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: 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: Übler Friedrich

übler Friedrich is a Neo-traditional tattoo artist who works in Berlin, Giessen, and Vienna.

stag beetle on the hand

Knights helmet and flowers.

Incredibly detailed black and grey cat portrait with flowers.

Gorgeous candlestick piece.

He works mainly in colour, but also does brilliant blackwork and fantastic black and grey pieces.

Healed forearm pieces. Brilliant rose and a dagger through a heart.

Ruler of the sea, Poseidon!

Portrait/scenery piece featuring a waterscape scene.

Huge skull and octopus thigh piece.

His pieces are both realistic and traditional, making a perfect blend of the two.

Vicious looking spiked mace.

Mean looking hawk with skulls on the neck.

Badass Roman skull torso piece.

Arrows and knots on a thigh.

Übler is not shy about tattooing faces or heads, and gives people brilliant and visible pieces for the world to admire. He also does both small and large pieces, so don’t be shy about getting something big!

Healed knees! Painful looking chimp and a bat.

Bright blue octopus head piece.

Delicate bluebell face tattoo.

Absolutely terrifying demon on a forearm.

Currently (January 2019) his books are closed, but you can check out his Instagram @friedrichubler and send him an email when his books are open again!

Gorgeous flowers on Oli Sykes from Bring Me The Horizon.

Raven and castle thigh piece on the back of the leg.

Butterfly head piece.

Wicked bear head chest piece done in only two sessions.

Artist of the Month: Shige

Shige works out of Yellow Blaze Tattoo Studio in Yokohama, Japan.

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Beautiful back piece that leads into a sleeve as well as legs.
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Very bright sleeve.
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Full leg sleeve.
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Rib panel that attaches to a back piece.

He has been tattooing since 1995, after teaching himself the craft.

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Brilliant bodysuit.
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Full samurai back piece.
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3/4 sleeve with a Buddhist goddess, Benzaiten.
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Hannya torso piece.

He tattoos in the Japanese style, while adding some realism to his pieces, making a lot of his work neo-Japanese.

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Full sleeve that also contains some coverups.
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Hannya back piece.
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Hannya chest piece.
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Full body suit with lots of colour.

Shige does large pieces including full sleeves, leg sleeves, back pieces, chest, and body suits.

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Half hannya torso piece mixed with tribal in a collaborative piece.
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Almost full bodysuit with lots of natural imagery.
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Tiger on top of the head.
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Fudo Myoo on the back of the head.

Much of Shige’s work revolves around Buddhism, including demons and gods and goddesses.

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Bright full sleeve.
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Sleeve topped with a raven.
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Bright red hand piece of Agyou.

Shige is a must see artist in Japan.

Raven Tattoos

Ravens make for a bold tattoo. They are often linked to death and mystic symbolism in more ancient literature and folklore.

Alessandro Micci
Raven and Japanese hannya mask done by Alessandro Micci.
Cedric Weber
Neo traditional raven and hand by Cedric Weber.
Hans Heggum
stomach raven done by Hans Heggum.
Pari Corbitt
Dark chest raven done by Pari Corbitt.
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Edgar Allan Poe and raven done by Debora Cherrys.

Many cultures believed that the raven had magical qualities including knowing the answers to powerful secrets.

Akos
Neo traditional raven paired with a tiger and a skull. Done by Akos at Adorned Empire.
Bryan Nirvana Tattoo Studio in Glasgow, Scotland
Treehouse of horror Bart Simpson raven done by Bryan at Nirvana Tattoo Studio in Glasgow, Scotland.
Heath Clifford
Two headed raven done by Heath Clifford.
Mitchell Allenden
Raven in a noose done by Mitchell Allenden.

Ravens can also be associated with wisdom and intelligence as they are extremely smart birds, capable of even mimicking human voices.

Andre Cast
Head raven done by Andre Cast.
David Le Goon
Raven paired with bright flowers done by David Le Goon.
Jason James Smith
Raven with geometric border done by Jason James Smith.
Oshin Timoshin
More delicate dotwork raven and flowers done by Oshin Timoshin.

Ravens can be a symbol of protection, pagan magic, the future, secrets, an omen of death, light/shadow, war, intelligence, and pain.

Andrew Borisuk
Huge torso raven done by Andrew Borisuk.
Dino Nemec
Black and white ravens done by Dino Nemec.
Laura Yahna
Heavy blackwork and pagan raven done by Laura Yahna.
Robert Borbas
Bold mastectomy coverup raven done by Robert Borbas.

Mythologies and religions associated with the raven include Norse, Greek, Roman, Native American, Celtic, Muslim, Christian, and Pagan.

Canijo Marciano
Heavy blackwork and stylized raven done by Canijo Marciano.
Dmitriy Tkach
Sketchwork raven done by Dmitriy Tkach.
Mariñe Perez.
Native American styled raven done by Mariñe Perez.
Scott Move
Raven head done by Scott Move.

As a tattoo, ravens are often done as blackwork pieces, neo traditional, or realistically. They can also be designed with a third eye.

Bruno Santos
Two headed raven done by Bruno Santos.
Drew Shallis
Raven and peaches paired with a red sun done by Drew Shallis.
Mark Halbstark
Horror raven done by Mark Halbstark.
Susanne Konig
Raven with moonlit design within done by Susanne Konig.

Which is your favourite?

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: Paul Acker

Paul Acker has been described many times as the master of horror when it comes to tattooing. He specializes in realistic horror themed tattoos, and does an amazing job of it.He owns The Séance Tattoo Parlour in Bensalem, PA.

Paul has been tattooing since December of 2000. As a kid he loved Tales from the Crypt and fangoria, which developed into a love of horror as he grew up. When doing his horror themed work, he focuses on the lighting within the tattoo, much like an actual horror movie does, to give the piece depth and contrast. Here are some of my favorites of his.

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Mad Max remake
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Christian Bale’s American Psycho
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Stephen King’s It
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Michael Meyers and his home, from Halloween
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Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs
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Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th
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Bloody wolf
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Decaying zombie
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Frankensteins monster looking as sad as ever
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The Evil Dead 2013 remake
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Jaws
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Edgar Allen Poe with raven and black cat
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Iconic Marilyn Manson
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Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street
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Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family
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Angry little Gollum from Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings

Paul Acker only does tattoos that he is interested in doing. Better make sure you want something cool so you can get a brilliant piece from him!