Category: Guest bloggers

Music Review: Brand New

Our guest blogger is inventory buyer, freelance writer and creator of Typewriter Teeth blog,  Amber Carnegie. This is the first in a series of music review posts in which Amber will be documenting her experiences at various music shows. First up is her review of the band Brand New who played at The Glee Club, Birmingham earlier this month… 

Earlier this year Brand New announced a small amount of intimate dates across the UK, in the minutes that they sold out, we were held in a sort of  limbo. Were we about to experience something that you can never find in an arena or witness knee deep in mud at a festival?

Mic-stands wrapped in flowers stood patiently waiting on the stage in a nod to The Smiths, before the band shook them as they opened with ‘Mene’, Brand New’s first recording in five years. Taking the lyrics ‘we don’t feel anything’ as our own before progressing into ‘Sink’ as if working back through their discography. In a raw instant the crowd was exposed and swept together into a close moment that could only be embraced in a venue like this. ‘Gasoline’ then followed the same fervent route, the distorted end constructed the quieter moments into ‘Millstone’.

For everyone in the room there is a track or an album that has pulled them through something or become a soundtrack to a period in their life. ‘The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me’ illustrates something to me and that is what is so perfect about this set, to everyone in the crowd there was a meaning. But the moment that Brand New continued with ‘You Won’t Know’ is one that as fans we could share.

‘Sic Transit Gloria… Gloria Fades’ erupted into ‘Deja Entendu’, these favourite songs that still generate the same responsive passion that we all felt the first time we heard them more than a decade ago. Tracks that now stir emotional drunk sing-alongs at club nights and never fail to draw a crowd. ‘I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light’ and ‘Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t’ fittingly continued the teenage angst choir that had taken over the crowd with:

The kind of song that makes people glad to be where they are, with whomever they’re there with.’

Brand New persistently deliver incomparable shows, no matter where they play. With such a tight discography it is impossible to find a set list that doesn’t ensue an ardent atmosphere between the band and crowd. We were treated to an incredible full band version of ‘Brothers’ or ‘Untitled 03’ which is something I had never witnessed live before. Hearing a tracks like live for the first time really enhanced the night, making it stand out against all the other live shows I have been to.

‘Jesus Christ’ marks the final track to be performed by the entire band, winding down from an impassioned and perfect set, filled with everything that gets missed in a recording studio. Stirring every sentiment of nostalgia and of being in the moment.

Closing the show saw Jesse Lacey take the stage and lay every emotion out there for ‘Soco Amaretto Lime’. Usually at this moment the audience take the track for themselves,but in this close-knit venue Lacey clutched onto his words in an emotive and pained repetition with altered lyrics and a room silent in awe.

‘I’m just jealous cause you’re young and in love.’

White Ink Tattoos

Our guest blogger is psychologist, freelance writer and creator of the blog Dream Electric, Ally Richards. In this post she is asking the question are white ink tattoos beautifully “barely there” or barely worth it? 

Tattoos entirely in white ink have become particularly popular. Part of the appeal may be their subtly for those unwilling to commit to a very visible piece. They’re discreet and often easily hidden. Celebrities such as Cara Delevigne and Rihanna now have them. 

An oft quoted criticism is the perceived pointlessness of getting a tattoo that isn’t especially visible or durable. My own interest developed after discovering images online of delicate, filigree-style designs that had an almost “secret” quality to them. I have other tattoos so I don’t personally see white as a “soft” option and like the scar-like quality of the ink, so I made plans to get my own.

Trying to find reliable information on white ink proved both challenging and discouraging. I was unable to find artists who advertised as being experienced in white ink. Artists told me it was a difficult job that they were reluctant to take on, that the design would fade and wasn’t worth the effort. I saw images of designs that barely showed up or had blurred into an off-colour smudge. Many articles on white ink frequently confuse it with images of UV tattoos and even scarification and warn customers off.

Eventually I took a studio recommendation and the artist assured me they had experience, although they weren’t able to show me any of their white work. The design was a lace heart, inspired by mandalas and also the doilies of a traditional cream tea. 

 I had read that the stencil ink can bleed in and discolouring the tattoo and was particularly concerned about this. A blood-line technique is often recommended. The artist was confident that their stencil was suitable.

As soon as the tattoo was finished a lilac colour was very evident, which I was assured would go away during healing. The colour did fade but a blueish tinge stuck to parts, giving a bruised colouring. The artist did a free touch-up on the bluest parts. This did decrease the blue, but it was not entirely removed.

Over a year has passed since and my tattoo still has several blueish patches. Positively, the white does show up on my very pale skin. It’s slightly raised in an appealing way. I apply sun cream to prevent it yellowing. One edge is becoming fainter and I have accepted that it will require future touching up to maintain its visibility. Though others usually only notice it when very close, my tattoo regularly receives very positive responses. People frequently tell me they love it and they’ve never seen one like it. Other artists have told me it is actually a particularly good example of white ink, which is some comfort.

I do however feel disappointed with the outcome. At this point I plan on letting the entire tattoo fade then getting it all retouched. Another possible option is going over in light blue for consistency. I still love the look of white ink but I would probably think twice about getting another, due to the unpredictability of the outcome.

Do you have a white ink tattoo of your own? Have you encountered the same problems as Ally? Comment below and let us know your experiences… 

ARE YOU A TATTOO COLLECTOR? TAKE THE QUIZ!

Eva Laflamme, editor of The Tattoo Tourist, invites you to take our tattoo collector quiz.

tattoo by Jeff Gogue

 

“Tattoos can say a lot about a person. Having a tattoo or tattoos, subject matter and placement all form an impression of an individual whether it is accurate or not. If you are reading this you probably have a tattoo or are thinking of getting one. What will your tattoo say about you? What do you want it to say? Ask yourself, “How will my tattoo/s represent me? ”

“Or don’t. Seriously – Do. Not. Get tattoos because they are cool as shit and you like them and you had some time and a hundred bucks to kill while you were getting your tires rotated and that is how you got your latest ink. I’m not making fun here – that is a completely legitimate way to ink up and the chosen method for a majority of tattoo enthusiasts. The sheer number of tattoo shops in the USA and abroad allows for a free-wheeling approach to acquiring ink that is unprecedented,

Twenty plus years ago when I got my first tattoo I was living in Utah. (Don’t judge. It could happen to anyone.) I decided to get my first tattoo and choosing a shop was very easy. There was only one in a hundred mile radius. My choice of artist? Limited to the sketchy metal head with the tattoo machine and a terrifying case of the shakes. Now you can find shops in the most unlikely of places including some very tiny locations and upscale towns. Where you used to have to go to the sketchier areas to find a shop you can now go to a fancy mall and get tattooed right in the display window. Times have changed but what about the way people get tattooed?

“Back in the early 70s when tattooing started to emerge from the docks and honky tonks and into “polite society” the first tattoo conventions were held. These were serious-minded collectives of tattoo artists looking to share information, check out each others equipment (basically all hand crafted) and compare work. The non-artists in attendance were mostly wives and girlfriends of the artists (precious few women tattooing at this time) and a sprinkling of die-hard fans. Now  many tattoo conventions are  full-scale lifestyle events with bands, car shows, beauty pagents, acres of branding and merchandise, celebrity artists, fans and collectors. So what is a tattoo collector exactly and what is the difference between a person who loves tattoos and has a bunch and a tattoo collector who also loves tattoos and has a bunch. Welllll – it’s subtle.

“A tattoo fan will get a tattoo as the mood strikes based on proximity to a tattoo artist, cash in pocket and whatever looks good on the flash wall or idea they have swimming around in their head. A tattoo collector will get a tattoo based on extensive research of favourite artists, email stalking of said artists, long waiting periods of anywhere from six months to two years and an investment in their ink that would shock a lot of people who have tattoos.”

tattoo by Teresa Sharpe

 

Here is a check list to see if you are a Tattoo Collector

(If you answer “yes” to more than two you have got the bug)

1. You have a list of artists you would like to work with

2. Those artists have waiting lists or their “books are closed”

3. This fact causes you angst to varying degrees.

4. You are willing to let an artist dictate partially or completely what they will tattoo on you and where and how big

5. This causes you no angst – you are totally game

6. You are willing to travel more than a couple of hours from your home – even fly and even go out of country for a tattoo (If you answered yes to this one you have the bug – period. – no cure in sight!)

7. You don’t have as many tattoos as you want because you are waiting for that particular artist to agree to work with you

8. You can identify more than five tattoos artists’ work at a glance

9. Your friends and family think you are a little nuts about the whole tattoo thing. You sort of agree with them

10. You know most people “don’t get it” but that is fine. Some people collect Beanie Babies or schnauzers and you don’t get that but it’s their thing and that is cool with you. Serious tattoo collecting is YOUR thing. You are approaching your body like a curated tattoo exhibit and it is a fascinating, exasperating, thrilling and expensive ride. Buckle Up!

tattoo by Erin Chance

 

“How did you do? I said “yes” to all ten so I am definitely up to my neck in it. And does it matter if you said no to all of them? Does that make your tattoos “less than”? Oh hell no. Part of me wishes I could tap the brakes on my tattoo mania and just get some ink without having to move heaven and earth first. I chatted about Rock and Roller Andy Biersack’s “random” ink collection last week and I wasn’t kidding when I said I thought it was cool as hell.

“That is one of the many things I love about tattoos and tattoo culture – it truly does embrace all types. From the middle age housewife with a serious tattoo collection to the young 20 somethings inking up on the fly with no plan and no worries.  At the end of the day it all looks pretty damn cool. Unless you get a crap tattoo. That is not cool.

“So maybe you are not a “collector” but at the very least be a good tattoo consumer. Go to a professional tattoo artist who employs proper safety standards and knows how to handle a tattoo machine. Scratchers are called that largely because their line work is shaky as shit due to their lack of know-how. Tattooing well takes serious practice and skill to do it right. Don’t offer up your skin to a half-assed amateur. Make sure you are getting inked by a professional who takes pride in their craft – whether it is an elaborate full back piece or a simple word tattoo – then your ink will always be cool to the only person whose opinion on it truly matters – Your Own.

tattoo by Kelly Doty

 

all tattoos in this post are done by my short list of “dream” artists. If you help me get an appointment with one of them I will bake you your favorite cookies and Fed Ex them to you – I promise!

Abracadhybrid – an exhibition by Amanda Toy

We sent one of our lovely readers, Ilaria, to the opening of Amanda Toy’s exhibition ’Abracadhybrid’ at Parione9 to review the event for us…

“Last week I was at gallery Parione9, in Rome, near Piazza Navona. As soon as I walked in, my eyes were welcomed by a feast of balloons, colourful walls… and so many people! Here I had the pleasure to meet two lovely ladies, Marta Bandini and Elettra Bottazzi, who curated ‘Abracadhybrid’, the first solo show by Amanda Toy. Amanda Toy, as you may already know, is a tattoo artist from Italy. For over 18 years,  she has reinterpreted old school with a really personal touch that is now very recognisable.

“On 10th April, she was in Rome to celebrate the opening of her chimerical art exhibition. Among nature, childhood and bright colours, you immediately get caught up by and feel involved with the artworks on the wall. It’s like falling into a dreamy yet very realistic world. It’s magic but also reality…  Abracad(abra)… hybrid!

“It was one of those rare moments in which you could feel the power of art and the passion all around, because Amanda truly painted her deep emotions and feelings onto canvas. She found a way to bring together happiness and sadness. That’s what she always says: no rain, no rainbow! Seven canvases on which hybrid creatures live to make you think and wonder. Seven characters in which are hidden different themes, from love to fear, from strength to fantasy.

From left to right: Marta Bandini, Amanda Toy, Ilaria, and Elettra Bottazzi

 

“As Amanda Toy explained, her paintings are her own vision, a transformation aimed at personal growth. Canvases play with the observer, and those big eyes are a key to self-exploration. The lady faces on the walls, at first glance, seem funny and cheerful, but… if you take a closer look, they will reveal the stratagem of life: not everything is what it seems. Here, as in our lives, there is space for happiness and joy, as much as for sadness and nostalgia.

“By this artistic mean, Amanda lets you get a closer look to yourself and be aware of this equilibrium. Abracadhybrid is her spell for a magical life!

You can see Abracadhybrid exhibition until 10th June 2015, at Gallery Parione9. You will also find Things&Ink mags, as the gallery has just become the first official stockist in Italy!

Photos by Diana Bandini and Matteo Rasero

WHAT IS THE PERFECT AGE FOR INK?

Eva Laflamme, editor of The Tattoo Tourist, asks what is the perfect age for ink?

Around the world, and especially in the West, tattooing continues to pick up steam on a near daily basis. The notion that having  tattoos makes you appear rebellious or edgy is rapidly disappearing as more individuals from all walks of life make the decision to permanently mark their bodies. Acceptance is a good thing although some feel a pang of regret at the loss of the insider status having tattoos once conferred on the wearer. If everyone is doing it then how is it unique?

Of course, tattoos are as varied as the people who choose to wear them, and high quality tattoos always stand out from the crowd for their quality, clarity and ability to age well. Speaking of aging, now that it appears everyone has a tattoo, certain demographics previously underrepresented are jumping into the fray. I am talking about the very young and the very old, and the prospect of getting inked at an age that raises eyebrows.

What IS the perfect age to get tattooed? That is about as easy to answer as “what is the perfect tattoo?’. Everyone is different and comes to this decision for their own reasons – good, bad or otherwise. Can you be too young or too old for a tattoo? Not likely but each end of the spectrum has its own special considerations.

What is too young for a tattoo? Of course the law in virtually every western nation prohibits the tattooing of a minor (minor being  below 15 -18yrs depending on your location).  The logic is a minor could not properly consent to a permanent and potentially life-changing decision due to a lack of maturity, so the law protects them from making a rash or foolish decision (sort of like marriage).

Does that mean you will magically make sound choices once you achieve 16 years? Hmmmm think back to when YOU were 16. Do you still like all the same things you did back then? Love all the same people? Have all the same interests? Young people going in for their first tattoos are understandably excited and proud but also risk a potential poor choice due to a lack of life experience and perspective. (Of course this is not exclusive to the very young as any number of “bad tattoo” internet sites will attest to).

This doesn’t apply to every teenager but as more and more celebrities –  who are also in their teens –  sport ever more ink, it does drive a trend among the vulnerable youth market to follow suit. Will Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber still love their tattoos 20 plus years down the road? Will the thousands of kids who copied their favourite celeb’s ink feel the same?

My final thought on inking up early and heavy – what if your tastes change? Maybe not subject matter. You might be into skulls and roses at 16 and also at 36 but if you use up all your prime real estate early in the game what is left? And what if you develop an appreciation not just for ink but for top-notch ink from well-respected artists? Will you have any skin left? For the young I would say start small, space them out and be thoughtful in your choices. You plan on being around for a while, right? Tattooing will still be there for you when you are in your 20s, 30s and beyond.

What about way beyond? Can you be too old for a tattoo? I think not. Of course as we age the texture of our skin changes and this is something a skilled tattoo artist understands and takes into account.  Good artists know that skin quality can have a big effect on tattoo quality.

If you are getting on in years and things are getting a bit…wobbly…should that stop you? Oh hell no. But seek out a truly skilled artist who is well versed in their craft  and can give you realistic expectations as well as excellent results. But what about the stigma? In days past the site of a heavily tattooed older person meant they had lived a roustabout lifestyle.

 

Sailors, bikers, carnival and circus folk – they wore their feathered and faded tattoos with pride – a personal map of their colorful lives and with good reason. The old saw about “hating how your tattoos look when you are old” is something people who don’t like tattoos say. Elizabeth Weirnzl - legendary tattoo collector (who passed in 1993) and Lyle Tuttle – legendary tattoo artist (still alive and kicking ass) look amazing in their later years with their beautiful and yes…weathered tattoos telling their individual stories so well.

But what if you never thought about getting tattooed until you were past middle age? I myself jumped into the fray after a double mastectomy and the tattoos that covered my scars. Prior to that I had one tiny tattoo hidden from view that I had done in my early 20s. Now in my mid 40s I have sleeves, one shoulder and a laundry list of artists I hope to work with and prime real estate I hope to cover. My only concern? Not getting all the ink I want before I’m dead. I’ll keep going indefinitely – age be damned. The only social stigma you should be concerned with is being seen as the type of person who cares too much about what other people think.

Eva Laflamme

 

So even if you are a tender teen or a wizened senior citizen you can still embellish your body  – just think before you ink and always seek out a professional and experienced artist for the best results.

Want more tattooed thoughts? Visit Eva’s website www.thetattootourist.com 


Is it mine? Who owns my tattoo?

Tattoo artist Lain Freefall, 31, asks who owns the tattoos on your body… first published in The Identity Issue of Things&Ink.

Words by Lain Freefall / Photo of Lain by Marco Ferrari

“I was 15 when I got my first tattoo. Of course I’m not actually supposed to admit that, but it’s the truth. I walked into the small tattoo studio and picked the first one I liked from the flash sheet on the wall and off I went. I loved it. My first tattoo. At that time I’d known nothing about tattooing, where it came from or how it all came about. Never in my life did I think I was going to be in a studio 15 years later working with such amazing and talented friends and colleagues and never imagined I’d look the way I do today either.”

“We are now in a day and age where tattoos are incredibly accepted and highly fashionable. The age of “fuck you! I do what I want! I’m going to be a rock star.” We are so highly knowledgeable of “the rules” of tattooing yet fail to abide by them. Everyone “wants what he’s got” or “she has her hand tattooed! Why can’t I?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really complaining (why on earth would I complain about work?) just merely stating, in brief, where we stand amongst the vast amount of tattoo TV shows, books and magazines. We all, as artists, want to offer something unique, fresh and new, whether it’s through our work or our own aesthetic. It’s a tough world out there and it’s dog-eat-dog, but where do we draw the line?

“We are so lucky that we have evolved to the days where we now stand. Every tattooist and artist can draw from everything around us, past and present. The internet never ceases to amaze me with so much information to offer – even the things you don’t want the world to see, the internet will find a way to show it.

“In the very recent months, to the last few years, there has been more and more media coverage involving tattoos, including posters and commercials of celebrities, athletes or “alternative” models. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I saw a tattooed model in advertising on the underground or in a magazine – and modelling for huge brands. I had often looked at these models and wondered how much of their bodies were really covered and who tattooed them (especially if they were bloody awful!) Do they get tattooed to become models? Or are they models who made enough money to not care about being tattooed? What were their plans after tattoos if they really did  go out of style? More importantly I’d like to know how they felt about their bodies from time to time. It seems empowering to be tattooed. Even making the decision (it’s yours to make) so surely once you’ve sat down with your tattooist, discussed and agreed on the design (whether it be your idea as a customer, or you completely trust your tattoo artist) the process begins, and in time you’ll be leaving with a tattoo on your body.  A beautiful piece of art that’s been marked on you for life.

“So we get to the nitty-gritty. Who owns this tattoo? You, the customer and wearer of the tattoo? Or the artist, the person who put the idea onto the skin? This is what has recently been playing on a lot of people’s minds. In no less than a few months, I’ve heard, on several separate occasions, about law suits concerning compensation, ownership and royalties. With the uprising of tattoos and rock star lifestyles, comes money, fame and greed. What I found more deeply heartbreaking was the act of such selfishness towards our own tradesmen. Now as an artist, I’ve always seen the business/money part of my job as straightforward (even though I hate talking money). Once I’ve tattooed you, this tattoo belongs to you. This is what you have sought me out for, to basically buy an art piece from me. With all the media involved I can understand if there are general legalities that need to be signed, but as far as I’m concerned, if you’re the wearer of my tattoos, kindly mention that I was the artist of said tattoo – a credit is all I need. After all, you’re helping me along the way.

“With today’s social media, we are constantly being photographed, by photographers, people in the street and friends. It is spread across the world through Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr etc. We sign away agreements on iTunes and YouTube without even a thought as to what the fine print says, so long as we get to share what we want to – show the world as soon as possible.

“So what happens when you get a letter through the post one day telling you you’re being sued on the grounds of copyright ownership? (Yep this is happening to me right now). “What ownership? How does that work? It’s my body right?” I’m here to tell you in UK law, this might not be entirely true.

“A copyright gives the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time. Copyright may apply to a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms, or “works.” Copyright does not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed. Does copyright law extend to tattoo artwork? It would appear to (1) contravene privacy and image rights; (2) prevent freedom of expression under article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 – receiving and wearing a tattoo is akin to a choice of wearing a particular hat or having a particular hair colour; and (3) be inconsistent with the trade practice and customs of the UK tattoo industry. All UK legislation must be read to give effect to the rights established under the HRA.

“I have seen the latter first hand on paper from a lovely legal team. Things have now been settled out of court and all in the name of greed, unfortunately. This will now be a case that can arise again and, if it does, I’m here to spread the word of Human Rights. No one owns your tattoo, but you do own your body. We as artists have a right to be proud of what we have created and will want to share this with the world – same as you! However the art piece we have personally drawn up is owned by the artist, but when we bring into question the ownership of an actual tattoo, custom made or otherwise, that is when the lines are blurred and the law has no solid legislation.

“Unfortunately I don’t have a real conclusion in this article. All I can say is we are very lucky to be in an era of tattooing where we can request custom work. There will always be amazing artists with something unique to offer, a personal touch of style along with amazing all rounder tattooers (I’m still blown away by these people), but we are also now in a time where there is nothing new. We are inspired by the forefathers of tattooing and everything around us.” ❦

Part Three – Mindful Wanderlust Vegan Travel Diary

Our guest blogger is Giselle, creator of Mindful Wanderlust – a travel blog about responsible travel, tattoos, and following a vegan lifestyle. This is the third of many posts to appear on th-ink, telling of her and her husband Cody’s travelling tales. If you have missed their previous travel posts catch up and read Part Two and Part One

 

We made it to Tokyo! Before we even booked our flights to Japan I knew it was a country I really wanted to get tattooed in, so I spent some time back in Canada researching different artists.

After taking a look at their consistently beautiful bold artwork, I decided on American traditional for the design, I chose to go with the guys at Inkrat Tattoo in Tokyo. Rei is the owner of Inkrat Tattoo, and has been tattooing for over 22 years.  His shop is covered in art, new and old, and original flash from the 1950s hangs on the walls.

  I couldn’t stop picking out all of the pieces I wanted.

Prior to arriving at Inkrat I decided on a geisha and left the design up to Rei. I thought, “Other than a Sumo wrestler, what’s more Japanese than a geisha?” It’s the perfect souvenir from Japan.

I learned something very interesting and new about Japanese tattoo etiquette (or at least Rei’s tattoo etiquette) at the shop that day. Before arriving for my tattoo appointment, I was asked where I wanted the tattoo, and I said on the outside bottom of my left leg.

On the day of, Rei walked over to me to fit the design on my leg and it didn’t quite fit properly. I said “it’s ok, we can do it on my other leg” But Rei didn’t really respond, he just told me he would make it a little smaller so it would fit. A regular customer sitting across from me said that where I asked for the tattoo is where I am going to get it. The reason for this, is that the artist doesn’t want to inconvenience me, as I already chose the placement and he wants to respect that.

That came as a little bit of a surprise to me. I would have been perfectly fine with the tattoo on my right leg, but just hearing that he refused to put it on my other leg out of respect made me smile a little.

Respect – and integrity – seems to be an extremely important thing in the tattoo world among tattoo artists. It is something that really resonates with me, as integrity is hard to come by these days. I have a lot of respect for people who have a lot of respect for people. Go figure.

On top of my excitement over visiting and getting tattooed in Japan, arriving in Tokyo was a sensory overload. My senses were pulling me everywhere. The colours, the lights, the droves of people, and the, sometimes, disapproving stares from some of the locals.

Although tattoo shops are legal in Japan, the long history and mentality of tattoos being only for criminals and misfits has not yet dissipated.

The earliest signs of the Japanese getting tattooed date back to 5,000 BC. By the 7th century the Japanese adopted much of the same mentality that the Chinese had for tattoos, seeing them as barbaric and using them as a punishment for crimes committed.

In the middle of the 18th century Japanese tattooing was popularised by a Chinese novel with several of its heroes covered in tattoos. This novel influenced all Japanese culture and arts, but the yakuza also became interested in tattooing, further making it a tasteless form of art and self expression to many. The yakuza felt that because tattooing was painful, it was proof of courage, and because it was illegal, it made them outlaws forever.

Finally, tattooing in Japan was legalised in the 20th century, but to this day it is still taboo. People with tattoos cannot enter into any hot baths, so unfortunately we will not be visiting any onsen (hot springs) in Japan.

Thankfully the mentality of tattoos being only for criminals is dying out with the old generation and new generations are embracing their rich culture of the art of irezumi.

 It is an ancient craft that should be appreciated and respected for what it is, not looked down upon, because it is misunderstood.

As Japan tries to reclaim all of the beauty and positivity of this ancient art of expression; I feel honoured to be able to collect an original piece from a country so steeped in the tradition of tattooing.

Follow Giselle and Cody’s travels on their blog and Instagram

My tattooed body

In issue 9, stripped back, we asked the Things&Ink team how they feel about their naked bodies, now that they’re tattooed…

We got in touch with blogger Rachel Bradford, creator of Illustrated Teacup, to discuss how she feels about her body now that it is beginning to be covered by tattoos…

“You don’t have to go far on the internet or on social media to find a debate of body positivity or body confidence. A particular area of contention is tattooed people, especially women, and even more so, anyone who has an extensive collection of tattoos.”

“Apparently it isn’t attractive to have lots of beautiful images on your body. It takes away from your ‘natural beauty’. It isn’t ‘ladylike’. It’s not ‘pretty’.”

Green lady  by Dani Green at Dragstrip Tattoo, Southampton

“Obviously this isn’t everyone’s feelings, or no one would have tattoos, but I’m here to explain why I think tattoos are a good thing for body positivity.”

 

“Take a look at Things&Ink Issue 9 for some examples:”

 ”I see my colourful tattoos before I see the shape of my body, and then I notice the gaps. I get lost in the ideas of what would fit where and the work I could collect from other tattooists. With tattoos you are never truly naked, they are one thing you can never take off, and I love that!”

Editorial Assistant Rosalie Woodward (Page 5)

“I like to think of my tattoos as ‘permanent accessories’ and they make me feel very glamorous when I’m in the nude”

Beauty Editor Marina De Salis (Page 5)

“I feel like I’ve created my own body, rather than just being stuck with the one I was given”

Columnist Reeree Rockette (Page 5)

 

“Three talented, smart ladies, with tattoos, who feel better about themselves and their naked bodies because of their tattoos. And quite frankly, what is wrong with modifying your body if it makes you happier? That is what we all want isn’t it? To be happy with our bodies?”

Cat and compass by Saranna Blair at Urban Image Tattoo, Bournemouth

“Personally, my tattoos have boosted my confidence no end. My confidence and happiness with my own body, comfort on my own body, grows with every tattoo. It’s an experience in itself. My tattoos distract from the things I dislike about my body. And fill me with happiness every time I see them. They catalogue my life so far, and remind me of my journey. I feel like I wear my life on my body, miniature pieces of artwork carried around with me all the time.”

“To me, I am enhancing what I was given, and making my body my own, rather than it just being borrowed for a little while.  I think that is the most important part of body confidence. Being comfortable in your body, making it your own.”

 Belle by Dani Green at Dragstrip Tattoo, Southampton

 

 

Can you be friends with your tattooist? A reader’s response…

When we asked the question, Can You Be Friends With Your Tattooist?, reader Sarah K got in touch to say, yes you can. Sarah is 31, a heavily tattooed human rights lawyer and law professor, living between Brussels and Brooklyn… 

Tattoo by Drew Linden“This tattoo is the first one on my right leg, the only limb left to be inked. I got it done this June by Drew Linden who had started at East Side Ink in NYC. Initially, it was supposed to be much smaller and a filler on my left leg. Leave it to Drew  to expand and make it more amazing.

“It is now the fourth tattoo I’ve gotten from her, it started from a wonderful lady gypsy / sugar skull combo in 2011. We hit it off right away, we’re about the same age, she’s stunning, a life force, yet so sweet and kind. She has a strong identity, a refined and unique personality, traits I look for in a person. We had friends in common and we spent the duration of the tattoo talking about them. I knew I’d come see her again.

Photo from June 2012, when Drew first tattooed Sarah.

 

“The friendship developed quickly, we kept in touch via text and social media. She was always extremely supportive of me – 2011 / 2012 were years during which I got a lot of work done while processing a lot of personal stuff. My work had been put on hold after an accident, and I was struggling to gain control of my body as well as of my life. The tattoo process, led by two key artists, helped immensely – and Drew was the second female artist that redefined how I saw my own body.

Gypsy by Drew Linden Gypsy by Drew Linden

 

“In 2012, I wanted to get my chest tattooed. On the day of the appointment, Drew had actually redesigned it entirely so it would not be vertical and along my sternum, but across my chest. She added flowers and dot work, to make it “less aggressive.”

“But Drew, I *am* aggressive.”

“Not just.”

“But-”

“Sarah, you’re a woman, too. And you can be lovely. And this is a very feminine part of your body. And it’s a huge deal, working from limbs to chest. You’ll be *heavily* tattooed, all in black and grey. I know you’re not girly. But you deserve something that shows you can be a lady, and there are parts of you that are not lawyer-soldier.”

Sarah's chest piece Sarah’s chest piece

“Five and a half hours later, and a bonus cup on my bra due to the swelling, my chest piece was done. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My globe tattoo signals the fact that as of May 2014, I will have been a lawyer for 10 years. In June 2014, I told Drew I wanted a globe, with the phrase “jus cogens” – a Latin phrasing that refers to the peremptory norm, which is to say, the most fundamental, unalienable of human rights. As a human rights lawyer, working internationally and in war zones, this sounded perfect. She started on my right leg, the way she started my left one three years before. Her best friend sat next to me and held my hand during the session – that she belted in under an hour. The hands and flower are of her own making.

“I thought we’d have the hands over the globe, you know, protecting it.”

“Ah, but design wise it doesn’t work, and this is the old school symbol of friendship, love and fraternity. With the globe, it’s the fraternity of all peoples.”

“Equality and protection.”

“Yes. That. Like you.”

“The arrow is pointing straight forward on my leg that was once injured.

“Drew is not just my friend and my tattoo artist. In many ways, she is also a therapist, a healer, a psychic, a drinking enabler, someone I once flew all the way to San Diego to see, literally on the other side of the globe. She made my world manageable again.

“She and Jessica Mascitti, one of the first artists to work on me, made me a woman. I transitioned from prodigal lawyer girl to full fledged woman of the law because of them; they inspired me and blew confidence beneath my skin. I became stronger, and more focused as a result. And I stand proud.”

