Tag Archives: tattoos

I Tattooed Chelsea Clinton’s Face on My Body and I Regret Nothing

Chelsea Clinton isn't the internet's favorite person. She's become more politically outspoken on Twitter, leading to rumors swirling about her running for office—and though she's denied those rumors, that hasn't stopped people from all over the political spectrum registering their distaste at that prospect. Vanity Fair recently published the rather brutal "Please, God, Stop Chelsea Clinton from Whatever She's Doing," while a columnist for the New York Post penned an op-ed with the headline, "God help us if Chelsea Clinton runs for office."

As I've previously explored, Chelsea Clinton does have a rabid (if small) fan base. But none of them compare to Justin Smith, a 34-year-old retail manager from Charleston, South Carolina, who has not one, but two Clinton-themed tattoos: a portrait of Hillary and another of Chelsea.

Smith doesn't have a specific reason for getting two Clintons inked onto his skin. When I spoke to him over the phone about it, he seemed exceedingly casual about the shrine to the Clinton family forever etched into his skin. "I've been a supporter of the Clintons since I was ten years old, going back to 1992, '93, actually before Bill took office," he told me. "I'm just a long-time supporter of them. They've been my heroes for well over 20 years." While his enthusiasm of the Clintons seems to go beyond just politics—stanning doesn't necessarily have to have a rhyme or reason—he told me he appreciates the whole Clinton family because he "saw at a young age that they care deeply about human rights," specifically their support of the LGBT community (he's been openly bisexual since he was 14). "That's the biggest thing," Smith explained. "Their longtime commitment to fighting for human rights."

The same tattoo artist inked both of the portraits. "He's an apolitical guy, but he thought it was cool," Smith explained. "It was the first tattoos of them that he's done. I think it might be the only Chelsea tattoo in existence."

Images courtesy of Justin Smith

He's met all three members of the Clinton clan, and according to Smith both Hillary and Chelsea "absolutely loved" his Hillary tattoo. (He just recently got Chelsea.) "It was one of the best moments of my life," he said, laughing nervously.

When he met Bill, he "got so nervous" that he forgot to show off his Hillary tat. "Pretty sure Hillary showed him a picture of it, though," Smith told me.

Smith said he's hopes to get a Bill tattoo to complete the trilogy ("might as well get 'em all, right?" he said) but for now he only has portraits of Hillary, Chelsea, and, uh, Howard Stern. "I'm a fan and longtime supporter of him" he told me. "Howard is a longtime Hillary supporter, too, by the way."

Image courtesy of Justin Smith

Chelsea has yet to see his latest token of devotion to her, but he's experienced a lot of backlash for the tattoo on social media, though none in real life. "I hope to show it to her sometime soon," Smith said. "I've been getting a lot of hate on social media recently, from people on the far right and the far left."

Unsurprisingly, if the young Clinton wanted to get fully into politics, Smith said he would support her "100 percent."

"I hope she runs for office," he said. "The backlash is really disheartening to see. She's such a caring, compassionate person. I just don't understand where all the hate is coming from."

Follow Eve Peyser on Twitter.

Tattoo Artists Are Covering Up Racist Ink for Free

Dave Cutlip, like most professional tattoo artists, never inked anyone with anything hateful. It goes against his morals, and it's not good business. Tattoo shops usually leave that dirty work for amateur needlers in garages and prison cells—a de facto protest against the powers of hate. But still, his heart dropped when a man walked into his Baltimore Southside Tattoo storefront, begging to get the gang signs on his face covered up. "Due to the size and location, we couldn't help him," says Cutlip. "The look on the guy's face when we told him that made my wife and myself decide to help other people if we could."

In January, he made a post on the Southside Tattoo Facebook page seeking other prospective clients looking to cover up racist or gang-related tattoos. Cutlip offered his services free of charge, which means a lot when you consider that tattoo removal usually hovers around the $500 mark. "Sometimes people make bad choices," the post read, "and sometimes people change." The response to the post was overwhelming—35,000 likes and 26,000 shares. Cutlip never expected the reach to extend beyond Baltimore. But now, he's standing at the nexus of a bona fide movement in the tattoo industry.

Today, there are dozens of tattoo shops offering the same rehabilitation services as Southside. Erik Rohner runs Ye Old Tattoo Shop in Platteville, Wisconsin—a town deep in the southwestern corner of the state with a population of just 50,000. He expected to average about one or two cases a month when he opened his doors to people with regrettable ink. But in two weeks, the store has already removed four tattoos, with a number of other clients in consultation. "I've been in this business for about 20 years, and back then, it was common to have swastikas and Confederate flags up on the wall—to feed that culture," he says. "Times are changing, and we want to change with it."

Rohner tells me that the attention has been a little overwhelming, but the work is necessary and rewarding. There's not much else you can feel when you're confronted with this kind of shame face-to-face.

"There's one girl I've been communicating with who has a 'Property of' stamp directly on her neck that is gang related," he says. "Usually I tend to keep everyone in line and be impartial, but this girl I put ahead of everyone. We're getting her in sooner. She was young, and taken up by the gang, and hit my heartstrings a little bit. She's a human being; she doesn't 'belong' to anybody."

Through these services, both artists have learned that there are many people who feel trapped in their branded skin. Neither Cutlip nor Rohner expected such a tremendous outpouring, but they've stumbled upon a pretty serious need. One special case Catlip took on is Randy (who asks we keep his last name private), who desperately wanted to cover up the Nazi death head, Iron Cross, and other Aryan Brotherhood insignias from his body.

"I heard about it from my case worker at Healthcare for the Homeless," he says. "It was a relief to not have to look at the Iron Cross every morning. It felt like it allowed me to continue moving forward with changing my life."

"There's a lot of hate out there."

The trip to Southside proved fateful for Randy, who was still homeless when he sought Cutlip's charity. Today he's an apprentice, working under the man who cleansed his skin. "I was living in the trap house, right next to the projects," he says. "Dave and Beth [Dave's wife] were concerned for me, and with my expressed interest in tattooing and drawing, they brought me on at the shop, learning the trade. I feel grateful for the opportunity."

In the wake of all the attention, the Cutlips broke ground on a nonprofit called Redemption Ink—the official name for his racist and gang-related tattoo removal service. Eventually he hopes to build a network of hundreds of parlors across the globe that are all partnered under the same humanitarian premise. "I just think it'd be cool if that was an agreement between tattoo shops," he says. "That is a big part of what we are trying to do with our project. We are trying to get Redemption Ink to spread around the country, and by the fan mail we've gotten from as far away as New Zealand, hopefully the world. There's a lot of hate out there."

The tattoo industry has never been what anyone would call a bastion of social justice. Many shops stay open to 4 AM to lure raucous drunks off their downtown warpath for an early morning mistake. The business model is based on a staunch neutrality—an attitude necessary if you're spending a career carving the occasional stupid or ugly thing into someone's skin. Cutlip's work, and the artists following his footsteps, are interested in changing that narrative. The first line on Redemption Ink's homepage reads that the service makes good on "a dream of Mr. Dave Cutlip to afford humanity 'something' through his beloved craft of tattooing."

Tattoo artists may not be able to offer global peace through tattooing or feed starving children. But they can use their powers to erase old hatreds and put a cause behind their craft.

"I would love to see tattoo parlors start giving back to the community or become a part of the community they're in," says Rohner. "There's too many times where I've worked for somebody else, and all they do is take and take and take from the community and never really give back to those around them. I would love to see this trend grow to the point where the shops become a need to the community."

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Meet the Tattoo Collective That Prioritizes Pain Over Aesthetics

Tattoos hurt, but for most people, the pain is just a means to an end. And tattoo artists are usually mindful of their client's pain threshold, catering for breaks and mitigating any unnecessary brutality. It's abnormal to restrain people while they're getting tattooed, or for them to bolt upright in agony to escape the needle's unrelenting penetrations. Nor is it very common to see sadistic mirth occupying the faces of multiple tattoo artists as they inflict the unnaturally long, thick, shallow lines seemingly without pause.

Enter Brutal Black. It's the tattoo project where mandalas come to die, where your neo-traditional Japanese tribal tattoo is shown to be nothing more than a cute little fashion statement. Valerio Cancellier, Cammy Stewart, and Phillip "3Kreuze," the three tattoo artists behind the collaborative project, want to bring back some ritual and rebirth to tattooing. What they've come up with is one of the most brutal experiences one can imagine; they proudly claim it will "ruin your life."

I contacted them to learn more about why the hell anyone would do this.

VICE: How is Brutal Black different to a normal tattoo session?
Cammy Stewart: With my normal work, what's most important is the end result. But this is a completely different thing for me. I'm not saying this type of tattooing is for everyone, but this concept tears apart what I feel tattooing has become: plastic, soulless, and broken down by fashion, the media, and popular culture. To me, this is a big fuck you to what most people believe tattooing to now be.
Valerio Cancellier: Today, the tattoo world is the continued research of an exceptional artisanal product, which is very often referred to as 'art'—rejecting the ritual aspect. Brutal Black Project doesn't want to settle for compromises. Its fundamental element is experiencing the ritual.
Phillip 3Kreuze: In my everyday tattoo work, I'm still brutal, rough, and hard, and I fill huge skin in the shortest time, but I pay more attention to the customer and to his body. In this project, there's no compassion, no scruples, no sense of empathy—it was a little strange to behave like that. But it's fucking sick to kill these people during the session. Seeing the pain in their eyes, the shaking from their bodies and the mess. It makes me proud that I'm reaching goals together with my clients. It doesn't mean a full sleeve or big piece; it just means to break one's own will and to go to its outermost. When you have problems walking after the session, you have done it right. Pain is perishable, and pride remains eternal!

