Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Orlando’s Stigma

February 2nd, 2011 by

I’ve never been to Florida.  I will go one day, but it’s the winter in particular when the urge to go some place warm really kicks it up a notch.  Sure, the weather is fine in Florida and you can spend some quality time at some great beaches.  You can also visit the home of a zillion dollar mouse and most recently the Harry Potter theme park.  But if you’re more interested in what’s going on tattoo-wise in Florida than what theme park is up and running or what beach is getting the best surf, then maybe a trip to Orlando’s Stigma Custom Tattoos and Body Piercing is right up your alley.

Judging from the info that I’ve checked out regarding Stigma, it’s something of a theme park in its own right.  I mean that in all the best possible ways, of course.  Not only can you go there and get tattooed by Stigma owner Welsy, tattooist Gamy, or pierced by Michele Renee, but you can also pop into the onsite bar and get yourself a $2 can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, if you so desire.  Not into drinking?  Well, how about a pole dancing class?  Stigma offers pole dancing classes on one of their six poles.  Six poles!  They’ve got six poles in this place!  Also cages and chains!  When the pole dancing classes aren’t being held, there are also professional pole dancers keeping things lively.  Oh yeah, and Wednesdays are beer pong nights.

This is the kind of studio that has its good and bad points.  On one hand, the pole dancing, chains, cages and the onsite bar – I mean, it’s all a little much.  In a time when tattoo is trying to somewhat shake its sleazy reputation (however unjust that reputation may be), a place like Stigma can perhaps only add fuel to the fire to the argument that tattoos are crass and grungy.

Yet on the flip-side, I think that it’s pretty cool to see tattoo studios taking risks and doing something different with the environments that they exist in.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if 5 years from now tattoo studios become more of a place where people can go to relax and hang out as well as get a tattoo if they so desire.  It’s a way of making things more accessible, I suppose and that’s a pretty positive evolution in the grand scheme of things.

Sponsor A Playmate

February 1st, 2011 by

Yesterday I wrote about two great tattooists setting up a fundraiser for a children’s hospital.  Well, today I’ve got more news of tattoos and charity, but this time the person raising the funds isn’t a tattoo artist or a child, but rather a European Playboy Playmate.

Somehow the words European Playboy Playmate just seem to immediately command attention, so I’m guessing that at this point quite a lot of you reading this are interested.  That’s good.  Yep, a European Playboy Playmate by the name of Ann French is taking on some fundraising duties for the GBS Support Group.  Chances are that you haven’t heard of GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) as it isn’t widely known, but having had her grandfather die of GBS made French decide that she wanted to use her profile and beauty to help educate others about the disease and work toward a cure.  GBS is a disease which affects a person’s peripheral nervous system, leading to complete paralysis.

French’s plan?  Well, the already tattooed Playmate is taking donations from those willing to sponsor her as she gets the logo for the GBS Support Group – which is a turtle – tattooed on to her leg.

‘”I love tattoos, they’re all pieces of art and I have always wanted to get as many as I could, but that isn’t something that matches the clean-cut image of the commercial model.  I wanted to do what I wanted to my body, and the two just didn’t go hand in hand, which is where the glamour came in.”‘           – Ann French

Those of you who want to help Ann out in her quest to eradicate GBS can do so by visiting either Ann’s website or the Just Giving website.

For the Kids

January 31st, 2011 by

If you help out a tattooist or two, you never know what will happen in return.  One thing I think we can all agree on is that good things will happen and it doesn’t matter if it’s in the USA or Japan or in this particular case, England.  Good people are good people.

Tattoo artist Paul Humphreys with baby son Presley-Ray

Last month, tattooists Paul and Carla Humphries of Oxford, England welcomed the arrival of their baby son, Presley-Ray.  Though the baby was born perfectly healthy, two days after the Humphries returned home from the hospital, little Presley-Ray began vomiting and had to be rushed back to the hospital.  It turned out that the baby had been born with a twisted bowel, which cut off the blood flow to his intestine.  Thanks to the early detection and a three hour operation, Presley-Ray pulled through and is currently doing fine.

‘Just 20 minutes into the three-hour operation, the couple got the news that Presley-Ray would be okay.

Mr Humphreys said: “It was the biggest relief in the world.

“They caught it just in time, operated straight away and everyone was brilliant.

“We were told as he gets older, he should be made aware of the fact that he had the operation, but he does not have to be on a special diet or anything.

“He’s doing everything a baby should be doing: eating, crying, waking up every two hours, and keeping us all up.”

The proud dad has pledged to get a tattoo of Presley-Ray when he is two.’

Normally in most cases, that would be the end of the story.  But Presley-Ray’s parents are tattoo artists and happen to own their own studio, Evolution Tattoo.  Wanting to do something in return for the great doctors and nurses who helped their family and wanting to help the hospital so that other families would receive similar great care if and when they needed it, The Humphries have decided to stage a fundraiser for the Oxford Children’s Hospital.

The fundraiser will take place on February 27th at Evolution Tattoo and will include an auction, music, children’ activities and of course, plenty of tattooing.  If you live in the area and are looking for a fun and worthwhile event, the Humphries tattoo fundraiser might just be it.  All the best to Paula, Carla and Presley-Ray.

Meet Mike Devries!

January 30th, 2011 by

Unfortunately, it’s taken me this long to getting around to talking about Mike Devries.  A while back I mentioned him and even linked to his site in this post, when I was talking about the do’s and don’ts of operating your own website as a tattooist.  Well, aside from having a picture perfect website, Mike Devries also does picture perfect work.  There aren’t too many artists whose websites that I would repeatedly plug on the Tattoo Blog.  Not because I don’t think there are enough good artists out there, but rather because there are so many great artists working that I want to get to as many of them as I can.

All that being said, Mike Devries certainly deserves the attention.  His colour realism tattoo work kicks the crap out of me.  I mean it.  This stuff just destroys me every time that I look at it.  I can hardly believe that his work can be so clean and clear and just plain alive.  His fascination with tattoos began at age 16 after receiving his very first tattoo.  For a while however, it didn’t seem as though Devries would pursue tattooing as a career.  Although he was repeatedly drawn back to various tattoo studios to get work done and although he maintained a fascination with the art form, it was construction work that put food on his table.

Things stayed this way until 2003.  While being tattooed by his friend Jim Hayek, Devries managed to land an apprenticeship in exchange for some construction work.  And so began the tattoo career of Mike Devries.  By 2008 after working at Art Junkies Tattoo in Hesperia, California, Devries opened up MD Tattoo in Northridge, California, where he’s been ever since.

I know that every time I do an artist profile, I say how amazing the chosen tattooist’s work is.  Well, all of that is always true.  I honestly respect and enjoy the work of the artists that I profile.  But there are a few artists who come along once in a while that I can’t help but think of as being on a totally different level artistically.  Mike Devries is certainly one of them.  No sane person can deny that what they see in Mike’s work is anything short of perfection.  Stylistically, he’s truly one of a kind and understandably deserving of the praise he continues to receive worldwide.

I must have him tattoo me.

Mane Concern

January 27th, 2011 by

Regrets…I’ve had a few…

Hey, who hasn’t had regrets at one point or another in their life?  I guess it’s only natural.  Yet somehow, it seems like there are certain people who shouldn’t have regrets when it comes to their careers and the work that they do.  Doctors, lawyers, guys who work at bungee jump places and believe it or not, tattoo artists.

This is all of course, just a matter of my opinion.  I do think that however, that a tattoo artist should always be in control of their environment as well as how they operate within that environment.  I have much respect for tattooists who don’t take any shit, tattooists who once you’ve stepped into their world are for the most part, calling the shots.  Sure, a tattooist is responsible for tattooing what the customer wants, where the customer wants, when the customer wants.  But what about the case of rapper Gucci Mane, who last week had an ice cream cone tattoo done on his right cheek?  Mane has obvious mental health issues, having been released from a mental health institute just before getting his latest tattoo from Atlanta based tattooist Shane Willoughby at Willoughby’s Tenth Street Tattoo.  Is this irresponsible work on the part of Willoughby?

Look, I’m not trying to point fingers or suggest that Willoughby is a bad tattooist.  I’m just trying to understand where the line should be drawn when it comes to tattooing.  I’ve known tattooists who will tattoo anything on anyone, even if they’re drunk.  At the same time, I’ve known others who won’t tattoo anyone who has been drinking.  Is one more responsible than the other or is it simply a different manner of working?

‘”I was [hesitant] like ‘Are you sure you want to put that much [ink] in that area?,’” said Willoughby. “He came straight to the counter and that’s where he pointed.” The artist also assured people Gucci was sober. ”I won’t tattoo anybody if their [drunk] or high because I can’t stand the smell of weed… [Gucci] seemed completely sober. He knew what he was doing.”‘

Despite believing that Mane was sober, is that enough?  I think there’s a difference between knowing what a customer wants and giving it to them and giving a mentally ill customer a tattoo.  Is there the possibility that Willoughby gave Mane his ice cream tattoo because of Mane’s celebrity status?  Perhaps.  But in the end, I do believe that Willoughby was just trying to do his job.  Unfortunately, I also believe that he made the wrong call when he agreed to do Mane’s tattoo.

