Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

I Scream, You Scream, Gucci Mane Screams

January 13th, 2011 by

Craziness.  That’s about all I can say.  I don’t know what it is about some people, but when it appears as though they’ve totally lost it, they go out and get face tattoos.  Mike Tyson is a perfect example.  Hey, I don’t have anything against face tattoos, so let’s not get all riled up about that, okay?  People can tattoo whatever they want on their bodies and all that, but it seems to me that the dudes who are giving face tattoos a bad name are the guys who have completely swan dived off the deep-end in one way or another.

Gucci Mane had an ice cream cone inked on his face by tattoo artist Shane Willoughby.

The most recent celebrity to take up the “official nut” moniker is rapper Gucci Mane.  Freshly released from a psychiatric hospital after pleading “mental incompetency” to a parole violation relating to charges of resisting arrest back in November, the rapper showed off his new tattoo on Wednesday.  And oh my: what a tattoo it is…

‘Mane, 30, is sporting [an ice cream] cone with three scoops on his right cheek, complete with the word “Brrr” and several red lightning bolts.’

In Mane’s defence, I don’t have anything against ice cream.  Hell, I love ice cream.  I just had a couple scoops of chocolate Oreo the other night.  Very tasty.  I’m also not trying to be insensitive to his mental health issues, but damn man – if I had just been released from a mental health institute, I think I’d want to prove how sane I was.  I don’t even know exactly what is considered completely sane behaviour: crossword puzzles?  Talking about the weather?  Whatever it is, you can bet your ass that I’d be doing it.  What I wouldn’t be doing is stuff that could potentially push me back into that “ehhhhh…is he all right?” category.  Stuff like, oh I don’t know, barbecuing popsicles, replacing my shoe laces with spaghetti or getting a giant fucking ice cream cone, lightning bolts and the word “Brrr” tattooed on to my cheek.

But hey…that’s just me.  No judgement.

Shaw Pleads Not Guilty

January 12th, 2011 by

Back in November, I wrote a post about New York City tattoo pioneer, Jonathan Shaw and the rather immense weapons cache of his that was discovered.  Well, yesterday Shaw was in attendance for his first day of court at Manhattan Supreme Court.  Charged with 89 counts of criminal possession of weapons (three of which are felony charges) for his absolutely massive weapons cache, the 57-year-old Shaw pleaded not guilty.

Shaw, who has never owned a firearms license or a rifle permit in the state of New York, has been released on $250,000 bail.  The weapons cache itself was found in a storage locker in November and contained numerous loaded weapons.

‘Guns in the locker included the AK-47 loaded with 31 rounds of ammo, a British military rifle; a Mossberg 12 gauge pump-action pistol-grip shotgun and a loaded .30 caliber semiautomatic riffle, officials said.

More than 80 knives, including 66 illegal switchblades, two daggers, a bayonet, fives sets of metal knuckles, eight expandable batons, two leather blackjacks and five blank-firing handguns, were also discovered officials said.’

If found guilty of the charges against him, Shaw could face up to 15 years in prison.  The not guilty plea is based on his claim that the weapons were part of a personal collection and nothing more.  Three of the knives found amongst the weapons stockpile were engraved with the Ku Klux Klan logo, something that Shaw’s lawyer Stacey Richman says makes them “…without question historical pieces.”

It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the remainder of this thing plays out.  What I don’t understand is why you need to have the firearms loaded if they are sitting in a storage locker and are part of a historical collection.  I also don’t understand why the judge presiding over the case, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr would bring the recent shooting in Arizona into the equation.

‘”The events of this past weekend remind us that gun violence continues to plague our nation,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said, referring to the Arizona massacre that left six people dead and a U.S. congresswoman with a bullet in her brain.

“The defendant’s illegal weapons cache endangered workers and customers at the storage facility and in the entire community,” Vance said.’

Sure, Shaw did break the law by having an illegal weapons cache in a storage locker, but bringing in imagery of the Arizona shootings will surely have an impact on the jury that isn’t necessarily going to be good or fair for Jonathan Shaw.  All this being said of course, Shaw really seems to be on thin ice here and tattoo legend or not, this entire episode is more than a little unsettling.  Stay tuned.

Dolly Would

January 11th, 2011 by

Typically I’m not the sort of person who really cares much about which celebrities are tattooed.  I always see articles in the news about this or that celebrity having recently been tattooed and it never arouses any interest in me.  I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling this way.  Celebrities are always on display to the public, so learning that they’ve been tattooed never comes as any sort of surprise.

