Black Sabbath might have invented heavy metal but Iron Maiden certainly helped shape it. The British legends have 16 studio albums and 12 live ones (as well as numerous singles, EP’s, and compilations), and still shred as hard today as they did when they first formed in 1975.
The band was first formed by Steve Harris, bass player and one of the primary song writers. Maiden achieved great success in the 1980’s with brilliant albums such as The Number of the Beast, Powerslave, and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son to name a few.
The group has gone over several line-up changes, but managed to stay one of the most popular metal bands in the world with over 100 million records sold and well over 2000 shows played worldwide, all despite little to no mainstream media attention.
For all you Maiden fans, Eddie is an easily recognizable figure. Eddie; the bands mascot, is seen on all of their studio albums (most singles), merchandise, as a robot or stationary figure at concerts, in music videos, and even in video games such as Ed Hunter and Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast. According to Steve Harris, the name Ed or Eddie came from the fact that he was initially called simply “The Head” which, with their strong East London accents sounded like “Ead.”
As a tattoo, most Eddie pieces are done in a realistic style, made to look like the albums with more of a neo-traditonal style, or American traditional. Since Iron Maiden has so many albums all with different versions of Eddie, there are many variations to choose from.
Hong Kong, a fascinating city with an equally fascinating history and culture. Tattoos are becoming more and more popular as they enter into the mainstream, making it hard to walk around the downtown area without spotting a tattoo either on a tourist or a local. But for a long time tattoos were seen as something only for criminals, mainly the triads (the Chinese mafia that also operates in Hong Kong and Taiwan among other places).
While tattoos of course existed in the area long before the 1940’s, the first official tattoo shop wasn’t opened until 1946 by the famous James Ho (father of Jimmy Ho). James Ho was a Shanghainese marine engineer in the navy in 1940 and was sailing on a ship in the Indian Ocean when it was hit by a Japanese torpedo. James was lucky and survived by clinging to wreckage and was picked up by an American warship and brought to Calcutta where he first came in contact with tattoos; hand poked tattoos to be specific. James brought his new passion home to Shanghai where he made a machine from bike chains and other spare parts. He fled Shanghai towards the end of WW11 because of political conflict and went to Hong Kong, where he opened the first shop; Rose Tattoo Studio. James had seen mainly old school tattoos on sailors, so that’s what he brought back both to Shanghai and Hong Kong, and why old school Hong Kong tattoos follow similar tropes of hearts, flags, pin-ups and more, all with thick bold lines and vibrant colours. The shop did very well, mainly working on those in the Navy during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Along with these American designs, tattooers in Asia were adding imagery such as dragons, koi, and tigers, among other culturally significant iconography.
To keep up with the high demand, James took on four apprentices; Ricky Lo, Pinky Yun, Benny Tsoi, and Swallow, and later eventually his own son, Jimmy. Jimmy started officially working for his father at the age of 14 after already tattooing clients after hours from around the age of 12. His mother didn’t want him working there but he insisted, and when he showed his father James the earnings, he was finally gifted two tattoo machines of his own. Pinky eventually moved to the US in the 70’s and became very popular after first working with Ricky at “Ricky and Pinky Tattoo”, Benny has a shop still in Hong Kong run by an apprentice (his daughter also tattoos and runs her own shop), and Jimmy’s shop is also still being run by an apprentice in Hong Kong.
When business declined for all tattooers in Hong Kong after the Korean and Vietnam wars, tattooers were working more and more with triads. Only a “大佬” or, “boss” could get tattooed then, and some of the main designs included dragons on the arms or back, or eagles on the chest. Now triads are tattooed less and less, similar to the yakuza in Japan. But when they do opt to get tattoos they are more likely to get them in mainland China where they are significantly cheaper.
Apart from gangsters, the most common people getting tattooed from the 70’s-90’s were construction workers and truck drivers. These developed their own kind of style which consisted of only an outline without any shading, often because they would run out of money. As long as you could tell what the design was supposed to be, it was good enough.
Hong Kong style is also compared to Japanese, particularly for full bodied work with backgrounds such as waves and clouds. This is largely due to Japanese tattooers visiting Hong Kong, and vice versa. For example, James’ son, Jimmy Ho was visited numerous times by Horiyoshi in the 1990’s. Jimmy then borrowed Japanese ideas of tattooing but made them his own.
Today, artists such as Marcus Yuen and Samantha Fung, both working out of 59 tattoo alongside other great artists, and Dave Ryo Lau working out of The Company Tattoo, are all keeping Hong Kong style tattoos alive by continuing to tattoo in the unique style. Marcus in particular works hard to keep Hong Kong style tattoos alive by also sharing information about the old legends, and many historic pictures on his Instagram account.
It’s that time of year again, so here are 10 pumpkin tattoos to satisfy your halloween tattoo needs. So why do we carve Jack’O’Lanterns anyway? You can thank the Irish! This practice originates with a legend called “Stingy Jack.”
According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.
Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”
As tattoos, most pumpkin pieces are bright and colourful, with a trend to old school or neo traditional styles, though black work and black and grey can also make for nice pieces. Often paired with other spooky things like bats, knives, haunted houses, etc. Pumpkins are a perfect piece for those who love halloween.
Tim Burton’s 1988 film, Beetlejuice, is as fun today as it was over 30 years ago. Featuring a great cast with Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, and the ghost with the most, Michael Keaton, Beetlejuice is a great spooky comedy for those who love the Halloween aesthetic, but not horror.
