The prettiest scars: My pick of Tattoo Artists in Ireland

August 9, 2012 at 11:43 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Now, following on from the point I already made about there being a wealth of great artists in this fair country, here is a few of my favourites, the ones who I personally think are doing some of the best work in their own particular styles right now. This list is by no means exhaustive, it’s just a few suggestions to check out.

Robert Witzcuk

Studio: Tat24you, Old Corn Market, Navan, Co. Meath

Best for: Photorealism, full colour, black and grey

I think this man has to be one of my favourite artists working in Ireland at the moment. Formerly of Snakebite in Dublin, he is now based out of Navan, but is most definitely worth the trip. He has done some truly spectacular black and grey pieces, particularly portraits, but is also known as a phenomenally skilled colourist, making him an excellent choice for any photorealistic piece you have in mind. Bear in mind though, he currently has a long waiting list, and gets booked up quite far in advance, as do most great artists. However, if you’re going to commit to a tattoo for the rest of your life, you may as well commit to waiting a few extra months for it.

 

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Portfolio:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robert-WitczukTattoo-Artist/116303365073462?sk=photos

Contact:

Web: https://www.facebook.com/tat24youMEATH

Phone: (046) 902 3846,

e-mail: tat24you.navan@gmail.com

 

Sean Kealy

Studio: Snakebite, 54 Middle Abbey St, Dublin 1

Best for: New School, Full Colour, Cartoon

Sean has been tattooing a relatively short time, but appears to be improving with every new piece he does. He seems to favour a new-school or cartoony style for most of his piece, and has proven himself to have a real talent with colour.

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Portfolio:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.470839025791.283666.354508960791&type=3

Contact:

Phone: (01) 874 0011

Email: snakebite@eircom.net

Website: http://www.snakebite.ie

 

Kris Barnas

Studio: Wildcat Stephen’s Green, Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, Dublin 2

Best for: Black and Grey

Kris has a fantastic portfolio of black and grey work, which is why I chose him for my own black and grey piece. A talented painter as well as tattoo artist, his skill at shading is remarkable.

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Portfolio:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.100894069922114.1916.100000045635655&type=3

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.342773652400820.88232.100000045635655&type=3

Contact:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Wildcat.Ink

Phone: +353-(0)1-4784273

Web: http://www.wildcat.ie/

 

Remis Cizauskas

Studio: Skin City, 60a South William st., Dublin 2

Best for: Photorealism, Full Colour, Black and Grey

Remis’ work is truly breathtaking. He has to be one of the best, if not the best portrait artist in Dublin (and the country). I’m lost for works to describe some of the work he has done to date. However, as before, expect a long waiting list.

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Portfolio:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.184965514862067.43224.100000458583862&type=3

Contact:

Website: http://www.remistattoo.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RemisTattoo

Phone: 085 142 0866

Email: skincitytattoodublin@yahoo.com

Website: http://www.skincitytattoodublin.com

 

Luke Martin

Studio: Blood Brothers Tattoo, Quinsborough road, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Best for: Old school

The guys at blood brothers have been doing some great work in the last few years in old school tattooing, and have found favour amongst many of dublin’s metal scene (and you can often spot their work at gigs). I’ve picked out Luke for his very traditional pieces, but I highly recommend also checking out Jim (his brother) and Nato in the same studio.

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Portfolio:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.164919506910259.38253.157419014326975&type=3

Contact:

Phone: 085 721 7895

Email: BloodBrothersTattoos@live.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blood-Brothers-Tattoos/157419014326975

 

 

Edel Walsh

Studio: Eden Art Tattoo, 8 JKL Street, Main street, Edenderry, Co. Offaly

Best for: Photorealism, Black and Grey

Edel has also only been tattooing for a short while, but her skills have come along leaps and bounds in that time, and she appears to be improving all the time. Some of her recent pieces are outstanding. Check out her album of pieces she wants to do for her portfolio for a good deal on some great tattoos!

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Portfolio:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.108220665917250.13584.100001879503019&type=3

Contact:

Phone: 0833959024
Email: eden.arttattoo@facebook.com

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/eden.arttattoo

 

Pawel Lewicki

Studio: Skin City Tattoo, 60a South William st., Dublin 2

Best for: photorealism, full colour

Famous for his fantasy style and imagery, Pawel’s work is full of fantastic bright colour and intricate detail. Definitely look him up if you’re interested in getting a large sweeping piece.

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Portfolio:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.472956029384471.127056.137305279616216&type=3

 

Angus Wall

Studio: AWOL Tattoo & Piercing, 2 Newtownsmith, Galway City

Best for: old school

With nearly 20 years experience tattooing, Angus definitely knows what he is doing. He opened AWOL along with his sister just over a year o

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Phil Cummins

Studio: The Antahkarana Alternative Arts & Holistic Healing Centre, West Cork

Best for: Traditional and Tribal

Phil is one of the champions of Traditional and tribal tattoo styles and techniques in this country. H?e often works freehand and utilises traditional hand techniques in his work. For true tribal style tattooing, he is the number one choice. While they may be quite a trek, the Antahkarana offers B&B for those travelling for tattooing or the other holistic healing practices they offer.

