Category: Guest bloggers

Series Review: Hannibal

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward. This is the first in a series of posts in which Harry will be sharing his opinions on things he has watched. First up is his review of Hannibal

Hannibal, 2013- , cert 18, 2/5

American TV shows tend to annoy me. Of course there are exceptions and this is not going to be a rant about how everything produced by America is pig slop compared to the firm upholding columns of British art, because I enjoy more American films, book and music than such things from my own country.
However, it’s the way the ‘hottest’ US dramas are shoved in your face constantly while someone’s screaming ‘YOUR LIFE WILL NOT BE COMPLETE WITHOUT THIS.’ And when you bully your busy consciousness to pay attention to them, you realise that under all the hype, the glossy technical sheen and pretty actors, there’s not a lot going on.
‘Hannibal’ is no exception. For those not in the know, this series now in its third season is about everybody’s favourite cannibalistic psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter and is set way before ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and even before ‘Red Dragon’, the first Hannibal story.

In the show, Hannibal is somehow not yet suspected of being a serial killer (despite an overly sinister performance by Mads Mikkelsen) and he is asked by FBI man Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) to be psychiatrist for Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a special consultant for the FBI who’s ‘too unstable’ to be an agent and is revered for his ability to fully emphasise with serial killers.
There have already been two films about Will Graham. In both ‘Manhunter’ (1986) and ‘Red Dragon’ (2002), Graham is presented as a brave, intelligent individual, battling his own demons. Hugh Dancy portrays him as a toddler constantly on the verge of a tantrum. He’s this fragile genius who everyone must dance around or he’ll snap and slaughter them all. Unfortunately the suggestion that someone who looks as threatening as a teddy bear can have a dark murderous heart isn’t very convincing.

His ‘gift’ is overblown too. In the films, Will simply sees the crime scene through the view of the killer, using psychology to pick out clues. In the show, Will can not only fully re-imagine the crime but also re-enact the whole thing, thus causing further annoyance when he pretends to be some big bad psychopath every episode. The replaying of the murder is impressive the first few times, but it gets a bit old when it’s done every episode.
The tendency to over-do things lets this show down big time. Every shot has to look sensuous and glamorous, whether it’s Hannibal’s cooking or a dismembered body. As impressive as the hallucinogenic scenes and perfect lighting is, every episode is an assault to the senses which gets exhausting. Yet under the flashy imagery, the dramatic emotions and heavy dialogue on psychology and murder, the show isn’t saying a lot. All it does it cater to society’s sick obsession with serial killers, of which there are a hundred other shows and films doing the same thing.


Every episode attempts to outdo the one before in terms of gore and violence. Every episode, Will and Jack are investigating a new killer in their local area, which just feels unrealistic. So does the amount of violence perpetrated by the killers. We’ve got killers building sculptures out of bodies, turning bodies into instruments or using them as fungus gardens. While the films attempted to be realistic and in depth with the psychology of their killers, the show just uses outrageous gore for gores’ sake, which feels shallow and sick.
The one thing that could have had more spice was Mad Mikkelsen’s performance of Hannibal. It’s cool to see a cold, restricted portrayal of the character, but Mikkelsen shows so little emotion in every episode that he gets a bit wooden. I still find Hopkins’ performance more chilling. He may be tongue in cheek but he demands your attention, whereas Mikkelsen comes across as a bit lazy.

But maybe I shouldn’t be complaining about something that has been written primarily for entertainment and I should just accept the fact that I do enjoy it for the nonsense that it is. However, what gets my goat is that it tries to be some deep philosophical drama when there’s not much substance under the style. And as for being a horror show, it’s not very scary. While the films went for the classic tools of suggestion and atmosphere to creep you out, the show just throws gore in your face. But if sensual overload is your thing, this show has a lot to offer visually, and Hannibal’s cooking did make me hungry…

What do you think? Do you agree with Harry’s review? 

