08:37 AM
alice-1267-photo-wide.jpgalice-941-photo-wide.jpgWhile we have a policy of not promoting Kickstarter campaigns (just way too many), I had to mention the incredible success of Litographs Tattoos: Wearable Tributes to Iconic Books, particularly how, within 12 hours, they reached their goal to recreate the entire text of Alice in Wonderland on 2,500 human bodies and make the world's longest *temporary* tattoo chain.  And because of this success, they are able to extend the project by having the sequel, Through the Looking Glass, made into another tattoo chain.

Here's how the chains work:  To be part of a chain, one only needs to contribute $1. Once the temporary tattoos have been sent out, each backer will then upload a photo of their applied piece of the story to Litographs tattoo app, where they'll "print" the story in full.

But there are also cool perks beyond a buck:  $3 gets you another literary tattoo of your choice, $15 gets you six...and more. The other temporary tattoos include quotes from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Ulysses, Henry VI, and Les Miserables.

I got my hands on a few and I have to say that Litographs art team of Benjy Brooke, Tess Clancy, and Dorothy Sanders created some beautiful graphics to accompany the quotes, and they truly look realistic -- which is what my sister wanted when I gave her a couple to put on and shock my parents that yet another daughter has gone rogue.

What I really liked was how this project was inspired by a very real literary tattoo chain, Shelley Jackson's SKIN Project, which launched in 2003, and sets out to publish a story of Shelley's on the skin of 2095 volunteers.

These type of communal tattoo projects are cool, not just for the novelty of the idea, but that it actually could bring people together and create many more stories from that community.

07:59 AM
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Neo Tattoo1.jpgWhile reading the wonderful Things & Ink blog, I came across the latest work of Delaine "Neo" Gilma of Stichfreudig Tattoo Studio in Zurich, Switzerland. Tattooing since 2000, Neo's portfolio is heavily influenced by geometry, illustration, and also indigenous tattooing, blending the traditional with the modern.

Inked magazine did a Q &A with Neo,  and here's a bit from that talk:

How did you get into tattooing? I was always interested in Polynesian cultures and all those mysterious shaman and headhunter tattoos, so I designed some for myself and got them inked in the late 90s. I was studying industrial design during that time, which became pretty technically and economically orientated, so I needed something rude and archaic to bring me back to where I started, before I found myself designing light bulbs. So I was hanging around more in the tattoo studio of a good friend than at the university. One day Alex (who also did my first tattoos) asked me if I wanted to become his apprentice. It seemed obvious that industrial design wouldn't be my way for the future, so I quit and did tattoos.

How do you describe your style? Geometric pattern orientated sci-fi graffiti style flavored with a heartwarming drop of comic characters and occult symbolism.

What inspires you as an artist? I've been asked this one lots of times, and mostly I lose myself in listing up things of interest in my perception, like natural rock-structures, op art, ancient aliens or quantum physics (I like things that sound scientific). But in the end I guess it's the same for all artists; it's just an open eye and mind for everything. I mean, inspiration comes from things you like, things that impress you, things that frighten you, from whatever leaves an imprint in your soul so you want to explain it with your brain or enjoy it with your heart and that's why I do the things I do.

What has been one of the strangest tattoos you've ever done? A pretty strange but very cool one was an ant-trail from the toe over the back to the palm of the hand. The ants were carrying lots of wicked things over that girl's body. Most people would think doing a straight line across the body is strange, but for me writing your own name or doing a fairy on a flower is far more strange.
Check more of Neo's work on his site, Instagram and Facebook.
08:14 AM
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In a truly inspiring story, Moselle "Mimi" Rosenthal, who turned 105-years old last Friday, offers her words of wisdom to TV cameras, and also a peak at her tattoos, which she started collecting at age 99.

Moselle says that she wanted to mark her milestone of turning 99 with a tattoo, but felt she was too old. When a family friend, who is a tattooist, told her she wasn't too old, and then offered to tattoo her for free, Moselle said that she "couldn't resist." That first tattoo was a small butterfly on one ankle; then at age at age 100, she got a flower on her other ankle. And then, because she was tired of pulling up her pants legs to show her tattoos, she got a larger sunflower on her forearm at age 101.

That forearm tattoo garnered some media attention, like this Tampa Bay Times article. Of that attention, Moselle jokes that she didn't get famous for curing cancer, but instead, became famous for being tattooed, adding "Isn't that ridiculous?!"

What makes this 3 1/2 minute video (below) really worth watching are her thoughts on how to live a good life:  to enjoy people and make them laugh.

[Thanks, Sean, for the link.]
06:54 AM
A close-up from an engraving of Jeanne des Anges (ca. 1638) displaying the nun and her "signed hand."

Thanks to the powers of Facebook (and Mikey Freedom), I learned of a fantastic article entitled, "Demon Marks Lay Bare the Twisted History of Tattooing." Granted, I'm only ten years late to the game in reading this 2004 piece (which is like a billion years on the Internet), but the information is really fascinating and I had to share.

The article is based on the research of Katherine Dauge-Roth, who has written about demonic possessions, exorcisms, and body markings among nuns in 17th-century France in her book, "Signing the Body in Early Modern France" (published in 2013).

