tattoo Vampire. It's a conceptual piece with just two simple dots on your neck. I've been doing that act for 30 years all over the world, from Studio 54 to the sewers of Paris, in Gracie Mansion, and in museums and galleries. It's a great show because there's sex, blood, kiss- ing, and you get to live forever. It's a very beautiful performance. Then I thought to myself that what would be real cool is if I become cupid and just tattoo one dot. So it's the same as the vampire act except I use an arrow and I make one dot for love, usually on a girl, but on men too-- and there'll be the fake blood and a breast exposed. That's what every- one wants, and I give it to them.
What other conceptual pieces have you done?
Do you remember Pulsating Paula? She was one of the photographers when they first started tattoo magazines. She's a biker girl. She's great. I tattooed her clitoris one time with a monkey tooth I pulled out of an alligator's skull. She was one of the first people I did the cupid tattoo on. Now I'm thinking to myself, What am I going to do next? I know what I'll do. I'll become the Invisible Man. And that's what I did. So I started to do the Unwanted Tattoo. I would be invisible. I wouldn't even be there. The first fucking thing I did was I took my doorbell apart, and I took out the black piece that you push to ring the bell, and I put in a piece of an ink an and a thumb tack. Then the mailman of all people rings my bell and he tattoos his thumb. I said, "Oh shit, that's fucking cool." Then I started to make other ones. I made the unwanted tattoo toilet seat. Then I did the greatest one of all: the gas pump. A guy tattoos his hand when he squeezes the thing. A lot of these things I had to rig up a video camera because I don't want to be there when the guy or girl freaks out. They think they can wash it off but they can't. There's a lot of humor in tattooing--people who don't want it, not wanting what I'm giving that day. Isn't that cool? [Laughs.] Children laugh about 2,000 times a day, and most adults laugh about 40 or 50. People are so afraid. I think tattoos take a little bit of fear away. Makes them a little stronger.
Read more from the article here. Keep reading for an unpublished Spider story.
Despite being the go-to source for celebrity tattoos, Mister Cartoon has remained true to his LA street roots, tattooing his signature black & grey style in the heart of Downtown's Skid Row -- at his aptly named Skid Row Tattoo studio -- as well as creating murals, apparel and merchandise, among countless projects, which you can read about on his site and blog.
In today's New York Post, Cartoon was featured, but not about tattooing Beyonce or Kobe, but about his favoitre hangouts in LA, in a street-styled travel piece, which is a good read. Here's a bit from it:
First stop is a spray-painted mural (246 S. Garey St., between Second and Third streets). It's Mister Cartoon's enormous, glorious tribute to Los Angeles, centerpieced by the Dodgers' logo and nodding to Day of the Dead, LA's famed freeways, Cartoon's iconic angry-clown graphics and, of course, a couple of sexy, scantily clad girls. "This is about me going out there and showing what I can do with spray paint while the sun beats down," Cartoon says of the project that took him two weeks to complete and was totally freestyled. "This was about graffiti and crushing and letting people know that I still have it."Read more of Cartoon's LA picks here.
And if you want to learn more of about the artist himself, check this video (below) where Cartoon talks about his start in tattooing, his low rider obsession and staying true to his crew.
More and more I'm seeing tattoo interpretations of woodcuts, etchings and engravings -- and I'm loving them. They are highly graphic tattoos that will stand the test of time, and they have a truly old school power to them with a modern styling.
One artist who specializes in this style is Kim Papanatos Rense of Papanatos Tattoos in The Hague, the Netherlands. I recently found Kim through Some Quality Meat, a fun tattoo portal with tattoo videos, images, and news items.
They also are producing a video series called "The Craftsman," which highlights "talented and upcoming tattoo artists from around the globe." Their first video features Kim. It's embedded below. Check it.
As if we didn't have enough to do...we now have a Needles & Sins Pinterest Tattoo Board.
We figured it was time to jump on the pin-board photo sharing site because it really is a great vehicle for collecting tattoo inspiration images and highlighting the work of many different artists in a cool collage way. As noted on Wikipedia, the website "allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests and hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for images, 're-pin' images to their own pinboards, or 'like' photos."
On our tattoo board, we'll be sharing our own tattoo photos and those artists featured on the blog, but we'll also be repinning images of beautiful tattoo work found elsewhere. Most important -- and unlike many other tattoo boards -- we'll be making sure the artist credit is in every pin so you can explore more of his/her work.
