By Carroll Gardens
The brownstone-lined streets of Carroll Gardens may not seem like much of a tourist destination. But brand Brooklyn is ascendant these days, and foreigners come to idle at farm-to-table restaurants and browse in fanciful boutiques.And farther south, where affluence gives way to aluminum siding and Smith Street dead-ends under the din of the Gowanus Expressway, visitors come for a more permanent souvenir: authentic Brooklyn ink.
On a recent Thursday, Yossy Yoshino, 35, a tattoo artist from Japan, lay face down on a massage table at Smith Street Tattoo Parlour while Dan Santoro, 31, inscribed a pig in a bikini on his back (“three tops, one for each set of teats,” Mr. Santoro explained). The words “Weird World” floated above the pig’s head.
Mr. Yoshino, a teardrop tattoo dripping from his eye, said he had traveled thousands of miles from his home in Okinawa to get a “New York tattoo.”
Just what makes a New York tattoo can be a bit difficult to pin down. The shop’s owner, Bert Krak, 35, described the parlor’s style as traditional American, with a bit of Japanese thrown in.
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.”
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 Craig Hlavaty
This weekend, Peveto Art Gallery will display 20 sheets of historic tattoo flash art that were recently found in an abandoned house in Corpus Christi. According to gallery owner Scott Peveto, the flash looks to be over 100 years old. The items were rescued from a Dumpster by a man who cleans out houses that are tagged to be torn down.
“I’ve spent enough time with them to know they are real,” said Peveto. The sheets are water and nicotine-stained and more than likely were originally displayed on the walls of a tattoo shop for customers to choose pieces from.
The art is on heavy illustration board and shows signs of wear from push pins. Artist names are included on most.
“The majority of them are by the same artist,” said Peveto. You can really pinpoint the ones that don’t quite go with the others.
Peveto is looking to sell half the lot at a public unveiling of the exhibit Saturday night at his Montrose gallery. He said he is going to ask around $2,000 per sheet. The exhibit opens at 6 p.m.
Peveto said the work predates the art of Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, who made his name tattooing sailors, rebels, and rogues. Sailor Jerry’s name is now on rum bottles, art galleries, dorm posters, baby clothes, and his artwork can be found re-imagined on skin all over the world.
A friend of Peveto’s who is a longtime sailor noticed that one piece looked particularly familiar.
“He said that the one piece of flash looks very much like Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Great White Fleet’ that circumnavigated the globe from 1907 to 1909,” said Peveto. That could mean that the artist had drawn up the design for customers who had been aboard the ships. Or it just looked cool.
Corpus would have been a convenient spot for sailors to get tattoo work done given its proximity to the Gulf. Today, the city maintains a thriving tattoo scene with hotspots like Shipwreck Tattoo.
Bruce Morgan out at Shipwreck and his colleagues aren’t so sure the flash is the work of a homegrown Texas artist. They think it’s more of an East Coast-style. Texas tattoo flash from this era would probably have more Texicana involved, like state flag, cowboy, or yellow rose imagery, Morgan said.
“It could have been someone’s collection from their travels,” said Morgan. Even still he’s very curious about the collection’s lineage. He’d like a fellow tattoo artist to acquire them for their own collection.
“We tattooers try our best to keep tattoo-related history in our own family,” he said.
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).
By Nicki Kasper
“In that moment, I realized that instead of trying to be inspired, I was going to try to inspire people.”
I recently ordered two copies of Jeff Gogue’s DVD, “tattoo as I see it”… Jeff is one of my closest and most genuine friends and I wanted to support his project, something I know he and put a lot of work, time, money, energy and heart into. I bought a copy for myself, and one for a close friend of mine – an artist I thought could use some inspiration. I didn’t know exactly what the DVD would be like, but I know Jeff, and I knew it would be inspiring, as well as very giving with valuable information and advice to tattooers… I just now was able to find the time to sit down and watch it, and it doesn’t disappoint.
I know Jeff in a couple different ways… We’re friends; I know him on a personal level, and he’s fun, open, genuine, kind, generous, and hilarious. I’m also one of his clients, so I know him on that level. I know how much he cares about his clients, about the pieces he puts on our bodies, about the pain we’re feeling, etc. I know how much heart he puts into every single piece, and I’m grateful and fortunate to be covered in them. But in addition to being a friend, and a client, I’ve also had the pleasure of working with him on side projects.
I know from experience that nothing Jeff Gogue does professionally or otherwise is half-assed. He cares about the details. If he decides he’s going to do something, he wants to give all of himself to it. If it has his name on it, he wants it to be the absolute best he has to offer at that time and place. He never thinks he’s reached his full potential, which is why we see his work changing and evolving over and over. I can relate to him in many ways, which I think is part of the reason we became instant friends so many years ago.