Interview with tattoo artist Gia Rose

Sofia from Geeked Magazine talked to tattoo artist Gia Rose for us about tattoos, being a female artist and her battle with cancer. Read her interview below and don’t forget to check out more of Gia Rose’s work on her Instagram 

 

Sofia: “Having been diagnosed with a chronic illness – even though not dangerous/deadly – it affects my everyday life, I draw a lot of strength from the artist Frida Kahlo who suffered for more than 30 years, but has never let her health deter her from doing her art. When I decided on getting Frida tattooed on me I knew I wanted a woman to do it. I remembered seeing the awesome portfolio of tattoo artist Gia Rose from Art Machine Productions in Philadelphia, so I decided to look her up. Sadly she was off work on medical leave due to cervical cancer, but hopefully she would survive it, get better and come back to work as soon as she had recovered. Thankfully that happened and today I have the most wonderful tattoo I could have ever asked for, full of meaning, passion and female strength. Here are some questions I asked Gia about her amazing turbulent and brave journey.” 

Tell us a little bit about your background, how did you come to be a tattoo artist? I consider myself an accidental tattooist. I pretty much stumbled into my apprenticeship with all the excitability and ignorance that youth offers!  After a few years of being a general misfit and vagabond I landed myself in Asheville North Carolina. I always drew and never fancied myself an artist but liked the idea of learning a trade, so I hastily put together a portfolio of sketches and drawings and threw myself at Miss Kitty, who owned Sky People Tattoo (a private tattoo studio that no longer exists), but she still tattoos in Asheville! I know now that getting an apprenticeship like that is not the norm and pretty difficult these days! I did my apprenticeship for a year, then left to work in a street shop in New Orleans. After that I pursued a degree in Illustration in Portland, Oregon. That’s the short of the long. It’s been a long journey!

What’s it like being a female artist in the tattoo industry? To be frank, it’s awesome. In the beginning, I definitely felt the differences in what being a woman meant. It meant I had to work harder, push harder, strive for more and be very careful about who I dated. We live in a patriarchal world that still subjugates women and uses them as a commodity. So we face these challenges in our daily lives in all fields. So in all actuality, I would argue that the tattoo industry may offer more benefits to women, mainly the fact that I make the same amount of money as my male co-workers. Getting into tattooing is hard for anyone at first. But once past those gates and once you establish your skills and place in the industry, there’s a whole world there to support you.

I did my apprenticeship in 2003 and I’ve seen girls explode into the tattoo industry with such awesome creativity and skills, it’s been so cool. I’m very proud to be a female artist and I feel very supported by the guys. Yes, there is the “sex sells” aspect to this industry, but that’s in ANY industry, tattooing just has no shame in it. So it’s hard at times, we do indeed have to work harder, but I think it’s just hard being a girl in this world sometimes.
Which is why I love Things&Ink magazine, us ladies gotta stick together and celebrate what we bring to the table.

 

Where do you get your inspiration? Other female artists, and a lot from fashion  collections and jewellery artists, as well as artisans and crafts people. I find so much inspiration from Instagram! I like pulling things from life and peeking into people’s personal curating of the world around them. Sometimes I’ll design a tattoo completely around a piece of jewellery I saw.

Your life has been brutally interrupted and affected recently by cancer, how did this affect your work, your life as an artist and as a woman?

Holy hell. Cancer blows. But it’s also a really great gift once you find your centre. You don’t just learn about yourself, you learn what you’re fucking made of!

I was diagnosed in January 2014 with an aggressive cervical cancer. Uninsured like most American artists, I found myself very alone and very afraid. I refused to wait to even see someone, so I did something I will never ever regret doing. Via social media I went public and reached out to my tattoo community for help. We also had a fundraiser that raised over 30K to help me in my fight.  Through Tattoos Cure Cancer and tattoo artists all over the country I was able to get the best care possible. I had a radical hysterectomy in February 2014 and found out in May that at this time, due to fast acting and early detection, no further treatment is necessary. I’m 100% convinced my industry saved my life.  I will never have children but in a way, I feel like this gives me more drive to push myself as an artist and reach out to other women survivors and continue to add my efforts to making people feel beautiful and strong.

Every January (cervical cancer awareness month) starting this year, I will be donating proceeds from my tattoos to someone battling cervical cancer like I was. This has been the most humbling experience in my life. The tattoo industry has made me so proud.  Tattoo artists are some of the most generous people on the planet.

It’s definitely made me a stronger artist and person. Life’s too short to fuck around.

 

 

How did you feel about tattooing Frida Kahlo on me? I LOVED it. This was seriously a bucket list tattoo for me. Frida Kahlo is one of my personal artist heroes and I find her radiating such beauty and strength!  I hope I captured it well. It was also very empowering to get the opportunity! This is my second colour portrait so it was challenging, which I like and I’m very happy with it.  My stuff is usually very illustrative, which I think this tattoo is, but it works.

I love it. Hands down one of my favourites.