Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Credit Where Credit is Due

March 3rd, 2011 by

As far as rivalries go, one of the few true rivalries that seems to exist in Canada is that of Toronto versus the rest of the country.  Travel around Canada a little bit and either mention that you’re from Toronto or that you like Toronto and you’ll undoubtedly be met with more than a few grumbles and/or rolls of the eyes.  Hell, this disdain for all things Toronto even served as the inspiration for the fittingly titled 2007 documentary film Let’s All Hate Toronto.

While I myself don’t hate Toronto and have numerous good friends who live there, I don’t make any apologies for the fact that I think it’s an ugly city, ranking somewhere around the zero mark on my personal 1-10 scale for grading the aesthetics of any given city.  Make of that what you will…

Fortunately for Torontonians, there is no shortage of gifted tattoo artists who are doing their utmost best to make their fair city more beautiful.  Should you need further proof of such a claim, I would recommend checking out this article/interview on nine artists who are worth knowing about in Toronto.

So, there you have it: one Canadian’s perspective on Toronto and their tattoo scene.  Hopefully this will be enough to encourage those of you who’ve never visited Toronto to stop by, check out the city and get a tattoo.  Despite its looks, Toronto actually does have a lot going for it.  Just don’t go in the winter.

In Memory Of

March 2nd, 2011 by

On Sunday I profiled New Zealand tattoo artist Matt Jordan.  In that post, I spoke about the earthquake in Christchurch last week and the tragic consequences that were brought about by the disaster.  I certainly don’t want to give the impression that only tattooists were affected by the quake, but since we are a tattoo blog and since the tattoo community often sticks together through the good and bad, it’s important to acknowledge this tragic loss as well.

Christchurch’s Southern Ink Tattoo was hit too hard by last week’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake.  Tattooist Matt Parkin has just gone outside for a little break in order to write in his journal, when the quake hit.  A client of his, Emma Rox had just come out to talk with him.  They were both forced to flee down an alley as the buildings around them – including Southern Ink Tattoo – collapsed.

‘”I saw Emma following me, the whole back of the buildings along the alley were just falling. Then I looked back and Emma had disappeared in a cloud of dust. I thought ‘she’s gone’ and I had to keep on running.”‘

Tragically, Parkin and Rox were the only two to escape from Southern Ink before it collapsed.  Inside the studio were tattooist Bonnie Singh and Parkin’s apprentice Matti McEachen.  Miraculously, Bonnie Singh managed to climb her way out of the collapsed structure despite her back having been broken in six places. 25-year-old McEachen wasn’t as fortunate and died after being buried beneath the rubble.

‘Once Ms Singh emerged from the rubble, others had arrived and were digging to find Mr McEachen.

“The rubble was just too heavy. They uncovered enough of Matti to know that he hadn’t survived,” said Mr Parkin, who saw his apprentice’s legs and fell to his knees in shock.

“There was no point in digging. I didn’t want to see him, not like that. Just moments before I had rubbed him on the back and complimented him on his shoes … and then bang, he was gone. Just like that.”‘

Remembering McEachen, Matt Parkin’s wife Jak said that McEachen’s favourite saying was identical to the manner in which he lived his life: “The best way to eliminate a negative is to replace it with a positive.”  It will certainly take many positives to ever eliminate the massive negative that this quake has cast upon the lives of Christchurch residents and beyond.  I wanted to send the family and friends of Matti McEachen and all others irreversibly affected by the Christchurch earthquake my sincerest condolences and hopes for a better future.

Paris, Je T’Aime

March 1st, 2011 by

I love Paris.  Sure, loving Paris is hardly a novel concept, but there’s certainly ample reasons as to why one would love it.  For starters and most obviously, it’s beautiful.  Any travel book, brochure or video will clue you in to that much.  Great food, culture, wine, history – it’s all there.  Paris has also always been known as a grand source of inspiration for the arts, in addition to being a city that’s always on the pulse of new and innovative methods for creating art.

