By Dan Henk
I want to address two things in this blog. They might seem unrelated at first, but I’ll try my best to tie them together.
The first is that people love to complain, and they have a ton of excuses on why it is someone else’s fault. You know what I’ve learned in my 41 years on this planet?
Shut the fuck up, put your nose down, and try doing some ground work for a change.
I hear all the time “I’m a good artist, but no one would give me a chance, so I bought this kit of eBay and starting tattooing out of my house.”
Unless you happen to be one of the very few who just stumble into opportunity, like Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton, you have to go above and beyond, spending countless hours trying to realize your dreams.
I spent years doing menial jobs until, at age 28, I finally started tattooing for a living. Even then it was a touch and go at first. But after striving for so long, I was not about to give in. The guy who taught me was in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I lived in Brooklyn, New York. Working at his shop was not an option. The first shop I worked at was way out in the ghetto in Queens. I would barely even call it a shop. The second shop I worked at was Underground Tattoos on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn. That is where Mike Tyson is from. We closed at dark so we didn’t get robbed, I got called “white devil”, and we had to call the cops more than once when we were being scoped out by some guy who wanted to rob us. People tried to pay with food stamps. My third shop was also a nightmare, one of slowest shops of an infamous chain in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. I wasn’t until my fourth shop, on St. Mark’s Place in NYC that I could finally pay rent and afford 3 square meals a day.
Tattoos by Shawn Will
Red Dagger Tattoo, Houston TX
Tattoo Culture Magazine #5 featuring Gunnar, Eric Inksmith, Shawn Barber and more is now available on the App Store at:
Digital edition for all other devices/computer go to:
By Marisa Kakoulas
As we first posted back in October, the original the NYC Tattoo Convention will be taking place March 7-9, 2014 at the the historic Roseland Ballroom – before this legendary venue closes in April (hence, why the show won’t be taking place as it usually does in May).
And as always, we’re stoked for the show, particularly for its finely curated line-up of tattooers from around the world, including long-time legends, and also traditional hand-tattooing booths. There are some great sideshow performances, and tattoo competitions that really present some stellar work. Plus, the kickass vendors offer badass merch. [Literally, "badass."]
I have been attending the NYC Convention for 13 years, and it has consistently been one of the most electric shows I attend. I’ll be doing a book signing there this year for my latest monster, “Black Tattoo Art II.” Just follow the loud maniacal laugh when you get to the convention and you’ll find me.
Read the full article here: http://www.needlesandsins.com/2014/02/nyc-tattoo-convention-march-7-9.html
A survey of the extraordinary diversity of punk and post-punk graphic design, Pretty Vacant: The Graphic Language of Punk features several hundred posters, flyers, fanzines, handbills, record sleeves and other graphic ephemera from the collection of Andrew Krivine.
Emerging in the mid-1970s, punk was truly popular culture on the margins, with new ideas germinating out of a sense of urgency and seemingly random aesthetic collisions. Before it became commercially commodified into a simplified mishmash of safety pins, mohawks and anarchy symbols, punk was as much about its wide range of visual signifiers at it was a kind of music. A do-it-yourself approach and a loathing of commercial slickness were key hallmarks of the punk attitude, informing not just the music, but also the explosion of graphic design that accompanied it. Taking cues from a wealth of influences ranging from Dadaism to the Situationist International to pulp fiction, and communicating the themes of nihilism, black humor and reappropriation, the visual language of punk was a pastiche of imagery that reflected the consciousness and anti-aesthetic of a new counterculture.
