Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

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.

The Swastika

March 9th, 2011 by

One of the most controversial tattoos that I can think of is the swastika.  It is a mark that is indelibly linked to Hitler and the Nazi movement, underscoring each and every atrocity committed under that regime.  Many tattooists won’t tattoo the swastika on customers who ask for it, and today when we see someone with a swastika tattoo, it’s typically on an undesirable element of society, like neo-Nazi skinheads and/or racists of various stripes.

Yet the swastika has thousands of years of history behind it which doesn’t relate to Hitler or Nazism in the least.  In fact, the next time that you’re in an Asian country, take a good hard look around you and more likely than not, you’ll come upon a swastika.  It’s not exactly the same as the Nazi version – Hitler inversed the original swastika design in order to create his own symbol, but at any rate, the Buddhist swastika isn’t the swastika of evil and tyranny – as the Nazis have succeeded in making much of the world believe.  Rather, the swastika began with the Bon religion centuries ago which eventually originated into Buddhism.  For Buddhists, the swastika symbolises eternity, good fortune and represents the footprints and heart of Buddha.

In this video, activist and journalist Heidiminx speaks with Palden Gyatso, a Tibetan monk who spent 33 years as a political prisoner in a Chinese prison.  He speaks candidly about his two swastika tattoos, one of which was removed with a knife by his Chinese imprisoners for being “the symbol of Hitler’s regime”.

I’m not sure if there will ever be a time where the swastika loses its negative connotations, but education regarding the true meaning of this symbol can certainly help in banishing its ruinous image and hopefully one day replace it with the intended purity of the original Bon symbol.


March 8th, 2011 by

Rant time.  I don’t know, I don’t want to come off as some anal retentive stickler for rules, but there are just certain things that need to be considered when it comes to tattoos and a few things that I do take pretty seriously.  This past weekend wannabe “bad-ass” “musician” Ke$ha decided that it would be a good idea to use a needle and a pen and “tattoo” a dollar sign on a 24-year-old fan’s ankle.

If you’ve ever seen Ke$ha before, she looks pretty much like any other low grade pop star who’s desperately trying to cultivate the image of a real rough and tumble rocker.  I guess it must work for her because she’s got a legion of pre-teen, teen and post-teen fans out there, watching her every move.  Personally, when I hear her music I just imagine really awful, tacky night clubs.  It’s like the anthem to that sort of place.

Anyway, that’s beside the point.  My real beef with Ke$ha is that she tattooed this 24-year-old fan.  Yes, the fan wanted it done, but the fact that Ke$sha thinks that it’s acceptable to double as a scratcher when she’s not performing seriously pisses me off.  I mean, come on!  Does tattoo really need this on top of everything else negative that it’s in the process of trying to shrug off?  What kind of message does something like this send out to people when they see it?  That anyone can tattoo as long as they have a pen and a needle?  And most importantly, why is this legal?  It really, really shouldn’t be and it gives a terrible image to the real artists out there who are proper tattoo artists.

I’ve also read that Ke$ha’s manager recently bought her a tattoo machine off the internet.  Great.  So now instead of seeing videos of her backstage scratching with a needle we’re going to see her scratching with a machine?  This is total shit.  Stick to what you know Ke$ha, whatever that is.

Automatic Salvation

March 7th, 2011 by

No matter what, sooner or later religion will find its way into the topic of tattoo.  In the past few years we’ve seen preachers who have tattoo artists set up at their religious services, Muslims who have angered other Muslims over their personal choice to be tattooed, Buddhists being tattooed with words of political protest against the Chinese…the list goes on and on.  And, unless Hollywood has lied to me my entire life thus far – prisons are also filled with inmates covered in religious tattoos.

All of this being the case, San Jose, California based artist Chris Eckert has just created a functional work of art that intends to point out the ridiculous randomness of religious zealots who feel that they were born directly into religious certainty.

It’s called Auto Ink and what it is is a machine which randomly tattoos a religious symbol on to a person’s arm.  Laying their arm inside the machine, the volunteer grabs on to a rubber grip and the machine then inks a religious symbol on to the volunteer’s forearm.  I’m not too sure that a lot of people will be lining up to have this done, but that’s beside the point.  Says inventor/artist Chris Eckert about it all:

‘”While my personal experience with religion is one of inclusion, a system that unites people from different regions and cultures, the public face of religion is often one of exclusion. Muslim, Christian, and Jewish zealots who know what God wants. More specifically they know what God doesn’t want and apparently God does not want me…or you. This public face of religion is always so certain, self-confident, even arrogant. That anyone could possibly know the “truth” when that truth is randomly assigned at birth is just funny.”’

An interesting statement indeed.  Check out more on this, including a video of how it’s all done, here.

Meet Carl Löfqvist!

March 6th, 2011 by

Been to Sweden?  Me neither.  Still, that doesn’t keep me from knowing a couple of things about the place.  For example, depending on what month of the year it is you can either expect a whole lot of darkness or a whole lot of daylight.  Hmmm…what else?  Oh yeah, it’s crazy expensive and last but definitely not least, it’s home to tattoo superstar Carl Löfqvist.

Initially Löfqvist’s path into the tattoo universe wasn’t very direct – getting waylaid with work in a factory until he finally took the plunge and went back to school to study commercial art, getting rejected everywhere he went while trying to get hooked up with an apprenticeship and finally getting to the point after much study and hard work, where he was able to open Wicked Tattoo in Gothenburg, in 2000.  What a difference a few years makes: Löfqvist is now in demand, and for good reason.  He travels a great deal throughout the tattoo circuit, providing ample proof to everyone he comes in contact with that the work he is producing is fully and completely off the hook.

A stickler for everything but rules when it comes to his art, Löfqvist sees no division between what tattoo artists create and the art that any other artist creates.  It all comes from the same place.  He also doesn’t care much for the notion of pigeon-holing anyone into any particular style – so don’t bother asking him what kind of style he’s mainly interested in, he loves it all.

Carl believes there is no more line between art and tattoo artistry: “Tattoo artists can paint and translate their medium so easily” is the main reason given. However he does believe that tattoo artistry needs to loosen up and become a lot more fluid – according to him, the biggest fault of tattoo art culture is getting “too fixed” with certain styles. “There is no strict direction. Do what you want to do, as long as it’s good!“‘

Head over here if you want to check out some of Carl’s outstanding work.  Enjoy!

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.

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