Images from Sky

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: New Tattoo Blues

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer,  freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. This is the second of many posts to appear on th-ink.co.uk, in which Natalie will be telling us about her life in tattoos. Read the first in the series here

I woke up with a deep crushing regret for the tattoo I’d gotten the day before. Thoughts of laser removal and cover ups running through my mind. Don’t get me wrong it was an utterly beautiful tattoo by a talented artist, it just wasn’t the tattoo I thought it was going to be…

These thoughts and feelings weren’t all that alien to me, nor did it seem to others too. Only days before my friend had confessed that details of her latest addition had been lost in translation with an Italian artist. I too bore in mind the first large and highly visible tattoo I had, a rooster stretching from ankle to knee. Bold and unapologetic, dark against my pale skin. It was something on me, rather than part of me. Yet as it healed and settled into my skin, became smooth to the touch, my eye grew used to seeing it everyday, my body and gaze accepting it as part of me.

Cockerel by Max Rathbone 

As the day went on I found myself going through a series of emotions, I felt like I was betraying my artist by admitting my concerns, whilst feeling ashamed of myself for ending up in this position. Why hadn’t I put across any specifics that I wanted to the artist, before letting someone etch this onto my skin for the rest of my life?

In truth I was exhausted that day. It was the third time in a week I was getting tattooed. For the past few months I’ve gotten tattooed on average 2-3 times each month. You could say I’d become a bit blasé about the whole thing, when you have most of your body covered in tattoos another small one really doesn’t make that much difference – or does it?

I’d decided on the design based on the artists flash and asked her to do something similar. I didn’t see the design till the night before, again nothing unusual – in fact for all my other tattoos I’d not seen the design until right before it was to be tattooed. I choose artists because I like their work and I trust their judgement. But of course you are the one who will carry this art on your body for the rest of your life (possibly). I’ve never been too specific in my tattoo requests, I’ve given indications  and let the artist get on with it.

So why was I so upset about this tattoo? This was the first tattoo I’d gotten which had meaning, real meaning on a personal level.I have a Japanese bodysuit on the go and lots of Western traditional tattoos so yes of course in the symbolical sense all my tattoos have some meaning, however this one held personal meaning. It was my heart on a plate that I couldn’t explain away. It was my soul laid bare in a great big heart on my thigh. I realised I wasn’t worried about explaining the tattoo to anyone else.

Tattoos by Kelly Smith, Holly Ashby, Max Rathbone & Paul Goss 

No, the shock was in admitting to myself what I had actually done. This tattoo I got because of my boyfriend, not for him, not a gift, not an unyielding declaration of my love. He knows that without the need to permanently mark it on my body. I got it for myself. As a reminder not to run away when things get tough.

Now the swelling has gone down, the blood and plasma washed away, my new tattoo somehow fits.  I like to trace the tattoo with my finger whilst it’s still raised. If I had the chance to alter it now to what I’d previously imagined it to look like, I can safely say I wouldn’t – a tattoo that would have sat alongside my others, small and hidden, no that doesn’t seem right now. I adore this tattoo, its mine, its part of me. It might not have been the tattoo I first expected, but it’s definitely the tattoo I needed.

Post script: My tattoo is now healed and I utterly adore it, the overly emotional state passing in two days leaving me puzzled at how I could ever question such a perfect tattoo. I think we underestimate our bodies sometimes and the endurance we put them through in life. My advice, if you choose an artist whose work you adore and you trust them you can’t go wrong. Getting a permanent addition to your body is a big deal, let yourself be emotional about it but also give yourself time to adjust to it.

Cultural appropriation and tattoos

Our guest blogger is psychologist, freelance writer and creator of the blog Dream Electric, Ally Richards. In this post she considers cultural appropriation and tattoos. 

Heritage often acts as a source of inspiration for tattoos. It’s also equally common for tattoo collectors to adorn their bodies with representations of other cultures – perhaps memories of places visited or finding inspiration in another population’s practices.

By Carlos Torres

When getting a tattoo referencing a culture that is not your own, issues can arise. We cringe at the (often misspelt) Chinese character tattoos that attracted popularity in the 90s and the use of other cultures as “exotic” or “edgy”. Beyond these examples is the possibility that the tattoo will provoke offense in members of the cultural group referenced and the wearer may be accused of “cultural appropriation”.

What is cultural appropriation? A quick google quickly evidences the controversy behind the term – angry voices making claims of racism and further angry voices proclaiming freedom of expression. In brief, cultural appropriation refers to a majority group who adopts the symbols and signs of a minority group. A power dynamic is inherent; the privileged group (often white and western) takes from an oppressed and marginalised group. This differs from “cultural exchange”, in which the trading between groups is mutual. The power lies in the hands of the majority group – they get to choose which symbols they take on and stand to benefit from this appropriation. This “accessorisation” trivialises and erases the oppression experienced by the minority group.

