Photo of Yall Quinones at the Bucharest Tattoo Convention.
The recent headlines had an interesting mix of tattoo law, culture, convention coverage, and a lot more. Here are some of my top picks:
One controversial issue sparked some interesting debate among my fellow tattoo law nerds in this article: "Jury should see neo-Nazi tattoos in Las Vegas murder trial, judge rules." A 25-year-old White Supremacist is facing the death penalty for the alleged murder of a 75-year-old in her home. Bayzle Morgan is covered in tattoos, which you can see here, including "Baby Nazi" on his neck, Nazi "Skin Head" eyebrow ink, and "Most Wanted" across his forehead, among others. Morgan's defense attorney requested that a make-up artist cover his tattoos for the murder trial -- as was allowed in a separate robbery trial for Morgan -- because they could negatively impact a jury. But District Judge Michelle Leavitt denied the request, saying that jurors should be able to set any prejudice aside. It's also important to note that none of the evidence in the murder case relates to Morgan's tattoos -- it is not alleged that this is a racially motivated killing. But it is likely that jurors will have a negative reaction. Should Morgan's choice to mark himself in this way be hidden so that the focus is on the evidence and not appearance, or do the tattoos somehow reflect just who this man is (and at this moment)? Share your thoughts on the Needles & Sins FB group page under this post link.
See more posts on the topic: Tattoos at Trial and Tattoos as Evidence in Criminal Trials.
On a more artful note, a bunch of media outlets covered the International Tattoo Convention Bucharest, which hosted top talent from across the globe, including this AP slideshow. A photo of our friend Yall Quinones was also the Salon top photo pick, as shown above. Looks like a lot of fun!
Looking at how tattooing can be a healing art, the Seattle Times' "Leading tattoo artists help wounded Israelis with scars" is a fascinating read about Artists 4 Israel's Healing Ink project that connected 11 international tattoo artists with Israelis "maimed by war and violence which left them with daily remainders of their ordeals -- either in the form of physical scars or deep emotional ones." Tattooers drew inspiration from works at the Israel Museum, which hosted the event. The article includes a beautiful slideshow. Worth a look.
Artists 4 Israel is founded by Craig Dershowitz, one of the early contributors of this site. One of my favorite posts of Craig's is "Tattoo Jew: The Definitive Guide to Jewish Thought and Law Regarding the Practice of Tattooing." It's a great interview with Henry Harris, an Orthodox Rabbi, which covers some interesting ground, including that common question, "If you are tattooed, can you be buried in a Jewish cemetery?"
Exploring tattoos as tributes and memorials, The Atlantic's "A Tattoo for the King" writes about how Thais are turning to tattoos to mark the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed on October 13th. The BBC also highlights a number of those tattoos, photographed by Wasawat Lukharang at two Bangkok tattoo studios.
Another recent piece in The Atlantic is also worth a read: "Watching Tattoos Go From Rebellious to Mainstream," in which our friend Michelle Myles of Daredevil Tattoo talks about how attitudes toward body art have changed over her 25-year career. Here's a taste from that Q&A:
What was it like to try to hone your skills while it was still illegal in New York City?
Read more here.
So those are the headlines, folks. I'll keep reviewing them for you and picking my faves, that is, until my baby comes, when I'll be taking a bit of a blog break. She's due next week, but I should have more tattoo goodness for you before then.
UPDATE: We have a winner!! I plugged the names of those who commented in our Facebook group or my Instagram in Random Result this morning, and the person who popped up was ... Eric Jukelevics [@ericjukelevics.] Congrats, Eric!
Remember: Use the code "NEEDLE10" for 10% off over the next 3 months. Plus, there's free domestic shipping on orders over $20.
We have another giveaway! This one is a $50 shopping spree from our friends at Urban Body Jewelry for one lucky reader.
Some of my faves in their 2016 fall collection include their Fossilized Coral Stone Plugs and Green Line Agate Stone Plugs (shown above). The sizes for plugs below range from 8G up to 1 & 1/4" inch but their collection extends up to 2 inches. All plugs are sold in sets.