So how did this all start?
Stewart: I met Valerio online via Facebook. He had tattooed someone's face. I liked the tattoo and was interested in talking with him. After a few emails, we decided we would work together on a large scale blackwork project in Italy. It went well, and we got along, and our tattooing styles seemed to complement each other, so we continued to work together as often as time allowed, usually twice a year. We have made three projects together so far. The last project was in Germany, which is when Phillip joined; however, I ended up not being able to make it due to problems with flights.
3Kreuze: There were problems for Cammy upon his entry from Scotland, thanks to his appearance and a few tattooed swastikas, so the police had a few extra questions, making him miss his plane. So the whole project had to take place under new conditions. It was already several months in the planning, and our customer, a good friend of mine, had declared himself ready. Frankie knew that something very primitive and brutal was about to come to him. Tattooing totaled about five hours over two days, as fast as possible, but with breaks for puking and crying.

At what point did you realize the Brutal Black project was more than an aesthetic thing?
StewartThings started to change in my head when I saw the reactions of the clients during the tattooing process. The project is not always about the outcome; it's about the process. Taking things back to the primitive, the rite of passage. Pushing the limits of your inner self. How much do you want something? Can you see it through to the end? The marks left from the tattoo are only a reminder of what you learned about yourself during the process. To me, the marks left in skin are less important than the marks left in your mind.

Cancellier: Nothing was defined, nothing was planned, nothing was forced. It wasn't still clear what it was going to become, but an awareness was born. Brutal Black recalls you to the primitive brutality that was screwed up by modernity. There are lots of other violent tribal rituals that could also be described as survival trials. Although the project is not a remembrance of tribal rituals, its energy has the same kind of origins.

What do you think motivates someone to be tattooed like this?
Stewart: I can only speak for myself here, as everyone I imagine has their own motivations for being part of this. Basically, I enjoy the energy shared with both the clients and tattoo artist; it's really intense for everyone but in a good way. It's sometimes good to push yourself a little further than you think you can go, both as an artist and in regards to the endurance and determination of the client. There is no end goal. Life is a series of events, and this is just one of them. Tattooing can help you find your roots and learn that pain, like pleasure, can be processed in any way you wish. It's nothing more than an intense moment in a life mostly filled with feelings that can be easily forgotten. Stripped back to the tribal, you were once a warrior. Remember it. It's easy to become a drone in the bland world we're forced to exist in.
Cancellier: Everybody is free to live the experience in their own way. It could also be a trial for ourselves or against ourselves. It may be difficult to believe, but there's no negativity in it—no hate, no sadism. Anyway, I'm just the vehicle, the executioner, the butcher. The body can bear this kind of ritual, but it is necessary to have a very strong mind.

When's the next Brutal Black project?
3Kreuze: The end of the year in Italy, which will make our two-day meeting with Frankie look like child's play. Let's hope no one dies!

Follow Fareed Kaviani on Twitter.

Interview With a Man Who Has a Tramp Stamp That Says ‘Executive Producer DICK WOLF’

Two nights ago, while I was trying to shove a plate of slightly burnt asparagus into a Ziploc bag, slap some Bandaids on my ankles, and figure out how to get to the Passover dinner I was inappropriately late for, I got a Snapchat. It was a life-altering Snapchat, the kind I imagine is reserved for DJ Khaled, or an…


Meet the Brits Who Want to Have Their Tongues Split

On a new episode of NEEDLES & PINS, VICELAND's show dedicated to the art of tattoos and body modification, our host Grace Neutral heads to the UK to check out the country's tribal and tongue-splitting scenes. Plus, she talks shop with local artists and examines what it means to rebel in an age when tattoos and body mods are a dime a dozen.

NEEDLES & PINS airs Tuesday at 10 PM on VICELAND.

Want to know if you get VICELAND? Head here to find out how to tune in.

Inside the World of Japan’s Erotic and Illegal Tattoos

On an all new episode of NEEDLES & PINS, host Grace Neutral heads to Japan, a country with one of the richest histories of tattooing in the world, where she discovers how it continues to struggle with its relationship to the art form.

NEEDLES & PINS airs Tuesdays at 10 PM on VICELAND

Want to know if you get VICELAND? Head here to find out how to tune in.

Inside LA’s History of Chicano-Style Tattoos

On an all new episode of NEEDLES & PINSVICELAND's series following Grace Neutral as she explores the journey of tattoo art from subculture to global phenomenon—we head to LA to explore the history of Chicano-style tattoos, learning how they evolved from the prison cells and gang culture of LA to the wider world.

