Category Archives: Tattoos

10 TIPS FOR TATTOO DUMMIES

Tattoos are cool. Well, at least I love them. If I had started earlier I’d probably had at least half of my body inked, but as I started late and inking is not (and mustn’t be) cheap, I’m getting a piece per year, more or less.

Considering they are permanent (forget about tattoo removal, it’s painful, it expensive, takes many sessions and leaves marks), in case you are thinking of having your piece, first you should give it a serious thought, second, if you finally go ahead, there are certain things you have to be aware of from the beginning and finally, once you have your appointment book, there are also some unwritten yet very obvious rules you should follow regardless.

miss arianna working

These are my 10 tips, I insist, you might not believe I mention some points, but it’s necessary to put you in the situation and remind you of them. Let’s start with them:

1. Don’t get tattooed on a whim, impulsively. Take your time, really. A tattoo is not only what you want, but also where and how. And always remember, once it’s done, it’ll be with you forever. It’s been usually  advised not to get your first tattoo in a visible area, probably in order you get used to it. I personally don’t agree with that.

2. Do some research, ask for advice, and depending on the idea you’ve got on what you want to get inked, visit one or another artist. Every artist is unique,  and even though a good one can do whatever you request, it’s true everybody stands out in certain styles. If there’s this girl whose main work is based on new traditional style, don’t book for something Japanese.

3. Once you’ve agreed on design and size, the artist becomes the master. Period. As per my experience you book with an artist because you know his work is worth it. At the time of describing what you want, be the most accurate without insulting their talent, this is, do not bring your illustrator cousin’s design which MUST NOT be modified. Always be open to suggestions. Once everything is agreed, it’s showtime, the artist’s showtime, and you will become the canvas on which they will reflect their talent. Don’t piss them off.

needle

4. Take a shower/bath before the session. C’mon, I shouldn’t mention this, but since you expose your body to a strange, you should be respectful. Of course all parts are aware that, depending on the time your piece takes, the position you have to freeze into, and the pain, you’ll eventually sweat, and likely the artist too, so, let’s avoid excess of smell. Ah! Before I forget, this includes the other way round, don’t stink of perfume, please. Strong smells can make people around you uncomfortable.

5. Don’t go to you appointment drunk or high, by all means. I also strongly suggest do not arrive sweating massive hangover either. For many reasons: lack of respect towards the artist who’s working for you, you’ll probably reek of alcohol, which is pretty disgusting, you’ll bleed more, and pain would be more unbearable.

                      * Girls, forget about strong perfumes, better not to wear too much make-up or it will be ruined eventually.

6. In case you feel funny or dizzy, inform your tattoo artist about it immediately. The threshold of pain varies depending on people and some can cope with it better than others. So what? And I’m not really talking about pain. Sometimes you get nervous and tense because you’re hungry, or need to wee, or suddenly your vision is not clear. Tell it ASAP! It’s better to warn and stop to have a coke rather than pass over and not being able to finish your session.

7. Don’t force conversation with the artist. If they feel like, they’ll come up with topics of discussion. Even though your guy is super cool, and what he’s inking is awesome, it doesn’t mean you’re becoming Best Friends Forever in just 4 hours. And believe me, I’ve got really on well with all the artists I’ve been working with. It’s better to stop by the shop once the tattoo is healed at closing time and pay them a beer.

8. Try not to bring friends with you, and if you have to, try them to be quiet. Crowded booths are annoying. There’s nothing more stressful than noise. Machines themselves are very noisy and combined with pain are very stressing. If you bring talkative friends, the artist might lose concentration or feel uncomfortable. And even though you’re entertained, you need some kind of intimacy to deal with your pain (and your funny faces. They are terrible!).

9. Eat something before your session. Not the heaviest meal ever, but at least to keep you away from stomach cramps and funny noises. Also hydrate, as you’ll be very tense.

10. Do not bargain with your tattoo artist on the price of the piece. In order to avoid disagreement, ask for their rate in advance, per hour or piece, they’ll calculate you an approximate cost and pay deposit. In case they ask you for more once finished, think why they’re charging you more: most of times it has to do with the complexity and work the piece has implied, and that perhaps it’s taken longer time than. Of course, the increase shouldn’t be outrageous.

I’ve read that in some countries, such as the USA, you should tip the artist. I’ve never heard of it before, and positive never in Spain or Japan. I’d suggest you purchase some stuff such as sketchbooks, t—shirts or some kind of memorabilia.