Plugs aren't the only shiny things you could score with your win. Urban Body Jewelry has a wide selection of assorted body jewelry like nipple rings, septum clickers, nose rings, cartilage barbells and more. Over 2,000 styles to pick from.
Here's how we're gonna play this:
* Comment on this post in our Facebook group or my Instagram or Tweet at me. Any comment will do, but it would be cool to post what jewelry you'd be eyeing to see what y'all are into.
* Then all the names will be plugged into Random Result to pick the winner.
* The winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 18.
If you can't wait to see if you win and you want to shop right away, Needles & Sinners can use the code "NEEDLE10" for 10% off over the next 3 months. Plus, there's free domestic shipping on orders over $20.
For more on Urban Body Jewelry, check them on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.
Tattoos above by David Allen over double mastectomy scars.
Tattoo above by Aries Rhysing of All Sacred Tattoo.
Tattoo in progress above by Erin Torola.
This month, the wonderful Personal Ink project, or P.ink, has organized over 60 tattoo artists, in 14 cities across North American, to work with over 60 women who had breast cancer to create beautiful works of art over mastectomy scars.
Tattooing has already begun, as shown with the works above, which you can find on the P.ink Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Check the hashtag #pinktattooday for updates.
I was honored to work with the Personal Ink Team for its inaugural P.ink Day in 2013 in NYC; since that time, more than 100 survivors in over 20 cities have benefited from the experience.
Check the P.ink blog for videos on past events and upcoming coverage of this year's P.ink Day.
If you'd like to support this wonderful cause, consider making a donation to the P.ink Fund at http://p-ink.org/give.
Tattoo above by Roxx 2Spirit.
Tattoo above by Nikko Hurtado.
Tattoo above by Grez of Kings Avenue Tattoo.
The Bay Area Tattoo Convention of the Arts, which runs from October 21-23 at the SFO Hyatt Regency, was at the top of my tattoo convention schedule this year...that is, until I learned that I'm due to have a baby just a couple of weeks afterward...so I guess I'll just live vicariously through all of y'all heading over -- and the hashtag #bayareatattooconvention.
What makes this convention special for me is that this a tattoo artist-run event that is singularly focused on people getting good tattoos from about 250 renowned artists (including those featured in this post). There will also traditional tattooing, such as tebori by Horihachi and Horikiku, and Samoan tatau by Sulu'ape Si'i Liufau.
There are no performers, no contests, and minimal vendors. Presented by title sponsor Black Claw, the convention is also supported by small business tattoo people, something which organizer Takahiro Kitamura of State of Grace says he is particularly proud of. What this all adds up to is a gathering stripped down to just tattoos and fine art of tattooers, without the strippers and nonsense.
And of course there are parties: The opening party is on Thursday, October 20th at Minna Gallery, hosted by Seventh Son Tattoo. Analog hosts the closing party on October 23, featuring an art show by Timothy Hoyer, Edu Cerro and Phil Holt. There's also the official book release and painting exhibition of The Cat Book by LLL Books.
This week, you have a chance to win a FREE tattoo from traditional master Chad Koeplinger. If you buy a weekend pass online for $65 until October 14th, you will automatically be entered to win the tattoo, to be selected from a handful of designs. Admission can also be purchased at the door for $30 per day (cash).
The SFO Hyatt Regency is located at 1333 Old Bayshore Hwy, Burlingame, CA, 94010.
Post your pics from the show online. I'll be looking for them!
Tattoo above by Luke Stewart of Seventh Son.
Tattoo above by Samoan Mike.
Colin Dale tattooing.
Last weekend, The 12th Annual London Tattoo Convention attracted thousands for the opportunity to be tattooed by the world's best artists, to view fine art galleries and performances, to shop, eat, drink, and of course, to see and be seen at this iconic event. Our friend and favorite guest blogger Serinde attended the event on Sunday and brings back this report and photos.
