Greetings From Tattoo Hollywood!

Oh, hello! Sincere apologies for yesterday’s radio silence, folks—your editor was cruelly ripped from the safe confines of his desk and, among other things, was tasked with various duties related to setting things up for Tattoo Hollywood, which is about to get underway! We, along with esteemed colleague Phil Barbosa, spent Thursday morning working with the East German rigging team, hanging various gigantic vinyl banners and bearing witness to the delightful casual racism that is synonymous with unionized physical labor.

The convention space, as forthcoming pictures will illustrate, is lovely. The festivities are being held in the Hollywood Renaissance hotel’s Grand Ballroom, which is complete with great and looming chandeliers made from rare space diamonds (probably), curtain flourishes that would not be out of place on a Broadway stage (or at least some eccentric billionaire’s pansexual orgy gazebo), an outdoor smoking deck overlooking the Hollywood hills and, the component about which your editor is arguably most excited, catering courtesy of Wolfgang Puck. (It’s true that the only touristy activities about which we typically get excited are food-related. Don’t judge us.)

Later in the evening, the BME crew (including the aforementioned Mr. Barbosa, Senior Shouting Officer Jen and ol’ whatshername, Rachel something) headed over to Canvas LA for the grand opening of Alive: The Chosen Views of Bob Roberts, a solo exhibition of the artist’s paintings spanning over 20 years of work. Roberts, the owner of the seminal L.A. tattoo shop Spotlight Tattoo, has been in this line of work for nearly 40 years, and his contributions to tattooing as a craft and an industry have been as numerous as they’ve been vital. Many of the paintings in the exhibition draw heavily on themes common to old-school tattooing—dragons, eagles, skulls, naked ladies—and because of this, it may be easy to overlook the skill actually involved in producing work of his caliber. At first blush, it can almost feel like you’re looking at a wall of flash—a wall of top-tier flash, sure, but flash nonetheless. A closer look, however, reveals that this is anything but stencil-based tracing work. One painting in particular, a massive piece from 1988 featuring a phoenix-like creature surrounded by a glorious wall of flames, serves as a perfect indication of this: every flame, every flourish, every layer of the wing spanning the perimeter of the canvas was its own project, when Roberts could have just as easily copied sections along the way. “It’s the hardest way to go about a piece like this,” noted one attendee, “but in the end, it means it’s all him. Every fragment is like a fingerprint.” And then there are pieces for which the flash comparison is ludicrous—pieces that almost look like they’ve been digitally rendered, that are such inexplicable examples of color and shape and design that their very existence is somewhat puzzling, kind of like they’ve just been here all along.

It was, indeed, a fitting way to kick off the weekend to come, and now, the activities of said weekend beckon your editor. As you have likely already noticed, we’ve been working on a bit of a modified schedule this week due to travel and other atypical responsibilities, so in keeping with these temporary changes, we’re going to forgo the usual This Week in BME wrap-up/whatever, and instead, we implore you to keep checking back frequently throughout the weekend for columns, interviews, photos and whatever other goodies we can wrangle up from the convention. Until then? We leave you in the very capable hands of Party Shark up there, courtesy of Jordan Lutz at Lagniappe Tattoo in Slidell, Louisiana. Oh, Party Shark.

Tattoo Hollywood, BME’s first tattoo convention, is going on right now in Los Angeles from August 21-23, featuring contests, prizes and some of the best artists from around the world! Click here for more information.

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