Featuring several hundred works on loan from New York-based collector Andrew Krivine, the exhibition includes iconic works by some of the most illustrious graphic artists of the period, including Barney Bubbles, Malcolm Garrett, Raymond Pettibon, Jamie Reid, Peter Saville, Linder Sterling, Gee Vaucher and Arturo Vega, as well as pieces created by the hands of talented, yet anonymous, artists. Beyond the ‘holy trinity’ of punk – The Clash, The Ramones, and the Sex Pistols – Pretty Vacant includes posters, flyers, handbills, record sleeves, badges and other graphic materials created for both iconic and obscure punk and post-punk bands, including: A Certain Ratio, The Adverts, The B-52s, Bauhaus, Blondie, the Buzzcocks, the Circle Jerks, The Cramps, The Cure, the Damned, Devo, Elvis Costello, The Fall, Fear, Gang of Four, Generation X, The Gun Club, Iggy Pop, The Jam, Joy Division, Killing Joke, Kraftwerk, Lou Reed, New Order, Public Image Limited, Sham 69, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Television and X-Ray Spex.
Photos and interview by Ino Mei
Alex “Kofuu” Reinke Horikitsune, the only apprentice of Horiyoshi III apart from his son Souryou Kazuyoshi and part of Horiyoshi III family, spoke exclusively to HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine about the path in tattooing, the “Shu Ha Ri” learning system, the highly importance of the design and the “limits” of tradition.
How were you first introduced to tattoo?
When I was twelve years old I started Martial Arts. As a kid, from a really young age I was constantly drawing. So when the Martial Arts came into the picture, I started drawing Asian themes and especially Japanese; like dragons and all sorts of stuff. When I was fourteen, we were on a trip with my family to San Francisco and by chance I walked into “Tattoo City” which is Ed Hardy’s tattoo shop. Of course I had absolutely no idea about it. I bought Ed Hardy’s yellow “Tattoo Time” and Sandi Fellman’s “Japanese Tattoo” book and then I was drawing out of those books all the time. I was crazy for them. At that age, I had many older friends and when we returned to Germany after San Francisco, they asked me to design some tattoos for them because they liked my drawings and they couldn’t draw themselves. So I drew some designs for them and they went and got them tattooed.
I kept drawing and drawing tattoos until I finished high-school and went for my A – levels. At that time I started tattooing. It was 1995 and I was twenty-one. I bought a starter kit and I began teaching myself; I am self-taught. Pretty hideous, but what can you do? Then I went straight to the army, where I was also tattooing. Afterwards I met Horiyoshi III in Bologna at a convention in 1997. A few months later, in 1998, I went to Japan to start my body-suit. There I saw and realized that I could make a decent living from tattooing. Back then things were different and therefore I took a huge risk; in many people’s eyes it seemed “crazy” that I became a tattooist. It was socially “unacceptable” and perceived as “a step down” from my family; although they offered me the freedom to decide what I wanted to become. My dad is a surgeon and told me “you have to decide yourself about what you want to do for a living. When I am dead, you’ll still have your job and I don’t want to be responsible for you not being happy with your job”. He knew I was into tattooing, but he thought that tattoo was a phase. Like all kids go through phases. But this one stuck (laughs)!
What happened when you went to Japan to get tattooed by Horiyoshi III?
I was totally into Japan, as I’ve previously mentioned, since I was a kid. I was also used to serving from being in the army; therefore I believe that the combination of those two resulted in me knowing my way around Japan quite well and I think that Horiyoshi III was taken by it, and we got along very well. At the end of 1998 Horiyoshi III came to Germany for the Berlin Tattoo Convention; he wrote me a letter asking to whether we could meet there and I took some time off in order to meet him. All of a sudden, I was the “organizer” for everything, because I could communicate with Horiyoshi III. It turned out really great. We had a great time together and we became friends.
How did your friendship “evolve” from this point onwards?
In the beginning of 1999 I went back to Japan to get tattooed again. I asked Horiyoshi III if he had a student, and he was like “no I don’t take any students”. Then, there was the Tokyo Tattoo Convention towards at the end of the same year and he said “you have to come again to Japan”. That is when I met the old-timers and many of the friends I have today like Lucky Bastard (Horiko), Mick from Zurich, Filip Leu, Luke Atkinson, Chris Garver, Marcus Paecheco; all super-great guys. It was a really important convention for all of us.
A couple of months after the convention, Horiyoshi III came to Germany again and I joined him on a trip to London to buy antiques. And Horiyoshi III asked me there, in London, in a black cab on the way to some antique shop, if I was still interested in being part of the Horiyoshi Family…
To read the full article, visit: http://heartbeatink.gr/en/columns-features/artists-studios-columns-features/horikitsune/#!prettyPhoto/0/
Shot by Estevan Oriol
Anna Felicity Friedman FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 2/10/14
+1 773 307-2753
Lyle Tuttle Tattoos on All 7 Continents
Becomes First Person to Accomplish This Feat
On January 21, 2014, 82-year-old tattoo legend Lyle Tuttle became the first person to
tattoo on all 7 continents. A long-standing “bucket list” item of his, this accomplishment
fulfilled a personal mission for Mr. Tuttle. He said of the endeavor: “Because I was lucky
to have the greatest time slot that any tattoo artist ever had in tattooing, it wound up
that I had tattooed on six continents. So I had an opportunity to tattoo on seven
continents. Well, I’m not out to break any records but why not do it, it’s there! Edmund
Hillary, they asked him why he climbed Mount Everest, and he said ‘because it was
After a long trip to the tip of South America, he and project assistant/tattoo historian Dr.
Anna Felicity Friedman, flew across the Drake Passage on a 6-seat charter flight. Still
plagued by after-effects from a bout of frostbite acquired while serving in the Marines in
the Korean War, the trip posed a particular challenge for Mr. Tuttle. The two travelers
spent a full day touring, seeing—among the many wonders of the icy southern world—
glaciers, icebergs, penguins, seals, and whales—and experiencing what life is like for
those who live in Antarctica for extended periods of time. Then, late at night, Mr. Tuttle
set up his tattoo station in a scientist’s guesthouse at the Russian Bellingshausen Station
and tattooed his signature tattoo—his autograph—on Dr. Friedman’s leg, later adding
“ANTARCTICA 2014” when back in Punta Arenas, Chile. They were among only a
handful of tourists who have the privilege of sleeping on the continent each year.
Along the way, Mr. Tuttle acquired two new tattoos (he calls them “stickers on your
luggage”), the word “LIMA” during a stopover in Lima, Peru, and “ANTARCTICA 2014”
with a small penguin after returning to Patagonia. A natural prankster, he delighted in
surprising local tattoo artists along the way with his completely unexpected visits.
Mr. Tuttle, noted for his role in helping bring tattooing to a wider clientele in the 1960s
and 70s, began his career in 1949. He has tattooed such prominent clients as Janis
Joplin, Joan Baez, and the Allman Brothers and was featured on the cover of Rolling
Stone Magazine in 1970. Mostly retired from tattooing, Mr. Tuttle hosts an annual tattoo
convention every fall in St. Louis, travels widely educating about tattoo machines and
other topics, and maintains one of the world’s largest collections of tattoo-history
artifacts and ephemera.
You can read more about the project and view some images at: http://bit.ly/ltaproject
Media inquires: Please contact Lyle’s assistant on this project, Dr. Anna Felicity
Friedman, at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 773 307-2753. High-resolution images
and video are available. Thumbnails on request.
By Nick Baxter
Here’s a process sequence for a tiny diptych painting I did a few months ago related to the recurring theme in my work of healing wounds.
This tiny little pair will be included in the forthcoming art catalogue Pint Size Paintings Volume 2, which compiles these small paintings completed by members of the worldwide tattoo community, and features them in a traveling art show.
I wrote about the Tibetan Buddhist symbolism surrounding my use of the hook symbol last year, after completing Shenpa I (which now resides in the collection of the amazing and prolific figurative painter Shawn Barber!).