I really hope someone might find these 10 tips might helpful. At least my idea was to help you feeling less nervous, and approach a completely new situation behaving more confident.

One more thing I didn’t think adding to the list for being too obvious yet it’s necessary you get used to it: getting tattooed is painful. You might have listened to two hundred different stories, and make up your mind in the way you want, but at the end of the day TATTOOS HURT, and it’s pointless you ask the tattoo artist about pain. Take a look at this chart, it’s interesting.

tatoo pain chart

Once this said, good luck to those about to lose their skin virginity, and to  those who already know what I’m talking about, please feel free to add any other useful tip.

MASTERS OF INK & NEEDLE: JOHAN BIGFATJOE ANKARFYR

Imagine you get something tattooed as a souvenir, of any single city you’ve stayed at. How would your body look like? I’m not the most traveler person in the world, but looking backwards I can’t say I’ve been too static. It was almost one year ago in Stockholm, when I had this idea of getting a souvenir from each city. Once I’m settled and right on track, I think I’ll do it.

Right now, deep in the tattoo culture, I could name some artists I could visit any time in most of the cities I’ve ever been to, but there’s one in particular I discovered after being in Stockholm I’m regretting not visiting, because I really enjoy following his work. His name is Johan Bigfatjoe Ankarfyr, and his surname means Anchor-Lighthouse. Adorable, isn’t it?

I can’t recall channel I got to know him, I think I discovered right after I got my piece by Miss Arianna Settembrino, in April, but what I’m positive about it’s the piece I got a crush on, this Man Without a Face.

I had seen blind and faceless men, but this one was as attractive as sinister. The moustache, one visible eye through the glass of its monocle and the eyebrows, providing some kind of evil expression which fascinates me completely.

This piece would sum up the artist’s own words I love to do twisted, one off, personal tattoos with hidden messages and double meanings”.

We could say that Johan’s is this modern old school style, using a palette of intense colours, combined with the shading technique.

Regarding the subjects of his tattoos, there are no preferences. He loves humans, animals, and the personification and animalizing of them.

One of his most impressive pieces is this Underwater Fight among between these huge creatures, with a scared to death diver witnessing the whole scene.

The intensity of the color, the movement of the tentacles of the octopus grabbing the lighthouse and the diver, the menacing glance of the two creatures while fighting against each other. The whole composition has plenty of small details. It’s awesome!

Animals possess very marked personalities, they are very powerful, and when humanized their features become softer, and look sweet and tender. Personally I prefer the last ones, creating interesting and surrealist scenes.

Referring to humans, he usually chooses the early 20th century aesthetics as his main source of inspiration. It’s strange the appearance of robot tattoos, even though he always depicts the most vintage ones. In general, humans lack of face expression, and it’s hard to guess whether they are happy, upset or sad observing their half-closed and tired eyes.

Johan works on both big and small pieces, and complexity in details varies. What it’s undeniable is his technique, very clean, with the outlining very accurate.

It was really a pity getting acquainted with this incredible artist after my visit last year, otherwise I’d have visited him for sure. It’d be great if he was visiting us in the future, but in case he wouldn’t make it, having my Stockholm souvenir made by him would be enough good reason as to come back to Sweden, don’t you think?

If you’re willing to see the final result of these two pieces in progress, as I am, I suggest you follow him on his website or FB. I think he’s worth it.

*** NEW UPDATE***

Johan has just opened his own new studio, Crooked Moon Tattoo, in Stockholm. For appointments, you can find all the information here.

MASTERS OF INK & NEEDLE: EMILY ROSE MURRAY

It’s been a while since I don’t update any post related to tattoo artists, and the list is growing really fast. The more I dig, the more I discover. Tattoos do not understand of countries, cultures, religions nor races. Inspiration, style and great works can be found at any corner in the world, more demanding customers have encouraged the professionalism and seriousness in the business, and fortunately if you are smart enough as to research your local tattoo shop, you won’t be tricked nor ruined for life.

And of course, as everything, the more you see and define your taste, the easier to have crushes on artists and pieces. It is true, a skilled artist could work on any kind of piece, but there’s an important artistic and creative part in the process of inking, and not only you but mainly the artist, has a sensibility essential for achieving a stunning final result, and consequently to make you feel happy and proud.

