By Marisa Kakoulas
Having a Greek father who once told me that tattoos would never be accepted in the motherland, it’s with true pleasure (and a bit of “I told ya so“) to see a tattoo publication rise to international popularity, which happens to come out of Greece.
HEARTBEATINK is an online tattoo magazine in English and Greek with excellent photography and videos, and thoughtful interviews with tattooists, musicians, and collectors. I’m honored to be among those collectors interviewed by the magazine’s most excellent editor Ino Mei. Our Q &A was just posted today.
I first met Ino in person at the last NYC Tattoo Convention, where she beautifully captured the scene in her convention coverage for her mag. Then we got to hang at the London Tattoo Convention in September, for which she also took wonderful images and video. There, we found a moment to chat about a possible “tattoo gene,” the comparisons between tattooing & plastic surgery, tattoo law, and what happened when my dad did find out I was heavily tattooed (and more). It was a fun talk. Here’s a bit from it:
How did you get into tattoos?
Me: Ed Hardy once told me in an interview that he believes that there could be a “tattoo gene.” It made a lot of sense to me because, when you ask somebody who has a visceral response to tattooing — who sees tattooing and has an actual physical reaction and is attracted to it — that is something that’s ingrained; people can think back and say, “Well, I’ve always felt that way”. I remember when I was very young, looking at my mother’s National Geographic magazines and coming across tattooed tribal women, and I was instantly thinking that this is really beautiful, mysterious and bad-ass. Of course, this is an ideal way of looking at it. really, if I would be honest with myself, it is because I liked tattooed boys when I was teenager (laughs).
HEARTBEATINK: Where you then tattooed when you were a teenager?
I was a nerdy teenager, did good in school, and my parents were very conservative. I didn’t run around a lot. So when I found myself at tattoo shops at a young age, it held a kind of magic for me. Keep in mind that getting a tattoo was illegal back then, until 1997, in New York, so it was more secretive. You had to know where to go and ring the right buzzer. It was like a clandestine operation. However, when you were “inside”, it wasn’t what you’d expect, like a biker shop. At least in my experience, when I was first exposed to it, I was seeing really beautiful custom tattooing. There were art books rather than trendy flash for inspiration. I respected it so much that I felt I really wanted to wait until a had the right idea and do it at the right time. So, I didn’t get tattooed until I was in my early twenties. Actually, I got my first tattoo during the early weeks of law school. I felt I didn’t fit it, and was afraid that I’d become something that I wasn’t. I love the study of law, but I’ve never been super competitive and I’ve never felt that I had to be above somebody else to be better. It was really at that time that I started thinking about art and tattooing a lot in terms of individuation.
HEARTBEATINK: That sounds very mature…
I was a very mature kid (laughs). Now, I’m regressing. I’m like a thirteen-year-old boy (laughs). Back then, I was like a forty year old women (laughs).
Read more of this article here: http://www.needlesandsins.com/2014/01/my-chat-with-greeces-heartbeat-ink.html
Campfires & Carbon’s mission is to have and promote real, unedited conversation with local tattooers. Here’s their podcast of a conversation with Justin Hartman from Urban Art Tattoo in Mesa, Arizona…
Interview by Jordan Tinney.
Reblogged from: www.swallowsndaggers.com
I’m going to say this only once: don’t blink. Dusty Neal is an American tattooist based out of Ft. Wayne, Indiana at Black Anvil Tattoo. This might sound a little fan-boyish, but Dusty is one of the best and most under rated in the game today. A fastidious worker, incredible painter and even more amazing tattooer. I recently had the chance to conduct a short interview with Mr. Neal; if you’re in his area don’t sleep on this guy.
Jordan Tinney: What really got you into tattooing?
Dusty Neal: I’ve always known I wanted to make art for a living, but I never really thought about becoming a tattooer until I was already in college and getting tattooed when I could. It was really hardcore and metal that made me interested in getting tattooed though. Just being into all that stuff, seeing tattoos on bands and at shows really made me think about tattoos. I didn’t grow up with it around me in any other form and I guess that’s what attracted me to it. When I came into it finally I was so naive about what good tattoos really were, and over the few years I’ve been tattooing my tastes and thoughts on it have changed so very much.
