Damien J. Thorn – Neo japanese tattooing in Occident



Damien J. Thorn is a resident tattoo artist at Sang Bleu London, where he participated in the establishment of the studio, being part of the team from its early times. Originally from France he talks about his journey in tattooing so far.


So to start with, why don’t you tell us how you got started in tattooing?

I started to tattoo about 7-8 years ago by buying one of those kit off the internet, practicing on friends at home. At the time I had never met any tattoo artist, I knew absolutely nothing about tattooing.

Did you have any tattoo yourself?

Nope. None . The only thing I knew was Yann Black. I just met some guy whom suggested I should start tattooing solely based on the fact I was drawing a fair bit already . And I thought it could be a good idea. I then decided to set up a private studio at home and for a year or so I tattooed friends and friends of friends. I was doing maybe one tattoo every ten days. I eventually gave up because I could not get a hand of it. To give you a rough idea I needed three sessions to finish a 10 cm lettering, and if my machine started to be slightly of noisy I thought it was about to break, which resulted in me running them super low. It has been now five years since I started my apprenticeship with Guy [Guy le Tattooer] . In the meantime I finished my studies and started my own business.

What was your business field?

We were dealing with image treatment and video editing, 3D etc. It’s what I studied for. It was awful.

I then met Guy when I got tattooed by him and [...]

The New Icon – Sarah Carter and Tamara Santibanez in conversation

Besides from being two of the most important contemporary tattoo artists in the world, Sarah Carter and Tamara Santibanez are also visual artists in their own right. Championing and progressing not only what is means to be a woman in the tattoo world but also the limitations and expectations of what a tattoo can accomplish, the pair have teamed up to create an exhibition of new artworks at Three Kings in Brooklyn which opens this evening. We asked Sarah and Tamara to have a discussion about this exhibition named The New Icon and to find out more about the inspirations behind this new selection of work.

Tamara Santibanez: I was offered the space at Three Kings Studio to do a show and I felt very overwhelmed at the size of the space. I thought it would be better to do some sort of group show. I immediately thought of your work because I’ve liked it for so long, I like the quality of the craft and the details.

I thought it would make a really good pairing, which is why I asked you to show with me.

Sarah Carter: I thought the same when you spoke to me about that, just the fact that our work would work very well together. Although it’s quite different, it just seems to have something in common and it  meets somewhere aesthetically. Did you have this work in mind before you were offered the exhibition?

TSB: Not really. I knew that I wanted to make a new body of work just for the show. And having seen your work, I knew that you always use a lot of religious imagery in your work.

I’m definitely interesting in exploring icons and symbols. I’ve [...]


Oil Burner is 23 and was born and lives in LA, he just guested with us at Sang Bleu this weekend and I went to catch up with him before he flew back to the states. He works at Sin City Tattoo shop in LA and plays in a punk band (Dopeslammer) and has his own rap project (Slave to the grave). He is heavily influenced by rap and graffiti culture,  this along with his friendship with Trigz of MSK  has all lead to his amazing talent for script, Oil burners script is particularly arrant, from LA gang sign inspired  to metal fonts.

How did you get the name Oil Burner?

Well at the shop they sell pipes to smoke meth from and I would keep them all at my station so everyone started calling me oil burner.

So you’ve been here at Sang bleu over the weekend, do you like to guest? Where’s your favourite place to guest at?

I like Oakland a lot ,Philip Milics shop ‘Old Crow Tattoo’, I have friends there and it’s a lot of fun.

Are there specific genres of music that either influences your work as a tattooist or certain bands you have to have on when you’re working?

It doesn’t really matter actually, I really like Velvet Cocoon but mostly I listen to rap like 36 and spn, psycho realm and Lil Boozy.

So you’re not really into metal? So what inspired you to start creating metal font tattoos?

I mean I’m into a little, but not so much for the music but more because its fucked up,  I actually started doing them by accident, like one time I tried to fix a mistake and that happened.

If you’re only 23 now ,when did you get into tattooing and why?

I [...]

Hellfest 2015

In June, Art Director Jamie Reid went to France to go to the heavy metal festival Hellfest. He took this selection of photos for us of the wide ranging and complex variety of heavy metal fans who all visited this extra special gathering.

