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Today’s “pretty” tattoo studio

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Written by Roxanne Bastein But the studio was pretty… Over the past decade,  there have been many changes in the tattoo culture. It has become fairly mainstream. With this sudden cultural growth, and it’s acceptance in today society, more and more people are getting tattooed, and there is a shop opening up on every other block. Does this mean that anybody can run a tattoo studio? No my friends, it certainly does not. Most Studio owners today who do not partake in the arts are capitalizing on talents of the true artists and relying on new young artists, or artists from other countries and their ignorance of the culture to make their money, charging outrageous prices and promising “custom” designs, but providing a sub-standard service. Promising clients unrealistic expectations, and generally making a mockery of a time old tradition and artistic expression. When I got my first tattoo in 1987, it was in the back of a head shop, and I chose a piece of flash off the wall. In all fairness,  I was only 17 years old and it was an act of rebellion. The studio itself was definitely not pretty, but I still have that tattoo. And of course I’ve added many others over the years, have been to many shops and conventions, and have been lucky enough to meet and get to know many great artists…and some some really shady shop owners. (I ran my own studio for three years, and have been a piercer since 1999) ... Read More »

Should tattoos be considered art? Are tattooers artists?

Are tattoos art

by Dan Henk  I have been hearing complaints almost since I began fifteen years ago about how tattooing is not being taken seriously as an art form. Maybe it was as a genre specific sort of folk art, but that wasn’t enough for most people in the business. Fine artists and illustrators might not think so. But you know what? I see where the illustrators are coming from. Now, before people get start to react, let me go over some of this. I think the best approach is to compare tattooing to another medium. When punk rock came out, there were a few auteurs, but most of it was crap. And I like punk. But it’s true. In high school I had a blue mohawk, combat boots, and a spiky leather jacket. Over time, some real talent started to emerge. That’s when it was recognized as an art form. It took a while, but bands like Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys are respected now. The Ramones and the Sex Pistols have even been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Same with metal. Or science fiction. Or comic books. In fact, I almost went into comics, and I’m still the first to admit that most early comics had mediocre artwork and stories. At best. Now you get the likes of Alan Moore and John Totleben. Metal used to have Venom. Now they have musicians that can play circles around many in other genres. Even  if you don’t like ... Read More »

Tattoo Community raises $19k to honor one of their own- living legend Zeke Owen

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One of the most common issues plaguing tattoo artists from every generation is the serious lack of medical coverage and retirement options available to independent, blue collar craftsmen & women in the profession. From basic medical coverage to disability, these are real-world concerns for tens of thousands of professional tattoo artists, all across the nation and the world. There aren’t many 401K plans for the self-employed. Recently, the tattoo community was made aware of living legend Zeke Owen’s medical situation, and came together to help raise more than $19,000 (0f $20K needed) to help pay for this amazing man’s Alzheimer’s treatment and his nursing home. Amazingly, Zeke Owen started tattooing on the Pike in 1957!  The Pike is considered one of the west coast’s historical tattoo sites thanks to Bert Grimm & Bob Shaw, two legends of tattooing (before there were legends in tattooing). Zeke was part of that crew till, a few years later, he opened his own shop. In time, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone both worked for Zeke early in their careers, and a slew of others. Zeke was on one of the forerunners of early Japanese Style tattooing in America. Zeke has spent decades on the road doing guest spots at tattoo shops from Georgia to Alaska, tattooing collectors, spinning yarns, and selling antique tattoo art & stencils. Zeke is also the featured artist biography in the newly released Tattoo Artist Magazine #39. While doing promotions for the upcoming issue, project manager Nicki Kasper was contacted by Zeke’s son, Douglas, and ... Read More »

An Interview with Phil Holt

Phil Holt interview

By Nicki Kasper Lets start by telling those who don’t know you who you are, what you do, where you’re located, etc… My name is Phil Holt. I live in Tampa Florida with my four kids. I own RedLetter1 with my friend Jeff Srsic. We have three of our friends share the space with us where we all tattoo 5-6 day a weeks. Nick Stegall, Chris Reed and David Bruehl are the best shipmates Jeff and myself could ask for. I also sell my handmade pigment under the name “Old Gold Small Batch”. The batches are still “small” but it’s really gotten busy so the facility has grown and I have a lot of small batches brewing nonstop. How long have you been in the tattoo industry and what’s your tattoo history?  How did you come up in the trade? … My brother started bringing tattoo magazines around when I was about 12 years old. I think he was mainly bringing them around because back then, in the magazines like EasyRider’s you could see bikes and boobs… Not that I wasn’t impressed with boobies but I became mostly interested in tattoos. Then in high school I really sunk my teeth into art and tattooing.  I started making tattoos in 1996. In 1998 I moved to Ohio on a sink or swim mission to become a real tattooer and basically I moved every 20-24 months for a decade. In a surreal sort of way, every shop I worked at had an amazing ... Read More »

