John Himmelstein

Traditional Tech

Instagram @himmelworks

Instagram @himmelworks

I’ve already seen the hashtag #nophotoshop popping up on my social networking feeds, with tattooers drawing a line in the sand between traditional drawing techniques and computer aided drawing. In the right hands it can be a valuable tool; Thomas Hooper used Photoshop to quickly lay out the mandala design he put on my fingers, Guy Aitchison and his ‘bio-mech collective’ participants make use of Wacom tablets and 3D modeling for laying out complicated drawings and light sources. In the wrong hands it can turn tattooing into graphic design and breed a generation of tattooists who know more about fonts and kerning than they do hand lettering.

It’s potential for abuse shouldn’t automatically mean it’s bad. Time will tell.

That has absolutely nothing to do with this 3D model of a Mike Wilson painting by his old co-worker John Himmelstein. John has been interested in computer animation/drawing since the 1990s and is bridging the gap between 2D illustration and fully three dimensional models. As 3D printing becomes more affordable, ‘studies’ like this could help artists with more realistic drawings and light sources.

It’s also pretty damn cool.

(Personal anecdote: John drew the original design for my Wilson backpiece. Mike was having a hard time conceptualizing what I wanted, so John did a quick sketch to help lay everything out. The two worked together in the early 1990s in Daytona Beach.)

Tattooers on Instagram: John H.

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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.

If you’d like to follow John- and you should- his Instagram is: