Winnipeg Artist 14: Bram Adey

Bram Adey is arguably one of the most sought after tattoo artists in Winnipeg. Bram worked at the popular Rebel Waltz Tattoo for nine years, but as of August 2020 will be at Main Street Tattoo Collective.

Beautiful bird and flowers.

Bram takes inspiration from all things in nature, particularly animals. His birds and flowers are some of the most beautiful pieces you can get from him, among many others.

Matching swallows. Rose by Le Slyvie in Nelson B.C and wolf by Benny Hanya.

Bram does both machine work and hand poke pieces, and does dot work and delicate black and grey.

Beautiful nature inspired back piece.

Much of his work is also inspired by American traditional and Japanese styles, but done in black and grey with more realistic elements.

Matching dot work geometric pieces.

Check out Bram’s Instagram linked above to see more and get his contact information.

Healed magpie on the arm.
Cute black and grey bat.

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Artist of the Month: Duncan X

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.

Bold anchor and rope.
Lock and chain.

He is one of the most popular artists in London, and he works out of Old Habits Tattoo shop.

Filler rib piece.
Lines and lines on a portrait tattoo.

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.

Black work castle.
Full sleeve done by Duncan X.

While Duncan uses mainly old school motifs for his source of inspiration, his style resembles medieval wood carvings and is distinctly working class.

Foxes on feet.
An evil and beautiful looking crow.

To learn more about Duncan and see his own tattoos watch David Penn’s short film here.

Another back done by Duncan X.
Torso in progress.

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The Lord of the Rings Tattoos:

The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R Tolkien is one of (if not the) most iconic fantasy stories ever written. The story was written as a sequel to another novel of his, The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings was written in stages between 1937 and 1949.

Jesse Rix
Magnificent realistic back piece featuring Gandalf, Gollum, the ring, and the eye of Sauron. Done by Jesse Rix in Keene, NH.
Ben Kaye Tattooer & part owner of Ship Shape tattoo, New Zealand
Hyper realistic portrait of Gimli done by Ben Kaye at Ship Shape Tattoo in New Zealand.
Heath Clifford
Solid neo traditional hobbit hole done by Heath Clifford at Fat Ink Tattoo.
Kristian Kimonides Tattooist | Leviathan Tattoo Gallery | Melbourne | Australia
Elrond portrait done by Kristian Kimonides at Leviathan Tattoo Gallery in Melbourne, Australia.
Onnie O'Leary
American traditional Witch King done by Onnie O’Leary.

Tolkien fought in WW1, and this was extremely influential in his shaping of Middle Earth. As an example, WW1 was fought not by heroes, but by civilians. This reflects the hobbits who are quite literally the “little people”, who then step up to fight a war that they had not asked to be a part of.

Fong Vang Tattoo Artist @Inkarnate Tattoos 2211 11th ave E, #120, north Saint Paul, Mn
Black and grey portrait of Aragorn, featuring Gimli and Legolas. Done by Fong Vang at Inkarnate Tattoos in North Saint Paul, Mn.
Carles Bonafe
Terrifying portrait of Gollum and his precious. Done by Carles Bonafe.
Iliya Astafiev Tattoo Artist. N.Chelny city, Russia
Terrifying and realistic portrait of a nazgul. Done by Iliya Astafiev Chelny city, Russia.
Lauren Gibler Tattooer & Permanent makeup artist at Inkeeper_s in canton OH
Broken shards of Narsil. Done by Lauren Gibler done in Canton OH.
Róbert A Borbás
Graphic black and grey sleeve featuring Gandalf fighting the balrog on the bridge of Kazan Dum. Done by Róbert A Borbás done at Rooklet Ink, Hungary.

The films were directed by Peter Jackson, starting with The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. They were filmed back to back on location in New Zealand, making for fantastic landscapes and scenery.

Alex Rattray Owner:Artist at Empire Ink EDINBURGH
Hyper realistic colour portraits of Sam, Frodo, and the ring. Done by Alex Rattray at Empire Ink in Edinburgh.
Cody Young Emerald Tattoo
A very green ent done by Cody Young at Emerald Tattoo.
Izhar Rott Owner of Manifacto Amsterdam Tattoos
Black and grey Gandalf amidst a geometric background done by Izhar Rott Owner of Manifacto Amsterdam Tattoos.
Lauren Melina
Blackwork Barad Dur (dark tower) done by Lauren Melina done in Perth, Australia.
Samantha I Love Mom Tattoo Studio in Dovercourt Village, Toronto
There and back again, inspiration taken from The Hobbit book cover. Done by Samantha at I love Mom Tattoo Studio in Dovercourt Village, Toronto.

