As tattoos are slowly but surely gaining acceptance and popularity amongst most of the American population, it is interesting to note how widespread the appeal of this practice is becoming in other countries around the world. It is also interesting to consider how various other cultures view this practice, and whether those views have changed over time as has been the case with the United States.
In America the main source of familiarity with Oriental symbols and other artwork comes from viewing this lovely, traditional art in tattoo studios all across the United States. It may, therefore, be surprising to many Americans to know that, due to the significant influence of Buddhist and Confucianist religions both the Japanese and Chinese societies take a very negative view of tattoos. In these societies, tattooing was a means of branding criminals; it was not acceptable for citizens to engage in the process. In today’s society, tattoos are still unacceptable. Although their younger generation usually takes a more liberal view of tattooing, the youngsters who have them generally keep them covered.
Tattoos have long been a part of life for royalty in Great Britain. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors King George the fifth and King Edward the seventh, one of today’s most well-known royal figures, Prince Charles, also sports a tattoo. Unlike in the distant past, however, tattoos in Great Britain are no longer limited to the class of royalty; during the past few decades, tattoos showing up on their rock stars has brought the practice to the mainstream population. What was once a status symbol for wealthy public figures has become a widespread part of everyday life for the younger generations.
In Mexico, tattoos were originally thought of as a symbol of courage. The early explorers who arrived in Mexico in 1519 believed the practice to be the influence of Satan. In a recent survey, more than half of those polled who were over age thirteen stated that they would consider getting a tattoo. While most expressed a preference for designs such as flowers, religious symbols, or names, some said they would like a tattoo of their favorite brands of soda or beer. This is assisting in marketing to some degree, as many people in Mexico City now consider tattoos to be a fashion accessory, not only widely acceptable but in style.
In Vietnam, tattooing is still currently illegal, and is rarely done except in prisons. For those who insist on having some type of body modification in light of the laws against tattooing, cigarette burns are used instead. It is rare that anyone other than gang members utilize this practice.
Considering both the Biblical prohibitions against tattooing and the still-present memories of the Holocaust, it is not surprising that most of the older generation in Israel continues to hold a negative view of tattoos. It is a little surprising, though, that the younger generation not only does not always share this viewpoint, and actually considers the practice of getting tattoos of religious symbols to be a visible sign of pride in their Jewish heritage and identity.
In assessing both the historical aspects and present-day points of view, it’s not difficult to see that for many countries around the world culture plays a significant role in whether or not tattoos are thought of as an acceptable form of self-expression. In most cases it is also clear that with or without cultural influences, times change and with the changing times comes different ways of looking at the subject of tattoos. What took a very long time to gain widespread popularity in the United States has proceeded in a similar fashion in most other countries also.
By Katherine Brooks
Oh, the tattoo. From an innocuous badge inked ever so carefully on one’s back to a blanket of color flowing from the shoulders to the ankles, the world has proven the tradition of permanently adorning the body with artwork is here to stay. Hidden from sight or paraded in public, designed by professionals or picked and poked by amateurs, humans just can’t get enough of this particular brand of body modification. Take, for example, a Harris poll from 2012, which declared that in the U.S. alone, one in five individuals had chosen to bring needle to flesh. That’s 20% of the adults surveyed, for those bad with fractions.
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
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
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 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 Marisa Kakoulas
Reblogged from: www.needlesandsins.com
One hundred years ago, Amund Dietzel (1891-1974), of Kristiania, Norway, arrived in Milwaukee with a knowledge of tattooing he picked up on a merchant shop. Deciding to make the city his home, he opened up a tattoo parlor that attracted tattoo collectors far beyond Milwaukee. Sailors and marines during two world wars came to see Dietzel before leaving for battle, choosing powerful designs from his handpainted flash that hung on the shop’s walls.
Dietzel “helped define the look of the traditional or old school tattoo,” the Milwaukee Art Museum wrote of their “Tattoo: Flash Art of Amund Dietzel” exhibition, which ran from July to October.
That wonderful archive of Dietzel’s painted flash, stencils and drawings, from the collection of Jon Reiter, will be exhibited at Great Lakes Tattoo in Chicago, from November 29th to January 5th.
During the November 29th opening, not only can you view Americana tattoo history, but also have a piece of it tattooed on you, as artists will be offering tattoos from Dietzel’s flash sheets from 12 to 10 PM that day. The opening party, with food & drink, runs from 5 to 8 PM.
Proceeds from the tattoos, as well as beautiful limited edition prints (shown below) and shirts, will go towards the hefty medical expenses Jon incurred from an ICU stay.
For more on Amund Dietzel’s life, pick up Jon’s fantastic books, These Old Blue Arms: The Life & Work of Amund Dietzel, Volumes 1 & 2.
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.
From Annemarie Beers to all the ATM followers, supporters and Blue Bone Society members,
Yesterday, two years ago we opened the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum. With help from a lot friends from all over the world we managed to start a great museum and realized Henk’s dream. Opening day and night was one to remember forever! Unfortunately we had to end this in a bad way due to our “financier’s” incompetence. We were kicked out of OUR museum on Nov. 12th 2012, Henk’s collection was kidnapped in the museum. On April 1st, 2013 the museum closed its doors…
Thanks to our dear friends, followers and tattoo fans we raised enough money to pay lawyers, get the collection back and start the Pop Up store for our staff to continue in the name of the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum.
I hope we’ll have a new museum by 2014. All of you that contributed in any possible way, THANK YOU!!! The positive part of all this was that we realized how big our loving and supporting family is! Thank you all again… ATM FOREVER!
All Photos by: Bobby C. Alkabes
Reblogged from: tattoomuseum.wordpress.com
Reblogged from: www.swallowsndaggers.net
Anybody who reads this blog knows a thing or two about tattoos (or so I assume). Here’s a question for everybody: do you know who the first Caucasian tattooed woman in North America was? Well, there’s no way to be sure, but there are many people who say it was Olive Oatman.
I first heard about her on tattooblog.com, and let me tell you guys, her story is fascinating. Too lazy to click the link? Well then, let me tell you the story of Olive Oatman myself!
On July 13 NATTOO NATION’S ED HARDY will be signing his new book, followed by a TATTOO NATION ENCORE PERFORMANCE on THREE screens in HAWAII, two in OAHU one in MAUI!
Wow. I went digging through a box of old papers and drawings and found something long forgotten… (more…)