Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Get It Out There

February 22nd, 2011 by

Okay, so there’s been a bit of negativity flowing around here this week with all this downer talk of poisonous tattoo inks and what not.  I needed a topic that’s a little more fun and light to talk about today and after a bit of searching around, I found it.

Tattoo Dynamite

This one’s for all you tattoo maniacs out there.  Are there any actual tattoo maniacs out there reading this?  Anyway, if you’re a tattooist who’s responsible for some pretty sick tattoo work – and I mean some pretty sick work that you’d like a chance at immortalising in a book put out by the Big Tattoo Planet website, then I would not delay in sending in a photo of what you’ve got…

The book is called Tattoo Dynamite and although it’s being billed as a bookazine rather than a straight up book, don’t be fooled.  It’s going to be massive and as the heading above the title implies, it will contain: The World’s Greatest Tattoos.  That’s right, they’re the world’s greatest tattoos, not the world’s so-so-ish tattoos, the GREATEST!!  Are you ready for that??

If you’re up for the challenge, then you need to head over to Big Tattoo Planet and get your submission underway.  Tattoo Dynamite is slated to be released early this year.  Get your work out there and show everyone what you’ve got goin’ on.

What’s Up With the Ink?

February 21st, 2011 by

Last week I posted about vegan ink, the cruelty free and perhaps healthier alternative to regular tattoo ink.  Well, despite angering at least one of you with that post, I believe it did brush on the topic of the need to either introduce newer, stricter laws on what is permitted as ingredients in tattoo ink, or to make displaying the ink ingredients on the bottle law.

It’s when I see news such as this from Germany that the ingredients of tattoo ink suddenly starts to become more of a pressing issue with me.  A recent study in Karlsruhe, Germany has discovered that some tattoo inks contain “health damaging substances which can cause cancer.”

‘Chemists in Karlsruhe, Germany, have presented results of a study by the German Chemical and Veterinary investigations office showing that tattoo ink contains health damaging substances which can cause cancer.

One third of the 38 tattoo colours tested contained banned substances, which are dangerous to health. In some cases they even contained substances which are usually found only in car paint.’

How reliable of a study this is remains to be seen, but I think I can speak for most people when I say that Cancer and car paint are two features of tattoo ink that I am not all that excited about.  If this is the sort of study that they are getting in Europe, what about the ink that is used in other parts of the world like North America?  Is it the same?  Better?  Or even worse?  Whatever it is, one thing is for certain: it’s time that laws begin to change and open up much, much wider in order to accommodate the issues surrounding tattoo.

Meet Dawn Grace!

February 20th, 2011 by

If there’s one thing that Chicago tattooist Dawn Grace doesn’t ever have to worry about it’s things to keep her busy and happy if she should ever stop tattooing.  Not that Grace will be stopping her work as a tattooist anytime in the foreseeable future, but the list of things that keep her attention when she’s not tattooing is sizeable indeed.  Yet no matter how many interests that Grace accrues, the common point between her tattooing, travelling, yoga, belly dancing, mosaic art, graphic art and love for scooters is an eye for and appreciation of beauty.  Because as everyone is well aware, every good tattooist needs an appreciation of beauty.

Grace’s tattoo work kind of took me off guard.  I suppose that might be considered a sort of silly thing to say, but it’s true.  When I began looking at her art I don’t think that I was expecting to see her style.  Now that sounds strange, I admit, but what I mean by that is that looking through artists profiles it’s often simple to get caught up in the genre of a tattoo and to have the typical expectations of only what that particular genre is.  Portraits are portraits for example, and we judge them based on how closely they resemble the original image.  With Grace however, the black and grey style that she employs has a slimming effect in that it seems to break down the genre, leaving behind a clear understanding of Grace’s personal style.  The fact that it’s black and grey didn’t enter the equation for me and although my first instinct was to compare Grace’s black and grey to the work of other tattooists black and grey, I quickly got over it.

Instead, I was drawn to the images and the way that Dawn interprets them.  The work is as smooth and straightforward as a pencil sketch, though it certainly isn’t simple.  There’s a calmness to this work just as there seems to be a calmness to Grace’s life, even amongst the understandably hectic creative-smorgasbord that fills up her days.

Dawn Grace tattoos by appointment only at Chicago’s Tattoo Factory.

Getting Rid of It

February 17th, 2011 by

It’s only natural that the more people who get tattooed, the more people there will be who want their tattoos removed.  While I personally can’t ever see the need to get rid of any of my own tattoos, I guess it can be said that getting rid of a tattoo is sort of like getting one: everyone has their own reasons for doing so.

