There is a new statute going up in the Illinois State Legislature that should be of concern to all of us.While this is directed towards tattoo artists, it could potentially affect many of citizens in all types of careers.The statute (below) is working towards revoking the license of any tattoo artist or studio that applies any work that could be related to gang membership.Now, the problem with this, besides the obvious freedom of speech and freedom to adorn our bodies as we see fit, is the fact that there is no way to really define “gang related markings.”Ok, so MS13 might be an obvious one, but is your favorite outlaw club’s colors gang related?Remember, a motorcycle club is a club!How about the Big Blue Gang?Will a tattoo artist who puts a police related design or saying on someone lose their license?How about other political activists?Vegans, Anarchists, Libertarians, and other less mainstream groups?How about a donkey or elephant?Could the republican or democratic symbols be seen as a group that should be silenced?And our men and women who dedicate their lives to military service?Can they proudly display their designs even if some of them may have done things they are not proud of?Could a tattoo artist lose their license for applying a work that could be seen as related to a radical religious right?
The problem, of course, is that everyone is going to interpret this differently and, if passed, you know the ordinance would spread.It is easy to attack a sub culture like tattoo artists and tattoo enthusiasts, but after that is digested, will it be palatable to target graphic designers?Maybe not at first, maybe they will silence the kids who put together fanzines and other literature that many angst ridden teens and young adults put out as they work their way into finding themselves.
You know, the government serves its purpose, but infringing on personal freedoms is not one of them.I am against seat belt laws. I am against helmet laws. I am against any law that keeps anyone from doing something that they want or forcing anyone to take actions that will not directly affect anyone else in the world.Yes, if you don’t wear a seat belt or helmet and you die in an accident, your family and friends will suffer, but you being an idiot is not going to physically harm another… so I don’t think anyone should be in a position to tell you what to do in that instance.Same with a tattoo of an organization.You have the freedom to join any group you want and you have the freedom to adorn your body however you like.The fact that you have a “gang” tattoo will not hurt anyone except maybe yourself.I have never been harmed by someone else’s tattoo.
Ok, so my rant is about over.I do need to say that I can understand why this idea came into being.There are groups that harm the greater society and those in power are in a position to protect the masses by enforcing laws.If the law can squelch the ties that bind these groups together, they might have more success in disbanding a group that regularly harms society.However, taking away freedom of expression is not the way to do it.In fact, it will not stop anything.Members of all groups from hard-core gang bangers to glee clubs are brought together by experiences and just because they can’t wear the same t-shirt or have a club tattoo does not mean the group will become weak or fall apart.We just need to be careful of our rights disappearing.Every time a right is taken away it is presented to the populace as a way to help keep us “safe.”Well, how safe are you willing to be?Hell, there is no place safer than solitary confinement in a rubber room, where your meals are liquefied and spoon fed to you, but are you willing to live like that?I sure as hell am not.
Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,
Statutes Amended In Order of Appearance
65 ILCS 5/11-60-3 new
Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Illinois Municipal Code. Provides that the corporate authorities of any municipality may revoke or suspend the license of and impose a fine on (i) a tattoo establishment in which the owner or an employee applies on an individual any tattoo that contains gang-related names, symbols, or markings, or (ii) a tattoo artist who applies on an individual any tattoo that contains gang-related names, symbols, or markings. Defines “gang-related names, symbols, or markings”, “criminal street gang”, “tattoo”, and “tattoo artist”.
Brandon Bond has built an empire… he has travelled the land, done the circuit, and left an amazing and indelible mark wherever he landed.He grew up in the Florida Keys and attended art school in Texas.A maddening weekend commute began that put him at school during the day, tattooing at night, and driving back to Florida for weekend guest spots.And it never slowed down.
Bond continued to hit every shop he could, he lived in Vegas for a spell before heading out to Seattle and hitting the convention circuit.He later spent time in New Orleans and when the Mardi Gras party ended, he took up residency in Panama City Beach, Florida to take advantage of the spring break festivities.Finally, in 2003, Brandon seemed to settle in and set down roots in Atlanta.But don’t let that statement fool you.He NEVER slowed down.
Brandon has been interviewed and has work in over 500 international tattoo magazines and holds the title of most published tattoo artist in the world!In 2004 he opened All or Nothing Tattoo and Body Piercing.His new shop attracted some of the hottest names in the tattoo industry and his staff was soon out to capture as many awards and write ups as humanly possible.The shop became a hit and the name “All or Nothing” became a household term.
Yes, Bond has put in his time and it has paid off.He now works out of his own private studio by appointment only and caters to larger pieces.He is booked at least a year out and still owns All or Nothing, but his private studio is something to see.
Brandon has elevated the tattoo experience to something that transcends the average, or even really, really nice shop.He has done something few other artists in this country have done and created an entire environment in which the tattoo experience can take place.Bond’s private digs lie in Northwest Atlanta and sound more like a five star retreat salon than a tattoo studio.The facility houses two movie theatres, two koi ponds, and two art galleries that show Brandon’s personal tattoo art collection.There is a Jacuzzi; hand laid Brazilian flooring, etched glass, surround sound, wireless video games, and food… oh the food… rare cuts of beef and fresh bounty are prepared every day.And to wash it all down, a huge stock of mineral waters, juices, beer, wine, and Champaign.You really couldn’t ask for more could you?How about work from more than one artist?Yup, collaborations abound at A.N.T.I. Art Elite (the name of the private studio).Appointments are made through All or Nothing, so be sure to contact them directly if you are interested in this mind-blowing experience.
