Black Eye Removal

The birthplace of modern tattooing sits at the intersection of Division Street, Chatham Square and The Bowery. In 1961 NYC banned tattooing and did not re-legalize until 1997.

In the early 1900’s work lived primarily at the shipping docks and construction sites. Each morning men would line up, standing on cartons and crates while bosses looked them over and made their selections on who would be given daily assignments. Those with black eyes would often be passed over out of concern they would be a problem and cause trouble.

During this era, it was common for tattoo parlors and barbershops shared share a location. Both businesses shared the customer base so it worked well.
Tattoo artists offered a service advertising to make “black eyes look natural” and would proudly promote this on business cards, large signs and in storefront windows.

This process involved the placing of a hot towel on the affected eye to reduce the swelling. Leeches would be applied as the next step as they would suck out the excess blood. Cosmetic makeup would conceal any discoloration that remained and men hopeful for a days work were given the peace of mind that their rowdy behavior wouldn’t prevent them from earning money.

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If you’re interested in learning more about tattoo history and seeing some of these landmark studio locations yourself, I highly recommend checking out Michelle Myle’s (of Dare Devil Tattoo in NYC) Tattoo History Walking Tour. She is the only tattooer in NYC who is also a licensed NYC tour guide. :

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Blood & Fire

Our buddy Carlos Torres & his shop, The Raven & The Wolves had their grand opening art show this past weekend featuring work from over 50 incredible artists from all different backgrounds. Johnny, one of awesome sales reps that you might have had the pleasure of meeting at any of the recent conventions we’ve attended wasn’t going to miss it and snagged some pics I thought I’d share!

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Our Hearts Go Out To One Of Our Legends

The entire TS family is deeply saddened at the news of the passing of Tattoo Artist Boo Boo Negrete. Our thoughts and prayers are with Freddy (Negrete), family & friends. Tattooing will forever keep his memory alive. Please take a moment to check out this article that the NY Times did on Freddy & his sons.

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New Tools For Traddy Daddies

I’ve always had a deep appreciation for traditional tattooing. Not just because it’s what our community’s foundation was built on but because these tattoos are so completely reliant on having clean, straight lines and bold, solid saturation. The simplistic designs allow tattooers to showcase how they have honed their craft.

It’s no secret that the majority of traditional style tattoo artists always have tended to be “loyal to the coil” folks that have a sort of romance with the smell of flux from the apprenticeship days of making their own needles. However, surprising enough, more and more traditional tattoo artist are locking up their brass bulldogs and throwing in the paper towel on needle on bar and making the switch to cartridges.

When we set out to make our Envy Needle Cartridges our intent was to create a reliable cartridge with the sharpest and most consistent needle groupings at an affordable price that would serve as tools for EVERY style artist.

Over the years our Envy 7 Traditional Round Liner needle on bar has become one of our most popular configurations to date and there was no way in hell we were going to deprive tattooers that made the switch to carts from making these sexy ass lines. A few years back we launched our Envy Traditional Whip Mag line of needles, mag groupings where the pins are short tapered and textured but polished right at the tips so as you pull up you get that perfect peppery gradient. We knew there was no way we couldn’t also make this in cartridge form.

It wasn’t an easy feat. We weren’t going to slap our logo on a box of some crap that some factory in China had made and was pimping out to every supplier out there. It was our number 1 priority to make sure that the exact needles that artists had come to trust from us were the exact ones that would be put inside every cartridge housing. Which is exactly what we did. Every single Envy Cartridge features OUR Envy Needle pins, they go through the same inspection processes as every needle on bar we have ever produced.

Today we proudly offer the most extensive selection of the highest quality needle cartridges in groupings for every style including our Envy Traditional Needle Cartridges. Traditional tattooing doesn’t have to come with sacrificing convenience.

– Erica Kopelow, TS Creative Director

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Artists Talk About Grabbing a 270 for a 360 on Back Pain

Mark Schilling :: Agape Art Collective – Costa Mesa, CA

– How has the chair helped your career?

The 270 chair has helped my career as far as back pain goes, being comfortable helps my performance and gives me peace of mind.