JT: What year did you start tattooing professionally?
DN: I made my first tattoo in January of 2006.
JT: Did you have an apprenticeship in the traditional sense?
DN: I apprenticed under Donny Manco, and owe everything to him for giving me an opening into tattooing. He taught me the fundamentals of what I was actually doing, but other than that it was really not much of a passed down tradition or anything. Sometimes I wish I had a “proper” apprenticeship and was taught more traditional ideals and methods, yet by being someone’s 10th apprentice (with 5 after me), and not really being taught about flash or anything, it forced me to go out and learn what I could from serious tattooers or just by trial and error of my own experience. I would say now I do everything probably the complete opposite of what I was taught, but everyone has to find what works for them and everyone is different.
JT: Tell me about Black Anvil, and how that came to fruition?
DN: The conception of Black Anvil Tattoo is a recent happening. I met Nate (Click) my first year tattooing and have worked with him ever since he started, four years ago. He was there when Donny Manco and I started New Republic Tattoo. Over the past few years, especially after bringing in Beau Guenin, it was really our shared vision that started to shape New Republic into what it became, and also what started to create a tension between us and Donny. It was a non-dramatic split from Donny, as we just felt it was time to leave New Republic and create something that could be completely our own. With B.A.T. we wanted to pay tribute to the traditions and honor of tattooing, and create an environment that would display that pride while also being more advantageous to our clients and our shop morale.
JT: Did you do more traditional art in your past, before you started tattooing?
DN: Honestly, as much as I try to adhere to traditional principles, I still don’t even consider myself a “traditional” tattooer, but only because I feel like its disrespectful to those people who are really devoted to that mentality and lifestyle, and not just the aesthetic. Before tattooing, shamefully I had no understanding whatsoever of traditional tattooing. It took a few years before I really started to understand what my perception of it is. My perception of it is also constantly evolving.
DN: A tattooer’s life should be infused in his or her work. It’s important to me that my interests show through my work, because that’s what makes people stand apart from imitators, and will also attract like-minded artists towards each other. Having said that, classic heavy metal and “evil” imagery is probably the biggest influence over my work, but also occult symbolism, Aliester Crowley, sex, death, the supernatural, and nihilism. Aside from these things, I’m also very influenced by finding affirmation and sharing ideas with my co-workers and friends, especially, Jacob Des, Cla Wolfmeyer, Jacob Bryan, and Destroy Troy.
JT: Do you continue to find new things to keep you “into it” or are you always coming across inspiration?
DN: I find it easy to stay “into it,” but I also consider it a tattooer’s top priority to enjoy their work and be confident with it, otherwise they are only doing the craft a disservice and should find another line of work. There are too many passionate and talented people tattooing to allow room for those doing it merely to pay bills. However, it’s important to me to constantly be growing and evolving. Inspiration doesn’t always come, but I manage to seek it out and find it.
Again, I’m thankful to Dusty for entertaining me and this interview, and if your’e in Fort Wayne or Indiana in general, make sure to stop at Black Anvil and get a great tattoo, not only from Dusty but from his incredible coworkers. Dusty can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.dustyneal.tumblr.com. He’s on Instagram as well under @dustyneal. What we do is secret..
Interview by Ricky Williams
Tony Nilsson aka Tony Tox first came to my attention when I noticed Ricky Williams (The Family Business) was doing a guest spot at his shop, Blue Arms in Norway. The work Tony was turning out and the work coming out of the shop in general really blew me away. It’s great to find awesome tattooers flying under the radar in this day and age. I’d been looking to start a new interview feature with various tattooers interviewing their friends and this seemed like an ideal start. Ricky and Tony were kind enough to oblige me and below is the interview that came of this request.
