Worst Zine Ever

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I think it was somewhere around 2000 or 2001 that I visited my friend Skip Sampson in Ybor City, Florida and had a little Mr. Burns head tattooed on my knee along with my brother and our friend Mike. The idea- a riff on the classic Sailor Jerry POISIN girl, featured C. Montgomery with crossedbones and was originally going to have POINTLESS under it. My other two bro-tat wearers decided they didn’t want the lettering and just like that, the classic tattoo overtones drifted away.

1515670_1415131222062686_1767480264_nOur friend Ash Davies, who was previously featured on OV back in April of 2013, just put out a new 60(ish) page ‘Zine that would do that POINTLESS idea proud. Titled WORST ZINE EVER, it collects some of his best renditions of our favorite Springfield residents (along with art by Billy Hay, Brad T, Gavin Rose, Fil, Mark Ford, Marcus McGuire, Marcos Attlewood, Nick Baldwin and Swambo) with just enough whatthefuck to appeal to us here at Occult Vibrations.

You can check it out on his web store at http://ashmadethese.bigcartel.com/product/worst-zine-ever-pre-order, or check out his Instagram feed here.

Make sure to tell him OV sent you!

SKULL DEFEKTS/HIGGS 2011

My buddy Klint and I braved West Philadelphia’s streets back in April of 2011 to catch a show by Skull Defekts (featuring Daniel Higgs) and Zomes. Previous clips from that night have appeared on OV but for some reason I never finished editing and uploading the entire show. I found the folder while rummaging through a backup drive earlier today and randomly grabbed, edited and uploaded a song from the set  for you folks who’ve patiently waited for three years to see the whole thing.

 

WELTWORLD Funny Pages

ww1_01“Scott Harrison is an internationally recognized tattoo artist, infamous for his peculiar cartoon imagery and lack of finesse.”

I grew up with Sunday Morning Comics; waiting for my Dad to finish the paper so I could get my crack at Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes and Gary Larsen’s The Far Side. As I got older and more interested in sequential art I discovered Windsor McCay’s Little Nemo, Richard F. Outcault’s Yellow kid and Jim Woodring’s dream-based Frank.

Frank is of special consideration when talking about WELTWORLD, the new newsprint compilation of artist Scott Harrison’s Knobby Mcbumps strips, currently available from his online store. Woodring’s Unifactor could easily run parallel with Harrison’s dream-state Weltworld; including it’s start black and white aesthetic and it’s distantly related frog characters.

Having been tattooed by Scott (who did what may be, after 25 years of getting tattooed, my favorite oneshot piece) it’s easy to see the characters in the 79 strips collected in this 16 page newspaper talking in his voice; the man is a natural story teller and his sequential art ties very well into the overall output of one of the most enigmatic tattooers to come out of the 1990s tattoo scene.

You can buy the collected WELTWORLD from Scott’s site for the low, low price of $6/shipped (domestic).

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Dances In Dreams Of The Known Unknown

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I think it’s fair to say that the music of Daniel Higgs- whether with the seminal Baltimore based LUNGFISH, his more free-form solo offerings or his partnership with Swedish experimental outfit SKULL DEFEKTS- is critic proof. You’re either going to buy it or you aren’t. No review could dissuade a Higgs fan from purchasing his latest offering in whatever form it comes in regardless of the vitriol of the reviewer. Speaking for myself- I buy them all, figuring that the best of his worst is still more interesting to me than most of the new releases that will drop along side of it.

April 8th 2014 will see a new Higgs/Defekts collaboration- Dances In Dreams Of The Known Unknown- on Thrill Jockey Records. With any luck they’ll be touring to support the album and we’ll have a chance to hear the new material live.  The band has released a single and a video for Awaking Dream; check it out and let me know what you think.

The Skull Defekts – Awaking Dream from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Ordinance

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Some years back I received a message from a Tattoo Artist who wanted to enlist my help in speaking to the City Council of Plant City, Florida on his behalf in a quest to allow his tattoo shop to be opened up within City Limits. I guess when he searched YAHOO (that kind of ages it) searched PLANT CITY and TATTOO I was the only thing that came up; an escapee who moved to the big city and who could return, triumphant, to plead the case of allowing tattooing in a city known for The Strawberry Festival and not much else.

I checked his portfolio, which included a photo of him speaking at the City Council while wearing a T-shirt with the silhouette of a stripper on a pole and the declaration I SUPPORT SINGLE MOMS. Needless to say, I felt that my home town would be better off without his contribution to tattoo art, and I passed on the assist.

When I went back down South last year to get tattooed by David Bruehl I ended up spending a lot of time with my old Ybor City friends; visiting Skip Sampson, talking shit and catching up with he and Casper Geist was great. They’ve really helped changed the face of Tampa tattooing and I was surprised to hear that Casper had planned to leave Ybor and stake out his own plot of tattooland in Plant City.

The city had changed so much since I moved North in 1999; I had to use my GPS to get around on the streets that I had spent half of my life on.. there was a Scientology Center for goodness sakes. Was it time for a tattoo shop?

Casper sold me on it. His passion for building a kickass oldschool shop in Plant City was tangible and I found myself keeping up on the progress of the build and eventual opening of the shop, Dixie Station Tattoo.