So follow us, and also hit us up on our Facebook group page in the comments to this post to recommend other boards to follow.
You can also find me on Twitter & Instagram.
While we rarely highlight an artist with less then five years experience, I'm happy to make an exception and share the work and words of Jasmine Wright, 26-year-old rising tattoo star, who has been tattooing 4 1/2 years (yeah, ok, it's close to 5 years) and is based out of Buju Tattoo in Mission Hills, San Diego. Jasmine has been on an intense 4-month travel streak, which concludes with her guest spot at New York Adorned from April 1st through April 5th.
I chatted via email with Jasmine about her work and also her thoughts on being a woman tattooist today. Here's how it went:
What type of tattoos do you love to do?
My favorite types of tattoos to do change all the time! More often than not, I'll prepare for a piece that I think I'll be super stoked on, and it ends up being a nightmare, and vice versa. I'll be dreading an upcoming tattoo, and then it ends up being a favorite. It's weird. But speaking in generalities, I always enjoy color pieces, things with lots of smooth, organic shapes. And as much as I like "feminine" tattoos, I also love a good "mean, manly" tattoo as often as possible.
I particularly love your renderings of female characters because they have a lot of soul to them. What goes into creating these types of works to give it the personality they have?
When I draw out women, I've recently tried to add as much expression as possible, usually based on the client who's getting the tattoo. Most of the female images I've tattooed are on male clients, so sometimes I'll try to envision what kind of chick they'd be into in the real world. The ones that are on female clients, I try to keep more whimsical and soft, to really draw an ultimate feminine vibe. I try to reference old Playboy models, vintage fashion magazines, makeup models, things like that. Especially the high-end fashion models who always have those intense expressions, which make for awesome reference material. Dramatic features n' whatnot.
What other references do you look to?
My reference material is all over the place. I have a ton of books, old magazines, botany, and animal anatomy illustration books. I also keep an eye on a handful of other tattooers and try to pull bits and pieces of stuff from everyone. I'm afraid of being categorized into tattooing too closely like another artist, so when I reference other tattoos I've seen, I always try to just use a small bit I've seen, or just the color palette, and not too much of the entire tattoo. It's hard to stay original, so it's a definite challenge.
Have you ever been met with any difficulty -- or any benefit -- being a woman tattooist?
If it were my choice (or even remotely realistic) I would love to tattoo anonymously without a name. Only because I want to be respected as a tattooer, not a FEMALE tattooer. There are a lot of instances that prove women tattooers get many things with less effort, or lower skill, or are just less deserving in general than their male counterparts, and I really hate that...There's a huge population of chicks that have come up recently, who only got to where they are by putting out half-ass tattoos and showing way too much skin to gain clients & popularity--simply by being a cute chick...I never want to ride off of being a girl to get anywhere in this community. I've really been working my ass off to just do good work that I can be proud of and gain respect of tattooers that I look up to from the work I do, not because I flirt. In that sense, I suppose it's an easy thing to fall into, and it's a difficult thing to work to avoid.
Also, I've met other tattooers who basically have spit in my face for being a girl; they told me I'll never make it, and that there's nothing I can do to ever be worthy. I think those people can kiss my butt, but I also agree in a small sense for those half-ass female tattooers I mentioned previously. There's a fine line that separates the legit women *artists*, versus the ever-increasing number of trendy "chick tattooers." Personally, I've had both benefits and hang ups by being a girl. I wish it wasn't the case in either direction.
Are you all booked up at NY Adorned (NYA) yet? If not, what's the best way to make an appointment?
I actually have no clue how my schedule at Adorned is looking yet, but I know I've got a handful booked. I'm sure I still have time left. Clients can email me through my website to discuss ideas and time frames, and follow up by calling NYA to pick a date and leave a deposit.
What other future guest spots and conventions are coming up?
I have a tattoo road trip in the works, most likely July/August, which will probably include multiple cities across the country (definitely Portland OR, Austin TX, Tempe AZ, and a handful of East Coast cities for sure). Those plans will be locked down by the end of April. I also guest spot in San Francisco at Seventh Son Tattoo almost every other month, and Unbreakable Tattoo in Los Angeles pretty often as well.
Anything else you want people to know about you?
I love my Aussie shepherd puppy, Albee, and I also love eating big awesome steaks! Haha! Otherwise, I'm a total old lady. I travel and tattoo, and sleep.