Ricky Williams: Hey Tony I’d like to say thanks for doing this interview with me for the Swallows&Daggers blog. I was lucky enough to come and work with you guys in Norway. How’s the shop going and what’s the story behind Blue Arms?
Tony Nilsson: Were absolutely honoured to have you over buddy. I had a great time when you came over here; you’re a funny guy Ricky! Yeah the story behind Blue Arms is basically that the three of us (Christoffer Wøien, Morten Transeth and I) needed a place to work at the same time and were buddies from some time ago so we started looking at a place and it all went super-fast so after just a couple of days we signed the contract for our new studio, then we started looking into what we should call our new shop and Morten came up with idea of Blue Arms Tattoo after reading the biography of the old tattooer Amund Dietzel, who was born in Norway and lived in the early 1900s. We have always loved his work and thought that it would be great to have a kind of tribute shop to him in Norway since he is/was one of the biggest names here, we opened the shop August 2012 and its been busy ever since. I’m so happy that it worked out…
RW: Getting tattooed by you one night after work was such a great and memorable experience and I must say it’s one of my favourite tattoos. Tell us, what are your favourite things to tattoo?
TN: Ha-ha, really, you have soooo many good ones! Well I’m honoured to tattoo you Ricky… I guess my favourite things to do are old classic flash pieces of any kind… snakes, girls, daggers, roses, eagles etc. and all of them combined together in any possible way.
RW: I still can’t believe you let me tattoo you on your birthday and how nervous I was to do it. I know it must have been a big mistake (laughing) who else have you been tattooed by and what’s your favourite piece?
TN: Aaah I love that little panther you gave me! And for you to do it on the first day guesting at blue arms on my birthday while I was drunk is awesome. Thanks for the great gift buddy! I guess I’ve been tattooed by mostly buddies over time, but to name everyone hmmm, let’s see; Morten Transeth, Christoffer Wøien, Marius Meyer, Marco Meloni, you, Mikael Harrstedt, Jonas Uggli, Steve Boltz, Bert Krak, Hillary Fisher-White, Brad Stevens, Ashley Love, Lautaro Belmonte, Nic Ink, Hans Heggum, Ezra Haidet, Austin Maples, Ryan Shaffer, some guy from Brazil, some shit from Thailand (since I’m Swedish hahahah) Jeff from AWR, Henry Hablak, and I guess that’s it. I must say that of my favourites is my neck from Steve and hands by Morten and yours off course, ahhh fuck they’re all good, great memories from everyone, even the shit from Thailand is cool in a way.
By Marisa Kakoulas
Reblogged from: www.needlesandsins.com
Influencing and inspiring the international tattoo community for generations, The Leu Family transformed tattooing, pushing it further into the realm of a fine art — and they’ve done so with openness and kindness, spearheaded by their wonderful matriarch Loretta Leu aka Y Maria.
Our friend (and wine expert) Demetra Molina of The Hand of Fate Tattoo Parlor sat down with Loretta at the Montreal Art Tattoo Show in September and spoke about a myriad of topics, from Loretta’s travels, early days tattooing, her adorable dog, and the freedom of getting older. Here’s a taste from their talk:
Demetra: I asked about all of the travel she had done over the years with her husband Felix and their four children. Was that a difficult undertaking?
Loretta Leu: I had traveled a lot already in my life with my mother, I had traveled a lot with Felix before we ever got into tattooing. We didn’t start until we were thirty-five, both of us. Tattooing was really a Godsend; it saved our asses, because we always lived an alternative lifestyle, with four kids, already. So, it was always difficult finding ways of surviving. We didn’t want to go work in a shop, we found things to do, we made crafts, we went and lived in Spain, cheaper places, we would find ways of being able to carry on, the way we wanted to live with our kids…you know, without working for the man kind of thing…but it was always difficult. We got a bit of help from my mother sometimes, Felix’s mom when things were really tough, so when through sheer coincidence this chance came into our life, it seemed the perfect thing, you know, because you are your own boss, you don’t need to sell it in the sense that they come to you because they want a tattoo. You could be on a beach in Brazil with a little tattoo case, start talking to someone in a cafe, go back to your hotel room or whatever, settle on a price, and if they want a tattoo you tattoo. It is a very direct thing. We were both already artists, started that way originally, so it seemed perfect.