That spirit continues on with the opening this past January of the superbly named Horror Picture Tea, located at the end of Paris’ rue St.-Honoré.  Wetting its beak in a variety of different art forms, a customer at Horror Picture Tea can indulge in herbal tea, fine French pastries and desserts, live music, an art gallery and last but certainly not least, an onsite tattoo studio.

‘“This is a first for Paris and maybe the world,” said Guillaume Sanchez, who dreamed up the venue.’

‘“I want to mix luxurious gastronomy and urban style,” he said. “To create an eclectic mash that’s different to anything else around, for the young and out of sync.”’

Though this sort of thing isn’t a first for the world, it is as Sanchez says, a first for Paris.  The fact that other tattoo/cafe/art gallery establishments have popped up around the world in various locations over the past few years highlights that where we get tattooed is changing almost as rapidly as how common it is to be tattooed.

Here’s to the future and to places like Horror Picture Tea!

Tattoos and Energy

February 28th, 2011 by

There aren’t too many things that I can think of that have gained in popularity and continue to gain in popularity over the past few years.  Tattoos certainly make that list, but if I had to name something else that’s grown to an arguably similar extent, it’s the energy drink.  I’m not kidding here, energy drinks have completely blown up over the past few years, making them the drink of choice for hordes of people everywhere who want to feel more energetic, I guess.

No surprises then that both tattoo and energy drinks have now officially merged.  No, I’m not kidding.  Eternal Energy is the latest energy shot on the market and although it’s joining the ranks of what seems like a market filled with a million and one drinks of a similar stripe, a few things set it apart from the others.

For starters, Eternal Energy is “the most powerful energy shot on the market”, with ingredients not regularly found in any other energy shot.  Ingredients like Vitamin C, green tea extract, and grape seed extract.  Next, Eternal Energy was founded and created by tattoo artist Terry “Tramp” Welker and as a result of his connection to the tattoo world, Eternal Energy’s bottles are designed by a selected handful of tattoo artists like Tony CiavarroMyke Chambers and Jack Rudy.

‘Eternal Energy was developed by internationally known tattoo artist Terry “Tramp” Welker, who enlisted the nation’s best labs, bottling and packaging companies to develop the highest quality energy product available. With a desire to present the product with a fresh image, Tramp invited Tony Ciavarro and a cast of today’s hottest tattoo artists to draw up dynamic and colorful tattoo-inspired packaging and design.  The result is a collectible series of powerful high-quality energy shots.’

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  Check out more about Eternal Energy here.

Meet Matt Jordan!

February 27th, 2011 by

It seems somewhat fitting to me that given the nature of this past week’s disastrous earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, that I profile a tattooist who is not only rad at the artwork that he does, but who was also personally affected by another Christchurch earthquake, this one back on the 4th of September, 2010.  That quake registered 7.1 and is believed by seismologists to have lead to this past Tuesday’s devastating 6.3 quake.

It was during the September 4th earthquake that tattooist Matt Jordan’s place of employment, Ink Grave Tattoo was destroyed.  After sifting through the rubble, it was time to rebuild and Ink Grave Tattoo bounced back with a brand new location, even bigger than its predecessor.  As it stands right now, I am uncertain as to whether or not this new incarnation of Ink Grave Tattoo survived Tuesday’s earthquake.

What I do know is that disasters aside (as much as you can put a disaster aside), Matt Jordan has skills.  Matt Jordan is the kind of tattooist whose work doesn’t need a lot of explanation or analysis.  It’s just straightforward, high quality tattoo, and it’s a pleasure to look through his portfolio and see what kind of work he’s done.

It’s also worth mentioning that Matt won the awards for: Best/Realistic Portrait tattoo, Best Black and Grey, Best leg, Best of Day (Saturday), Best of Show and last but not least, Grabaseat Best Artist of Show at the New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival this past November.  So yeah…he’s collected a few awards and represented for his homeland – which incidentally, boasts one of the most tattooed populations in the world.

Anyway, here’s to hoping that Matt and his fellow countrymen and women come back stronger than ever from this past week’s disaster.  All the best to Matt Jordan, everyone at Ink Grave Tattoo and the entire population of New Zealand, from us at Tattoo Blog.

When Bad Equals…Good?

February 24th, 2011 by

If you happen to like quality tattoos done by amazing tattoo artists, then Austin, Texas has got to be in any rational person’s top 5 Best Of list.  I mean, there are tons of unbelievably talented artists in the Austin area as well as first rate tattoo studios.  Which is why tonight’s event at Austin’s Red 7 is not really what you’d expect from such an acclaimed tattoo community.  Or is it?

In more cynical terms, The first annual Worst Tattoo in Austin contest might be seen as simply an opportunity to laugh at people.  Yet somehow, the organisers of this event have managed to keep it focused, professional and above all, fun.  What it all boils down to is a celebration tattoo.  Where any other contest of this stripe might give away a grand prize of tattoo removal, the Austin contest rewards the winner(s) with more tattoos.  Hell yeah!  Says event founder Devon Tincknell:

‘The Worst Tattoo thing is sort of a misnomer, because we’re not really looking for the shittiest tattoo or tattoos that are just uninteresting or bland, because if that’s what we wanted to do we’d just give out prizes to everybody on 6th street that has a tramp stamp or tribal tattoo. What we’re looking for is more indefensively bad tattoos in the hilarious sense – something that is just so regretted or so fucked up that it’s going to keep the person from ever getting a normal job. We want to award those people for making such horribly great decisions.’

Aside from the competition, there will also be bands, drinks, laughs and lots of tattoos.  All for a measly five bucks!  Sounds like good times indeed.

Oscar Helps Tattoo Removal

February 23rd, 2011 by

This weekend, all of Hollywood gets incredibly excited over the dull, predictable spectacle that is the Academy Awards.  Not exactly a tattoo fiesta, but if you’re at all familiar with how the Oscars work, then you’ll know that aside from a lavish evening complete with the possibility of receiving an award, Oscar attendees also take home “goody bags”, absolutely filled with a ridiculous assortment of free goods, aka swag.

This year is something of a first for the Oscar goody bags, as well as the tattoo removal industry.  Maine based corporation Preval Health, the parent company of WreckingBalm Tattoo Removal system, will contribute 100 gift bags – each with a two month supply of WreckingBalm – to the Oscars Gifting Lounge, which will commence tomorrow, Thursday, February 24th.

WreckingBalm® the first in-home FDA approved hand held device for fading or removing unwanted tattoos. Discovered and formulated by two laboratories in over two-and-a-half years with a team of specialists, Doc Wilson has produced a simple process that just takes 3 minutes every other day. This unique system safely combines three technologies and two simple methods of skin exfoliation and removal. The first uses an FDA-approved mechanical hand-held medical device that gently, but effectively, removes the upper layers of the epidermis (outer skin layer). The second step uses a chemical serum that penetrates deep into the underlying lower layers, breaking up the cellular matrix in which the ink pigments are embedded.

“It’s amazing exposure,” says Joan Crocker Social Media Manager, Preval® Health. “We’ll get a picture of the gift bag sent to us so we can use it for our website, PR and marketing. With so many celebrities opting for tattoo removal this seems to be a perfect fit for the gift lounge.”’

Not sure what to make of this, but I do know that given Hollywood’s notoriously fickle approach to life, it probably makes sense to offer celebrities a chance to quietly get rid of their tattoos in the privacy of their own home.  With this step into the world of Hollywood by something tattoo related, can it be long before we go the opposite route and have tattoo artists on hand in the Oscars Gifting Lounge?  I don’t know about you, but I would love to see Steven Spielberg accept an Oscar for Best Picture, complete with a bandage around his neck where he was tattooed only several hours earlier.

Who knows, right?  It’s Hollywood.  Anything can happen.

Get It Out There

February 22nd, 2011 by

Okay, so there’s been a bit of negativity flowing around here this week with all this downer talk of poisonous tattoo inks and what not.  I needed a topic that’s a little more fun and light to talk about today and after a bit of searching around, I found it.