Along with being a hit cult movie, an animated show following Lydia and Beetlegeuse’s relationship was created, and ran for four seasons.
Beetlejuice was made on quite a moderate budget, but made $73 million at the box office, was the 10th highest grossing film of 1988, and even won an Oscar for best makeup.
The number “three” was very important in the film. To summon Beetlegeuse you must say his name three times, the Maitland’s say the word “home” three times to escape Beetlegeuse, they knock on the door three times to get into the afterlife, and when the family moves into the house, Delia wonders why there are only three sculptures.
As tattoos, fans continue to get Beetlegeuse portraits (both from the movie and cartoon), as well as tattoos of Barbara and Adam in their monster form, the sandworm, ghosts, the creepy house, and the Handbook for the Recently Deceased. The most popular styles appear to be old school, Neo-traditional, and black work, though realism and minimalism are also seen quite a bit.
John Carpenter’s “The Thing” is a favourite cult movie for many, despite its major flop when it first came out. The special effects are still what’s most loved and talked about with horror lovers today.
Special effects artist Rob Bottin was just 22 when he headed a team of 40 technicians, working on the film for seven weeks after previously working on The Fog with John Carpenter already.
One of the most famous scenes is the “chest chomp” where Dr. Copper tries to revive Norris by restarting his heart, with his arms in his chest. Bottin found a double arm amputee to film this scene so that they could attach prosthetics that could then be ripped off in a realistic a manner as possible.
Kurt Russell damn near blew himself up for real in that scene where he fights the “Palmer-Thing.” They used real dynamite in the filming of this scene and Kurt was unaware of how powerful the blast would be. John Carpenter kept the real shot in the film, so Kurt being thrown back and his surprise was genuine.
As a tattoo, various forms of metamorphosis are the most popular tattoos, particularly that creepy head. Fans of Kurt Russell have also immortalized his character. Realistic or old school styles also seem to be the most popular for those who want to have The Thing on them forever.
The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin in 1973 is one of the most well known horror movies to date. In part because of the supposed curse, and the fact that it was the first horror movie to be nominated for a best picture Oscar.
The Exorcist is based off of the book written by William Blatty, which is in turn based off of a real event involving the exorcism of a boy known through the pseudonym “Roland Doe.” Catholic priests performed an exorcism on the boy but had to stop when he broke free of his restraints, pulled a spring out of the bed, and cut one of the priests with it.
Many people believe the film to be cursed, including people who worked on the set. Many accidents happened, including a fire that destroyed what was supposed to be the MacNeil’s home before shooting started (Reagan’s room was untouched by the fire); Ellen Burstyn (Reagan’s mother) was injured in a scene when possessed Reagan throws her, and the scene was used in the film; the actors Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros both died while the film was in post production (both of their characters also die in the film); other actors also had family members die while the movie was being made; Linda Blair injured her back when the rigging broke during a possession scene, and she also received so many death threats from people who hated or were afraid of the movie that she needed hired body guards; the son of actress Mercedes McCambridge (the voice of Pazuzu) killed his wife and children before killing himself, and finally, many people believed the actual film itself was cursed and that playing it would invite demonic possession.
That classic scene where Father Merrin stands under the streetlamp was based on a series of René Magritte paintings, and was so well shot that it was made the movie poster (and is tattooed by many fans).
Other popular tattoos people get from the film include Reagan in her possessed form, Pazuzu, or a combination of any of these. Many people decide to get these tattoos in a realistic style, or old school or black work.
Chucky is one of the most recognizable horror icons, from the franchise “Child’s Play.” The creator Don Mancini was inspired by the cabbage patch doll craze of the 80’s and wanted to create a dark satire showing how marketing affects children negatively.
It took 11 different people to control the Chucky doll in the original films, as the majority of scenes used a real animatronic puppet rather than CGI. While Chucky was mainly animatronic, some scenes were also filmed using actor Ed Gale in costume, making the sets 30% bigger to make Chucky look regular sized. Some notable scenes with Ed Gale include any with fire. These shots would take 45 seconds to shoot so Ed would’t be injured by the fire, but he was injured when he was pulled up a fireplace and then accidentally dropped. Alex Vincent’s little sister was also used to film one scene as Chucky running down a hallway (probably because Ed looked too big and the animatronic couldn’t move well enough).
Chucky’s real name (Charles Lee Ray) is based on three real killers; Charles (Manson), Lee (Harvey Oswald), and (James Earl) Ray.
Tiffany is another favourite character in the franchise, making an appearance later in Bride of Chucky where Chucky’s old girlfriend ends up in the same situation as him, and resurrects him again. One of the most memorable scenes featuring the devilish pair is the doll sex scene where the two voice actors improvised dialogue and noises.
As tattoos, Chucky is the most popular character to be tattooed, usually as some sort of portrait mainly in either a realistic or old school style.
Mike Roberts is a tattoo artist working out of Grizzly Tattoo in Portland, Oregon. His style is mainly old school with a tendency towards darker imagery such as horror movie icons, weapons, and the undead, but you can catch him making more Japanese inspired pieces such as flowers and dragons as well.
Mike is the perfect artist to feature in October, as much of his work consists of the macabre; everything from wolves and spiders to medieval torture devices and undead warriors that give me strong Evil Dead and Army of Darkness vibes.
But don’t worry if you can’t make it to Mike in October, he’s tattooing spooky pieces all year round, doing both large scale pieces and one offs. Grizzly Tattoo is a must stop shop if you live in Portland or are passing through.