The Three Mod Amigos

My friend Emilio Gonzalez as well as old BME friend Matt Gone (interviewed by The Lizardman back in 2003) and also Mary Jose Cristerna are down at the Costa Rica convention to promote it, and are doing lots of television interviews while there. I’m sure the media are thrilled to have three superstars of body modification all in one place at once. And doesn’t Emilio just dwarf Matt? His head looks about twice as large, as I’ve said before, I suspect that that Emilio is not fully human — some sort of tattooed alien werebear creature I think.

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Fraud in Tattooing

I’ve been talking to an old friend that’s a tattoo artist who’s pretty straight-shooting and no-bullshit in his attitudes about some of the trends we see among top artists these days. The one that I whole-heartedly agree with is this tendency to fill portfolios with pieces that couldn’t possibly heal well, but look great fresh. Tattoos that look incredible the day they’re done — bright color realism with almost no black-shading is a good example of stuff that often turns into a faded out nothing in time — but looks like garbage when it’s healed. I’ll quote some of what he said, keeping things anonymous because I’m not looking to point fingers here.

There is a very ugly tendancy today in tattoo business of taking pictures of fresh tattoos, doing realism that will look like shit in twenty years — or in four months even — and going from convention to convention, making 100% black money, with no touch-ups, no follow-up of clientele. Those are the most famous artists in the world. I have no problem doing tribal [edit: he is referring to an image I posted of a "less than inspired" tattoo that I spoke ill of] for people who ask. If I can’t change their mind, I’ll do it. It allows me to keep cool pricing for everybody, to keep tattoo art something it SHOULD remain, that is, a POPULAR art form.

You can build up a realistic tattoo that is stable — P*** A*** and J*** G*** can do it, so it’s possible, but when you see older tattoos from D*** or S*** [edit: he's naming top artists here and I don't need another lawsuit], it’s nowhere that impressive. As a matter of fact, the “convention” tattoo artists don’t give a fuck, at least, a solid majority of them don’t. When you work mostly in your shop, you see people again, and therefore you can’t afford to mess up that bad. I would even say that *** *** Inks, as a whole concept, are just done for that — put in a single-pass easy color that will look cool till you’re paid, took your photo, and took part in the “Best of Day” competition… but it’s just the worst shit I’ve ever used. It’s a whole culture that is taking over, and it’s a shame, because everybody feels forced to adapt to it.

I agree whole-heartedly. Although I can’t say whether “convention artists” doing these pieces that fail once they heal are willfully committing fraud when they fill their portfolio with fresh pieces that look nothing like the healed examples, but that is what it amounts to, intended or not. I want to show the example that my friend shared with me. This is a fresh tattoo on the left from a well-respected artist, and on the right, the same tattoo not long afterwards. And to be honest, this example isn’t even that bad. I’ve seen loads of tattoos that fresh look world-class — I mean, the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen — from “name brand” tattoo masters, that look like scratcher garbage when healed.

If a tattoo artist’s portfolio contains nothing but fresh photos, consider it a warning sign — to say nothing of being paranoid about Photoshopping to pump up saturation and levels. And if your tattoo artist can not show you well-healed examples of their work, they are not someone you should be going to. You do not have the luxury of wearing a photograph of the fresh tattoo. You will be spending your life with the healed version, and if it doesn’t stand up to what you were expecting, it is you that will suffer. Insist on seeing healed photos!

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Click to see that picture a little larger of course.

Edit/Update: Because I am sick and tired of people STILL claiming this is deception on my part, here are screencaps from Facebook showing both images in the tattoo artist’s gallery, full unedited versions, including the name of the artist. They may well have pulled the images by now, but these screen caps are accurate. Damn all the haters for dragging the artist’s name into this, because that was never the point of this.

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Taking a stab at a plug

Yep, this is a shameless plug for Brian Decker.  Brian is going to be at the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention in February and he is offering 1/2 off all scarification work!  He’s booking now, so if you’d like to get some scarification work done at half off, email Brian as soon as possible.  Spots are filling up quick, book today!

Sale Extended!!! 40% off Diablo Ogranics Jewelry!! Coupon Code: 40offdiablo

A Portrait and the Artist

Last weekend was the Frankfurt Tattoo Convention, and we’re already starting to get photos added to the Frankfurt Convention gallery.  This portrait was done at the convention by none other than Michael Kozlenko, one of the tattoo geniuses from Kipod Tattoo.

We’ve seen a lot of Michael’s work over the past few years, but we really haven’t gotten a good look at the man himself.  Until now.

Here he is hard at work on the portrait you see above.

There are many more photos from the convention coming in every day so stay tuned for more from Kipod Tattoo, and the other studios that attended the Frankfurt Tattoo Convention.

Rock the Bells

This past weekend Philadelphia was taken over by a veritable army of tattoo and body modification fans.   From side-show acts, to an impromptu IAM fisting booth, the Sheraton was the hottest ticket in town.  The stars of the show however were the tattoo artists.  As with most conventions, there are awards given out in different categories over the course of the weekend.  On Saturday, the winner of “Tattoo of the Day” went to Timmy B of Black 13 from Nashville, TN with this recreation of a Philadelphia landmark, the Liberty Bell.

With the Liberty Bell being a major US icon, it’s no wonder you’ll be able to find the full sized version of the photo in the political and patriotic tattoo gallery.

