Category Archives: Tattoos

INK CELEBRATIONS

Nowadays, with all these business closing down due to bad economic situation (I hate abusing of the word crisis), it is really a great pleasure being able to join the celebration of the 13th and 5th anniversaries of my two favorite tattoo studios in Barcelona, Aloha Tattoos and Barcelona Electric Tattoo.

electric tattoo

The quality of many of the artists working there is outstanding and their work worldwide renowned, as they are constantly on the move, attending conventions and working as guests at other studios: El Monga, Javi Castaño, El Carlo, Tai Iglesias…I’m very proud of getting inked myself by Alvaro Llorar and Rotor myself. Those who are into this world can feel very lucky to have such great artists so close at hand.

david tejero

Parties were held last week and both were a blast. Probably the first one, Aloha’s at Nervermind was wilder, because expectations weren’t so high and took us by surprise. Contests, very cool decorated walls, gifts, free tattoos, Black Thunders live performance…and Toi volunteering as a beer drinking contender. Of course I didn’t win, and didn’t aim to, but it was insane and I had a laugh. And got wasted.

On Saturday, the party took place at BeGood. There was still a trace of the previous party so everybody took it easier, but the live performances, including a mini burlesque show, really cheered us all up. I flipped with Tort especially, with their new singer and guitar player. The show was impressive.

tort

What I particularly enjoyed was the comradeship among the artists, who attended each other parties, and the community of tattooists from other cities in Spain who joined the celebration. It was very interesting to know other people, their working style, and the humility to admire others’ work. I felt observe, but in a good way, and I was given some business cards to bear in mind. Never been able to attend a convention, but this was in fact a great experience.

I tend to admire what’s abroad first, rather than what’s at home, but after quite some time observing and getting acquainted with the tattoo world, I have to admit Spain has a great bunch of fantastic artists. Still there are some things to improve, which do not have to do with them, but us and the society we are currently living in, and our narrow mindset. I only hope tattoos are not a temporary fashion, society stops regarding tattoos as something weird or bad, and these studios remain open, allowing these wonderful artists to stay here, so we can celebrate many more anniversaries.

aloha tattoos

I’ll go to Aloha Tattoos to get my 13 drop inked soon. It’d be great I’d be able to get another one celebrating 25 years.

Keep up the excellent work and good luck!

LAST CHAPTER OF 2013: MY HIGHLIGHTS.

This is the last post related to 2013 I’m gonna write. It’s been another rough year (the second in a row), with many ups and downs, and some disappointments, but fortunately not everything was dark, and thanks to some people, music and some personal achievements I survived it, and pounding both good and bad things, I prefer using the adjective rough instead of shitty.

I reckon writing down a list of highlights is a positive way to close a year in the best way possible, so with no particular order I’m starting to remember my personal best of.

JORDI AND RICHARD

It’s still shocking that after living so many years in Barcelona I still don’t know, or haven’t been introduced to certain people I’ve seen thousands of times at bars and shows. At the end of the day, the rock scene in the city is quite reduced, so it’s easy to know who is who. It’s also funny the fact that it was Andrea who properly introduced us, considering she lives in our hometown, and not in Barcelona.

toi jordi and richard

And it’s wonderful to feel a crush at first sight on these two guys with whom I share so many things in common, especially the passion for music and this will to enjoy and have fun. And I love their strong friendship, and the way they connect and complement each other.

I reckon 2013 is the starting point of a long relation with them, and feel very happy and proud of feeling so welcome by them.

ALVARO LLORAR

carmen

I think it was a great idea to start a dark year getting tattooed by one of the artists I admire most: Alvaro Llorar. The result was Carmen, a gorgeous woman with a flame coming out of one of her eyes. The design, the palette of colors used, and the composition are amazing, and I’m very pleased and proud of my girl.

KRISTONFEST

This festival will last in my memory for several reasons. First, the lineup, Orange Goblin and Clutch; Second, I could spend some time with my British pals; Third, I met adorable people I already knew virtually but nor physically (Iñigo, Ostaika, Alberto…); Fourth, it was my first assignment for Rockzone Magazine.

ROCKZONE MAGAZINE AND MY FIRST INTERVIEWS

I started writing for Rockzone in June, and since then I’ve been doing some homework reviewing albums and shows until I was assigned my first interview to Dave Wyndorf, of Monster Magnet, and I’ve been doing few more in the last 3 months.

