Artist of the Month: Mike Roberts

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.

Wolf head and skull/drinking horn
Plague Doctor (fitting for the times)

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.

Gory devil stomach piece
Mouth of Sauron for all you Tolkien nerds

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.

Crow and roses
Awesome medieval looking dragon on the ribs

What’s your favourite horror movie?

Bloody knight
Bloody guillotine
‘Tis but a scratch! Monty Python piece
centipede and spider both done by Mike

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The Crow Tattoos:

The Crow, directed by Alex Proyas and starring Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee), is most famous for the unfortunate death of Brandon on set. The film is based on the comic books written by James O’Barr in the 1980’s which in turn were based on two real life tragedies. James’ fiancee had been killed by a drunk driver and this was one way he tried to cope with the loss. The other tragedy was something he had heard about: an engaged couple murdered over the ring. These two events helped him think of the plot for The Crow, “That became the beginning of the focal point, and the idea that there could be a love so strong that it could transcend death, that it could refuse death, and this soul would not rest until it could set things right.”

Brandon Lee as Eric Draven done by Paul Acker at Seance Tattoo
Quote and graveyard done by Chemzz 182 Tattoo

Brandon Lee died during a freak accident on set when his character, Eric Draven, was shot by Michael Massee’s character, Funboy. Michael fired the prop gun which had earlier been loaded with dummy cartridges filled with real brass caps (for the shot), bullet, but no powder. After filming the initial scene with the gun, the props master fired it to get the cock off, which in turn knocked the prop bullet into the barrel of the gun. It was next used by Michael Massee on set during a scene where he was meant to shoot Brandon as he entered the room. Fake shootings usually contain extra gun powder to make it extra loud and authentic, but with nothing in the barrel. Since the fake bullet had become lodged in the barrel earlier in filming, it was fired at Brandon much like a real gun, killing him on set.

Realistic black and grey sleeve done by Manuel Clementoni
Dark portrait done by Matthew Murray at Black Veil Tattoo in Salem

According to Michael Massee, 12 years after the accident he still had nightmares about accidentally shooting Brandon. People interested in “cursed” films often refer to The Crow, and the Lee family curse, as Brandon’s famous father, Bruce, also died due to “mysterious circumstances.”

A more old school portrait done by Nae Pier Nebula
Half sleeve done by Carlos Freeze Gonzalez Ferrer

The makeup used for Eric Draven is loved by all who watch the movie, and it was apparently inspired by a marionette mask that James saw painted on a theatre in London.  “I thought it’d be interesting to have this painful face with a smile forcibly drawn on.” It reportedly took between 35 minutes and up to an hour and a half to get the makeup right each day on set. Another set fact is despite the title being “The Crow”, no crows were used in the filming of the movie, but ravens instead. The ravens had to be trained to fly at night, in rain, through a wind tunnel, and one had to be specially trained to sit on Brandon’s shoulder.

Quote and portrait done by Eric Hex
A brighter take done by Anna Gabrielle

As tattoos, most fans of the movie opt to getting some sort of portrait of Brandon, as well as quotes from the movie or comic, and sometimes depictions from the comic, as well as crows or ravens.

A trash polka portrait done by Paul Talbot
Bloody quote and portrait done by Monikyna Tattoo

Do you prefer the comic or the movie?

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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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Artist of the Month: Max Rathbone (edited)

A number of people have brought to my attention that Max Rathbone has a large number of sexual assault and abuse allegations against him. Whether they are true or not is not for me to decide, but the number of women making claims against him is outstanding. Hence I have deleted photos of his work and will not be including him in future articles.

If you or someone you know has been abused by a tattoo artist, please say something. It’s an industry that unfortunately all too often allows men to prey on innocent people that are in a vulnerable position.

Artist of the month: Gakkin

Gakkin is a (mainly) blackwork and freehand artist working out of Amsterdam after first working in Kyoto.

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Blackwork raven across the back of the neck.
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Large octopus sleeve and chest piece.
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Bodysuit featuring birds, flowers, wind, and clouds.
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Huge snake torso piece.

His pieces are all large scale. Full sleeves, large torso pieces, back pieces, and bodysuits.

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Gruesome namakubi (severed head), with hair that flows into an almost cloudlike state.
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Massive crane back piece with clouds, waves, and koi.
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Negative space stomach hannya as part of a full bodysuit of mainly solid black.
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Red flowers on heavy black leg sleeve, with white spider web.

He collaborates often now with another Japanese blackwork artist, Nissaco. The two work well together, and their pieces flow seamlessly into each other.

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Bright flowers within a dark backdrop.
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Chrysanthemum with Japanese noh mask.
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Back of a bodysuit featuring negative space geometric designs.
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Beautiful blackwork moon and cloud back piece.

His work is largely inspired by nature. Everything from wind, water, flowers, mountains, the sun, and the moon, and animals.

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Large brushstroke style.
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Geometric, blackwork sleeve.
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Large chrysanthemum as part of a sleeve.

Gakkin also takes direct inspiration from ancient Japanese painters, adding his own interpretations.

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Waves and wind in these nature sleeves.
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Part of a bodysuit featuring wind and waves.
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Bright red flowers on heavy black.

Though he mainly works with black, he does also add splashes of red to draw the eye. In an interview with Tattoo Life, he said about working with black “I believe that black is the most important color in tattooing. Every ancient tattooing culture – Maori, Japanese, and Polynesian – considers it as such. It just works better than any other color on the skin.” (www.tattoolife.com)

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kuchisake-onna ghost, from stories dating back to the Edo period.
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Tsuchigumo, the Japanese spider demon.
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Collaboration piece done with Nissaco at the London tattoo convention 2017.

Which piece is your favourite?

Artist of the Month: Oscar Hove

Oscar Hove is co-owner of Ondo Tattoo in Barcelona, Spain. His work is mainly surreal Japanese blackwork, mixing traditional Japanese themes with macabre surrealist work.

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Matching feet. Stylized noh mask with horns.
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Noh mask on snake body.
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Split mask down the middle.

A great deal of his pieces are Japanese masks, split in half, or more, and making them terrifying.

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Five split noh masks with horns in brilliant chest piece.
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Horned mask with facemask common in Asian countries, with kanji lettering.
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Brilliant blackwork Japanese oni backpiece.
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Detached jaw noh/hannya inspired mask.
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Beautifully dark mask and peony flower.

Other than Japanese inspired work, Oscar also does some neo traditional, and American traditional blackwork.

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Blackwork bird and skull on thigh.
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Traditional blackwork butterflies.

While his styles vary every once in awhile, his work is all dark both in colour and theme.

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Mask split down the middle by Japanese knife.
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Terrifying split hannya mask.
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Yokai inspired rotting face.
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Split hannya on stomach, releasing inner monster.
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Matching hannya and noh masks with kanji lettering.

Oscar is a must visit artist if you find yourself in Barcelona!

Artist of the Month: Clemens Hahn

Clemens is an artist working out of Electric Circus Classic Tattooing in Mannheim, Germany. Clemens specializes in neo traditional, traditional, and blackwork, with some Japanese thrown into the mix. Clemens does fantastic work using timeless designs mixed with new techniques and styles. He doesn’t shy away from tough designs or locations including full sleeves, bellies, ribs, back pieces, and even hands and faces for those whose lifestyles can afford them.

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Hardcore full frontal blackwork traditional panther head and webbing with matching black and grey sleeves.
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Matching chest heads, dagger through a heart, and angry bear head in rad neo trad.
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Elephant head inspired by deities.
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American traditional classic of an eagle fighting a snake, sun and moon not by Clemens.
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Japanese backpiece with oni and namakubi in a neo Japanese style.
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Full blackwork backpiece inspired by the beauty of death with crow and matching coffins.
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Half backpiece in Japanese black and grey featuring a tiger, peony, and cloud background. with a matching sleeve.
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Whole bunch of job stoppers! Beautiful hand and neck pieces including traditional and blackwork.
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Crazy throat peony.
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Neo Japanese tiger head neck tattoo.
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American traditional eagle on the back of the neck/head.
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Crazy elephant inspired piece.
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Brilliant neo traditional fox and bear in a tender spot.
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Tasteful face piece. Blackwork nails in a bleeding heart.
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Blackwork traditional Native American lady head.
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Matching back of the knees traditional mandalas.
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Neo traditional Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad wolf.

If you’re in Germany Clemens Hahn is a must see artist!

Artist of the Month: Sergey Vaskevich

Sergey Vaskevich is a tattoo artist from Minsk, working out of Good Sign Tattoo. His work is dark traditional and neo-traditional. His work is dark both in colour, and in imagery. Often featuring devils, demons, ghosts,and occult designs, along with the occasional fetish piece.

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Horrifying bat head.

He has a fantastic imagination, combining often mundane designs with a fantastic mix of death and horror.

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Devil head and mountain range.
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Vampiric looking ladyhead with her own great snake tattoo.
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Knee mandala
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Wicked throat piece of a fiery candle.
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Beautiful harp.
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NSFW fetish/torture piece.
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Spooky occult piece featuring a demon hand making shadows.
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Classic wolf head.
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Fiery bold torch.
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Well and ghost.
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Classic bear head.
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Banging elbow spider.
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Fantastic demon head eating a naked woman.
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Severed ladyhead with moon and crow.

Which piece is your favorite?

Winnipeg Artists 1: Carly Montgomery

Carly Montgomery is a Winnipeg tattoo artist who works out of First String Tattoo. Carly has fantastic attention to detail, doing both colour and black and grey work, as well as fantastic script.

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Fun lazy sloth with script
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Hedwig and Hogwarts for Harry Potter fans
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Partially finished Japanese koi leg piece
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Bright and colourful peacock
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Wrapping crow
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Deaths hand moth and tree

Carly has done a number of my own tattoos, including these.

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Black and grey chest piece. Anchor, rose, and heart.
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Calf knight, bat wings, and tree.
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Carl from Pixar’s UP.
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Harry Potter quote and Deathly Hallows mark.

Be sure to check Carly out if you’re going to be in Winnipeg!