A conversation with Jacob Des.
July/August 2016, conducted via email.
In December of 2014 I was asked to make a list for Swallows and Daggers of five tattooists to watch in the coming year. Three of the five were old friends, folks who I’d been tattooed by for more than half of my life and the fourth was some skinny kid from Ohio who I’d only met once. Without a second thought, I called him one of my five favorite working tattooers.
Jacob Des. (Instagram: @jacobdes Truth and Triumph Tattoo Dayton, OH)
Jacob’s art is unapologetically strange; traditional American style tattooing meets 1950s advertising art with a very large portion of ‘what the hell am I looking at’ thrown in. I’m not sure if he’s even concerned with challenging what’s acceptable for ‘tattoo imagery’ so much as he’s confidently doing his own thing without concern for uniformity. One of my top five favorite working tattoo artists.
In July of 2016, Des and I decided to forgo a standard formatted “Q&A” interview and instead chose to just chat back and forth until BEST INTENTIONS editor Ash told us we’d hit our deadline, eschewing anything resembling cohesiveness in favor of mindless rambling. (more…)
The incomparable Paul Sayce spent some time chatting with Alex Binnie at this year’s London Tattoo Convention; the history of Into You, memories of Mr. Sebastian and more. If you don’t already subscribe to Paul’s channel– treat yourself.
Scott from Yellowbeak pointed me in the direction of this great video of Chuck Eldridge/Tattoo Archive from the folks at Paint & Paper Films. It’s always a treat to hear Chuck talking about tattoo history; particularly the history of North Carolina tattooing.
AotD: Completely! And that’s really fucked up. I don’t know why it’s different and even I’m on the younger side of why I should feel that it’s different. It just is. I can’t really explain it to you. Tattooing is not like the other things. It’s separate. It’s different. And it’s not to be lumped in with the other ways you can express yourself. I don’t want it to be that. Yes, I do other stuff artistically as well as tattooing. I paint a lot. I draw. I knit shit like I’m doing right now. I ineptly and ham-handedly make things out of textiles. I’m not really good at it, but I enjoy it, but ultimately I’m a tattooer and the other things are sidelines for me. It’s just peculiar to think- I just can’t imagine that people would tattoo and do other stuff and that tattooing would come in second. I just don’t understand how that works. ~excerpt from my interview with Alice of the Dead.
Issue number four of Atonement Books BEST INTENTIONS is now available! My contribution to this issue is a whopper of an interview with Alice of the Dead, but there’s a lot of really amazing content that’s worth checking out.
230 pages (twice as thick as before) full colour tattoo magazine including interviews from –
Dan Sin on shunga
Artwork and tattoos by –
Studio visits –
Big Trouble Tattoo San Diego
Purple Sun Tattoo Brussels
Cover by Alex Renke.
*****Please note: to calculate shipping in Europe please select Germany******
When it comes to the old prints in my archives, some, particularly the ones that came from sources other than the ones who donated them to me, come with very little context or information. I try to use due diligence to put the pieces together, emailing tattoo friends from the old days who might be able to fill in the blanks with a name, location or time period, but even those connections are starting come fewer and further between.
Three of the four photos in this update, for example, came with no context other than a few familiar faces and (not pictured) a photograph that featured a button noting it’s wearer was at a tattoo convention in Knoxville, TN. Recognizing my friend JD in one of the prints I sent off an email and found that it was the 1986 Knoxville Convention. He was able to put names to faces in a group photo (not pictured) and add some personal stories about the gents in it. History is a communal effort.
Large photo: Unknown.
Top Right: JD. Knoxville 1986
Middle Right: Randy Adams, Knoxville 1986
Bottom Right: Shotsie Gorman, Knoxville 1986
In the late 1980s/early 1990s, Charles Gatewood’s FLASH VIDEO label was responsible for a series of documentaries focusing on subcultures that, at the time, rarely had any uncensored media attention. Charles, with his camera in tow and anthropology degree on his wall, could have easily been another predatory voyeur who set his sights on outlaw communities- bikers, S/m clubs, body modification- to return to the safety of academia or the art world with impersonal artifacts from his perceived slumming. But Gatewood was, at heart, an outlaw himself. Having collaborated on books with William Burroughs and Spider Webb, Charles had a genuine love for fringe groups he met with in his photos and Flash documentaries, which unfortunately never made it en masse into the digital age.
I’ve been archiving and cleaning up select titles from my archives- most of which aren’t really appropriate for Occult Vibrations- but this clip from his ‘Erotic Tattooing and Body Piercing Vol 5’ VHS fits perfectly. Charles, at the Meadowlands tattoo convention in the early 1990s, speaks to (then) SF resident Avery Badenhop who shows off his mind-blowing full head tattoo by Tattoo City’s Daniel Higgs, as well as work from Bill Salmon, Greg Kulz and Filip Leu.