Workhorse Irons: Better Tools For Better Tattooing

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Breast Cancer Survivors Get Tattoos In Colorado

Cancer survivor gets tattoos in Colorado

Article by Carrie Antlfinger WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) — For women who have survived breast cancer, breast or nipple reconstruction can be a first step toward looking like their old selves. A Colorado organization is helping some of those women, and others who don’t choose reconstruction, in their emotional healing — through tattoos to help conceal their scars. P.ink is a Boulder-based group that helps connect survivors with tattoo artists. Its first annual P.ink Day was in 2013, when it raised money and funded tattoos for 10 women in a single day in Brooklyn, New York. In 2014, the event expanded and featured all-volunteer artists in 12 cities in the U.S. and Canada who helped 38 women. “I think a lot of survivors see this as their opportunity to define what breast cancer looks like on them, and that is the ultimate in personal empowerment we are shooting for here,” said Noel Franus, who launched P.ink with the help of others at the CP+B advertising agency, where he works. Franus got the idea after his sister-in-law, Molly Ortwein, underwent a double mastectomy and wanted something more than reconstruction or tattooed nipples. She went to the family for ideas on a tattoo and got a pernambuco tree blossom one in 2013. The organization also has a charitable arm, the P.ink fund, which raises money to pay experienced tattoo artists to work with survivors. P.ink has created a smartphone app where women can look at designs and try one on via photo. ... Read More »

An Interview with Dan Trocchio

Tattoo Artist Don Trocchio

By Nicki Kasper Tell us a little bit about yourself… Where are you from?  Where do you work? etc… I’ve been working in NYC since I moved there in 2000, however I’ve been doing a lot of traveling the last couple of years and six months ago I moved to Providence Rhode Island.  I’m still tattooing in NYC for a week or two at a time and it’s still primarily where I make my living, tattooing at Three Kings Tattoo in Brooklyn.  I think I’m going to move back in spring, or start traveling again. Were you primarily traveling here in the states or were you also working internationally? Any specific places on your bucket list? I was in Madrid and Barcelona, both amazing places. I love Spain. And to Bremen, Germany to see some good friends and do a little work. I took the train from Spain to Germany, I prefer trains. Looking out the window and being grounded is best. When i got back to the states, I took the train from NYC to Colorado, then to SF, then Portland. The West Coast train was awesome, the star light and the Zephyr. Though the train through the Midwest, I would skip… Not a very exiting landscape from the window of a train. I really want to go to Thailand, or any of those beautiful places where you can survive on 2$. Grand Canyon and Crater National Park are definitely on my bucket list, too. I’ve been staying put at the ... Read More »

Deb Yarian on Zeke Owen

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I saw him before I found out who he was. A striking figure of a man… He was movie star handsome with the physique of a boxer.It was 1980.  I was 21 and tattooing at a friend’s shop in Daytona Beach, Fla.We weren’t introduced but when I was told who he was, his imposing physical presence equaled the reputation that preceded him. Zeke’s name dominated tattooing for much of the latter part of the 20th century.  An iconic figure and a forefather of American tattooing.  If you know the names Sailor Jerry, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone you should know the name Zeke Owen. Sadly, Zeke is in a nursing home now and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.His family is asking for the tattoo community’s help to cover medical expenses. They have set up an account to help with his needs and care.  If you are willing and able to help please go to www.gofundme.com/awq8eoMy husband Don and I had the great fortune to interview him a few years ago at our shop in Alaska.If you would like to learn about Zeke’s amazing tattoo journey you can read about it in issue #39 of Tam. Thank you for your help!   This Month of January, TAM will donate 30% of sales of issue 39th to assist Zeke! Zeke has done a lot for tattooing, and he needs the community’s support. Please give what you can, and spread the word! Get TAM Issue 39 Today and Help Support Zeke!   ... Read More »

Can you tattoo over my scar/stretch marks?