An Exhibition of the Contemporary Art + Collectible Design
Celebrate the World’s First Large-Scale Exhibition Dedicated to Designer Toys at the Design exchange.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – TORONTO, Canada – February 7, 2014 – Design Exchange (DX), Canada’s Design Museum, is proud to present a series of firsts with its playful, unprecedented exhibition This Is Not A Toy, guest curated by music and fashion mogul Pharrell Williams. The first major original programming produced by DX. The first foray into museum curation for cultural connector Williams. The first time coveted artists, Brooklyn’s KAWS and Japan’s Takashi Murakami, have shown their work in a design museum. Dedicated to exploring the conceptual toy – a form made solely as an expression of an aesthetic or idea – as a fine art and design object, as well as a contemporary cultural signifier, This Is Not A Toy marks the first time these vibrant collectible sculptures, figures and paintings have collectively been on display in a museum setting.
By David Gonzalez
Visitors to the cluttered studio inside Thom DeVita’s Victorian house marvel at the artwork that covers the walls, his drawing table, even his hands. The images reflect not just his interests, but his skills, which he honed as a tattoo artist on the Lower East Side for some 30 years; a storied era to aficionados. The accomplishment was all the more remarkable because it was illegal in New York City at the time.
Nowadays, it seems everybody has a tattoo. If there is someone to thank for the art’s increased acceptance and visibility, it might be Mr. DeVita. Every month, Chris Grosso brings admirers up to visit the old master, in Newburgh, the upstate town where he has lived since leaving the Lower East Side in the early 1990s.
“He is one of the founders of modern tattooing,” said Mr. Grosso, who befriended Mr. DeVita two years ago while filming a documentary about him. “It’s not what you see on reality television, but something that only he and seven other people in the 1960s started, from purely a love for the art form. He wasn’t from a sailor or biker background, where tattooing comes with the territory. They appreciated the great Japanese masters, the people from Samoa. Thom was at the forefront of that.”
Growing up in East Harlem, the son of Italian immigrants, Mr. DeVita did not set out to be an artist. After high school, he worked at various jobs, from factory hand to messenger. He recalled how his parents used to refer to some people as “bohemians,” and how he warmed to the idea.
“It seemed like a nice life to live, being with artists,” he said. “It didn’t seem like they went to work. Then I realized when I got to the Lower East Side, I was 30 years too late to be a bohemian. But I caught the tail end of the beatnik era and the beginning of the hippie era.”
His own entree into the art world was improvised, when a potential girlfriend asked him what he did.
“I had to be something, so I told her I was an artist,” he said. “So I became an artist. I had to show her I was an artist, so I started doing some artwork.”
He decided to become a tattoo artist when the city banned tattooing in 1961 (the ban was lifted in 1997). He figured business would be good, since the law drove out his competitors, and the police on the Lower East Side had more pressing concerns than outlaw skin art.
Mr. Grosso said that Mr. DeVita created new designs incorporating nontraditional elements, such as Pueblo Indian iconography and even the rose from the Lord & Taylor shopping bag. He said he admires him for his restless creativity, even if — at 81 years of age, with hands trembling from Parkinson’s disease — he no longer does many tattoos.
Instead, Mr. DeVita resorts to rubbings, stencils and stamps, making montages of old tattoo designs on recycled wooden crates, paper, cutting boards and even ancient ledgers. He signs them with his surname, rendered in snakelike letters that would be the envy of any graffiti writer.
“He paints on everything,” Mr. Grosso said. “Maybe if he had seen graffiti he would have been a tagger. He just doesn’t stop. It has to be a compulsion.”
Mr. Grosso can understand. After making a documentary on Mr. DeVita, he set up a website to sell his work. Now he visits him monthly, to give him cash from the sales and pick up new work to ship. He is often accompanied by a friend or two who might want to learn about tattoo history firsthand, like Fernando Lions, a tattoo artist from Brooklyn who recently accompanied him on a trek.
The two young men peppered Mr. DeVita with questions, and asked to see some classic designs or snapshots from his time on the Lower East Side. Depending on his mood, he may or may not comply; pictures he had told Mr. Grasso never existed magically appeared during this visit. At one point, Mr. DeVita took out some panoramas he had painted in bold, black brush strokes.
“These are beautiful,” Mr. Lions said quietly.