However, I do admit to being a little intrigued when a celebrity that I had never imagined to be tattooed actually is.  Just a little.  Recently, Roseanne Barr (remember her?) appeared on the CBS late night talk show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  Anyone who has ever watched the Late Late Show will know that aside from being borderline insane, Craig Ferguson also sports a few tattoos.  Three, to be exact.  While being interviewed on the show, Barr and Ferguson began discussing tattoos.  Ferguson has three and Barr has five.  No big surprises or much of interest there.  It wasn’t until Barr revealed that Dolly Parton – yes, Dolly Parton – is covered in tattoos, that things really got unexpected.

‘”You know who’s totally tattooed? I shouldn’t even tell this,” she said. Ferguson begged her to dish. Too late to back out now. “Dolly Parton… I’m not making it up!” Barr said. “She’s got, like, all these awesome tattoos all over her body — no black or no blue lines. All like pastel, gorgeous bows all over everything…”‘

Wow.  I mean, not that it’s so amazing that Dolly Parton has a bunch of tattoos, it’s just surprising, that’s all.  Most people wouldn’t even think that one of country music’s greatest icons is “totally tattooed”.  If it is true – I mean we are going by something that Roseanne Barr said, here – it just goes to show you that there is no “set personality type” that we can expect tattoos from.  Anyone, anywhere can be tattooed, from the punk rocker to the Queen of Nashville, anything is possible when it comes to tattoos.

Tattoo the World

January 10th, 2011 by

It seems to me that the more I discover about tattoo in different parts of the world, the more I realise the similarities involved with being a part of the tattoo industry.  Don’t get me wrong, every country and ever artist has their own challenges to overcome, but in the grand scheme of things the general aspect of a tattooist’s work – that is, the motivation, the passion, the work ethic – all of it seems to form a series of similar traits shared by artists across the globe.

Keeping that in mind, I think that all artists need to take the time to understand and share ideas and learn about what everyone else in their profession goes through; what challenges they may face or the techniques they may employ or just something as simple as what they love about the art form and what got them interested in doing it in the first place.  Inspiration can always come from a multitude of different sources and at the very least, I think it’s important to keep up to date on the way of life and work for tattooists in various countries.  That’s why I found this little profile/interview on Malaysian tattooist Kevin Mitchel De Souza interesting in terms of insight into another culture and how tattoo works there.

‘“My first real exposure to the art form came from my brother-in-law, who in turn got his knowledge from getting his tattoos done in Singapore.

“Back then, there weren’t many studios here and we had to be more resourceful in terms of gaining knowledge. We even built our own machines using parts bought online just to see how they worked.

“Even now, we still have to source our equipment from abroad, and sometimes purchasing them over the Internet is a problem because of Malaysia’s reputation for credit card fraud,” he says.’

As I said earlier, the similarities with being a part of the tattoo industry are in general, shared worldwide.  In Asia however, the exception is that tattooing has only recently begun to slowly but surely grow from its deep underground roots.  Now, thanks to the mainstream popularity of tattoo in terms of reality TV, things are beginning to change.  More Asians are actively seeking out tattooists, which means that more tattoo studios are now being able to open.  It’s been a long haul in Asia for artists like De Souza, but things are definitely getting better.

Meet Dejan Furlan!

January 9th, 2011 by

I look all over the place for tattoo artists whose work catches my eye.  The only problem with this is that there are so many rad tattooists out there that I can never keep track of them all.  I don’t think that any of us can.  So in all honesty, I don’t feel embarrassed if I haven’t heard of a particular artist because I find that for every artist people have heard of, there’s probably about ten incredibly talented ones that people haven’t heard of.  Yet.

That’s fine, it’s just the way it goes.  What does embarrass me though, is when I find out about a tattooist, really dig their work and then realise that they work a few blocks away from me.  Damn.  That one cuts deep.  So I have to apologise to Dejan Furlan for not profiling him sooner.  The guy has obvious skills and his work mixes both the Classic American and Latino styles with big amounts of colour and sharpness.  The end results are tattoos that should have caught my attention much, much sooner.  Sorry dude.

For those people out there who don’t know Furlan’s whereabouts and who’ve found themselves sufficiently impressed by his work, he can currently be found at Vancouver, Canada’s Adrenaline VanCity Tattoo, right smack dab in the heart of downtown Vancouver.  If you’re in Vancouver, and you want to get tattooed by Furlan, you can do so by calling 604.669.6800.

A New Avenue of Money-making

January 6th, 2011 by

Any gamblers out there?  Well, I guess some people might argue that getting a tattoo is a gamble, but I don’t buy that.  In terms of real-life, James Bond-in-the-casino style gambling, count me out.  I suck at gambling and never win.  At any rate, the appeal is there for most people and I guess that it was only a matter of time before tattoos went on to yet another level of mainstream culture.  Tattoos and gambling?  A match made in heaven for some, no doubt.