Some of the most popular characters include Gandalf, Frodo, Gimli, Legolas, Gollum (Smeagol), Sam, Aragorn, Elrond, Saruman, Witch king, and Sauron. Fantastic creatures include the ents, the balrog, and the nazgul. Popular items include the swords sting, and the shards of Narsil, as well as the Witch King’s flail, and quaint hobbit holes. Of course we also can’t forget the ring itself, which makes a stellar tattoo, especially when paired with a portrait.

Alexandra Skarsgård
Sting and flowers done by Alexandra Skarsgård in London.
Dan Mawdsley Pop Culture Tattoos in Melbourne✖️The Black Mark Tattoo Northcote
Black and grey Gandalf portrait done by Dan Mawdsley at Pop Culture Tattoos in Melbourne, Australia.
Jerome Chapman
Linework version of an ent. Done by Jerome Chapman.
Maksims Zotovs
Hyper realistic Gollum done by Maksims Zotovs.
Tony Sklepic Pop culture inspired tattoos and artwork. EDMONTON ALBERTA
Hyper realistic matching portraits of Saruman (and the eye of Sauron) and Gandalf. Done by Tony Sklepic done in Edmonton, Alberta.

Lord of the Rings tattoos are often done in a photo realistic or hyper realistic style, as well as black and grey, dotwork, linework, American traditional, and neo traditional.

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Black and grey Legolas done by Khail Tattooer at Young bloods Tattoo in Perth, Australia.
Dave Swambo
Witch King hand and Morgul blade done by Dave Swambo at Stronghold Tattoo in Cardiff, Wales.
Jess White
Bright and bold hobbit hole done by Jess White in Sacramento, CA.
Nick imms Fumbling through life. Owner of @thechurchtattoo ☦️
Gorgeous portrait of Frodo and the ring done by Nick Imms at the Church Tattoo.
Travis Stanley Ink City Tattoo Bonney Lake, WA Capitol City
American traditional Witch King and flail. Done by Travis Stanley at Ink City Tattoo in Bonney Lake, WA Capitol City.

Which do you prefer, the books, or the films?

Geisha Tattoos:

The geisha, or, “person of accomplishment” date back to 1751 in the mid-Tokugawa period in Japan. Geisha’s were originally men, but eventually became women.

geisha Ami James
Deep in thought by Ami James.

Geisha’s were trained artists skilled in tea ceremony, flower arranging, and as singers, dancers, storytellers, servers, and conversationalists. These women were all literate and were familiar with poetry and tales of warriors in order to entertain their patrons. Geisha’s were not prostitutes, but worked in the pleasure districts, also called “the floating world” and while not they were not sex workers, some did become concubines or mistresses for men who would buy their contracts from their masters.

geisha Andrew Mcnally at Northside Private Rooms in Newcastle
Black and grey neo Japanese geisha with cherry blossoms by Andrew Mcnally at Northside Private Rooms in Newcastle, UK.
geisha Anna Yershova
Realistic side/stomach piece with cherry blossoms by Anna Yershova.
geisha Asakusa Horiyasu
Brilliant Japanese back piece by Horiyasu.

Geisha’s are known for their musical prowess, particularly with an instrument called samisen, which today is also used in kabuki plays and has an inherently “Japanese” sound. As for appearance, while working a geisha would wear a kimono tied from the back, which is another difference between a geisha and a prostitute as a prostitute would have her kimono tied in the front. A thick white foundation of makeup is applied to the face, neck, and upper chest, with a line around the hairline creating a mask like appearance. Other makeup includes black around the eyes and eyebrows with bright red lips.

geisha Daniel Gensch
Fantastic neo traditional neck piece also with cherry blossoms, by Daniel Gensch in Berlin, Germany.
geisha Emily Rose Murray
A more Westernized neo traditional geisha by Emily Rose Murray in Melbourne, Australia.
geisha Gakkin
Blackwork Japanese piece of a sly looking geisha by Gakkin in Amsterdam.
geisha Horihana in Brasil
Another traditional Japanese back piece with cherry blossoms, skeleton, and Buddhist imagery by Horihana in Brazil.
Geisha Jarrad Serafino at The Sweet Life Tattoo in Melbourne
Dark American traditional geisha and flower by Jarrad Serafino at The Sweet Life Tattoo in Melbourne, Australia.

