Gypsy Gentleman 7: Japan

The Gypsy Gentleman – Episode 07: Japan Pt. I from Marcus Kuhn on Vimeo.

I keep missing these when they hit. I should be better about this kinda thing.
There’s not much I can say about this episode other than: Watch it.

The legendary Horiyoshi III and Shige get the deluxe treatment from Marcus and crew. Possibly my favorite episode to date; not only giving us insight into these living legends but about the intricacies of Japanese culture as well. Such amazing footage.

Krooked Ken: Unedited

Rachel Timmins Interviews Krooked Ken at Black Anchor Tattoo from rachel timmins on Vimeo.

I’m lucky to have talented friends.
One of them, a talented Maryland based artist named Rachel Timmins, interviewed folks active in the Body Modification industry (re: not just tattooers) for a paper in her Masters program and was kind enough to share the unedited footage of the legendary Krooked Ken with us here at OV.

When you watch the video, keep in mind that it was intended for print and isn’t edited. None the less, it’s a fascinating peek into Ken’s world.

Thanks, Rachel!

(if you’re into jewelry- both metal work and textile- check out Rachel’s blog. )

Bob Shaw Interview.

I could sit and read these interviews all day. Another one from the very gracious Jonathan Shaw; this time interviewing the legendary Bob Shaw. Bob (1926-1993) was known as an innovative flash painter and letterer. He had full sleeves from Bert Grimm by the time he was sixteen years old and later went on to run Bert’s shop at the Pike. If you haven’t already read the Col. Todd interview I posted, check it out!

Originally Published in 1993, International Tattoo Art magazine Vol. 1 Number 5.

Bob Shaw: The Life and Times of a Tattoo Hero.

Paul Rogers and Bob Shaw.

This interview was conducted with Bob Shaw, several months before his death, at his Aransas Pass home. His frankness, humor and generosity of spirit are clearly felt through his words and anecdotes. Even at death’s door, he was never too preoccupied to share his all with the tattoo world to which he lovingly dedicated to his life and times.

Jonathan Shaw: Bob, you’ve been tattooing for a long time now, over fifty years, right?

Bob Shaw: Fifty-one years.

JS: Fifty-one years. Thats a long time to be doing anything. How did it all start?

BS: It’s kind of strange, I guess. My father died when I was a kid, and my mother remarried when I was 13, and the fellow she married wasn’t very good at taking care of the family. Everything I did was ass-backwards. My brother two years older than me had left home and went into the city about six months before that, and he invited me there in the summer of 1941.

Jonathan Shaw Interviews: Col. William L. Todd

In the 1990s, Tattooist Jonathan Shaw interviewed an iconic lineup of Tattoo Legends for ITA magazine. With his kind permission, Occult Vibrations is going to be digitizing these must-read interviews.

The first interview is between Jonathan and Col. Todd.
It originally ran in ITA Vol 1. No. 1, 1992.


Back in the early 1970’s, when I first became interested in the mystery of tattoos, tattooing was a closed world, almost a secret society. Most tattooers were very tight-lipped about their secrets, and tattoo supplies weren’t openly available. Col. William L. Todd was working alongside his long-standing partner, Bob Shaw, at Long Beach, in California’s famous Nu-Pike, a sprawling amusement park surrounded by military bases and studded with a dozen tattoo parlors- a very different scene from today’s genteel tattoo/art studio scene. The Pike is an important location in tattoo history, a place where history and tradition came aline for those of us who were fortunate enough to be around the the words, action and technically superior tattooing of guys like Col. Todd.

A tattooer’s tattooer of the old school, Todd is a perfect southern gentleman with a streak of the badass bootcamp drill sergeant. He always ran a tight ship!

Today, the amusement area of the Pikee is gone, paved over by developers in the endless drive for progress. All that remains of the glory days is one lone tattoo shop where the famous Bert Grimm tattooed for so many years.

Jonathan Shaw: We’re at the Bert Grimm Studio, probably the oldest tattoo shop in the country.

Col. Todd: That’s what they say.

JS: Col. Todd, when did you first start tattooing?

CT: I started in 1947. I was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. I’d always been interested in tattooing. I had a couple of officers who were heavily tattooed, one of them having been in the Navy. I was raised on a farm where you didn’t see tattooing unless it was with a carnival or something like that passing through. I went into town in San Antonio, went up and down Houston street, where all the tattooers were, and down toward the end of the street was a circus trailer set up on blocks by itself that said “Tattoo”. It belonged to a gentleman named Jack Tyron. Anyway, Jack told me that he was tattooed all over when he was 16 by Charlie Wagner. He traveled with the circus for years then he bought a commercial lot and the circus trailer and set up shop. It’d be odd to see something like that today.

I went in, and after talking to him I got a little tattoo and asked him about buying a machine. Oh yeah, he said he’d sell me a machine. He started telling me about the mail order places.

JS: Zeis? Was it Zeis back then?

CT: Yeah, Zeis was in business in those days. I didn’t know the connections. I didn’t know how to go about it. It wasn’t as easy in those days. It wasn’t easy to learn, it wasn’t publicized in magazines like today. And the tattoo artists weren’t giving up their secrets. They wouldn’t give you any information.

Interview with Rick Lohm

I started getting tattooed by Rick in 2008. In the few years I’ve known him I’ve been pleased to watch him grow into a tattooer who respects the roots of his craft while maintaining and expanding his own style; reinterpretation instead of reproduction. Rick approaches his profession and clientele with humility and politeness and at the end of the day seems to be dang glad he got a chance to tattoo you. This interview was conducted via a string of back and forth emails in March 2011.

Keep It Secret. Keep it Safe.

Shawn Porter: Hey Rick.

Rick Lohm: Hello Shawn.

SP: Let’s start with introductions; who you are, where you’re from, all that.

RL: My name is Rick Lohm, I’m 24 years old and I’m from Central Square, NY. I currently work at Halo Tattoo in Syracuse, NY.

SP: You just turned 24 recently, right? So you were fairly young when you started tattooing. Did you go through an apprenticeship or did you start out on your own?

RL: Sure did. My birthday was on February 4th.

I got my apprenticeship the summer of 06 at Scarab Body Arts in Syracuse; I had been out of high school for about a year and my ex’s sister dated Jeremiah Clifford who worked there. I was always into art in high school and was getting ready to finally man up and go to school for graphic design. After hanging around Jeremiah for a little bit at the shop I found out that art could be more than drawing an apple with a light source.

I’ve always been interested in tattooing. My brother and I were in bands growing up and I’d seen all sorts of tattoos on people but never really thought it would be something easy to get into.  At the time, the thought of me putting anything permanent onto someone’s skin was a terrible idea.  After meeting Jeremiah I spent most of my time tracing old Sailor Jerry flash and trying to improve on my watercolor skills.

John Joyce (Owner of Scarab) was going away to the APP conference and needed a counter person for the week so they asked me to sit in. After he got back we had a talk about taking me in as an apprentice. John and Jeremiah wanted to take someone in and teach them how to tattoo without them having bad habits already from teaching themselves. So I became their mold.

SP: So were you already getting tattooed at Scarab or was it just the hookup with Jeremiah that brought you in? What kind of art were you doing before the tattoo influence crept in?

RL: Jeremiah really pushed to get me into the shop I don’t think I would of got in if it wasn’t for him. Plus I only had two tattoos at the time and neither were done there. My apprenticeship was basically handed to me on a silver platter. I wish i worked harder to get it, or had cool  “I made a machine out of a toothbrush and sleeved out my brother” story, but that’s all there was to it.

As far as art goes I had a few acrylic and watercolor paintings that were decent from school. Mainly what held my interest before tattooing was graphic design. In high school my  friend Ken and I would make little comics and i would try to make band t-shirts. I made a really sweet children’s book called “Marvin goes to the Mall” about a cave troll that won a ton of scholastic awards. I’m not too sure how happy I would be now if I stayed on that path. Graphic design was the only thing that gave me the artistic freedom I was looking for at the time.


David Bruehl Interview

Originally posted on the NEWS section, this interview was conducted over the course of a month in July 2008 and published in August of the same year. Some of the personal details of David’s life have evolved since the interview.

Practical Magic: The Tattoo Art of David Bruehl:

When I was first introduced to the art of David Bruehl — work with a solid illustration base and easily recognizable style — I immediately thought, “This guy should tattoo.”

Never one to leave it to the whims of fate, I grabbed the bull by the horns and told him as much. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to suggest it. David quickly transitioned from a mild mannered illustration student at the well regarded S.C.A.D. in Savannah to a tattoo apprentice in the heartland of Indiana. Quicker than you could say abracadabra, he was on his way to becoming a skilled, versatile tattooer.



David is now in his seventh year of tattooing with an international reputation for his client-centric process, continues to paint and, most importantly, is the husband to his wonderful wife, Kimmy, and father of two amazing boys, Zeke and Abe.

Shawn Porter: Hey David.

David Bruehl: Hey Shawn.

SP: Let’s do the getting to know you. Where were you born?

DB: I was born in Oklahoma City, OK, on November 7, 1979.

SP: I know you have at least one sister — the hot one that I have a crush on. Any other siblings?

DB: That sister, Sheryn, is technically my half-sister, along with my other half-sister, Treisa. I’ve known them as long as I’ve been alive though, so it’s all the same to me. They’re respectively 11 and ten years older than me. (Irish twins!) I also have a younger full sister, Jessica, who’s two years my junior. I essentially grew up among women; I wasn’t really close with my dad.

SP: What were you like as a child? Typical “artsy dreamer” or more conventional kid?

DB: I always looked at myself as a normal kid, but moving back to Oklahoma has resulted in getting my extended family’s impressions of me as a child. Several cousins have described me as, “the kid reading a science book while everyone else was playing army men.” They all seemed to think I was going to be a scientist until I was around 11 or 12 years old, when I started always carrying a sketchbook.

SP: When did you discover you could draw? Did your family encourage it?

DB: I drew a little Halloween bat when I was about three that everyone made a big deal about — how much it looked like what I was drawing. They gushed over the thing so much, I still retain that memory as my proudest moment as a kid. I think on some level, my need to create seeks to relive that moment.

SP: Were there any other artists in the family?

DB: My grandmother painted and worked as a gallery artist, mostly doing wildlife themes. When I was a child, she would bring me with her to her art association meetings, and as a result, I viewed art as being something one could do as a career from the very beginning. She’s retired herself from painting now, unfortunately. Around the time I started attending art school as an adult, my mom introduced an art program into her school district and works as an art teacher now.