When getting acquainted with artists trying to find out a bit of personal information, I’m feeling amazed by the youth and experience of many artists. People in their 20s delivering actual masterpieces of art. Having a thought on this, their early talent means their devotion and passion for their work, and their strong vocation for tattooing, bearing in mind the responsibilities inking something on another’s flesh imply. And I admire such dedication and professionalism, because I wasn’t like them at that age.

Today the destination is Melbourne, Australia, to have a close look to Emily Rose Murray, a 25 year-old girl, who defines herself in a modest and adorable way as “mummy to a beautiful boy, wife to a talented husband”.

Again, it was Tumblr who showed me the awesomeness of her work. Anything you might see, either painting or tattoo, is amazing, and very solid.

The core of her work turns around the femininity.  Women are the main motif in her pieces. I don’t pretend to sound sassy, but many times when I saw her women, especially those portraits from wait up, I think of Alphonse Mucha, the  Czech artist. The basis of Emily Rose’s inspiration comes directly from Art Nouveau style, evolved into a wilder vision. Women usually surrounded by beautiful and vivid flowers and other elements of nature, with accessories such as pearls, earrings, brooches, necklaces and slides. They spread something undescribable, quite spiritual and intense.

It is curious that, despite the power of their gaze, these characters essentially stare blankly, and their mouth gestures show a slight and weak smile . Their status is mostly remarked  by black tears, as if makeup was watered and ruined.

Icons are very present: crosses, skulls, and wild animals, such as owls, snakes, horses or goats, to symbolize Life, Death, Evil, Protection, escape, the passing of time…

Emily Rose does not work at any tattoo shop any longer, and she’s not a travelling artist either, she works from a private studio, thus in case you want to book an appointment with her, or purchase a sketchbook, you have to contact her through her Facebook fan page. If you want to follow her, her work is also available on Tumblr. I recommend you to keep an eye on her, she’s one of a kind, and both her tattoos and sketches are always amusing.

MASTERS OF INK & NEEDLE: CHAD KOEPLINGER

Same story, different artist. Thanks again to a social network I got to discover this outstanding tattoo artist, quite unknown in our country, but quite established and worldwide respected.

First piece by Chad Koeplinger I saw via Tumblr was this one, done in Sydney last year.

This piece just left me speechless. The wolves are very aggressive and powerful, with those insane eyes. The Russian palace or church, the frightening skull and bone hand showing out of the cloud. It is a very threatening image, enhanced by the use of red color in certain details. The way I see it, it’s a tribute to the Russian criminal traditional tattoo art. I felt in love with it right away.

I started looking for some information and updates. He posts a lot via IG, I’ve just discovered he also tweets,and he’s got a blog, Chad Koeplinger, In Full Effect,  which is rarely updated unfortunately.

Koeplinger is settled in Washington DC, and works mostly at Tattoo Paradise. His passion for traveling has turned him in a nonstop wandering artist, constantly moving and tattooing worldwide. He’s been working at Frith Street Tattoo, Valerie Vargas’ workplace, in London these days, and some hours ago was catching a flight to Copenhagen for participating at the upcoming tattoo convention. Few weeks ago he spent some time visiting Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam.  Not bad, huh?

The splendor of Koeplinger’s work is best admired in big pieces, chests and backs mainly, providing a great canvas to develop the complexity of some of his designs.

No doubt Koeplinger is super versatile and his extended experience stands for him in any kind of project he decides to carry out, still, I really think his specialty has to do with the wild animal imagery.

Sharks, black sheep, tigers, deer, eagles and especially wolves, are seen in his posts very often.

There’s a great deal of fierceness and aggressiveness in his creatures, they are mean, with a touch of evil. Don’t think I exaggerate when saying they are menacing and defiant. One of the key elements is the intense glance, enhanced by the pupils and the rough frown, and sometimes highlighted by red tones filling iris.

Seems that much work in progress is pending around the world, bearing in mind the big pieces requiring more than one session, so pictures of unfinished tattoos are available on the net. This is not discouraging by all means, as this artist never stops, just the opposite, it’s a motivation to follow his work and achievements closer.

I found this 45 minute interview done to the artist in San Francisco some months ago. If you are in the mood and have some time, I recommend to check it out, it’s always interesting to listen to the experiences, achievements, motivations and inspirations of the artists. All this aspects we are not acquainted with, which help them to shape their unique style and art concept.

