By the time I sat down at Josh Hoffman’s station to have two tiny stars added to my temples in March of 2010, I was already what most folks would call heavily tattooed. Despite having my hands, palms, neck and throat tattooed and being gainfully employed, Josh felt it was still prudent to remind me that these little stars, small by most standards, were technically on my face and I needed to be sure that I was ready for that sort of public exposure.
Josh and I had known each other for over a decade by that point; he had a pretty accurate take on my character and my ability to deal with potential employment issues and he still made sure to reiterate how important it was to think about the possible effect getting these two tiny tattoos would have on my life. A reminder of the Professional aspect of being a professional tattoo artist.
Five years later and the tattoo scene is still evolving in ways that the old timers would never imagine. More folks than ever are getting tattooed- heavily and more visibly- and with the influx of new clientele comes seasoned artists having to draw a line in the sand with what they’re comfortable tattooing. As commercial artists they should have every right to take a stand when asked to do a design that they feel won’t reflect well on them (see: Drew Grant and the It’s always Sunny tattoo) or that may have negative consequences to the client (see: No, you can’t get a fucking neck tattoo, Jane Marie) without having a spotlight of InternetOutrage(tm) aimed in their direction.
Increasingly, culture bloggers (imagine journalists without degrees or any formal training, then add a liberal portion of entitlement and inflated sense of self importance) are using their readership- 1000% greater numbers than our humble Occult Vibrations- to ‘call out’ artists who had the audacity to say ‘no’ to them, attempting to publicly shame them and take business out of their pocket. It’s a win/win- the sites they work for get great click-bate ad revenue (because we as a tattoo community can’t help but go to the sites and comment) and the writers get further internet exposure which is perfect for an attention seeking personality type.
I had written a pretty wordy response to Jane Marie’s article when I saw the above image on Virginia tattooer Nick Bryant’s Instagram. Suddenly all of my rambling was rendered moot- Nick had said everything I was trying to get at proving yet again that a picture is worth 1000 words.
You can see more of Nick’s work over on his IG: Nick Bryant.
Make sure to FOLLOW him for more awesome.
Twenty years ago today my brother Robert (who took the majority of these photos on honest to goodness 35mm film) were strolling around in Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District, winding down from Hanky Panky’s Amsterdam Tattoo Convention. We had spent the previous three days at the Beurs van Berlage, the Damrak’s former commodities exchange and current convention venue, snapping pictures, getting tattooed and- for two L7 farm boys from Florida (I was 20 at the time) enjoying an inescapable contact high from the dozens (or hundreds) of convention go-ers who were enjoying the city’s liberal drug policy. For the last twenty years I’ve used Henk’s event as the yardstick by which I’ve measured every other tattoo convention I’ve attended and one by one they’ve all fallen short. The vibe was perfect; casual and energetic with each booth pushing out one amazing tattoo after the other. As the nights wore on people didn’t leave- they’d grab some floor space to sit down with old and new friends to shoot the shit about tattoos, travel, whatever. The tattoo world was considerably smaller then and every person you met had the potential to be a new friend- I still maintain friendships with folks I met that weekend.
Everything lined up perfectly, including an Amsterdam tour date for the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow- which led to one of the more memorable events of the weekend- The Enigma, tattooed head to toe in puzzle pieces- had 22 (or 23?) of the attending artists- from Henk and Horiyoshi III to Bob Vessels and Alex Binnie- fill in some of his open outlines with his trademark blue. At the same time. It took quite a bit of maneuvering to get everyone working together, but the craziness of it fit in perfectly with the gonzo goings on at the show and while I only managed to snap one photo of it (which I didn’t get a chance to scan tonight) I do have it on video. One of these days I’ll get a working 8mm video camera and will get that footage online.
It’s surreal to be able to look back on an event that still seems so fresh in my mind and realize that two decades have passed. I’m happy to be able to share these photos with you folks.
