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.
Tattoo Culture Magazine #5 featuring Gunnar, Eric Inksmith, Shawn Barber and more is now available on the App Store at:
Digital edition for all other devices/computer go to:
By Nick Baxter
Here’s a process sequence for a tiny diptych painting I did a few months ago related to the recurring theme in my work of healing wounds.
This tiny little pair will be included in the forthcoming art catalogue Pint Size Paintings Volume 2, which compiles these small paintings completed by members of the worldwide tattoo community, and features them in a traveling art show.
I wrote about the Tibetan Buddhist symbolism surrounding my use of the hook symbol last year, after completing Shenpa I (which now resides in the collection of the amazing and prolific figurative painter Shawn Barber!).
By Adam Guy Hays
A few months ago I took part in the “Fuck Art, Let’s Kill” exhibition put on at Nick Caruso’s Bound For Glory shop in Staten Island. It was a death and reaper themed art show. I’ve always been a big fan of drawing skulls and reapers and as excited as I was to be a part of the show the idea of trying to come up with something nice and original that would stand out was daunting. I decided to try to paint something a bit out of my comfort zone. I stuck to my preferred mix of watercolors, inks, and liquid acrylics, but I tried to give the piece a renaissance feel using those media.
Before I’d started this project I’d downloaded a bunch of books from IllustratedMonthly.com to my iPad. I thought I’d just grab a variety and see what there was in them. They were cheap enough that I ended up getting a heap of really good stuff for a fraction of what physical books would cost. There was a lot of visual information there in a variety of styles. I found it handy when I was struggling for ideas in coming up with the composition for this piece. I flipped through the books on my iPad until I saw something that caught my eye. I saved the first two images (Ref. 1) because I was drawn to the composition. I started formulating the idea of doing a reclined death. It just seemed different. Like he was just kicking back like a dude on a lazy Sunday. There were some good examples of drapery in there as well. In the third image (Ref. 2), I really liked the candle’s being snuffed out and the light effects. The last image (Ref. 2) is the skull from the cover of the Illustrated Monthly book of skulls. I thought it’d be fun to paint an ancient looking skull with missing teeth.
I’ve always done my brainstorming sketches very small. I like to do two or three tiny versions so I can work out the composition before dedicating time to the details in a full size sketch. I meant to take a photo before trashing the other tiny sketches but I just kinda forgot. I chose the sketch whose composition I liked best (Fig. 1) and enlarged it on the copy machine to the size I wanted the final painting to be. I then laid tracing paper over the quick version and did some fine tuning to flesh it out (Fig. 2).
This piece is 12″ x 16″ and is on a piece of Windsor & Newton Aquarelle paper. This is my favorite paper to use for most every project. It’s similar to Arches cold press in terms of durability, but the tooth of the paper is much finer and allows for much finer line work when you’re using ink. I usually cut my piece of paper larger than I want the final image to be and mask it off with orange artist tape. It helps me keep my compositional constraints in mind by giving me a border where a frame would be. I also like to have an edge to test paint on that’s from the same ream of paper. Paper always ages differently and I think you have better results if you can test your colors on a piece of scrap paper that’s identical to the piece you’re painting on. You can see what my primary paints for this piece were in Fig. B. I used the FW Liquid Acrylic colors Flesh Tint, Crimson, Antelope Brown, and Purple Lake; the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus watercolor series Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna; and the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Slate Blue and Van Dyke Brown in the concentrated and transparent watercolors. The black i’m using is Speed Ball black.
By Nicki Kasper
“In that moment, I realized that instead of trying to be inspired, I was going to try to inspire people.”
I recently ordered two copies of Jeff Gogue’s DVD, “tattoo as I see it”… Jeff is one of my closest and most genuine friends and I wanted to support his project, something I know he and put a lot of work, time, money, energy and heart into. I bought a copy for myself, and one for a close friend of mine – an artist I thought could use some inspiration. I didn’t know exactly what the DVD would be like, but I know Jeff, and I knew it would be inspiring, as well as very giving with valuable information and advice to tattooers… I just now was able to find the time to sit down and watch it, and it doesn’t disappoint.
I know Jeff in a couple different ways… We’re friends; I know him on a personal level, and he’s fun, open, genuine, kind, generous, and hilarious. I’m also one of his clients, so I know him on that level. I know how much he cares about his clients, about the pieces he puts on our bodies, about the pain we’re feeling, etc. I know how much heart he puts into every single piece, and I’m grateful and fortunate to be covered in them. But in addition to being a friend, and a client, I’ve also had the pleasure of working with him on side projects.
