It’s really great when an artist you respect finally gets his due. Thom DeVita has been one of the most unique American tattooers his entire career, redefining the art and including his personal aesthetic more distinctly than just about anyone that I can think of, a folk style of art that is at odds with what is considered ‘cutting edge’ or special effects tattooing.
Ed Hardy shined the spotlight on him in Tattoo Time V (which you can find as part of a reprint package here. It’s indispensable) which did a lot to expose his ‘outsider’ art to a new generation of young tattoo artists, but it was the release of the five part VICETV Tattoo Age (again: here. Watch it and come back, we’ll be waiting) that will, when all of the cards are dealt, hopefully establish him as an artist who’s work transcends the medium. I’ve heard it said that DeVita always just called himself an artist, not a tattoo artist, and with the public finally embracing (and one might even say consuming) tattoo art as a legitimate medium I can only hope that Thom’s work will get the attention it truly deserves.
Chris Grosso, the producer of the Tattoo Age series, and Mike Rubendall of King’s Avenue Tattoo, set up a DeVita popup gallery a few weeks ago to help Thom’s art get out into the world. The walls of King’s Ave were covered with his distinctly DeVita work; mashups of acetate tattoo stencil rubbings, scrolls… all as interesting as the fella who created them. Dan Meyer and Bernardo Garcia snapped the following photos and I’m pleased as punch to be sharing them with y’all. Daniel Higgs, Civ, Nick Bubash are featured in the ones that are going up today, but check back soon- I’ve also got some really great shots of some of Thom’s most recent work.
Thanks to Chris and Mike for setting all this up, and of course to Thom, for everything else!
Daniel Higgs and Thom DeVita
Thom DeVita and Nick Bubash
Thom DeVita and Daniel Higgs
Recent DeVita work, King’s Avenue Tattoo
Civ, Thom and Nick
An hour and a half bus ride and I could have been in NYC, camera in hand, for the DeVita Popup Gallery at King’s Avenue Tattoo. I would have ended up talking to people I knew, meeting new folks and, in the long run, wouldn’t have taken a single photograph. Still. It would have been fun to be there. Luckily for me, and for Occult Vibrations, my sister Kathleen and her husband Atom (who’s a dang fine photographer) live in NYC and were able to snap a few pictures for us. Not quite the same as being there, but ultimately, pretty darn good. From what I hear it was really well attended; people bought some really great original art from Thom, got tattooed with DeVita flash by Scott Harrison (and others) and the event was a great success, which will really help Thom out.
If you haven’t watched the DeVita episodes of Tattoo Age, you can do that here.
Special thanks to Atom and Kathleen for the pictures; if you attended the Popup Gallery and grabbed any pics that you’d like to share with us, contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org
In honor of Tattoo Age’s Thom deVita episode, VICE is holding an art show and sale at Mike Rubendall’s King’s Ave Tattoo shop in NYC from January 11th-13th. Thom’s one of a kind creative rubbings from tattoo stencils, art boxes, signed books, and more will be available for purchase. The legendary artist himself will also be present to talk about his art and Scott Harrison will be tattooing deVita inspired tattoos Saturday and Sunday.
What: Thom deVita Pop Up Gallery with VICE’s Tattoo Age
When: January 11th-13th
Where: King’s Ave | 188 Bowery, NYC(second floor)
Time: 12pm – 9pm Daily Friday and Saturday, 1PM-7PM on Sun
Be sure to stop by! VICE is excited for this special weekend, and is proud to bring you Thom’s art up close and personal, in celebration of the Tattoo Age series.
Watch Thom DeVita’s episode on Tattoo Age here: http://www.vice.com/tattoo-age
Besides the usual crew tattooing at King’s Ave, Chris O’Donnell and Timothy Hoyer will be on hand as well. The amount of quality art and tattooing that will be coming out of this shop that weekend will be astounding, don’t miss it!
All tattooing is folk art.
Vice.com has finally begun airing the Thom DeVita arc of their ‘Tattoo Age’ series, with episode 1 currently streaming.
You can check it out here.
The first episode features Ed Hardy, Nick Bubash, Clayton Patterson, Scott Harrison, Angelo Scotto, John Wyatt, Robert Ryan, Bubba Reeves and of course Thom. If you use the Freddy Corbin arc of season 1 as a yardstick for quality, it’s really hard to imaging it getting any better. But seeing the enthusiasm that other people have for Thom and his work wins you over. Harrison’s face lights up when he talks about his ‘bad’ DeVita tattoos. These episodes- five in total- will end up being a once in a lifetime view into the life of an iconic artist.
Check it out.
Last year I was lucky enough to have been tattooed by Scott Harrison.
After the tattoo I had plans to swing by the Vice offices to drop off a VHS copy of Frisco Skin and Tattoo Ink to Chris Grosso, the producer of the Tattoo Age series. At the time only a few of the episodes had aired and it was already shaping up to be and amazing tattoo documentary series; the perfect alternative to the cable network atrocities that were airing.
Harrison is a natural story teller, and as the tattoo continued he told me about Tattoo Age filming with him and Thom Devita. I was floored. DeVita. I had seen his work, of course, and compared to the relatively young tattooers featured so far he was a major score for the Tattoo Age folks. Scott detailed how they got Thom to talk on camera, shared a few great anecdotes and we eventually moved on.
Of course when I got to the Vice offices and met Chris, the first thing I brought up was the DeVita footage. At the time, I’m fairly sure they were editing the Corbin episodes (thus the VHS I was dropping off) and the season if thats what you want to call it was coming to a close. So… when was Thom’s arc going to air?
Chris didn’t have an answer. At the time there was no official word about season 2 so that footage could have potentially never seen the light of day. That would have been a tragedy. When I left the Vice offices I was worried. Several months later I was getting tattooed by Robert Ryan and we started talking about DeVita, and he mentioned that he had just completed an interview for Vice, for Thom’s segments.
I’ve been waiting for these episodes since last year, and I couldn’t be happier that they’re finally going to air. The first episode airs on November 21.
Update: Just got word from Juliette from Vice- The DeVita arc will be FIVE episodes long. Five. Feel the love.
September 12th can’t come fast enough. The long awaited premiere of Vice’s TATTOO AGE SEASON 2 begins airing over at Vice.com. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for this; Season one was a breath of fresh air and two… DeVita. I’m just going to keep repeating that to myself over and over. Watch the trailer and let me know what you think!