More of Serinde's images can be found on our London Tattoo Convention 2016 Flickr Album.
BY SERINDE of SERINDE CORSETS:
The London Tattoo Convention hosted over 400 of the world's best tattoo artists and vendors at the Tobacco Docks, a nice big venue to accommodate the mass of people attending.
The special thing about the Tobacco Docks is that the architecture of the building separates the artists in various glass-enclosed work areas, as opposed to just the tattoo rows of booths in one convention hall, found at most shows. It makes for an interesting presentation of the artists, although the drawback is that the walking spaces inside the tattooing areas can be extremely narrow and packed, with limited visibility of the work being created. The closed areas also means smaller stages and less space for the audience (i.e., more wrestling to get a good spot), especially during the tattoo contests. Nevertheless, apart from traffic jams, the rest of the event runs quite smoothly.
What defines this event are amazing artists, who include those working traditionally, by hand, such as Colin Dale of Skin and Bone, Brent McCown, and Durga tattoo, among others. Another highlight is the tattoo competition, judged by esteemed tattoo artists who included Jondix, Luke Atkinson, Filip Leu, and George Bone. Interestingly, the contests are organized so that tattoos are pre-selected, and the audience and the jury only get to see the very best of every category. On Sunday, I believe there were about 15 candidates in each category (color, realism, backpiece ...). The winners are shown on the convention's website. What definitely struck me was just how heavily tattooed the attendees were: I saw many tattooed faces, necks, hands, and full-body tattoos on the very young and the more "mature" collectors. The styles ranged from dynamic bold color pieces to abstract graphic works in black & grey. Also noteworthy was just how happy people were to show off their art -- to chat and share tattoo stories. Maybe it was because it was a lovely sunny day, everyone was relaxed and taking jackets and shirts off; maybe it's just the typical London spirit, or both. In any case, it was really nice to walk around in such a friendly atmosphere.
Congratulations to all those who made it another successful show.
Touka Voodoo freehanding.
When I think about custom tattooing, it's usually in the context of contemporary tattoo culture, around the time when artists and tattoo collectors moved beyond the tattoo "menu" on shop walls, as Don Ed Hardy has described, and pursued personalized art. However, over the weekend, I learned of the experience of Scottish traveler and author William Lithgow, who, in 1612, went to Jerusalem and personalized a traditional pilgrimage tattoo -- going beyond a tattoo menu centuries before what's commonly considered the "tattoo Renaissance" of the seventies here in the US.
In her article, "Custom Tattoo Work - Historical Improvisation During William Lithgow's 1612 Pilgrimage," tattoo historian Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman explores Lithgow's story of how "he customized his tattoo experience in the Holy Land."
Anna explains that most pilgrimage tattoos were "rendered by stamping the image from a stock set of motifs." [She recently received her own "Arms of Jerusalem" design on a trip to Jerusalem from the Razzouk family, which you can read about in this Atlas Obscura piece.] However, in Lithgow's account of his pilgrimage tattoo, he talks about modifying his tattoo to honor his monarch -- thereby, also making a political statement with his mark:
In the last night of my staying at Jerusalem, which was at the holy grave, I remembring that bounden duty, & loving zeale, which I owe unto my native Prince; whom I in all humility (next and immediate to Christ Jesus) acknowledge to be the supreme head, and Governour of the true Christian and Catholicke Church; by the remembrance of this obligation I say, I caused one Elias Bethleete, a Christian inhabitour of Bethleem, to ingrave on the flesh of my right arme, The never-conquered Crowne of Scotland, and the now inconquerable Crowne of England, joyned also to it, with this inscription, painefully carved in letters, within the circle of the Crowne, Vivat Jacobus Rex.Anna goes on to describe the historical background, the subsequent revisions to the text, and other interesting finds her detailed discussion. The significance of it all is nicely explained as follows:
Many tend to think of "custom" tattoos as a relatively modern development, but there is no reason to think that earlier tattoo customers could not also see the potential of the art form--the communicative possibilities--and decide to use the medium to permanently express or memorialize content they chose.
