John Carpenter is a well known director, writer, actor, and composer. He is most known for his work in horror, and is a beloved director, writer, and composer for all those who love the darker side of life.
A few of his most well known movies are; Halloween, The Thing, Christine, Village of the Damned, Prince of Darkness, and They Live. Though he has worked on many more.
While most people know him for his horror, it’s not the only work he does. Some other notable non-horror movies of his are Escape From New York, Dark Star, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, and more.
Halloween turned intone of the most profitable independent films of all time, terrifying audiences time and time again with killer Michael Myers. Halloween becoming such a success paved the way for other big slashers such as Friday the 13th in 1980 and Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984.
Duncan X is a old school artist whose inspiration comes from early photographs of old school tattoos. These photographs are of course all in black and white, so the tattoos appear black even if they were colourful. This led to Duncan tattooing in only black.
He is one of the most popular artists in London, and he works out of Old Habits Tattoo shop.
Duncan was born and raised in London in the 60’s and was introduced to tattoos through the punk scene. Artist Dennis Cockell taught him tattooing and helped him shape his unique style.
While Duncan uses mainly old school motifs for his source of inspiration, his style resembles medieval wood carvings and is distinctly working class.
To learn more about Duncan and see his own tattoos watch David Penn’s short film here.
June 2020 and the world (largely the Western world, particularly North America and England) has started to open to their eyes to the reality that the police are not “the good guys.” First some statistics from Canada and The United States before we get into the history of police.
In the US, police kill more than 1000 people a year. Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed than white people, and are 1.4 times more likely to be UNARMED during these killings. In Canada the numbers are harder to find, though police have killed close to 500 people that we know of since the year 2000, and the number has been climbing yearly.
Looking specifically at Toronto, an Indigenous person is 10 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than a white person. While Indigenous people are persecuted by police in Canada at a larger percentage than any other race, black people are also targets for police violence. Again looking at Toronto, 18 black men and one black boy were among the 52 people killed by police in Toronto alone from 2000-2017. Of those cases only 7 police officers faced charges and only 1 was found guilty.
As of 2015 the US makes up only 5% of the worlds population, but 21% of the world’s prisoners. Land of the free? Not even close. Black people in the US are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of white people. Black women do twice the amount of time in prison than white women for the same crimes. Click here to learn more about incarceration in the US.
Meanwhile in Canada, Indigenous people make up only 4.5 precent of the population, but make up 25% of the male prison population, and 35% of the female prison population.
Now let’s look at where police actually come from. Spoiler alert, they have never been there to “protect and serve.”
In the US, the institution of slavery and the control of minorities and immigrants are the two biggest reasons why police exist in America today. Slave Patrols and Night Watches were both created to control BIPOC. These date back to 1636, and possibly earlier. These were groups of men who would search for escaped slaves, and were meant to protect colonizers from the Native Americans they were murdering at an alarming rate. These groups built on oppression and racism later became official police in the US during the 1830’s and were/are still extremely violent, particularly towards minorities, including BIPOC and people from the LGBTQ community.
In Canada, the story is almost exactly the same. Canadians might like to think our country has less racism than the US but both our countries were built on it, and both are still suffering because of it. Like the US, Canadian police came from groups of people much like the Night Watches and Slave Patrols in the US. At the time Canada also had slaves, and was also in the middle of the mass genocide of Indigenous peoples. By the 1830’s these groups turned into official police forces, and though slavery was abolished in 1834 in Canada, black and Indigenous people were already associated with crime in the white eye. Meaning simply existing as a BIPOC put you at risk of police and white brutality in Canada just as much as the US.
Tattoos have long been an underground art form, being made illegal numerous times throughout history, and is still illegal in some countries today. While in the West and North America in particular, tattoos are becoming more and more mainstream, they are still most popular in alternative scenes, and particularly with people who generally lean farther left politically (of course there are exceptions). Therefore anti-establishment and anti-police tattoos have existed for a long time, and will continue to exist.