Which of course means that everyday it seems like some new gimmick or product appears on the market to help people who are desperate to have their tattoos removed.  As I said, I’ve never had any of my tattoos removed and actually, I’ve never known anyone who has had their tattoos removed.  But, from word of mouth as well as common sense, I’ve learned to fear the entirely painful idea of having tattoos removed from the flesh by burning them out with a laser.

Enter Nuviderm, a liquid tattoo removal agent that is being called “revolutionary” by the makers of Nuviderm.  Correction – Nuviderm doesn’t entirely take away unwanted tattoos on its own, but it does decrease the amount of time that one would potentially have to spend sitting underneath the tattoo removal laser.  Or so they claim.

‘This liquid is a cosmetic acid that, when applied to the skin, sets up a controlled inflammation that, combined with the removal of the top layer of skin cells, will help to remove the image. Tattoo removal lasers work the same way, with controlled inflammation; however, the laser penetrates the skin and heats the pigments, sometimes to a temperature of over 900 degrees Celsius. This causes the pigments to break down and migrate to the surface in the blister that forms when the water in the skin boils. Effective, but painful. In addition, the laser works best on dark pigments; lighter pigments require more visits, and therefore more pain.’

Hmmm…okay, here’s the deal: calling this stuff cosmetic acid doesn’t make it sound any nicer.  I mean, dressing up the word acid doesn’t hide the fact that it’s ACID and that it would hurt like hell.  I know that Nuviderm’s angle here is to let you know that any way you slice it, getting rid of a tattoo is a painful process and that by using Nuviderm, one can shorten that process.  But man oh man, if Nuviderm’s ad campaign does anything at all, it makes me realise how I never want to be in a position where I want a tattoo removed.  If however you are in a position where you want a tattoo removed, Nuviderm might be worth reading up on – although I still think I’d take the laser over the acid if I had to choose.

Good luck.

Tattoo Truth

February 16th, 2011 by

As a lot of us have to find a way to deal with the often rather tricky business of balancing tattoos with employment, we can always take refuge in knowing that covering up our tattoos with clothing or even makeup at very tattoo unfriendly places is only for a certain amount of hours per day, per week.  During the periods where we aren’t at work, the tattoos are allowed to be as freely visible as they were original intended to be.

But what if having a tattoo contravened your religious beliefs and having one meant relinquishing your cushy spot in the after life?  I have to admit, I’m not a religious person and I don’t know too much about religion.  In fact, if it weren’t for the television series Curb Your Enthusiasm, I wouldn’t have any idea that Jewish people are prohibited by the Torah or written Jewish law, from being tattooed.  In an episode entitled The Special Section, series creator and star Larry David discovers that his mother is being denied a burial in a proper Jewish cemetery because she had a secret tattoo on her buttocks.  Well, television is television and although the episode is funny (as is every Curb episode), it’s actually (somewhat) based in fact:

‘The Torah, or written Jewish law, states “you shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.”‘

What isn’t based in fact however, is that Jews who are tattooed can be denied their proper burial rights.

‘”In Judaism, sins aren’t weighted. They are all things that you are not supposed to do,” said Laura Wilson Etter, the director of engagement at Hillel Center.

She explained that eating pork (prohibited in Jewish dietary law), or not keeping Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, is just as sinful as getting a tattoo.

Regardless, it is “more important to be doing Mitzvot (good deeds) than to worry about what you have done wrong,” according to Wilson Etter.’

I’m not sure I’d exactly call all this good news – I mean, I guess if you’re a deeply religious person, a sin is still a sin, regardless of how equal it is to the others.  But I do think it’s important to clarify that Jews who choose to get tattooed are in no way relinquishing their right to a burial in a Jewish cemetery, or their participation in any synagogue rituals.  What it all comes down to I guess, is what tattoos have always come down to: a meaningful and very personal choice.

What is Acceptable?

February 15th, 2011 by

If someone says the name “Google” to you, chances are that the first thing that you think of isn’t tattoo.  That would be the normal reaction of course, but the truth is that aside from aiding online searches all over the world for images of tattoos and portfolios of artists, Google is also at the forefront of changing what’s considered acceptable in terms of an employee dress code.

What does this have to do with tattoo?  Well, as much as I’d love to say that the days of missing out on a job because you’re tattooed is a thing of the past, it really isn’t.  Most recently a sheriff in Florida issued a ban on tattoos for officers serving on the Broward County police force.  Banning tattoos in the workplace is certainly nothing new, though it’s still entirely too common.

