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Tag Archives: TAM BLOG

Part 2: Nikolai, Russian Prison Tattoo Artist

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Con’t from Part 1: – We cannot show his Nikolai’s face, remember, as he fears for his life by talking about the Russian underground, while inside he had a relatively comfortable experience, tattooing the big bosses and the upper echelon of criminals. Though he was able to live a better life inside thanks to tattooing, Nikolai did have to endure harassment by prison officials. All his tattoo machines were constantly being confiscated, so he started carrying his machines in his sleeves. When they were taken during regular searches, he had to make new ones. Every master makes his instruments individually and never lets them fall into any stranger’s hands. During his six years of imprisonment, Nikolai made about 200 machines. – The prison tattoo machines can be of four types. The most widely used (up to 90% of all works done) is made of a mechanical razor (photos a & b) and functions like a sewing machine. Tattoos are made quickly and clearly, with the ability to make half-tones. A faster machine can be made from an electric razor, but it is rarely used because it needs electricity and runs too quickly.   – If there is no chance to get a mechanical razor, hand-made instruments are used. One of them Nikolai calls “utka” – the “duck.” It’s made of two #2 guitar strings, the result being something of a pen holding a drop of India ink. After sharpening, the strings are fixed to­gether and the instrument is ready – ...Read More »

Russian Prison Tattoo Artist, Nikolai: pt1

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Russian criminal tattoos were originally simple and decorative, with no real meaning to them. Later on, they were regarded more seriously when tattooed people, bearing symbols of strength on their bodies, started claiming leadership. Tattoos then became a kind of secret language because criminals needed a form of communication both in and out of prison. The meanings of criminal symbols were dictated by necessity and over the years there were revisions and re-evaluations of drawings. Gradually tattoos began to convey the social attitudes and values of their bearer. For example, if there are hexagonal or octagonal stars tattooed on a convict’s shoulders, it means that in prison, he’ll join those who are against prison regulations. If there is a hand grasping a knife tattooed on the leg, then it will be clear for those who know the symbols that this man was convicted for being a thug. Criminals often flaunt these attributes and their tattoos, which help them to separate themselves as “initiated persons” from the rest of the “lames” (fools). Tattoos can be classified as ornamental, professional, artistic, pornographic, religious, historical, symbolic, and abbreviations. There are many tattoos, worn by both men and women, of historic events with all sorts of inscriptions of tsarist Russia and of the Soviet period. Tattoos meanings also differ depending on what part of the body they are on. The criminal tattoo is gene­rally called “nakolka” (derivative from the word “to pierce”),and its bearers “sineva” – “the blue ones” (due to the faded blue ...Read More »

You Decide, Trick or Treat? 13 Halloween Tattoos

Darcy Nutt of Chalice Tattoo in Boise, Idaho

Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, has its roots  in a pre-Christian festival from about 2,000 years ago which was held in the beginning of November. The festival was called Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”). Samhain, means “summer’s end” in Gaelic. Now, the opposite of that is, Samhainophobia, which is the fear of Halloween or the fear of the festival of the dead. Hard to imagine someone fearing the Festival of the Dead, after all, what could be more normal than dead people having a festival?  While there remains some debate with folklorist and historians about the exact origins of Halloween, one thing is for sure, if is started some 2,000 years ago and we are still celebrating it, All Hallow’s Eve deserves some special attention! Check out the collection below of some spooky and whimsical Halloween Tattoos. FOLLOW US and Submit your Halloween or other Holiday Tattoos Instagram@tattooartistmagazine Ans Pham Matt @inkedtat2 Lindsay  @Skin Decor Tattoo   By Richard Guy in the U.K. @richardartistguy Cory Stanfield @cory_ink3d Laura Murphy @lmurphytattoos Mark Duhan @markduhan Mae La Roux @missmaelaroux Christopher Fernandez @chrisfernandez_8p Sunny Buick Brad Stevens Dark Circle Tattoo Matt Houston Darcy Nutt Adam Gibson *To see MORE and learn about some of the MOST AMAZING tattoo artists of our age, check out these deals from Tattoo Artist Magazine! There’s a reason tattooers themselves consider TAM the most informative and important tattoo magazine ever –   *Be sure to check out the digital issues of Tattoo Artist Magazine ON SALE NOW– JUST $2.99 – $7.99. TAM DIGITAL ISSUES ...Read More »

