By Omar Edmison
My wife of 18 years asked me awhile back if I was still writing a blog for Tattoo Artist Magazine. I shot her a pile of excuses about time & being busy at work, taking care of the shop & spending time with her & the kids. She looked at me with her amazingly sweet smile as if to say “Sure Omar, I love you I have your back but you’re throwing up a smoke screen.” She knows me really well, better than any other human being on the planet. Her words that she spoke next were small and to the point. she simply said ” you’re really good at what you do. you have wisdom to impart.” I am not making that part up; she really does speak like that. So here I am sitting in front of a computer trying to figure out what to “impart” on you, gentle reader. I started thinking about what I had said to my beautiful and talented better half. It wasn’t a lie I have been busy with an amazing varied rag tag bunch of folks who for what ever reason be it a bump on the head or just a history of poor life choices have asked me to mark them permanently. It is also true that -as any shop owner can attest to- when you own a tattoo shop stuff comes up, there are always fires to be put out, business needs handling. It is most decidedly true that I love spending time with her and our 3 awesome kids. I don’t know about y’all but the last time I checked there are only 24 hours in a day only 7 of those days in a week etc., etc. you know the math. You are,I am sure, by this point getting my point that there are a lot of things that come up in my day to day life that are at times pleasurable at times nerve wracking & everything in between. Much like some of you out there, I get to try to figure out how to balance business & family, which is what struck me as something to write about…
Life, Happens everyday. It comes at us pretty fast you have to keep your eyes open and your head up if you are going to get through it in one piece. How to balance work & family…
By Reba Maybury
Maellyn Macintosh is in the process of creating an exciting series of documentaries about tattooing in various cultures, but to complete all of the work that has been created so far she needs backing. You can read more about what Maellyn has created so far and watch a trailer of footage made so far.
In the first episode proposed Maellyn will travel to remote regions of India to document the indigenous tribes who use tattooing and piercing as an essential way of life, for healing, as a form of currency and as a form of religious devotion.
Here is Maellyn’s background to the documentary series so far:
Tattoos, piercing and scarification are now becoming mainstream and the taboos surrounding them are slowly vanishing. But where do they come from and why were they used?
Indigenous communities have cut, coloured, pierced and shaped the body for centuries as part of complex rituals; for identity, beauty, healing, spirituality, coming-of-age ceremonies, and even occasionally as punishments. There are still some communities who live as they did hundreds of years ago but most are being forced to integrate into western society, by threats to their land, resources and customs. Maellyn wants to tell their stories before they are lost forever.
Maellyn became fascinated by body modification while filming with a group of modern body modification artists and performers in London. Her curiosity lead her to begin researching the origins of these practices and in December 2010 she took a camera and made a trip from Kathmandu in Nepal, through Central India to Southern India. In Nepal she met the older tribeswomen with beautiful tattoos, whose grandchildren wouldn’t dream of tattooing in fear of not being offered work. In Central India she met the fascinating Baiga tribe, natives of the forest who use plant medicine in their tattoos, which are also placed on pressure points for healing. The women of this tribe wear their tattoos with pride as they are considered a currency which can be passed on to the next life. She also met the nomadic and elusive Ramnami tribe, a low caste tribe whose facial and full body tattoos bear the name of the upper caste god, Ram.
By Marisa Kakoulas
Reblogged from: http://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 Mickey Schlick
I’m always trying to find answers to as many of the little issues that life throws at me as possible. I wanted to share some things that I think are applicable to our life in the shop. Often, I notice that many tattoo shops, especially street shops, lack adequate space for that most important or our chores, drawing. I wanted to cover a quick fix for this: a low cost, zero floor space, cheap drawing table.
Since my first gesture drawing class, I have been hooked on lap boards and I think they are a great solution when needing to move around is a must. Sitting in the chair and having the board at an angle against a table or the back of another chair gives a large drawing area and a much more comfortable angle. The other thing that most people don’t really notice is how much a horizontal surface can potentially skew a drawing.
Personally, I was looking for a more permanent fix and so I did some “figurin'” to come up with an idea that matched all of the benefits of having a large drawing table without loosing any floor space in the shop. The one thing about this plan in particular (which I am hoping that some of you will turn into ideas of your own) is that it is not very adjustable. So, as the old adage goes, measure twice cut once. On the upside, it is so cheap and easy that you can have multiple drawing surfaces in the shop that work for different people or drawing styles or projects for well under $100.
