Brody Polinsky is a tattooer who creates beautifully bold patterned tattoos from his private studio in Berlin. This week he finished his guest spot at Sang Bleu London. You may know him as CLEAN AND SOBER TATTOO, his alias which explains his own ten years of sobriety but he’s also creating waves with his queer tattoo space in Berlin. I met with him to discuss his work and life and how he’s making his own stake in the remarkably narrow world of tattooing.
Reba: I can see that you have a photo of ManWoman as your screensaver on your phone, why do you like ManWoman?Brody: It’s because he’s also Canadian, ha ha no. I think how he took back the swastika was pretty amazing; he just did it in this remote weird town in Canada and he was publishing books about it.He was published in Modern Primitives too I think. Those guys have been really reclaiming the swastika through tattooing since the mid 90s, which is when I got into tattoos, seeing Alex Binnie doing these big black tattoos was amazing I wanted that.How did you find out about people like Alex Binnie being a kid in Canada?
I found out about those guys from convention posters at my friends studio when i was 15. I hung out desperately trying to soak up tattooing not trying to annoy anyone. They knew the Leu family from conventions, I sat and looked through all the books and magazines available back then, they had them all.
I always skateboarded, essentially I did whatever my oldest cousin was into – drugs, booze, smoking, stealing, tattoos, it’s a small town, it was the nineties, it was all tribal tattoos then, and it was mostly bikers [...]
is the tattoo blog and streetwear brand originating in Galway, Ireland. After seeing the rise and commercialisation of the tattoo industry the blog has come round full circle, originating as a zine, going into a blog and now its created another zine titled ‘In God We Trust’ . Here at Sang Bleu London we are hosting the launch for the zine with an exhibition. We spoke to the founder Cian Mac an tSaoir to find out more about this new publication.
Can you tell us what the zine is about?
The zine is the first of hopefully many art zines, each one focusing on a different theme or image. This particular one is focused on religious iconography and is entitled In God We Trust with the artists interpreting this statement how they wish.
Why are you going back into print after all of these years?
Since our tattoo newspaper I’ve really wanted to get back into print but I didn’t want to go back to a large editorial zine. The old magazines content was more suited to a blog and I think since we’ve moved in that direction it’s really helped deliver superior content to our blog and website. The zine is really a reaction to how expensive a lot of the tattoo books that are coming out are, these elaborate productions with two hundred artists costing hundreds of pounds I really wanted to deliver something high quality and yet affordable to our readers in a more approachable format that I wouldn’t have to rely on foreign production for.
How have you gone about curating the work by tattooers that will be on show?
When it came to picking artists I really just tried to get people who’s work I respected [...]
Your recent work is very explicit in its use of genital imagery, both in content and in the titling. There is simultaneously a grotesque and seductive quality to the way you render lips, eyeballs, and genitals. What response do you hope to elicit in a viewer when confronted with these larger than life body parts?
I want the work to be titillating, but also discomforting, provoking the viewer to confront and examine the discomfort. Being interested in issues dealing with the body, gender and sexuality, I want the work to defy expectations, preconceived notions and traditional categorizations. Sexuality is both a pleasurable and uncomfortable topic, and I want that to come across in my work, in a visceral manner. I think it’s important to have a sense of humor about it too, so most of all I want the viewer to have a fun experience with the work, which is why my titles are often cheeky and involve puns.
How do you approach sculpting an object and choosing whether to execute it in a soft or hard medium, ex. fiberglass vs. stuffed vinyl?
What I love about sculpting is the tactility and sensuality of materials. I am often initially seduced by a material, and by engaging with it, I feel inspired to create forms specific to the nature of the material. For example, lately I’ve been into vinyl, the shininess and stretchiness of it, both fleshy and artificial, so it’s been inspiring me to create sexy, bulbous, and tensile forms that reference vinyl as a fetish fabric. Other times, I am inspired by some kind of visual or concept that leads to a sketch of a sculptural idea, and then I envision the sculpture in different materials, trying to figure [...]
