STARTS MONDAY NOVEMBER 8th!
THE REUSS BOOK CONTEST #2
Get ready to send in your digital or real-time photos and win a copy of TATTOO IN JAPAN and BLACK TATTOO ART from Edition-Reuss (a $275 value). Click the CONTEST button, to get started:
Reviews from Total Tattoo (United Kingdom).
Every once in a while a book arrives at the office for review that literally recharges your batteries and reignites your enthusiasm for the wonderful world of tattoo that we live in. Tattoo in Japan is just such a books. At first I thought the price tag sounded a little on the expensive side, but having taken a really good look at the book, I can assure you it is well worth the money!
The introduction to the book offers an overview of the current tattoo scene in Japan, along with a brief history of the art. It contrasts the traditional ‘tebori’ artists, with their historical lineage and quite, out-of-the-way studios, to the more modern street shops, who take their influence from Western sub-cultures and musical movements like punk and rock & roll. The intro runs nicely into a section of reviews of about half a dozen of the major artists working in Japan at the moment, from both the traditional and modern genre. And then comes the real meat in the sandwich…a huge selection of tattoo photos, all of them fanstastic, full page masterpieces.
Some of the tattoos featured may be familiar to some of you as they have been published in other European magazines but much of the work is fresh and hasn’t been presented in beautifully rich, sturated colours and the book is printed on really good quality paper which helps to make the images come to life.
Although ‘Tattoo in Japan’ is predominately a photographic book, there are several sections of text, focusing on specific aspects, areas and artists along the way. These sections, although brief are informative, well written and thoughtfully laid out, adding to the enjoyment of the book as a whole. One chapter pays particular attention to the ‘Chubu’ area between Tokyo and Kyoto where many of the rising stars of the modern Western-style movement are based including Sabado and Genko, two of the major influences in the development of the Western influenced tattoo in Japan today. In contrast there is an in-depth interview with Horikoi, a traditional tebori tattooist who is also responsible for co-hosting the annual tattoo summit held in Toyohashi.
In case you haven’t realised it yet, I reall loved ‘Tattoo in Japan’. It really is a must-have for anyone who loves the Japanese style of tattooing, although be warned…you may need to reinforce your book shelf as it is a large book with over 300 pages, 40mm thick and weighing in at three kilos!
Many of you will know of Marisa Kakoulas for her beautiful black tattoos by Daniel DiMattia from Calypso Tattoo in Belgium that have appeared in numerous tattoo magazines. Marisa has now turned her lifelong passion for black tattoos into this superb new book.
Black Tattoo Art is a sumptuous volume which covers every aspect of monochrome tattooing, from its tribal roots around the world to the modern day masters of the medium such as Xed Lehead, Jondix, Daniel DiMattia, Leo Zulueta, Cory Ferguson, Colin Dale, Noon, Alex Nardini, Mike the Athens, Rory Keating and many more.
It is a superbly detailed and meticulously researched tome (as you would expect, with Marisa being a journalist and lawyer by profession) and contains a history of black tattooing through the ages and around the globe as well as interviews with some of the today’s major protagonists of the art, which puts the tattoos into an intellectual and historical context.
The production values of Black Tattoo Art are superb, as we have come to expect from German publisher Edition Reuss. And, with over 500 pages stuffed full of the most glorious photos, this book is a true visual fest, nay, a banquet! If we had a six start rating, Black Tattoo Art would certainly merit it.
Lot’s of new stuff posted on the homebase www.tattooroadtrip.com website. New crossword puzzle, new columns…
Each button is a new place to visit for destinations, stories, reviews and advertiser websites. Click to take a trip!
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BERNARD CLARK
Bernard Clark has been my traveling partner for the last dozen or so years. I hope you appreciate these fine tattoo artists’ portraits as much as I do.
