BJ Betts

Interview taken from Sang Bleu 6

Born and raised in Delaware,BJ Betts tattoos from his own Trademark Tattoo on a quiet strip of Lancaster Avenue in the state’s largest city, Wilmington. The place has character, a real buzz, and an energy that comes from a keen balance of perfectly executed tattoos and the street sensibilty. Betts and his partner, Damien Guerin, are fonts (pun intended) of knowledge. While getting tattooed by Betts, I spoke to him about tattoo lettering and trends of body placement. When applicable, Damien added some thoughts. They have fun at Trademark Tattoo.

Case in point…

BJ: Johnny Knoxville, from MTV’s Jackass, is like, ‘I want that.’ Talking about the Wawa logo. Damien is like, ‘What? You want a coffee? I’ll get you a coffee.’ He’s like, ‘No I want that tattooed on me.’ Damien is like, ‘You jackass, that’s a convenience store. That’s like getting 7/11 tattooed on you.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah but that’s awesome.’ So Damien did the Wawa bird on him and the word ‘Wawa.’ That’s awesome. It’s like a Yo! MTV Raps tattoo. Anyway let’s talk about lettering. I know we talked about you getting your first tattoo and it was your name. I kind of like that story, I think it’s a good starting point.

BJ: Looking back at it, that might have been the introduction for me into lettering as far as being attracted to it in a tattoo. Definitely like drawing graffiti and all of that played a big part in it for sure. I was always attracted to the shapes and the forms of the letters-a few lines and you got it. As far as the unlimited-the options are unlimited as far as-I think that once you have the basic shape-everybody knows what letter A looks like so once you have that basic shape laid out it’s like, you can change it to whatever you want and you’ll stay have the [...]

Tonight in New York – Charles Atlas in discussion at The Kitchen

The Kitchen is pleased to host a discussion with video artist and filmmaker Charles Atlas in celebration of his new self-titled monograph. Published by Prestel Publishing in association with Luhring Augustine, Charles Atlas will look back at a career that has spanned four decades and profiles over 75 projects by Atlas including works recently exhibited at Tate Modern and the 2012 Whitney Biennial. Renowned art historian Douglas Crimp, an art history professor at the University of Rochester, will lead the discussion with Atlas.

You can watch some of our favourite work of Atlas’s below, his work with The Michael Clark Company for their film Hail The New Puritan below.

The Kitchen

512 W 19th St, New York, New York 10011

March 2, 7pm

The Tattoo – a documentary

John Samson is the man who made the seminal fetish documentary Dressing for Pleasure but he also made this lesser known film called The Tattoo made in 1975. This footage is also of incredible historical importance in terms of capturing subculture and also possesses dreamy aesthetic viewing.

The documentary examines why people choose to get tattooed before a final climatic scene in a dark room where naked tattooed bodies are offered to the viewer as pieces of art as the camera spans across the bodies in various ways making them resemble some kind of precious statues. Reality versus Fantasy all within the subject of flesh are encapsulate this film in a truly iconic way.

Watch out for Rusty Skuse in part 4 before the films exhibits some shock tactics by showing off some piercings at the end of the film.


Preview for Sang Bleu 7 with Sam Bayliss Ibram and Jayson Hindley

As 2015 seems to be going past us at a rapid pace, we’ve started to  work on the seventh issue of Sang Bleu. So to celebrate this we’ve commissioned Sam Bayliss-Ibram and  Jayson Hindley to take photos which explore some of the major themes which will be addressed in the issue in the context of fashion. No models – only street cast individuals, no current season fashion – only archive and specially made pieces and an emphasis on featuring individuals from as many nationalities as possible will be some of the running rules which will be examined and practiced in the next issue. These may seem like  rather blatant rules, things which seem normal within the industry but sadly its a rarity to for healthy images of consumption and human beauty to be reflected into fashion. Sam and Jayson have reacted to these guidelines by using out of date fashions and using their friends in stead of models. More information about the next issue of Sang Bleu will be released over the next few months.   1 – Devon wears Dolce & Gabbana jeans, Calvin Klein underwear 2 – Ed wears J W Anderson vest, Supreme t shirt 3 – Devon wears Martine Rose sleeveless hoodie, Gosha Rubchinskiy shorts, Nasir Mazhar apron, Nasir Nazhar sleeve 4 – Adam wears Commes des Garçons jumper   – Devon wears Sibling jumper 5 – Zaina wears Cassette Playa x Stussy bikini, Claire Barrow chaps   Photography: Sam Bayliss Ibram Stylist: Jayson Hindley Hair: Sharmaine Cox @ The Book Agency Makeup: Bea Sweet Models: Adam, Devon, Ed, Zaina