Its versatile and helps me tattoo in different positions comfortably. Oh, and its fucking badass looking! It perfectly curves to my ass.

– What sorts of problems were you experiencing before buying the chair? What made you buy it?

Constant back pain, especially lower back pain. In this thing I can sit for 15-16 hours straight if I needed to! Its so awesome! I was in that much discomfort, I was willing to spend the money to get something better.

As an artist I feel it is important to invest in better products, just like buying the Envy Needles and Wrath Tubes. The client is paying me and they deserve the best.

– How did you hear about the chair?

I think I was at the storefront in Baldwin Park and there was a video playing in the lobby and I thought it looked badass. I did a little more research, and it was totally worth it.


Nikie Trerotola :: Black Tie Affair – Artesia, CA

– How has the chair helped your career?

The 270 artist chair has helped me tremendously by providing maximum comfort and therefor allowing me the ability to tattoo more efficiently for longer hours.

– What sorts of problems were you experiencing before buying the chair? What made you buy it?

Before I purchased the chair I was experiencing back pains, which caused me to take breaks frequently. This chair really alleviated the strain on my back and I’m able to get through long sessions without needing a break.

– How did you hear about the chair?

I came across this chair originally through the TATSoul website, but decided to purchase it after hearing great feedback from other tattooers.


Rob Marra :: New Addiction Tattoo – Johnston, RI

– How has the chair helped your career?

The chair has really reduced my lower back pain. I am able to tattoo for significantly longer periods of time.

– What sorts of problems were you experiencing before buying the chair? What made you buy it?

Before buying the chair I was finding myself standing and tattooing most of the time.I was taking breaks often and soon into sessions to rest my back. I bought it because it has features that allow you to mimic standing while leaning and it looked comfortable.

– How did you hear about the chair?

I heard about the chair through the website. I usually order my supplies through TATSoul and I found it on there.


Mark Sheppard :: The Ink Spot – Delaware, OH

– How has the chair helped your career?

Oh its awesome! Especially if you have back pain problems. It is perfect for getting different positions, especially when working on a chest piece.

– What sorts of problems were you experiencing before buying the chair? What made you buy it?

Just back problems, standing and stooping to do the tattoo. Now I can get them in more positions so I can be comfortable too. I use the X Portable Table from TATSoul and prior to getting the 270  I couldn’t get my knees under it with my current chair. The 270 allowed me to get a little lower, fit better and get closer to the client.

– How did you hear about the chair?

I would guess probably a Youtube video and word of mouth. I had been looking at them for about three years before actually buying.

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SKATE TATTOO OR DIE : Entry 1- Parallels between skating & tattooing

I started skateboarding when I was 13 and what I loved about skateboarding the most was being able to go down to the local mom and pop shop to buy skate products. I remember it giving me the feeling of being a part of something unique; free from corporations and mass produced products. Most skate companies at the time were independently owned so the common public in the early 90s had no clue what any of the brands I wore at the time were. I remember getting made fun of for my puffy DC shoes with the tongues popped out. Ironically those same brands are worn by the same people who made fun of me 20 years ago. I think this concept bleeds in all communities & “industries”, whether you’re into building motorcycles, putting together a skateboard, or tattooing a sleeve on someone’s arm. The most important part of anything is the equipment.

This is what separates a skateboard at a shop & a skateboard at Toys R us? The same thing that differentiates buying your supplies from a credible source that “gets it” and buying starter kids out of china or even just low quality tubes and needles from people who aren’t involved in the community. How important is your craft to you? I know for me I will never be caught dead riding a razor scooter or a fresh deck that I picked up off a shelf at a local Walmart. For me, good products mean reliability and deliver the same results every time. Bad products can and will make you less than what you are truly capable of. This is exactly why I always trip out whenever dudes try bartering with me for supplies at conventions. It’s like you never go the Apple store and try to bargain on an iPhone, because we all know no matter where you go, it will be the same price. You can’t re-do a tattoo, so why not use the best quality tools out there?