TEMPESTS IN TEAPOTS usually blow over before dawn. But not this one. Case in point: About a month ago, I received an angry letter from tattoo artist Juan Puente. I have know Juan for several years, printed some of his photos in my magazine and chatted with him at various times. Well… on September 17th, I received an email. But not just any email. In it, Puente refers to an interview that I gave to the San Jose Mercury News, in which I was asked, in light of the current Recession, how was the tattoo industry prospering? Knowing that the Huffington Post and other high-profile news sources had published stories confirming that, in fact, tattooing is among the nation’s “Top Ten Recession-proof Industries,” and that, in published stories about their shop, Hart & Huntington Tattoo in Las Vegas is quoted as saying they have a six-hundred dollar minimum… and word is that getting a tattoo from TV star Kat Von D can set you back one thousand dollars an hour, I answered the questions, honestly and accurately. Certainly Mario Barth’s article in INC. magazine made the economics of the tattoo industry abundantly clear to millions of their readers, so why is Mr. Puente coming after me? And why is how much a tattoo artist charges such a big secret? In every other industry, including fine art (which tattooing clearly aspires to be), the fact an artist is doing well is cause to celebrate. A painter sells a canvas for ten thousand dollars and it makes headlines in the newspapers. It generates positive interest and enthusiasm. It’s a fact of nature: success breeds more success. And people don’t know how much tattoo artists charge per hour? And just how hard is it to uncover that secret information? A phone call? Typing the words “Tattoo Hourly Rates” in the Internet search bar? Or how about looking at the posted charges, on the wall by the cash register. By the way, yes, there are plenty of tattoo artists that aren’t very successful. Yes, many tattoo artists are over their heads and struggling. And most certainly, there’s countless “scratchers” that have no business in the business. The quote that was plucked out and printed from a 45-minute interview simply states what a tattoo can make per hour, not what they, every one of them, always make. And what a person charges an hour does not mean they work eight or ten hours a day. Maybe they work an hour a day or two or three a day. Maybe they only tattoo an hour a week. Some Beverly Hills hairdressers, for example, make a thousand dollars an hour. Some make seven dollars an hour. Some tattoo artists charge a hundred-and-fifty bucks an hour. Some charge fifty dollars a tattoo. Let me ask you this: When People magazine or The Hollywood Reporter publishes that Angelina Jolie makes 20 miillion dollars a picture, do we really think that ALL movie actresses make that kind of money? I don’t think so.
By the way, here is Puente’s initial letter to me:
To Baxter from Juan Puente, September 17, 2010
“…More Americans than ever seem ready for ink.” Bob Baxter, former editor-in-chief of Skin&Ink magazine, says, “New shops are opening every day, and professional artists can make anywhere from $125 to $200 an hour, while the true elite can make up to $300,000 a year and have waiting lists two years long. The newcomers are having a bit of a problem with the Recession, but for the established artists, business is very healthy.’” You know, Bob, a lot of people are on the fence with you and your involvement in tattooing and the tattoo industry. And, yes, two of your three sons are accomplished tattoo artists. Why don’t you do the tattoo industry a favor and shut the fuck up about what we make and how we make it? It is nobody’s fucking business and it sure doesn’t need to be brought forth, just because you like to read your own text or hear yourself talk. A lot of people are pretty pissed about this, and the person who brought it to my attention is from Sweden. Stick to your road show and let the tattooers do their job.
I must point out that, aside from the fact that Mr. Puente seems unaware of information that has been published in countless magazines, newspapers and even on page after page of Google, he erroneously credits me with two sons who tattoo. Actually, there are three.
From Baxter to Puente, September 18, 2010
What I hope I have done over the years is raise the level of tattooing in people’s eyes and helped promote and benefit a number of tattooists with positive press regarding their shops, conventions and contributions to the community at large. One way to look at it is, hey, if tattoo artists don’t want people to know that they charge $150 an hour, maybe they should charge less. I am sure you agree with me that that is ridiculous. For the work they do, artists can charge what the traffic will bear, and $150 is very fair, as is $200 or whatever.
To Baxter from Puente, September 18, 2010
Who do you think you are to decide what is fair to the people in this world? And, secondly, to try to justify what we should charge our clients? If it wasn’t for us and our clients, you would not have had the last fifteen years, and, seeing as you are not a tattoo artist, you have no right assuming what we should charge, especially if it is less. Talking or agreeing with a writer who has done his research, does not “promote and benefit a number of tattooists with positive press regarding their shops, conventions and contributions to the community at large.” Choose your words wisely. You have done the tattoo community a big dis-service by your article, and now you are insulting me with making our monetary structure a moral issue.
* * *
Okay, I admit it. I am not a tattoo artist. I am a journalist and, as I later wrote to Puente (which seemed to stir him up even more), “My job has never been to protect the tattoo industry, just tell the truth about it.” To which Mr. Puente responded: “Well, that about sums it up. I will make sure to carry your word, especially these, to those that I feel close (to). I don’t think you realize what you have started.”
In order to, hopefully, bring this to an end (and to respond to rumors that are aggressively being spread), I am adding, herewith, a letter from someone who is a tattoo artist and would like to address the issue from his point of view. By the way, Mr. Heitkotter sometimes uses humor to make a point, so beware:
It’s been brought to my attention that there is a ridiculous rumor being spread around the tattoo ranks alleging that a certain article in the San Jose Mercury News printed some months ago exposes the massive amounts of tax free cash that we cart into the bank every day. I’m sorry, did I miss something here? I didn’t know it was such a big secret! I personally use a dump-truck twice a day to deliver the green to Cargo ships so they can deliver it into my Swiss bank accounts.
Every day, I see tattoo art being splashed about on $300 Christian Audiger T-shirts. I see Kat Von D-cup flaunting her money machine in front of millions of suckers (viewers) every week. Miami Ink has been flaunting their wad even longer than Kat’s $1,000-per hour-escapades. There are hundreds of tattoo magazines and even more tattoo websites sprouting up like the latest tattoo goop-du-jour. Ed Hardy T-shirts are selling at Costco for God’s sake! Everywhere you look our craft is being exploited by millions of people who don’t know a damned thing about tattooing. Booths at tattoo conventions can cost upwards of $1,000 for the weekend. The health departments of our local cities charges us up to $250 for a health permit and $150 for a special-event business license.