But I’m not racist, I just think it’s pretty…

Headdress by Ben Klishevskiy

A recent example of cultural appropriation is the wearing of “Red Indian headdresses”, which have become popular accessories. The headdresses (known as warbonnets) have a deep spiritual significance in Native American culture. Native Americans are also a minority group who have a history of oppression and suffering at the hands of Americans. The wearing of the headdresses encourages stereotypes and when worn with skimpy festival-wear it promotes the sexualisation of an ethnic group which already has a high level of sexual assault perpetrated against them. This year Glastonbury banned the sale of the headdresses at the festival for these reasons.

Mandala by Jonathan Toogood

But what about tattoos? Unlike a culturally insensitive costume, a tattoo is usually carefully considered and a lifelong commitment, not a trend to be picked up when convenient. However, by the above definition, cultural appropriation is very common in tattoo culture. Many white people sport tribal blackwork designs inspired by Maori culture. Mexican “sugar skull” designs and mandala tattoos inspired by Hindu and Buddhist practices have become increasingly popular. All of these designs come from cultures that have been historically (and in many cases still currently) oppressed by white people. Is this problematic?

Skull by Mike Harper 

You are free to present your body in whichever way you choose, and your tattoos are your own choice. However, others also have the right to be offended and express this. If you decide to get a tattoo representing a minority culture, you should be prepared for this possibility.  Although your intention is not to be racist, others may see it as such.

If you are in the white majority, it is not for you to decide what is and is not offensive to other groups. Inform yourself of the history and significance around your chosen design and discuss this with members of that community. You may find it helpful to speak to a tattoo artist from that culture. It may be possible to incorporate the aspects of the symbol you find appealing into a more culturally respectful tattoo. Above all, regardless of the eventual choice you make, being thoughtful is key. A tattoo is for life and you don’t want to be spending your later years defending it! Careful consideration of the cultural context around your tattoo may avoid unintentional offense and embarrassment in the future.

 

Film Review: Jurassic World

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward. This is the first in a series of posts in which Harry will be sharing his opinions on films he has watched. First up is his review of Jurassic World… 

Jurassic World, 2015, cert. 12A, dir. Colin Trevorrow, 2/5

‘Jurassic World’ confuses me. It’s a bad film but somehow it was awesome. It made me cheer along and cry big fat tears of nostalgia as well as grind my teeth in frustration.

The reason for my eroded teeth was how much this new film has dumbed down the franchise. The first film was also made for entertainment, of course, but it at least had some good science that the characters weren’t afraid to discuss. This might have been because Michael Crichton wrote the screenplay – and also wrote the original novel, which was even heavier on the science and chaos theory. The film was also a bit scary…

The new film tries to be scary. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it an effort. So scientists have created a new super predator that gets out of their control? How refreshing! For something that’s meant to be scarier than the T-Rex, the new Indominus Rex (created because the public are getting bored of average dinosaurs) doesn’t even look interesting. You could have given it horns, wings, anything!  What also doesn’t help is that the Indomimus and all the other dinosaurs were rendered purely with thoroughly unimpressive CGI (computer-generated imagery). I don’t remember seeing any animatronics. So, somehow, the painstakingly crafted animatronics and limited CGI the 90s film had, look more realistic and scary than anything Hollywood can do now. Hooray for 21st century filmmaking.

So along with dumb effects and plot, we get dumb characters setting gender representation back several decades. Everyone has fallen in love with Chris Pratt and he is fun to watch, but his character is a one-dimensional action man. He’s the rugged man of the wilderness who can do no wrong. Next to him, we get Bryce Dallas Howard playing the female lead. She plays a capable character who can act on intuition. However, she is presented to us as a woman too obsessed with work and profits to spend time with her nephews and only becomes a more positive character when she opens up emotionally, usually through tears, which Chris Pratt never shows. She is also meant to be laughable because she doesn’t know how to cope in the jungle and Pratt does. She is also the most sexualised heroine in the franchise. Sure, Laura Dern runs around in shorts and loses her shirt in the first film. But she doesn’t run around in high heels, chest heaving and glistening with sweat, clothing getting more dishevelled, while Pratt’s remain intact. Does this say something about the declining presentation of women in film over the last two decades, or the trashy nature of sequels?