This concept of traveling tattoo artist really fascinates me, and also makes me think of some chances for real, to eventually get to meet him. Today is Copenhagen, and tomorrow might be Madrid, or Tokyo…never the world seemed so small and affordable as with Chad Koeplinger.

 

MASTERS OF INK & NEEDLE: JOE ELLIS

It’s been too long since my last post on tattoo artists. Not that I don’t many, actually it’s quite the opposite. I told you already, the power of the net overwhelms me with so much information, If I could get a piece done by every artist I get acquainted with everyday, with the consequent crush, I’d run out of flesh and look like a borron of ink. It takes some time to find good quality pix to post here so you can have a clear picture of why I like this or that artist.


Joe Ellis’ work has captivated me at a single glance. This Newcastle-Upon-Tyne artist is only 23, but his skills and style correspond to an established professional.

His traditional style, the shades and the color palette used, provide his pieces of an ancient and very evoking appearance, but don’t mistake, his work is solid and amazing.

I read in an interview published on Renee Ruin in February, he’s been tattooing for a year more or less. This is shocking. First time I saw his pieces on Tumblr, 4-5 months ago, I was totally impressed.

He deals with the classic and the shocking sometimes. Ladies, gents, animals, objects… I’m unable to choose which I prefer, because every piece has something appealing and attractive.

I’m captivated by the glance of the creatures inked, very lively, as if transmitting some kind of feeling. Eyes are difficult in my opinion, in the sense of providing them with intensity, however Ellis is capable of reflecting something charming.

When you discover such amazing works and designs, you stop thinking of tattoos as some kind of ornament and accessory, and start looking for talent, and reckoning the possibility of being honored by carrying a masterpiece of art till the day you die.

You might be scared of tattoos, the needle, the fact that it’s permanent, and don’t come to me and remark the tattoo removal procedure, because I don’t believe in that, nor do not remind me of me getting old, cause I know about it. Look at these pictures, then look into my eyes, and tell me that this is not a work of art. No, you can’t, I knew it.

Joe Ellis has been added to my wish list. He works at Cock a Snook Tattoo Parlour, and I’m pretty sure eventually I’ll pay him a visit. I want the best, and positive, he already is and will be reckoned as one of the best.

CHAPTER II – AMSTERDAM TATTOO MUSEUM

After enjoying my first beers in Amsterdam, at a pub named Sound Garden (awesome!), and Sofia and I moving from one topic of discussion to other in a flash, for so much we had to update each other, Saturday morning and part of th afternoon I had to hit the road on my own. Not a problem whatsoever, I’ve realized I love wandering on the streets with the sole companion of my Ipod and the camera. Unfortunately gotta admit, due to super cold weather, I haven’t been very productive in terms of quantity, but there are some stamps worth keeping, so despite everything, I’m happy on this regard.

I had been lucky to inherit a transport ticket valid for 72h, however I wasn’t so lucky with day passes, and I wasn’t in the mood for spending 40Eur in a 24 all-in card to visit the museums crowded by tourists, so I decided an alternative plan, and chose The Amsterdam Tattoo Museum, to pay a visit, and be warm safeguarded for a while.

And this is how it was:

Considering tattoos have an expiring date regardless of quality, the concept of a museum is something difficult to understand for obvious reasons.

The fact that flesh cannot be preserved, does not mean that there aren’t so many other features involved. There’s a universe of stuff to dive in, related to the art of ink: devices and tools, ancient traditions and cultures the inking meant something even magic, tattoo artists, illustrations and designs, and lot of memorabilia.

All of a sudden I might seem the defendant #1 of tattoos, and that’s not true, but since I had these last two pieces, changing and moving upwards to a more pro level, it’s true I’m absolutely fascinated by color palettes, shading, techniques, style…and of course, the artists themselves.

All this been said, and sitting at the Museum café, surrounding by paintings, magazines and displays showing the close relationship among tattoos and rock, and enjoying a Grolsh (ages since I didn’t have one), let me tell you about this place.

First thing to mention, is tha the founder of this museum is Henk Schiffmacher. Ok, most likely you don’t know who he is. I didn’t either, till I checked his name on the net, and discovered that Hanky Panky has featured Red Hot Chili Peppers members, Willy DeVille and even KurtCobain among his clients. He’s also published several books of tattoos compilations, for instance those of Taschen you can find anywhere.