I love music and writing, so you can imagine the possibility of combining these two passions is a blast. Again I have to thank Jordi and Richard for the support and trust.

JAUME AND TANI

I’ve always expressed how lucky I am for having the friends I have, and the meaning of this highlight is not making any favoritism, but I feel like celebrating my friendship with these two people, who are so important and dear to me.

On one hand I’m supper happy of Tani coming back to my life in a solid way. I’m positive there won’t be more distance between us, and it’s great to have the funniest chick in the world (apart from me, heh) by my side. Every minute we’ve spent together has been top quality and I know there are many more to come.

tani and toi

As for Jaume, my first internet friend, my best supporter and my best confidant, his life’s changed quite much this year, and I only hope I have supported him enough. Truth is that such change has also strengthened our friendship one step beyond. Cubism, gossip, movies at The Hellhouse and many nights of fun. For many years!

DJ’N SESSIONS

It’s been a very busy year with sessions almost every month at different venues: Psycho Club, Hey Ho! Bar, Es Xibiu tapas bar, La Caja Tonta and La Ley Seca in Zaragoza, and the most remarkable event, with Veronica, as guest djs at Siberia Festival in Vitoria.

djn

Playlists I post here are becoming  popular and the crew seem to be pleased, and as for myself, I’m getting more comfortable and confident with the sessions. Very proud, to be honest.

#DADDYCOOL

I’m especially pleased with the current relationship with my father. We can have different points of view, argue, and get pissed off with each other, but I reckon we’ve never been so well as nowadays. Perhaps certain circumstances have encouraged the closeness of it, and I regard it as something very positive.

We still got some Japanese beers pending at the basement. I remember, Randy.

NEIL YOUNG IN NIMES

I feel lucky for being able to attend another show of the old man, with Crazy Horse. You never know when it’ll be the last chance, so whenever it’s possible I’ll move wherever to see him. The show was neat and beautiful, the place, wonderful, and the experience unforgettable.

HUEY MORGAN

As weird as it might sound, Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ singer, Huey, has managed to cheer me up every day thanks to his philosophy quotes, his jams of the day, his replies on Twitter, and his show on BBC6 Music. I’m positive I’ll meet him in person in the future, and I hope that future comes soon. #jeah!

Huey Morgan

THE SOCIAL NETWORKS

Again, they must be included as a highlight. The ARF forum, Facebook, Twitter and this blog, have allowed me to get to know very interesting people, get closer to artists I admire and be in touch with people living far away. How can anyone hate internet?

***

I only hope 2014 is a bit more positive, or at least steadier, that these last ones, with no extreme ups n’ downs. There are cool events ahead which make me feel optimistic at this moment but you can never trust Fate whims, right? Let’s see what happens… I got my fingers crossed.

MASTERS OF INK & NEEDLE: ALVARO LLORAR.

jaws llorar

I love Álvaro Llorar. I really do. He’s one of my favorite tattoo artists, lives in Barcelona and works at Barcelona Electric Tattoo 20 minutes away walking from The Hellhouse.

Fist time acquainted with him was through my friend Dave, who got tattooed by him in 2010. This beautiful woman whose tears water and feed the roses really caught my eye.

dave

At the end of 2012 I started thinking of getting a woman inked. I didn’t want the typical face, and thought of a woman with the eyes in flames, it made me think of something like “I’d rather burn my eyes (see no evil)”.

After assessing different artists, it was precisely before Christmas Eve supper, having some beers with Dave, he suggested and encouraged me to talk to Alvaro, and so I did. I knew he wasn’t going to fail me, as he’s a master with women, tattooing speaking (well, probably in other senses too).

When I visited him at the studio, one of the main things which confirmed me I has chosen correctly was the immediate connection to him. It was very easy for me to explain the concept of the woman in flaming eyes and he got it instantly, looking very enthusiastic about the idea. We got on well in a second. That made me feel very confident. 4 days later he was showing me two designs of a lady, both with just one eye on fire to highlight the features of the gorgeous lady, and I chose the skull clip for the hair and the chrysanthemum. The experience of getting tattooed by Llorar was terrific. Not only because we could chat a lot and he answered all my questions, but also because he was all the time making sure I was feeling comfortable and suffering the less possible. The result was Carmen, my gorgeous woman.

carmen

Álvaro was also thrilled by the result and admitted she was going to be one of the tops of the year. I’ve seen many of his works afterwards and even though they are brilliant, I gotta admit he was right.

