Best in Show

Tattoo Hollywood has come and gone.  I think I’m still trying to recover from the jet lag.  I had a great time this year.  This post, however, is not about me, it’s about the Best in Show award winner.  Seeing as I was a crew member, I got to see a lot of the work that people were getting.  I’m not lying when I say I was blown away and competition for all the contests was really stiff!  The smiles on attendees faces said it all.

Unfortunately, I had to spend Sunday evening at the booth selling admission bracelets so I didn’t get to watch the contests take place that night.  The judges Sunday night were Clark North, Jimmy Utah and Little Linda and the contest culminated with the “Best in Show” piece, which was a piece started and finished at the convention. While I didn’t get to see the contest, I did get to see the winner’s progress as the tattoo, which took 9 hours to complete, was worked on.

Without any further rambling, I give you this year’s Best in Show winner, none other than Katie McShady!  Katie was tattooed by Japanese artist Horiren.  Horiren practices tebori, the traditional Japanese method of hand tattooing.  She used a tattoo machine to make the outline mainly to save on time and the rest of the tattoo was completed by hand.


Want to know more? Read on!

I was also tattooed by Horiren and Katie and I had a lot of time to compare notes, so to speak.  The process was surprisingly less painful than the experience of being tattooed with a machine.  I stopped by to check out the progress several times as Katie was being tattooed.  She looked very zen and relaxed, iPod on, eyes closed as a crowd watched Horiren work. The photo below was taken many hours in to the tattoo and Katie is still smiling!


She didn’t use a stencil.  I’m not sure if she ever does.  The tattoo was drawn on by hand with a sterile marker prior to starting.  Katie hardly had any swelling even after a full 9 hours of tattooing.  Once finished, Horiren proclaimed, “WE FINISHED!! VERY VERY STRONG GIRL” and, as Katie says, continued to praise her strength in Japanese.  Katie was given a ceremonial robe to wear and many photos were taken.  Katie says she began crying because she was so overwhelmed by the experience, which she calls life changing.

Photo by Jon Arthur

Photo by Jon Arthur

These photos were taken the day of the contest, the day after Katie was tattooed.




After winning Katie was given a trophy and Horiren was given a special prize, a tattoo machine from Lucky Supply that had the Hollywood sign on it. Congratulations to Katie and to Horiren for her incredible work!

As photos come in you’ll be able to see them in the Tattoo Hollywood Gallery. If I can get a photo of Horiren’s prize I’ll update the post to include it.

Updated on September 2nd:

Better late than never right? Photo credit goes to Hiro Hara.


You need to get to L.A. soon

Tomorrow night is the gala opening for The Known Gallery‘s showing of Irezumi Bijin: Works by Kaname Ozuma and Horiyoshi III

Tattoo Hollywood and Known Gallery are also hosting a once in a lifetime opportunity to view works by Kaname Ozuma and Horiyoshi III, appropriately titled:  Irezumi Bijin.  If you were at the Tattoo Hollywood convention last week you had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the works by these brilliant artists.  Tomorrow night the show begins and will be running until Sept. 18th.  I urge you to do whatever is in your power to get to Los Angeles and see this show before it is gone for good.


Opening Reception: Thursday August 26th, 2010 | 8pm-11pm
Show Runs: August 26th – September 18th

Known Gallery
441 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036

About the artists:

Kaname Ozuma

Born in Niigata, Japan in 1939, Ozuma Kaname began studying traditional Japanese painting under his uncle, artist Sakai Soushi, from a young age. Moving to Tokyo at the age of 18, he trained as an art dealer while working at a printing company. Afterwards, he moved on to the publishing industry where he illustrated tattoos. The majority of his work continues to be tattoo-related along with other traditional Japanese themes; and often serves as a source of inspiration for master tattooist Horiyoshi III, whose clients in turn, are often depicted in Ozuma’s paintings.

Horiyoshi III

Born Yoshihito Nakano in 1946, Horiyoshi III is the second tattooist to be bestowed the honorific title—the tattooist affixation “Hori” means engrave—in a line started by his master, the legendary tattoo artist Yoshitsugu Muramatsu, or Shodai Horiyoshi of Yokohama (Muramatsu went on to dub his son Horiyoshi II, and later Nakano was named Horiyoshi III).  His images are classical Japanese woodblock print motifs such as the phoenix, dragon, snakes, tigers, samurai warriors, Buddhist gods to name a few as well as background images of waves, clouds and various flowers. Among Horiyoshi III’s published works are 36 Ghosts, 108 Heroes of the Suikoden, 100 Demons, and The Namakubi (severed heads), 100 Dragons and 58 Warriors. Horiyoshi’s artistic genius and generosity of spirit have had a defining impact on the world of tattooing, taking it to new levels in this new century.

I’m definitely trying to put plans together to put myself on the road again sometime before the show ends just so I can check it out.  Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there.

It’s hot outside!

Oh hey! Just dropping in with a quick post to let you all know what a great time we’re having at Tattoo Hollywood! If you’re in the Los Angeles area, come on out. We’re open tonight until midnight and Sunday from noon until 8pm. Check out the amazing artists, book an appointment to get some ink and say hi to friends!

