Archive for Friday, June 5, 2009

The ink crowd: Tattooists reveal their skills on traditional canvas at Ichiban art show

A photo by Lee Tonks shows the artist holding his infant son.

A photo by Lee Tonks shows the artist holding his infant son.

June 5, 2009



When: 6 p.m. today

Where: Ichiban Tattoo Studio, 1912 Mass.

Cost: Free

More info: 727-3080

“Lady Kiyohime,” a water color and ink on paper by Martin Del Camino.

“Lady Kiyohime,” a water color and ink on paper by Martin Del Camino.

Lawrence tattoo artist Martin Del Camino is pictured inside Ichiban Tattoo Studio. The venue is hosting its first art show, which will feature the work of a number of tattoo artists.

Lawrence tattoo artist Martin Del Camino is pictured inside Ichiban Tattoo Studio. The venue is hosting its first art show, which will feature the work of a number of tattoo artists.

When Martin Del Camino isn’t busy tattooing ink on a paying customer, he’s usually painting.

But he is hardly limited to reproducing the images of fire-breathing dragons or circles of barbed wire found on the average frat guy. Instead, his work represents a multicultural collage.

“When I was a kid, my idea was to be an artist. But growing up I learned you have to eat, too. You try to figure out what you can do where you can eat AND paint,” says Del Camino, owner of Ichiban Tattoo Studio, 1912 Mass.

Despite being a native of Argentina, Del Camino’s specialty is Japanese-style body art. His tattoos often employ the colorful fish, flowers, waves, swords and armor prevalent in such Eastern styles — as does the artwork he renders on paper or canvas.

Del Camino will be joining colleagues from around the nation in displaying such pieces during an “Untitled Art Show” he is hosting at Ichiban. The work will showcase the paintings, drawings and photography of tattoo specialists.

In addition to Del Camino and his apprentice Ben Weas, artists displaying their work include:

• Keiichi Ito (Los Angeles/Tokyo)

• Lee Tonks (Los Angeles/London)

• Javier Pina, Vintage Tattoo and Nathan’s Tattoos & Piercings (Los Angeles)

• Steve Turner, Hell Bomb Tattoo (Wichita)

• Stormy Jackson and Bob Bitner, Irezumi Body Art (Kansas City, Mo.)

• Scott Ellis, Ezra Haidet and Joey Ortega, Triple Crown Tattoo Parlour (Austin, Texas)

Of particular note is Tonks, who has gained international fame as a photographer.

“In most of my photos I like to juxtapose matters which are not usually seen on the same stage, for example, my 8-year-old daughter with a 12-gauge shotgun and a teddy bear dripping in blood, or a hangin’ corpse with two pregnant women,” Tonks says.

“In the image that I have in the upcoming show at Ichiban, I juxtaposed my Yakuza-style, tattooed body against the freshness of my newborn son. One of us shows how we look on the way into life and the other how we look on the way out.”

Needles and brushes

Del Camino has been tattooing since 1992 and living in Lawrence since 2006. He opened Ichiban last year — the name translates to “number one” in Japanese.

“I could have used an Argentinean word, but people wouldn’t know what that is,” he says.

He netted experience dealing with the art crowd in 2004 when he began working at Los Angeles’ Victory Studios, an appointment-only tattoo shop with an art gallery in front. The venue threw shows four times a year, displaying the work of artists such as Robert and Suzanne Williams, Von Franco, C.C. Deville and Makoto.

Del Camino studied graphic design at college in Argentina, where he learned watercolor and acrylic. But once he started getting heavier into tattooing, his work became more influenced by Japanese specialists.

“Kids today use markers to do their linings. I learned how to use Japanese brushes,” he says.

Of the artwork featured at the Ichiban show, Del Camino says, “Most of the stuff is based on the kinds of styles the guys like to do when they design a tattoo.”

Gaining respect

Currently, there are more than 20,000 tattoo parlors in the U.S.

A 2006 a study done by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology revealed that almost one of every four Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 are tattooed. And the survey found that about 36 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo. (Compare that with 1926 figures that revealed just six percent of Americans had a tattoo.)

“Lawrence is a good town for tattooing. But anyplace today is a good town for tattooing,” Del Camino says.

“It used to be, people would come and say, ‘I want this little tattoo.’ Now they want their whole arm done.”

Does this mean tattoo artists are earning the same type of respect as painters or sculptors?

“As tattoos are becoming more mainstream, people are inadvertently learning to appreciate tattoos as an art form,” Tonks says.

“There are so many ‘hack’ tattooists out there, but when you come across a tattoo artist who really knows his craft, you soon realize that you’re in the presence of an artist.”


jumpin_catfish 8 years, 10 months ago

Oh look at me I'm tattooed, I'm pierced. Humans are goofy man!

frank mcguinness 8 years, 10 months ago

Jumpin-catfish, It's just as goofy as your mom having her ears pierced.

readit 8 years, 10 months ago

Oh, look at me, I cut my hair, I wear clothes. Humans ARE goofy, man!

LA_Ex 8 years, 10 months ago

Tattooing is an art form that has been around for centuries. It is nice to see that it is now beginning to get the respect it deserves. Each tattoo I have represents a milestone in my life or a strong belief. I take the idea for the tattoo and I match it with an artist whose style I admire, or I think will be a good match for that tattoo. In my opinion, getting a tattoo is no different than commissioning an artist to do a canvas painting or sculpture.

ktbob1954 8 years, 10 months ago

I used to work for a law firm in Lawrence. The staff, this lawyer, and a law clerk were talking about tatoos one day. The attorney made the assinine comment "any woman who has a tatoo is a slut!" Little did he know that ALL the women standing there had a tatoo!! He was lucky he wasn't lynched.....

Aileen Dingus 8 years, 10 months ago

psst- none2- I don't think that baby has anything to worry about. That's a moob, not a boob.

Matthew Fowler 8 years, 10 months ago

I'm very open-minded when it comes to tattoos. I don't think it's fair to judge people based on outward appearances, and I don't think it's correct to point fingers and say that all people with tattoos are losers.

Most are, though.

iplaysupernintendo 8 years, 10 months ago

"In September 2006, the Pew Research Center conducted a telephone survey which found that 36% of Americans ages 18–25, 40% of those 26-40 and 10% of those 41-64 had a tattoo." From Wikipedia.

Get with the times, people! Tattoos are here to stay!

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 10 months ago

Lady Churchill (the mother of Winston) had a snake tattoo around her right wrist. I would get one, but I am still trying to decide exactly what and where. Maybe a tiny blue rose? Where?

Tom McCune 8 years, 10 months ago

"...The child is amoral. To our eyes, the cannibal is too. The cannibal kills his enemies and eats them. He is not a criminal. But when modern man kills someone and eats him he is either a criminal or a degenerate. The cannibal tattoos his skin, his boat, his paddles, in short everything he can lay hands on. He is not a criminal. The modern man who tattoos himself is either a criminal or a degenerate. There are prisons in which eighty per cent of the inmates show tattoos. The tattooed who are not in prison are latent criminals or degenerate aristocrats. If someone who is tattooed dies at liberty, it means he has died a few years before committing a murder..."

"Ornament and Crime," Adolf Loos, 1909

kansas_o_kansas 8 years, 10 months ago

everybody needs at least one - it makes the body oh so much easier to identify....

Dayle Hodges 8 years, 10 months ago

I've held off all day, but I've got to say it. Even though I have to say that the tattoo work is very intricate, and actually quite beautiful, I'd rather see it on a piece of fine silk than on someones skin....especially when that skin is right next to the creamy unblemished little body of an infant! To each his/her own.

RoeDapple 8 years, 10 months ago

A lady Mrs Roe knows had a rose tatooed on her breast 30 plus years ago. The lady says it is now a looooonnngg stemmed rose................

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