Today’s online edition of the Plant City Observer ran a great piece by Amber Jurgenson on Casper’s fight to change the city ordinances concerning tattoo shops in the Historic Downtown area which can be read here: Plant City Observer.

I look forward to seeing Casper’s progress and wish him the best of luck in bringing modern tattooing to my old home town.

Occult Vibrations Book Shelf: LOST LOVE

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Bob Collins

Things go in cycles.
Back in they glory days of the 1990s, before large publishing houses realized that there was money to be made by mass producing generic tattoo books, we had it good. The books that were available pretty much fell into three basic categories:

Independent Press.
Scholastic./Medical.
Art Books.

1579927_10203135474375783_1196755382_nWhile clearly for profit, these books were niche sellers, made for a specific demographic (though in the case of Scholastic or Medical texts, often a shared one) who generally had to seek them out. I spent almost every Saturday during those years driving to Ybor City to check out the new pickups at Cindy Wheeler’s Three Bird’s bookstore; a one-stop-shop for zines, cult authors and tattoo books. The majority of my Hardy Marks collection came from those visits; Rocks of Ages, Forever Yes, Pierced Hearts and True Love… the best of the tattoos books were put out by and for tattooed people.

Things changed. Things always change. Someone realized that books on tattoos- culled from stock photos with a hack-for-hire to churn out ‘expert’ text illustrating biomechanical, tribal or newschool tattoos for casual readers in middle America- were a guaranteed seller. You went from Permanent Curios to The TOTAL Tattoo Book! overnight.

For a while it was absolutely possible, with due diligence, to track down and purchase almost every commercially released tattoo book available, and what’s more,  most were good. Better than good really. Some transcended and became iconic. Then things went a little crazy, with books by authors or photographers you never heard of flooding retailer shelves, each more bland then the one before it. The soul was gone.

After the mass production/consumption phase, we were in a black hole. Hardy wasn’t releasing books with any regularity. The internet became a depository for a quick fix (after all- photos could be uploaded real time from conventions and shops the world over; no more waiting for the latest issue of Tattoo Revue or Hardy compilation to be released) and things got stale.

Lost Love preview.

Lost Love preview.

The cycle thankfully started to shift back in our favor a few years ago when tattooers began investigating the self publishing world, and thanks to online retail, were able to skip the middleman and find a global audience hungry for content. Dave Fox’s HAUNTED, Grime’s TWO YEAR AUTOPSY and a handful of others became instant classics and started a wave that we’re now fully enjoying.

For my money, the best and brightest in this new generation of tattoo publishing has to be Yellow Beak Press. Started by tattoo collectors Scott Boyer and Kayla Grosneth, YBP burst onto the scene with 2012′s mammoth undertaking ‘Tattooing as you like it: The Legacy of Milton Zeis.” The book was an instant success; Boyer and Grosneth not only researching the life and times of Milt but also gathering 95 of the world’s top tattooers to reinterpret classic Zeis designs.

They followed it up with my personal favorite Yellow Beak offering, 2013′s ‘Born Weird’, a companion book to the art show of the same name with 29 amazing tattooers contributing disturbing, vile, prurient tattoo flash for a no holes barred adult audience. It remains my most recommended tattoo book that was released in 2013 though I admit given it’s lower than lowbrow designs it has a hard time ingratiating itself to casual readers.

1477700_10202668090211471_567420024_nFor 2014 they’ve taken another look into the past with ‘Lost Love’,  collecting (some for the first time) classic tattoo flash by  icons like Cap Coleman, Sailor Jerry Collins, Stoney St. Clair, Percy Water,Owen Jensen, Bob Shaw,  Zeis Studios and more. The pages lovingly highlight the roots of European/American tattoo designs that we all but take for granted today; dice, cards, snakes, panthers, Girl heads, Skunks and Ducks, Hotstuffs and Horses… 260 pages packed with designs that are as “ancient as time, as modern as tomorrow.” Scott and Kayla present the flash sheets along with archival photos, newspaper clippings and ephemera that influenced what went on to be classic designs and very little in the way of text. These images speak for themselves and will undoubtable influence a whole new generation of artists.

With more and more publishing being done digitally and Kindle and iBook editions starting to take market share, it’s nice to see a small publishing house stick to tradition and release honest to goodness print books, particularly when it comes to tattoo culture. With their third book they’ve proven themselves to be committed to properly documenting the best of tattooing’s past, as well as the brightest of it’s future. 

You can purchase Lost Love directly from Yellow Beak Press.

Josh Hotstuff

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In the years since becoming a client of Josh Hoffman, it literally never occurred to me to nickname him Josh Hotstuff. I’m not really sure why. I’m not really sure why Josh needs a nickname at all, save that he’s a pretty funny guy and funny guys usually have nicknames.

The last time we checked in on his Instagram feed it was to check out some Hot stuff Devil paintings. I swear he does more than that, but when something works, it works. You can check out more of his work on his Instagram feed, or swing by Living Arts Tattoo in New Hope, PA.

Oh. Full disclosure. One of my favorite tattoos that Josh did on me was a Hot Stuff Devil/Kewpie that he did years ago….

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