(This sketch is a ‘thank you’ to everyone I could recall from the trip. Apologies to the people represented here. The sketch was only 8″ wide before scanning, and done purely from my “bad” memory. I hope no one takes any offense for the poor likenesses!)
It was a very exciting trip and probably the most productive one to date. To start it off, straight off the plane I caught a cab to 34th St. to meet Mike McCabe, who was taking me to the Bronx to meet Angelo and Cubo at Champion Tattoo. Mike has been a big inspiration to me over the years; he’s done more than a few books on tattooing and his New York City Tattoo: The Oral History of an Urban Art is legendary and quite difficult to find, though worth your efforts!
Angelo, Cubo and the whole Champion Tattoo crew were a breath of fresh air. Angelo’s been tattooing for more than 40 years now, and the guy still loves coming to work every single day! I miss that. Richard Kennedy and Justin, the same film crew responsible for my buddy Marcus’ project, The Gypsy Gentleman, met me there as well. With no time for chit-chat, the guys got right to work filming McCabe, interviewing the champs at Champion Tattoo.
After filming wrapped in da’ Bronx, I was dropped off at the convention where I spent the rest of the evening confirming interviews for the remainder of the weekend. It was a busy one, to be sure, but the highlight for me was persuading Dave Waugh to catch a train to the show and hang out. I’d never met Dave face-to-face but we’ve talked for years and he was definitely one of my earliest tattoo heroes; his (and Little Vinnie’s) flash of the early 90s was cutting edge and very influential. Day one was a blast and it ended with tats.
Saturday: Okay… I was out way too late. What time is it? Shit! I have to get to Smith Street tattoo by 9:30 a.m. to knock out interviews with Bert Krak, Steve Boltz, Eli Quinters and Daniel Santoro.
I arrive at 9:33 and get right to it. By 10 a.m. I’m actually awake and marveling at how easy these guys are in front of the camera. Smith Street Tattoo is in a class by itself. If you’re unfamiliar, you should check it out. The fellas have a distinct vibe there –original, old-time street shop environment with hand-painted flash only on display. It’s impressive. Damn impressive. (We will post some video footage of Smith Street and the rest of TAM’s NYC trip in the follow days and weeks.)
For dinner I managed to meet up with Gabe from TattooNOW.com. We had sushi and sake and talked shop for a while before retiring for the evening.
On Sunday we facilitated an interview with the French tattooer, Noon. He has a very interesting style, which by the way, most American tattooers despise passionately. The work has definitely grown on me the last couple of years and I’m happy to have met him at this show. He’s a super nice guy and marches to his own drum. That, at least, should be applauded in the tattoo world these days…
After dinner I had the A.P. Shrewsbury interview –this one conducted by Robert Ryan who graciously journeyed from New Jersey to help us out. I’m looking forward to getting it to press as soon as possible.
Following a wonderful Indian meal with those fine two gentlemen, I hustled back to the convention to meet with Dana Dynamite from the Sailor Jerry Rum Company. We had nice chat about future project ideas and then Kent, John and I were cabbing it back to Brooklyn for the evening. Somehow we still managed to stay up too late and my sleep deprivation continued.
Sunday early… I mean EARLY, I met up with Marcus Kuhn for breakfast to catch up, and we really enjoy each other’s company. It was a short visit but always a pleasure to see Mr. Kuhn out and about.
From there I made my way to Invisible NYC for the long-anticipated Troy Denning interview. Chris O’Donnell is conducting the print interview for Troy and so all I needed was a short 30-minute interview for the DVD and blog. It was an excellent visit and an easy interview.
Next it was off to see Paul Booth at Last Rites Tattoo. Aside from Paul having numerous meetings that day, we had a great time hanging out in the Last Rites’ dungeon. Paul is one hell of a tattooer and an all-around great guy. We clicked right away, so the interview is pure gold. I can’t wait to finish it up and get it published later this year.
After that, and only an hour late, we met with Jason Burhmester for dinner and drinks at the local punk rock bar… Jason is one hell of an accomplished writer and also a former editor of an unnamable periodical. The dude is super-cool and I’m looking forward to our next meal together.
All too soon the trip had come to an end. It was a truly epic adventure and I want to thank everyone who helped and hung out that long weekend. I made myself this promise; next trip to New York I’m going to slow down and see more than tattoo shops and convention halls. I can’t wait!