Painting

Alice through the Looking Glass

The amount of time I spend on tumblr, caught in a web that takes me deeper and deeper with every click listening to SLEEP, OM, ALL OF THEM WITCHES and THE COSMIC DEAD is probably something I shouldn’t be proud of; Tumblr is the land of the outraged, of the exhibitionistic and of the omnipresent ‘funny ‘cat video. It’s also usually the first spot where I see the latest paintings from my friend Alice, who last appeared on Occult Vibrations in December of 2015: Alice and the Tower. 

Her most recent work has been trending to the psychedelic; mashups of mushrooms and Scyphozoa and skulls- Psilocybiology would probably be a good word for it, with each new painting looking like it came out of an 1800s zoology folio curated by Timothy Leary. Truly inspiring vision.

Alice is currently on the road- her adventures (as well as appointment information) can be found on her tumblr page: http://aliceofthedeadtattoo.tumblr.com/

Alice and the Tower

The tower: sudden, violent and catastrophic change. Breakdown of old structures, chaos. Planet: Mars. Colour: red. Herb: garlic. Rune: hagalaz. Numbers: 7 and 16.

Over the last several weeks I’ve been keeping tabs on the Tower series that my friend Alice (Of Divine Canvas, London) has been dropping on her Tumblr- limited to black, red and gold on paper, inspired by Sonic Youth, Bad Brains, The Rider-Waite, Marseilles and Thoth tarot decks and other more personal semiotics, each one is an amazing variation on the theme.

She’s finally completed the series of 16 and has graciously allowed me to share them here on OV- take a look at her website for more.

12289618_10153290112181274_6042002186620326600_nhttp://aliceofthedeadtattoo.tumblr.com/

Worst Zine Ever

7ccca86eb19a11e3b14a12e478479d96_8
I think it was somewhere around 2000 or 2001 that I visited my friend Skip Sampson in Ybor City, Florida and had a little Mr. Burns head tattooed on my knee along with my brother and our friend Mike. The idea- a riff on the classic Sailor Jerry POISON girl, featured C. Montgomery with crossedbones and was originally going to have POINTLESS under it. My other two bro-tat wearers decided they didn’t want the lettering and just like that, the classic tattoo overtones drifted away.

1515670_1415131222062686_1767480264_nOur friend Ash Davies, who was previously featured on OV back in April of 2013, just put out a new 60(ish) page ‘Zine that would do that POINTLESS idea proud. Titled WORST ZINE EVER, it collects some of his best renditions of our favorite Springfield residents (along with art by Billy Hay, Brad T, Gavin Rose, Fil, Mark Ford, Marcus McGuire, Marcos Attlewood, Nick Baldwin and Swambo) with just enough whatthefuck to appeal to us here at Occult Vibrations.

You can check it out on his web store at http://ashmadethese.bigcartel.com/product/worst-zine-ever-pre-order, or check out his Instagram feed here.

Make sure to tell him OV sent you!

Occult Vibrations Book Shelf: LOST LOVE

1466272_10202668061690758_1982099923_n

Bob Collins

Things go in cycles.
Back in they glory days of the 1990s, before large publishing houses realized that there was money to be made by mass producing generic tattoo books, we had it good. The books that were available pretty much fell into three basic categories:

Independent Press.
Scholastic./Medical.
Art Books.

1579927_10203135474375783_1196755382_nWhile clearly for profit, these books were niche sellers, made for a specific demographic (though in the case of Scholastic or Medical texts, often a shared one) who generally had to seek them out. I spent almost every Saturday during those years driving to Ybor City to check out the new pickups at Cindy Wheeler’s Three Bird’s bookstore; a one-stop-shop for zines, cult authors and tattoo books. The majority of my Hardy Marks collection came from those visits; Rocks of Ages, Forever Yes, Pierced Hearts and True Love… the best of the tattoos books were put out by and for tattooed people.

Things changed. Things always change. Someone realized that books on tattoos- culled from stock photos with a hack-for-hire to churn out ‘expert’ text illustrating biomechanical, tribal or newschool tattoos for casual readers in middle America- were a guaranteed seller. You went from Permanent Curios to The TOTAL Tattoo Book! overnight.

For a while it was absolutely possible, with due diligence, to track down and purchase almost every commercially released tattoo book available, and what’s more,  most were good. Better than good really. Some transcended and became iconic. Then things went a little crazy, with books by authors or photographers you never heard of flooding retailer shelves, each more bland then the one before it. The soul was gone.

After the mass production/consumption phase, we were in a black hole. Hardy wasn’t releasing books with any regularity. The internet became a depository for a quick fix (after all- photos could be uploaded real time from conventions and shops the world over; no more waiting for the latest issue of Tattoo Revue or Hardy compilation to be released) and things got stale.

Lost Love preview.

Lost Love preview.

The cycle thankfully started to shift back in our favor a few years ago when tattooers began investigating the self publishing world, and thanks to online retail, were able to skip the middleman and find a global audience hungry for content. Dave Fox’s HAUNTED, Grime’s TWO YEAR AUTOPSY and a handful of others became instant classics and started a wave that we’re now fully enjoying.

For my money, the best and brightest in this new generation of tattoo publishing has to be Yellow Beak Press. Started by tattoo collectors Scott Boyer and Kayla Grosneth, YBP burst onto the scene with 2012’s mammoth undertaking ‘Tattooing as you like it: The Legacy of Milton Zeis.” The book was an instant success; Boyer and Grosneth not only researching the life and times of Milt but also gathering 95 of the world’s top tattooers to reinterpret classic Zeis designs.

They followed it up with my personal favorite Yellow Beak offering, 2013’s ‘Born Weird’, a companion book to the art show of the same name with 29 amazing tattooers contributing disturbing, vile, prurient tattoo flash for a no holes barred adult audience. It remains my most recommended tattoo book that was released in 2013 though I admit given it’s lower than lowbrow designs it has a hard time ingratiating itself to casual readers.

1477700_10202668090211471_567420024_nFor 2014 they’ve taken another look into the past with ‘Lost Love’,  collecting (some for the first time) classic tattoo flash by  icons like Cap Coleman, Sailor Jerry Collins, Stoney St. Clair, Percy Water,Owen Jensen, Bob Shaw,  Zeis Studios and more. The pages lovingly highlight the roots of European/American tattoo designs that we all but take for granted today; dice, cards, snakes, panthers, Girl heads, Skunks and Ducks, Hotstuffs and Horses… 260 pages packed with designs that are as “ancient as time, as modern as tomorrow.” Scott and Kayla present the flash sheets along with archival photos, newspaper clippings and ephemera that influenced what went on to be classic designs and very little in the way of text. These images speak for themselves and will undoubtable influence a whole new generation of artists.

With more and more publishing being done digitally and Kindle and iBook editions starting to take market share, it’s nice to see a small publishing house stick to tradition and release honest to goodness print books, particularly when it comes to tattoo culture. With their third book they’ve proven themselves to be committed to properly documenting the best of tattooing’s past, as well as the brightest of it’s future. 

You can purchase Lost Love directly from Yellow Beak Press.

Higgsey Mouse- Jake Arnette

881fd50850a411e3ae740ea73095e8aa_8Daniel Higgs mashups aren’t new to OV- a few months ago we shared Ron Henry Wells doing an amazing Higgs-on-Higgs design, but this one is a little more lighthearted. Jake Arnette, the artist behind it, calls it ‘Higgsey Mouse’ and features Walt’s favorite son as the infamouse Higgs Druid. For some reason it struck me funny. If you want to follow him on Instagram: http://instagram.com/jakearnettetattooer

Were you BORN WEIRD?

scott larock

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?
Nick Filth

Nick Filth

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?
rassier
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.Joachim

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

John Henry Gloyne

List of Participating Artists:
Aaron Coleman
Adam Craven
Adam Warmerdam
Andrew Stickler
Andy Campoy
Bart Bingham
Bradley Delay
Craig Brown
Danny Reed
Erik Gillespie
Ezra Haidet
Jeff Rassier
Jeremy Joachim
Jesse Bob
Jesse Gordon
John Henry Gloyne
Josh Howard
Justin Wheeler
Luis Campos
Matthew Welch
Matt Ziolko
Miguel “Uzi” Montgomery
Murray Sell
Nick Filth
Scott La Rock
Sean O’Neill
Shawn Mcdonald
Tim Lehi
Zach Shereck

Bart Bingham

Bart Bingham

Aaron Coleman

Aaron Coleman

Tattooers on Instagram: Chad Chesko

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 7.14.15 PM

 

I spent the evening in Boston last night talking to my old friend Chad Chesko- a tattooer I was lucky enough to meet almost 20 years ago shortly after he started tattooing and who I’ve been pleased to watch grow into a DAMN fine painter and tattooer. We geeked out talking about the old days. people we’ve been tattooed by, pieces he’s done and would like to do… a fitting conversation since I was sort of dreading getting tattooed next Tuesday- he pumped me up and reminded me why we sit through the pain.

His Instagram can be found here: http://instagram.com/chadchesko