What’s Your Sign? 24 Popular Zodiac Tattoos


The term zodiac reflects the 12 constellations that make their appearance in the night sky over the cycle of seasons. The individual signs take their names and basic shapes from the actual constellations. References to the zodiac can be found around the world and throughout time. From the ancient Greeks to contemporary new age thinking. Having a belief that we are connected to the universe and stars is part of the human experience and has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. Our zodiac sign dates (that is, the date we were born indicating our zodiac signs and meanings) we are actually looking at our sun sign.  The sun signs refers to the position of the sun upon the time of our birth. The character traits explained below are from Share YOUR zodiac tattoos with us on Instagram@tattooartistmagazine  Aquarius Tattoos – January 21st – February 19th Strengths: Progressive, original, independent, humanitarian Weaknesses: Runs from emotional expression, temperamental, uncompromising, aloof Aquarius likes: Fun with friends, helping others, fighting for causes, intellectual conversation, a good listener Aquarius dislikes: Limitations, broken promises, being lonely, dull or boring situations, people who disagree with them Artist Unknown Artist Unknown   Pisces Tattoos – February 20th – March 20th Strengths: Compassionate, artistic, intuitive, gentle, wise, musical Weaknesses: Fearful, overly trusting, sad, desire to escape reality, can be a victim or a martyr Pisces likes: Being alone, sleeping, music, romance, visual media, swimming, spiritual themes Pisces dislikes: Know-it-alls, being criticized, the past coming back to haunt, cruelty of any kind ...Read More »

Women Cover Mastectomy Scars with Beautiful yet Intricate Tattoos

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When diagnosed with breast cancer, being introduced to the world of tattoos is the last thing on one’s mind. But for many women who are suffering from this disease, this is exactly what happens after the worst has passed. What these women are left with is a painful reminder of the trauma they’ve suffered. —  If not for all, some of the women who’ve had mastectomies choose to use tattoos, not as their treatment, but rather, their recovery. This year in May, a tattooist from Darwin, Australia shared pictures of a client whose had mastectomy as well as reconstruction of both her breasts, and decided to completely cover her breast with a flowery tattoo that transformed her scars into a work of art. However, tattoos can still make a lot of difference in the lives of women who’ve had mastectomy and decided against reconstructive surgery. Liz Howley, a 73 year old woman from Edinburgh, Scotland had a mastectomy in 2006. After her surgery, she struggled a great deal when trying to come to terms with the way her body looked now. “I hated looking at myself in the mirror, and I didn’t like my husband to see me without my clothes on,” she said. “It was a constant reminder of what had happened to me.” But after watching a show about tattoos, she began to wonder whether having one would make a difference. “I spoke to my consultant and he said sure, go ahead,” she says. “So I found a ...Read More »