Here’s an example, Nike is the number one athletic shoe company in the world and whenever you think of a professional athlete you can easily associate them with Nike. Nike failed attempting to branch into the skateboard community in the 90s despite its reputation and trillion dollar budget. They had not connected to people that skateboard. They didn’t successfully break into the skate industry till about 8 years ago. The way they did this was by making the best skate shoes by working with people that skate, working with known skateboarders and finding out their needs. Nike also did what Nike does best, get behind and support some of the best skateboarders out there. Once they made that transition everyone else hopped on board. Style, intuitive design and most of all quality.

A skateboarder by the name of Stefan Janoski released a shoe that was so neutral. It was/is great for casual everyday wear for anyone and skateboarders love skating in them. 3 years ago while in Oregon for the Portland tattoo expo, I made a trip to the Nike headquarters. I asked them what their top 10, highest- grossing shoes were, low and behold, the Nike Janoski was one of them!

Ten years ago I wouldn’t have skated in Nike’s if someone gave me them for free, they wouldn’t have supported my skating the way I need them to. The point being, like tattoo products, you have to dial into what the user wants, whether that means being the user or working alongside them. The problem with low grade products is they have no soul, no style, just something to make money from. You need people who are passionate about what you are trying to do behind the products. In the end, real WILL recognize real. I have been using the same skate products and skating my same pair of Nikes for the past 8 years and I won’t let up anytime soon because in the end I like the way they “help me” skate. So the next time someone asks you why you like TATSoul products. The answer is simple. I like the way they help me tattoo.

– George Wang

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TS Cornerstone Interview, Episode 1: Nate Fierro

Proud to launch our new TS Cornerstone Interview Series with Episode 1 featuring High Voltage Tattoo resident, Nate Fierro. Watch to learn about his start in tattooing & inspiration for his illustrative, neo-traditional Americana and Japanese style to skating & eating right.

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Growing up I had one of those dads who thought any type of body modification was considered gay. Thanks to Dennis Rodman in the early nineties, my parents thought the idea of tattoos, colored hair and earrings were for insane people. I remember the first time my dad voiced his opinion outload. It was a bright sunny day and this man who had these long dangling earrings walked past us and into my dad’s office “Jr, you see that guy? He’s gay!” I go, “how so?” My dad’s response “he wear the earrings, this is for women, not a man. How you like me pick you up from school wear the long earring, say hi to all your friends!!”

Secretly, what he didn’t know is how bad I wanted my ears pierced. Maybe it was from over exposure of gangster rap music videos and seeing dudes with “bling” in their ears that made it cool. I was always so scared of getting a tattoo or piercing my ears, not at all because physical pain, because I knew my dad would think I was “gay”. Finally, after one year, I mustered up the courage and I went with my girlfriend to the mall at a little chain store called Claire’s. I was so nervous, like it was the biggest life decision I had come across yet. I held on to my girlfriends hand like I was getting a full back piece from Filip Leu. After a 2 second hole-punch, that felt like that stupid optometrist vision machine that shoots wind into your eye, I remember seeing the two little cubic zirconia’s sparkle in the mirror. All I could think was how cool and not-gay I was.

The next thing I pierced was my top cartilage. Eventually this became an obsession. I was listening to a lot of punk rock at the time, so it felt “cool” to have “body modifications”. One night, I got super drunk and thought it would be cool to pierce my lip. I wanted to look like Mark Hoppus from Blink 182 and I failed miserably. I ended up looking like one of those Asian emo kids trying be so different from the other Asians so they pierce their lip. Some faces were built for the piercings, like Hellraiser and those super pierced up guys we see at tattoo conventions, most were not.

I had an ex with nipple piercings and that was super-hot. I had a friend who had his nipples pierced and I didn’t know until we went skating one hot summer day and he took his shirt off- that WASN’T super-hot. I felt like my dad at that moment, I totally judged him. I started traveling around 2009 and when body modifications were abundant it was during the time every chick was getting the mole piercing, the “Monroe”. I felt like people were running out of ideas to pierce things so it led to dermal implants which was a process where it took people and turned them into Klingons. People actually put horns under their head. It’s not every day where you see your friend become the warlock from the movie Legend.

