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Jay Brown: Coeur d’Alene’s Blue Rose Tattoo – An Interview with Robert McNeill (Part III)

By Jay Brown  In Northern Idaho there is the lake town of Coeur d’Alene, actually more of a city than a town. In the sea of tattooing these days, some of the old timers really shine through as great tattooers as well as incredible artists, one of those is Robert McNeill. I recently got a chance to stop in to see him at his studio on 4th Street right in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene. Blue Rose Tattoo is a clean, comfortable shop, with lots of incredible artwork adorning the walls, all of which is either Japanese or American Traditional tattoo designs, all painted by Robert. And speaking of painting, Robert is incredible at that, pin-ups I think being one of his strong points, but he can do anything, all in all Robert is one of those artists that can create on skin as well as he can on paper or canvas. So after we were done with the hellos and the pleasantries, we got down to the interview, which wound up being 43 minutes long, so I am gonna edit things, cause I don’t have enough pictures to go with that many pages, and that’s a lot of pages so we’re gonna trim it down a bit, although it was a great interview all the way through, but we’re not writing a book, but I digress… Yes, so the interview. I hope you enjoy… [Editor's Note: Jay's interview, due to its length, will be broken into three weekly installments, this is Part III of III.] 

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Jay Brown: Coeur d’Alene’s Blue Rose Tattoo – An Interview with Robert McNeill (Part II)

By Jay Brown  In Northern Idaho there is the lake town of Coeur d’Alene, actually more of a city than a town. In the sea of tattooing these days, some of the old timers really shine through as great tattooers as well as incredible artists, one of those is Robert McNeill. I recently got a chance to stop in to see him at his studio on 4th Street right in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene. Blue Rose Tattoo is a clean, comfortable shop, with lots of incredible artwork adorning the walls, all of which is either Japanese or American Traditional tattoo designs, all painted by Robert. And speaking of painting, Robert is incredible at that, pin-ups I think being one of his strong points, but he can do anything, all in all Robert is one of those artists that can create on skin as well as he can on paper or canvas. So after we were done with the hellos and the pleasantries, we got down to the interview, which wound up being 43 minutes long, so I am gonna edit things, cause I don’t have enough pictures to go with that many pages, and that’s a lot of pages so we’re gonna trim it down a bit, although it was a great interview all the way through, but we’re not writing a book, but I digress… Yes, so the interview. I hope you enjoy…[Editor's Note: Jay's interview, due to its length, will be broken into three weekly installments, this is Part II of III.] 

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Jay Brown: Coeur d’Alene’s Blue Rose Tattoo – An Interview with Robert McNeill (Part I)

By Jay Brown In Northern Idaho there is the lake town of Coeur d’Alene, actually more of a city than a town. In the sea of tattooing these days, some of the old timers really shine through as great tattooers as well as incredible artists, one of those is Robert McNeill. I recently got a chance to stop in to see him at his studio on 4th Street right in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene. Blue Rose Tattoo is a clean, comfortable shop, with lots of incredible artwork adorning the walls, all of which is either Japanese or American Traditional tattoo designs, all painted by Robert. And speaking of painting, Robert is incredible at that, pin-ups I think being one of his strong points, but he can do anything, all in all Robert is one of those artists that can create on skin as well as he can on paper or canvas. So after we were done with the hellos and the pleasantries, we got down to the interview, which wound up being 43 minutes long, so I am gonna edit things, cause I don’t have enough pictures to go with that many pages, and that’s a lot of pages so we’re gonna trim it down a bit, although it was a great interview all the way through, but we’re not writing a book, but I digress… Yes, so the interview. I hope you enjoy… [Editor's Note: Jay's interview, due to its length, will be broken into three weekly installments, this is Part I of III.]  (more…)


Jay Brown Provides Inside Look at The Northwest Tattoo Museum

By Jay Brown 
The Northwest Tattoo Museum is a project that was started almost two years ago when in a conversation it was suggested that there needs to be a tattoo museum in the Northwestern US. In answer to this call myself (a longtime tattoo artist of 24 years at the time) and avid hoarder of everything tattoo, and my fiancé Jennifer DeRose, who is an anthropologist/archaeologist decided to take on the challenge. I then dug out my collection of tattoo machines, old flash and other stuff I had piled up over the years while Jennifer started building the database for the museum’s collection…  (more…)


Jay Brown: ‘Coil Guys For Life’ Book Review

By Jay Brown Coil Guys For Life, Handmade Tattoo Machines and Their Builders, by Dano Collins is a compilation of 34 tattoo machine builders and their stories, or bios if you prefer, their art, their tattooing and of course their tattoo machines. This hardbound book covers a wide array of machine builders from the old-schoolers to the new generation of machine builders. This book contains a broad spectrum of builds from practical, to absolutely wild, to fine art. Every page shows great work from these fine craftsmen of the electric coil-type tattooing machine… (more…)


Jay Brown: Fred Marquand – The Story of an Unknown Northwest Tattooer

By Jay Brown
Fred Marquand is not a name that you first associate with old-school tattooers. Most think of Waters, Zeis, Jensen, Rogers, Wagner, Barber, Moore, Tuttle, Bowery Stan Moscowitz and his brother Walter (their father was a tattooist as well), Crazy Philadelphia Eddie and the like, but the name Marquand doesn’t come up in many conversations… (more…)


