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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gakkin is a (mainly) blackwork and freehand artist working out of Amsterdam after first working in Kyoto.
His pieces are all large scale. Full sleeves, large torso pieces, back pieces, and bodysuits.
He collaborates often now with another Japanese blackwork artist, Nissaco. The two work well together, and their pieces flow seamlessly into each other.
His work is largely inspired by nature. Everything from wind, water, flowers, mountains, the sun, and the moon, and animals.
Gakkin also takes direct inspiration from ancient Japanese painters, adding his own interpretations.
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)
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.
If you’re in Germany Clemens Hahn is a must see artist!
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.
He has a fantastic imagination, combining often mundane designs with a fantastic mix of death and horror.