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.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a place that has legalized cannabis for recreational use, then every day can be 4/20!
To go along with some awesome cannabis tattoos, here are some interesting cannabis facts. Did you know that despite China’s rigorous anti-drug policies (which includes cannabis) the earliest known uses of cannabis can be traced to 1250 BC, China? China is famous for having invented paper, and the earliest forms of paper were made from hemp. Along with using hemp for paper, building materials, and clothing, the seeds from cannabis plants were also eaten, and cannabis was used medicinally and also as the first known form of anesthetic (mixed with wine) in surgery in ancient China.
Scientists have found that certain cannabis compounds can stop the spread (not cure) of some aggressive forms of cancer, and it is also used medically for chemo patients who suffer from pain and nausea.
Since 2015, cannabis has become the fastest growing industry in the US and is set to surpass the organic food market. While in Canada monthly sales continue to sky rocket, currently topping at $185.9 million in sales in May 2020 alone.
As a tattoo, cannabis is often done with cartoon characters smoking joints, depictions of bongs, or solo bud and flower. What’s your preferred method of using cannabis?
Roblake is an artist specializing in black work designs with mainly old school motifs. Working out of Dead Slow in Brighton, Roblake also sells merchandise such as prints and clothing here.
Roblake has a very distinctive style, taking inspiration from old school flash while adding his own flare that includes detailed line work and sometimes soft and delicate shading inside of tough looking pieces.
He is particularly well known for his knife designs, whether they be a sharp singular switchblade, a row of daggers, or a knife through a skull.
Along with tattooing, Roblake has an extensive tattoo collection, and also does some clothing modelling.
If you’re in Brighton or passing through, Roblake is a must see artist, or, if you can’t visit, check out his online store.
The Sun Dancer tattoo is an easily recognizable American traditional design, first painted by Bert Grimm, a pioneer of American traditional tattooing who worked from around 1916-1970. An important part of Indigenous history and culture, the Sun Dance is a spiritual ceremony that was and is still very important to different groups, primarily to those of the plains cultures in America and Canada.
The ceremony is a gruelling but important one, primarily (though not entirely) performed by males. The dancer fasts, going without both food and drink for days at a time, while dancing around a sacred fire and traditional pole meant to represent the sun. Others drum and sing prayers while the dancer dances until exhausted.
As part of the ceremony, piercing and suspension is also common. This involves a leader piercing rods into the chest or back of the dancer, while they drag a bison head until the skin rips. Other variations involve horses pulling at the rods, or the dancer being suspended from the pole by the rods in their skin. This inspired modern suspension.
Often times the dancer would become delirious and hallucinate both from the physical and mental exertion, topped with dehydration and extreme hunger. Unfortunately the ceremony was banned in Canada in 1885 under the Indian Act, but the ban was dropped in 1951, though Indigenous people continue(d) to be treated unfairly. Today the Sun Dance is still performed by some communities.
One of the first examples of this ceremony being painted is Bert Grimm’s Sun Dancer flash and tattoo. The original painting depicts a girl dancing with her left knee raised, right hand holding a spear, with a shield depicting a bald eagle in her left hand. A red sun and traditional roses make up the background.
As the design was first made by a pioneer of American traditional tattooing, it is mainly tattooed today in the same style. Though people do take artistic liberties, sometimes including animals or other flowers, and even changing the subject of the tattoo. It is often done as a back tattoo, but can also be seen on arms and legs, usually as still large pieces, though through adaptation artists have created smaller pieces as well.
Peaky Blinders is the incredibly popular British tv show following a gang called “The Peaky Blinders” in mainly Birmingham, immediately following the First World War.
Every episode is written by Steven Knight, and is loosely based on both historical gangs in England, and a story the writers father used to tell him about his grandfather having him deliver notes to his uncles, the Sheldons, who became the shows “Shelbys.”
The history of the “real” peaky blinders differs from place to place, with some sources saying they died out by the 1890s. While they weren’t the ruling gang in Birmingham by the end of World War I, it looks like they probably still existed, even though the bigger “Birmingham Boys” became the top dogs by 1910. Peaky Blinders also eventually became a term to describe all gangs coming out of the Birmingham area. In both the show and real life, the gang is made up of mainly young unemployed men, looking to gain power and money through robbery, violence, and controlling both legal and illegal gambling. In the show many of the men also fought in World War I.