Jay Brown: The Rosini Award and The Ink Travelers Tattoo Convention

By Jay Brown
Every tattooer says, “I wanna tattoo till the day I die!” But only a few have done it, and only one that I know of has actually tattooed the day he died at a tattoo convention. To honor this man an award was created, and now 10 years later the list of recipients has become quite a prestigious one. Now the convention was/is the Ink Travelers Tattoo Convention in Vancouver, Washington and the tattooer was R.J. Rosini, a man many say that they definitely broke the mold after he was born…
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Jay Brown: Mi Vida Loca – The Life & Times of Crazy Philadelphia Eddie Vol. 4 (Pre-Order Available Now)

By Jay Brown
Well, the story continues and the history jumps off of the pages as Eddie tells of his life and adventures in the tattoo world. This next issue starts off where the last one left off, and I even heard that some of the stories from the earlier books develop more, as the chronicle of this great tattooer continues on in the much awaited, Mi Vida Loca – The Life & Times of Crazy Philadelphia Eddie Vol. 4. I’ve been told that this one is the best yet… (more…)


Jay Brown: 28 Machine Builders Part IV of IV

By Jay Brown
As a machine builder these are some of the things I look for in a machine. And I am not saying that this is it, the gospel, this is just the way I look at it. So the other day I thought to myself, “Man, this would make a great article.” As I started listing candidates for the article I found that the list got long really fast. Thus, I decided that I would stop at 28, because it’s as good of a number as any, and it was enough for a broad spectrum of builders. So here it is, 28 tattoo great machine builders… (If I missed anyone don’t be offended, it’s nothing personal, I just had to think of space. Maybe there’ll be additions in a future article?) So without further ado here they are, starting with historical builders, because they were the pioneers and should be recognized first, (plus I’m a history buff) and then moving to present day. Again this is not a Top 10 list, just a list of great builders, hope you enjoy…

PART IV on expanded page…

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Jay Brown: 28 Machine Builders Part III of IV

By Jay Brown
As a machine builder these are some of the things I look for in a machine. And I am not saying that this is it, the gospel, this is just the way I look at it. So the other day I thought to myself, “Man, this would make a great article.” As I started listing candidates for the article I found that the list got long really fast. Thus, I decided that I would stop at 28, because it’s as good of a number as any, and it was enough for a broad spectrum of builders. So here it is, 28 tattoo great machine builders… (If I missed anyone don’t be offended, it’s nothing personal, I just had to think of space. Maybe there’ll be additions in a future article?) So without further ado here they are, starting with historical builders, because they were the pioneers and should be recognized first, (plus I’m a history buff) and then moving to present day. Again this is not a Top 10 list, just a list of great builders, hope you enjoy…

PART III on expanded page…

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Jay Brown: 28 Machine Builders Part II of IV

By Jay Brown
As a machine builder these are some of the things I look for in a machine. And I am not saying that this is it, the gospel, this is just the way I look at it. So the other day I thought to myself, “Man, this would make a great article.” As I started listing candidates for the article I found that the list got long really fast. Thus, I decided that I would stop at 28, because it’s as good of a number as any, and it was enough for a broad spectrum of builders. So here it is, 28 tattoo great machine builders… (If I missed anyone don’t be offended, it’s nothing personal, I just had to think of space. Maybe there’ll be additions in a future article?) So without further ado here they are, starting with historical builders, because they were the pioneers and should be recognized first, (plus I’m a history buff) and then moving to present day. Again this is not a Top 10 list, just a list of great builders, hope you enjoy…

PART II on expanded page…

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Jay Brown: 28 Machine Builders Part I of IV

By Jay Brown
The tattoo machine has been around for 135 years now, the first stencil pen by Thomas Edison was used by tattooers. Then in 1891 Samuel O’Reily came up with his version of the tattoo machine and then it has just evolved from there. The odd thing is, the basic concept of the machine hasn’t changed all that much since the turn of the century, and the inline electromagnetic coil type machine still reigns supreme in today’s modern world.

I am a tattoo artist of 25 years, but I am also a tattoo machine builder. In this day and age it seems like everyone is building or assembling machines, some who haven’t been tattooing long enough to know the nuances of the machine itself, yet others really understand the geometry, and workings of a machine due to years of experience tattooing.

A few years ago everyone had to have apprentices, and apprentices had apprentices, now it seems the fad is to build machines. I personally do it because I have had a passion for tattoo machines since the beginning, hacking off Supreme frames in the 90s to do it as a version of Paul Rogers’ Mad Bee or Mike Malone’s Rollo-matic. And then 10 years ago I began building machines,  starting out with some basic designs and bolt together-s in steel and aluminum, then cast brass only doing 13-20 a year. Now I work with steel, kind of gone full circle, all though I still do Jonesy replicas in cast brass. In the past few years I have made it more a full-time venture. Now I build 50-100 a year, all handmade and my designs and geometry. I really enjoy building good quality tattoo machines, and knowing that the artist using it gets to create beautiful skin art… So how do you know who a good machine builder is? (more…)


Jay Brown: 25 Years of Tattoo Business Cards

By Jay Brown
In tattooing a good business card can be as important as a tattoo machine. Business cards for tattoo artists represent who they are and the work they do. It’s a two-by-three inch advertising wonder, as in any professional trade, our business cards can say a lot about the shop or artist…

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Jay Brown: The Life and Times of ‘Crazy’ Philadelphia Eddie

By Jay Brown
Crazy Philadelphia Eddie paved the way for tattooers today and his career spans almost six decades. He tattooed in New York, Hawaii, Chicago and Philadelphia where he spent 40 years tattooing. Eddie has seen the changes from the sponge-and-bucket days to the dawn of the sterilization era and beyond. He started one of the first tattoo clubs, owned supply companies and even ran tattoo conventions. In a career as long as Eddie’s the adventures were abundant, and he is still having them today…

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