An interview artist with Erin Riley

Erin was born in Massachusetts in 1985. She received her MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, and her BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally since 2004 and published in Hi-Fructose, WSJ Magazine, Playboy Magazine, Juxtapoz Magazine and New American Painting. She is currently an artist in residence at the Museum of Arts and Design and has received awards and residencies from the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and McColl Center for Visual Art. She is a Ruth and Harold Chenven Grant and a Kittredge Foundation Grant recipient. www.erinmriley.com

Your work is a combination of traditionally “feminine” craft with contemporary digital media. Technology and digital media are often categorized as male fields. Do you perceive the two as being gendered? Do you view the two as being at odds?

I never perceived either as being gendered. In my early teens I was modifying and building various social network profiles up with html and all of the how-tos were available online. The internet in the beginning had no hierarchy and so I didn’t initially associate technology to class or gender, although now I can see how gender plays a huge role in the successes of technology. I was taught weaving in a historical context in which cultures regimented certain aspects to different genders, but it was never consistent, folk lore of women not being allowed near the indigo bath on their cycle for fear of ruining its chemistry, men doing all the weaving in certain regions, women doing all of it in others. Tapestry was an anonymous craft, often a translation of a painting woven by laborers who were [...]

Joe Vanos and his private face deforming fetish

Joe locks himself away in a room in his middle class home and takes self portraits of himself covering his face with tights and other domestic materials. Sometimes he wears animal masks with a woman’s satin shirt, other times he inflates a latex glove over this face but most of the time he wears womens stockings to distort and disfigure himself to the point of having no recognisable identity.

Looking at Joe in these photos is a bit like looking into the depth of someones soul, the most private reaches of an individuals self exploration are presented to us with no boundaries.

How often do we see affluent, white men so openly create without the excess of ego or socially ingrained concepts of sexuality infiltrating them? The production of imagery without any premeditated arrogance or plan is now such an unusual happening.

Being able to voyeur a totally random man’s deepest sexual experimentations with no barriers is alone a fascinating process but especially so when their explorations are so intrinsically creative and unattainable.

Joe’s age is also another area of fascination. He is over the age of sixty adding to the intrigue of how he uses modern technology to discover a fetish he has embodied his entire life. Sexuality doesn’t stop being something to explore once you reach a certain age but urges and curiosities remain enflamed. In this case, the internet has enabled him to explore it with other like minded fetishists therefore allowing him to have an objective to create towards.

Maybe what is so special about Joe is his originality. The juxtapositions of classic menswear, the safely educated interiors to his home accompanied with him wearing a gas mask with nylon stockings  over his head reach the spectrum of outstanding perversion. However this is only interesting to us [...]

“STIV: 1976”

Twenty five years after the passing of Stiv Bators, a Cleveland gallery created an exhibition of never before seen photos of the city’s very own punk legend, as well as images of The Dead Boys
Photographed by Dave Treat, Stiv’s neighbor and close friend in 1976 – the negatives sat in a closet for nearly forty years before being brought to the attention of art historian Brittany Mariel Hudak & photographer/gallerist Bryon Miller, who co-curated the show.  

The exhibition’s opening was timed with the 25th anniversary of Bator’s untimely death in Paris, and offers a rare glimpse of Stiv & the boys before they had a bass player, before New York City, before CBGBs, before punk rock fame.

We spoke to Byron to find out more about this exhibition.

How did you find out about these lost photographs?

I was contacted by Brittany Hudak, an employee of Blue Arrow Records (bluearrowrecords.com), a local record store located across the street from my gallery on Waterloo Road. A customer of theirs had brought in a bunch of negatives of Stiv Bators and the Dead Boys and was looking to do something with them. All the images were shot by Dave Treat back in 1976. He was a neighbor and friend of the band. At the time Dave was attending the now defunct Cooper School of Art in Cleveland, Ohio, and used Stiv for a school project he was shooting. He kept the negatives stored away in a closet for nearly 40 years before bringing them to light.


Could you tell us about the process from discovery to final exhibition?

We had 8 rolls of negatives to choose from. If we had more time and wall space I’m sure a lot more would have [...]