Geisha’s still exist today, though due in part to the rigorous training in order to become one, are much less frequent. Today, geisha’s mainly entertain politicians at parties.

geisha Kevin Nocerino at Still Life Tattoo
Neo traditional namakubi or severed head geisha with peony by Kevin Nocerino at Still Life Tattoo.
geisha Mark Wosgerau
Realistic black and grey geisha by Mark Wosgerau at Sinners Inc in Denmark.
geisha Michael Litovkin
Bold mix of black and grey and colour in a realistic style by Michael Litovkin.
geisha Pavel Krim
Soft, colourful, realistic geisha by Pavel Krim in Stockholm.
Geisha Reuben Todd at Kapala tattoo in Winnipeg
American traditional black and red work by Reuben Todd at Kapala Tattoo in Winnipeg.

As a tattoo a geisha will generally be done in Japanese traditional style, neo Japanese, American traditional, neo traditional, black and grey, or realism.

geisha Shon Lindauer in Hollywood
American traditional work by Shon Lindauer in Hollywood.
geisha Thomas Pineiro at Black Garden Tattoo in the UK
Fantastic Japanese piece by Thomas Pineiro at Black Garden Tattoo in the UK.
geisha Tony Nilsson in Norway
Bold American traditional piece by Tony Nilsson in Norway.
geisha Victor Octaviano
Modern watercolor piece by Victor Octaviano in Brazil.
Geisha William Roos in Stockholm
tiny blackwork geisha and hannya by William Roos in Stockholm.
Geisha Zak Partak in Toronto
Geisha head and fan by Zak Partak in Toronto.

Geisha’s are an important part of Japanese history and make a fantastic design!

Tiger Tattoos:

Tiger’s make a fantastic design and can be done in many different styles including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, American traditional, neo traditional, black and grey, photo realism, dotwork, geometric style, and watercolor.

tiger Adam Guy Hays
Neo traditional scalp tiger done by Adam Guy Hays at Red Rock Tattoo.

Tiger tattoos can also carry many different meanings. When done in an Asian style a tiger represents strength, courage, long life, and are also meant to ward off evil spirits, bad luck, and even disease. When done in a more Western style such as American traditional, black and grey, realism, etc.. the tiger is tattooed for its beauty, power, and intensity.

tiger Adrian Bascur
Watercolor space tiger done by Adrian Bascur in Chile.
tiger Alex Gotza
Huge neo traditional three-eyed tiger head by Alex Gotza done at Dirty Roses Tattoo Studio.
tiger Brian Flores
Beautiful neo traditional tiger head by Brian Flores in Spain.
tiger Sandra Dauksh
Photo realistic tiger head with flowers done by Sandra Daukshta at Home of Tattoos in Latvia.
tiger Mikey Holmes
American traditional tiger fighting a snake done by Mikey Holmes at coast to Coast Tattoo in Charlotte NC.
tiger Stefan Johnsson
Another American traditional tiger fighting a snake done by Stefan Johnsson at California Electric Tattoo Parlor in California.

Tigers are one of the biggest predators in the world, and are a solitary creature, so are often seen as symbols of strength and resilience. Tiger tattoos are often done just as a head, but can also be done as a full body. Generally tiger heads are done in a more Western design, with a full body tiger being done in an Asian style, though both can be done in any style.

tiger Apro Lee Seoul
Korean style blackwork tiger done by Apro Lee in Seoul South Korea.
tiger Eli Ferguson Ichi Tattoo
Japanese tiger done by Eli Ferguson at Ichi Tattoo in Tokyo.
Tiger Sean Cushnie Kapala
Unfinished Japanese backpiece done by Sean Cushnie at Kapala Tattoo in Winnipeg.
tiger Jakob Holst Rasmussen
Realistic black and grey tiger head by Jakob Holst Rasmussen done in Aarhus, Denmark.
tiger Mark Ostein
Geometric dotwork tiger head done by Mark Ostein at Wozen Studio in Lisbon.
Tiger Matt Jordan, Ship Shape Tattoo New Zealand
Realistic full back piece with skulls done by Matt Jordan at Ship Shape Tattoo in New Zealand.

What is your favorite style for a tiger tattoo?

