Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Showing Her Funny Side

March 23rd, 2011 by

More than being a trend or an impulsive urge to “be wild” or even a part of someone’s regular day to day existence, tattoos are supposed to make people happy.  Naturally.  Even the most gruesome, fearsome, monstrous looking tattoo was intended to fill its bearer with joy.  And so it only seems like a logical extension of this that something as simple as a tattoo could be used for the purpose of making others laugh while contributing to a great cause.

Let me explain: every March across the United Kingdom, a charity called Comic Relief is held.  I don’t want to go into every last detail of this excellent charitable event, but if you want to know more about it, you can check it out here.  At any rate, one of the best parts of Comic Relief is that people will do something potentially ridiculous and humorous and others will then be encouraged to make a cash donation and sponsor that person for their efforts.  The money accumulated from this is then added to the total Comic Relief fund.

This year a 21-year-old from Newcastle put her own spin on a method by which to raise money for charity.  Olivia Ketchell underwent 4 hours of tattooing on March 18th in order to have the portrait of her favourite comedian Stephen Fry forever inked on to her right calf.  The tattoo was done at the Cock a Snook tattoo studio (yes you read that name right) by tattooist Paul Johnson.  Though some might find the tattoo a little strange, Ketchell has no regrets.

Permanently devoted: Olivia Ketchell has had a tattoo of Stephen Fry inked on her her leg for Comic Relief

”The tattooist had done lots of portraits before and they are his favourite thing to do,’ she said.

‘He has never done a Stephen Fry one though and I think I’m the only person in the world who has a Stephen Fry tattoo.

‘I’ve been looking online and I haven’t found anyone else yet.

‘Everybody thinks I’m crazy but I couldn’t be happier.

‘It’s like I have had a baby. I always wanted him and I suffered for four-and-a-half hours and he’s finally here.

‘It’s totally worth it and I would do it again.

‘My mum said she wouldn’t donate because she doesn’t approve of tattoos, but she did in the end.’

Having so far raised more than £250 in charitable donations, Ketchell is still keeping the fundraising going.  If you’re interested in helping out with a donation, Ketchell’s fundraising page is open for donations until the end of the month.

Tattoo + Beer = Happiness

March 22nd, 2011 by

Last summer, I wrote about the lads from Scottish brewery BrewDog.  At the time, the media was reporting that they were going to be offering free beer for life to anyone who had the BrewDog logo tattooed during the grand opening of the BrewDog Bar in Aberdeen, Scotland.  The offer set off alarm bells amongst Alcohol Focus Scotland, a national charity group that works to limit the amount of damage caused by alcohol.  Unsurprisingly, the announcement of free beer for life also made many, many Scottish beer drinkers extremely happy.

Well, it wasn’t to be.  Possibly due to the flack that they were receiving, BrewDog announced soon afterward that the media was responsible for distorting the truth (imagine that!) and that they wouldn’t in fact be giving away free beer for life to anyone who had the BrewDog logo tattooed.  You can read the full press release by BrewDog here.

None the less, there was an offer on the table by BrewDog, albeit a much different one than initially reported.  Recently, twenty-year-old Robert Hanson became the first to be tattooed with the BrewDog logo.  Instead of free beer for life, he will now be permitted a 20 percent discount on all BrewDog beer at a new BrewDog pub opened in Edinburgh.  The tattoo was not free either, it cost Hanson nearly £100 ($163 USD), but Hanson’s got no regrets:

‘”I didn’t get it done for the discount, that was just a perk.

“It cost nearly £100 but it’s worth it.

“My mates think it’s a pretty funny thing to do and that I’m some kind of obsessive, but I reckon they’re all just jealous.

“My parents are probably just as obsessed with BrewDog as I am. The first thing my mum said when I told her about the tattoo was ‘I might get one of those myself’. My parents are real ale drinkers and helped me to appreciate beer.”‘

Now that’s a beer drinker.  Enjoy your brews and your tattoo, Robert!

The Overrated Celebrity Curse

March 21st, 2011 by

It’s funny what some good press can do.  It’s also funny how some people go about choosing the artist who will tattoo them.  With the rise in popularity of tattoo, people everywhere began to find their place in line to be inked.  Unfortunately, for a lot of these people, getting tattooed simply meant finding out which artist tattooed their favourite celebrity and then seeking out that particular artist.

Now, I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes here, after all, beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.  It’s just that the opinions of celebrities always seem to carry an unbelievable – if not very often unjustified – weight to them.  As more and more celebrities get tattooed and flash their work to the public, the artists who tattooed them are finding themselves in the spotlight.  This can be a good thing for the artist, but it can also be a case of celebrity status for artists who quite frankly, don’t really deserve it.