“You know how they’re done?” Mr. DeVita asked. “The paper is scrap I cut off bigger pieces. I paint on them with whatever is left in the ink pot.”
Before they are sent off to customers, Mr. DeVita packs a slip that reads: “Any Imperfections Will Add to Its Beauty.” He first saw the phrase when he bought a china closet, and liked it so much he appropriated it.
“All my art is imperfection,” he said. “I dwell on imperfection. I’m constantly pulling things out of the fire.”
By Jack Smylie
OG graffiti writer/tattoo artist Mike Giant is set to open a new solo show in San Francisco this February.
The exhibition is entitled Modern Hieroglyphics and is hosted by Fecal Face Gallery. You’ll see a series of new works on paper that mix tattoo art, cultural symbols, logos and written motifs, as well as some custom screen-printed pieces.
The thing opens on February 7th, visit Fecal Face’s website and don’t miss out if you’re in the area.
By Kevin Miller
Earlier this week, Durb Morrison announced on Instagram that RedTree Tattoo Gallery would be opening a second location in Phoenix, Arizona. In the same announcement, Durb officially stated he would be relocating to Phoenix. This is obviously a huge announcement, as Durb is a leader in the Ohio tattoo scene and the tattoo industry as a whole.
To find out more about this news, we caught up with Durb Morrison and asked him a couple questions.
Tattoo Snob: Let’s start off with the basics Where is original location of Red Tree Tattoo, and when did it open?
Durb Morrison: The RedTree Tattoo Gallery opened in 2012 at in Italian Village connected to the Short North Arts District at 1002 N. 4th St. in Columbus, Ohio
TS: The shop is a little different than your average tattoo shop, can you tell us a little about that and why you chose to have it that way?
By Juliana Moxley/The State News
Local Lansing tattoo artists collaborated on Sunday evening for Artonica, an event meant to benefit the Greater Lansing Food Bank and Capital Area Humane Society.
But these artists weren’t focused on their typical work. Rather than creating artwork on skin, the artists rotated around 10 different canvases every 20 minutes and drew whatever came to mind with charcoal.
The pieces were sold at an auction later in the evening.
Monica and Greg Drake started Artonica three years ago as a way to give back to local charities.
Greg said the artists don’t get paid for the work because the night was just about giving back to charity.
The tattoo artists at the event were hand-picked by Greg for demonstrating exceptional creative skills.
“We look for custom shops,” Monica Drake said. “We look for artists that have the ability to actually be able to draw.”
The Drakes partner together to run Local Tattoo & Laser Co. in Lansing, a shop that only uses vegan ink for its creations.
The artists rotate to different canvases for a total of about two hours and once the artwork is complete, it gets framed and auctioned off to the crowd. Proceeds from the auction go towards the Greater Lansing Food Bank and Capital Area Humane Society.
Photographer Michele Hoffman heard of Artonica and the praise its artists received for their skills, so she came to the event in the hopes of finding artists that she could use for her own photography project.
VanGogh Tattoos artist Ian Wallace was participating in Artonica this year for the first time. Greg Drake got in contact with Wallace and invited him to the event.
“I’ve done a couple art fusions in the past with Greg,” Wallace said. “This is my first art fusion at Artonica.”
The artists at Artonica come recommended and display a strong passion for their work.
“I’ve always loved doing art and the idea of putting your art on somebody is probably one of the best things in the world that could possibly happen for me,” Wallace said. “You are leaving your mark on somebody and it’s going to last forever.”
Port Monmouth, NJ – January 17, 2013 Nephews Skate Shop + Gallery will be hosting WILD AND FREE, a group artist exhibit on Saturday, January 25, 2014 from 6pm to 10pm. The exhibit has been guest curated by Little Chris Smith. WILD AND FREE will feature all original works of local tattoo artists Erik Schmidt, Little Chris Smith, Pete Pederson, Chuck Ordino, and Bryan Keinlen. Nephews will be opening up their doors to the public to host an evening of inspiration, conversation and enjoyment.
