08:46 AM
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The folks at Reactions: Every Chemistry YouTube channel recently posted their Why are Tattoos Permanent? video [embedded below], focusing on how pigment stays in your skin for a lifetime (and some more time after that).

I've posted a bunch of articles and videos on "how tattoos work" but this is a good refresher, particularly in the way tattoo permanence is explained by Dr. Claudia Aguirre -- who is getting tattooed as she's talking. A lot of what Dr. Aguirre notes in the video can be found on her website post on "Tattoos & Skin Health." There's also her recent article for the Washington Post called, "All the science that goes into a single tattoo," which is a good read.

The video itself has some of the same tattoo cliches and doesn't take it as seriously as I would like for a science channel, but I guess there has to be some dumbing down to make chemistry more accessible for people like me (whose science scores forced us into being lawyers).

Overall, it's a quick & interesting look.

02:32 PM
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The wonderfully intriguing wooden sculptures by Takeshi Haguri, with their fine tattoo details, were shared by Melina Bee in our Needles & Sins Facebook group, but in case you didn't catch it, here's just a taste of the artwork.

You can see more sculptures and close-ups of the work on the gallery page. As noted on that page, Haguri, born in 1957 in Nagoya, Japan, has been sculpting in wood mainly, using aluminium for outdoor works. The tattoos are largely acrylic paint, inspired by tattooed bodies found at Matsuri (Japanese festivals). I particularly love the movement of those tattoos on sculptures. A great marriage of body art and fine art.

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08:36 AM
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Xed LedHead backpiece.jpgXed LeHead tattoo on Nazareno Tubaro.jpgMandalas, Yantras, the interlocking swastikas of the Sayagata--they are some of the most referenced imagery found in dotwork tattooing. And the prevalence of their use and influence on so many tattooists worldwide can be traced to one man: Xed LeHead.

These artists, from the 90s Dunstable generation to today's Instagram #sacredgeometrytattoo stars, reverently refer to Xed as "The Dotfather," for the 3-needle dot configurations tattooed in richly textured patterns across massive swaths of skin. From the age of 13, Xed was handpoking friends, ten years before he chose to pursue tattooing around 1990. And from those very first tattoos, dots always dominated.

You'll be finding The Dotfather banner (above) popping up on social media feeds, in honor of all Xed's artistic contributions to tattooing, and the lives he has changed with his work. However, these tributes stem from very difficult circumstances and the desire to support a beloved friend, mentor, and inspirational figure in tattooing.

Recently, Xed suffered a severe medical condition, leaving him unable to use his arms and legs and forcing him to retire from tattooing. Xed faces a long road of rehabilitation and the need for specialist medical equipment and services that exceed both Xed and the UK's National Health Service budgets. To support Xed and give back all he has given to our community, a trust fund has been set up, spearheaded by tattooers Goldilox and Delphine Noiztoy, that will go directly to these medical costs.

** To be a part of this support, please donate to the Official Xed Le Head fund page. You can learn more about the fundraising efforts, share your Xed stories, and find out about his care on the Xed Le Head Facebook fundraising page. **

Also check @Xedleheadlove on Instagram and share the love with these hashtags #xedleheadlove #xedlehead #themaster.

There are additional individual fundraisers planned:  There will be an exhibition of Xed's work at the Norwich Tattoo Convention August 15-16th, and for the first time his prints will be for sale. FK Irons is auctioning off three dedicated Xed tattoo machines, and there are many more auctions of artists work planned.

I'll be setting up an auction for the original Black Tattoo Art, the cover of which is graced by Xed's work and has pages of his tattoos inside as does Black Tattoo Art II). More on that to come.

Xed_LeHead_love.jpegXed_LeHead_hand tattoo.jpegWhile there are have been a number of fundraisers for tattooers' medical expenses, this one is different for me. Not only does compassion move me to help someone who is forced to stop making a living and doing what he loves, I think it is also time to reciprocate Xed's gifts of an expanded tattoo vocabulary and spiritual approach to the art. And for anyone who has ever banked on the Master Pattern and his other designs, it seems to me like a debt owed (although, he probably would not approve of me saying so).