Read the full piece here.
"Pop-up tattoo parlors" have been increasing popular in the fine art world, melding performance, design, and permanence. More recently, I've written about The Dirty Poke art show in LA, and Scott Campbell's Whole Glory in NYC.
This week, on September 15th and 16th, Gagosian gallery is sponsoring "FLASH FLASH FLASH," a tattoo event at the New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1, for which they commissioned 6 famed artists to put their own spin on the tattoo flash art tradition; their designs (shown above) will be tattooed by Fernando Lions and Gillian Goldstein of Brooklyn's Flyrite Tattoo.
The artists involved are Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, Throbbing Gristle & Psychic TV's Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, gallery artist Douglas Gordon, "freak folk" singer Devendra Banhart, Max Hooper Schneider, and Richard Wright.
Only 36 people will be tattooed -- 6 for each design. Already, Banhart and P-Orridge's tattoos are sold out. The cost per tattoo is $250, surprisingly affordable, and there seems to be no limits on tattoo placement.
You can make your appointment here.
The designs will also be featured in a book designed by Brian Roettinger, and will be available as temporary tattoos.
While I don't plan on getting tattooed, I will head over to the book fair this weekend as it runs through September 18th. It's an exciting event that attracts 370 booksellers, antiquarians, artists, institutions and independent publishers from twenty-eight countries. There are also a number of special events.
MoMA PS1 is located at 22-25 Jackson Avenue on 46th Avenue, Long Island City, NY.
Got some interesting tattoo headlines for ya, from Nazi tattoo links to hacked prison guns to "kinky" tattoos and lots more. Here we go:
The big story centered on what is described as a "Nazi tattoo" on a Philadelphia police officer. Photos, like the one above, of Ian Hans Lichtermann circulated around social media after the cop was snapped on July 26th at a Black Resistance March held during the Democratic National Convention. The tattoo in question is the word "Fatherland" above a large eagle with outstretched wings, which resembles part of the official insignia of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party. The Philadelphia Police Department is investigating; however, as Philly.com writes, there is no official tattoo policy for its police officers. The article explains: "Existing officers who want a tattoo on a forearm, neck, or face must obtain approval from a review board [...] The process includes submitting the tattoo's design for consideration, and offensive or lewd images almost certainly would be rejected." In an official statement, the Philly PD wrote: "We must ensure that all constitutional rights are adhered to while at the same time ensuring public safety and public trust aren't negatively impacted." It will be interesting to see if a policy is drafted after this incident.
On the criminal tattoo tip, there's this cool hack of a prison-made tattoo gun, in which a machine is fashioned out of a pen, a Walkman, paper clips, rubber bands, and a set of batteries.
Vice (of course) has the salacious headline "Kinky couples tattoo each other" for its piece on tattooing and other body modification in people's sex lives and the interplay of pain and pleasure. Here's more on the appeal:
They like the interaction,' says Dulcinea Pitagora, a New York-based kink-friendly therapist. 'They like the intimacy of that experience. Another reason could be the permanence of it, the bonding aspect in terms of making a long-term commitment.' According to Pitagora, tattooing is the 'most common' way for a domme to mark a sub today, with 'scarification' as a close second.To me, the sexiest articles involve tattoo law. Don't judge! Following my discussion on the latest tattoo copyright case in the US, The New Zealand Herald talks about copyright issues that face tattoo artists (and celebrities) in their own country. There are key distinctions between tattoo copyright in the US and New Zealand, as the article points out: "Copyright goes further in New Zealand than in the United States as tattoo artists there do not have moral rights in their work. In New Zealand, a tattoo artist could sue for breach of their moral rights if changes are made to their design by a second tattoo artist." It's a fascinating read, especially for my fellow law nerds.