A.F.C. Football Tattoos – Part 1

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YESSSSSSSS!! Football season is finally here! No matter who you root for, some would argue you’re not a real fan unless you’re wearing it on your skin! If that’s true then these extreme fans have gotten us all beat!! Here’s a small collection of AFC Division Teams, pt1!  (*not all submissions had the artist’s name or social links – we always strive to give credits, so please include that info. Thank you! …and if you did one of these tattoos, please let us know!) FANS: Share YOUR football tattoos! (*ARTISTS: can TAG and # TattooArtistMagazine on InstaGram with their daily work and get some free publicity) — – FOLLOW US on IG for DAILY DOSES of the BEST TATTOOS on the internet!! — @tattooartistmagazine Teams in the East Buffalo Bills Miami Dolphins (from Miami Gardens, Florida, near Miami) New England Patriots (from Foxborough, Massachusetts, about halfway between Boston and Providence) New York Jets (from East Rutherford, New Jersey, near New York City) Paul Spatola @paulspatolatattoo Teams in the north Baltimore Ravens (from Baltimore, Maryland) @tres222 Cincinnati Bengals (from Cincinnati, Ohio) Cleveland Browns (from Cleveland, Ohio) @bigtymetattoos Pittsburgh Steelers (from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania @saidpress Teams in the south Houston Texans (from Houston, Texas) @bnoz1nk Indianapolis Colts (from Indianapolis, Indiana) Reyna Sunshine @reynasunshine Jacksonville Jaguars (from Jacksonville, Florida) Tennessee Titans (from Nashville, Tennessee) Teams in the west Denver Broncos (from Denver, Colorado) Gordon Milne @gordonmilne_tattoo Kansas City Chiefs (from Kansas City, Missouri) Ricky Knuxx @rickyknuxx73 Oakland Raiders (from Oakland, California) San Diego Chargers (from ...Read More »

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: “Perseverance”

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Since 1936, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has been dignified. Revered. Respectable. Timeless. As of May 29th, however, it’s going to look a little different. On May 29th, it’s getting 115 tattoos. And frankly, it’s about time.  With the opening of Japanese Tattoo: Perseverance, Art, and Tradition (also known as Perseverance),Richmond’s most popular art form moves into the biggest gallery in town. The world-famous exhibition—including pieces by Horitaki, Horitomo, Miyazo, and Shige—combines the mysticism and beauty of feudal Japan with the style and skill of modern art. And if there’s a better place on the East Coast for it, we can’t think of it. The capital of the old South—Richmond, Virginia—is now the artistic hub of the new South. It’s the third-most tattooed city in America (per capita, mind you),which makes it the perfect match of artists and audience. Richmond is, was, and will always be in love with art. Just not always the kind that hangs on gallery walls. Tattoos, graphic design, sculpture, typography, mural painting—Richmond’s breaking all kinds of new ground in these every year. When you’ve got a mix of young artists, art students, tattoo artists, musicians, skateboarders, crust punks, regular old (or as regular as they get) punks, bike gangs, motor-scooter gangs, and general nonconformists like Richmond has, you’re going to see an awful lot of beautiful things that don’t always fit the 20th-century definition of “art.” VMFA, to its credit, has realized this. In a city that prides itself fiercely on outsider ...Read More »

Debra Yarian: So You Want To Be A Tattoo Artist…


By Debra Yarian My recent, internationally distributed book (ha-ha),So You Want To Be A Tattoo Artist? -Helpful hints on getting started in an exciting career as a tattoo artist, with little or no training or skill, caused quite a furor in the tattoo world. Both seasoned and novice tattooers alike, voiced outrage and indignation. At what started out as a joke between my oldest son and me and then evolved into a satirical corporate style handbook. While I understand that people are protective about what they are infatuated with, involved in and devoted to -I was still surprised and amused at the anger expressed by my critics .Fortunately there were far greater positive responses & most of my friends and peers , those whom I respect— got it -and appreciate the humor. So I’ve decided to take this opportunity to share a part of my book here, and then I’ll stray from its sarcasm and approach the subject seriously…Read More »