Here's a bit from the article:
Poring over nuns' diaries, biographies, and exorcists' accounts, Dauge-Roth has pieced together a fascinating tale of torment, tattoos and devotion that details a range of 17th-century body-marking practices and sheds new light on women's spiritual traditions.

For some religious women, carving writing on the body was a way to signify their devotion, and to physically act out their desire for mystical union with Christ.

"In the seventeenth century you see women tattooing themselves with holy names and the sign of the cross," says Dauge-Roth. "One devout widow engraves the name of Jesus on her chest to avoid remarriage. It was a way of saying, 'I belong to God,' of affirming their spiritual commitment and identity."

Other women come by their inscriptions after a run-in with the devil.

Jeanne des Anges, an Ursuline nun from Loudun, France, experienced possession, exorcism and demonic "exit" marks that ultimately transformed her into a saintly character. "Jeanne reportedly had seven demons in her body," says Dauge-Roth. "When they exited they left several marks, including the inscription of four saints' names on her hand.

The whole article is great read. I highly recommend it.

10:48 AM

I enjoyed this illustrated TEDEd tattoo tutorial video "What makes tattoos permanent?" by Claudia Aguirre (animation by TOGETHER). It's basic info on how tattoos are made and answers questions such as, "If Humans Shed So Much Dead Skin, How Are Tattoos Permanent?" (as noted by Gizmodo), but the presentation of the material is clever and worth a watch.

[Thanks, Tommy, for the link!]
08:54 AM
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The US Food & Drug Administration just issued a notice of recall of tattoo ink, needles and kits due to microbial contamination.

According to the FDA:
White & Blue Lion, Inc. in the City of Industry, CA is recalling all lots of tattoo Inks and tattoo needles due to pathogenic bacterial contamination. Use of these products may cause bacterial infection and can lead to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. The recall includes all tattoo inks, tattoo needles, and tattoo kits distributed by White & Blue Lion...
The FDA site has the specific brand, codes and lot numbers. And as noted on the site, there has been one case of illness as of yesterday.

The inks are sold separately and also in tattoo kits with needles, which are distributed by 8Decades and White & Blue Lion, Inc. on Amazon.com and other places that will sell tattoo supplies to anyone.

While Needles & Sins readers aren't the type to be or frequent scratchers with cheap starter kits, it's worth noting and passing along.
12:49 PM
Interesting news stories this week include jail time for certain tattoos in Myanmar, the impact of US Army tattoo rules, tattoo-related infections in Japan, a Brooklyn tattoo studio profile, and a beautiful new tattoo for quarterback Colin Kaeprnick.

First up, tattoo historian Anna Felicity Friedman pointed out, in the Needles & Sins Facebook group, this article: "Below-the-Belt Burma Map Could Earn Jail Time for the Tattooed." It's an fascinating quick piece about how a provision of Myanmar's State Seal law, which prohibits anyone from "disgracefully using or destroying anything that represents the country's symbol (including the map outline of the country)," can be used to impose a 3-year prison term on anyone who gets a tattoo of the map of Burma on the lower part of their body. The article quotes one lawmaker citing a chief justice who declared:
"It is acceptable if they tattoo the map on the upper part of body to show their love for the country. But if it is in the lower part of the body, it's inappropriate." [...] Thein Lwin [a district representative] said he had noticed the growing popularity of tattoos among young people to express themselves, and felt the map should be protected from inappropriate use."
Also interesting is the impact of the new revisions to the US Army's grooming & appearance standards, as noted in AZ Central's "300 prospective Phoenix Army recruits rejected over tattoos." [Note: The news video automatically loads when you click the link, including sound.] According to the article, "Nearly 30 prospective enlistees on average are being turned away each week from Army recruiting stations in Phoenix" because of the new regulations. It's also noted, "The Army is allowing soldiers to keep ­older tattoos as long as their content isn't forbidden and they were documented before the new rules took effect." Naturally, that means that a lot of enlisted men and women had hit the tattoo studios to finish up or get new work before the rules went into effect. For more on the regs, check our "Military Tattoo Battles" post.

