By Dawn Cooke
In honor of women’s history month I have compiled a list of women in the history of tattooing. This is not a complete history by any means. There are hundreds of women throughout time who have contributed to the art form and trade of tattooing. Unfortunately a lot of them have gone unaccounted for. I have tried to find some of the lesser-known women to highlight here however some of the well-known artists have also been included. I have included women with at least 20 years under their belts. I was overwhelmed with the response to my idea to write this article.
Some of the women earlier on in history who paved the way for us included several sideshow performers. Betty Broadbent and lady Viola are among the most well known. In the 1930’s Mildred Hull was one of the few women tattoo artists working on the bowery in NY. The beloved Cindy Ray from Australia, tattooed into the year 2007. These ladies have set our roots and our history is being made as we speak. But here are 20 women, most of whom are tattooing still, who deserve recognition for their contributions! These women tattooed long before social media and Reality television. They may not be masters at social media but they are masters of their craft. Take the time too look into these great artists! (In no particular order.)
1.Madame Chinchilla http://triangletattoo.com
2.Loretta Lue http://leufamilyiron.com
3.Pat Fish http://www.luckyfish.com
Photos and Interview by Ino Mei
Jondix spoke exclusively to HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine about his initiation into tattooing, his past as a tattoo nerd, the first tattoo he ever did; at Tas Danazoglou’s neck, his experience in Greece while been Mike the Athens’apprentice and the issue of copying in Dotwork, which he characterizes as “embarrassing”.
What is your actual name? How did the name Jondix come up and what does it mean?
My name is Jondix, that’s who I am. Before Jondix, I was another person. My “baptism” made me the human I am now. During one of the art reunions I used to attend with my friends Ciruelo Cabral, Eva Blank, Heinrich and others, this name came up as a joke, but a year later when Ciruelo published a new book, he used it in the credits and I thought it was a sign and that’s how it started to affect me and change my mind in a more artistic way than before.
Where you working as an architect in the past? When did you first come into contact with tattoos and how did you get involved with tattooing?
I never worked as an architect. in fact I didn’t even finish the university. After seven years I kinda quit… I needed money and I was into parties and guitars and Harleys and all the typical Mediterranean excess… I saw the first tattoos as a child on people from the army…badly done you know… and then in Boston I saw a good tattoo, a death reaper from Spider Web Tattoo and wanted it immediately. So at eighteen I started getting tattoos, like Steve Vai’s autograph and some stupid biomechs until Tas Danazoglou came to Barcelona and saved me…
Is it true that you were “discovered” by Tas Danazoglou? How did you meet him?
He came to a Barcelona Tattoo Convention and then stayed at the LTW tattoo shop in Barcelona for some years. I got many tattoos from him and we became friends. I was a tattoo nerd already, buying magazines and stuff… I got my first tattoo when I was eighteen, that’s twenty three years ago. There we no tattoo shops in Barcelona like there are today. I was going to tattoo conventions abroad just as a fan and even buying machines just for decoration purposes. Nobody did this in Barcelona, not even the established tattooists. So I knew who Tas was and I knew who Mike the Athens was from “Tattoo Planet” magazine and I wanted to get their more spiritual tattoos, as opposed to the trendy shiny stuff. Then one day on my birthday Tas came home and I played him “Resurrection” by Halford and he in return he showed me how to set up a machine and do a tattoo… and I ended up tattooing a bit on his neck that night…
To read this full article, visit: http://heartbeatink.gr/en/columns-features/artists-studios-columns-features/jondix/#!prettyPhoto/0/
The Bowery really was electric on Friday evening, standing amongst a crowd of family and friends honoring an inspirational man: Mike Bakaty, who passed away at the end of January. It was a farewell (nay, celebration) to a tattoo legend, hosted at his favorite neighborhood bar, Bowery Electric, and attended by friends and loved ones. Even some biker buddies from DC were in attendance.
We stood to raise a glass, to cheers, to find the silver lining in his passing, or as Bakaty dubbed it, the”upshot.” We spoke from the heart, we embraced, we laughed and we cried because this man – a pioneer in the world of tattooing and an icon on the Lower East Side – is no longer with us.
One of Mike’s sons – Mehai Bakaty stood with two of his brothers and spoke resounding words to an audience bound by one man.