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Portfolio:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.157991280898155.32581.100000618534281&type=3

Contact:

Phone: 0876733042 | 0894792623

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theantahkarana

Website: http://www.theantahkarana.com/

   
 
   
   
 
   
 
   
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Without Pain there is no Beauty: My take on tattoos and tattooing

August 8, 2012 at 4:41 pm (Uncategorized) ()

I have always been fascinated by, and adored tattoos. Even as a small child, at a time when tattooing was the strictly the remit of sailors, bikers and convicts, and other true outsiders to society. I would stare intently whenever I saw someone with tattoos, and constantly cover myself with drawings and transfer tattoos. I always knew I would be tattooed when I grew up, although my ideas and desired coverage have changed repeatedly over the last 20 years, and do still to this day. It is for this reason, among others, that I am not currently more heavily tattooed. It takes me a very long time to settle on designs which will be with me forever. As well as that, I’m aware that tattoos develop with you over the course of your life (you really only ever get more, not less tattooed), and I’d like to continue to have space to get new, interesting (and probably quite big) pieces into old age, which require me to not cover up all my skin too soon.

 

Nowadays, tattoos are everywhere, on people from all walks of life. While this is great for the advancement of the industry, and as an artform, it is not always entrely a good thing. Year on year, whenver summer rolls around and more skin is on show, you see more and more tattoos, but you also see more and more bad tattoos. One of my biggest pet peeves is badly planned, or badly executed tattoos. I get physically uncomfortable looking at tattoos on the same part of a person’s body that don’t match or go together at all, but instead look like that might have been put on by a child with stickers, or scattered with a shotgun. Now, in some instances this is understandable, as the person in question got one small tattoo and then decided on a bigger/different piece nearby. For this reason, unless you’re absolutely sure you will only ever get that one small tattoo and no more, it’s a good idea to start big, or to plan out large spots of your body in advance. It’s a cliché, but tattooing can be very addictive once you’ve started, and as I said, you’re only ever going to get more tattooed as time goes on, not less. Badly planned & placed tattoos can interfere with and severely reduce your options later on, as laser removal is expensive, time consuming and has varying levels of success depending on the inks involved. A good artist with a good eye will be able to help you chose the best placement for a tattoo, be it to fit in with others, or fitting to the shape of your body (a factor which can affect how a tattoo looks an ages as much as the work itself!).

 

The same is true for tattoos which age badly, or turn out to be more regrettable than they seemed at first. It seems like obvious advice, but it so important to remember that this will be there forever. What seems like a great idea at 18 might not be so fantastic at 35, or 65, or 90. While it’s true that society’s view on tattoos are changing as they become more and more mainstream, especially since the first generation to truly embrace tattoo art outside of the underground are now hitting middle age, bringing their 20 and 30 year old ink with them, it is entirely possible that you could grow out of your tattoos, and someday want to be a “normal” grown up. While some people’s appreciation for body art is a lifelong passion, for others it is more tied to a fashion statement, and like all fashion, this trend will eventually die down. Unlike other fashions, however, the tattoos remain after the skinny jeans and plastic framed glasses have disappeared. This is even more likely as this heavily tattooed generation ages, and tattoos become associated with people’s parents and grandparents, instead of youthful rebellion. As well as that, in spite of changing opinion, there are still plenty of people who disapprove of tattoos for a variety of reasons, have negative connotations attached to tattoos, or simply don’t like how they look. And it’s important to remember that it’s entirely possible that one of these people will be deciding whether you get a job or not, or any number of other important decisions in your future. I’m by no means saying “don’t get tattooed”, or even “don’t get visible tattoos”, I’m merely advising that you think about the meaning of the word “permanent” before committing to obscene or offensive items on your hands or face ::)

 

The tattoos I first became infatuated with as a child would all fall into the category of what is now known as “old school”. These were simplistic, stylised images, usually consisting of thick black outlines and block colour, and usually using traditional images and symbols (roses, skulls, hearts, crosses, etc). In the past, the skills of the artist were often very limited by the technology available, and these images were the best it was possible to produce using traditional (often homemade) tattooing machines and very basic tattooing inks. While this style persists and into the current era, it is by no means the only option available any more. Nowadays, there are a variety of styles and techniques of tattooing out there, and thanks to the experimentation of practicioners and technological advancements in machines and inks, the only restriction on an artist is quickly becoming their own level of skill and imagination. For this reason, I truly believe that nowadays there is no excuse for bad tattoos; there are simply too many skilled and talented artists out there to waste your money on a bad one!