NEEDLES & PINS airs Tuesdays at 10 PM on VICELAND.

Want to know if you get VICELAND? Head here to find out how to tune in.

Randy Marsh and a Crying Drake: People Talk About Their Most Ridiculous Tattoos

(All photos: Chris Bethell)

This article originally appeared on VICE UK

The good thing about tattoos is that you get to keep them forever. They're not like gloves – you're never going to lose one and have to buy a whole new set. Once they're there, they're there to stay. Of course, this also means that you have decades for what seemed like a good idea at the time to morph into what now seems like an absolutely terrible idea. Like getting "SIT HERE" tattooed on your upper lip, or a tribal tattoo literally anywhere on your body.

Because Needles & Pins – a new Grace Neutral-hosted show about body modification – premieres on VICELAND in the UK this week, we thought we'd go along to the Tattoo Collective convention at the Truman Brewery, east London this weekend to ask people about their most ridiculous tattoos.

Mark, 39

VICE: What's your tattoo?
Mark: The tattoo is a Friday the 13th owl, which I got for £50. The guy stuck it on me the wrong way around and tattooed it back to front. I didn't realise until I looked into the mirror six months later.

When did you get it?
About five or six years ago.

Is there any meaning behind the owl?
It's just off one of those Friday the 13th flash sheets. So it's got the number 13 written in the owl, but it's the wrong way around.

Max, 28

What's the tattoo?
Max: I've got "FUCK LIFE" tattooed on my arm.

Okay, and why did you get that?
I don't know, I just kind of hated life at the time. I was pretty heavily into drugs, kind of miserable, kind of on a downer, got "FUCK LIFE" tattooed on me. And then a little while later I met my lovely girlfriend, sorted myself out, and now I don't really hate life any more. Life's pretty good.

Any regrets about it?
I don't know. I don't really regret getting it, because at the time I did hate life. I maybe regret getting it on my arm because it's so visible there, but it's black on black so you can't really see it.
Max's girlfriend, Penelope: I guess it's a reminder of how times have changed. Things are better now.
Max: Yeah, so it's still got a certain charm to it.

Collette, 21

What's the tattoo?
Colette: 30 Seconds to Mars – the band with Jared Leto in. They have these four symbols. The first is meant to be a three and a zero put together. The second symbol is meant to be a clock going backwards. The third symbol – the gaps in it mean two. The last one is Mars with its moons. I've been a fan of them since I was 12, and I saw a girl on Facebook put up that she had a tattoo gun and asked if anyone wanted tattoos doing. I thought 'fuck it' and went to get a tattoo from her. Unfortunately it's done really badly. I hate Jared Leto, but I still like the band. If the placement was fine I'd get it done over, but the placement is terrible, so I'll probably get it covered up.

Hannah, 25

What's the tattoo?
Hannah: Peanut butter and jelly on my leg. I have no idea why I got it.

What was going through your mind at the time?
You know what? It was just a really random, spur of the moment kind of thing. I don't even like toast. That's the best thing about it. I don't even like peanut butter and I don't like jelly. I just thought it was funny.

Any regrets?
No. The sillier the better.

Sophie, 27

What's your most ridiculous tattoo?
Sophie: It's my Randy Marsh tattoo. My friend and I both have his face from the South Park episode "Crème Fraîche".

We love Randy Marsh. We just love him.

How long ago did you get it?
About three years ago.

Any regrets?
Absolutely not. He's my favourite tattoo.

Natalie, 25

What's the tattoo?
Natalie: It's the signature of the Cigarette Smoking Man from the X Files.

How did this come about?
I met him at Comic Con. He was quite frightened because he's quite old. He had a lovely young 20-year-old Polish wife. He signed my ankle and I ran straight to a tattooist to get it permanently on me.

What do your friends think of it?
Everyone thinks it's silly, but I love the Cigarette Smoking Man so much. I have a doll of him, I have a signed autograph, I have lots of X Files memorabilia and I think it's great! No regrets.

Sam, 27

So what's your tattoo?
Sam: It's Drake crying. Yeah.

And why did you get Drake crying permanently etched into your skin?
Because it was drawn up in the tattoo shop and I thought it was pretty funny.

How long ago did you get it?
Last year, at the Brighton tattoo convention. I just saw it in the flash book and thought I needed it.

Do you reckon Drake would like it?
Yeah, I reckon so. Why not?

Luke, 28

What's the tattoo?
Luke: It's a chicken soup. Noodle flavour, I think. I don't know.

And does it mean anything?
No, not really – it was just a spur of the moment convention tattoo.

How long have you had it?
Two to three years now.

Any regrets?
Yeah, I hate it. I want it blacked out.

Thanks, Luke.

'Needles & Pins' airs on VICELAND UK, Sky channel 153, every Wednesday at 10PM, from the 22nd of February. Watch the trailer here.


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