“You’re either a taker, or you’re a giver.”
He wants to inspire others, and that is the point of this movie. It will inspire everyone who watches, artist or not. He’s honest and open about his process, what he wants, his strengths and weaknesses. It’s real, and humble and people can always relate to that.
If you’re an artist, you will be blown away at how generous Jeff is with information that will help you from laying out a piece to tips on using contrast in your work to mixing colors. It’s invaluable information that he’s learned by trial and error over the years and he’s sharing it all with you. But if you’re not an artist, and you just want to be inspired about believing in yourself and making shit happen for yourself… About not accepting failure, and instead being driven by it, you need to watch this film.
To Jeff and Ryan Moon – You guys did an incredible job on this, and now I wish I hadn’t been such a chicken about being interviewed for it! I’m proud of you both!
By Marisa Kakoulas
In The Guardian today is feature called “Painted Ladies: Why women get tattoos.” Normally, I find these types of articles banal, or even cringe worthy, for perpetuating cliches or not offering a broad spectrum of experience from our community. And so I was happily surprised to find many different voices of tattooed women in this article.
While there need not be any great miraculous reason to get tattooed, tattoos do come with a story, from an impulse to get a quick piece of historic flash to a full body project. I found the profiles of these women to be really interesting, and they made me think on the commonaIities and differences of our experiences with tattoos.
I particularly loved reading about Juanita Carberry, a merchant navy steward, who died in July at age 88. Here’s a bit from her story:
“The daughter of a renegade Irish peer, Carberry lived an extraordinarily full life. Her childhood in Kenya was difficult: her mother, a well-known aviator, died when she was three, and Carberry was often beaten by her governess. As a teenager, she was a key witness in a celebrated murder case, the 1941 shooting of the 22nd Earl of Erroll, and at 17 she joined the first aid nursing yeomanry in the Women’s Territorials during the second world war. In 1946, Carberry became one of a handful of women to join the merchant navy, remaining for 17 years. It was during this period, says photographer Christina Theisen, that she started acquiring tattoos. Her first was a small spider on the sole of her foot; it didn’t hurt, Theisen recalls Carberry saying, because the skin on her feet was so tough from walking barefoot as a child.”
Read more here.
It is the work of Christina Theisen and Eleni Stefanou that really makes this piece so engaging. Theisen and Stefanou are behind womenwithtattoos.co.uk, a photo and film endeavor that pays respect to all tattooed women. They offer this on their work: “Our project seeks to capture the personal and the individual, embracing each woman and her tattoos as one, rather than isolating or magnifying the inked parts of her body. At the same time, by using natural environments and the context of urban Western culture, we intentionally move away from the sexualised glamour model aesthetic that dominates tattoo magazines and popular culture.”
Two words: Hell. Yeah.
My regret is that I wasn’t aware of the project when it first rolled out. I will continue to follow Theisen and Stefanou’s work, and I hope that more media outlets also follow their lead in telling compelling stories without the usual pop culture hype and flash so prevalent today.
By Omar Edmison
My wife of 18 years asked me awhile back if I was still writing a blog for Tattoo Artist Magazine. I shot her a pile of excuses about time & being busy at work, taking care of the shop & spending time with her & the kids. She looked at me with her amazingly sweet smile as if to say “Sure Omar, I love you I have your back but you’re throwing up a smoke screen.” She knows me really well, better than any other human being on the planet. Her words that she spoke next were small and to the point. she simply said ” you’re really good at what you do. you have wisdom to impart.” I am not making that part up; she really does speak like that. So here I am sitting in front of a computer trying to figure out what to “impart” on you, gentle reader. I started thinking about what I had said to my beautiful and talented better half. It wasn’t a lie I have been busy with an amazing varied rag tag bunch of folks who for what ever reason be it a bump on the head or just a history of poor life choices have asked me to mark them permanently. It is also true that -as any shop owner can attest to- when you own a tattoo shop stuff comes up, there are always fires to be put out, business needs handling. It is most decidedly true that I love spending time with her and our 3 awesome kids. I don’t know about y’all but the last time I checked there are only 24 hours in a day only 7 of those days in a week etc., etc. you know the math. You are,I am sure, by this point getting my point that there are a lot of things that come up in my day to day life that are at times pleasurable at times nerve wracking & everything in between. Much like some of you out there, I get to try to figure out how to balance business & family, which is what struck me as something to write about…
Life, Happens everyday. It comes at us pretty fast you have to keep your eyes open and your head up if you are going to get through it in one piece. How to balance work & family…
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By Anni Irish
A recent animated film featured on Vanity Fair’s website in their “Through the Decades” series showcases artist Nick Hooker’s tattoo inspired interpretation of the 1940s. The short four minute film highlights several historical events from the 1940s and is done in an Americana tattoo style. The film opens with a shot of a vintage radio that is placed next to a bottle marked “xxx”. In the background there are various tattoo inspired images which are framed. The radio is on and we hear what seems to be a speech FDR being given in regards to World War II. Over the radio address the sound of a tattoo machine buzzes and the camera pans out to a reveal simple sign that says “tattoos”. The shot widens and various flash tattoo designs become visible and the room is transformed into a tattoo parlor. An Uncle Sam type tattoo artist is tattooing sparrows onto a patron who has a larger ship and American flag scene on their stomach and chest. The image quickly shifts again. Within this shot the framed flash tattoo designs become the object of focus. It is within the confines of the framed tattoo images where Hooker’s depiction of the 1940s comes to life.