 

People often ask me about tattoos and tattooing, particularly when they don’t know very much about the industry (because if they did know about it, they’d know there were far more knowledgeable individuals than I to consult ::). The most common request is for recommendations for artists and/or studios. I’ve spent the last five years checking out the work of every artist I came across, pouring over portfolios, and asking for personal recommendations. In addition to this article, I’ve made a list of my top recommendations in Dublin, and beyond, but before that, here’s my advice if you’re thinking about ink:

 

  • Ask People. Every single time I see a tattoo I like, I ask who the artist was. It’s a fantastic way to hone in on an artist you’d like (particularly if you hear the same name over and over). No one is going to object to you complementing their tattoos, and most of the time people are all too willing to talk about them once you show an interest. As well as this, tattoo conventions are a great way to check out artists (and to get time with artists from other countries, or who are often booked up months in advance).

  • Keep health and safety in mind! Tattooing can, in the wrong circumstances, be a dangerous business. At the end of the day you’re exposing your body to injury, and risking infection and blood borne pathogens (including hepatitis and HIV). For this reason, going to a good, clean, reputable studio and artist is essential. There’s plenty of lists online of things to look out for, such as an autoclave, and individual single use apparatus, but the simple fact is, any artist who has received adequate training should have a high standard of hygiene and safety practices. Again, ask around, and go in and check out studios for yourself. And above all, try to avoid “Scratchers” – untrained/inexperienced individuals who often offer tattooing in their home or other locations. While the experience may not necessarily end badly, it is always worth the extra few quid for peace of mind. And if you don’t believe me, just google “infected tattoo” for an idea of how badly things can go wrong.

  • Understand the importance of artist vs studio. People often ask me what tattoo studios are good, but while I’ve just explained the importance of finding a good reputable studio, to my mind the most important factor is the artist themselves. While a studio may have a good reputation, the individual styles and skill level of the artists working there may differ greatly. For this reason, if you’re looking for something specific, it’s best to track down specific artists and ask for them directly.

  • Know what style you’re looking for. As I’ve mentioned before, there are now loads of totally different styles of tattooing out there, so it’s important to know what kind of style you want if you’re looking for someone to do it. Here’s a (by no means exhaustive) list of some main styles:

    • Old-school – Also known as classical, or traditional Americana, this is one of the most recognisable styles of tattooing, having been around since the last century. As I mentioned before, it often consists of heavy line work and blocky colour, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be simple or is any excuse for shoddy craftsmanship.

    • New-school – New-school tattooing is basically a modernisation of old-school style. New machines and techniques are utilised, while often using old-school imagery and motifs (such as pin-ups, combined images of hearts, roses, and other common symbols). They are often very colourful, and I would personally describe them as having a “cartoony” look, ie. not realistic.

    • Photorealistic – This is a relatively recent addition to the world of tattooing, made possible thanks to modern machines, developments of new and better inks, and the skill of artists who have learned and improved on their predecessors. Some of the work being done at the minute by artists like Jeff Gogue and Mike Devries is astounding. If you’re looking for a portrait tattoo of a person, or a reproduction of an image/photograph, this is the style to look for.

    • Black & Grey vs Full Colour – Black inks have been used since the earliest days of tattooing, and was the basis of prison tattooing. When colour isn’t a factor, the most important things are linework and shading, and can often be as striking, if not more so, than full colour pieces.

    • Traditional & Tribal – In Ireland, “tribal” has come to mean one type of pure-black sharp and swirly design which adorns so many in our society, and is, I presume, as boring for an artist to do as it is to look at. However, there is so much more to it than this, with tribal and traditional tattooing having a history that spans thousands of years across hundreds of cultures around the world. There are a vast variety of types and styles of tribal and traditional tattooing, many of which have spiritual, religious and cultural meaning outside of being art and adornment. The styles vary depending on the origin, be it Japanese, Polynesian, Samoan, Maori, or hundreds of others, and may be done using modern machines, traditional hand-poking techniques, dotwork or a variety of other techniques. These styles have experienced a resurgence of interest in recent years, and there is even an international traditional tattoo convention in Cobh, Co. Cork. However, it is important to remember that most tribal symbols have an associated meaning, so check this out in advance.

 

  • Know your symbols! While I think people can, and should, get whatever they like inked upon them, I definitely find it important to understand the meaning of what you choose to adorn yourself with, and be aware of any offence you may inadvertently cause people looking at it. I once met a gentleman who got a tattoo in hebrew “because the script looked cool”, but had no idea why that might be considered vaguely inappropriate by some others. There are also thousands of stories of people getting nonsense tattoos in kanji, or various other foreign languages/scripts. So do your homework! If you’re getting a language you don’t read, or a symbol from another culture, run it by a native speaker for mistakes/possible point of contention. Also, most old-school tattoo symbols have an associated meaning, so check this out as well.