I know from experience that nothing Jeff Gogue does professionally or otherwise is half-assed. He cares about the details. If he decides he’s going to do something, he wants to give all of himself to it. If it has his name on it, he wants it to be the absolute best he has to offer at that time and place. He never thinks he’s reached his full potential, which is why we see his work changing and evolving over and over. I can relate to him in many ways, which I think is part of the reason we became instant friends so many years ago.
“You’re either a taker, or you’re a giver.”
He wants to inspire others, and that is the point of this movie. It will inspire everyone who watches, artist or not. He’s honest and open about his process, what he wants, his strengths and weaknesses. It’s real, and humble and people can always relate to that.
If you’re an artist, you will be blown away at how generous Jeff is with information that will help you from laying out a piece to tips on using contrast in your work to mixing colors. It’s invaluable information that he’s learned by trial and error over the years and he’s sharing it all with you. But if you’re not an artist, and you just want to be inspired about believing in yourself and making shit happen for yourself… About not accepting failure, and instead being driven by it, you need to watch this film.
To Jeff and Ryan Moon – You guys did an incredible job on this, and now I wish I hadn’t been such a chicken about being interviewed for it! I’m proud of you both!
By Jon Osiris
Read Part 1 here: http://wp.me/p14cQJ-59Q
It so happens that after becoming a bit more familiar with this place, I have been privy to further tales and experiences with The Natha and his strange and magical ways…
After morning exercises some weeks back, I was invited to take tea with the Natha somewhat privately, along with a couple of other students. While we were ushered past a stone statue in the courtyard of the elephant headed god Ganesh, whom was bedecked with garlands of marigolds and offering bowls full of sweets, we entered into a small antechamber where the Natha’s consort was serving tea. I exchanged formalities and a few pleasantries with her and the other three while everyone was served. Two of them were male senior students at the temple and neither were likely yet twenty years of age. The third, a friend and guest of the Natha, a pleasant woman tattooist and artisan in her early thirties.
While sipping the aromatic brew we listened as the Natha told us why we were assembled. It had to do with a messenger who had arrived a few days back… a weary looking fellow that had appeared one evening and begged to see the Natha straight away, even before accepting food or water. I had not heard anything more about him until now. The man had traveled for several days without stopping, only taking sustenance when it was dire, exhausting his provisions quickly nonetheless. The news that the messenger carried came from his village in the hill country north of the temple. Several animals from the village had gone missing and most recently a small mute child was also gone from her play area near her families’ hut. The local hunters had seen the sign and tracks of a large snake near the livestock pens, though absolutely no sign was detected near where the child was playing. If that wasn’t enough, the headman’s daughter was coming into her own as a shaman and had sent word also to request a special tattoo ceremony to mark the transition fully into this capacity as a helper and healer of her people. The Natha had lived with the people of this village for several years before he had the vision to build the temple. He related that the headman and the old shaman were close friends of his and it was apparent that the he held them in high esteem. We were asked to accompany the him if we desired, on his journey into the hills to assist his friends in whatever capacity he could. Of course, all of us were keen on going and made immediate preparations to leave the following morning. The messenger would stay on to rest and receive needed care from the Natha’s consort.
By Andrew Fingerhut
A – It was more difficult to wrap my mind around the process then physically make the art. I still find it hard to believe anyone figured out this process for print making . I loved working on Stone . It was incredible. The texture is like no other . I was destroying the tips of the grease pens ! Your basically using the softest of tools on the absolute hardest of surfaces.
What elements of the print were created in the studio with the printer and which were able to be created at your studio?
How much of the piece was planned out before starting and how much was improvised?
Was the lithograph process of working layer by layer to craft a single final print image difficult or easy to adapt to?
Did your tattoo background help or influence your work with the lithograph medium? If so, can you give an example or two?
When can we expect to see the next lithograph print from you?
The untitled piece is a single edition of 30 and was recently published by Raking Light Projects. It is available for purchase on the RakingLightProjects.com website.
By Adam Guy Hays
A while back I decided I needed a new banner, as I’ve been using a shitty Kinko’s copy of one of my old ones for while now. I thought it’d be a good excuse to do another step-by-step of my painting process. I’ve included the photos of the references I used. I’m a big believer in having true life references for all projects.
I started with an image that my business partner Mike Bellamy drew and that has been our shop’s longtime logo. I wanted to keep the overall composition more or less the same but make my own version. I changed up the proportions, added a tiny RR logo , and gave the girl more Alphonse Mucha styled hair. I love that art nouveau stuff.
Typically when I’m sketching I like to use Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils on heavy vellum, which can stand a fair bit of abuse from erasing and sketching. The Col-Erase pencils are pretty good at staying where they’re put and not smudging too much. Some details in here are just plain pencil too.
Tattoos and Painting by Jeff Johnson
By Nick Baxter
Here’s a recent piece I completed for submission to an upcoming charity art exhibit at The Egan Gallery in Fullerton, California, curated by friend and fellow artist Cody Raiza who is a passionate animal welfare activist.
Tattoos and Painting by Joe Larralde
By Nick Baxter
“If a tree falls and no one hears it, does it make a sound?”
This is the kind of existential crisis I circumnavigate when considering (read: having anxiety about) the effectiveness of my paintings and the symbolism I choose to communicate with. Am I effectively expressing my intended meaning? And is my intended meaning aligning with the viewer’s perceived meaning? Does it even matter?
It can be argued that what makes something art is the group participatory act; it almost always requires someone other than its creator to see it. Art is, in general terms, a unit of cultural information that is put forth by participant A, and taken in by participant B. Hence, a communication. Always. A message is always put out, whether the artist intends to or not. This visual communication is even more fundamental than our ever-present and taken for granted verbal communication. At its most primal level, visual art certainly is more direct–it’s sub-verbal, it requires no complicating exchange of written or oral language.
Tattoos and Painting by David Tevenal
By Dawn Cooke
This blog is about the intricacies of the client/artist relationship. It’s sort of like any other relationship, only usually interactions happen in relatively short bursts and there are just so many of them. I try to always value this relationship and interaction. I think it is a valuable life experience for both parties, usually… (more…)
By Dawn Cooke
Let me tell you a little story about Jesse Stark. Jesse starting tattooing as a young man and like most of us had to struggle to learn the craft of tattooing. Jesse worked in Detroit for a while. When I say he worked in Detroit I mean in the city not the suburbs. He was shot at one too many times there and he left to work in the safer community of Ann Arbor… (more…)
By Dawn Cooke
So I screen-shotted some of my favorite pictures from Intagram to share. My intention is to share some great work and give the artists every bit of the credit! I’m doing it to showcase what I consider to be some really great work. I hope you will all agree. One thing I want to make clear is that I am not trying to promote the idea of “stealing.” All artists are inspired by other artists. There’s a difference between being inspired and flat-out stealing. I think it’s important to know the difference. Most images in tattooing have been taken from other sources. It’s always good to know the source if you can, and try to be inspired by art outside of tattooing… and also by life and nature… (more…)
By Dawn Cooke
I have been thinking lately about how important it is to support the culture and community of tattooing. It seems like a no-brainer, but I noticed that it doesn’t seem like people have any real criteria for the support they do give. It’s almost like people have an odd biased that is based on a “what can I get out of this” attitude. This makes sense since we have such a capitalist environment at play… (more…)
By Dawn Cooke
I hear talk about freedom all of the time. As an artist, my first amendment right is pretty important. The fact that we can share our thoughts freely is something we often take for granted. It’s easy to do because we are taught to believe that we are entitled to be free and we can do or say anything we want in this country. The truth is, that’s not entirely the case. You have to go along with society’s laws and norms for the most part because if you can’t find a productive place in society for whatever reason, society will find a place for you and it might not be a place you would like to go… (more…)
By Gunnar Gaylord
Last year I had the good fortune of attending two amazingly inspirational conventions, that put me on the path to a brand new year in art. I had blogged on both events at the time, those being Paradise Gathering in Massachusetts and Hell City Phoenix. And I have to say the fact that it was in Phoenix, may have a more profoundly symbolic meaning, then it was meant to. However, from these events was born a new passion in art, one that I hadn’t had in years… (more…)
By Dawn Cooke
In this fast paced, competitive world, how does a parent balance a career with the many other obligations of family and life? It’s not easy! It definitely requires planning and some sacrifice. There are so many things going on around any given person at any given time today in our world. It can be easy to become bombarded by media such as news, Internet and television. It can feel like the world is flying past you in fast forward while you are struggling to check things off of your list. Meanwhile your list of things to do grows and grows… But I found a few things that really help me manage all the tasks I have as mother, shop owner, artist, tattooist and wife… (more…)
By Dawn Cooke
Leave it to me to write about the less exciting things about tattooing. This might just be one of the more important subjects I could have the honor of making you think about. With more popularity for tattooing comes more attention from the government. This means laws and money. I can talk about Michigan specifically and explain to you all what’s happening here… (more…)
By Dawn Cooke
Lately, I have had some cynical views toward the state of tattoo culture and pop culture in general and I have had to apologize for affecting sensitivities. So I have been researching, writing and thinking about why I feel this way. The phenomenon of counter-culture becoming popular culture has been written about quite a lot. If you are interested in this topic the book, Nation of Rebels is a good one. What I see, is that we have an overly competitive narcissistic consumer culture that has really negative effects on individuals and on society as a whole. A person can get swept away by the tide if they aren’t careful. I have come dangerously close too many times personally… (more…)