A few weeks ago I made an impulse buy on eBay that ended up reconnecting me with some friends that I hadn’t spoken to in over twenty years; we’ve been emailing back and forth and it inspired me to go through old photo albums to see if I could find any pictures from the last time we all hung out. This little guy here- a sticker given to me by Guy Aitchison in 1992, fell out of one of the photo albums I was flipping through. It’s still perfectly intact after 23 years, a little memento from Guy’s GIP shop in Chicago, IL. I also came across a handful of photos from my appointment with Guy in 92- getting tattooed surrounded by bikers and chaos at Daytona Beach’s annual BIKE WEEK celebration. I’ve dropped them in my scanning queue, really great stuff!
My buddy Scott sent me this link earlier today- a great look into the 1970s UK tattoo scene.
From the description:
A sample from a 1975 film by John Samson Tattoo (1975) – 20 mins.
A documentary film based on the art of tattooing, tattoo artists and their clients, with interviews exploring the fascination for, and the reasons behind choosing to be tattooed. The film builds up to long climatic scene, often since replicated in other films on the subject, featuring tattooed bodies displayed as art objects. Typically, Samson had himself tattooed during the making of the film.
BROOKLYN, NY – Brooklyn tattoo shop Eight of Swords recently announced plans to host a fundraiser benefitting Lakota students from the Wounded Knee District School (WKDS) on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation. The event, called The Warriors’ Fund, is slated for Friday, March 6th at 7:00 PM and will showcase original artwork from over fifty of the country’s top-notch tattooers, including veteran Scott Sylvia of San Francisco’s iconic Black Heart Tattoo, Timothy Hoyer, known for his decidedly non-tattoo style oil paintings, and Justin Weatherholtz from King’s Avenue, one of New York’s best-known shops owned by internationally recognized tattooer Mike Rubendall.
The WKDS serves 134 students ranging from kindergarten through eighth grade. Reservation schools throughout the country are often geographically isolated, contend with a severe lack of funding, and have some of the highest dropout rates in the nation. But one of the most immediate issues facing the students at the WKDS is hunger. While every student qualifies for free meals during school, the need is greater at home.
Newly-appointed principal Alice Phelps has made arrangements with Feeding America in Rapid City for a monthly food distribution for reservation families. Unfortunately, the need at home is more than they can handle. With only a single convenience store on the reservation and the nearest grocery store a staggering 80 miles away, Phelps started a food pantry that she runs out of the school for families that are the most in need. That’s what The Warriors’ Fund is looking to stock.
About the Organizers
The Warriors’ Fund is being organized by Patrick Sullivan, a Brooklyn bar tender, along with tattooers Dave C. Wallin and Betty Rose, Eight of Swords’ owner and manager, respectively. Wallin, a Dallas native, has been tattooing for twenty-three years, with over half of them spent in New York. He opened Eight of Swords in 2011. Betty Rose is a ten year veteran of the business and began working at Eight of Swords in 2013. She has since helped organize previous events and is the creator of LadyTattooers.com, an online community spotlighting women in the tattoo industry.
I don’t have much information on this video; it was shot sometime in the early/mid 1980s at Sailor Sid Diller’s Silver Anchor Tattoo Studio in South Florida. The VHS tape it was captured from was a compilation from Sid labeled 1986, but the footage could have been filmed before that. The artist is credited as J.D. Sid calls him John early on in the video and he mentions being from New Jersey) but otherwise it’s a mystery. If anyone knows more about J.D. please get in touch.
The video was filmed before wearing gloves was standard practice and is presented for archival purposes.
I was pulling over some footage from a 1986 VHS tape from Sailor Sid Diller’s collection today when I found another snippet of a documentary featuring iconic tattoo artist Cliff Raven. I have no information on this documentary; I’ve found several segments of varying quality on older VHS tapes in my archives. I’ve done my best to balance out the sound and picture, but with most of these older videos it’s a bit of a challenge.
A lot of these tapes were compilations; pulling footage from 8mm film, VHS camcorders and copied documentaries shared with other tattoo artists. I’ll continue to add footage as I find it.