Should tattooists take more accountability for the tattoo work they do?  Normally I would say no, that it’s up to the customer and entirely the customer’s responsibility.  Yet when the mental status of the customer is questionable, I think that an artist has a certain moral responsibility to uphold.

‘Many readers questioned if Mane will regret this tattoo down the line, he certainly didn’t immediately after. “He was stoked. Had no regrets… was jumping up and down. That’s the way he rolls,” said the Tenth Street Tattoo owner. ”I don’t think I’ll ever do [that] again… no matter how successful [the celebrity],” he added.’

The Power of Tattoo

January 26th, 2011 by

There will never be an end to the opportunities that tattoos can present.  Some of these opportunities are good and some are, well…not so good.  But when all is said and done, as long as tattoo retains the popularity that it has gained over the last few years, there will always be an unlimited range of possibilities.  I think that any smart or clever celebrity knows exactly how to wield tattoos in their favour as well.  Take a look at the news on any given day of the week and you most likely will find something about this or that celebrity who has just acquired their most recent tattoo.  The media love it and the celebrities themselves can’t get enough of the attention and press that a new tattoo presents them with.

Unsurprisingly enough, the world of the internet matched with the promise of a tattoo can bring an additional wealth of attention to a celebrity.  At least that’s something that UK based, Sri Lanka born musician M.I.A plainly recognises.  This past year saw the release of M.I.A.’s third album, MAYA.  The album, which dealt with issues of government repression and Western society’s apathy as a result of its technological achievements, was panned by most critics as well as many of M.I.A.’s own fans.

After what amounted to something of a rough summer for M.I.A., she has switched things around in 2011 and is instead using the evil internet for her own personal gains.  This time, she’s promised that if 200,000 fans join her on her Twitter page, she’ll get Born Free tattooed on to her fingers.  Born Free was the title of the first single from MAYA (and arguably the best on the album) and it was only once a fan sent M.I.A. a photo of herself with the Born Free tattoo on her own fingers that M.I.A. decided that she wanted the same thing.

It’s funny to think that an artist would be capitalising on the success of another form of art in order to increase their own profile.  I mean really, people aren’t going to be joining M.I.A.’s Twitter page because they love her music, they’ll be joining because they want to see her get a tattoo.  If you really want to be cynical and critical about it, the entire thing has nothing to do with M.I.A., her politics or her music.  It has to do with the love and fascination that the public have for seeing celebrities get tattooed.

No Small Amount of Pain

January 25th, 2011 by

Quick: where’s the most painful spot on your body that you can think of to have a tattoo done?  Well, maybe that’s entirely debatable.  A lot of people say it’s along your ribcage.  Others say that it’s on your neck.  Some might even assure you that it’s on the inside of your lip.  One part of the body that we don’t regularly hear about on which the level of tattoo pain is undoubtedly through the roof is the penis.  I think this is probably something that just goes without saying, so it’s not often a topic of conversation.

Just so we’re all on the same level of understanding here, I’m going to go ahead and say that I can’t even begin to imagine the pain involved in getting tattooed on your penis.  What’s more, there are very few reasons on earth that could ever coax me into finding out.  I think I’d rather take a day of work on my ribs than even twenty minutes on my penis.  How did this become about my penis?  I don’t know, I need to get to the point because this isn’t what I want to talk about at all.

Andreas Muller had 'mini' tattooed on to his penis to win a Mini Cooper (Pic: CEN)

All right, all right, the point…Yes, the point here being that everyone is different and an idea that may leave some horrified can often be enough to entice or encourage someone else.  As per usual when the bizarre/painful is introduced into every day life, it’s done by a zany radio station of some sort.  This time it was done by a radio station in Germany.  The station promised a Mini Cooper vehicle for the person who came up with the craziest stunt.

Well, what’s nuttier than having your penis tattooed?  That was the angle taken by 39-year-old Andreas Muller, who had the word “Mini” inscribed on his penis and subsequently won the contest.  After being tattooed on the radio so that listeners could delight in the sounds of his agony, Muller went on to explain that it was all worth it:

‘Once I’m sitting in the car, it won’t matter anymore. Then the pain will be gone and it’ll be alright.’’

Of course it will be, Andreas.  Unfortunately, after the car is chucked on to the scrap heap in 10-15 years time, you’ll just have to live the remainder of your life with the word “Mini” tattooed on to your penis.

Enjoy that.