Tattoo-linked infections sent a handful of American troops to the US Naval Hospital in Okinawa Japan, as noted in this Stars & Stripes piece last month. The follow-up to that story this week is the Military.com article, "Military Won't Name Tattoo Shops in Infection Case." It's reported that Naval Hospital officials stated that they would not identify the three possible studios where the servicemembers contracted infections (which were "easily treatable") for the following reason: "If we posted a list of tattoo parlors that were linked to infections, it would imply that establishments not on the list were safe and tacitly endorsed by the hospital." The article also notes that Japanese health officials weighed in:
"There is no license or permission for tattoo businesses in Japan," said Hiroaki Arakaki, spokesman for the Health Care Policy Division of the Medial Department of the Okinawa Prefectural Government. "If we can confirm that the subject shops engage in tattooing, the government will instruct the shops to stop the illegal conduct," he said.
In more artful news, we can rejoice that the movement of sports stars getting really great tattoos (instead of the impulse-driven scratches we often see) continues! Here's quarterback Colin Kaeprnick's new work (shown above) tattooed by the excellent Carlos Torres. The tattoo design is reportedly based on the "money is the root of all evil" biblical reference. According to TMZ, Colin first reached out to Carlos through Instagram to ask about getting an appointment. Carlos told TMZ"
"[Colin] sent me a drawing of his idea ... There was a lot going on so I simplified it. Not every piece of art makes a great tattoo, so I refined it so it'd be a great tattoo. But Colin came up with the concept." He added, "We did three sittings. They were each eight, nine hours long. The side of the ribs are a painful area, but Colin laid there like a rock."
Finally, I highly recommend checking this Complex Magazine profile on East River Tattoo in Brooklyn. Our friend Nick Schonberger, Complex Deputy Editor, offers his thoughts on what makes the studio a stand-out in a sea of stellar shops in Brooklyn, and there are also cool photos of East River that capture its vibe by Liz Barclay, such as this one below.

east_river_tattoo.jpgIf you find a cool tattoo news item, let me know via Facebook, Twitter, or hit me up at marisa at needlesandsins.com.
08:10 AM
Rose Hardy

claudia-de-sabe-big-1.jpgClaudia De Sabe

Garnering rave reviews in London, "Time: Tattoo Art Today" presents the fine art of 70 some of our finest tattooers around the globe, including Filip Leu, Ed Hardy, Horiyoshi III, Paul Booth, Guy Aitchison, Kore Flatmo, Rose Hardy, Mister Cartoon, Chuey Quintanar, Volker Merschky and Simone Pfaff, among other artists. "Time" opened at Somerset House in London last week, and drew a great deal of media attention, highlighting just how skilled the artists in our community can be in mediums beyond skin. For a glimpse into the exhibit, the BBC offers this video.

Curated by tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe and publisher Miki Vialetto, the tattooers were asked to create a new work for the exhibition on the theme of time. Here's more from Somerset:

The resulting collection ranges from oil painting, watercolours and traditional Japanese silk painting to paint layering on real skulls, airbrush and bronze sculpture. Time and all it infers (such as life and death) is a classic, common motif in tattoo art, expressed through a vast variety of iconographic combinations. For example, the popular inkings of butterflies, blossoms and the handled cross signify life, while memento moris such as skulls or the goddess Kali denote death. Many of these symbols are also present in the original pieces displayed.
See more works from the exhibit on the museum's site and on Miki's Tattoo Life site.

"Time: Tattoo Art Today" will be on view at Somerset House until October 5, 2014. All artworks on display, as well as the show's catalog, prints and other memorabilia, are available to purchase at the Rizzoli Bookshop.

Horiyoshi-III.jpgHoriyoshi III
filip-leu-big.jpgFilip Leu
08:13 AM
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Great news for Brooklyn -- and anyone willing to travel here for stellar tattoo work:  Brazilian Neotraditional doyenne Lore Morato of Golden Times Tattoo has been traveling throughout the US and will be making her way back to NYC to create her magical tattoos at 8 of Swords this month. She has only three days of appointments left open at 8 of Swords, and it's an incredible opportunity to be tattooed by someone so skilled, and also so kind and giving. The dates are July 12, 13, and 18th. You can reach Lore at goldentimestattoo@gmail.com.

Back in February, I interviewed Lore, and we talked about her spiritual approach to tattooing, among other things. Here's a bit from that chat:

Your distinct style of tattooing blends Neo-traditional with the spiritual. Could you explain your approach to this work?

My mother and grandmother back in Brazil raised me in a very spiritual way, teaching me about magic stones, plants, making wishes and believing in the universe. My mom always said we women are powerful witches. Their teachings are the greatest source of inspiration for my work. Since then, I started studying and celebrating the Divine Feminine, the magic and mystery about being a woman: worshiping different goddesses, seeking the balance between male and female. My work is part of me, is part of what I believe. It's all together, all in one.

You have very strong female archetypes represented in your work. What are your influences and inspiration behind them?

As I said before, all the goddesses that I worship are sources of inspiration, but mostly I draw on the archetype of the Sumerian Goddess Inanna, my favorite goddess and also my guide. She is the queen of heaven in the Sumerian mythology and goes down to the underworld to face her sister, who is also her own darkside at the same time. She learns to embrace her shadow in her journey, and when she does it, she goes back to heaven as the queen of both heaven and hell. I am fascinated with this story!
Read more here.

After her tattoo tour through the US, she'll be heading to Europe. Follow her on Facebook for her schedule and photos of her wonderful work. Also check Lore on Instagram.

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07:49 AM
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Last week, we posted a contest sponsored by Urban Body Jewelry in which two lucky Needles & Sins readers will receive gift cards of $25 each for anything in their online store, like these Diamond Galaxy Plugs, shown above. And the winners are ...

Congrats, Mali and Steph!

For those who didn't win, but still want shiny, pretty things, Needles & Sinners can use the code "SIN15" for 15% off over the next 3 months. 

For more on Urban Body Jewelry, check them on Facebook and Instagram.

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