He’s definitely a ladies artist. The way he works on the faces, the intense and wide eyes, the blush around them, the treatment of shadows on the chin and neck, lips and nose, the hair, and all the beautiful accessories added… Alvaro’s a master of the classic and traditional Mediterranean woman, very feminine, gorgeous, nostalgic and very evocative. His ladies make me think of sailors, who would be very proud of getting inked a beauty such as my Carmen.

Women Llorar

 

They are so recognizable, it happened to me some time ago at a concert a couple of guys came to me asking if my girl was inked by Álvaro, completely fascinated, and started showing me some of their tattoos done by him too.

Of course ladies are not the only field Llorar is good at. He’s got a taste for the dark and gloomy. Many of his illustrations portrait evil scenes, quite disturbing. It’s hard to understand when you get to know such an outgoing and friendly guy though. His skulls are very unique.

skulls llorar

Álvaro is guest spotting in different cities in Spain. Mallorca, Pamplona, Zaragoza, Cordoba, and also takes part of some conventions in Europe. Best advice I can give is, in case you’re interested in getting one of his wonderful tattoos, to contact him through Facebook in order to check when and where he’s available, as fortunately he’s quite busy.

Llorar is not even 30 right now, but is one of the most solid artists I know nowadays. as an artist he’s very creative and talented, and you can see he loves his job. As a person, only for the hours I spent with him, he’s straight, very easygoing and adorable. The combination of these two sides made my experience terrific, and I’m looking forward to repeating some time soon.

varios llorar

MASTERS OF INK & NEEDLE: ROTOR FINERATS

It’s been long time since I don’t write about tattoo artists and now that I feel a bit cold turkey and Summertime is definitely the worse season for tattoo artists due to warm weather, I’m in the mood to talk about Rotor Finerats, a 200% artist, not just talented with the ink and the needle. Beyond the tattoos, this guy has an immense talent and creativity reflected on his illustrations, very inspired in the lowbrow art movement.

rotor viking skulls

Some people have asked me why I never talk about Spanish artists, wondering whether I’m not interested in the national product. I’ve been thinking about it and I can only reply that I never got the chance or perhaps foreign artists came first to my mind. At this point I’m so into this world, I reckon there’s an impressive community of Spanish artists spread throughout the peninsula, and especially settled in Barcelona. I’m very lucky on this regard.

Thus today I’m talking about Rotor, my first Spanish tattoo artist I haven’t had yet the pleasure of visiting myself for my piece. But I’m pretty sure eventually that day will arrive and I’ll get one of his post-nuclear tattoos.

Rotor works at Aloha Tattoos studio in Barcelona, at this point I’d say it’s the most established and popular studio in town, ousting the classic LTW studio in Tallers st. It used to be the place of reference, but since it’s always been very expensive and the rotation of artists is too frequent, Aloha eventually won the crown, thanks to Rotor, El Carlo, El Javi, El Monga, Tai Iglesias…too much talent at that studio.

I think it was a year ago when I saw  a tattoo of Rotor’s for the first time and it really blew my mind. I can’t be 100% sure, but I’d say it was this one.

rotor mechanical whale

I felt fascinated with this mechanical whale, as I like to name it, and the combination of the industrial element with one of the most amazing creatures on Earth. Nature corrupted by industrialization? Replicant animals in the future to replace extinct breed? Who knows, only Rotor, there might be lots of symbols or perhaps none, but these post-nuclear tattoos are his trademark, making his designs very unique.

post nuclear tattoos by Rotor

Rotor’s style is closer to old school than Miss Arianna, for instance. Even though both artists prefer thick lines, Arianna enhances details through shading while Rotor prefers this style of  lining, in order to provide his pieces of this classic roughness. No doubt he can also stick to a more complex or detailed style too, but to be honest I’m not as interested in that part.

His universe also includes weird creatures, vampires, or aliens, quite vintage looking, keeping this childish and reckless halo.

Rotor Creatures

And I love everything he does involving skulls.

skulls rotor

Rotor, together with Ibie, is co-editor of Fine Rats illustration magazine, recovering the works of many independent artists who unfortunately cannot expose their work in public so in this way these compilations can achieve more audience. I had the chance to purchase the first five issues, printed in very good quality and offering a different kind of art, much more trashier and rude. I will write about this publishing in a near future, on a separate post.

Here you can watch this video introducing Rotor who explains a bit about his work and influences. It was recorded to support him in a contest held by Jägermeister. Unfortunately he didn’t win, but it was a good promo for him.