Here is Mehai’s soulful speech and some pictures from the event.
“They say you’re not really dead until the last person has spoken your name so I think our goal is to let that be a while before that actually happens.”
Mike, we have your voice, your laughter, your wisdom for all to hear, and of course, our memories. It will be a while.
The upshot is you will always be with us.
By Charlene Sakoda
Pastor Zack Zehnder, from The Cross Mount Dora church in Mount Dora, Florida has made good on an offhand promise to pay for his congregation members’ tattoos. As reported by WOFL Fox 35 News, in his recent sermon about acceptance, the pastor said, “If anybody would like to go out and get a tattoo of the logo of the cross that we have for this church we will find money and pay for that.” It was something that Zehnder said he mentioned “flippantly,” without actually thinking anyone would collect on the pledge.
Jeremie Turner is a congregation members who was excited by the proposition, “We definitely took him up on his offer because if he’s going to hand out free tattoos, he’s got a crowd that’s going to accept them.” WOFL reported that at least a dozen church members have taken advantage of the deal and went to Bill Gold’s Tattoo Shop to get inked. “If I wasn’t so dang sarcastic in my sermons, I don’t know that we would be here,” said Pastor Zehnder. “But we got some crazy people that have said they wanted to do it so I kinda gotta, I made the promise. I kinda gotta back it up.”
The pastor hopes that the church members’ new ink will serve as a conversation starter about religion. “People’s perception of church has probably never been as negative as it is today and so if we can do something to kind of flip that script and interact with them and do something in a unique and creative way, we’re going to do that.” The Cross Mount Dora member, Holly Stratton told the station, “I think that we’re in a different time and a different place now and I think it’s wonderful that we think outside the box a little bit.” William Trigg admitted that churches and tattoos don’t usually go together, saying, “Wouldn’t really expect, a little unorthodox for a church, but you know…leave it to anybody, Zack would be the one to do it.”
Zehnder isn’t the only church leader to make the unexpected connection between church and the body art. Jamie Bertolini, a senior pastor at Greer MillChurch in South Carolina, is also the owner of Trinity Tattoo Company. Bertolini told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal that one of the reasons he invested in the tattoo shop was because it would be an, “…absolutely wonderful opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ.” Another church leader and tattoo fan is ordained minister, Eddie Smith of Oklahoma. He’s been tattooing for over 20 years and opened Sacred by Design in December 2010. He’s hardly fits the stereotypical idea of a minister, with his sleeves and distinct facial tattoos. In 2013, there was an even more literal side-by-side connection between a church and the art of tattooing. LifeQuest Church in Missouri held a fund raising raffle for members to get tattooed on stage during a sermon by Senior Pastor Chris Pinion.
As for The Cross Mount Dora congregation, in the end Pastor Zach Zehnder was happy about his unintentional comment saying, “I think it’s pretty neat that these guys are going to be walking out of here with a testimony and a chance to share God’s story with people that maybe I never would or maybe you never would, that don’t have tattoos.”
Shot by Estevan Oriol
By Marisa Kakoulas
So, you can take a minute and read the Gizmodo article first. Or not.
I first asked Anna what she thought were some glaring mistakes in the post. Here’s what she said:
ANNA: By the third sentence of this “article” I knew it was going to be a doozy. The problem with this statement, “That tradition continues today, just with a much smaller chance of infection” is a) it’s incredibly melodramatic and b) it’s just not true. Many (if not most?) traditional tattoo practitioners were acutely aware of the possibility of infection, one of the reasons why we perhaps see suspension mediums in traditional tattoo “ink” recipes like alium juice or even one of my favorite rare ones, human breastmilk, both of which contain natural antibacterial agents. Rest periods for people having undergone tattooing are common cross-culturally (presumably to let the body heal and lessen the chance of infection). And with the rise of “tattoo parties” and so much home-tattooing by amateurs untrained in proper safe practices with bloodborne pathogens, there is a huge risk of all sorts of infections in the contemporary era.