These are a couple of photos that I took earlier, we’ll have a more official post with contest winners and lots more photos coming up.

Clark North

Clark North hard at work


Japan’s very own Horiren tattooing one of BME’s very own, Katie McShady

Tattoo Hollywood! This weekend!

Did you guys know that BME has it’s very own convention?  Well it does, and it’s going on right now!!

Tattoo Hollywood is this weekend.  The flyer below will give you the address and the dates (today through sunday) as well as a brief rundown of some of the many artists appearing this weekend.  To get a bigger list of the artists attending, check out the full listings on the Tattoo Hollywood website.

If you’re going to be in the area and are thinking of attending, here’s a bit of info that will probably be helpful:

First off, the show is family friendly. Kids are free with adult admission.

The show hours are:
Friday: 5pm-12pm
Saturday: 12pm-12am
Sunday: 12pm-8pm

Ticket Prices: $20 a day, $40 weekend pass, $100 VIP weekend pass. Tickets are available at the door. VIP passes are extremely limited and include special event/artist access.

The convention is on the fifth floor at Hollywood & Highland. There is tons of parking available. Tickets for the show are available at the door.

The Grand BallRoom
Renaissance Hollywood Hotel
1755 N. Highland Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90028

Tattoo Hollywood 2010

The show get started in just a couple of hours, so head on over after work if you can, otherwise come on down, the show is going on all weekend.

Who wants to win something?

As you probably guessed by looking at the big banner to your right, Tattoo Hollywood is happening next weekend (Aug 20-22).

Well, I opened up my inbox this morning and to my surprise I was given a sneak peek at some of the prizes being given out for the “Best of Day” tattoos.  Now I was sworn to secrecy about the prizes, and I think there was some sort of non-disclosure agreement in there, but I skimmed over that part to get to the pics.

Now from what I understand, each day will have it’s own “Best of Day” contest, in addition to all the other contests happening.  The winners of the “Best of Day” will each get a prize.  The tattoo artist will get custom built machine from Lucky Supply, while the recipient of the artwork will walk away with a shiny trophy.

Now I haven’t had a chance to see the trophies, but the e-mail that I was supposed to keep private happened to have some pictures of the tattoo machines.  The question I’m now faced with is: Do I share the pics with ModBlog readers and jeopardize my job, or do I keep the pics hidden and have the ModBlog readers hate me for making a post talking about something, and not showing it.

Well seeing as how there are more of you, you guys win.  Just don’t tell anyone I posted these.  I don’t want to get in trouble.





So, if you’re in or around Los Angeles next weekend, definitely head on over to The Grand Ballroom at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel to check out the show.  You could walk away with some cool swag.  And who doesn’t like free swag?

Tattoo Hollywood, Day Three: The Search For Curly’s Gold

And here we are, folks—photos from the the third and final day of Tattoo Hollywood. Forthcoming will be our final thoughts on the event and interviews, but until then, enjoy the pictures (and my charming pithy commentary, of course). Buy the ticket, take the ride—after the jump.

This is so realistic, it just told me it just got out of a serious relationship and isn’t ready to date anyone yet.

This is Gene from Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn, New York. He came to the convention with Martin, currently guesting at the shop by way of Austria. When we found out there was going to be a Bar Mitzvah happening on Saturday night in the hotel, your editor suggested bringing over Martin to offer to tattoo their son (“Vas is his birthday? Ve vill tattoo ze number on his arm”), but this was roundly rejected on account of being offensive on every possible level. Then we realized it was actually a Bat Mitzvah, not a Bar Mitzvah. All in all, a good showing for your editor. We should not be allowed out in public.

“Do I look like a man who’s got time to just sit around and get one tattoo at a time? Come on. Gimme the deuce.”

One of our award winners!

New rule: Tattoos inspired by The Warriors get featured on ModBlog, no matter what. Hopefully, all future entries will be as ridiculously good as this one.

More tattooers should wear smocks/aprons, we think. That, combined, with the lighting, makes this seem like it was done in a 1950s machine shop. We like that.

Homina homina.

Photos by Phil Barbosa, Thaddeus Brown and Jen Savage.

Tattoo Hollywood, Day Two: The Revengening

Hoo boy, we are still combing through the thousands (!) of images from last weekend’s inaugural Tattoo Hollywood convention, but there are some gems in there. With three photographers going, we couldn’t be there for every photo (and as such may not be able to give proper artist credits in every shot), but hopefully these at least convey the atmosphere of the weekend. After the jump? Day two at the convention, including Saturday night’s after-party.

As you could probably tell from earlier posts, the portraiture work coming out of this convention was unreal. And, in some cases, undead. Eh? Right? Get it? Because he’s—yeah, I’ll just show myself out.

Hey, I refuse to believe a man with that hearty a beard could be too big of a scumbag!

Oh look, it’s the lovely Katie, who was helping out at the BME booth for the entire convention. Here she is stifling one of her grosser belches from the weekend, probably.

In conjunction with our scumbaggy friend up there, we get to use both our Hearty Beards and our Hearty Mohawks tags in a single post? It must be our birthday!