 

There’s just a few of the things that I consider to be important when thinking about tattoos and choosing an artist. Next up, I’ll list of some of the artists who, I think, are doing the best work in various different styles in Ireland right now.

 

If you’d like to find out more about tattoos and tatooing in general, check out http://www.bme.com/, or books like Tattoo world.

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“Making the painful look graceful”

December 3, 2011 at 4:57 pm (Uncategorized)

I decided to start this blog in response to something I saw, which I thought was so beautiful, so moving, that it needed to be shared. In September, as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival, The PaperDolls aerial performance group produced and performed their first show, to packed houses in a completely sold out run.

For those of you who don’t know, aerial performance is a combination of gymnastics, acrobatics and dance, utilising equipment such as aerial silks, rope, aerial hoop and pole. Having spent several years doing gymnastics, I’ve always been captivated by all things of that nature, but have often been put off by the huge emphasis on technicality, often at the detriment of rhythm and flow. Aerial arts, however, appear to draw much more heavily from dance, theatre and performance art, in order to use the movements to tell a story.

With this in mind, I was very excited to see the PaperDolls (also known as Emily Aoibheann, Elaine McCague, Niamh Creely and Karen Anderson) in their first full show (having had their Debut performance at Body & Soul). I wasn’t disappointed, as the girls put together what I would consider to be a truly beautiful show, with a multidimensional mixed media approach. One entered the performance area through a specially constructed paper maze, complete with various installations of paper-themed art, created by artists Nicky Teegan, Laura Fitzgerald and Clare Byrne. The soundtrack to the performance was created as an ambisonic piece and was composed specially by Laura Sheeran and Ambisonics technician Michael Kearns.

Having encountered Emily in a number of different guises (she also performs under the name Blackbird) in different performance settings over the last few years, it is clear the amount of care, attention and dedication she devotes to each and every one of her performances, and this show was no exception. All of the elements, from the girls’ choreography, to the staging, costumes and atmosphere of the performance had been carefully considered and came together beautifully as a unit. From an aesthetic perspective, every moment of the 40 minute performance would have made a beautiful still image. Each of the solo performances were captivating in completely different ways, culminating in a group piece which had the kind of chaotic energy that can only exist in a perfectly planned performance.

The show began with two rather etherial individuals spiraling into the performance area in concentric circles, complete with full headdresses of helium balloons tied into their hair, creating a floating aesthetic. During this time, we were briefly introduced to the dark entity, who will return later. As the other players drifted off, the audience were treated to the first solo performance of the how, a pole dance by Niamh Creely. Much has been put forward in recent years about the athletic and artistic merit of pole dancing, however now we are coming to a point where diverging styles of artistic pole dance are beginning to emerge. Irish Champion pole dancer Arlene Caffrey and a whole host of other performers are proving that not only does pole dancing qualify as a sport, but also a beautiful one to watch. However I felt Niamh’s performance took this a step further into the artistic side, as it focused on a narrative and an expression which may not be as obvious in more technical, gymnastic performers, and performances, such as those at pole fitness competitions. There was a sense of an interaction between Niamh and the pole, of longing and frustration and turmoil.

This moment was interrupted by the next soloist, Elaine McCague quite literally crashing the party by smashing straight through one of the paper walls into the performance area. She proceeded to taunt Niamh, whilst performing a rope piece that was both light hearted and vaguely sinister. As her performance winds down, and she tumbles gently to the ground, the atmosphere begins to change. All awash with sparkly lights and ethereal toy box music, the real life fantastical creature that is Emily Aoibheann appears. While I find it hard to choose, I think that Emily’s aerial silk performance was my favourite of a show during which I loved every one of its fourty minutes.  As she began her ascent, the music changed completely to a beautiful and haunting song, again by Laura Sheeran, which was the only part of the soundtrack to include lyrics. Emily’s grace, poise and consideration in every minute movement are only matched by her stage presence and sheer talent and skill as a performer.

Her light and fantasy are balanced by the final character, Karen Anderson, the dark, warped creature who disected the opening scenes. She takes to the hoop slowly and thoughfully at first, leading up to a crescendo in the music, visuals and choreography which genuinely left me, and the rest of the audience blown away. From here the movements descended into pure chaos, the music and visuals whirling, both Emily and Karen performing together on the hoop, and Niamh and Elaine performing fast paced moves on the ropes and silks. I genuinely had to watch the show several times to take in all of the elements, the actions of each performer and the way they fit together as a whole, and I’m very very glad I got the opportunity to do so.

Having been so moved by the girls performance, when the chance came to try out aerial skills at Don’t stop the dance workshop, I jumped at it. Although I’ll never match the skill of true aerial performers, even attempting it was such a rush that I’ll definitely try it again.

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