A Q&A with Tattoo Artist, Horiren

Horiren has made a name for herself working in shops and conventions from Bangkok to London. This multifaceted artist not only has a hand in tattooing, but as a muralist and public speaker. In order to be part of her world, you must be formally introduced. It was by sheer luck that I had the opportunity to meet and collect a piece by such a prolific tattoo artist. While exhibiting her piece for the Body Electric show, held at the Ricco Maresca Gallery in New York City, she did a three day guest spot at East River Tattoo before heading back to Japan. It was my first time getting tattooed in the Shamisen-bori style and I could not be more excited. Our conversations were limited, but with the help of her translators we were able to communicate a few aspects about her work and thoughts on tattooing.


How do you perceive the tradition of tattooing?

Japanese tattoo culture is changing now. We are starting to see designs based on anime and original illustrations by contemporary artists. We are starting to see tattooers who have little knowledge in traditional Japanese designs, picking up images off the internet and tattooing without knowing the meaning of the tattoos. We are losing much of our irezumi traditions, and when I say traditions, I mean not only the designs, but the methods of tattooing, ways to handle and take care of the tools, relationship between a master and his/her apprentices, etc. But since nothing stays the same, the change is inevitable.


You mention that your work is transitory. Why have you taken this approach to tattooing?

I view tattoos as alive beings, and tattoos and our lives both can only shine while they are [...]

The Tattoo – A Pictorial History

Yesterday, while in the library I came across this rather incredible book. Not only are the photographs amazing but the descriptions with each image are out of this world! Although the book reads as being utterly sensational it still holds some important historical references to tattooing and rare images.

(Sorry for the bad quality photos)



John Fahey’s Paintings

John Fahey is perhaps best known as the much revered avant-garde guitarist who incorporated aspects of the likes of folk, blues, and bluegrass to classical music, musique concrete, and noise in his primarily acoustic guitar-based compositions. During his lifetime he was considered an icon, changing the sonic landscape of guitar music on a monumental scale.

However, what is less known about Fahey’s already impressive career is his work as a painter. These psychedelic, naive and timeless paintings are the work of the guitar legend. Later on in his life he extended his so-called  American Primitive approach beyond music, and into the development of paintings created in make-shift studios around Salem, Oregon.

Painting on found poster board and discarded spiral notebook paper, working with tempera, acrylic, spray paint, and magic marker, Fahey’s intuitive approach echoes the action found through his music.  Many of these paintings were used by Fahey to barter with for hospitality while he lived on the road and in motels, and others were given away or discarded. Passing away in 2001, his paintings are refreshingly devoid of any of the then contemporary art practice, creating these pieces of art work solely through his own isolated creative practice. Starting the practice again in the 1990s after it being a childhood hobby,  in the book’s essay by critic Bob Nickas, Fahey’s former wife Melody recalls one of his common creative processes: “He made these small paintings by putting the powder into wet phone books and then he’d stomp on them…” she says.

New York’s Audio Visual Arts gallery curator Justin Luke said: “Around 2009 I was having a conversation about Fahey with an artist I’d been working with called John Andrew. We were both old fans of Fahey’s and knew he’d painted. [...]

Help The Pink Narcissus Creator James Bidgood Carry On Creating His Art

Try and imagine a world where Pink Narcissus hadn’t been made. The arthouse drama film visualises the erotic desires of a gay male prostitute in fantasy landscapes shot in intensely saturated colour. It was released in 1971 under an ‘Anonymous’ crediting but was finally attributed to its true creator, James Bidgood in the 80s. Pink Narcissus took seven years to film and was shot entirely in  Bidgood’s living room, laboriously and fantastically transformed into the variety of scenes that act as backdrops to Pink Narcissus’ erotic desires.

Bidgood is an American artist who embraces multiple disciplines to create his world of immersive erotic enchantment. After moving to New York aged 17, Bidgood started working at Club 82, the infamous basement club of drag staging shows three times a night, seven days a week. Starting out as a singer, Bidgood then designed the sets and costumes for the performances. Whilst studying at Parsons School of Art and Design, he dressed window displays. Bidgood’s most excessive and fabulous designs were staged at the New York Junior League Ball and these costumes were subsequently used as the sets for the homeoerotic fantasy scenes he photographed for the next seven years, all created and shot in his living room.

