Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Behind the Music

February 8th, 2011 by

Where would we be without music?  I don’t know for certain, but I do know that I wouldn’t want to find out, either.  Several times before I’ve written about the impact of music on tattoos and that concept shows no signs of ever disappearing.  It actually seems that the more popular tattoos get, the more news I read about people with music related tattoos.  There’s a different sort of intrigue with music tattoos than with any other type for the simple reason that music means something very different to everyone.  A song that might remind one person of nothing more than drinking beer and partying could potentially be another person’s wedding song, just as someone who loves Bruce Springsteen enough might think it’s the greatest thing ever to have a portrait of The Boss wearing 3D glass on their calf.  You just never know.

Which brings me to my second point: finding out why people get the musical tattoos that they do is to me, more interesting than finding out why a person gets any other sort of tattoo.  First of all, who isn’t interested in what kind of music that their friends listen to?  I’ve always believed that you can tell a lot about a person based on what sort of music they listen to.  So finding out why a person gets a tattoo of a particular band or musician can not only tell us a lot about the person wearing the tattoo, but we’re also typically provided with an interesting story or two.

The British newspaper The Guardian has managed to put together a short piece in which people with music relevant tattoos are interviewed and their tattoos are explained.  This makes for some interesting reading, especially with the part about Ryan Duffy’s aforementioned Bruce Springsteen in 3D glasses tattoo.

‘That said, most folks love the tattoo, but some people seem to think it’s the guy from Loverboy, which is OK too, because its a nice litmus test. If you can’t tell the difference between the Boss and the guy from Loverboy, you can fuck right off. Do I regret getting it done? No, I love it.’

- Ryan Duffy on his Bruce Springsteen tattoo

Bruce Springsteen tattoo

Cheer Up, Tony

February 7th, 2011 by

When you’re writing a tattoo blog, you need to do the best that you can at keeping up with the most recent news that exists within the tattoo world.  Sure, makes perfect sense, right?  Well, sometimes there isn’t a lot of news to be shared and sometimes, the news is just as simple as a dude with a lot of tattoos.  Yup, that’s what I’ve got for you to start the week off: a dude with a lot of tattoos.

In all seriousness, Australian Tony “The Face” Cronin is pretty old school.  At age 54, Cronin has made a life out of covering his body with tattoos, having received his first tattoo – a skull with the number 13 – at the age of 13.  And he’s still not finished what he started so many years ago.

‘Tony reckons he has spent at least ”half a house” worth of money on his body so far and hopes that in another year or so he will be completely covered.

“It’s just about full now. I’ll be glad when it’s all done. I love doing it, but I do want to finish it.”’


It certainly is an achievement to spend that many years and that much money building up your tattoo collection, working toward a point that you had so long ago envisioned for yourself.  And while I wish Cronin all the best of luck in completing his tattoos, I also think he should reconsider his current opinion about other people’s tattoos.

‘Tony hates the tattoo culture of today. He thinks it’s a craze gone wild.

He says he got his ink for a reason in the old days, but nowadays he thinks there is no story behind most tattoos.’

Aw, come on Tony.  It’s not all that bad, is it?  I think that if anyone takes the time to find out, they’ll see that there are plenty of stories behind most of today’s tattoos.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that there are more stories behind the tattoos of today than ever before.  Call me crazy, but judging from what I’ve seen, it’s the truth.

Meet Simone Pfaff!…and Volko Merschky?

February 6th, 2011 by

Maybe I’m a fool who tends to get easily confused, but the wesbite that Simone Pfaff shares with fellow tattooist Volko Merschky seems just a little bit…well, confusing to me.  First of all, there’s the the tattoo work – which to be blunt, is brilliant.  I would say that it reminds me a little bit of Yann Black’s work, though it puts its own entirely different spin on everything, resulting in tattoos that are faintly bizarre and dark.  They’re jigsaw puzzles of tattoo goodness.  But that’s not the confusing part.

The confusing part is that none of the numerous tattoos on Simone Pfaff and Volko Merschky’s website give credit to either artist, making it very difficult to determine which work can be credited to whom.  Do they work together?  Does one artist take on half the work while one does the other half?  I doubt it, but I do have to say that such a work process would be quite unique and interesting, just like the tattoos themselves.

I guess not knowing who did what isn’t the end of the world and that if you’re like me, then you’ll most likely just safely agree that the work being done at Pfaff and Merschky’s Würzburg, Germany based Buena Vista Tattoo Club is all just…well, brilliant!  That being said, all the photos of the tattoo work that you see in this post are credited specifically to Simone Pfaff.

I assume that this is the sort of thing that only very talented tattooists can get away with.  Had the work that Pfaff and Merschky have on their site not been so impressive, I wouldn’t be writing down praise for it.  In fact, I wouldn’t be writing anything at all.  Thankfully it is impressive, which means that I’m simply left being confused.  Confused, but impressed all the same.

A Weekend in Philly

February 3rd, 2011 by

If you’re like me and happen to live in a place that isn’t particularly warm around this time of year, you might find that February is the month where winter really sticks it to you.  It typically seems like February is the month where winter has seriously overstayed its welcome and all anyone wants is for it to go away so we can get into spring and ultimately summer.  Depending on the level of winter that your city experiences, there tends to be much staying indoors and not a lot going on.

Well, this weekend if you happen to live in or near the City of Brotherly Love (that’s Philadelphia for those of you who don’t know), there’s a great tattoo convention going on that will get you up and out of the house and into a weekend of tattoo related madness.  It’s a tattoo extravaganza!!…okay sorry, that was lame.  But seriously, it’s going to be a great time and probably shouldn’t be missed.

The Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention will take place this weekend (February 4th-6th) at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel.  There will tons of bands, performances, seminars, contests, vendors and certainly many, many tattooists like Chris Nunez, Dan Henk, Myke Chambers and Scott Sylvia.  Plus the Philadelphia scene is well represented and it’s all shaping up to be one hell of weekend.

If you plan on traveling into Philadelphia for the convention, you can get set up with a discounted room for $146 per night at the Sheraton if you mention the convention when you book.  Other than that, tickets for the convention are $20 a day or $40 for the weekend.  There will also be plenty of tattoo magazines on site, so you could potentially get your own tattoos photographed and put into print.

Now isn’t all that much better than sitting at home this weekend, playing XBox?  Check out all the info here.

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.

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