In our shop, most of the artists like to draw pretty big which we like because you can get a lot of life into the work when drawing with your whole arm. Personally, I’m about the newsprint because I would rather retrace my design with a marker on tracing paper than slide the rough onto the copier, or photograph it and deal with it digitally, but sometimes I can go big with it or sometimes I can work out a whole bunch of thumbnails on one sheet. Most papers have a larger style (I like 18×24), just think about what you like to draw on and then buy your table based on having enough room to draw and support your whole drawing pad and arms and whatever else you need, while still fitting the space. Obviously, you don’t need to go that big, but you could go larger or smaller on the table or paper (all of the measurements for this will be unique to you and your situation, so I’m not going to get too deep into that. ) Just read this, think about the logic of it, then go out and build your own that is perfect for your situation.
I started with a very complicated idea, which I won’t get into, but I will say looking back that I don’t know how my head got that far up my ass. I had spent all this time planning out this awesome drawing table with a support frame and a bunch of super heavy wood with a crazy detailed stain. Sounded good until I realized that it was going to be entirely too heavy for the wall and the stain didn’t go as easy as I thought it would. In the end, what worked the best was to keep it simple, use this 24″ x 48 1/2″ MDF for like $10. I just had them cut right there at Home Depot, to like 24″ x 36″ then painted it to match the wall that it was going to hang on with paint from the shop, so that you can barely tell it’s there at all. Very low impact, even visually. It’s great!
Most individuals that I meet who work in a tattoo studio often mention to me…”You’re furniture is really bloody great, but unfortunately I don’t have a $1000 kicking around for a light table, and some of the stuff that I would like to have in the studio isn’t readily available and at an affordable price.” So I talked with a friend of mine involved in the tattoo industry, he mentioned something to me; “Why don’t you offer a line of products that are more affordable? Products that are in the $450.00 or less price range.”
I thought to myself. “Hmmm…what can I possibly build that would be useful to a tattoo artists at that price and still keep my head afloat.”
After spending some time talking with him and other artists, I came up with some pretty damn good products which we both agreed upon as being really useful and also look great. These are products which will make your life as an artist much more simple and accessible, and will also be a striking piece in your shop. They will also offer trimmings and aspects of old traditional woodwork.
By Dawn Cooke
I have been traveling on and off since the beginning of my career. I haven’t always been able to travel as much as some of my peers because I have other obligations that make travel less accessible to me. But whenever I can I try to visit places and often I go where I have friends. True friends in life and in tattooing are hard to come by but as I have learned once you find them they make life so much more enjoyable.
There are several reasons that I travel. I go for work, I go for pleasure, I go to network with others in tattooing and I go for inspiration. Nothing pays off more than being inspired by your peers. That’s why instagram is such a big hit! But instead of being glued to your phone get out there and meet all those great artists Face to face!
I recently went to Eagle River Alaska to visit my good friend Deb Yarian. It is a really beautiful place. Mountains, Fresh air, I really got the feeling that people there try to look out for one another. So different from here in metro Detroit where I am from. I have tried to bring a little of that brotherly love back here to Detroit with me. Being there just really made me look at the world a little differently. People there are somewhat isolated and it seems like it makes they so much kinder to one another.
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|
Campfires & Carbon’s mission is to have and promote real, unedited conversation with local tattooers. Here’s their podcast of a conversation with Jeff Wright…
By Andrew Goodfellow
Reblogged by: swallowsndaggers.net
There are very few tattooers working today that can lay claim to over 30 years of experience. Fewer still are those who can truly be said to have changed the course of tattooing. Bill Baker – artist, icon, entrepreneur, and now part owner of Pearl Harbor Gift Shop – is among those storied few.
In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect of my meeting with Bill when he agreed to speak with me for Swallows & Daggers. Highly regarded yet notoriously reclusive, Bill casts something of a mythical shadow over the tattoo community in Toronto. Though Pearl Harbor is among the city’s premiere shops and receives constant acclaim, he is rarely glimpsed by the clientele and is extremely selective in taking on new work. Having been tattooed there on a number of occasions, I had yet to catch sight of him even once.