Tattoo over scar

That’s a question we tattoo artists get asked a lot- “Can you tattoo over  scar tissue?” The answer to this question is yes, no, and maybe. It is possible to tattoo scars, (meaning, you can insert ink into scar tissue), but it’s important to realize that scar tissue differs from the rest of one’s flesh. It’s rough, rigid and much less porous. We’ll go into some detail below, but I want to say, first, that I’m no expert in dermatology; this blog is offered only as a starting place and guide to help people with scars and questions to navigate their options. My opinions are solely based on my experiences tattooing on and around scars, and on a very basic, working understanding of skin anatomy, (which every good tattooer should grasp.) For the general client looking to work over and around scar tissue, here are some basic questions to explore with your professional tattoo artist: What kind of scar is it? Is it a stretch mark? Was it from a cut? How deep was it? How deep does the scar tissue go? Are you prone to keloid? Is it a raised scar? Scars aren’t the exact same type of tissue as regular skin, and scar tissue tends to be more sensitive than routine skin. Is there nerve damage in the area of your scar? If so, the nerve damage may increase the discomfort you feel when you get a tattoo. Are you wanting to alter the texture of a scar? Tattooing ... Read More »

Chris Trevino- Top Japanese Style tattooists! pt5

Chris Trevino and Ed Hardy

Chris Trevino is an expert in traditional Japanese tattooing who earned the nickname “Horimana” after studying for five years under the legendary master Horiyoshi III. His elaborate, full-body representations of Asian symbology reminds us of the later works by Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins aka Horismoku. Trevino now runs Perfection Tattoo in Austin, TX which was founded by Bob Moreau in the late 70s… The shop attracts people from every continent seeking to receive the gift of his artwork. His clients are usually serious about their tattoos, often committing to large scale projects that cover much of their body. Trevino knows how to communicate with individuals to draw out and refine an initially loose idea of what they want. He fully understands the iconography of Japanese art and explains how a seemingly simple warrior tattoo can represent far more than meets the eye based on the stories behind the character. His in-depth bio can be found in Tattoo Artist Magazine #11 and a full retrospective of his artwork and tattoos can found in his latest book “Gods & Warriors – Horimana: The Works of Chris Trevino” Horimana is his Japanese tattooer name, given him by Horiyoshi III, but he’s more commonly known as Chris Trevino, aka the workaholic, aka the Cyborg, aka THE MACHINE: Here’s why!- by Crash Hailing from Austin, TX, Chris Trevino was already well-known in the early 90s for his cutting edge tattoo skills and flash designs. This was the start of the ‘new-school’ movement of tattooing and ... Read More »

Price of tattoos: why cheap ain’t good!

Tattoo by Mick Tattoo

The Pricing Of Tattoos. Some basics to consider. -By Crash There’s an old saying- “Good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good.” – Let’s talk about why. Once the decision has been made to get a tattoo, the next thing people generally want to know is- “How much will it cost?” Though typical, it is my contention that there are far more important questions needing answered first that should guide the next steps of those seeking their first (or next) tattoo. Quite often it is what one PAYS for a tattoo, (rather than what it might COST them in the long run), which can most easily send the gullible down dark alleys and into the back-room dangers of illegal, unlicensed, and untrained “kitchen magicians”, (better known as “scratchers”). (Hear them howl!) People are sucked into this delusion/illusion of (e)quality by the misguided BELIEF that they can obtain some the MYTHICAL ‘deal’ by going to a non-professional, (*in GENERAL, a non-professional is one willing to do tattoos OUTSIDE of a shop. Period. Even if they ‘work at one’, or ‘used to’, or ‘are going to, one day’, etc- they are conducting themselves in a non-professional way, ALREADY, and it is at your risk; so it becomes very easy to imagine ALL THE OTHER health and safety guidelines they’ll choose to ignore, on your behalf. **NOTE- it’s NEVER too late to WAKE UP and start making better decisions– ‘Artists’ and customers! Trust me, we ALL do, eventually, no matter where we start from. So relax and join ... Read More »

11 Tips on How to Care for Your New Tattoo

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Got a new tattoo? Now what? Here you will find our top 11 tips on taking care of your new tattoo. There are so many aftercare recommendations and products out there, some deliver and some don’t, however- the most important thing (which is #1 on this list) is to listen to your tattoo artist– he or she will inform you precisely what you must do to properly care for your tattoo, all based on the results they’ve seen over many years of experience. The vast majority of tattoo healing problems are because the clients/customers fail to follow directions. Period. The instructions you’re given are very important. Now, these pointers below are for general care, and they are very basic, time-tested guidelines. If any point differs from what you are instructed, follow the advice of your artist. And remember that people have different types of skin, allergies, potentials for reactions, etc, so everyone will naturally heal differently. Top 11 Tattoo Aftercare Tips: 1– Pay attention to what your tattooist tells you and do precisely what he or she instructs. If she/he is a professional with experience, they will certainly know what product and healing technique works best for their own work, in general, and for their clients in particular. Keep in mind, if you change the aftercare for whatever reason the tattooist is not obliged to touch up your tattoo free of cost. It is your responsibility to take care of your tattoo once you leave the studio. 2– DO NOT ... Read More »

Filip Leu: world’s Top Japanese artists, pt4

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Filip Leu and family are some of my favorite people in the world. He was one of my first tattoo heroes, so getting to sit and pick his brain for an afternoon was life-changing. Filip’s history and life are the most unique [and inspiring] I’ve yet to encounter along my 12-year journey of documenting and sharing the very best of the contemporary world of tattooing. Filip is one of the most gifted artists our community has ever known; a great many consider this 2nd generation tattooer one of tattooing’s greatest prodigies. Son of Felix (RIP) and Loretta Leu (both artisans who tattooed to support their family and travel the world), Filip is the eldest of many siblings lucky enough to be raised in an incredibly encouraging, profoundly artistic, REAL ‘Tattoo Family.’ Filip got his first tattoo (from his father) around the age of 10. By 13, he was DOING tattoos. GOOD TATTOOS! By 18, he was an international superstar. He had no ordinary childhood. Filip spent much of that childhood doing his part for the family business- (tracing tattoo designs for the customers of Felix and Loretta), wherever the current base of operations might be for “The Leu Family’s Family Iron” [the company they are famously know as.] At any given time one could have run into the family anywhere from Switzerland to Spain to India to the US and beyond; simply, Filip was raised in art, ink, and blood. His artistic abilities, once apparent, were nurtured and encouraged by both father and mother, providing an ... Read More »

Friends don’t let friends get bad tattoos!

bad tattoos what can you do?

What can any of us DO about the number of people out there getting BAD TATTOOS? Why do people get bad tattoos? Why do neighbors, coworkers, and even our family members come up and show us their new tattoos [which are obviously sub-par] and say, “I just got a new tattoo! It looks good, right?!” How can otherwise intelligent people, people whom we know have relatively good tastes in music, movies, comedy, theater, ballet, (SH#T– nearly ANYthing else creative in the world), but be utterly and completely blind to the truth about how bad their own tattoos are? As hard as it is to say- it may not really be their fault; even tattooers need up to TEN YEARS to learn how to recognize good work! That’s how hard it is to learn. But, for some reason, every-body thinks they know what’s good and what’s not, when it comes to tattoo work. Speaking AS a tattooer of 25 years, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s mostly OUR OWN fault, the pros who’ve been doing it for 10-20 years or more; we LET television and the internet flood the hearts & minds of genuinely interested tattoo fans, and did little to make a stand TOGETHER when we had the chance, by creating and offering quality, entertaining AND educational media resources for the masses. Most tattooer’s have selective memories, so it’s been really really difficult for many of them to remember that there was once a time that they didn’t know shit about tattoos ... Read More »

The Justin Harris Interview

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By Kevin Miller http://www.tattoosnob.com I’ve wanted to interview Justin Harris for a while now. Justin was always down, but we could never work out the details. Well it’s finally happened, and I’m stoked. Justin recently moved to Philadelphia, and has been pumping out new work. Keep reading to hear how Philly is treating Justin, his advice for new tattoo artist, who you’re sleeping on, and why he changed his iconic Instagram name. Tattoo Snob: Let’s get the basic information out of the way. Who are you, where do you tattoo, and what other information do people need to know? Justin Harris:My name is Justin Harris, I currently am tattooing out of Deep Six in Philadelphia, PA. TS: You have an interesting story about your Instagram username, and why you eventually changing it. Can you tell us that story? JH: A lot of people have asked why the change in the name. People commonly referred to me as one of the “Bullies”, specifically @greenbaybully. I still and always will be a bully for life. My counter part Bobby Johnson (@glendalebully) started it and it stuck. As for the change in the name, it was mainly do to with separating from the IG persona and real life. Using the bully name was a good way for people to remember who you are. As any business traveler knows, names are hard to keep track of. We’ve all been there, and with that being said – it also can be a down fall having an alternate name. People would often ... Read More »

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