The death of the life of the party (RIP Billy Eason)

This past weekend, I went to the 18th Annual Tattoo Arts Festival in Richmond Virginia, just as I have most every November for the past decade. Out of all the conventions within a few hours from me, this one has always been my favorite. This was the show where I first witnessed true legends of the tattoo world work, where I first had my photos taken for a magazine and where I first met Shawn Porter many moons ago. Not to mention the parties, dear Jeebus, the parties. I have been to a lot of other conventions and a ton of other parties, but never have the two been combined together in such delightful excess as they are every year at the winter Richmond show.

A few days after returning home, kicking the hangover and returning to work I hear the sad news……….. Billy Eason, the man behind this convention for the last 18 years, as well as many other conventions, has passed on.

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Billy was an old school American badass, one of the last of a dying breed.

He left his mark all over Richmond’s tattoo scene by his opening of Red Dragon and Capital Tattoo. He left a much larger mark still on the international tattoo convention scene, not only by the conventions he threw, but by the precedents they set.  He raised the bar for what was to be expected from a tattoo convention and he became a legend because of that.

So whether you knew Billy, knew of Billy or are just learning who he is take a moment to pay respects to one of the men who helped define the tattoo conventions which are now more popular than ever.

Also, feel free to check out SoTattooed.com and our friends and NeedlesandSins.com who also  paid tributes to Billy.

The Funeral Services for Billy will be held on Sunday, November 28 at the Holiday Inn Koger Center (the hotel that host his conventions) from 12-4 pm.

It’s my crack head tattoo….

I know, I am kind of a tool for pretty much abandoning modblog as soon as Rob jumped on board and then coming back only to post a tattoo that I got last weekend. However, had I seen this tattoo on someone else, I would have quickly jumped to post it, especially seeing that it came from a relatively unknown artist out of Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Sometimes, I work conventions, but not this time. This convention was purely about hanging out with friends, enjoying some time off from my usual responsibilities of work and parenting and to get a “little” tattoo. Usually, when I go to conventions I just cruise the show floor looking at portfolios and “convention specials”. Convention specials are tattoos the artist really want to do, either for their portfolio, to enter in tattoo of the day or just because it’s such a ridiculous design no one outside of a convention would likely ever get it. I usually go for the latter. At the recent Philly convention I got a traditional style tattoo of a hand being held in a cup shape that read “cup the balls”, of course I got this on my inner thigh as close to my balls as possible so it could act as a fully functional instruction manual for how to properly handle my balls.

I had every intention of getting an equally, or possibly even more, stupid  tattoo at this convention. Then I saw this design and instantly fell in love with it. After talking to the artist, Matti Hixson, I realized this was the guy who worked at Cherry Bomb In Martinsburg, WV.  I first discovered his work on Sketch Kult and was instantly impressed, and SHOCKED that this kind of work was coming out of WV a mere 20 minutes from my home. After realizing this was the same guy, I almost decided to opt out of the tattoo. “Why get work from a local guy when there are all these amazing artist from all over?”, I thought to myself. I decided to check out the rest of the convention floor. There were some awesome designs but none that drew me in like this one from Matti, so after realizing someone else might actually want this piece, I hauled ass back over to his booth to book the appointment.

I was a bit disappointed to find out  this design would fit nowhere on me (except my left rib panel that I am saving for a bigger piece) that was even remotely visible, but it did fit well between the random tattoos on my upper right thigh. As he started the first things I noticed were that he was incredibly light handed and his machines were damn near silent. It was almost surreal as the two sensations, pain and noise, that I normally associate with tattooing were not present. As the hours went on (6 total) it did get a bit more painful but never unbearable.

The background is one of my favorite parts, it was 100% freehanded on, and while it was being done, I have to admit I had my doubts. I thought to myself,  ”Dots? Big fucking dots? If I wanted dots, I would have gotten a traditional tattoo”. However, I had faith in him, and I kept my thoughts to myself. As it came together, I grew to love these dots. The give the design movement and flow and the muted colors of the background really make the main design pop. When the piece was finished I was blown away. The drawing was rad but the finished tattoo was absolutely incredible. I was not the only one impressed either this piece got second place for Tattoo Of The Day on Saturday, a day full of awesome tattoos.  The girl who took first that day had a bad ass Velociraptor on her thigh and really can you argue with a chic with a velociraptor? I think not. To sweeten the deal, third place went to my wife’s rad tattoo by Josh Payne.

Anyhow, like I said, I feel like a bit of a tool for posting a tattoo that I have, but I really think Matti deserves some recognition for his talents, and this post is the best way for me to do that.  If you are within a few hours of Martinsburg, WV and are interested in a low pain, high quality color realism style tattoo, at AMAZINGLY REASONABLE West Virginia prices  definitely get in touch with him.

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PS: Now that I am back in town and things have settled down a bit I am going to try and put out at least one modblog post a day, to take some of the burden off Rob.

PPS: On a totally unrelated note. Does anyone know the older gentleman who is tattooed all blue with tribal tattoos that was running around the convention? I tried to peg him down for an interview, but I never saw him except when I was stuck in the tattoo chair. He seemed like a super nice guy and it’s odd for me to see someone with that heavy of a transformation and not at least know of them.