Erik Schmidt – “Erik has been tattooing in Neptune for several years after ‘doing time’ in Asbury Tattoo. He learned to tattoo under the guidance of Patrick Dean and Dave Shoemaker, following proudly in the tradition of those before him. His focus is clean, solid methodical tattooing, just like his mentors.”
Little Chris Smith – “Little Christopher Smith hails from Sandy Hook, New Jersey. He enjoys a radical lunch, surfing hella waves, skateboarding with buds, and entertaining hot chicks. You will usually find his best girl, Leche (his baby dog), at his side when he is not tattooing at Neptune Tattooville, where he works for the most gnarly awesome bosses Patrick Dean and Dave Shoemaker. Little Chris, or LC as his friends call him, prides himself on his ability to get wild and loves his mother like all radical dudes do.”
Pete Pedersen – “Pete has taken the long road at achieving his tattoo skills. His background in art of all mediums has proven to be vital in his development as a tattooer and as an artist. Working at print shops, screen printing factories, and in the fields of photography and graphic design all eventually lead to his discovery and love for tattooing. After spending much of the late 1990s loitering around Jersey Shore tattoo shops, Pete finally landed a job at a local shop as a body piercer. During his time working as a piercer, he started to acquire much tattoo knowledge under the guidance of Jim Weiss (now at Black Panther Tattoo). An opportunity to fulfill another dream of playing music fell in Pete’s lap right around the same time and he took a brief break from the tattoo world to peruse his passion in music, all the while still working as an artist. After a few years on the road, Pete decided he needed to get back to his original passion of becoming a tattooer. His chance came in the way of a job working as the shop manager of Neptune Tattooville complete with an apprenticeship. There he learned to tattoo under the guidance of Patrick Dean and Dave Shoemaker, following proudly in the tradition of all those before him.”
Chuck Ordino – “Chuck got his start in this shady business by apprenticing with Vinny Kapelewski, a Neptune native like himself, at Sinister Ink (now known as Revolver Tattoo) in New Brunswick. Upon completing his apprenticeship, he went on to work with Vinny and Joshua Disotell at Broken Heart Tattoo in Keyport for 5 good years before settling in at Neptune Tattoo in April of 2010. When he’s not watching the Cooking Channel, listening to sludgy doom metal or teaching his son Lucas how to “color inside the lines”, he is constantly woodshedding; trying to simplify and refine his work, and strives to apply a clean, solid tattoo.”
Bryan Keinlen - “Back in high school some friends and I started a punk band. Being the artist I naturally took on the task of inventing what would be our logo, and then went on to design all of our record covers, T-shirts and whatever other merchandise I could think up. More than 20 years of the Bouncing Souls has gone by like a million lifetimes and yet seemingly in the blink of an eye. Creating music and art has remained my means of expression all throughout. When not busy with the band, I tattoo at Neptune Tattooville in Neptune NJ.”
Nephews Skateshop + Gallery is located at 183 Main Street, Port Monmouth, NJ 07758.
By Allison B. Siegel
Fineline Tattoo opened in 1976 during the New York City ban on tattooing and is considered the longest continually running tattoo shop in Manhattan. It’s located on 1st Street and First Avenue in the East Village. Previously, Mike Bakaty, the founder and owner, operated underground for 36 years in secret back rooms and loft apartments. With the walls adorned with Bakaty’s original flash art, Fineline is definitely near and dear to our skin and to the history of NYC.
We interviewed Bakaty and asked him about tattooing and New York City:
When did you first fall in love with tattooing?
I’m still falling in love with tattooing. I got interested back in ’74 when I went to get some work covered up…I got more interested in ’75…and then by 1976 my interest was such that I started tattooing myself.
And you didn’t care that tattooing was illegal at the time in NY?
Hell yeah, I cared. Every time the phone rang I jumped thinking it was the cops looking to bust me. After 21 years eventually I got over jumping at the phone.
How do you feel at the Bowery now and all the changes going on?