Xed is also known for his generosity of spirit, dedication to his clients, and passion for tattoos. In my last interview with him, he said some beautiful things, a part of which I want to share with you:
[T]he days in the studio, the time spent devoted to another human, not sexual and with or without payment being of no consequence, but for the betterment of them, for improving their journey through life, knowing and believing fully that what I attempt to do with them, for them, is to rewire their Planet Freakout Playsuit a little, to improve their vibration rate and deepen their connection with their selves.There is also the want to get into their heads, to know them, to watch their growth, to get involved with really complex pieces that take at least forever to complete, often much longer.

[...] The experience of unlocking yet another geometric puzzle on the skin, or applying sacred texts or other powerful totems, outweighs the awesome vistas that nature can provide..
Xed_LeHead_face tattoo.jpegXed rose up through the famed Into You Tattoo, the London studio of his mentor Alex Binnie, and then created his own space in North London, Divine Canvas, the premier studio for blackwork.

You can find more of Xed's work on the
Divine Canvas site and his personal site - which has a great interview section.

I also recommend you watching this Youtube video, in which he talks about his most renowned work on Lucky Diamond Rich, Guinness World Records Most Tattooed Man.

Once inspired, please
go to Official Xed Le Head fund page and be a part of supporting a tattoo icon.
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02:55 PM
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Photo by Natalie Loizzo.

With so many tattoo conventions taking place every 10 seconds around the world, it's impossible to post on all of them, but I had to share an upcoming one that I'm excited to attend (for pure fun this time!):  The Pagoda City Tattoo Fest will have an exceptional gathering of artists -- a number of whom rarely make any convention appearances -- at the Crowne Plaza in Wyomissing Pennsylvania, August 7th through the 9th. I heard it was a blast last year (with some great after-parties), so I'll be driving over from NYC to check for myself what friends were raving about.

Last year, Pat interviewed co-organizer Justin Weatherholtz about what prompted him and Joe Johns to start this convention. [Pat also talked to Justin about his tattooing, which you can read here.] I recently hit up Justin to ask him about the highlights of this upcoming show. Here's what he said:  

The highlights for this year would be, above everything else, our additions to the line up:  Tim Hendricks, Spider Murphys, Mike Wilson, Blackheart Tattoo, Red Letter1, Claudia DeSabe, Skull and Sword, and 3 Tides join returning stand outs like Mike Rubendall ,Grez and the entire crew of Kings Avenue, Inksmith and Rogers, BJ Betts and some TV favorites like Megan Massacre, Dave Kruseman, Jime Litwalk and Joe Capobianco.

We will also have Ahren Bloomquist doing a machine seminar and we will be showing Todd Noble's "Look Of Love" original paintings from his book, which will be for sale as well.

The after-parties Friday and Saturday night, which were such a big hit last year, will be amplified this year with a Photo Booth for everyone, which is always fun, and great music and food are all on site at the show. We're definitely building Pagoda City to be the East Coast event for best of the best tattooing.
Also check the Pagoda City Tattoo Fest on Facebook and Instagram for more info, as well as the promo video below.

08:42 AM
Behind the Ink.pngSuper-smart, beautiful badasses are repping tattooed women in this video (embedded below) created by Marie Claire magazine, entitled, "Behind The Ink."

The 4-minute film features five "brilliant and successful women about why they got their ink and how having tattoos has affected them personally and professionally." There's naturally discussion of stereotypes. The wonderful Alice Snape, editor of Things & Ink, notes that, while she does not know the origins of how "slutty" became a common adjective for tattooed women, tattoo media that uses pornographic style imagery perpetuate myths that don't exist.

And those myths can carry over into how one is perceived at work, in online dating (Are we "wife material"?), and even at the altar in a pretty wedding dress. Despite the seriousness of the topic, the women featured discuss these issues in a light, positive way and with grace. In addition to Alice Snape, you'll also hear the stories of Things & Ink columnist, salon owner, ReeRee Rockette (@reereerockette); Mary Kate Trevaskis (@marycupkate), Communications Director at Smashbox Cosmetics and Bumble and Bumble; Katie Parsons (@katieparsons), a Kerrang! Radio DJ and Social Media Strategist; and London-based tattooer Tracy D (@tracydtattoos), who tattoos Anita Bhagwandas, Marie Claire Senior Beauty Editor on film.

It's not often that a mainstream publication takes a thoughtful pro-tattooed women approach, so I recommend giving it some Hits and Likes to show that negative trolling shouldn't grab more headlines. 