Tattoo History 5: Yakuza and Tattoos

The Yakuza are the main face of organized crime in Japan, and can be traced back to  two different groups samurai/ bandits as early as before the 1600’s. These outlaws were called Kabuki-mono, and wore fantastic costumes and carried long swords at their sides as they terrorized towns. These bandits had extreme loyalty to each other, as do the modern day Yakuza, swearing to protect each other even against their own parents, which was unheard of at this time. While the modern day Yakuza do identify with this aspect of the bandits, they really look back to these samurai’s enemies, the machi-yakko, or servants of the town. These townsmen formed groups to fight off these travelling samurai and defended their homes. These groups were made up of merchants, clerks, shopkeepers, homeless wanderers and stray samurai. These men quickly became folk heroes, seen as honourable outlaws.

ancient tattoo scene
Tattooed Tammeijirô Genshôgo, bare-chested, kneels on a fallen foe, a drawn sword in his hand.(from mid 1800’s)

These men were immortalized in stories and plays that are still popular today. These legends eventually passed down to another group of “chivalrous commoners and honourable outlaws”; Japan’s firemen, police detectives, leaders of labour gangs, sumo wrestlers, and members of Japan’s 18th century crime syndicates. These men formed the first groups of the Yakuza. Much like the Italian Mafia (as it is often compared to), the Yakuza formed families, with a father to child hierarchy.

yakuza family
Full Yakuza family portrait.

Like most cultures, criminals were often tattooed to distinguish them from proper citizens, but tattoos can be traced in Japan as far back as the 3rd century . In Japan, criminals started being tattooed in 1720 in order to identify, punish, and humiliate them. These tattoos were sometimes small lines on the arm,  or a black ring around the arm for each crime, or the more prominent forehead tattoo that was either the Chinese character for “dog” or the character for “evil”. After being tattooed, these criminals would be held for three days so that the tattoos would form properly under the skin and would be unable to pick them out of their skin. These people formed groups, and eventually created a subculture of tattooing, adding to their criminal tattoos, making their own art of defiant pride.

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Different arm tattoos for criminals. (taken from http://www.iromegane.com/japan/culture/history-of-japanese-tattoo/ )
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Criminal head tattoos (from http://www.iromegane.com/japan/culture/history-of-japanese-tattoo/ ) Top left: Inu (犬/ dog) Top right:lines each time they committed a crime Middle:lines on the forehead and the arm Bottom left:tattooed dots Bottom right: tattooed “x” meaning “bad”

Today when someone says Yakuza, people automatically think tattoo. By the late 17th century these tattoos moved away from simple lines or characters, to fluid pieces of flowers, gods, heroes, and animals, often creating full body pieces. Modern day full body pieces can take years to finish, and can cost upward of $50,000. Traditionally these tattoos or “irezumi” would be done with a bone or wood rod that has a cluster of tiny needles at the end. The rod would then be dipped in ink and jabbed repeatedly into the skin, which was very painful, and very slow. This method is still done today in Japan and other parts of the world, but most artists now use machines. Inks would be made by hand, mainly consisting of black, grey, red, and green. Though modern day Japanese tattoos are more colorful. Early red ink was actually toxic, so it would be a mark of strength and resilience to see how much they could endure.

yakuza backs
Full backs of Yakuza members.

Yakuza designs often feature flowers, dragons, tigers, namakubi, and folklore legends such as Chōbei Banzuiin and other warriors.

utagawa kuniyoshi
Chōbei Banzuiin woodblock print done by the famous Utagawa Kuniyoshi from 1845 in the Edo period.

A way to identify former Yakuza members other than their tattoos is if they are missing part of their pinkies. Members would have part of their pinky cut off if they did something wrong during their time, and many had it cut off if they wanted to leave the gang, though some ended off much worse.

kusters odo yakuza tokyo
Tattooed hands with part of a pinky cut off.

Today in Japan tattoos are becoming much more common and less associated with the Yakuza, with new members often even foregoing getting tattoos.

For more information on the Yakuza and on crime and punishment in Japan, read the books “Yakuza : Japan’s Criminal Underworld (1)” by Kaplan, David E., Dubro, Alec, and “Punishment and Power in the Making of Modern Japan” by Botsman, Daniel V.

Goddess Kali Tattoos:

Kali is a Hindu goddess often misconstrued as a goddess of death. While she does bring about the death of the ego and demons, she does not kill humans. She is the counterpart of the more violent deity Shiva the destroyer, both of whom are the destroyers of unreality. Kali is depicted as a woman with a garland of skulls or heads, and dismembered arms, because the ego arises out of identification with the body. She also is usually seen with black or dark blue skin, which symbolizes the womb of which all creation arises and into which all creation will eventually dissolve into. So she is often mistaken as a fearsome deity, she is actually a motherly figure.