I also got fed up with the amount of nostalgia we were expected to swallow: the classic score blasted out at every opportunity and the constant needless references to the better first film, which only reminded you that you could be watching it.

Yet despite all this tripe, I came out of the cinema bouncing with excitement like I’d dropped ten years. Although my inner voice was screaming that this was not an accurate representation of dinosaur behaviour, the whole film was still one big thrill ride. The action is impressive and even quite bloody at times, which made me wonder if it was suitable for the families who doubtless flocked to see it, or are kids more desensitised these days?

Nevertheless, it was still exciting to see what a working dinosaur theme park would look like and clearly the makers had fun imagining it. Although I hate to admit it, the plotline of a new super predator dinosaur being created just to keep the public interested is believable, as is one character’s belief in the military potential of the dinosaurs. Furthermore, although the film’s message is nothing new and it’s still about people running away screaming, at least it did some things different, such as making the ‘raptors capable of training, so they could be good guys for once.

It was never going to be as good as the first film. There are several things wrong with it, but it could have been much worse. Don’t expect much, but do expect a lot of fun. And dinosaurs.

Images from Empire Online 

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: My Life In Tattoos

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer,  freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. This is the first of many posts to appear on th-ink.co.uk, in which she’ll be telling us about her life in tattoos… 

I got my first tattoo aged around 16, three four-leaf-clovers circling my outer wrist. A badly executed inking of a pretty little doodle I’d drawn. Aged 32 I decided after living longer with it than without it, the time was right to have it covered up with something that didn’t scream ‘crap teenage tattoo’. The ink was faded and it covered easily with a thick black traditional snake. That was the last of six teenage tattoos to be covered up. From the ages of 16 to 20 I had acquired the odd small tattoo over the years, growing up in the 90s I had earned my tribal and inaccurate Chinese kanji. I couldn’t tell you now what had prompted me to get tattooed back then, to be honest I probably couldn’t give you a reason as to why I get tattooed now. Perhaps it was some kind of rebellion, an attempt at carving out my own identity, a desire to be ‘tough’ and ‘cool’. Neither can I remember anything about the pain, I remember getting all of the tattoos, the shops, the designs chosen but nothing about the pain.

My second tattoo was a tribal-style design in black, green and purple on my lower back, they call them trap-stamps these days, I don’t think they did at the time, if so unbeknownst to me. I got it on holiday in Gran Canaria because a girl in the next hotel room really wanted to get a tattoo but was too scared to go alone. She got something similar on her foot and screamed the place down whilst holding my hand so tight I thought the bones would shatter. I remember leaving a wet bum print on the stool I sat on from my still wet bikini. The design was just a flash off the wall, I wonder how many others got that same tattoo? Do they still have it? Do they still love it? The tattoo ended up raised in scars as I disregarded the tattooist’s advice and went swimming in the pool right after having it done.

My third tattoo was another holiday venture, this time in Aiya Napa, Cyprus. The studio was called Alien Nation and I had walked past it every day for two weeks.  On the last day of my holiday the artist was sitting outside sketching tribal designs, I stopped and chatted to him. He altered the design he was working on to fit the curve of my foot. It was beautifully done, sharp and bold. He made me walk home barefoot warning of the damage the strappy wedges I had on would do to my new tattoo

My final tattoos of that time were three clumped together on my right thigh, a string of bad Japanese possibly Chinese, ignorant as I was symbols, a red and orange butterfly and a floral vine. I know that the butterfly and vine were the last but can’t remember where the other came in now. Done by the tattooist who had done my first tattoo, a guy called Buzzard, who I think I had a bit of a crush on due to his tattooed and long haired rough cut image. Nice guy that he was, draw he could not and the tattoos were really only scratcher standard. Patchy, wobbly lined and badly coloured. Did I mention the inaccuracy of the characters? I found that out thanks to the guy down the local take-away. It was meant to spell out my name, but in fact said nothing of any sense – I later would tell people it said ‘Won Ton Soup’.