Which is why Google’s approach to workplace attire and appearance is a refreshing and sensible breath of fresh air and hope for a more tattoo friendly future.

‘At Google’s Canadian headquarters, a strict dress code is enforced: employees must wear clothes.

The laissez-faire policy, emphasizing productivity and ideas over appearance, heaves a water balloon at more traditional guidelines requiring workers to conform to such austere standards as wearing shoes — which, incidentally, are optional at the search-engine’s offices.

A spokeswoman describes the approach as a total success.’

The article goes on to explain how this somewhat libertarian approach to dress-code is receiving mixed reviews elsewhere and that by allowing employees to dress how they wish for work, too many complications arise such as sexual harassment of female employees who tend to dress more provocatively.

As far as I’m concerned, Google’s approach is the future.  If a person understands how to do their job and they are good at their job, little else matters.  As a matter of fact, Professor Sandra Robinson at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business puts it best when she says:

‘”If management really has to change this level of detail in their employees’ behaviour — shoes and lipstick colour — they have a more serious problem than dress code.”

“Effective companies . . . hire people that have the attributes they need, managers model appropriate behaviour on a daily basis for those at the next level down, and they make what they care about a central part of the actual culture of the business. They don’t need manuals.”‘

Well, Google revolutionised the internet search, let’s see (and hope) if their way of doing things can spread amongst modern, forward-thinking businesses everywhere.

What’s in the Ink, Homes?

February 14th, 2011 by

Perhaps getting a tattoo all seems pretty simple to you.  I mean, aside from deciding what it is that you want tattooed and which tattooist to trust with the actual work, there’s not much else that might pose a challenge except maybe the cost and of course, depending on your threshold, the pain.

If however, you happen to follow the vegan lifestyle – that is, no animal products whatsoever in your diet or your life – then getting a tattoo can actually be quite challenging.  The problem?  Well, the problem lies with the ink.  Most tattoo artists don’t use vegan friendly ink and for someone who doesn’t want anything to do with animal bi-products or products, this can all be a little bit challenging.

Jason Wynn, a UA graduate and employee of Scapegoat Tattoo, an all-vegan tattoo parlor in Portland, Ore., said most tattoo ink is considered vegan, but there are certain colors that are by-products of animals.

“Black is a tough color because it is often derived either from burnt bones or from the resin of shellac bugs,” Wynn said.

He also pointed out that most tattoo parlors use soaps or ointments in the treatment of tattoos that contain animal by-products. Even if customers were able to use vegan-friendly ink, such as ink of the brand Starbrite, they would still have to be cautious about what to use to treat the tattoo.’

That problem has found its solution in Starbrite ink, a tattoo ink that is 100% vegan.  Or has it?  Some tattooists shy away from Starbrite, as it’s believed that Starbrite’s pigment quality is not the best that it can be.  Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but yet another problem that faces not only vegans but the customer in general is that when it comes to ink, there are no laws that force ink companies to list their ingredients on the bottle.  To me this seems kind of crazy, given that people can’t just be expected to blindly accept what is being manufactured and pumped into their flesh.

I’m sure all of this will change in the near future, with more and more demands from customers for ink that is animal friendly and from tattooists who want more accountability from their ink manufacturers with regards to the ingredients that are being used.  But for the time being, if this is the type of thing that you are concerned about, the best thing you can do is ask around until you find an artist who is using the ink that you want.  It might not be easy, but unfortunately it’s the only option you’ve got.

Meet Jamer!

February 13th, 2011 by

I’ve been hearing this guy’s name a lot lately.  I mean, here I am, just trying to mind my own business and everywhere I turn I’m hearing “Jamer, yeah that guy who tattoos from Victoria.”  So being the inquisitive sort, I decided to check into this guy from Victoria, Canada, who tattoos.  Yes, I was pleased when I saw the work that the man called Jamer pulls off.

The classic American style is a style that has grown immensely in its appeal to me as time goes on.  Each time that I see a tattooist whose classic American work really sticks out from the rest, my appreciation of the style increases tenfold.  So much so in fact, that I’ve decided with my birthday approaching to get a new tattoo and I do believe that I am going to go with a classic American tattoo.  Which is why it’s encouraging to know that there are talented classic American artists like Jamer nearby.

horse tattoo government street tattoo

Unfortunately, there isn’t a particularly lot of info about Jamer available online.  Oh, there’s plenty of stuff on his tattoo work as well as the studio where he works in Victoria, Government Street Tattoo, but as far as the bio stuff is concerned, not too much out there.  What I do know is that I unfortunately wasn’t able to attend the opening of an art show this past Friday in Vancouver in which Jamer was attending and exhibiting his own work.  The good news is that the exhibit runs for one month at antisocial skateboards, and that Jamer will also be attending the forthcoming West Coast Tattoo and Culture Show, to be held in Vancouver on the weekend of April 15th.