“Home is where the heart is….on the bus.” -Frank Zappa, Wet T-Shirt Nite
It has taken me almost exactly two months to finish writing this blog post, and I’ve thought about it every single day. After our trip to the Montreal Art and Tattoo Show held in mid September, my husband hit the road with a vengeance. Paris, London, Barcelona, Eddie toured around for two international tattoo shows in just over three weeks, plus a few guest spots with new contacts. I stayed home on this sudden European jaunt, helping to run our tattoo shop and keep things from burning down at home. Eddie had watched Filip Leu tattoo a one sitting backpiece in Montreal, and had been ready to travel, draw, and tattoo compulsively soon after. The London Convention was calling; so was Barcelona. Off he went. I was a proud tattoo wife from across an ocean.
I’ve been following Danny’s work for years, and finally crossed paths with him this summer. I’ve always admired his hard work and approach to the art, and I’m proud we’re featuring his work on Tattoo Snob. I always knew that Danny was one of the good guys in tattooing, and this interview does nothing if not reinforce that.
Tattoo Snob: How would you describe your tattooing?
Danny Derrick: I do tattoos that are built on Traditional American rules, but they have a lighter, more illustrative look to them. However, the longer I’ve been tattooing, the more I am leaning toward a classic traditional look.
TS: What is the most random thing you’ve tattooed on someone?
DD: In my 5 years of tattooing, I’ve worked in mostly appointment-only studios, which has afforded me the privilege of not having to do many random/weird tattoos. However, sometimes clients will request an idea that is somewhat out of the norm like a blonde wolf with antlers and the antlers becoming branches with an apple growing from them. This one, although random, still allowed me to arrange them in a way that didn’t feel too forced. At least to me it did.
TS: Imagine you found yourself stuck in an elevator with one tattooer of your choice — we’re talking several hours at minimum, so you two could really talk business. Who would it be, and why?
DD: Although a handful of tattooers instantly come to mind, I’d have to say Chris Conn. I was lucky enough to get tattooed by him recently and he has a wealth of knowledge, not only when it comes to tattooing and painting, but on seemingly most everything. I’m sure it would be an enriching experience. But let’s be serious, this scenario is highly unlikely.
TS: What would you be doing professionally right now if you weren’t tattooing?
DD: Who knows. My life could have gone a number of different ways. I probably would have pursued music more. I was in a touring band at the time I started tattooing and at that point I switched gears and gave tattooing the highest priority. If I hadn’t started tattooing there may have been another career path that sparked my interest and developed into something I was really passionate about, but like I said, who knows.
TS: Name an “ah-ha!” moment you’ve had in regards to tattooing.
DD: Seeing Chris Conn’s work for the first time. It was then that I saw how refined tattooing could be. His work gives you a window into another world and crates a narrative that tells a story that a tattoo of words never could. There are many other ah-ha moments, most of which were during my apprenticeship with Craig Beasley. It seemed, every day he’d explain a new piece of the tattooing puzzle I was trying to put together in my head.
TS: If you could only tattoo one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
DD: It definitely wouldn’t be family crests, I’ll tell you that god damn much. I’d be happy tattooing faces. There’s so many different ways to do them and show emotion They can be adorned with almost any other element I’d want to include as well. So that would be my loop-hole. A girls face with, fill in the blank.
TS: Name your influencers in life — people, things, whatever.
DD: This is something that is rediscovered every day. Everything in life influences me in one way or another, both directly and indirectly, consciously and unconsciously.
TS: Where do you find inspiration in regards to tattooing? And art?
DD: In tattooing, I’d have to give credit to Craig Beasley, Russ Abbott, Chris Conn, Seth Wood, Dan Smith and Adam Barton
TS: What kind of music do you prefer to listen to while tattooing? What about drawing and painting?
