Folk Art

Lost Love Preorder is now live!

Preorders are now life for Yellow Beak Press’s Valentines 2014 offering LOST LOVE and as with previous YBP offerings they’ve released a really rad promo video that features some of the kickass vintage flash content that will be in the book.


Flash by Bob Collins

I was chatting with Yellow Beak Press’s Scott Boyer today and he turned me on to the work of Bob Collins, who I’m really interested in finding out more about. Scott’s contributions to documenting tattoo culture are stacking up faster than Royboy’s speedboats; the Zeis book was an instant classic and Born Weird may be my favorite recent tattoo book… so I can only expect Lost Love to be another must have title.

Bob Collins

Bob Collins

The 9″x12″ hardcover clocks in at 200 pages, and features work by Cap Coleman, Paul Rogers, Sailor Jerry, Stoney St Clair, Percy Waters, Milton Zeis, and many more.

As has become tradition, YPB is going to include a screenprint with the first 200 orders, so get em in early to make sure you score!
Preordering is live, so swing by Yellow Beak Press to order.

LOST LOVE: Coming 2014



Do you folks remember that time that Yellow Beak Press put out two of the best tattoo books in recent memory?
2012 saw the release of the mammoth tome chronicling the life and times of Milton Zeis; tracing his roots, reprinting classic supply ads and featuring Zeis supply original flash sheets side by side with repaints by 95 of the world’s best tattooers while 2013 gave us Born Weird- a collection of truly trashy, offensive, subversive and downright hilarious 11×14 sheets supplied by a host of demented souls who should be sorry for what they unleashed onto the world.

Scott of Yellow Beak has announced 2014’s project: LOST LOVE, a 9×12 book featuring classic flash, stencils, sketches and photos from Cap Coleman, Paul Rogers, Sailor Jerry, Stoney St Clair, Duke Kaufman and many more.  Folow the book’s progress instagram @lostlovebook

Yellow Beak has set a high standard for tattoo publications, and I’m very excited to see what comes next!

DeVita Popup Gallery Photos, Gallery 1

Thom on stoop 2

Thom DeVita

It’s really great when an artist you respect finally gets his due. Thom DeVita has been one of the most unique American tattooers his entire career, redefining the art and including his personal aesthetic more distinctly than just about anyone that I can think of, a folk style of art that is at odds with what is considered ‘cutting edge’  or special effects tattooing.

Ed Hardy shined the spotlight on him in Tattoo Time V (which you can find as part of a reprint package here. It’s indispensable) which did a lot to expose his ‘outsider’ art to a new generation of young tattoo artists, but it was the release of the five part VICETV Tattoo Age (again: here. Watch it and come back, we’ll be waiting)  that will, when all of the cards are dealt, hopefully establish him as an artist who’s work transcends the medium. I’ve heard it said that DeVita always just called himself an artist, not a tattoo artist, and with the public finally embracing (and one might even say consuming) tattoo art as a legitimate medium I can only hope that Thom’s work will get the attention it truly deserves.

Chris Grosso, the producer of the Tattoo Age series, and Mike Rubendall of King’s Avenue Tattoo, set up a DeVita popup gallery a few weeks ago to help Thom’s art get out into the world. The walls of King’s Ave were covered with his distinctly DeVita work; mashups of acetate tattoo stencil rubbings, scrolls…  all as interesting as the fella who created them.  Dan Meyer and Bernardo Garcia snapped the following photos and I’m pleased as punch to be sharing them with y’all. Daniel Higgs, Civ, Nick Bubash are featured in the ones that are going up today, but check back soon- I’ve also got some really great shots of some of Thom’s most recent work.

Thanks to Chris and Mike for setting all this up, and of course to Thom, for everything else!


Daniel Higgs and Thom DeVita

Thom + Nick 3

Thom DeVita and Nick Bubash


Thom DeVita and Daniel Higgs

Close Up Jesus

Recent DeVita work, King’s Avenue Tattoo


Civ, Thom and Nick

DeVita at King’s Avenue

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An hour and a half bus ride and I could have been in NYC, camera in hand, for the DeVita Popup Gallery at King’s Avenue Tattoo. I would have ended up talking to people I knew, meeting new folks and, in the long run, wouldn’t have taken a single photograph. Still. It would have been fun to be there. Luckily for me, and for Occult Vibrations, my sister Kathleen and her husband Atom (who’s a dang fine photographer) live in NYC and were able to snap a few pictures for us. Not quite the same as being there, but ultimately, pretty darn good.  From what I hear it was really well attended; people bought some really great original art from Thom, got tattooed with DeVita flash by Scott Harrison (and others) and the event was a great success, which will really help Thom out.

If you haven’t watched the DeVita episodes of Tattoo Age, you can do that here.



Special thanks to Atom and Kathleen for the pictures; if you attended the Popup Gallery and grabbed any pics that you’d like to share with us, contact me via


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.