Re: the image of the “Pict” “tattoos”: had the writer just done a tiny bit of searching re: this image, he might have realized this image is a fantasy and does not represent tattoos. Scholars are still not sure if the descriptions of body art on the Picts were tattoos or just body painting (leaning toward the latter), but they definitely were not 16th century French-inspired floral designs in multi-color (they were described as woad-like, which is blueish in color). The image is also not attributed to the source, and I’m guessing when the owner (Yale University) finds out it’s been used without attribution, they will have it pulled. Here are some links to some of my posts on one of the other images from the same book (John White’s equally fantastic Pict images), which mention fantasy and have more elucidation of some of these problems: Image 1 (below), Image 2, and Image 3.
Matt also noted the misinformation on Picts and cited “The Pictish Tattoo: Origins of a Myth” by Richard Dibon-Smith for reference.
As for the “These days, it’s not just sailors and ruffians that get inked” line (and the whole paragraph really), read Matt’s attack on tattoo cliches.
Above: Lars Krutak with one of the last tattooed Kalinga warriors Jaime Alos outside of Tabuk, Philippines.
I’m also grateful for the extensive critique of the article that Lars offered:
LARS: Otzi is not the oldest evidence as this article seems to purport. The oldest is a 7000-year-old male mummy of the Chinchorro culture of South America and this man wears a tattooed mustache on his upper-lip, so the earliest evidence is cosmetic. [Actually, the cited Smithsonian article had several glaring errors and I never cite it - period! - even though I work at the Smithsonian! Dr. Fletcher stated that Otzi is the oldest tattoo evidence, but she is no doubt incorrect and I like mythbusting this oft-stated "fact."]
Gizmodo: The Inuit, for example, have been tattooing themselves in the name of beauty and a peaceful afterlife since at least the 13th century.
LARS – The earliest evidence of tattooing in all of North America is a Palaeo-Eskimo ivory maskette from Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada whose face is completely covered with tattoos and it dates to -3500 BP. This object most likely represents a woman. So the practice is much older than the author presumes. For “beauty” is pretty much horseshit – see my comments below. Much circumpolar tattooing aimed to repel the advances of disease-bearing evil spirits and there were multiple forms of medicinal tattooing to relieve painful rheumatism (a la the Iceman), painful swellings, facial paralysis, and even to increase the production of a woman’s breast milk.
Gizmodo: Similarly, in the the [sic] Cree tribe, men would often tattoo their entire bodies while the women would wear ornate designs running from mid-torso to pelvis as protective wards for a safe pregnancy.
LARS: I have never heard anything about safe pregnancies in relation to Cree tattoo, although I am aware of tattoos in other parts of North America to promote fertility or ensure that the first thing a newborn saw was a thing of beauty (eg, inner thigh tattoo, Inuit region). Indeed, Cree men (Plains Cree, Wood Cree) were tattooed on their torso, but only for war honors. These tattoos had to be earned so only successful warriors would have worn such tattoos. The author makes it sounds like every man had them, but this is simply not true.
To read this full article, go to: http://www.needlesandsins.com/2014/03/tattoo-history-myths-exposed.html
*Note from TAM – Unfortunately, the site that originally posted this list didn’t provide information on the artists who are responsible for these tattoos. If you happen to know who did one of these pieces, please feel free to leave a comment and let us and the rest of the readers know!
#1 Mind-Boggling 3-D Tattoo
Amazing, isn’t it? The 3-D tat almost appears carved! It’s so perfect, we’d be tempted to “knock” on it, just to see if her leg was not in fact wooden.
#2 Warrior Eyes To Watch Over You
You might think, what.. is this really inked? The 3-D tat is so realistic, until you notice it’s on this guy’s bicep! No one is messing with him, his tat is likely to start a conversation rather than a fight.
By Molly Kitamura
We are back!! After a couple months break, Knives and Needles Blog is back! Sometimes even bloggers need a break to recharge with new material!! And what better way to get back into things than with Jairo Acevedo!!!! He is one talented and tattooed chef, so read on and check out his food and tattoos….. You will not regret it!
Molly: Tell us a bit about yourself, please include what you are doing now
Jairo: I’m a 27 yr old chef from Boston Mass. I’ve been here in Los Angeles for about 6 months now and I am currently the Personal Chef for Athletic Gaines, a professional athlete training group. The Head Trainer, Travelle Gaines, trains the athletes and I make their meals certain nights a week if not every night. Right now we are in the middle of a 8 week training camp for The NFL Scouting Combine. It’s been an absolute blessing to be able to move out here to California on a limb and be where I am.