The name Peaky Blinders comes from the clothes worn by both the real and fictional gangsters. Their signature style includes tailored jackets, overcoats, waistcoats, silk scarves, bell-bottom trousers, and “peaked” caps. In the show, the gang is famous for sewing razorblades into their caps as their signature weapon, but realistically these blades wouldn’t have been affordable at the time and weren’t used until around 1890, when the Peaky Blinders started to lose power.
Many people are drawn to the show for its style, and that translates into the tattoos we see being made. Most Peaky Blinders tattoos are done in a classic traditional style, keeping it bold and classy, just like the show. Other styles include neo traditional, black work, and realism. Most of the tattoos I found are of Tommy, but the other Shelby brothers also make fine pieces.
Mathew is a tattooer at Rebel Waltz Tattoos in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Mathew does crisp American traditional tattoos the way they were meant to be made. Bold as hell!
If you take a look through Mathew’s work, either online or in person, you’ll see he really does the classics. His Instagram is full of eagles, pinups, sailors and pirates, skulls, snakes, and more.
If you’re looking for a bit of a Japanese twist to an American style, Mathew is also your guy. He’s done both dragon heads and full bodied dragons, and Japanese flowers.
Mathew mentored under Don Ritson, the owner of Rebel Waltz, and you can certainly see Don’s influence in Mathews work. Both artists stick to a very traditional colour palette of mainly black, red, some green, and small amounts of yellow to make pieces pop.
Check out his work on Instagram @mathew.machado where you’ll find his email for making appointments. You can also watch Rebel Waltz’ Instagram to see when Mathew and the other artists there are doing walk-ins.
Jacob Doney is the owner of Envision Tattoo Studio in Grand Terrace, California.
Jacob tattoos in American traditional style with popping colours and lines that are bold as hell.
Though his main style is American traditional, he will make tattoos with a more Neo-traditional look as well. That being said, his themes are strongly American traditional, taking inspiration from old school motifs and keeping the true spirit of a traditional tattoo alive.
Jacob does both large and small pieces; everything from gap fillers to massive back pieces.
His line work is crisp and clean and his colours are mainly classic traditional, black, red, green, and yellow.
If you want to reach Jacob you can find his instagram @jacobdoneytattoo
Make sure to reach out well in advance if you’re going to be in California and get yourself something cool!
Plague doctors are commonly associated with the 14th Century epidemic, though there is no historical evidence to suggest that the grotesque healers had yet come into play.
The believed inventor of the plague doctor uniform is Charles de l’Orme, the chief physician to Louis VIII. He created it in 1619, and it was used for over 100 years. The terrifying suit was made to look like a bird, with a long leather beak, thick goggles, a black leather coat over top a lighter leather shirt, black goat skin boots, leather gloves, and a black top hat also made of leather to indicate that the wearer was a doctor.
Plague doctors would stuff the end of the beak with herbs and spices such as mint, cloves, garlic, and myrrh to battle the noxious smells coming from the plague victims. Sometimes these herbs were set aflame so that the smoke would also protect the doctor. The smoke would then trickle out of the beak, making the doctor appear even more demonic and reaper-like.
Along with the uniform, many plague doctors would carry a long staff used for examining patients, as well as beating back some of the more aggressive ones. Some patients also believed they had been given the plague by God as some sort of punishment, and thus would occasionally ask the doctor to beat them with their canes as a form of repentance.
This suit was created because it was believed that the bubonic plague was spread through “foul air”, though in fact we now know that the plague was really spread through sharing bodily fluids, as well as pests such as rats and fleas.
The suit would have helped to protect the wearer from the plague to some degree, but not enough to stop the doctors from contracting the deadly sickness. This was in part due to air holes at the end of the beak, where bodily fluids such as blood and pus would enter when the doctor would perform bloodletting and lancing on the unfortunate victims (bursting the large pus-filled cysts).
Because the majority of these doctors were inexperienced or even completely unqualified, the treatments were often cruel and unusual, performed with no scientific or medical reasoning. Treatments included the fore mentioned bloodletting and lancing, covering the open and festering cysts with human excrement, and even pouring hot mercury on the cysts and then putting the patient into a large oven to burn the cysts off. These methods often just accelerated an already painful death.
As a tattoo, plague doctors are often done in a heavy black work style (due to the nature of the uniform). They are also popular in realism, American traditional, neo traditional, and black and grey.
übler Friedrich is a Neo-traditional tattoo artist who works in Berlin, Giessen, and Vienna.
He works mainly in colour, but also does brilliant blackwork and fantastic black and grey pieces.
His pieces are both realistic and traditional, making a perfect blend of the two.
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!
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!