Well, you know, it’s not the Bowery I lived on for 34 years, you know? Don’t know how I feel about the changes. When they first built the Whole Foods down here I thought who the hell is gonna come down here and buy food? We tried to save the building we lived in (McGurk’s Suicide Hall). I lived there for 34 years. Check out more on McGurk’s.
What’s your opinion on Mildred Hull?
Millie Hull…well she was one of the first female tattooers I ever heard of. There’s a picture of her right there (points to picture on the wall).
This piece has her in it and some other legends like Charlie Wagner.
Well, it was us (Fineline) that brought tattooing back to the Bowery and the fact of the matter is I was totally blind to the fact that the Bowery had such tattoo history. I read somewhere the first heavily tattooed person exhibition was around 1876 right across from 295 (Bowery) where we lived…
Do you call this a parlor or a shop?
It’s a studio. I don’t see a parlor anywhere in here.
Can I ask how old you are?
Well, I’m 77.
G-d Bless you, man! You don’t look a day over 60.
Well, thank you, I just passed the big 77. If I knew I was gonna get this old I’d have taken better care of myself (laughter).
Dark Age Tattoo is now open!!
Check out the shop located at:
1407 E. Madison St
Reblogged from: feeldesain.com
Russian (St. Petersburg) artist Sasha Unisex transports beautiful geometric watercolors on skin as permanent tattoos. Find her works on Facebook and instagram.
Photos and Interview by Ino Mei
Unique, humble and conscious of himself, Yorg Powell spoke exclusively to HeartbeatInk, about his eighteen year-old career and traditional – classic tattooing.
What lead you to get your first tattoo?
I was born in London. My parents didn’t have any tattoos. However they were up to beat with everything. So in the summer of 1983 we were on a family trip in Mykonos and there was an English tattooist on the island working out of a rented room. It was the age of punk, we were very young and the moment we heard about him we went and got ourselves tattooed without a second thought. I didn’t even ask the price. I picked a design off the wall that was a rat with his hands behind his back holding a pool stick. It was an experience. I remember it well. Then we found out that the inhabitants of Mykonos got him, threw his things into the sea and shipped him home because he tattooed a fisherman’s daughter.
When I was sixteen, I saved up after selling an old BMX I had and went to Bugs. It was a random choice. He wasn’t known then and did his tattoos in 1,5 x 1,5 room next to the toilet of an underground retro rock n’ roll cafeteria in Camden. Nothing custom existed in those days, it was all ready-made flash designs on the wall.
What design did you choose the second time round?
I got a unicorn. I went for something classic (laughs)! Three years later, fully conscious of what we wanted, me and Mike went to Bugs again for our first official large tattoo. Bugs covered up his unicorn and the rat.
How did you and Mike meet?
We’ve been friends for many years, from before we started tattooing together. We met through a mutual friend. We had many things in common, such as our great love of tattoos and motorcycles and going out a lot. Mike had the balls and was the first of our group to dare to do a tattoo on someone, this during an era when it wasn’t cool to be a tattooist. I found it very weird sticking a needle at a person in order to make a design on him. Afterwards, I studied fine art at Wimbledon College of Art and although I designed tattoos, I hadn’t made the move to human skin yet and wasn’t even sure if I wanted to. Mike prompted me after our visit to the 1995 Amsterdam tattoo convention when he said “common man, what are you doing? I’m waiting for you!”.
Then you returned to Greece and began learning at Mike?
Yeah, I came back right away! Mike already had Tas (Danazoglou) as an apprentice for about a year. I didn’t have an entirely traditional apprenticeship. I mean I didn’t go with my portfolio and offer to be an apprentice for some tattooist. I was a bit spoiled (laughs). He was giving Tas a hard time. I feel lucky that my best with whom we talked constantly about tattoo and we were drawing on ourselves, prompted me to do this and provided me with the foundations to do so and helped me so much.
To read the rest of this article, go to: http://heartbeatink.gr/en/issues/december-2013/yorg-powell/
Shot by Estevan Oriol