DD: I’m constantly trying to switch up what I listen to while working. A few constants would include Thrice, City and Colour, Murder by Death (especially “like the exorcist”), Converge, and Willy Tea Taylor.
TS: I’m sure you have a favorite tattoo of your own. Who did it, what is it… and any chance we could see a picture?
DD: My favorite tattoo is of a passenger pigeon on a branch of a pine tree and it was done by Seth Wood in 2009. I have to opt out of sharing a photo of the tattoo, since he never published it himself. If you take a look at his work, you’ll see what general style he does and why it would be my favorite.
Find Danny Derrick online:
Interview by Ino Mei.
Reblogged from: Heartbeatink.gr
Accomplished, modest and a maitre of the black and grey realistic tattoo, Carlos Torres gave HeartbeatInk an exclusive interview about his career and his relationship with the tattoo and the Fine Arts.
When and how did you first start tattooing?
I was nineteen years old. In the beginning I used to tattoo at home which was probably not good, but that’s how I started. I think my first tattoo was done in 1996. I have an ugly picture of it too (laughs). Back then it was really hard to get an apprenticeship. I slowly learned, practiced more and more on people and then I worked in different shops. I got fired from the first shop I worked in, back in 1998. One day I went to this well-known shop with my portfolio and they were like “you wanna work here”? That shop was “So Call Tattoo” in San Pedro, LA and I stayed there for ten years. That’s where I did most of my learning. The guys there, Tom Berg and Ethan Morgan, were geniuses!
Now you have your own tattoo studio?
Yes. It’s like a collective of us that own the studio. It’s like a private studio – gallery type of thing. So everybody has freedom to come and go. I think that it is good for artists to have freedom, to be able to do what they want to do. I believe that I have learnt the most while being on the road; going to conventions, doing guest spots, so I think it is important to have freedom.
What is your relationship with Fine Art?
I never went to Art School. I never had a “formal” education. I started painting, rather recently, six – seven years ago. Once I realized I liked it, I focussed on it; I started attending some workshops from masters. I enjoy doing drawings and oil paintings. Our tattoo studio looks like an art gallery when you walk in and we are tattooing in the middle.
Get TAM issue 10 with an interview on Scott Sylvia:
I got some time and had an online chat with tattooer and all around good guy, Destroy Troy. Following is the interview, and ways you can reach him yourself for any inquiries.
Interview by Jordan Tinney
Reblogged from: www.swallowsndaggers.net
Jordan Tinney: What is your (nick)name and where do you work?
Destroy Troy: I go by “Destroy Troy”. I tattoo at Timeless Tattoo in Historic Westport in Kansas City, Missouri. USA
JT: What year did you start tattooing professionally, and what got you started on tattooing?
DT: I started working in tattoo shops 2005 then started tattooing full time in 2007. I’ve always had an interest in art. Lots of drawing and painting when I was a kid, I got my first tattoo & the next thing I knew I had sleeves.
JT: How did your nickname “Destroy Troy” come to be?
DT: I was apprenticed by someone with a nickname/tattoo name and forced to get one. Not knowing what to pick, I used my URL from MySpace, which was DestroyTroy because TroyDestroy was already taken. Hahaha. I’m screwed now, if I google my birth name, nothing shows up.
JT: Where was your first shop, and how long were you there for?
DT: The first shop I worked at is in Kansas City. I worked there for 2 years as a front counter guy/cleaner.
TattooNOW: Bob! How goes it?
Bob Tyrrell: Going good man!, enjoying a killer Detroit summer.
TN: Education and tattooing make for a controversial mix, why did you decide to put out a DVD and webinar?