A Tribute and A Reminder

January 24th, 2011 by

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for tribute tattoos.  Anytime people get tattoos in memory of or in dedication to someone who played an important role in their lives, hey, I’m into that.  I guess the reason for this is because I really can’t think of many other things that better display someone’s love, devotion or respect for the person that they are being tattooed in memory of than well, a tattoo.  Not only that, but getting tattooed in memory of someone keeps a link alive between you and that person.  It’s a private and special acknowledgement of another person and their existence.

All that being said, I’m not exactly the type of person who wants to sit around all day and listen to the myriad of sad and depressing stories that have lead people to get their particular tribute tattoo.  An example of this would be watching any given episode of LA Ink – it seems that the only people they tattoo on that show are people with horribly sad stories to tell as they’re being tattooed.  It’s not that I’m insensitive, I can only take so much of it at one time.

LABOUR OF LOVE Lyndsay’s tattoos,

Fortunately for myself and many others, a click of the channel is all we need to measure out how much sadness that we want in our lives at one time.  Other people like Lyndsay Keen, for example, aren’t so lucky.  Keen, a 44-year-old mother of four in Accrington, England has lost her grandmother to stomach cancer and this year has lost her aunt and friend to cancer as well.  In a bid to properly remember them, their struggles and to raise cancer awareness, Keen has begun sitting for an elaborate back piece.

‘Mum-of-four Lyndsay Keen will spend countless two-hour sessions in the tattoo artist’s chair until the design, centering around a large pink ribbon, is completed.

In a few months’ time the finished work will see butterflies, lillies and hummingbirds stretching from her neck to her lower back.’

Aside from getting her own reminder of the people whom she has lost to cancer, Keen has also convinced 16 other people to get their own pink ribbon tattoos, commemorating cancer victims everywhere.  All in all, quite inspirational.

Meet John Anderton!

January 23rd, 2011 by

I really think that I need to go on a serious road trip throughout England.  Aside from it being a beautiful country, it always seems to me that the best tattoo artists from England that I’ve seen don’t all just live in London.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many, insanely talented tattooists making a living in London, but when you really get down to it and look around, there are just so many superb tattooists living outside of the big city, tucked away in little known places.

Fortunately enough, though the places where we find great artists might often be small, the artists themselves certainly aren’t.  John Anderton is one of such artists who works in a lesser known area of England.  Anderton’s Nemesis Tattoo opened in Seaham, England back in November of 2009.  As an artist, Anderton splashes around enough colour, depth, realism – you name it, anything short of straight up magic – and creates portraits and images that are alive with character and intensity.

If you’ve never heard of John Anderton before, then all you have to do is look at even one of the tattoos available at his online portfolio.  One.  After that, anyone who has taste is hooked.  Anderton’s tattoos impress me more every time that I look at them.  There’s so much detail and such a command over that detail that it’s easy to sort of lose yourself while looking at each piece.

First stop on my England road trip is going to be Seaham.  One day.  Here’s to a long and successful career, John Anderton!

A Clean Slate For Gangsters

January 20th, 2011 by

Everyone needs a little help now and then and it’s almost always the case that practically every day, one can go online and find some sort of charity or general helpfulness involving the tattoo community.  I don’t know why exactly there is so much goodwill amongst the tattooed, but whatever bad image that the mainstream attributed to the tattooed once upon a time ago has repeatedly proven itself to be unfair and incorrect.

If you don’t believe me, well how about this bit of news from San Jose, California: starting this coming Tuesday, January 25th, any former gang members looking to turn their lives around and get rid of their gang tattoos are encouraged to join San Jose’s Clean Slate program.  This program is looking for former gang members between the ages of 14-25 who are interested in having their gang related tattoos removed from their bodies.  In exchange for this service, the participant must agree to make a commitment to Clean Slate’s educational, employment and community service programs.  I’m not sure exactly what the “educational” program entails, but anyone interested in finding this as well as more information out about Clean Slate can get everything they need by calling 408.794.1660.

Okay, maybe this isn’t really provided by people in “the tattoo industry” and who knows, maybe the whole thing is just a cover for some kind of Jesus freak campaign designed to pile on the new recruits.  It could very well be, but I prefer to think of this as a positive.  To me it all seems like a great service that’s out there trying to help people who’ve made some bad choices in their lives.  If even one person gets a new lease on life through this program, then I say it’s worth it.  Everyone knows that getting tattooed can help a person deal with significant issues in their life or just make them feel better in general.  Well, I guess Clean Slate is providing a way in which removal of tattoos can provide a similar method for people to feel better about themselves and their lives.  Sometimes forgetting the past can be just as important as remembering it.

Good luck to all who try it out.

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