With the release of Milton H Zeis: Tattooing As You Like It Scott and Kayla of Yellow Beak Press put out what I consider to be, hands down, the best tattoo book of 2012. The project was a fitting tribute to the Zeis legacy; a whopping 300+ page tome featuring reinterpretations of classic tattoo designs by some of the world’s finest tattoo artists side by side with the original Zies flash. But it was much more than that. Scott and Kayla did months of research and traveling, collecting rare Zeis memorabilia and painting a portrait of one of the most influential figures of the 20th century tattoo world.
It was a massive undertaking, and it left me wondering what was next for Yellow Beak Press. How do you top a book like that? How do you match it’s class and it’s elegance?
You don’t. Instead, late last year Scott and Craig Brown of Historic Tattoo hand picked 29 amazing tattooers to take part in the ‘Born Weird’ show at Portland’s Upper Playground gallery. The pitch? Each artist was asked to create four sheets of 14×11 flash that’s weird, gross or just plain bizarre. The artists did not disappoint. I’m going to be completely honest here; I’ve had a sneak peek of the paintings and this stuff is just… odd. Amazingly odd. Confusingly and profoundly odd. Blasphemous, grotesque and most of all funny, each sheet makes you scratch your head (and occasionally… other places) and say, out loud and for the world to hear: What the Fuck did I just see?
The artists channel the spirit of Hardy’s infamous ‘Born Weird’ Devil, but with a lot more genitalia. Classic American Weirdo designs with no shame or need for explanation. There are going to be people who think that the flash designs in this book are untattooable; and they’re probably right. But this stuff is priceless none the less.
The show ran for two months in Portland and now the Yellow Beak gang are getting ready to roll out the preorder for the exhibit catalog, which will be 120 pages long at the original print size of 14×11. It’s only limited to 2000 copies, with the first 200 preorders snagging a limited edition water color print. Like the Zeis book, I doubt these will last long, so keep your eyes peeled for the preorder page over at Yellow Beak Press
. I’m hearing that it should be live on Friday.
John Henry Gloyne
List of Participating Artists:
John Henry Gloyne
Miguel “Uzi” Montgomery
Scott La Rock