I met Kali around 4  years ago, when he was just about to open his own studio Never Say Die! in Croydon, in the south of London.I then gave him a hand with the set up of the shop where he let me first experiment with tattooing. I am thankful for that and wanted top sit down with him and discuss his art that translates into biomechanical and realistic tattoos, but also in music (guitarist behind the legendary polish black metal band Witchmaster) and painting. 


Should we start by the beginning I guess, how did you start tattooing?

I started tattooing about 15 years ago in Poland. In the first place I was just drawing designs for my friends, because most of my friends were metal heads, so they all wanted demons, skulls and shit like that, you know? And they couldn’t come across the proper designs for that, so I was doing custom designs for their tattoos, and they would get them done in tattoo studios over there. Eventually, I thought that if I can do the designs, I can try to tattoo them, because I was not happy with the results when they were done by someone else. The artists could not translate to customer’s skins what I did on the paper, and thought I could do better than that! That’s how I started.

So you were drawing a lot beforehand? Were you an illustrator or just a doodler that your friends knew about?

It was not any serious illustrations. I was just scribbling on the back of my school books, something like that. I was doodling all the time, and my friends just knew it.

When you started to tattoo, did you started by buying or building some [...]

Jack W. Grove’s Drawings of Samoan Tattoos

Jack W. Groves was born in 1925 of British descent. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Groves visited Apia, Samoa, creating an extensive collection of drawings depicting tattoos he had seen on the Samoan population

Now part of the British Museum’s collection, Groves’s drawings offer a unique insight mid 20th century tattoo practices in Samoa. The British Museum’s online collection holds 56 examples of Groves’s drawings, primarily illustrations of tribal tattooing on Samoan men (of the 56 drawings, only 2 are of women’s tattoos). One interesting feature worth noting is the appearance of distinctly Western motifs, which are in one instance applied alongside traditional tribal tattoos.

For more images and information see the British Museum’s online collection here.

“Drawing; image of a Samoan tattoo. 1940s-1950s.Pigment ink.”

“Drawing; three views of a section of Tafao’s leg, from the front, back and side, showing tattoos. May 1949. Pigment ink and watercolour.”

“Drawing; image of a section of the top half of a female leg and female genitals, showing tattoos. May 1951.Graphite.”

“Drawing; image of a male torso and legs; from the front, and from the back showing tattoos. January 1952. Pigment ink and watercolour.”

“Drawing; image of eighteen Samoan tattoos. 1940s-1950s. Pigment ink.”

An interview with Philip Yarnell

Philip Yarnell is the 24 year old tattooer working from the seaside town Southend in Essex at Skynard. His impressive work with its strong and consistent use of imagery, muted colour pallet and his strong following is all the more special considering the fact that he has only been tattooing for two years. There is a depth and quality to his work which is far beyond his length of practice and can be seen clearly in how much interest his work amasses. Here at Sang Bleu we’ve tried to get to know Philip at little bit better by finding out more about him.


How long have you been tattooing for and how did you get into it? Your are still pretty young considering how developed your work is.

I’ve been tattooing for about 2 years now but I have been at the shop I work at for almost 3 years. I got into tattooing whilst I was still at University, I was getting tattooed at Skynyard which is now where I work. Luckily Albert Thomas the owner saw potential in my drawings (which at the time I was taking in to get tattooed). He then waited for me to finish university, and thats when I started. I think my work is still developing a lot although I’m still unsure of the direction its taking.

Where did you study fine art? Did your tutors or other students have a problems with you wanting to go into tattooing?

I studied fine art at Hertfordshire University. They didn’t have a problem with it at all, it only really came to be a possibility when I was in the last year. It also never really effected my work there as I was working on various personal art projects that have nothing [...]