Anti-police tattoos are most often done in American traditional style, black work, or ignorant style.
To read more about the history of police oppression and violence in North American please click here, here, or here.
Today ( June 21st 2020) is National Indigenous People’s Day. Indigenous people have a rich history of body modification, including tattooing, which is still being practiced today.
Before colonialism ravaged North America, tattooing and other traditional body modifications such as piercings were practiced widely by different people throughout what is now Canada and The United States.
These tattoos were meant to represent family, clan crests, social rank within a clan, their relationship to a specific territory, and even hunting and fishing rights.
Tattooing and piercing are just two ceremonial practices that were forbidden by colonists in an attempt to stamp out Indigenous culture, and today, many artists are bringing it back.
North American Indigenous designs are similar to those of the Maori people of New Zealand. Geometric patterns using black ink, produced generally by tapping or threading the ink into the skin using a natural rod or thread, also called “hand poked” or “skin stitched” tattoos.
Placement is also similar between the cultures, often placing important tattoos on faces and hands, among other body parts.
Indigenous tattoos traditionally take inspiration from nature, such as animals, plants, and the elements. But of course Indigenous tattooers can and do work in other styles.
Nick Oaks is a tattooer working out of Bait & Schlang Tattoo in Montreal. His work is as classic as it gets. Filled with big bold dragons, lady heads, roses and skulls.
He takes inspiration from greats such as Sailor Jerry, Tony Polito, E.C. Kidd, and more.
Whether you’re looking for black traditional or bright and colourful, Nick can take care of it for you.
His Instagram is full of both small one off designs, and large scale work such as back pieces.
Nick has lots of flash to choose from, and lots of paintings for sale as well.If you’re in Montreal, or going to be, click the link above and check out his Instagram where he has his contact information.
There is unfortunately still quite a bit of subtle (and not-so-subtle) racism in the tattoo industry. It’s often believed that customers with darker skin are harder to tattoo, but that’s certainly not the case. Especially as body modification is such an important part of all cultures and histories, not just white ones.
Black ink is also not the only ink that has to be used on dark skin, contrary to what many believe. Darker skin can still feature bright and colourful pieces. you just have to know what you’re doing with that tattoo machine.
More tattoo artists should push themselves to learn how to tattoo different skin types, including darker skin, as the subculture of tattooing isn’t so “sub” anymore. It can be disheartening for black or tanned customers walking into a tattoo shop when all they see is flash painted on white paper, and portfolios filled with white skin, or only very dark tattoos on darker skin.
(June 2020) With the world finally rallying beside our black brothers and sisters it’s more important than ever to support black businesses, including tattoo artists.
Feel free to leave more links to black tattoo artists below!
Referred to as the “king of tattooists” by himself and others, George Burchett- (Davis) was one of the most famous tattoo artists of his age, particularly in the UK. Notably tattooing in London, marking both the social elite and the hard working class, and even members of the Royal family.
In Burchett’s “Memoirs of a Tattooist” he states that “I have tattooed the subjects of six sovereigns, starting with portraits of Queen Victoria. The tradition has been maintained and still seemed to be strong when I prepared the designs for the coronation of 1953.” He also reminisces about tattooing The Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, one of Queen Victoria’s favorite nephews, Prince Christian Victor, a grandson of Queen Victoria, and King GeorgeV. Along with English royalty he also tattooed King Alfonso XIII of Spain, and King Frederick IX of Denmark.
Burchett was born in Brighton in 1872, and had a very early introduction to tattooing. He practiced tattooing on his five year old brother, Charles, who apparently traded candy for some scratched designs in his skin. George also tattooed his classmates until he was expelled for doing so at the age of twelve.
After being expelled, George joined the Royal Navy and sailed as a deckhand all over the British Empire, including stops in the West Indies, the Mediterranean, Africa, India, and East Asia. This was also where he fell farther in love with tattooing, as he was able to see marvellous styles and designs from all over the world. He was able to develop his own skill and style by tattooing other sailors.