M: What got you into cooking?
Shot by Estivan Oriol
Ever wonder what Spock or Princess Leia would look like with a full sleeve of tattoos? The Tumblr site Shopped Tattoos adds gallons of ink to everyone from AC Slater and Wonder Woman to Grace Kelly and Bette Davis. There’s even a few presidents in the mix.
Mario Lopez as AC Slater
Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia
Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman
Katy Segal as Peg Bundy
Stand By Me
Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused
The Graduate‘s Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman
Jackie and President John F. Kennedy
Kate Middleton and Prince William
By Kevin Miller
Tattoo by Russ Abbott at Ink & Dagger Tattoo in Decatur, GA
Tattoo Snob: Since the beginning of 2013, you’ve been working on a sleeve that you just posted. Before we start talking about the specifics, can you share your thoughts on larger pieces such as sleeves, back pieces, torso pieces. How do you approach them? Do you prefer to do these over smaller pieces?
Russ Abbott: Well, from my perspective as the artist, I feel most comfortable doing large-scale work, specifically arm sleeves, although I am doing more torso work than ever before. But with the sleeves, I love the unique challenge of designing around a cylinder. I also love that the work is such a serious part of the collectors life. Obviously, arm tattoos get seen by a lot of people in day to day interactions. I like to think about how the piece will be viewed by the world outside of tattooing. I ask myself, “Will this be the tattoo that changes someone’s mind about tattooing?” Hopefully in favor of it. Haha! But I do really love when client’s tell me stories about members of their family going from tattoo critics to true fans after seeing the work I do for them. I’m sure every tattooer gets those stories.
TS: Let’s talk about the concept of this sleeve. How did it come about?
RA: I met the collector, Chris a few times through mutual friends. He didn’t have any tattoos a couple of years ago but he’s gotten covered up fast! When he talked to me about doing his sleeve I was pumped because in just a short time, he had already managed to collect nice work from amazing artists like Timmy B, Kelly Doty, and Ryan Thomas. Chris had already proven he could sit for long sessions and his skin tone is ideal for the full range of colors. Plus he seriously doesn’t seem to have any concern about what he’s getting. I would try to check with him about my ideas for colors and such and he would just be like “Whatever dude, I don’t care. I trust you.” He just had this concept that was perfect for me. If you look at the photos of the sleeve, the concept he pitched me is exactly what you see. He’s into photography so he wanted a camera, a model, and the resulting photographs. He also requested that the model be in a flapper costume and suggested I fill space with my signature ornamental scrollwork. I loved that his concept would give me the opportunity to showcase two distinctly different styles of my work, black and gray realism, and illustrative color.
TS: You made all of the stops in preparing this sleeve, including models and photographers. Can you tell us about that process?
RA: For the way I tattoo, I always need to find the best reference material available. I could have probably found a decent reference photo for the camera and maybe even the girl, but to hit the jackpot and find multiple poses of the same girl in the right costuming? Not likely. But I did start with a Google search to see what I could dig up. No dice. Then I contacted a few models to see if they had any photo sets that might fit the project. Several beautiful girls sent me photos but I still didn’t find anything that felt right. In the process of seeking out models, a friend suggested I talk to a local model named Brittany Michelle aka Ladee Danger. Luckily, she was stoked about the idea and even offered to handle her own costuming, hair, and makeup. We met at the shop one day and spent several hours taking photos. Mary D. helped out with the photos and the lights. Thanks Mary and Brittany! I couldn’t have done this without your help.
TS: Do you prepare for every sleeve, back piece, and torso piece in the same way?
RA: Full on photoshoots are not required for every piece but I do put in quite a bit of work on the front end of a big project. There’s no substitute for great reference. I recently completed a Battle of Gettysburg sleeve that required me to hire Civil War reenactors.
TS: How many sessions did it take, and do you know what the total amount of time was?
RA: Chris’ photography sleeve? I’d have to guess because I don’t have accurate records but I would say maybe 8-10 sessions. 40-50 hours.
TS: You worked on this sleeve throughout the entire country, at various shops and at various conventions? How did that come about?