The first photograph he took was of a sea nymph swimming in an underwater utopia called Water Colors using Club 82 dancer Jay Garvin. In his profile of Bidgood in Aperture,  Philip Gefter dissects Bidgood’s production of Water Colors; ‘the bottom of the ocean was created with silver lame spread across the floor of Bidgood’s apartment; he made the arch of a cave out of waxed paper, and fashioned red lame into the shape of lobster. He coated Garvin with mineral oil and pasted glitter and sequins to his skin so the silver fabric under photographic [...]

Steven Meisel’s ‘Role Play’ at Phillips London and New York

Infamous for his ability to capture and regurgitate the zeitgeist of fashion, Steven Meisel is one of the most significant photographers of the twentieth century, having shot infamous fashion campaigns and editorials and launching the careers of some of the world’s most famous models has just had a new exhibition dedicated to his work open in London.

The pioneering radical’s work will be shown through a  collection of 25 of his most notable works is currently on show at Phillips Auction House London as part of his travelling selling exhibition celebrating his prolific career titled ‘Role Play’. 

Meisel’s complex photographs are often truly controversial; he juxtaposes fashion with politics to explore and criticise contemporary social tensions. Some of the themes he’s explored in his editorials consists of the likes of the Iraq war, female mental illness and plastic surgery. The July 2008 ‘All Black’ issue of Italian Vogue was shot completely by Meisel and featured an entire casting of black models which was created as a reaction to the lack of racial diversity in fashion imagery. When asked about the issue Meisel said, “obviously I feel that fashion is totally racist. The one thing that taking pictures allows you to do is occasionally make a larger statement. After seeing all the shows though I feel it was totally ineffective. I was curious—because it received a lot of publicity—whether it would have any effect on New York, London, Paris, or Milan, and I found that it did not. They still only had one token black girl, maybe two. It’s the same as it always was and that’s the sad thing for me.”

Meisel is credited as having launched the careers of the world’s supermodels through his discovery and promotion. His influence can be felt in the [...]

A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America

A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America is a new exhibition which has just opened at the American Folk Art Museum in New York. Presenting an eclectic selection of American folk art primarily made in rural areas of New England, the Midwest, and the South between 1800 and 1920, works on show vary from portrait paintings, commercial and personal sculpture, still-life and landscape paintings. There will also be distinctive examples of art from the German-American community exemplify the breadth of American creative expression by individuals who did not always adhere to the academic models that established artistic taste in urban centers of the East Coast.

This exhibition will showcase an inspiring variety of content sure to inspire anyone interested in the culture of tattooing, especially that of the traditional and flash style. The naivety of iconic images such as birds, flowers, flags and religion are relayed over and over again in the pieces of folk art shown in this exhibition which overlaps with the origins of flash designs evolution. The incomparable beauty of the innocence and lack of ego in these pieces of artwork is an area of our contemporary culture which is often neglected in modern artwork and craft, so this exhibition will be sure to present us with a perfect and refreshing human contrast our present digital realities. And its free!

A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America December 14, 2014–March 8, 2015 American Folk Art Museum in New York 2 Lincoln Sq, Columbus Ave
Midtown West
New York

Skinhead: An Archive at Ditto Press

The skinhead subculture has to be one of the twentieth centuries least understood and explored subcultures which boasts profoundly political and aesthetically challenging qualities. Ingrained with a partially racist history, in depth  celebration of the formation and traits of this subculture have often been brushed under the carpet due to its often aggressive undertones. However the skinhead culture wasn’t entirely racist and its breadth of ritual is really quite expansive. Existing with a cross section of zine content, photographs, record covers and tattoo documentation this book looks sure to grasp the missing links of how this subculture has been digested in terms of its cultural influence.

The book has been divided into sub-sections looking at the original iteration of skinhead, the fascist interpretation, the socialist counterpoint, queer skinhead culture, exploitation literature, skin girls, and everything in between.

So it is deadly exciting that Ditto Press have been working with graphic designer Jamie Reid to design this new study of the Skinhead subculture with printed material curated by Toby Mott.

If that want exciting enough the book features an exclusive font design, developed and adapted from a skinhead article in Penthouse magazine, which will be available to download in the Ditto store. Alongside a wealth of unseen visual material, the book will contain texts from writers with unique experience of the culture, including Bruce la Bruce and Garry Bushell.

This evening Ditto Press will be holding their private view for this new book and exhibition where as a part of the exhibition, one of Sang Bleu’s favourite menswear designers Martine Rose will showcase new work responding to the subject material, helping to put skinhead culture into a contemporary context. NTS Radio will be supplying the amazing Gary The Tall, playing original skinhead sounds, with a guest appearance by Ray Gange from [...]