There were also some really interesting tattoo artist profiles:
The OC Weekly talked to Carlos Torres, realism's finest (and super cool dude). In it, Carlos discusses the San Pedro tattoo scene and his thoughts in the global explosion of tattooing. Most interesting to me is his fine art approach to creating new tattoo references by going as far as staging shoots with costumed models and photographing them himself for clients wishing completely original large-scale custom work. See more of Carlos' work on Instagram.
One of the godfathers of Black & Grey tattooing, Freddy Negrete, is profiled in LA Weekly, with the hook being his book "Smile Now, Cry Later: Guns, Gangs, and Tattoos-My Life in Black and Gray," which was recently released. The LA Weekly article offers a glimpse into the book, discussing Freddy's 40 years of tattooing, from prison to celebrity clients. Here's a taste from Freddy on his legacy:
In the '60s and '70s, tattooing was controlled by bikers, and they weren't about to let any Chicano gangster just start tattooing," Negrete says. I was the first prominent Chicano gangster tattooer in East L.A., and I brought this style from the prisons that was different than they were doing. It didn't involve any color, so it seemed like it was easier, but when Ed Hardy brought me into the shop, people started to see it wasn't so easy because of how much detail went into it.In another installment of The Stir's Lady Tattoo Artists We Love, the wonderful Rose Hardy is featured, talking about her start in tattooing in New Zealand, her work on mastectomy and C-section scars, and her tattoo life today at Kings Avenue in NYC. Check Rose's work, including the backpiece below, on her Instagram.
And Nicaraguan artist Juan Carlos Mendoza is the subject of a written profile and video interview on Newsy.com for his work influenced by contemporary art and how he adapts it to the body.
Feel free to comment on any of these news stories in our Facebook group or Tweet at me.
Back in February, I geeked out over the latest tattoo law news in "Videogame Maker Sued for Copyright Infringement Over Basketball Stars' Tattoos." As I wrote in that post, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York against Take-Two Interactive and other companies associated with the video game NBA 2K16 for reproducing the tattoos of the basketball stars featured in the game series without permission.
The suit was filed by Solid Oak Sketches, a company who licensed the tattoo designs from the following artists who tattooed stars like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant: Justin Wright (LeBron James), Shawn Rome (LeBron James), Tommy Ray Cornett (Eric Bledsoe and Kenyon Martin), Robert Benedetti (Kobe Bryant), and Leslie Hennelly (DeAndre Jordan). In those licensing agreements, the tattooers agreed to 8% of the net earnings of Solid Oak for their designs.
A couple of weeks ago, a ruling came down concerning that suit, and among some tattooers talking about it, there was a bit of confusion, so I figured I'd break it down a bit here.
On August 2nd, U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan said that the videogame maker cannot be held liable to Solid Oak Sketches for statutory damages -- which could rack up as much as $150,000 per copyright infringement -- because Soild Oak did not register the tattoo designs with the US Copyright Office until 2015, years after the release of NBA 2K14 in 2013, when the alleged infringement of the tattoo designs began.
In order to obtain statutory damages and attorneys' fees, Solid Oak must have registered its copyright prior to the alleged infringement. Solid Oak argued that, because the NBA 2K16 version was released after copyright registration, they were still entitled to those statutory damages and attorneys' fees; however, the court didn't buy it, stating that "the first act of infringement in a series of ongoing infringements occurred prior to the work's copyright registration."
You can read that opinion and order here.
The Hollywood Reporter's article on the suit got some traction last week on social media, and that's where I found that some were confused about what the decision meant. The ruling does not mean that the court found that there was no copyright infringement, rather, they said that, because of when it was registered, Solid Oak and the artists were not going to get the really big money, which would have added up to a massive amount considering the number of tattoos represented in the games.
What Solid Oak and the artists are then left with is proving actual damages -- the money from demonstrated loss that they suffered as a result of the infringement, such as lost licensing revenue or any other provable financial loss directly attributable to the game's use of their artwork. That's tougher to do, but they could still see some decent money if the judge finds infringement.