Maybe then I’ll get the chance to see his work in person.

Larger Than Life

February 10th, 2011 by

I like to try and keep up to date on at least some of the new tattoo studios that have been opened in the last little while or that will be opening soon.  For those of you in Illinois – particularly in the Waukegan area – you might want to consider taking a trip down to the newly opened (and superbly named) Dinosaur Studio Tattoo.

Tattooist Mark Hoffmann has worked at various studios across the US, from Seattle to Memphis to Chicago.  The continuous demand for his work has finally lead him to listen to all of those who at one time or another told him to take the plunge and open his very own studio.  On January 29th, 2011, Hoffmann opened the doors to Dinosaur Studio Tattoo.

So far things have been going great for Hoffmann and his studio, with the official opening and ArtWauk scheduled for March 11th.  And although opening your own business can be a little daunting, Hoffmann seems to have gained an abundance of courage from an interesting source…

‘One hint of where Hoffmann found his drive to succeed can be spotted near his paintings: a plaque containing the Boy Scout ranks he achieved on the path to Eagle Scout.

“It taught me to take the bull by the horns,” he said of Scouting. “I’m not sure I’d be here today if it weren’t for being an Eagle Scout. I wanted to get paid for my art, and that’s essentially what I’m doing.”

If you’re interested in booking an appointment with Mark, you can do so by calling 847.599.TATO or heading over directly to Dinosaur Studio Tattoo and booking one in person.  At the moment there is no website for DST, but you can join the DST Facebook page here.

‘…My goal with my business is to show people a different side of art. Dinosaur Studio will host art gallery shows. We look forward to working within the art community of Waukegan to promote the local artist, whether it be painting, sculptures, photography, or any other medium of the artist choice. Again, Dinosaur Studio will be a destination for art, therefore bringing in new visitors to downtown Waukegan and Genesse Street.’

Best of luck to you, Mark!

Words of Wisdom From Marky Mark

February 9th, 2011 by

You know what really gets me?  I mean really gets me?  I’ll tell you.  What really gets me is when people who have tattoos finally decide to have their tattoos removed, only to turn around and lecture people about what a bad idea that tattoos are.  This is annoying enough when it’s just a regular Joe doing the preaching, but when it’s a celebrity, it gets particularly nauseating.

Enter Mark Wahlberg: producer, actor and former male model and (ha-ha!) hip-hop star.  At one point in his life, Wahlberg had a few tattoos, including this gem, but the Hollywood star has finally reached a point in his life where he no longer wants to be tattooed.  Because of this, he’s undergone laser removal surgery to get rid of those pesky reminders of when he was young and oh so foolish.

But wait!  It’s apparently not enough for Wahlberg to rid himself of his tattoos, he has to bring his kids into it and force them to see why his mistakes will ultimately become theirs should they ever choose to get tattooed.

‘The star first went under the needle when he was just 11, but the one-time bad boy has since transformed himself into a family man and wants to remove his skin art in a bid to set a good example to his four kids.

He recently said, “I just don’t want my kids to think tattoos are cool.”

And Wahlberg admits he’s taken to more extreme measures to ensure his daughter Ella, seven, and son Michael, three, are well aware of the consequences of getting tattooed.

He says, “I started getting the tattoos removed initially to do The Fighter, because I didn’t want make-up to cover them up all the time. First time I got them, they all had meaning to them…

“When I started removing them, they said it’d take five to seven visits. I’d been 20-something times and I took my two oldest to watch because it’s like getting burnt with hot baking grease, there’s blood coming up, it looks like somebody welded your skin, there’s these welts that come up like a quarter of an inch. Hopefully that will deter them from getting (tattoos).”‘

A) Having tattoos has absolutely nothing to do with one’s ability to be a father and a good “family man”.

B)  Just because Marky Mark’s tattoos weren’t cool doesn’t mean that tattoos in general aren’t cool.

Yes, Whalberg does insist that his tattoos all had meaning to him when he got them done, but what he’s ignorant of is assuming that his own situation is the same as anyone elses, or that it will be the same as his children’s future situations.  Come on man!  Your kids are going to grow up and live their lives as they see fit, just as you did.  Don’t be such a dick.

Anyway, I had to get that off my chest.

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