And here we have famed artist Boog on the right, giving that baby a haircut with some safety scissors, it looks like.

Ha ha, look at those kidders, John and Johannes, just horsing around! Good one, fellas! (Quick, someone hold down OSHA while I administer the Amnesia Ray.)

Michelangelo just pooped his pampers.

What else does Tattoo Hollywood have to offer? Oh, nothing, just Benji Madden walking around stark naked, showing off his tattoos, all day, just for fun. Suck on that, TMZ.

Hey, party time! Saturday night’s after-party was thrown at The Highlands, a nightclub conveniently located in the same hotel complex as the convention. Four-dollar beers, five-dollar cocktails and a bunch of tattooed people dancing on a patio until the wee hours? Not bad at all. And here? Here we have more conclusive evidence that chix dig mustaches, real or otherwise.

This man just did a body-shot off a cactus.

Oh hey, it’s celebrity DJ Benji Madden (again)! He played a mostly inoffensive set, aside from this song that features Lil Jon yelling “SHOTS!” over and over for a hundred years, the knowledge of which is a burden on our soul.

Easily one of the highlights of the night was the always debonair Bob Roberts sweeping Rachel into his arms for a center-stage slow-dance to…Sweet Home Alabama. Tattoo Hollywood makes dreams come true, ladies and gentlemen.

Dip dip dip.

And finally, what with Hearty Beards and Hearty Mohawks accounted for, how could we not complete the holy trifecta with a little Nightmare Fuel?

Still more to come!

All photos by Phil Barbosa, Thaddeus Brown and Jen Savage.

David’s Portrait Bodysuit

With a lineup like the one here at at Tattoo Hollywood, there has been no shortage of tremendous tattoo work walking through the doors. One of the most impressive projects we’ve seen, however, belongs to David up there, who’s been steadily covering his entire body in portraiture over the last few years. Having been worked on exclusively by brothers Mikey (at Rubes Tattoo in Arcadia) and Tommy Montoya (at Inkslingers in Alhambra), the suit is as cohesive as one could hope for, even though the subject matter varies wildly from musicians to horror movie characters to comedians to inventors. When we were photographing him, some of his friends were making light fun of him for being a bit on the heavier side (“Make sure you get his nipples in there!”), but to hear David tell it, if he were smaller, he wouldn’t have room for all this excellent work. Hard to argue with that. Lots more, after the jump.

Photos by Phil Barbosa.

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.

Tattoo Hollywood, Day One: Lizards, Leg-Humping, Air Sex and More

Well, the first day of Tattoo Hollywood (yesterday, that is) went off with nary a hitch! A solid Friday turn-out, plenty of great work and very few indications that there will be any sort of East coast/West coast dance-off at any point. After the jump, lots and lots of pictures.

It’s the BME booth! It’s always nice to have friends stop by and work for free.

Here we have Aaron Is out of Bunny Brigade, who was apparently hit in the groin with a football immediately before this picture was taken, going to work on Melanie’s leg.

Bob Roberts and Norm, hanging out in the front of the Spotlight Tattoo booth.

“Oh my God, are you taking my picture? I am so surprised! I was not expecting this at all!”

Meg, making sweet love to the Hollywood skyline.

The entertainment for the weekend consists largely of our old pal The Lizardman and Joel Keith, pictured above. Earlier in the day, we’d overheard a member of the hotel staff say they hoped any comedy or performances would be kept PG-13. Joel, of course, took the stage and immediately launched into an Air Sex exhibition, which is like air guitar, but with slightly more imaginary semen. He was promptly arrested and thrown into the Sunset Boulevard gulag, forever.

The Lizardman worked a little blue (and a lot green! Hi-oooo!) as well, but who can stay mad at a punim like this? We hadn’t seen his act in quite some time, but his transition from straight sideshow into a more comedy-heavy act seems to be working out well. I wish I had a rebuttal to his argument that, when it comes to George W. Bush and Nickelback, Canada currently has more to answer for on account of the latter still being active while the former has been put out to pasture, but I just don’t. Goddamn you, Nickelback.

And then, of course, there is your editor, who typically ends up being the entertainment for the entertainers. Whether it’s our utilitarian Gap button-down shirt or Young Republican hair cut, The Lizardman seems fairly convinced that we’re a narc, and so Dr. Ho attempted to rattle us by vigorously humping our leg. We just stood there stoically, dying a little on the inside with every passing second.

The refractory period.

And what would a convention be without a little friendly competition? Here, of course, is the judges’ table. It’s good to be a judge.

Among the contestants for Tattoo Of The Day was the aforementioned Melanie, sporting a piece by the also aforementioned Aaron Is from Bunny Brigade.

Here we have Jameson wearing a piece by Grant Cobb out of Spotlight Tattoo.

That’d be Nick with fresh work by Brian at Tattoo Gallery in Huntington.

And finally, Dareo’s brand new piece by Klown at Lifestyle.

We’ve got much more coming, so keep checking back!

All photography by Phil Barbosa, Thaddeus Brown and Jen Savage.

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.

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.