11:41 PM
tattooartistyoga.jpgGraphic above by JF Biron of The Kustom Kulture in Montreal.

At the Empire State Tattoo Expo this weekend, I was having a conversation with Rising Dragon Tattoo's Darren Rosa (who has been tattooing 30 years and is a triathlete) about the toll tattooing can take on an artist's body over the years without prevention. Then Darren told me about Ashley Silversides, a yoga teacher and personal trainer who has taken a special interest in tattoo artist wellness.

I checked out Ashley's Painted Lady Fitness site -- and her social media pages on on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook -- and the information she generously shares is fantastic!

When I reached out to Ashley, who is heavily tattooed, about her practice, she told me, "I love the tattoo community so much and my hope is to help as many tattoo artists along the way that I can, so they can continue to do what they love for as long as they choose."

And so, she put together stretching guides, providing photos, explanations and the benefits, directed specifically towards tattooers. On her website under Tattoo Artist Corner are two free downloadable PDF books: Tattoo Artist Stretching Guide (the focus is full body) and Tattoo Artist Stretching Guide 2 (the focus is hip flexors and rotator cuffs). A 45-minute Preventative Maintenance Yoga for Tattoo Artist video (embedded below) is also available on her YouTube channel.

I also asked Ashely, who is based in Ontario, about where we can find her offline, and she wrote:
Just the past few months I had the privilege of teaching my tattoo artist yoga class at the Maritime Tattoo Festival in Halifax and the NIX Tattoo Convention in Toronto. I taught the classes in the morning before the shows began setting artists up to feel relaxed and ready for the day! I am just in the works of sorting the details to head to Boston in August for the tattoo convention to continue to share my love for wellness with everyone there.
At some of the conventions, Ashley is offering this fun yoga flash sheet (below) for purchase, painted by Andrew Ottenhof from The Foundry Tattoo in Odessa, Ontario. 

Tattooyogaflash.jpg Beyond conventions, Ashley just had the opportunity to teach a free yoga class for Lululemon in Kingston and over 100 yogis came out to practice with her. She says it was "a very surreal and humbling moment."

I started following Painted Lady Fitness on Instagram and already have found tons of inspiration to get healthier. Whether you tattoo or not, I highly recommend you checking her out.

08:28 PM
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Korea's Chun tattooing.

empire state tattoo expo.jpgTattoo mugshot of @jackfrommanhattan.

Japanese backpiece tattoo.jpgRish's backpiece by Fibs.

tribal leg tattoo.jpgTribal fusion tattoo by Evan Beers.

me and beers.jpgSelfie with Evan Beers. Evan tattooed his own head and face. Watch the video here.

This past weekend, the Hilton Midtown Hotel in Manhattan was flooded with beautiful tattooed bodies at the Empire State Tattoo Expo, repping the diversity of tattoo collectors in NYC and beyond. 

The main attraction was an international All-Star tattoo artist line-up, gathered together by a stellar tattooer himself, Stefano Alcantara, for the Inked-organized show. Paul Booth curated a fine art exhibit as part of the event, and Paul also treated a lucky contest winner to a collaborative tattoo with famed Nikko Hurtado. There were the convention staples of sideshow, burlesque, vendors and competitions -- with some exceptional pieces on view during the contests, such as the Best of Show winner by Randy Engelhard, shown below.

From my book signing table, I grabbed some people from the convention floor for my signature bad iPhone shots, sampled above, and I stole a few photos posted below from the Expo's Facebook page, which has many more pictures to view. On Instagram, check #nyempirestatetattooexpo for more scenes from the show.

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Best of Show: Randy Engelhard tattoo.

Vitcor Portugal tattooing.jpgVictor Portugal freehanding a backpiece.

Jon Mesa tattooing.jpgJon Mesa getting ready to tattoo.
03:15 PM
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For anyone whose been told that they're going to hell because of their tattoos (as I have a number of times), this tattoo-themed horror film -- Phase II (embedded below) - by Eric Pennycoff may resonate. In fact, actor Bob Jaffe's psycho preacher character seems just like the dude yelling at me on the subway last week. Much of the tattoo work that is featured in the film was done by Dusty Neal (whose work you gotta check) as well as other artists out of Black Anvil Tattoo. The 4:10 video is worth a look for heathens and non-heathens alike.