Roses on foot by Kelly Smith

Anyway the butterfly and vine was another sketch I had drawn myself, again I was disappointed at the badly tattooed result. Yet I lacked the knowledge of how and where to get better tattoos from. As I entered my twenties the tattoos stayed with me, but my desire to seek out more faded. Tattoos were expensive and as a student clothes became my only luxury purchase. I never really thought about my tattoos, every now and again I might get asked about them but that was that. They didn’t bother me, they were just there.

A good while after university I found myself living in Sheffield, to me there seemed to be a new tattoo culture emerging, one where tattoos were pieces of art not small marks collected here and there. I came across some old books on Japanese tattooing and the historical tattooed ladies which captured my imagination and were the first prompt in me deciding to go and get tattooed once more. At first my sole desire was to have the bad Chinese (as it turned out) writing covered up, being surrounded by a lot more international students had made me slightly paranoid about it. The artist I had in mind was booked solid for a whole year, so I left my deposit and embarked on a series of laser removal to fade the tattoos on my thigh before the cover-up started.

Cover up by Paul Goss

I wonder now had I not had to wait for this tattoo would I still have ended up with 50% of my body covered in ink. If I could have had that tattoo right away would that have quashed my desire? Or would I still have been compelled to gain more – most likely. Either way during this time I scoured books, magazines and compiled online searched. Researching styles of tattooing, different artists and the history and meaning behind tattoo symbology. During my waiting time I decided to treat myself to just one more tattoo – at this stage I was still in the mind-set that I would only ever have discrete tattoos. I ended up with a huge Sailor Jerry style wolf head and rose on the back of my left thigh. This was the start of me getting four traditional tattoos by the same artist around that thigh. I can’t tell you when or how exactly my attitude to tattooing and tattooed women changed during that time, but my next stage was to embark on a full Japanese style back piece. I fell in love with the idea of having this vast amount of work invisible to everyone but those I chose to reveal it to.

 

Tattoo Artist Eva Jean’s Response to the Personal Tattoo Machine

Our guest blogger is Eva Jean a 31-year-old tattoo artist who works at 8 Of Swords Tattoo in Brooklyn, NYC. Our editorial assistant Rosie had noticed Eva’s Instagram post where she ranted in response to Jakub Pollág’s, a Royal College of Art graduate, who has developed the Personal Tattoo Machine. We chatted to Eva to find out more…  

The reason I’m expressing my opinion on this new ‘DIY’ “tattoo kit” created by Jakub Pollág was because I was asked to.  Let me preface this also by making it clear that I am not the be all-end-all of tattooing standards- BUT I have been in business for 12 years adhering to a strict set of health codes and laws.

At home tattooing kits that involve breaking your own skin or another’s, is just not satisfactory.

Regardless of provided provisions (the gloves, the sterile needle,the instruction manual included [I have not read it]).  I can not sit by in passivity and say that this seems like a decent idea. There are professionals for a reason.  Dentists, mechanics, salon stylists, etc. they have all attended the appropriate tutelage and exist under an umbrella of certain (professional and legal) standards.

A large portion of why tattoo parlours exist is for hygienic purposes.  The few excuses that Jakub has listed as a selling point (making the tattoo meaning more personal and bringing democracy into the hands of enthusiasts) is quite sad. To me it seems that this reasoning is an offensive ploy,  an attempt to further encourage the idea that this home-kit is something that should be available to the true adventurer.

Not so. Would you like to create some physical damage and potential serious harm to your own body?  How about your friend?  Better yet- if significant and ugly scarring isn’t enough of a risk factor for the adrenaline junky- how about we bring the light of potentially spreading infectious disease to one another? Sounds like a party now, doesn’t it? No!  It does not!

Whether the tattoo-desiring individual craves something of a high detailed creative project (like the cat portrait suggested by Jakub) or a singular dot.  The bottom line is this:  you get what you pay for. This especially for clients to be.  If you’re so concerned with making your tattoo personal and individual…put some thought into it. Do your research.  Allow yourself time, do not rush into buyer’s remorse, but ensure that you will get what you want, and nothing more.

 

Read Eva’s original Instagram rant below: 

Okay. I do not often “rant” on social media, but this particular article (featured on deezen.com) does make me raise my eyebrows big time. Okay deep breath. For a while now I have been grappling with the over popularization of tattoo-inspiration stemming off from websites much like Pinterest. I have just over 16K followers on my account here, which I am blown away by and flattered over. I would like to think that this has something to do with the fact that I sincerely do help try to push people and encourage their taste in a one of a kind, original tattoo.