But Brandon has loves that go beyond tattoos and fine art.Bond is also responsible for an animal rescue that works to help pit bulls that have been abused and abandoned.He has films out about his operation and I am hoping we might be able to review them for you.Speaking of films, Bond does have a couple instructional tattoo videos out as well and if he sees fit to send a copy our way, I will be sure to have an in depth review.
In fact, Bond has sooo much going on, that I just can’t get it all into this little section. You will see him again here as we near one of his Pitbull Rescue events in Vegas. The rescue is near and dear to his heart and deserves its own space. Brandon, thank for all you have done for us in the tattoo world.
You have probably seen the shirts on some of the more edgy and trendy youngsters out there… you may have even seen them in a boutique shop as they seem to fetch a small fortune!But, who is this Don Ed Hardy guy anyway??Why is he all over the place all of the sudden.
Well, Hardy is hardly a newbie in the tattoo world.And, just as the other artists I have written about in this blog, he has had a real hand in advancing the artwork that can and is put to skin.He was born in 1945 and had the opportunity to work with Sailor Jerry (another famous artist who is deeply rooted in the history of tattooing).
Don had desired to be a tattoo artist for much of his life before he landed an apprenticeship while attending the San Francisco Art Institute.He graduated with his BFA in 1967 and opened a tattoo studio in the area.Hardy is famous for breathing “new” style into the American tattoo.He learned quite a bit about tattooing’s Asian roots while living and studying in Japan and brought this thinking and diversity of images back to his San Francisco studio where he further developed the ideas.In 1974 he began doing tattoo “commissions” which we would think of today as custom pieces.At this time, almost all artists were working expressly from flash and custom work was a completely new idea.
Hardy has worked diligently to promote the fine art aspect of tattoos.He has published books that have helped to put tattooinginto the minds of the mainstream culture and has curated exhibitions that focus on tattoo art.
According to the Wikipedia site, “In 2004 Christian Audigier licensed the rights to produce the high-end Ed Hardy clothing line, which is based on Hardy’s imagery. Prior to the Ed Hardy clothing line, Audigier was the Head Designer at Von Dutch Originals, which marketed the imagery of Kenny Howard/Von Dutch. Audigier has attempted to replicate the marketing techniques employed by Von Dutch Originals by marketing directly to celebrity clients and by opening stores in high profile fashion districts. There are currently at least fifteen Ed Hardy stores, located in Waikiki, Dubai, Kuwait, Tel Aviv, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tucson, Houston, New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Noosa on The Sunshine Coast, Melbourne, Sydney and other major cities around the world.”
Don Hardy currently splits his time between his studio in San Francisco and his home in Honolulu.He is officially retired from the tattooing business, but does still work on life long friends and long time clients.Hardy spends most of his days focusing on his fine art in the more traditional mediums of drawing, painting, and printmaking. His work is represented in the collections of The Honolulu Academy of Art, The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, The San Francisco Fine Arts Museum Achenbach Collection, and the University of Colorado Fine Art Galleries.
Last week we looked at the amazing work of Guy Aitchison.As promised, this week we will take a peek at his better half, Michele Wortman’s work.
Michele grew up looking at art and has been involved in the art making world most of her life.What I find interesting about Michele is that she was motivated to become a tattoo artist by her experiences collecting work.She found that the majority of work out there at the time was a bit overbearing for her and she longed for something that was geared more towards a feminine aesthetic.In fact, she has since decided to cater to an all female clientele.
Nature and the objects, textures, and elements that can be found within it heavily influence Wortman.While she is open to doing individual pieces, she is very interested in completing what she calls “body sets.”These sets offer more of a balance to their work and collection.While one may think of them as being large works, smaller pieces may also fall into this category.What Michele is encouraging is for her clients to think more “holistically” about their entire collection.
Besides an obvious talent for working on skin, Michele has her fingers in a few other media as well.She has a wonderful collection of figure drawings on her site, which are perhaps one of the telltale signs of any serious artist.The ability to capture the human figure is one that many will struggle with an entire lifetime.Her gestural images are loose while retaining feeling and detail.
Michele is also an experienced painter and her works capture an amazing essence of the natural world while often injecting a spiritual quality.Wortman has taken to what she calls “hypersketches” to keep herself fresh and artistically in tune when on the road.Each of these small paintings/drawings is done in less than an hour and allows Michele to work in an intuitive way.A plus of this type of work is that the images are often available on e-bay for a reasonable sum, which means we get to collect her work without having to take too much out of our tattoo account.
For those of you who know me, you know that I am an artist who bases himself in photography.So, it is probably no surprise that I am drawn to Michele’s photographic works.In 2005 she published a book entitled Moments of Epiphany.This book is a collection of her macroscapes and abstract detail photographs.The coolest part of the publication is that it comes with a soundtrack that is meant to be listened to while looking at the images.This, for me, shows how far ahead Michele thinks when working on a project.The ability to conceptualize a body of work that transcends the traditional boundaries of media is one that many artists never attain.
It goes without saying that I believe anyone would be happy with a piece by this artist, whether it be a body set, hypersketch, or photograph.A piece by this visionary would be worthwhile in any collection.