Bob: Well, because you approached me with the idea, ha-ha! But seriously, I’ve been giving seminars at tattoo conventions for many years now. I thought the webinars you did with Guy Aitchison and Russ Abbott were a great idea. I remember Paul Booth had this idea years ago but never did it. It’s a great way for tattooers anywhere in the world to do a seminar without having to travel to a convention. It’s a convenient way to be able to take a seminar. As far as the DVD, people have been asking me for years when I’m going to put one out. So now seems like a good time. I have Nikko’s and Andy Engel’s DVD’s, and they’re awesome. Really helpful for anyone wanting to progress in those styles, and learn from those masters. I held off on the DVD idea for a long time, some tattooers feel we shouldn’t give people access to this kind of info so freely. “Giving away our secrets”. I kind of used to feel that way. But times have changed. With the internet and everything, tattooers have all kinds of access to tattoo techniques. The secrets are already out there, so fuck it, why not? If I can help someone become a better tattooer, maybe they’ll end up teaching me something someday.
Photos & interview by Ino Mei
Reblogged from: heartbeat ink.gr
Humble, experienced and gifted with valuable knowledge of the classic Oriental tattoo, Mike The Athens gave Heartbeatink an exclusive interview about his 24 year-old career and his presence in the international tattoo scene.
How did you come up with the name “Mike The Athens”?
It came from a typographical error, which occurred in the 90’s in Miki Vialetto’s article, on Tattoo Planet. Instead of “Mike from Athens”, he wrote “Mike The Athens” and the nickname stuck (laughs).
When was your first contact with tattoos?
Since I was very young, I thought tattoos were alluring. I was excited by the idea of tattoo from a very young age. I started as a collector. Around the age of sixteen, I used to visit Jimmys’ studio, the only one that existed back then, once or twice a month, to decide which tattoo I wanted. At some point, I made my decision and just like that, I got my first tattoo. The next one I got was done by Bugs in Camden, who was then considered to be the best tattoo artist in Central London. We were a group of friends; one of them grew up to be the future Yorg. These were the days (the 80s’) of true originality. Back then the only ones who were getting tattoos done were the bikers, the rock ’n’ rollers and the greasers. No posers and new-school guys. It wasn’t a trend. Tattooing was quite underground, even misunderstood sometimes.
From then on, I really started getting into it. I got myself a tattoo machine and I “added” some elements on the first tattoos of my friends. Ever since I was a child I loved painting, my grandfather was a painter, plus I was interested in painting and designing as far as tattoos were concerned. Then, after that, I dropped everything. I quit my studies in English Literature at the University of Athens, where I studied and right afterwards I went to the army in order to complete my “duty” there. I met a guy who had a home–made tattoo machine. From the moment I took it in my hands, I improved it with a rotring rapidograph that existed back then in order to use it as a tube and also used a bending fork as a base for the motor. The ink I used was of course rotring. That’s how they used to do it in jail, but of course I wasn’t aware of that; I was just guided by intuition and I was good at mechanics.I covered this guy up with tattoos, outlines only. He gave me some as well and that’s when I really started taking an interest in it.
When did you become a professional tattoo artist?
In 1989, after being encouraged by friends who wanted me to give them tattoos. I never went after it on my own. However, in the end I was mesmerized by the tattoo itself… I started with large cover ups and tribals. It’s really important to say that, at the time, there was no access to information when it came to tattooing. Everything was done either by books, or by visiting a tattoo place yourself, and of course there were no tattoo suppliers. I found Alex Binnie in a book; I had no idea who he was, I liked his tattoos so I sent him a letter (there was no email back then) to get him to give me a tattoo.
So, that’s how I tentatively entered “Into You” for the first time to get a tattoo done by Binnie, my first serious tattoo. We met and there was some great chemistry between us, he saw my work of the past six years, he liked it and he offered me a job as a guest (tattooer). He was planning to go to New York for a while and I would fill in for him in a way. So I moved to London and I became the main guest artist of Into You for two years. Ever since, I belong to the Into You tattoo family. There is a strong bond among us;it’s not coincidental that Tas (Danazoglou) works there now. Every time I go to London, the only studio I work for is Into You, and all of my friends and my tattoo family works there as well.
Check out TAM for more awesome interviews: