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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Cannabis Tattoos:

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place that has legalized cannabis for recreational use, then every day can be 4/20!

Matching front and back pieces by André Cruz
Cute matching bongs by Michael Scott Brooke

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.

A smoking bong by Edo Sent at Old Ways Tattoo
Delicate line work piece by Tina Mikhael at Rich Ink Tattoo

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.

Old school head piece by Gordie Farrell in Winnipeg
Cute Ted piece by Corey Walters

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.

Sideshow Bob, bud done by Jaumeveinticuatro
Cannabis leaf and bum by kinky_tattooer

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?

Cannabis leaf smoking a joint by volkovysktattoo
Weed wizard done by Matt Aldridge

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Artist of the Month: Roblake

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.

Sweet filler head piece.
Matching hands

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.

Beautiful nesting doll
Big one shot chest dragon

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.

Healed row of knives
Devil and lady

Along with tattooing, Roblake has an extensive tattoo collection, and also does some clothing modelling.

Burning cop car and getaway car
Healed forearm pieces

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.

Beautiful peonies
Big stomach piece

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Sun Dancer Tattoos:

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.

Sun Dancer with eagle and heads by Fabio Onorini.
Blackwork back done by Clemens Hahn.

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.

Sun Dancer true to Bert Grimm by Kim-Anh.
Backpiece true to Bert Grimm by Gustavo Silvano.

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.

Blackwork interpretation by Flurick Ruslan.
Cute foot Sun Dancer by Heath Arnolde.

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.

Sun Dancer with dragon in this piece by Florian Santus.
Big thigh Sun Dancer done by Nick Griffiths.

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.

Sun Dancer and dragon by Rich Hadley.
Skeletal Sun Dancer by Roger Oliveira.

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.

Punk interpretation in a painting by Miguel Neils.
A more neo traditional animal version of the Sun Dance by Robson Nagata.

To read more about the Sun Dance please check out https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/sun-dance

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Peaky Blinders Tattoos:

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.

Neo traditional Tommy portrait by Paula Canelejo
Tiny realistic portrait of Tommy by Dani Ginzburg

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.”

American traditional Tommy portrait and rose by Matthew Limbers
Shelby skull by Marcello Barros

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.

Blackwork Tommy by Valentina
American traditional Arthur done by Edo Sent

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.

American traditional Tommy and flower by Ju Lindien
Large realistic portrait of Tommy by Alexandr Ramm

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.

Neo traditional black and red Tommy and flowers done by Szofi
Black and grey John portrait done by Choc Inked

Who is your favourite character?

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Winnipeg Artist 13: Mathew Machado

Classic panther and snake going at it.
What’s a more classic elbow tattoo?

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!

A small, classic eagle.
“Working class” skull piece.

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.

An all black, classic Japanese/American dragon head.
Another classic old school piece. The Rock of Ages.

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.

A more Japanese styled chrysanthemum flower.
Crisp lines on this rose and cross.

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.

Skull butterfly for a small filler piece.

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.

Beautiful pirate lady portrait, done as quite a large thigh piece.

Artist of the Month: Jacob Doney

Jacob Doney is the owner of Envision Tattoo Studio in Grand Terrace, California.

bold dagger and rose with popping reds and yellow against a strong black
painful scorpion on the noggin

Jacob tattoos in American traditional style with popping colours and lines that are bold as hell.

pin-up girl
two way burning candle

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.

brilliant back piece featuring Jesus Christ

Jacob does both large and small pieces; everything from gap fillers to massive back pieces.

classic American eagle

His line work is crisp and clean and his colours are mainly classic traditional, black, red, green, and yellow.

mean looking snake head

If you want to reach Jacob you can find his instagram @jacobdoneytattoo

black and grey nautical chest piece

Make sure to reach out well in advance if you’re going to be in California and get yourself something cool!

bold anchor on the hand

Plague Doctor Tattoos:

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.

Black and grey plague doctor and rose done by Luke Wasser at Sink or Swim Tattoos, Aurora.

Neo traditional smoking doctor and coffin done by Michela Zanni at Skin Cake Tattoo.

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.

Muted colours in a neo traditional style done by Anderson Escaleira at Maza Tattoo.

Black work doctor with a candle done by Nate Kemr.

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.

American traditional doctor and flower done by Charlotte Louise at Lucky Cat Tattoo Parlour in Glasgow.

American traditional doctor and “memento more” done by Nicholas Chaney at Electric Chair Tattoo in South Wales.

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.

Gorgeous neo traditional half sleeve done by Francesco Garbuggino.

Hyper realistic doctor and cemetery done by Paul Vaughan at Rendition Tattoo Studio.

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.

Great contrast in the dark browns and blacks and red flowers. Done by Friedrich Uber.

Gruesome black and grey plague sleeve done by Róbert A Borbás.

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).

American traditional plague doctor done by Gordie at Rebel Waltz Tattoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

American traditional style smoking doctor and rat done by Shawn Beatty at Soul Survivor Body Art in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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.

Realistic black and grey doctor done by Jordan Croke at Second Skin Tattoo in Derby, UK.

Trash polka style doctor done in black and red by Thorant at The Scarlett Tattoo Studio in Bedford UK.

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.

Horrifying black work bird/doctor done by Merry Morgan at Northgate Tattoo in Bath, Somerset.

Colourful neo traditional piece done by Tim Stafford Violet Crown Tattoo in Austin Texas.

Which morbid piece is your favourite?

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.