Three floors of stuff worth seeing. The concept of the exhibition is to navigate through the history of the body art.

The starting point had to do on one hand, with ancient Catholic related symbols, supposed to be inked as protectors and marks highlighting a holy mission,  and on the other with Africa, and the early Coptic and Berber tattoos and scarification techniques, really impressive.

Native America tattooing continues, to extend up to the Pacific tribes of Samoans, and Mahoris… Although the style is similar, the symbols and locations are different, implying also ranks and families.

Needless to say, there’s a special area covering all the Japanese and Korean strong and ancient tradition, with their ceremonies, the family involvement and other practices.

The 2nd and 3rd floor are more focused into a more frivolous and contemporary side of the tattoo world. Prison and Carnivale circus, some classic characters remembered, such as CindyRay and Princess Beatrice, the tattooed ladies, and artist icons such as Sailor Jerry, PeterA’Dam or Les Skuse are paid tribute. Recreations of circus, prisons cabin booths, and tattoo parlours are nicely displayed.

At this point I have to make a stop and remark something. In less than 24h I’ve been here, I can tell this city is not cheap at all. I had been warned that, due to become one of the most demanded European destination, partly because of all this pot culture, tourism has directly caused you to be charged as much as possible. Also, the country welfare status, has to do with it.

After this remark, I have to admit that this Amsterdam Tattoo Museum admission fee of 10Eur is a bit excessive, but on the other hand, checking other museums ticket prices, is average.

Truth is that, to make the visit more interesting, there are several added values, you can enjoy. Many activities are constantly programmed, art exhibitions, live music, and even freak shows. There are also a couple of tattoo parlours, you can get inked agreeing the rate with the artist. I almost got seduced by a very charming boy from Sacramento, named Chris Danley  (but turned down the offer after I received some awesome news I’ll tell you about in some time). It’s also very interesting  this museum regularly has very established worldwide artists as guests from time to time, thus, perhaps, if you’re interested in having an appointment with Tim Hendricks, for instance, you can have your chance.

You can check some more information here:

Amsterdam Tattoo Museum

Henk Schiffmacher

Chris Danley

MASTERS OF INK & NEEDLE: JON LARSON (AKA COMRADE LARSON)

The wonderful universe of social applications and networks. I’m getting acquainted with such good people on one hand, and great tattoo artists on the other, I can’t stop thinking of my IPhone as the best toy I’ve ever had.

One day I will explain a bit about my Instagram experience. It might sound snob and posh, but I really dig, and I’m at a stage, people you follow their lives in some way, you wanna cross the threshold and start a distance friendship, and the same on the other way round. Very funny.

Well, the reason why I mention IG is because I discovered Jon Larson through my mobile phone.

I don’t consume tattoo magazines nor publications, now I’m following several blogs to get acquainted with some artists, styles and designs, and friends into tattoos are devoted to local or national artists. Let’s say our tattoo culture level is starting to grow and develop, but still, due to lack of tattoo tradition in this country, now that we have some prominent and established figures, we’re still way beyond the rest of the world.

How would I ever know otherwise of a guy working at Depot Town Tattoo in a approx. 20,000 population location named Ypsilanti, Michigan?

Larson’s pieces really fascinate me. His work might look not so accurate as other old school artists, but believe me, his style and designs are totally rad.

The concept of his pieces has a tone of insanity, there’s a present fascination for freak images. Babies are constant in his designs. Baby dolls and child creatures, for instance, are little zombies, they smoke and are high, pure dope!

Animals are wild, rough and aggresive, they always look really out of control. i really like the dot use in tongues and other parts as to remark some kind of rage.

First pieces I remember, were several clouds with thunderbolts. Clouds resembling waves, showing coloured twists, the bolts really comic like, super exaggerated, and the background full of drops, dots and marks. A very simple filling to enhance the effect of the stormy and super charged clouds

Not being a tattoo art expert, I really like those artists whose style is so unique and impressive, you can easily distinguish their work at just a glance. Jon Larson is one of a kind, always shocking with his pieces, I can only define as insane.

If you want to dig in his work, you can check out his website here. New photos are constantly uploaded, and although no information or comments are provided, I can assure you it’s worth following.

Far away, so close, it’s a pity we can’t count of travel machines nor teleportation pods yet. Damn!