Oral histories are an important part of tattoo scholarship; honestly, though, I just love them because they transport me to a different place along the tattoo timeline, where good stories add to the richness of good tattoos. It's like I'm in a pub in some part of the world overhearing secrets and maybe a little gossip about people and events that would never make a Facebook newsfeed.
Watching The Paul Sayce Interviews made me feel just like that -- that I was privy to talks that cannot be found in the many films and books about our tattoo culture. The reason behind this, I believe, is Paul Sayce himself, who has lived many of the stories with the artists he's interviewed since his tattoo obsession began in the 1970s in Surrey, England.
Filmed over 2015-2016, The Paul Sayce Interviews series is Paul Sayce and Adam Beesley setting out to make films with a focus on tattoo history and featuring new interviews with Don Ed Hardy, Dennis Cockell, George Bone, Lal Hardy, Loretta Leu, Duncan X, Derek Campbell and others, along with 45 minutes of bonus features. Weaved into the footage are old photos, business cards and other artifacts that illustrate their talks.
There's three full hours of footage, broken down into segments, which can be viewed on demand on Vimeo or purchased here on DVD.
Check the trailer below for a taste:
For today's Proust Questionnaire for Tattoo Artists, our favorite guest blogger Serinde takes over, posing the Q&A to Tor Ola Svennevig, best known for his work celebrating traditional Scandinavian art.
BY SERINDE of SERINDE CORSETS:
On September 17, Tor Ola Svennevig, founder and owner of Ihuda Tattoo, in Fredrikstad, Norway, celebrated 15 years of tattooing in a jubilee party held in an old 17th century fortress. The celebration also marked his movement towards tattooing only by hand, putting aside his tattoo machines.
Over the years, Tor has developed his style using the dotwork technique and specializing in designs inspired by his own cultural heritage: ancient Scandinavian art and mythology. In this questionnaire, however, you can learn more about the man behind the tattoos.
What is your current state of mind? Inspired.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Balance and that my loves ones are doing well.
What is your greatest fear? To lose my loved ones and die with unfinished business.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Not one figure but the era of vikings.
Which living person do you most admire? My daughter.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My fears.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Their double moral.
What is your greatest extravagance? Tea and tobacco.
What is your favorite journey? Life.
What is your most treasured possession? The tools of my trade.
When and where were you happiest? With my loved ones and in nature.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Surviving life so far.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? hmm.. A broken nature.
What is your most marked characteristic? Caring and stamina.
How would you like to die? Finished.
What is your motto? Fucking never give up.
See more of Tor's work on Instagram and Facebook.
Paul Acker tattoo above.
Jason Butcher tattoo above.
Paul Booth tattoo above. More on this facial tattoo here.
On this Halloween, I'm highlighting horror and dark art tattoos by some masters of this genre. I've always been fascinated by how beautiful these works can be, even with sinister undercurrents.
In an old interview I did with the "Dark Lord of Tattooing," Paul Booth, explains the attraction to this style:
The general public tends to think that the people who come to me for work are a bunch of deviant, social misfits looking for shock value. But for my clients, underneath all the initial surface shock or negative tones, ultimately there's a positive...[A] lot of people leave here feeling empowered for many reasons, and I don't know how that could be negative.
Tony Mancia tattoo above.
Robert Hernandez tattoo above.
Josh Duffy and Jeremiah Barba collaboration tattoo above.
Portrait of Tim Kern by Tim Kern on Paul Laverty.
It's really exciting to find artists with distinct styles who are able to take common themes and make them very much their own. One such artist is Cody Eich, currently at Studio 13 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I shot Cody a few questions about his work and he graciously took the time to offers thoughtful responses:
You're able to meld very different artistic influences together to great effect. What's your process like in putting it all together?
I've always loved contrast and balance. Generally, I like to use one form or color to compliment the other in some way. I also like breaking the rules. I like putting objects or shapes in my artwork that aren't normally there. Don't get me wrong, I think there are plenty of technical rules that need to be learned and followed by any tattoo artist, which are things that a fine artist or someone using another medium wouldn't necessarily have to worry about. I always think about how a piece will last over time as it ages, my linework and saturation of a tattoo, but I've always loved that there is no real "right" answer to the artwork in tattooing or in other creative fields, so I feel free in my work when I get to break the rules.
Where do you draw your inspiration and references?
I always say nature and the universe we live in are absolutely the most interesting art created by the most creative creator. The seemingly chaotic but complete order of nature and the relationship between every living things is absolutely astounding to me. Ordered chaos. So, I love using natural things as reference for my tattoos, whether it be a person, animal, plant, rocks and geology, or anything else. I find mechanical things or manmade things less interesting. That being said, I also worked at an engineering firm for seven years prior to tattooing, and I find myself inadvertently and sometimes purposefully drawing inspiration from plan sheets and other civil engineering based imagery. Things like topographic style lines, engineering linetypes from computer aided drawing programs will often pop up in my paintings and tattoos next to, or juxtaposed with, natural subject matter. Lastly, I am continually inspired by other artists, fine and tattoo based, and being new to the industry I have so much to learn still from people who have been doing this much longer than I have.