RA: Chris lives in Ohio or Kentucky I think so traveling was a big part of the process. He came to my studio in Decatur, Georgia for most of the sessions. But he also loves going to conventions so we met at both of the Hell City conventions and also Ink & Iron in California. Again, he’s a totally dedicated collector and I can’t thank him enough for all he went through to make this tattoo happen. Most clients don’t think they deserve much credit for having great work. But to me, they deserve way more credit than they think!
TS: Nobody really saw pictures of the progress of this sleeve as it was progressing. Was this on purpose? Do you prefer this versus posting pictures during every session?
RA: Yeah, I used to post a bunch of in-progress work because I’m not one of those artists who finishes a new tattoo everyday and I wanted to still be a part of social media everyday. But after careful consideration, I decided it was better to post quality over quantity so I made a conscious decision not to post as many in-progress pieces. That’s funny you noticed that. I guess that’s kind of your job though. Ha.
TS: You just posted a layout of a new sleeve that you did with Manga Studio. What exactly is that? Are you preparing more pieces like this?
RA: About a year ago, I purchased a massive digital drawing display made by Wacom. (Cintiq 24HD) I’ve been learning to use it ever since and I’ve found all kinds of useful drawing programs. Manga Studio 5 by Smith Micro is my new favorite though. It’s just a really natural way to draw digital art. It’s tools and interface are simple to use but extremely powerful. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
TS: What do you have lined up for 2014 in regards to large tattoo projects? Outside of specific projects, what do you have planned for 2014?
RA: That digital sleeve design you were just referring to was actually a really exciting experiment for me. I came up with the concept and did the entire design without a client to get the tattoo. I wanted to see if I could post a sleeve drawing and sell it online. I posted it up on Instagram and Facebook, and a girl brought me a deposit and set her first appointment 2 days later! So at it turns out, I think I will be able to control the ongoing direction of my work by doing custom artwork and then finding the client. I’m still not technically accepting any new clients on my waiting list so really picking one of these ready-made designs will be the fastest way to get tattooed by me. All I ask is that people show me the respect of not stealing these designs that I’m posting. Like I said, it’s an experiment.
TS: Any last words?
RA: I just wanted to thank Tattoo Snob for helping raise the standards of tattoo related media. I know you guys do this work out of love for tattooing and you incur a substantial financial strain to travel to shows, not to mention all of the time you put in. You guys always seem to put the spotlight on incredible artwork from all over the globe. You’re doing great work. So thanks!
Shot by Estevan Oriol
By Joey Knuckles
Tattooing is all about progression. We learn from our mistakes and we grow every day; we should all approach it with humility and respect for our fellow artists. True tattooers want to continue to grow, and to become the best tattooers, artists, and people that they can be. To do this we must get rid of the negativity. I can tell you from my own personal experiences over the past couple of years that there are already enough things to bring you down.
A little advice: about two years ago, I stopped listening to news/media/political arguments. I also fought off some personal demons, such as drinking, anger, and depression. Not only have my anxiety and stress levels dropped drastically, but also my thought process has been liberated and I’ve been able to focus on what truly matters. Separating yourself from all the negativity and drama in your life, and surrounding yourself with people who support you is so important. The people in my life, including my wife Tori, my ever loyal Philadelphia clientele, my continuously growing Columbus clientele, and my brothers everywhere, are what keep me going and continuing to progress and to further my understanding of the past, present, and future of this craft. I can wake up in the morning, work on some sketches, and just be happy and honored to be part of the tattoo community.
We are the few and the lucky to be “true tattoo artists.” We must understand that we are all folk artists responsible for handing this craft over to the next generation with integrity and intelligence. If we ever want to progress as individuals and as artists, we have to understand fully what builds a true “traditional tattoo.” Not that everyone has to work in a “traditional style,” but everyone should understand and be able to accomplish the fundamental tattooing techniques. We must understand the tools involved in this trade, and resist relying on shortcuts such as tracing other artists’ work, Google images, and using programs like Photoshop to create graphic images that are unrealistic in the tattoo world (never mind Photoshopping tattoo pictures to create colors and vibrancy that do not exist in nature). As the saying goes, “Don’t confuse the menu with the meal.” People in the beginnings of their careers in this industry are learning these days with rotaries right from the start, without taking the necessary 5 to 10 years needed to master working with coil machines, among other aspects of tattooing. It seems everyone is rushing into fame without absorbing the knowledge required to become a “tattoo master.” So let’s take this note from one of our forefathers in tattooing, which has been a personal motto of mine, so that maybe we can all treat each other, and our craft, a little better: “I ‘Joey Knuckles’ am in the business of rendering a service to this community for the small group who choose to have their bodies decorated in some way or another…I choose to pursue my profession with intelligence and skill, wishing not to offend anyone, but instead with my love for mankind do what good I can do before I die…” —Pledge by Stoney St. Clair.