Tattoo Dynamite

This one’s for all you tattoo maniacs out there.  Are there any actual tattoo maniacs out there reading this?  Anyway, if you’re a tattooist who’s responsible for some pretty sick tattoo work – and I mean some pretty sick work that you’d like a chance at immortalising in a book put out by the Big Tattoo Planet website, then I would not delay in sending in a photo of what you’ve got…

The book is called Tattoo Dynamite and although it’s being billed as a bookazine rather than a straight up book, don’t be fooled.  It’s going to be massive and as the heading above the title implies, it will contain: The World’s Greatest Tattoos.  That’s right, they’re the world’s greatest tattoos, not the world’s so-so-ish tattoos, the GREATEST!!  Are you ready for that??

If you’re up for the challenge, then you need to head over to Big Tattoo Planet and get your submission underway.  Tattoo Dynamite is slated to be released early this year.  Get your work out there and show everyone what you’ve got goin’ on.

What’s Up With the Ink?

February 21st, 2011 by

Last week I posted about vegan ink, the cruelty free and perhaps healthier alternative to regular tattoo ink.  Well, despite angering at least one of you with that post, I believe it did brush on the topic of the need to either introduce newer, stricter laws on what is permitted as ingredients in tattoo ink, or to make displaying the ink ingredients on the bottle law.

It’s when I see news such as this from Germany that the ingredients of tattoo ink suddenly starts to become more of a pressing issue with me.  A recent study in Karlsruhe, Germany has discovered that some tattoo inks contain “health damaging substances which can cause cancer.”

‘Chemists in Karlsruhe, Germany, have presented results of a study by the German Chemical and Veterinary investigations office showing that tattoo ink contains health damaging substances which can cause cancer.

One third of the 38 tattoo colours tested contained banned substances, which are dangerous to health. In some cases they even contained substances which are usually found only in car paint.’

How reliable of a study this is remains to be seen, but I think I can speak for most people when I say that Cancer and car paint are two features of tattoo ink that I am not all that excited about.  If this is the sort of study that they are getting in Europe, what about the ink that is used in other parts of the world like North America?  Is it the same?  Better?  Or even worse?  Whatever it is, one thing is for certain: it’s time that laws begin to change and open up much, much wider in order to accommodate the issues surrounding tattoo.

Meet Dawn Grace!

February 20th, 2011 by

If there’s one thing that Chicago tattooist Dawn Grace doesn’t ever have to worry about it’s things to keep her busy and happy if she should ever stop tattooing.  Not that Grace will be stopping her work as a tattooist anytime in the foreseeable future, but the list of things that keep her attention when she’s not tattooing is sizeable indeed.  Yet no matter how many interests that Grace accrues, the common point between her tattooing, travelling, yoga, belly dancing, mosaic art, graphic art and love for scooters is an eye for and appreciation of beauty.  Because as everyone is well aware, every good tattooist needs an appreciation of beauty.

Grace’s tattoo work kind of took me off guard.  I suppose that might be considered a sort of silly thing to say, but it’s true.  When I began looking at her art I don’t think that I was expecting to see her style.  Now that sounds strange, I admit, but what I mean by that is that looking through artists profiles it’s often simple to get caught up in the genre of a tattoo and to have the typical expectations of only what that particular genre is.  Portraits are portraits for example, and we judge them based on how closely they resemble the original image.  With Grace however, the black and grey style that she employs has a slimming effect in that it seems to break down the genre, leaving behind a clear understanding of Grace’s personal style.  The fact that it’s black and grey didn’t enter the equation for me and although my first instinct was to compare Grace’s black and grey to the work of other tattooists black and grey, I quickly got over it.

Instead, I was drawn to the images and the way that Dawn interprets them.  The work is as smooth and straightforward as a pencil sketch, though it certainly isn’t simple.  There’s a calmness to this work just as there seems to be a calmness to Grace’s life, even amongst the understandably hectic creative-smorgasbord that fills up her days.

Dawn Grace tattoos by appointment only at Chicago’s Tattoo Factory.

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