Workhorse Irons: Better Tools For Better Tattooing

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Victory Cult with Josh Egnew


by Nicki Kasper Tell us a little bit about yourself… Where are you from? How long have you been tattooing?  What shop are you in now? Etc… I was raised in Florida, ended up in NYC where I’ve been for the past 10+years. I began tattooing just about 9 years ago and have been at Three Kings in Brooklyn for the last 6 1/2.  How would you describe Victory Cult, and what was the inspiration?  I’d call it sort of a sophisticated street wear brand. I grew up skateboarding and playing in bands, so I’ve always had a strong inclination towards graphics and the merch game. When I began tattooing It was just a natural progression to carry that on. With this project, I have begun with the basics (t-shirts,hats,hoodies,etc.),but I aim to eventually expand that scope. I also wanted to create a project that would treat the artists involved respectfully. I know a lot of us tattooers have been approached by companies that look at us as cheap labor, so I’m just trying to keep this all in the family and have everybody treated correctly. You know the old adage, if you want to do something right, you have to do it yourself.   How long did you sit on the idea before you decided to get it rolling?  Probably not long enough. Haha. I had always thought it would be fun to create a proper brand, but I had never taken the idea all that seriously. It took a ...Read More »

Tattoo Artist Brings Dots And Lines To New Heights In Stunning Geometric Ink Designs

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The Huffington Post  | By Katherine Brooks original article here Imagine this scene: Sharp waves stretch back for as far as you can see, eating up the horizon in a vast display of stunning movement. Like the peaks and troughs of a chaotic line graph, the seas capture jumping fish as they weave in and out of the thrashes. Careful shading separates the animal bodies as they surface, drenched in the bleeding red pigment of a sunset-flooded landscape. The description might sound like a recounting of an ancient Japanese print or a sprawling painted canvas, but the words are actually attached to artwork of a different sort. They tell the story of artist Chaim Machlev and his gorgeous tattoos.Read More »

*New* Photos Added To The Gallery

Tattoos by James Mullin. Lotus Tattoo Hemet, CA IG: @jamesmullintattoos @lotustattoohemetRead More »

Advice for the New Year


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 ...Read More »

Dan Henk: My Ranting…

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By Dan Henk You know, I’m probably going to draw plenty of flak for this, but it’s not the first time, I doubt it will be the last time, and in all seriousness, I honestly don’t care. I came from a punk rock back background. In high school I had a blue mohawk, painted up spiky leather jacket, and combat boots. And this was in conservative Virginia back in 1989. I was the guy that painted everyone’s leather jackets. I did the fliers for my friend’s bands. The political cartoons for their fanzines. All under the watchful eyes of the Fairfax County police, who have mug shots of me with at least 5 different hairstyles, and a file cabinet full of fabricated charges that sometimes kept me in the drunk tank overnight. I had a super christian,military dad that made me go to a psychiatrist every week and threw my brother in a mental institution. He’s a recovering junky now. I turned 18 and he kicked me out of the house and moved. To another country. I spent 8 months homeless. Like living in the woods, with a rock as my pillow, homeless.Read More »

Paul Dobleman: Psychedelic Stories July’s Winner!


By Paul Dobleman Once again more acid was taken, more mushrooms, more DMT… I’ve been in and out of consciousness and backed up on the winners, so how about this, here is another winner… Cosmo wrote: Dear Paul… When I was 13 a lot of Felix the Cat acid was being taken, they called it “illusion” I had been taking it here and there, Frying on Fridaze, Felix’s face only appeared every four hits, so I was determined to take the four… This was the first time I took 4 hits, I had the full face, and ran around and showed everyone as it soaked into my tounge. Haha! We used to hitchhike up Mt. Tam and trip out in the Miwok tree, it was a fairly safe place back then, and far enough from civilization. We were having trouble hitchhiking, no one was picking us up, there was also 7 of us, but the ACID was kicking in hard and I was starting to panic!!!!! Then all of a sudden my mom pulls up?! Fuck!!! She’s pissed!! She’s yelling and sounds like a dragon!!! She piles us in and drives everyone as she’s lecturing, her words become more and more warped, I sat in the car frozen, my friends not saying a word… She dropped everyone off, and continued to yell at me, I was sweating and freaking out in my mind, her voice echoed in every part of my soul! She decided to take me home, to see ...Read More »