Everybody knows how much we make. That’s why everybody is stepping up to the trough to get their greedy little hands on our hard-earned dollars. If we didn’t make so much money, why would every Tom, Dick and Sherry want to open up their own shop? If it’s such a secret, why are there thirty Chinese tattoo supplier ads on my e-mail inbox EVERY-SINGLE-FUCKING DAY? I think that most of us who are successful in the business drive new cars and own our own homes. If business is good, we own several shops across the nation and even the world! It’s common knowledge that Paul Booth charges $300 per hour and so does Da Wei Zhang. I only charge a mere $150 per hour, but I have it posted on the wall of my showroom here at Blue Tiki Tattoo, for everybody to see. When they call and ask how much I charge, I tell them! I’ve had customers come into my shop and tell me that Hart and Huntington in Honolulu charges a $600 minimum. So, what’s the big secret? If we don’t want anybody to know how much we make, then why are we all talking (or bragging) about it. Why are we bragging to everybody about being booked up for two years in advance?
To say that the IRS doesn’t know how much we make is pure wishful thinking. We can’t get a loan for that new car or a mortgage for the house unless we have a pretty hefty paper trail. We have business licenses, sellers permits and we pay quarterly estimates because of the one thing we need to remind ourselves of: we are legitimate businesses. It’s taken a long time to elevate tattooing from the back alleys to the respectable mainstream enterprise it is today, so what are you crying about? I’m a legitimate businessman… are you?
—Uncle Tim Heitkotter
Blue Tiki Tattoo
* * *
The part that baffles me is, what does all this secrecy hide? For example, does Puente really think that by exposing a tattooist’s hourly rate, the Internal Revenue Service is suddenly going to descend on the tattoo industry and take all their money away? Is that it? Surely Mr. Puente is not so naive that he really thinks the IRS is unaware of a quarter million tattoo artists in the U.S. alone, or the thirty thousand tattoo shops or the TV shows or the multi-million dollar supplier industry. Where does he think all that information goes? Does he really believe that, when a tattoo artist signs a lease, opens a business on a city street, applies for an auto loan, uses a credit card or pays a phone bill, that it’s secret information? That no one knows?
I have worked for fifteen years to promote tattooing in a positive light. I have reported on practically every major convention, featured most every significant tattoo artist in the world, written about every ebb and flow of the industry from Guadalajara to Guam, from Texas to Tokyo and back again. Never once has any tattoo artist refused to tell me how much he charges for a tattoo. Never once. In fifteen years.
So why is this an issue now? Tattooing is no secret society, not with a million-plus tattoo artists working around the world it isn’t. Secret skills and secret techniques only for the privileged few? Guess again. Those days were over and done with decades ago. There’s so many videos, how-to books, seminars and apprenticeships happening that you can’t count them all. Bill Funk gives seminars on the subject of “how much to charge” at the yearly National Tattoo Association convention, for heaven’s sake. And what is the result of all this success? Joy at being able to own your own shop? The financial security to buy a house, feed a family or send the kids to a good school? Or is it whisper campaigns? Rumors? Veiled threats? Not very uplifting. That attitude, that way of thinking, is based on being so dumbed down and angry that reality is a threat. It’s a call to arms for a point of view that doesn’t make sense.
In a business that proudly announces how many weeks or months or years it is booked ahead, an industry that pats itself on the back and announces, “We’re the only people rock stars look up to,” how is it that no customer ever sits down in the chair at a tattoo studio and hasn’t a clue how much the session is going to cost? Seems to me, the first thing a person wants to know is, “How much does it cost?” Does Juan Puente really think the appropriate answer to that question should be, “Sorry, I can’t tell you. It’s a secret” ?
FAN MAIL FOR THOSE LADS IN KILTS
Those pics [scroll down to the October 25th post] are a very small selection of the amazing work these guys do! They now have branches in Edinburgh and Glasgow and are opening a branch in Aberdeen in November 2010. Not only are they amazing artists, they are pleasant to deal with & don’t rip off their customers for the ink! They do designs, work evenings and weekends to suit. I’ve had tattoos from 3 other tattooists & Rock ‘n’ Roll Tattoo are the only one I recommend daily! Please put more of their work up – it’s FAB! Their Facebook profile is – facebook.com/Rocknrolltattoopiercing.edinburgh.
I finally got that tattoo done that tied into a piece Paul Jeffries had started. I am very pleased with the artwork that Tom Kiernan of Mean Machine Tattoo in Tampa, Florida has done. He did a fantastic job respecting what Paul had put into place, in order to enhance the continuance of my collection. As a token of my appreciation, I got Tom a copy of Paul’s book, Smilin’ Buddha—A 25-Year History, to mark the occasion. I hope you enjoy the pics.
—Chad Volkers (firstname.lastname@example.org)