What I mean by this is that simply because a celebrity decided to go with one particular artist over another doesn’t mean that that artist is god.  A perfect example of this is UK tattooist Louis Molloy.  Molloy is the man behind David Beckham’s tattoos.  As a result of tattooing one of football’s biggest celebrities, Molloy has been in huge demand.  He’s booked solid six months in advance and stars in the London Ink TV series, the spin off of the Miami Ink and LA Ink shows.  In addition to these things, Molloy is also designing a line of street wear for Marks and Spencer.

The issue?  Call me crazy, but Molloy’s work is average at best.  I don’t mean average amongst all tattooists, I mean average amongst high profile tattooists.  It seems more than a little unjust to me that someone like Molloy rakes in the media and cash and adoration for his work when there are massive amounts of other relatively unknown and hugely talented tattooists out there, quietly going about their work.  Naturally I can understand how many if not all of these artists don’t care about being where Louis Molloy is, but it’s slightly irksome that tattooists like Louis Molloy become household names simply because they were fortunate enough to impress a celebrity with their work.

But, when all is said and done, I guess that’s life.  My advice to anyone who is considering a tattoo because a specific celebrity got one done is not to do it.  Get a tattoo, but find an artist whose work you enjoy.  If you’re going to dish out the huge bucks to get tattooed by a high profile artist, take a look at who is out there because all too often the best artists are the ones who aren’t getting the celebrity clients and relentless media attention.

Meet Calle!

March 20th, 2011 by

One thing that I’ve learned from writing this blog and going through portfolio after portfolio is that there is no being on the fence when it comes to spotting the work of a really excellent tattoo artist.  What I mean by this is that I’ve looked at too many portfolios where maybe I like some of the work that I see, while more of it might just leaving me feeling flat.  I don’t want to sound like a dick here, but there are a lot of tattooists out there whose work makes me feel like this.  Sometimes this goes on for quite a while – portfolio after portfolio of the same kind of thing.  And then, I find an artist’s portfolio that makes me remember what it feels like when I come across someone who is truly in command of their art form.  There are no maybes.  Every tattoo jumps off the screen at me and leaves me wanting more.  I don’t have to keep searching through the portfolio hoping to catch a glimpse of something that I like.  Everything that I see is very much what I like.

Which brings me to this week’s featured tattooist, Calle.  Calle can be found tattooing in Stockholm, Sweden at his studio, King Carlos Tattoo, which he opened for business in 2002.  An art school graduate, Calle’s roots go back to graffiti.  In fact, it was through an old friend from his graffiti days that Calle got his first bit of work in a real tattoo studio.

Today Calle tattoos only when he is interested in taking on a project and King Carlos Tattoo is primarily a custom tattoo studio.  His style is exactly what you would expect from this calibre of tattooist – and far more.  Despite the work in his portfolio being so perfectly done, it’s actually hard for me to look at.  It just reminds me of how far away from Stockholm I am and how little money that I have to actually get an artist like Calle to tattoo me!  But hey, that doesn’t change the fact that Calle does gorgeous work that deserves to be ogled by everyone who appreciates great art, be they broke-ass mofos like myself or not.

Lastly, look for Calle and the King Carlos crew at this year’s 1st annual Scottish Tattoo Convention, to be held from March 26th-27th in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Weekend in Scranton

March 17th, 2011 by

As far as city names go, I like the name Scranton.  I’ve never been to Scranton, I’m not even sure exactly where it is.  I mean, I know it’s in Pennsylvania, but that’s about it.  It’s fun to say Scranton.  Say it.  Say it right now out loud to yourself.  Even if you’re at work and you’ll look like a nut for doing it, do it.  Go on, I dare you.  Nice, right?

Well that’s not all that’s nice about Scranton, my friends.  Judging from this little piece of news, the fine folks of Scranton are about to have themselves a tattoo convention this weekend.  The Electric City Tattoo Convention will take place starting this Friday, March 18th to Sunday, March 20th at the Hilton Scranton and Conference Center.

‘Organized by the owners and partners of Electric City Tattoo Gallery on Spruce Street, including Woody Wodock, Elijah Birtel and brothers Nick and Mike Frenchko, the weekend festival will celebrate the art of permanent ink, with a little help from some friends.

“We have 80 artists from as far away as California, Chicago, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia,” Mr. Wodock rattled off. Numerous local artists will be on hand as well, including representatives from Triple 6 Tattoo Studio, Vision Burn Tattoo, 570 Tattooing Co. and Marc’s Tattooing, among many others.’

