Tattoo History 17: Shanghai Kate

Kate Hellenbrand AKA “Shanghai Kate” AKA “America’s Tattoo Godmother” got started as one of America’s most well known female tattooers in the early 1970’s, and still tattoos now (though she is semi retired). She works out of Holy Work Tattoo in Austin, Texas, and works tattoo conventions with her husband.

Classic rattlesnake
1970’s flash

Kate has worked alongside some of the greatest American tattoo icons of the 1900’s including Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, Jack Rudy, and Ed hardy, and was also good friends with the late Lyle Tuttle. 

Classic pinup
Black cat and 13 for Friday the 13th

Kate has a background in art and became interested in tattooing when she lived in New York with her partner Michael Malone at a time when tattooing was actually illegal in the city. The two worked out of an apartment and would hand out business cards to anyone they came across who had a visible tattoo. Tattooing was difficult at the time, and they even had to make machines using parts bought at bike shops, or pretend to be nursing students to acquire medical equipment.

Crossed pistols and desert themed florals
1970 Jack Grice, Kate, Thom Devita, Sailor Sid

In 1972 Kate was invited to be one of the seven tattooers at what was the first international tattoo convention in Hawaii that was hosted by Sailor Jerry. This group was called “The Council of the Seven.” This lasted around one week, but when the other tattooers left, Kate stayed behind to work with Jerry for a number of weeks. Sailor Jerry was notoriously protective of tattoo culture and disliked most newcomers to the industry particularly women, but Kate seemed to be an exception and was welcomed wholeheartedly and taught a lot.

Bright and bold dragon
Fortune Teller

As well as still occasionally tattooing, Kate also sells tattoo memorabilia including old flash from the greats, tattoo books, and also gives talks at tattoo conventions around the US. 

Kate’s signature added to an old back piece by Sailor Jerry
Kate tattooing that same signature

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Artist of the Month: Duan Tattooer

Duan Tattooer is an artist at and the owner of Sick Rose Tattoo Parlour in Shanghai, working alongside great artists in the shop like Kai who tattooed me.

Woman and dragon
Monkey King

Duan specializes in American traditional and single needle styles, seamlessly blending old school American and Asian motifs.

Traditional woman portrait
Knee ditch webs

Whether you’re looking for bright and bold colours, black and grey, or heavy black traditional work, Duan can take care of all your needs. 

Black trad horse
Matching hands

If you check out their Instagram linked above you’ll find plenty of flash to choose from, or you can check out the shop in person and find the perfect tattoo for you.

A classic rose
Super cool cat lady

Whether you’re in the market for a full sleeve or a small filler piece, Duan is a must visit artist in Shanghai for clean and bold tattoos.

Bright and colourful dragon
Fortune teller

Edited by Harrison R.

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Artist of the Month: Joel Mijker

Joel is an artist working out of Wild Rose Tattoo Co. in Calgary, Alberta.

A finished full sleeve.
A classic hand tat for mom.
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Classic demon.
A bold back of the head Japanese inspired skull.

Joel does mainly classic American traditional tattoos, as well as some more Japanese inspired pieces. He has plenty of flash to choose from, or you can bring an idea to him.

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Good luck horseshoe. This design used to usually be done with the horseshoe facing upright, to keep the luck in. But now people seem to get it upside down more and more, seeming to be a sign of making your own luck.
Gorgeous cross with great placement.
Beautiful flower, always classic.
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Black rose and Bert Grimm crying heart.

Joel does both colour pieces as well as blackwork or black and grey.

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Blackwork peony in more of a Japanese style.
Two great healed pieces. Love the fortune teller in particular.
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Twisty dragon, an American take on a Japanese design.
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Geometric vase and wrap around snake.
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Fortune teller lady head and Bert Grimm tiger head.

You can search him up on Instagram and see when he is doing walk-ins, or contact him and set up an appointment.

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Sleazy Mickey.
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Tough boxer and rose in blackwork style.
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Crowned Jesus blackwork piece.

Joel sticks to the classics, and does it well. He has crisp bold lines and solid shading, all within a readable trad piece.  He is a must visit artist if you’re in Calgary.

Winnipeg Artist 5: Shawn Beatty

Shawn Beatty is a tattoo artist working out of Soul Survivors Body Art in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Shawn is a talented artist who works in several styles; including American traditional, black and grey, realism, blackwork, new school, neo traditional, and some Japanese.

1
Disney’s Cinderella and quote.
2
Badass grim reaper.
3
Neo traditional flower and snake.
4
Black and grey surrealist death moth.
5
Black and grey realistic/neo traditional sleeve featuring a demonic version of V from v for vendetta, a bird, snake, and caged heart.
6
Black and grey neo traditional fortune teller and tarot card.
7
Black and grey compass with arrow and biblical quote.
8
Bright new school Sailor Moon piece.
9
Canadian Eddie from Iron Maiden!
10
Realistic black and grey tiger with skull and quote.
11
Japanese tiger and flower cover up.
12
Knight inspired armour full sleeve. Looks like the real deal!
13
Red crescent moon and skull.
14
Neo traditional leopard headdress piece.
15
Simpsons pig and donut, anti fascist piece!
16
Lego leg piece tearing through the skin.
17
David Bowie astronaut piece inspired by the song Heroes.

Shawn Beatty is a must see artist if you’re in Winnipeg!