Little wonder, then, that I hadn’t any notion of what my afternoon with Bill would entail. What followed was an incredibly candid and fascinating tour through Bill’s 32 year career. Part raconteur, part machine technology and tattoo history teacher, Bill has managed to remain humble and utterly genuine in his love for tattooing. I learned more from him in the course of two hours than I had in the last two years of my own pursuits in the tattoo world. I only hope that I can convey our conversation in terms that do justice to the man himself, the immense scope of his technical achievements, and to the work he has crafted since 1981. As recorded in the legendary environs atop Pearl Harbour – known simply as ‘The Hut’ – it is with tremendous respect that I relay his words to the readers of Swallows & Daggers:
“Okay, well let’s see…if you want to bust it down, I guess I’ve been tattooing 32 years. I started in ’81. So then there’s the first part, where I was learning and did my apprenticeship in Calgary.”
By Ben Shaw
I finally climbed from my car in front of the Lodge section of Colorado’s Keystone Resort and Spa after trying unsuccessfully to check into the spa section of the massive resort. The sound of running water enters my awareness, teasing, because with little to no lighting outside the lodge, I can only hear it. The whole place is quiet and sleepy, with nowhere to eat at 11pm, so I chose from a vending machine buffet offered in the reception area and then crawled into a queen size mountain of pillows in my room. It was a long day on the road…
Suddenly awakened by a beam of light burning through my eyelids, I stumbled to the window, drew back the blinds, and gasped, awestruck by the magnificent view. A vast mountain range saturated with lush, green trees and split with running streams. A pond sits center stage in front of me, between the well-constructed resort floor plan and the gorgeous landscape. I took an eight-hour pilgrimage to interview Gabe Ripley, and this looks like the Holy Land…
Gabe Ripley has spent the last 13-14 yrs. immersed in the tattoo industry, developing websites, planning events, and building tattoo studios. His Off the Map corporation has three major divisions: TattooNOW, a company that powers a network of over 150 tattoo websites; Off the Map, a trio of custom tattoo studios, one in western Massachusetts, one in Grants Pass, OR, and a third opening soon in Italy!; and finally the Paradise Tattoo Gathering, a revolutionary four-day tattoo event, which I found myself transported to on this day.
After a day of amazing education, ending with Gabe’s own “Building a Great Business” seminar, I finally got his undivided attention. Gabe is a BUSY man. Orchestrating such a beautiful convention/seminar/tattoo artist retreat took all his focus, so I carry a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity…
Huge congratulations to Henning from your friends here at TAM!!!
*Video by Lars Stig Moller
By Bob Done
Reblogged from: http://www.swallowsndaggers.net
At a time when new Tattoo Studios are popping up in towns faster and more frequently than ever, I thought it would be cool to have a chat with my mentor and 20 year veteran of the craft Phil Kyle about the situation we find ourselves collectively in, and what it was like for him “back in the day”.
This is the slightly edited version because I don’t think the internet was, nor will it ever be ready for the original.
BD – Ok, what’s your name and how long have you been tattooing for?
PK – Phil Kyle, been tattooing 21 years and been getting tattooed for almost 30 now.
Where did you start tattooing?
I served my apprenticeship at Main Street Tattoo just outside of Baltimore Maryland in Edgewood. I started actually tattooing when my mentor thought it was the right time.
How many shops were in town when you first started tattooing?
2 at most, unlike today’s carnival.
And what was the relationship like between those shops and yours?
People just did their work and got on with it.
And what would have happened if someone else moved into town and opened up a shop?
(Laughing) Well…….Back then they would’ve got a warning, and if they ignored the warning there would’ve been some action. They’d have their equipment taken maybe, or you know… But the fact was that people with no morals or ethics got served the fuck up. It’s not like today where assholes open up one street over. What’s the fucking point? And they don’t even have the nut sacks to come say, “Hey I’m opening up”, or whatever. Like we did. It’s like fast food chains popping up everywhere. Serving total shit! (laughing) People that should just be clients are opening up shops. If they really loved tattooing they should just stick to getting tattooed, and not try to be some hipster cool guy who couldn’t tattoo their way out of a paper bag. These are the people that talk way too much trash too, if they could run their tattoo machines the way they run their mouths maybe they could actually tattoo.
By Danny Reis
My name is Pierre Botardo I’m currently living in Brooklyn New York and I am age 34. I grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia and I was interested in tattooing pretty early, I guess. When I was in junior high, I was already doing stick and pokes on myself with a sewing needle and some ink. I remember trying to convince my friends to do it. That didn’t really work out because they weren’t into the idea of a tattoos, but I was proud if it. It was fun and painful; but that’s what drew me to tattooing because it was a kind of “club”. The pain is a part of the whole experience. Even to this day, I still see it that way. You have to “put up or shut up”. Also, around this time, tattoos weren’t very popular. It was still considered to be an “outsider” sort of thing; which I loved.