Life at sea proved to not be for George, so he left the navy while on leave in Israel, and set up his first shop in Jerusalem. This only lasted a short time as he feared being caught by authorities for deserting the navy. This led to him boarding a Spanish merchant ship. He was able to avoid persecution for twelve years, but missed England. It was at this point that he dropped the “Davis” in his last name to make it harder to catch him, and set up shop in London, but this time as a cobbler. Though he did continue to tattoo on the side whenever the opportunity arose. During this time he was fortunate enough to meet two other legendary artists, Tom Riley and Sutherland MacDonald. MacDonald took George under his wing and taught him more about techniques and designs of tattooing.
During his time as a cobbler/tattooer he grew more and more popular with the working class as a top tattoo artist, working mainly on sailors, dock workers, and transients that happened through London from all around the world. In 1900 George was able to start tattooing full time and give up cobbling. He opened a proper shop on Mile End Road where he could easily catch soldiers on their way to the front lines in World War One.
As his shop grew in clientele, so did his reputation, leading him to tattoo more wealthy Londoners, and even royals. Though Riley and MacDonald tattooed more royals than he.
Another of his more famous clients was “The Great Omi,” (Horace Ridler) who was a well known circus performer. George was paid several thousand dollars to tattoo a full body suit that turned The Great Omi into a human zebra.
George is also one of (if not the) first artists to use tattooing as a cosmetic procedure, tattooing women lips and eyebrows (though he also tattooed many flowers and lovers initials on his female clientele).
George Burchett was undeniable a classic American traditional artist, though like many historical and modern tattooers, drew influence from African and Asian art that he had the good fortune to see during his travels at sea.
He tried to retire at the age of 70 in 1942, but because of World War Two, tattoos were at an all time high demand, essentially forcing him and his two sons to tattoo the immense amount of soldiers and sailors walking through the door.
Because he never retired, George worked until Good Friday of 1953 when he died suddenly at the age of 81. His work is still highly influential today with people still getting his designs, or variations of them, tattooed in large numbers.
The Sun Dancer tattoo is an easily recognizable American traditional design, first painted by Bert Grimm, a pioneer of American traditional tattooing who worked from around 1916-1970. An important part of Indigenous history and culture, the Sun Dance is a spiritual ceremony that was and is still very important to different groups, primarily to those of the plains cultures in America and Canada.
The ceremony is a gruelling but important one, primarily (though not entirely) performed by males. The dancer fasts, going without both food and drink for days at a time, while dancing around a sacred fire and traditional pole meant to represent the sun. Others drum and sing prayers while the dancer dances until exhausted.
As part of the ceremony, piercing and suspension is also common. This involves a leader piercing rods into the chest or back of the dancer, while they drag a bison head until the skin rips. Other variations involve horses pulling at the rods, or the dancer being suspended from the pole by the rods in their skin. This inspired modern suspension.
Often times the dancer would become delirious and hallucinate both from the physical and mental exertion, topped with dehydration and extreme hunger. Unfortunately the ceremony was banned in Canada in 1885 under the Indian Act, but the ban was dropped in 1951, though Indigenous people continue(d) to be treated unfairly. Today the Sun Dance is still performed by some communities.
One of the first examples of this ceremony being painted is Bert Grimm’s Sun Dancer flash and tattoo. The original painting depicts a girl dancing with her left knee raised, right hand holding a spear, with a shield depicting a bald eagle in her left hand. A red sun and traditional roses make up the background.
As the design was first made by a pioneer of American traditional tattooing, it is mainly tattooed today in the same style. Though people do take artistic liberties, sometimes including animals or other flowers, and even changing the subject of the tattoo. It is often done as a back tattoo, but can also be seen on arms and legs, usually as still large pieces, though through adaptation artists have created smaller pieces as well.