Joey Knuckles has been tattooing since 2003. Beginning his career in Columbus, Ohio most notably at High Street Tattoo, where he honed his tattoo skills in a fast-paced environment under his mentor Giovani. He then moved to Philadelphia in 2008, working in legendary shops like Philadelphia Eddies, Olde City Tattoo, Art Machine Productions, and Black Vulture Gallery, over the past five years. He has now returned to Columbus full-time, after inheriting High Street tattoo from his good friend, mentor, and High Street Tattoo founder Giovani. Joey prides himself on being a well-rounded tattoo artist specializing in anything ranging from cover-ups, custom lettering, floral work, to large-scale illustrative designs.
By Marisa Kakoulas
The meteoric media attention to tattooing is making a lot of people, a lot of money. And many of those people don’t have a single tattoo. When tattoo polls make claims like “one in five U.S. adults has at least one tattoo,” that’s a significant market to be tapped.
We are passionate about tattoos. We get excited to view beautiful work and pissed off when the art is denigrated. This passion = $$ in the eyes of those seeking “eyeballs” for their websites, TV shows, magazines, and sales outlets.
Back in October, we talked about tattoo “Like farms.” Those are often the tattoo “fan” pages with the billion “Likes” on Facebook, where you’ll find beautiful tattoos but without any information on the artist, photographer, or collector. The tattoos are used to draw us in and then throw ad links to merch, apps, and services.
The flip side to this is what I see as the “Dislike” hook: tricks like “click-baiting,” with headlines such as “Tattoos are Corny and Degrading,” designed to drag us in, make us angry with asinine writing, and provoke us to comment on the article, defending something that is personal and important to us. It brings more clicks, more time on the site, and more interactivity. Editors and advertisers just love how much we hate it.
Back in my early days of blogging (over 10 years ago), I used to call these articles out, and even comment on them in the hopes of trying to change someone’s mind with, what I believed to be, rational thought. I no longer do that. Because, in the history of the Internet, no one has ever won in a comment war.
To read the rest of this article, visit: http://www.needlesandsins.com/2014/03/never-read-or-post-the-comments.html
Some Quality Meat collaborated with Fitzroy Amsterdam to organize their annual new year’s bash. Kim Papanatos Rense made six classic nautical designs that are now placed on Fitzroy’s office walls, dishes and pig legs. The night ended in a huge party.
By Dawn Cooke
I am speaking to you from deep within the trenches of this silent war. I reside inside of the tattoo community. I’m deep within the middle ranks of those that have lasted over 10 years in the trade. There is a war between the real traditionalists who are true to their craft and the tattoo rock and roll super star wanna-bes. This is more of a mentality than it is a style per se.
What I mean is that there are those of us who love tattooing for it’s rich history and the purity of the art form and then there are those of us who only care about what tattooing can get them. Some of us are in it purely for the art sake others are here for an ego boost. So with that said here are the reasons the tattoo community hates reality TV, without being too obvious. Plus some great new artists I have come to know about!
- These shows and people who make them are missing the point altogether. Tattooing is counter culture not consumer culture. It’s theorized that all counter culture eventually becomes consumer culture. But tattoos aren’t like dollar store trinkets that you throw away in a year, made in some Chinese factory. Tattoos are permanent and what makes a tattoo good is it’s longevity as the skin is aging.
- They have no idea about the richness of history that is continually being shaped and unearthed regarding tattoo culture nor do they seem to have any genuine interest in it.