Along with the usual tattooing goodness that any good tattoo convention promises, The Electric City Tattoo Convention has got some stuff lined up that I’m not so familiar with, stuff like a pie-eating contest and a hula hoop contest.  What, no mud wrestling?  Oh well.  There will also be a large canvas hung on the wall of the convention center, which the artists in attendance will decorate.  Live music, raffles – this thing is no doubt shaping up to be pretty cool.

Along with the usual tattooing goodness that any good tattoo convention promises, The Electric City Tattoo Convention has got some stuff lined up that I’m not so familiar with, stuff like a pie-eating contest and a hula hoop contest.  What, no mud wrestling?  Oh well.  There will also be a large canvas hung on the wall of the convention center, which the artists in attendance will decorate.  Live music, raffles – this thing is no doubt shaping up to be pretty cool.

So why not head out to Scranton this weekend if you’re close enough to do so?  It sounds like it’s all going to be a good time.  A single day pass will cost you $15, a two day pass $25 and a weekend pass is $40.  For more information, visit the convention’s website here.


One of A Kind

March 16th, 2011 by

For some people, a tattoo is nothing more than some decently designed flash that they spotted on the wall of a tattoo shop and pointed to.  For others however, the idea of a tattoo goes a little deeper than that (no pun intended).  Having something truly unique or one of a kind has an immense appeal and why wouldn’t it?  Knowing that you have a piece of artwork on your body that will forever be yours and no one else’s is arguably as unique as your fingerprints or your outlook on life.

In keeping with that sense of uniqueness and originality, DC Shoes is launching the Burning Ink Art Show.  The show will take place from April 7th to 28th in New York City and from June 17th to July 7th in Berlin, Germany.  It will feature a large line up of artists who will create a selection of handmade drawings.  When the show reaches its finale in each of the selected cities, these handmade drawings will all be burned, gone from existence forever.  There is however, one way and only one way to save any of these drawings from the flames and that is to buy it and have it tattooed on to your flesh.

‘The concept is radical and never been seen before in these two cities: All the handmade drawings designed by selected artists will be burnt at the end of the show.  A very different concept to an ordinary art show, no one can go home with the art in their hands The only way for the drawings to survive the flame is to be bought and inked into the buyers’s skin, making each design a unique tattoo.’

I absolutely love this idea.  Great concept isn’t it?  Yeah, yeah, I know that you can go to a tattoo artist with a one of a kind drawing that you or your friend did and get it tattooed just as easily, but there’s something about the creation and subsequent destruction of art that makes the idea of saving a piece from the flames that much more attractive.  At any rate, if I was in either one of these cities during the Burning Ink Art Show’s run, I would definitely be attending.

Own It.

March 15th, 2011 by

Every once in a while it’s good to throw out a little reminder regarding tattoos.  We love ‘em, we get ‘em and sometimes some of us travel great distances and spend massive amounts of cash to get just what we want tattooed by that particular tattoo artist we’ve been admiring for years.  And although most of us take getting a tattoo seriously enough, it’s always good to send a little reminder out there that what you get tattooed is not going away and if there happens to be consequences as a result of what you have tattooed, then you have to face them because that’s just the way that it goes.

Of course, the vast majority of people out there aren’t in the same boat as 25-year-old white supremacist Christopher Slavin, but regardless, Slavin’s case is still a case of not wanting to take responsibility for his tattoos.  Slavin was found guilty in 2001 of attempted murder, assault and aggravated harassment back in 2000 after he and fellow skinhead Ryan Wagner lured two Mexican immigrants to an abandoned building in Long Island, New York and brutally attacked them with a metal post-hole digger and a folding knife.  The Mexicans ended up escaping and Slavin and Wagner were arrested, but Slavin later argued that police took photos of him without his shirt on, in which his neo-Nazi tattoos were visible.  These photos were handed over to prosecutors and used to obtain a grand jury indictment.  It was Slavin’s belief that he didn’t receive a fair trial as a result of the jury having access to these photos.

Well, as of this past Monday, a three-judge appellate panel has confirmed that the lower court’s ruling on Slavin’s case stands.  The verdict?  Sorry Christopher Slavin, your petty whinging ain’t gonna cut it…

‘”Even assuming that the prosecution’s use of the tattoo evidence was testimonial in nature, however, ‘[t]he tattoo[s] … w[ere] not compelled by the government,’” the judges, quoting from the 2nd Circuit’s decision in U.S. v. Greer, a case they heard a month earlier. “We noted in Greer that even if officers were able to read the tattoos at issue ‘only by applying physical force[,] … it would … not amount to compulsion for Fifth Amendment purposes.’ To the contrary, “[t]he voluntary tattooing of an incriminating word” to a defendant’s body plainly is ‘not the product of government compulsion.’”

In other words, you’re responsible for what you have tattooed.  No one else but you.