I honestly didn’t think about tattooing as a career until maybe 2007 or 2008. Around the first time I moved to Brooklyn. It was through a friend who suggested it. I was dead broke and I thought for some reason, it was something that would force me to focus on a path. I had a friend who was showing me a few things here and there out of the apartment. Good habits like setting up and breaking down the station and sanitation of equipment. After struggling with finding regular work, I thought it was time to actually pursue an apprenticeship and take things seriously. I wanted to learn more. What’s crazy is that I had invested so much money into my own equipment that I shouldn’t have been spending but I chose to anyways. It took me about a year to actually obtain any kind of apprenticeship.
By James Connolly
First off, I am honored to have the opportunity to be given an outlet like this for the things that are constantly running around in my brain. Thank you TAM for giving me a place for my rants to be relevant. So here we go…
I thought I’d spend this first blog attempting to tell the readers here with who I am, what I do, and where I came from. I’m not a household name in tattooing like some of the other greats that post here. I am a tattoo artist that is working hard to get better at tattooing and along the way if I can make the people I tattoo happy with a solid tattoo then I’ll be fine with that. If I gain some recognition along the way I’ll take it.
I started as a dude in the right place at the right time. In early 2005, a good childhood friend of mine ended up getting an apprenticeship working in the studio where he started getting tattooed. I was along for the ride to give him my skin to practice on and get some cheap tattoos to help a friend. At the time, I thought it was awesome but it never crossed my mind that I too could get into tattooing. I didn’t feel I had any business learning. I quit drawing when I was younger for other “artistic” interest (mainly pottery and sculpting in high school), so I didn’t possess the drawing prowess that I now tell dozens of kids that ask about apprenticeships that they need. After hanging out at the studio for the better part of the year the owner briefly mentioned “selling” me an apprenticeship. I won’t name the guy but he was the sort that saw dollar signs on everything and cashed in everything and everyone he could. We talked more about it and after agreeing on terms (and a price) that was it, I was in. I’ll tell anyone that asks me at that time I shouldn’t have been anywhere near tattooing beyond just getting tattooed. I basically worked like a mule for months on end with very minimal teaching. It was the busiest studio in the area that supported 6 busy artists, my friend included, so the work load was huge, the teaching was minimal, and a few of the attitudes were total shit. I dealt with it for a while and then I messed it up badly and damn near lost my shot at this all together.
By John F. Garancheski
Every endeavor in life usually begins with the idea that the end will bring a feeling of “completeness.” Visions of victory and triumph fill our heads as we imagine the praise and recognition that we will receive, or we imagine the blanket of comfort and security that will be delivered upon the acquisition of items that we covet.
We think, “If I could only have…”
It’s the new girlfriend who we know is “the one”, the new job that promises the challenges and advancements that we have always hoped for, the new apartment in the best neighborhood that we could find, the new car that gives us goosebumps when we slide into the driver seat, the newest tech gadget, the new diet, the get rich quick scheme, the list goes on. Each promises to be the one thing that we need to finally be fulfilled and content with life.
By Deb Yarian
In my last installment of Lessons from Inksmith and Roger’s week 1, I explain that I had the pleasure of sending my second son, Nick, having just finished up an apprenticeship at our family shop in Alaska, to the world famous Inksmith and Roger’s Tattoo in Jacksonville, Florida for what many would consider a chance of a lifetime and a great opportunity for a brand new tattooer.
By Hunter Spanks
1:41pm August 29, 2012 and Lizzy finds herself back in Georgetown at Jinx Proof Tattoo for the sixth session on her back piece by Dave Waugh. A mystical piece complete with unicorns, naked women, hidden cocks and butt plugs just to round things out. Dave prepares a message table as they harass each other in preparation for the session to start. I’m sure this is just to work out the nerves. At least on Lizzy’s part. Dave seems cool as a cucumber as always… (more…)
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…)
Story by Jasper Craven. Photos by Stacey Rupolo. (Story originally appears at www.VICE.com.)
This year, a 52-year-old politician named Miguel Diaz-Canel was appointed vice president of the ruling Council of State in Cuba, making him a likely future leader of the country. Some Cubans hope he will lead their country into a new era. One reason: while he was governor of Villa Clara province, he sponsored a tattoo festival… (more…)