That is done in a PROFESSIONAL, clean, and safe environment. That doesn’t make me an elitist or a tyrant. The attempted selling point of “bringing democracy” into the hands of tattoo-enthusiasts is pitiful and really just a far and sad reach to hopefully sway ignorant (look up the definition it’s not meant to be a slam it is a literal term) hopeful and excited individuals into believing that they have the right to poke themselves. They absolutely do. But wouldn’t you rather go to someone with 1. Years of experience who will safely and happily deliver your tattoo idea; who can make it look “jailhouse” if you so please? 2. Your original idea that is not a direct, carbon-copy of someone else’s already in existence tattoo?

Tattooers like myself are so happy to help you guys take your idea and make it into something that is not only just your own, but also you’re helping to keep a true art form and craft alive. I am worried that this public kit for sale will end up at drunk enough parties and where ever else one feels like whipping a needle out. This screams danger and cross contamination. I am maddened over this company’s audacity to speak out against tattooers in a voice which alludes to us keeping things out of the “well deserving hands of the public” You know what? Unless you study and in some states take a safety course, you’re not allowed to drive a car. So just because you are a car enthusiast you should be able to drive without a license? There is nothing wrong with a tattooer not wanting to hand over their machine to just anyone for good reason. The end.

Email Tattoosbyeva@gmail.com for appointments and follow her on Instagram for more tattoos

Music Review: Patti Smith

Our guest blogger is inventory buyer, freelance writer and creator of Typewriter Teeth blog,  Amber Carnegie. This is the second in a series of music review posts in which Amber will be documenting her experiences at various music shows. In this post she reviews Patti Smith who played at the O2 Apollo in Manchester earlier this month. (read first post here

‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.’ The iconic opening to ‘Gloria’ sees Patti Smith bring ‘Horses’ to the Manchester 02 Apollo in celebration of its 40th anniversary. The album has infatuated generations for decades and that is clear from the diverse crowd joining Patti to punch the air with every letter ‘G.L.O.R.I.A’ , which goes to show show that these performances are leasing a new life into ‘Horses’ with every distinctive moment.

‘Redondo Beach’ followed the sweet rhythms and brought around the first change in pace as the crowd settled into the track’s reggae tempo, before Smith emerges herself in the words of ‘Birdland’. Emoting every word that she recalls from the page until she is in throws with the piece, thrashing with every passion, locked within the lyrics, trapped in the torment of the track as the guitars wail around her and the incredible piano pulls her through convulsing in ‘Birdland’ grief.

Although we knew that we would hear ‘Horses’ from start to finish what you couldn’t predict were the anecdotes and insights that came with each track.  A pretty close impression of Bob Dylan brought the story to Manchester itself.  To the guitar shop that may or may not have been in ‘Don’t Look Back’ where Smith purchased a Rickenbacker in their first visit to the city. ‘All I can say is, husbands come and go, but I still have that Rickenbacker.’ Just one of the many stories that intertwined between tracks of love, loss and life.

‘Elegie’ completes ‘Horses’ in a moment of remembrance and celebration.  Originally written in the passing of Jimi Hendrix the track now goes out to honour all those we have lost. Smith closes the song calling out the names of dead, the audience joining in the memorial with names called throughout the 02 Apollo. Finishing the song and the album with a soft smile and ‘Yes, all of them’ in a beautiful moment of calm and remembrance not just for Patti Smith, the band or the crowd but for all those people ‘Elegie’ and ‘Horses’ has effected.

‘Because The Night’ instigated the last surge of vitality as the set drew to a close. The 70s anthem breathing life into its own title before the renowned protest chorus ‘People Have The Power’ has Patti Smith conducting her own demonstration.  The rally drawing to a close with their cover of  The Who’s ‘My Generation’ with Smith brutally plucking every string from her Stratocaster ‘Behold! The weapon of my generation. It’s the only fucking weapon we need’. Interestingly Patti only destroyed the strings, as if there was divine respect for the instrument that stopped her from trashing it.

Patti embraces the possession of the lyrics with ‘I don’t need any of that shit. I hope I live because of it’. The punk poet laureate commanding every right to her title closing the evening of the surreal and the sound with split strings swaying from her pale blue Stratocaster.

Image from The Guardian

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!