What I’m talking about is a new online slots game called Hot Ink.  The game features the theme of a tattoo parlour, complete with tattoo designs and “popular” (which I’m guessing means flash), tattoo designs.  It’s actually the second tattoo-themed online slot machine to be released within the past year, the first having been designed by Noughty Crosses.

‘Hot Ink is based on the theme of a tattoo parlour, featuring symbols of popular tattoo designs. This game has a more retro feel than Noughty Crosses as the tattoos featured are reminiscent of the early 1950s Sailor Jerry designers. There are also pin up girls and tattoo artists featured on the reels.’

This blurb refers to tattoo-themed online slot machines potentially becoming a trend.  Apparently popular online slot machine themes come and go.  I guess I would know that if I were a gambler.  I’m not sure how interesting these online slot machines would actually be, with their faux Sailor Jerry look.  To be honest, I’m not really all that interested in online casinos using tattoo-themes.  I think it would be far cooler if actual tattoo artists designed slot machines for casino.  It would almost be worth the trip into a casino to see a row of machines designed by artists like Nick Baxter or Steph D or Fred Laverne, to name but a very few.

Come to think of it, can tattoo artist designed casinos be that far off?

Bad Start to A New Year

January 5th, 2011 by

Often on the Tattoo Blog I try to provide some decent advice, whether it’s about getting tattoos or running your own career as a tattooist.  Today after reading this article from Jacksonville, Florida, I have one strong piece of advice to give to the guys and gals out there who might be starting up their own tattoo studio: before you’ve found your location, signed the lease, bought the equipment and are ready to roll, get insured.  True, insurance might be a costly venture, but so is operating a business.  If you don’t have the cash to get insured, then I would strongly suggest that you wait until you do before thinking about taking the leap into the world of running your own business.

Too many times in the past I’ve seen news articles about tattoo studios that have either suffered fires, or robberies or damage of some sort, and every time that I’ve seen these incidents, the owner of the tattoo studio is never insured.  That’s a pretty bitter pill to swallow, especially when you lose everything you have like Eric Curtice and his wife Shavon Ramos did.

Curtice and Ramos had opened their Jacksonville tattoo supply, Sparrow’s Ink Tattoo Supplies in September of this year.  Things were going well until this past weekend, when someone backed up their van to Sparrow’s Ink and filled it with everything that Curtice and Ramos had.  The end results were devastating.

‘”The value was about $20,000 worth between the jewelry, tattoo supplies and everything else that we sold,” said Eric Curtice, co-owner of Sparrow’s Ink Tattoo Supplies.

Police said the robbers took 280 tattoo ink bottles, 270 tattoo needles, 10 tattoo kids and four tattoo machines. Ramos and Curtice said with all their supplies missing, they couldn’t conduct business Monday.’

Obviously I’m not pointing my finger at Curtice and Ramos and chastising them for not having insurance in the first place.  What I am saying though, is that this is precisely the sort of thing that any aspiring tattoo studio owners should very much take into account before opening up their business.  Hopefully Curtice and Ramos will get at least some of their equipment back, but the chances are most likely very slim of that happening.  That being said, if anyone in the Jacksonville area should see or hear anything unusual regarding tattoo equipment, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

What’s Beneath it All

January 4th, 2011 by

In a world where tattoos can and often have easily been relegated to mere fashion statements, or trendy extravagance, it’s nice to once and a while see them being equated with living one’s life to the fullest.  John Birdsall is 32-years-old and confined to a motorised wheelchair.  He speaks through the use of a typing device.  Because of his physical state, most people probably wouldn’t expect Birdsall to be the type of person who travels, sky dives and has undertaken both jetboat and motorcycle trips.  But that’s where most people would be wrong.

Birdsall has done all of those things and more.  He’s even written a book called The Never-Ending Sun, which chronicles his trip across Iceland’s volcanic plateaux on his own motorised trike.  Most recently, on his seventh trip to New Zealand, Birdsall had a tattoo done on his back of a silver fern incorporating a koru – a spiral shape that symbolises new life and growth amongst New Zealand’s indigenous peoples, the Maori.

‘Sporting several body piercings, and a fan of alternative lifestyles, Mr Birdsall yesterday said the tattoo was fitting because it was an outward expression of near obsession with New Zealand.

“It’s all about having fun, meet-ing people and challenging your-self to live outside the norm,” he said.