PHASE II from Eric Pennycoff on Vimeo.

02:58 PM
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I found this super-up-close slow-motion video, embedded below, on Pete Chile -- aka Chilly Pete -- and thought I'd share his work as well. Pete, who is a resident artist at Daredevil Tattoo in NYC, works in a variety of tattoo styles, from ultra-bold traditional to Japanese to woodblock print inspired work. In fact, you'll see a lot of the latter on his Instagram, which I'm really digging.

The video of Pete tattooing, by Don Razniewski (who did Daredevil's tattoo history-laden museum fund video), is dramatic (maybe it's the moody music) and even hypnotic, just following the needles slowly puncture the skin, following the work from lining to completion. Definitely worth a look.

10:53 PM
preserved tattoo skin.jpgPhotograph by Dr. Gemma Angel, Courtesy of the Science Museum, London.

Top tattoo news from around the world included stories on preserving tattooed skin postmorten, more do-it-yourself tattoo machine madness, court battles over police tattoo bans, traditional tatau, and more. Here are the details:

In Vice's "Human Pelts: The Art of Preserving Tattooed Skin After Death," the article takes a look at those who have offered to have their tattoos preserved and displayed after their deaths. Most notably, Geoff Ostling, whose tattoos are largely done by artist eX de Medici, talks about how he chose to donate his taxidermied body as a work of art to be displayed at the National Museum of Australia museum (as well as all the gory details of skinning his tattoos once he's gone). There's also a great discussion with Dr. Gemma Angel, who shares her expertise on logistics of preserving skin, as well as the history -- and mystery -- behind the acquisitions at London's Wellcome Collection. Here's a taste:

As fascinating as it is, public exhibits of preserved tattooed skin are rare and controversial. That's in part because it's unclear whether many of these skins were acquired ethically. The preserved skins in the Wellcome Collection, for example, were all purchased from a single mysterious individual.

"As is often the case, the museum acquisition records are sketchy," Angel explained. "The seller called himself Dr. La Valette, but there was no registered medical professional by that name at the medical school during that time. In all likelihood, he was using a pseudonym--there had been one or two public scandals surrounding the use of human skin excised from cadavers to make souvenir items at the Paris medical faculty, as well as experimental tattoo removal on inmates at La Sante prison, so it makes sense that anyone in possession of such a large collection of preserved tattoos would be wary of revealing his identity."

I've linked a number of articles here on the blog about Gemma's work, including this one, "Collecting Tattoo Skin." 
More buzz over Do-It-Yourself tattoos, this time over Jakub Pollag's art grad project Personal Tattoo Machine, which he claims "democratizes the tattoo industry, " adding, "It puts a tool used only by a limited group of people into the hands of enthusiasts, who are seeking an alternative and unique way to permanently mark their meaningful memories onto their skin." Of course, it also puts, in the hands of tattoo enthusiasts, skin infections, Hepatitis C, scars, and a permanent reminder of bad decision making. Also, if anyone can grab a tattoo kit on Amazon or eBay, what's the big difference here? Last January, I wrote on the Stick & Poke kits, also meant to "democratize" tattooing. Both are bad news.

In Chicago, cops have filed a lawsuit challenging the police department's tattoo ban, which requires officers cover up their tattoos that aren't covered by long-sleeve shirts and pants with skin-toned bandages. While I've written extensively on tattoo bans and employment discrimination, you may want to also check this National Law Review article that was published last week on regulating appearance in the workplace.

I was very happy to see my friend, master of Samoan tatau Pili Mo'o, in Mauitime.com, featuring his handtapped Polynesian tattooing, which he will be offering at Blue Hawaii July 1-15. As Mo'o notes in the article, he carries on the traditions of tatau, taught to him by master Sua Sulu'ape Paulo II, and honors the faith and trust his clients put into it.

pili moo.jpgPili Mo'o handtapping tatau.

In other news ...

* Here's a piece on why many people are tattooing semicolons on their bodies.

* An article on "A day in the life of an all-female tattoo studio."

* Corneal tattooing -- as demonstrated at the NYC Tattoo Convention last month.

* Cross-stitch tattoos.

* And a sweet story on a "Tattoo Artist Turns Girl's Leg Braces Into A Pair Of Wicked Awesome Disney Villains."
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