OVxAMS953: The Enigma versus 22 Tattoo Artists

The third and final Amsterdam Tattoo Convention 1995 clip; this one is the roughest with a little more shaky camera than I’m happy with, but ultimately a pretty fun little video. The sound has been removed due to copyrighted music in the background, so enjoy the silence.

I don’t have a complete list of the artists who tattooed Enigma- offhand I spotted:

  • Alex Binnie
  • Horiyoshi 3
  • Permanent Mark
  • Bob Vessels
  • Crazy Ace Daniels
  • Timothy Hoyer (?)

I’m sure Henk made a full list, but….

Creative Mornings w/ Freddy Corbin

Freddy Corbin.
Pretty much any time Freddy sits down to talk about tattooing (or hell, about anything) it’s probably a good idea to drop whatever you’re doing and listen. His arc on Vice’s TATTOO AGE should be required viewing for anyone interested in tattoo culture, his talk with Scott Sylvia on Last Sparrow a great companion chapter.

The folks at Creative Mornings Oakland invited Freddy to talk a little about the tattoo scene and his place in it. Very much worth checking out.

Source: http://creativemornings.com/cities/oak

OVXAMS95: Amsterdam Tattoo Convention 1995 Video Part 2

This excerpt from the 1995 Amsterdam Tattoo Convention video features Paul Booth, Filip Leu, Mike Wilson, Nalla Smith, Joseph Ari Aloi, Chris Trevino, Paul King, Xed Le Head, Alex Binnie, Curly and Juan Puente.

No audio on this one.

There’s still a little more footage from the convention that needs to be finished up, but it’s really shaky and taking a lot of work to make it usable. Fingers crossed.

OVxAMS95: Amsterdam Tattoo Convention Video 1995 Part 1

It’s only taken me 242 months to get the video footage I shot at the 1995 Amsterdam Tattoo Convention digitized and uploaded. That’s a little longer than it takes me to accomplish most of the things in my day-planner, but not by much.

This first clip features Horiyoshi III and family.

I filmed this when I was twenty years old on an 8mm video camera without really knowing how to use it; twenty years later I did my best to take the little clips I shot and put them together into something watchable.

Stay tuned for parts two & three.

Everlasting Jobstoppers in the Age of Entitlement


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.

Amsterdam Tattoo Convention 1995


Twenty years ago today my brother Robert (who took the majority of these photos on honest to goodness 35mm film) and I 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.