As a tattoo Kali is often done in American traditional style, neo-traditional, black and grey, or realism.

kali-aaron-riddle
Neo-traditional Kali by Aaron Riddle at Black Lotus Tattooers in Phoenix, Arizona.
kali-andrew-strychnine
American traditional, less angry Kali by Andrew Strychnine at Redrum Tattoo Collective in Moscow.
kali-dan-molloy
Unfinished black and grey Kali back piece by Dan Molloy in Perth, Australia.
kali-joe-ellis
Mostly black Kali by Joe Ellis at Sacred Electric Custom Tattooing in Leeds, UK.
kali-natalya-litvinenko
Full colourful Kali back piece by Natalia Litvinenko.
kali-philip-yarnell
Dark American traditional Kali head by Philip Yarnell at Skynyard Tattoos, UK.
kali-steven-huie
Full bodied version of Kali by Steven Huie at Flyrite Tattoo.
kali-tom-caine
Another unfinished Kali back piece by Tom Caine at Holy mountain Tattoo, UK.
kali-andrew-fyfe-at-main-street-tattoo-collectivve
Full rib panel Kali head by Andrew Fyfe at Main Street Tattoo Collective in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
kali-lucy-at-into-you-tattoo-piercing
A much more motherly version of Kali by Lucy Pryor at Into You Tattoo & Piercing in London, UK.

Virgin Mary Tattoos:

In the Christian faith Mary is the mother of Jesus, also called mother of God.

In the story of Christmas Mary is visited by an angel and told she will give birth to the son of God.  Jesus is then born in a barn, amongst animals and wisemen. Throughout the bible Mary is constantly seen at her son’s side during his soteriological journey.

Images of Mary often show her praying, or mourning the death of Jesus, sometimes crying tears of blood. She is also often seen wearing blue, crown of 12 stars, pregnant, or surrounded by roses.

tumblr-david-drohan-at-kingdom-of-ink-uk
Crying black and grey Mary and angel by david Drohan at Kingdom of Ink in the UK.

Artists such as Michelangelo and Botticelli, and now, tattoo artists all around the world.

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Neo traditional Mary in mourning by Jacob Gardner from Australia.

In tattoo form Mary is often done in black and grey realism, photo realism, American traditional, or neo traditional.

tumblr-chris-stuart-at-ace-custom-tattoo
Black traditional Mary on the back of a head, done by Chris Stuart at Ace Custom Tattoo.
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Full body black and grey Mary with roses and stars by James Armstrong at Holy Mountain Tattoo in the UK.
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Realistic black and grey praying Mary and Rosary by Seyer at Living Dreams Tattoo.
tumblr-tomas-sanches-pin%cc%83eiro
Realistic black and grey Mary and dove by Tomas Sanchez Pineiro.
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Black and grey Mary with script on the scalp by Nene.
tumblr-kayne-sherwood-at-flamin-eight-in-london
American traditional Mary with rose by Kanye Sherwood at Flamin’ Eight in London.
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Dark traditional Mary with Sacred Heart by Philip Yarnell at Skynyard Tattoos, UK.
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Full American traditional back piece of Mary with Christ by Zach Nelligan in Austin, Texas.

Which is your favorite?

Artist of the Month: Carlos Torres

Carlos Torres is a hyper realistic black and grey artist from San Pedro CA. He is almost entirely self taught with 18 years of experience behind him. He is a tattoo artist and a painter who specializes in realism and surrealism.

carlos-1
Angel riding horses in a full back piece.

His work is incredibly detailed and realistic. He creates brilliant original pieces. He has been to numerous tattoo conventions around the world and won the first place black and grey in London. His work has the feeling of a painting come to life, thanks to his experience with oil paintings.

carlos-4
Chest piece with skeleton, sword swallower, and fire breather.

Carlos has even done head and face tattoos, which can be daunting as it is extremely visible and will be one of the first things people see when looking at his clients.

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Surrealist face.
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Full face with a Mayan style.
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Full leg sleeve of warriors.
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Another brilliant (not quite finished) back piece.
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Lady head and tiger.
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Huge horse with surrealist design within.
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Huge motorcycle on the belly.
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Mayan temple style rib piece.
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Surrealist puppet master.
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Healed full torso piece with Victorian woman, ship, skulls, angels, and surrealist filler.

Which is your favorite piece by Carlos?