We had the pleasure of inviting Maxime Ballesteros to the Mondial du Tatouage earlier this year and these are some of the photos he took of the tattoo convention.
Damien J. Thorn is a resident tattoo artist at Sang Bleu London, where he participated in the establishment of the studio, being part of the team from its early times. Originally from France he talks about his journey in tattooing so far.
So to start with, why don’t you tell us how you got started in tattooing?
I started to tattoo about 7-8 years ago by buying one of those kit off the internet, practicing on friends at home. At the time I had never met any tattoo artist, I knew absolutely nothing about tattooing.
Did you have any tattoo yourself?
Nope. None . The only thing I knew was Yann Black. I just met some guy whom suggested I should start tattooing solely based on the fact I was drawing a fair bit already . And I thought it could be a good idea. I then decided to set up a private studio at home and for a year or so I tattooed friends and friends of friends. I was doing maybe one tattoo every ten days. I eventually gave up because I could not get a hand of it. To give you a rough idea I needed three sessions to finish a 10 cm lettering, and if my machine started to be slightly of noisy I thought it was about to break, which resulted in me running them super low. It has been now five years since I started my apprenticeship with Guy [Guy le Tattooer] . In the meantime I finished my studies and started my own business.
What was your business field?
We were dealing with image treatment and video editing, 3D etc. It’s what I studied for. It was awful.
I then met Guy when I got tattooed by him and [...]
Besides from being two of the most important contemporary tattoo artists in the world, Sarah Carter and Tamara Santibanez are also visual artists in their own right. Championing and progressing not only what is means to be a woman in the tattoo world but also the limitations and expectations of what a tattoo can accomplish, the pair have teamed up to create an exhibition of new artworks at Three Kings in Brooklyn which opens this evening. We asked Sarah and Tamara to have a discussion about this exhibition named The New Icon and to find out more about the inspirations behind this new selection of work.
Tamara Santibanez: I was offered the space at Three Kings Studio to do a show and I felt very overwhelmed at the size of the space. I thought it would be better to do some sort of group show. I immediately thought of your work because I’ve liked it for so long, I like the quality of the craft and the details.
I thought it would make a really good pairing, which is why I asked you to show with me.
Sarah Carter: I thought the same when you spoke to me about that, just the fact that our work would work very well together. Although it’s quite different, it just seems to have something in common and it meets somewhere aesthetically. Did you have this work in mind before you were offered the exhibition?
TSB: Not really. I knew that I wanted to make a new body of work just for the show. And having seen your work, I knew that you always use a lot of religious imagery in your work.
I’m definitely interesting in exploring icons and symbols. I’ve [...]
Oil Burner is 23 and was born and lives in LA, he just guested with us at Sang Bleu this weekend and I went to catch up with him before he flew back to the states. He works at Sin City Tattoo shop in LA and plays in a punk band (Dopeslammer) and has his own rap project (Slave to the grave). He is heavily influenced by rap and graffiti culture, this along with his friendship with Trigz of MSK has all lead to his amazing talent for script, Oil burners script is particularly arrant, from LA gang sign inspired to metal fonts.
How did you get the name Oil Burner?
Well at the shop they sell pipes to smoke meth from and I would keep them all at my station so everyone started calling me oil burner.
So you’ve been here at Sang bleu over the weekend, do you like to guest? Where’s your favourite place to guest at?
I like Oakland a lot ,Philip Milics shop ‘Old Crow Tattoo’, I have friends there and it’s a lot of fun.
Are there specific genres of music that either influences your work as a tattooist or certain bands you have to have on when you’re working?
It doesn’t really matter actually, I really like Velvet Cocoon but mostly I listen to rap like 36 and spn, psycho realm and Lil Boozy.
So you’re not really into metal? So what inspired you to start creating metal font tattoos?
I mean I’m into a little, but not so much for the music but more because its fucked up, I actually started doing them by accident, like one time I tried to fix a mistake and that happened.
If you’re only 23 now ,when did you get into tattooing and why?