An important element to Hooker’s representation of the 1940s is his emphasis on the history of tattooing. Hooker showcases this by making the link between tattooing and sailors as well as their presence within freak show and circus culture. Tattoo artists such as Professor Charlie Wagner, Sailor Jerry and Cap Coleman are referenced which is is important. Another key detail to Hooker’s telling of the 1940s is his foregrounding of the tattooed lady through Mae Vandermark. Vandermark a former stenographer turned tattooed lady becomes the darling of Hooker’s short film. In an “Behind the Scenes Interview” about the film, Hooker and it’s co director, Drew Christie talk about the “illustrative qualities” of tattoos. It is the “illustrative qualities’ of them that both Christie and Hooker note, which capture their interpretation of this decade. It is also interesting to note that This American Lifecontributor and author Starlee Kine, wrote and narrated the piece. This talented group of artists came together to create a compelling, alternative representation of this infamous decade.
What is significant about this animation for me is how an alternative narrative of history is told through tattoo culture. In many ways, tattoos came to encompass the 1940s. This occurred through the presence of the War and the various sailors and soldiers who documented the experience if it on their bodies to the tattooed ladies and various “freaks” of circus culture. Christie and Hooker are narrating a social history which often goes overlooked. This animation is raising larger issues surrounding the social history of tattooing within the United States while also giving insight into it. It is being done in an unconventional medium through one of the most popular publications out today. As a result, a new generation is learning about this alternative historical narrative which is incredibly important.
Given the fact that it is such a short film, only a portion of this history is being told which encompasses a larger time span. While I do not want to take away from the work that I feel this animation is doing, it is only a tiny piece in this larger social puzzle. There are many other elements that construct America’s tattoo history. People such as Margot Mifflin, Amelia Klem Osterud, and others are actively working to help recuperate this larger history but there is still much to be done. Being mindful of this wider framework and the issues “The 1940s” raises perhaps it will inspire the next generation of tattoo artists and tattoo historians to begin their own investigation.
**Anni Irish is a writer and researcher who holds an MA in Performance Studies from New York University and an MA in Gender and Cultural Studies from Simmons College. Her work focuses on the representation of bodies, fetishism, and the social history of tattooing in America. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.2015 |Candidate The Draper Program, NYU|
By John Niederkorn
Reblogged from: http://tattoomuseum.wordpress.com
Since the closure of the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum (ATM) in Nov. 2012 the tattoo community, along with fans and followers of the museum have had many questions about its untimely closure.
Today the intention is to shed some light on this subject by presenting *bankruptcy documents levied against the museum’s main financer and location provider Mrs. Mary Jeannette Leonora Seret, and her private company by the name of Partners at Work BV…
*1.7 Cause of bankruptcy
The bankrupt company is engaged in the reintegration of long-term unemployed people and people who have trouble finding labor. The orders were to do so – after tender – awarded by the municipalities or social services.
At one point, a partnership was established between Mr. Henk Schiffmacher or the foundation Amsterdam Tattoo Museum and the bankrupt company. Mr. Schiffmacher, known tattoo artist, had the desire for its collection accessible to a wide audience in a museum and for the bankrupt company was ‘ideal’ means to place multiple people from the reintegration purposes to work in this museum.
Henk Schiffmacher and Seret agreed the Schiffmacher collection would be housed at the Plantage Middenlaan 62 location. In conjunction with this agreement Seret and her Partners at Work BV company had an agreement with the Dutch government to provide employees for museum, under which its main function was to give employment to reformed criminals and “underprivileged” individuals… Due to the nature of the Seret’s company she received financial backing from the local government.
Based on this agreement, Partners at Work BV claimed to invest 1 million Euros in the ATM…
*Housing was sought and found in the building currently in use at the Plantage Middenlaan 60-62 in Amsterdam.
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