I unapologetically love bio-mech.
It’s been really rad seeing the resurgence of 1990s styled Giger-esque mech in my Instagram feed- with Biomech Collective, curated by Guy Aitchison and Kurt Windish, being the best aggregate account for all things pipe, tube and gear.
This shop flier from Guy Aitchison’s GIP Tattoo Shop dates back to 1991.
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.
Yet another “I miss the 1990s” post.
We have things really good these days; you pick just about any major city and there’s probably a handful of quality tattooists represented. Some of them may have only been at it a few years, but they’ve gotten it down and are Instragramming the hell out of their work building a book of devoted clients. And if their work doesn’t grab you, the four other artists in the shop just might. But in my beloved 90s when magazines took forever to come out (think a three month lag time between when a tattoo was photographed and when it was printed; and that’s if it was even accepted by the editors) and you may have to travel hours just to find the right tattooists… we were lucky. Where I was living at the time (just outside of Tampa) we had it better than most. There was a boom that was the biggest I’ve ever seen in a non-military town- of tattoo shops in the early 1990s that saturated the city with solid work. We had John Hinmelstein, Skip Sampson, Chad Chesko, Wayne Bernard, Annette Larue and a handful of other stellar tattooers who made their name the old fashioned way- by doing great work, not by having the most “likes” on Social Media.
But since OV is technically social media….
I met Wayne Bernard almost 25 years ago. He was working with Himmelstein at a little tiny shop with no flash. They drew every tattoo that came in the door in the heyday of strange tattoo requests. He’s moved along since then- Currently in Southern California- but he’s still doing really solid, strong American tattooing.
Follow him on Instagram here: http://instagram.com/wayne_b
If Cutty Bage- who’s currently tattooing at Speakeasy Tattoo Co. in the glorious State of North Carolina– were a comic book illustrator, she’d be someone you’d wish would transition over to tattooing. Killer lines, bold, graphic and incredibly nerdy subject matter and lettering that would make Todd Klein* blush- Cutty’s work is a comic nerd’s (or scifi nerd. or movie nerd) dream come through. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon her; I think it was a mutual friendship with another toy collector- but I’m sure glad I did. Pop culture blending with tattoo culture to create some fantastically geeky art.
It’s October already?
I spend the entire month ramping up my already ample horror movie intake and reveling in all of the horror and occult themed art shows and offerings the month has to offer. Austin Tattooer Clamore Wolfmeyer is going to be curating an Occult art show later on in the month (see the flier here) so it’s a good time to add his Instagram account to your feed.
I first met John Himmelstein in 1992 in Daytona Beach Florida. I was checking out the shop he was working at on behalf of Guy Aitchison, who had decided to come down and tattoo during Daytona’s chaotic BIKE WEEK celebration. Guy had been invited by the shop’s owner to do the guest spot, but not wanting to go down sight unseen he asked if I’d check the shop out to make sure he wasn’t getting in over his head.
John was working that day, thankfully, and his presence at the shop made me feel comfortable recommending it to Guy. John’s artwork really stood out in the more Biker oriented world of Daytona; almost a quarter of a century later he still stands out; more Tex Avery and Ralph Bakshi than Sailor Jerry or Ed Hardy. He was a major influence on the younger generation of Florida tattooers who came up after him including Mike Wilson who used some of John’s artwork as inspiration on his first flash set.
Visiting John’s apartment was always a trip; going through stack after stack of perfectly lined drawings which each one more crisp than than the last, combing through his epic laser disc collection (laser discs will never die) for the newest and weirdest import…
Strangely, he’s always shied away from social networking. It was a total surprise to see the FOLLOWING notification on Instagram this afternoon from Himmelworks… I didn’t even take the time to finish checking it out before I started this entry.
Mixing two things that I love is always a quick way to get my attention; tattoos and horror especially so. While the majority of my Instagram feed is Pushead toys, Italian Greyhounds and pictures of other people’s dinners, there’s always room to follow a new tattooer. Especially one like Josh Mcalear. Combing through his photos you’re likely to find zombies, Cthulhu, Seventies inspired weirdness and even Mario Bava images.