- They mindlessly exploit the culture on a whole that most of us in the trenches hold sacred. The culture that we live, love, and have tried to make meaningful contributions to… they’re trying to cash in on something they have no clue or concern about!
- They claim to be reality yet at every casting interview you are directed about what to say and how to say it. The footage is directed and edited to suit the purpose of the production first and foremost and the concern is ratings and nothing else. There’s no uncovering of a deeper meaning in any of these shows that I have noticed and I have suffered through a few of them hoping for something good to come of it.
- Producers and casting agents don’t do their homework. They have hardly any idea about who is or isn’t respected in the tattoo community (unless they ask Oliver)… and that’s only one perspective. It takes constant research to keep up with that!
- Their main objective is to sensationalize which goes along with ratings again but it makes the whole thing unauthentic. We can tell. Not everyone is a drooling idiot.
- They treat artists like fresh meat. They just riffle though them like a douche bag on a quest to see how many one night stands they can get.
- Tattoo artists aren’t actors! So just hire actors and write a good script already! Hire us to draw on the tattoos!
- Be creative and pick a new topic you’ve already beat this one to DEATH! Do a reality show about a dive bar and the bar flies who go there…anything!
- Tattooing is boring to watch! Unless you’re getting a tattoo or doing one it’s basically uneventful!!!!! Get over it! It’s time for a “where are they now”, a reunion show, with dream sequence and montages of the highlights of those old shows! If you want to do something exciting pick an artist to follow and see what it’s like to be in that persons shoes….. Even then you will probably figure out that all we do is draw and look at books!!! Unless you pick a “model” with big tits and then we can just watch hours of bouncing tits. No talking please, it’s unnecessary! No one wants to hear the word “tattoo” over and over.
The “reality” is that it takes immense dedication, fortitude, time and money to be a tattoo artist or a serious tattoo collector. Most of this is lost in the flashy bullshit you see on these shows. How about a no bullshit TV show? Ever see the movie Network ? Give me the raw Truth! So I don’t mean to be snarky. I’m all for promoting a healthy outlook on our culture but I just feel they are missing the mark a little bit. I can’t say I could do better but if I had a million dollar budget I bet I could.
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
By Kiri Westby
When I first heard there was a tattoo convention in Kathmandu, Nepal I was astounded!
I lived in Nepal as a college student, worked there as a human rights activist during the recent civil war and have spent a lot of time studying Nepali language and culture. I also married a tattoo artist seven years ago and have been on a crash course of American tattoo culture ever since. Nowhere in my mind did the tattoo scene that I had come to know and the traditional culture of Nepal mix. But there it was, website and all, and I was instantly fascinated.
My friend Eric Inksmith, a veteran of American tattooing, challenged me to take him to Kathmandu, having never really left the U.S. before. Like a butterfly suddenly wondering about the storms it’s own wings have produced, Eric was curious to follow the trail that he himself had blazed. I was honored to be enlisted for the job and to have the chance to experience alongside him what tattooing on the other side of the world has become.
At almost 70 years old, Eric recalled stories from the National Convention in Philadelphia more than 30 years ago. As I listened to tales of rival biker gangs fighting on convention room floors and people being thrown from hotel room windows, I tried to imagine how the kind, soft-spoken, Nepali people have embraced and come to celebrate tattooing. And not in a subtle, underground way either, the convention was being held at the famous Yak & Yeti hotel, one of the most iconic establishments in the Kathmandu valley.
As these things go, friends were recruited, word of the adventure spread and we soon had a posse heading East from the U.S., including: Mike Wilson, Mac Bibby, Robert Ryan, Jae Connor, Phill Bartell and Chad Koeplinger. Eric handled the longest flight of his life and no one killed each other on the way over…in fact, from the beginning, everything felt pretty magical.
Kathmandu has changed significantly since 2007. Corruption and an inefficient, newly-Democratic government have left city services under-funded and unattended. Half-finished construction projects leave gaping holes and exposed power lines, not to mention the electrical brown-outs and water shortages, which have left things feeling chaotic on the streets. But the upside to Nepal’s new political landscape is that there is also more public art and individual self-expression, and many people I spoke to were hopeful and optimistic for Nepal’s future, a far cry from my time here during the war in 2003. Part of this new self-expression has manifested in a relatively fresh and exciting tattoo scene.