What point in your tattoo career did you feel that your own particular style broke through -- or did you begin tattooing your own art from the outset?
When I started painting before I was tattooing, I felt free to paint whatever I wanted because it was mine, and it was for me in my head. There were no consequences. With tattoos, it took me a bit to really put "my" mark on someone else. Because my clients didn't start off asking for geometric shapes and other design elements that I like using, my tattoos were very stunted until I was encouraged by the owners of Studio 13 in Fort Wayne to make the art I wanted rather than strictly what the client was asking for. From the time I started working there in 2012, they encouraged me to redraw my tattoos for clients before I tattooed them if I hadn't added my touch to the line drawings. Once I started getting some of these tattoos that were more my style out there, people seemed to like them, so it really encouraged me to push things a bit more and develop something unique that I wanted to do.
In a number of your tattoos, I see forms that look like constellations -- what's your intention behind them?
People always assume the shapes that you're talking about in my tattoos are constellations, so I sometimes just make up a name for them as if they are actually out there in space. I have only actually tattooed one real constellation ever. They are really just design elements that I started playing with as a way to put geometric, angular shapes next to organic forms in my artwork. Contrast.
I read on your Tumblr page that you will be making the move to Southern Ontario. Is that still in the works? Where can people find you in the next few months?
I am from the States, but am immigrating to Canada as my wife, Alisha, is from Canada. After we got married in December 2012, we filled out all the paperwork and jumped through all the hoops with that and were able to submit our paperwork in March 2013. I believe the average processing time is about a year, so I'm hoping that March of 2014 will mean I will be okay to live and work in Canada as a permanent resident. In the meantime I have been okayed to live in Canada while I'm waiting to work, so I live with my wife in Brantford, Ontario and return to the States every month for about a week and a half to work with the wonderful people at Studio 13 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I'm hoping to be working full time in Canada sometime around March 2014 and am adding people to a wait list for once this happens, so I can start scheduling appointments as soon as my paperwork goes through.
For more on Cory, click:
Celebrity portraits are common tattoo odes that pay tribute (whether seriously or ironically) to someone whom the wearer may not have met, but feels a connection to. What if the person being memorialized on one's body is not on the A-List, but instead, has been marginalized and often ignored by society? Tattooist Matt C. Ellis uses his particular skills in tattoo realism and offers clients a chance to make a connection with those who are forgotten, shedding light on the issues of poverty and homeless.
The final installment of Vice's "Tattoo Age" series focusing on Thom deVita has been launched (and it's quite a viewing, clocking in at over 24 minutes). Watch the installment above and don't forget to check out the entire series on the Vice website.
In conjunction with the end of this wonderful, five-part film, Kings Ave Tattoo and Vice will be hosting an art show/sale on January 11-13th.
(Via the @kingsavetattoo Instagram account):
Thom's one of a kind creative rubbings from tattoo stencils, art boxes, signed books, and more will be available for purchase. The legendary artist himself will also be present to talk about his art and Scott Harrison will be tattooing deVita inspired tattoos Saturday and Sunday [...] Chris O'Donnell, Timothy Hoyer and [Mike] Rubendall himself will be present and working in the city alongside the everyday crew.
Kings Ave Tattoo is located at 188 Bowery at the corner of Spring St. (on the second floor) in NYC. We'll see you there!
You know who likes John Coltrane? People who don't like jazz.
While I disagree with that statement 100%, I'm still loving the Vice Tattoo Age series on (the steadfastly opinionated) Thom deVita. Check out part 3 above or click here to view it on YouTube.
While I try to remain abreast and aware of the street-art scene in NYC, I regretfully admit that France often passes under my radar despite their thriving community. (Plus, I often avoid any article that includes the words "Scarlet" and "Johansson")
That said, I was quite pleased to see this interview with Fuzi over at Complex as he discusses his "ignorant style" in both graffiti and tattooing.
Read the interview here and check out Fuzi's website over here.
Breaking from their usual (but excellent) short-form, Vice's "Tattoo Age" series will be doing a five-part series on Thom deVita, who began tattooing during the "illegal era" of NYC ink in the 1960s.
The series of "inter-visits" (Thom doesn't do "interviews") debuts on November 21st on the Tattoo Age website.
Even though I'm scheduled to finish up my back-piece this week with Mike Rubendall of King's Ave Tattoo, it's now possible for the Average Joe/Josephine to own and wear some of his art without the blood, sweat and waiting-list...
Rubendall's most recent painting, Alpha/Omega, is now available in a limited-edition, signed/numbered print on an aluminum panel. Better yet, if you purchase the print, you also get a fitted New Era 59FIFTY cap in a custom package also designed by the artist.
On the outside, the black cap features a charcoal-grey embroidered snake and logo for Kings Ave, but the magic lies within: the red and black satin interior features a reproduction of the Alpha/Omega print. (Remember: it's what's on the inside that counts...)
Only available online, limited to a run of 100 and packaged in a custom-printed box, this offer won't be around forever... unlike your tattoo.
Click here to order!