The big argument of the defendant is that the use of tattoos seen on the bodies of the basketball stars is fair use and de minimis use. Stanford's general definition of fair use is "any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and 'transformative' purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner." And de minimis can be summed up as "the amount of material copied is so small (or 'de minimis') that the court permits it without even conducting a fair use analysis," as per this Stanford resource.
In their court filings, Take-Two asserts:
Indeed, if Solid Oak were correct, it would mean that anyone appearing in public, on a television program, or in an advertisement would need to license the display of their tattoos. This is not the law and, if it were, it would be an encroachment on basic human rights.Take-Two also made some other interesting arguments which you can read here.
It's really a fascinating debate and I really can't wait till a court rules on it rather than the cases just settling, as what happened to the Mike Tyson Tattoo Case.
For more on my writing on tattoo copyright check these links:
Tattoo headlines were ho-hum until this past week, when the news started covering interesting stories in tech, sports, politics, law, and fashion. Here are my favorites:
The story with the most coverage is the latest in robotic tattooing. Check this video (embedded below) "World's First Tattoo by Industrial Robot," in which French designers Pierre Emm and Johan da Silveira, along with Autodesk engineer David Thomasson, used 3D scanning tech, custom computer software, and an industrial robot to create a precision tattoo on real flesh. The designers told The Verge that the hardest part was adapting the robotic arm to work on the uneven surfaces of the human body. The Verge also reports that they plan to turn their project into a commercial operation. "It was not the goal in the beginning [...] But many of the tattoo artists and studios we have worked with along the way are impatient to get their hands on these machines." This isn't Emm and da Silviera's first foray into robotic tattooing: back in 2014, I wrote about their 3D printer tattoo machine. This latest project builds on that, kicking it up a notch. But really, no matter how precise, tattooing for me is also about that relationship between artist and client. That trust and bond is important, so I won't be giving that up soon for a straighter line.
Tattoos on Olympic athletes are also garnering tons of attention. The Washington Post tattoo slideshow is worth a look, and its particular focus is the exclusive Olympic Rings tattoo,"the one tattoo that only we can get," according to archer Brady Ellison. Another interesting note in the article is the story of how a British Paralympic swimmer was disqualified from a race in May because his Olympic rings tattoo was visible, violating an International Paralympic Committee swimming rule that clearly states, "Body advertisements are not allowed in any way whatsoever (this includes tattoos and symbols)." According to the Washington Post: "Technically, Paralympians compete under a different banner and for a different organization that features a different logo. To Paralympic officials, the Olympic rings were no different than a Nike swoosh. The International Olympic Committee has indicated that it has no plans to ban ink of the rings and has even expressed enthusiasm for athletes' marking their accomplishments in such an enduring way."
Also check this Kotaku article by Brian Ashcraft on how the multitude of tattooed Olympians, and their fans, will flood the next summer games in Japan, forcing the country to rethink its anti-tattooing laws and also people's perception of tattoos in general. The article also includes a number of personal pics of the athletes' tattoos.
My favorite article was on ancestral Maori tattoo traditions meets modern politics. Nanaia Mahuta is first female member of the New Zealand parliament to wear the moko kauae tattoo while in office. According to MaoriTelevsion.com, Mahuta stated that "it was time for New Zealand to accept that Maori traditions were strong and everlasting," adding:
I'm certain just as parliament sees the growing contribution that Maori are making in all places in all sorts of ways that it is a growing recognition that we are not going anywhere. We expect to see the way that we think, the way that we celebrate and cherish our culture, our heritage and language and all things that are important is a key defining part in the way New Zealand continues to grow and that's got to be positive.Here are some other links to check out:
* The NY Times looks at cover-ups in "A Face-Lift for Tattoos."
* Mexican prisoners are using their tattoo skills for purse designs.
* A judge causes controversy by allowing a make-up artist to cover a defendant's Neo-Nazi tattoos.
* And our friend Michele Myles of Daredevil Tattoo is featured in The Stir's "Lady Tattoo Artists We Love."