“That’s what New Zealand has represented for me and now I’ve got it inked in permanently.”

Q.T Ink owner Dean Jones gave Birdsall the tattoo free of charge, saying it was an honour to tattoo someone who lived their life to the fullest.

“It’s a privilege and a buzz to do something for someone who despite having a few limitations in life, uses that life to basically kick down all the barriers,” he said.’

Not only is this story very inspiring, but I like it very much for its positive portrayal of tattoo, showcasing just how much a tattoo can mean to someone and what it’s capable of symbolising.  Beyond a simple fashion statement, beyond a trendy extravagance, there is so often a real heart to someone’s artwork.  When we take the time to learn what is behind that artwork and how important it can be to both the person who wears it and the artist who did it, we experience an all new side to our humanity.

For more information on John Birdsall, visit his website here.

What They’re All About

January 3rd, 2011 by

Soccer (or football, as it’s commonly know around the world) is without a doubt one of the most popular professional sports today.  Anyone who has ever watched a match will quite quickly notice just how many professional football players are tattooed.  Perhaps the player whose name is most synonymous with being tattooed is David Beckham.  In fact, many people credit Beckham as being one of the main celebrities to have helped raise the stature and popularity of tattoos amongst the masses.

This past summer during the World Cup, I noticed exactly how many players from all over the world had tattoos.  I was more than a little curious to find out more about these tattoos or at the very least, to be able to see them up close for longer than the few brief glimpses that I typically was able to grab on my TV screen.  Thankfully, the international football organisation FIFA has also taken notice of its tattooed superstars and started up a small page on the FIFA website dedicated to highlighting these tattoos.

Tales From the Tattoo Parlour is a compiled list of tattooed football players that focuses on not only which players have which tattoos, but also provides everything from what the tattoos mean to what inspired them in the first place.

‘Religious scenes are not the most popular designs among players, however, as Patricio Hinojosa, who has worked his magic for several Chilean footballers, explains: “More than anything they ask me for portraits of their children or their wives, or the names of their family members.”’

Then there’s players like Liverpool striker Fernando Torres who is so into tattoos that he’s actually set up a studio in his home for Argentinian tattoo artist Leonardo Miralles.  Although there are numerous players with a whole whack of different tattoos, their reasons for having these tattoos doesn’t seem to differ much from the reasons that the average person has for being tattooed.  That being said, I definitely enjoy the opportunity to look into the lives of these players and hear their reasons for being tattooed.  I only wish FIFA would expand this section on their site and continue to report on a regular basis about the tattoos of the players and the artists whom the players trust.

Meet Electric Pick!

January 1st, 2011 by

Nothing lasts forever.  We all know that.  Often what makes works of art even more beautiful is knowing that they won’t last or that one day they’ll be gone.  The sand mandalas that Tibetan monks create is a perfect example.  Gorgeous hand crafted art that’s here today and gone tomorrow, forcing us to recognise the impermanence of beauty and its place in our lives.

While not exactly a Buddhist monk, the tattoo work of the artist known as Electric Pick won’t always be available to the public, either.  Though he’s been tattooing ever since a Montreal tattoo shop owner bought 50 pages of his flash and subsequently offered him a job back in 1998, there will eventually come a day when Electric Pick packs it all in and focuses his skills instead on illustration.  It won’t be an immediate stop of course – Pick plans on casually slowing down before eventually putting a stop to his commercial tattoo work.  Regardless, simply knowing that a tattoo by an artist as talented as Electric Pick will one day become quite the rare commodity is enough to encourage anyone who’s hungry for a highly original and creative tattoo to seek him out.

Though he travels extensively and loves the influence that travel has on him and his work, Pick currently spends the majority of his time in Denmark, helping out at Conspiracy Inc.  His childhood was spent between Montreal, Canada and Paris, France, and that cross continental education no doubt helped him to see the world in a different light, a light that eventually began to illuminate the entire globe for him.  Aside from Denmark, he’s spent time working in Hong Kong and New York City, to name but a few of the additional locales which fill his roster.

And while tattooing may pay the bills and ignite his creative energies in a manner that benefits the entire tattoo industry, Pick’s number one love remains illustration and especially comic books.  From the age of 12 when he says that the realisation struck that he would always draw for a living, the art, colour and lure of comics has never ceased in its intensity for Pick.

I for one really like the way that Pick goes with what he loves best and what he feels matters.  Despite the dedication and effort that tattooing requires, there’s an unpredictable rowdiness to his attitude about life which transfers itself directly into his art, making it some of the most interesting and pleasing work out there.  Electric Pick might not always be around to tattoo, but for now he is, and that’s really all that matters.

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