Rotor is on my list of artists I would like to get tattooed by. All this sci-fi, vintage future designs are terrific, and his post-nuclear creatures are simply awesome. His style might look very simple, but it’s the imagery, all the complements added to the main figure, which enhance the effect of them. His work is very special.

MASTERS OF INK & NEEDLE: JARNO KANDAHAR

A couple of weeks ago I told you about Finland, Michael Monroe and Demolition 23.

There’s another attractive related to Finland to add to the list. This time is a tattoo artist, Jarno Kandahar, who works at Tatuata tattoo parlour, in the heart of Helsinki.

I was trying to remember when or how I discovered Jarno, but I really can’t recall. As you will notice, his style is far away from the new old school I’m so fond of, closer to the Japanese. What I reckon  is that this was the first piece of his work I saw back then.

Jarno Crow

 I’m not really into birds nor crows, but this one really caught my attention. The tail feathers, the eye and the beak are very clean and realistic, and the chrysanthemum background to contrast so much black, is excellent.

The development and amazing talent of Jarno is better observed in big pieces. His designs include many details and elements which wouldn’t achieve the same harmony if reduced in scale. Jarno’s strength is on big scale.

mucha jarno

As already mentioned, Kandahar is brilliant in Japanese style: dragons, masks, Koi fishes, flowers, geishas and warriors…

japanese jarno

Every artist has some theme he or she is good at. Miss Arianna is the best with lighthouses, Pietro Sedda is unique working on those conceptual human faces, Bigfatjoe Ankarfyr loves the personification of animals, and Emily Rose’s ladies are the most beautiful on Earth.

Jarno’s best are birds. Crows, swans, mockingbirds, or herons are terrific. Again, the realism of feathers, the glance of the creatures’ eyes, their beacks, the claws…they are super artistic, as if painted on canvas.

birds kandahar

The treatment of colour is completely different to the old school style. In general tones are darker and more subdued. The use of black and grey palette is constant in birds, for instance, adding flowers or a highlighted colored element to enhance the contrast. Check this deer.

Deer chest Jarno

Brown tones with dark yellow and black shading define the animal. The green leaves as the background to create the contrast. Green tone is not highlighting.

Animals are more, let’s say monochrome, and all the intensity of color comes with the decoration elements.

Color treatment is different when dealing with Japanese works. Color is more intense and livid, and this time, the background is set on grey and black tones.

The style of Jarno is very artistic. His pieces make me think of classic paintings related to natural scenes. The great designs covering large parts of the bodies are excellent, and the composition of his pieces is rich and wonderful.

It’s important to me the fact that many tattoo artists I admire and follow, also praise Kandahar’s work. I find that a good quality stamp so to speak, and to be honest, even though his style does not match what I like for myself, I really think he’s a very talented artist.

If you want to contact him or appreciate his work properly, you can visit Tatuata’s website or FB page.

THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF RUSSIAN CRIMINAL TATTOOS

eastern promises

One of the last films directed by David Cronenberg, Eastern Promises, was an approach to the subworld of the Russian Mafia families that we barely know anything about for obvious reasons. Leaving the story and the plot aside, there was something which caught my interest right away: the importance of tattoos.

For many years tattoos have been related to sailors, prisoners, criminals…disreputable people in general. This is a supporting confirmation of such belief.

We all are aware of the Japanese Yakuza families, and the hierarchic distinction marked by tattoos. In the case of Russian mafia this tattoo language is fascinating.

Every symbol has a meaning, and the location of certain pieces determine the rank within the family.

RussianCriminalTattoosGuide

Thus, for instance cats mean pickpockets, the number of domes in churches have to do with prison sentence years, and bats are related to criminal acts at night.

Danzig Baldayev had to work in Kresty,  an infamous Leningrad prison, for 33 years. Getting acquainted with the convicts and observing a pattern in tattoos, from 1948 he made over 3000 drawings of their tattoos,  recording codes and writing down all sort of information.

His relationship with the inmates had to be very close and special he managed to obtain such secret information. Seems kind of unreal such dangerous people allowed Danzig to access to their world so easily.

Baldayev record

For some time he was ordered by his superiors to quit his activity until KGB realized how valuable his illustrations were as a resource to understand the codes of the criminals.

On the other hand, Sergei Vasiliev, a photographer who used to work for the newspaper Vecherny Chelyabinsk, spent 4 years (1989-1993) taking pictures of tattooed Soviet prisoners in prisons and reformatories settled in Chelyabinsk, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Tagil and Perm.

As you can observe, the results were amazing.

russian hands

man and chair

On one hand this was the confirmation of the language code inherent in the tattoos remained intact throughout the years, and on the other, all the information compiled by Baldayev was proved in individuals.

Saatchi Gallery in London exhibits selected works by the photographer.

russian prison guy

The Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia divided into 3 volumes include many of Baldayev’s illustrations combined with Vasiliev’s photographies, being this collection a unique document including tattoos and codes, proving the existence of this occult disguised and hidden language even more remarkable in the Soviet era, when the individual was repressed and mute.

russian criminal tattoos

If you are into tattoos, these three volumes are a must, and if you are not, I think they are worth having a look anyway, so as to learn a different language and culture. At the end of the day the evil and dark side is always the most appealing.

MASTERS OF INK & NEEDLE: PIETRO SEDDA

The renowned International Tattoo Convention in Milano took place last weekend, hosting very important artists such as Miss Arianna, Chad Koeplinger, Adrian Edek, Horimasa or Tai Iglesias.

Conventions are like fairs, offering lots of entertainment with many events programmed, artists not only tattooing but also showing their amazing sketchbooks and selling merch, and of course, showing their skills on the field, available to every attendant. Indeed, it’s the best promo they can have, even though it’s harder for some of the artists to stay focused due to so much bustle.

You can get a tattoo on the go, but many artists work on command, this is, they’ve already scheduled appointments with clients. If you think about it, it’s easier and cheaper travel to a big city such as Milano or London, rather than visiting certain artists to their parlors in God knows where in Poland.

Thanks to Internet, nowadays it’s possible to follow up the development of the events at tattoo conventions. Plenty of updates including photos of the pieces done might get you a picture of what’s going on.

Pietro Sedda is a Cagliari born artist settled in Milano who works at The Saint Mariner. I’ve been following him for a couple of years already, amazed by his conceptual work I will refer to in a minute (or half).


Checking his Milano updates on Sunday, I discovered he had received the best artist award for Saturday. Curious as it seems, there is a single day award, and Pietro was the most acclaimed on the 9th. His previous post was this amazing piece I presume he did that day. I agree with the jury decision, this piece is so much different from what I’ve seen lately, it’s impressive.

mon amour by Pietro Sedda

The merging of the sailor with the couple kissing, and the twilight sea scape, with the lettering C’est La Vie on one hand, and Mon Amour on the beret, is so romantic, and dreamy!

The new old school extended tendency and expertise of the Italian artists is again proved by Sedda’s work, and even though all are remarkable fr their own personal features, Sedda’s conceptual tattoos make a difference.

Birds are usually portrayed including a human a human face inside, which makes me think of human beings deprived of freedom, as if locked up inside the body of a bird, the ultimate symbol for freedom.

human birds by Pietro Sedda

This is something very similar to the pieces related to men and krakens or octopus. Men are trapped by their tentacles, as if swallowed, and women are the octopus, ready to embrace, grab, and finally catch you for themselves.

octopus by Pietro Sedda

Human faces are quite enigmatic, and literally puzzling sometimes.

puzzled people by Pietro Sedda

Faces can also be used as the lid, the cover of a recipient, which can already contain something, usually some other creatures. Those removable faces remind me of s the 70’s horror sci-fi movie, Westworld. Brynner’s quite creepy.

westworld faces Pietro Sedda

In the animal world, not only birds predominate, but also the sea creatures such as whales.

whales by Pietro Sedda

Anyway, there’s no doubt about his preference for human beings. It’s like Sedda was always trying to face en against some other creatures, mainly animals, being these the winning side in the struggle. And there’s another element, translated into skulls, which always wins: Death.

death by Pietro Sedda

His technique is super clean and very solid. The use of shading is outstanding in faces, especially in eye contour, and wrinkles, however, his characters show this neutral and cold expression, quite typical in this old school. Their glance does not help you in understanding what’s going on, but what comes with them, the accesories, which have the same relevance as the creature.

Wish I could ask Sedda about the meaning of his personal symbolism. Probably he’d laugh reading about my personal interpretation of them. What is true is that all this crypticism is very appealing and Sedda is a master of the riddles through tattoos. If you like his work, you can follow him on FB or visit his beautiful website. Pretty amazing, don’t you think?