Keeping Up With Tibet

March 14th, 2011 by

Last week I posted about the swastika as well as the swastika tattoo and its history amongst Buddhists.  The video that I linked to was part of a three part series done by activist/journalist Heidiminx on Tibetan political prisoners and their tattoos.

In this second video of the series, Tibetan activist Pasang Dorjee speaks about his “Free Tibet” tattoo, which he did himself in a Chinese prison.  Though the Chinese guards in his prison could not read the Tibetan script of his tattoo, Dorjee was later forced to covertly alter the lettering of the tattoo while in a different prison.  Using a needle and ink made from a candle wick, he managed to change the tattoo from “Free Tibet” to read “Fighter for the Land of Snow”, as there were rumours circulating that Chinese prison officials were getting dangerously close to discovering that he had a “Free Tibet” tattoo.

The third video is of 21-year-old Tibetan refugee Pasang.  He shows off his tattoos and explains how and why they were done.  Both videos provide a fascinating, yet unsettling view into the lives of Tibetans who have managed to escape from Chinese occupied Tibet to India.  They leave behind their families and friends and retain only these tattoos as reminders of who they are and where they come from.  These tattoos can cost their bearers lengthy prison sentences, torture and even death.  As Pasang Dorjee explains in the first of these two videos, getting tattooed while incarcerated in a Chinese prison is illegal and will lead to harsh repercussions.

These men have taken great risk and effort to ink their beliefs on to their skin.  Although their tattoos are not done by professionals, they are important symbols of the resistance and determination which they have repeatedly risked their lives for.  This is tattooing at its most basic – most likely the only form of scratching that I can approve of, and a bold declaration of the power of tattoo in the everyday lives of remarkable people facing brutal odds.

Meet Red Hot+Blue Tattoo!

March 13th, 2011 by

Change is good.  Sometimes just to keep things on the up and up over here at Tattoo Blog, I think it’s a good idea to take a break from the usual and try something a tiny bit different.  Which is exactly what I’m going to do today.  Normally I would use this post to blog about one artist whose work has recently caught my eye.  Well, instead of doing that, I’m going to use this post to blog about an entire shop that has caught my eye.  Sound okay with you?  Good.

Red Hot + Blue Tattoo can be found in Edinburgh, Scotland.  It is staffed by four artists by the names of Paul, Ian, Sarah and Jason, and man, they do some fine work.  It makes sense to me that any decent tattoo shop would staff artists who are always bringing their best game and who push the other artists to do the best work that they can, all the time, since 2005.

Not only is that exactly what’s going on over at Red Hot + Blue, but I love the fact that each of its artists is doing a variation on the classic American style which incorporates their own personal touches, making the styles similar but different all at once.

There’s some really great stuff to be found here, far more than I have room on this blog to showcase.  If you want to see more, then head over here or here and you can really get a feel for what’s going on over in Edinburgh.  So to everyone at Red Hot + Blue Tattoo, keep doing what you’re doing.  I love it!

Lucky Julia

March 10th, 2011 by

Know anyone who has a portrait of you tattooed on their body?  I don’t, but depending on who the person is that has your mug on their flesh, I’d imagine that it can all be pretty flattering.  Why not, right?  Okay, now what if someone had two portraits of you tattooed on their body?  How about three, or four?  What if someone had five portraits of you?  Even if you happen to know the person, at this point it would sort of be getting kind of awkward, wouldn’t it?

That’s why I can’t imagine how it would feel to know that a complete stranger has 82 portraits of you tattooed on to them, and will continue to get more.  I think it would scare the hell out of me.  Well, I certainly don’t think that Miljenko Parserisas Bukovic, of Valparaiso city, Mexico is trying to scare Julia Roberts, but the 56-year-old newspaper vendor might want to consider that what he’s doing is just a teeny bit freaky.

After seeing the Julia Roberts film Erin Brokovich, Bukovic became well, obsessed with the Hollywood actress.  So obsessed in fact, that to date he has spent over a million Mexican pesos ($83,469 USD) on 82 tattoos of Julia Roberts.  Yikes.

‘The Roberts fanatic has said that he has plans to get more faces inked on his chest, back and arms.

As long as he has the space on his body and the money, his tattoo tribute will continue.’

Normally I would just say hey, if it makes him happy then good for him.  It’s just that this time around, with something of this nature I can’t help but feel that what he’s doing would considerably freak the shit out of Julia Roberts.  I know that it’s freaking the shit out of me.  The whole thing has kind of floated away from the concept of a tribute and landed in the murky seas of stalkerhood.  I’d wish Bukovic good luck with his hobby, except that I don’t want to because the whole thing is unsettling.

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