As a skateboarder I personally always looked at piercing similar to roller blading. There is technique for sure but only with the really talented ones doing crazy flips and stuff, it also always struck me as safer. No disrespect to any piercers out there, because it is a very complex procedure only few can do correctly but it’s not permanent. Holes can heal and people get over it. How many girls do you know now in their 40s rocking a “Monroe” or a septum piercing? Tattoos last for life, it’s a more complex decision that takes patience, timing and judgment. The majority of us who have been in this community have something so stupid we want to laser off right now but don’t for a variety of reasons- mainly it being that it’s not a quick and easy thing. You don’t “take out” a piece of ink from your skin and it heals and goes back to normal over time.

– George Wang

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Who is Bryce Oprandi?

Bryce Oprandi – Owner/Tattooer at The Martlet Tattoo Parlor – Hollywood, CA

George: So how long have you owned and operated The Martlet ?

Bryce:  It’s going to be 6 years in October.

George:  When did you start Tattooing?

Bryce:  I got my apprenticeship in 2007, then one year later I started working at Red Hot Tattoo with Joe Caram, Pat Sweeney and Jen Mclellan. Jen was the one who taught me.

George: Did you go in there and get tattooed a lot and then all of a sudden they saw potential?

Bryce:  Yeah, I would be getting tattooed there and a couple of other spots and I didn’t know shit about tattooing. I would just go in there and get whatever.

George: So what was the first tattoo you got?

Bryce: Matching stars with Courtney my wife, we were dating at the time.

George:  So that was your first tattoo?! A matching tattoo? Haha..that eventually spawned all these other tattoos?

Bryce: Yeah

George: Did you have any idea that it would turn into this and you would become a tattoo artist? How did that happen? Was your job shitty at the time?

Bryce: When I was in high school one of my girlfriends would get tattooed. She was messing around and was trying to learn and would try to teach me how to tattoo and I wasn’t really into it. Never really thought much about it. I was running a lot of track.

George: You ran track?

Bryce: Yeah for about 5 years.

George: I never took you for an athlete. You were a jock?

Bryce:  Yeah, not like a football jock

George: Did you have any sort of scholarships being offered

Bryce: This was in Pasadena before I started tattooing. It was coming down to tattooing or going to run for Arizona State. It got really political.  It wasn’t fun anymore and at that time I was halfway through a sleeve.
George: How soon was it before you would run and after getting tattooed did you decide on one over the other?

Bryce: Back then, I had to run every day. I was getting paid to do that

George: You were getting paid to run?

Bryce: Yeah

George: Did you skateboard before running

Bryce: All through high school I skated, my friend’s older brother got us into it

George: Were you street or ramp?

Bryce:  Street for sure. I like to jump stairs

George: No way! What was the most stairs you cleared?

Bryce: 10

George: You did 10?! That’s pretty big! I haven’t even done 10!

Bryce: Holly Avenue, they have a little 10 stair

George: Anyways, back to it, so you started going to Red Hot and you got the apprenticeship. Did you ask for it?

Bryce: I asked the guy tattooing me. His name was Joe Caram. He gave me a bunch of homework, so I came back with a bunch of drawings showed him and he talked to the boss. She told me I needed to come back with more drawings, so I came back with more drawings and it just so happened that someone one had just quit, so I ended up getting the apprenticeship

George: Did you have any artistic ability prior to this?

Bryce: Nothing really great.  I wouldn’t call myself an artist

George: So you had to learn from the grassroots?

Bryce: Yes

George: So could you draw?

Bryce: I could draw certain things, back then we did not have social media to see millions of people tattooing and I had magazines to look at and would cut out photos of tattoos and try to replicate them

George: Was there anyone you try to emulate? I know for me in standup comedy there are certain people I look towards for inspiration. I don’t want to sound the same but they give me an outline of how I want to sound? Any artists for you?

Bryce: This cat from Australia Stevie Edge. I bought a round trip ticket to Australia and got my chest done. That guy was killing it, coolest guy ever. I got tattooed and he was the nicest guy, I was surprised because I had this idea that a lot of tattoo artists could be rock stars, but he was like the nicest guy and a few years later I went over there and worked with him

George:  Painful as hell?

Bryce: Yeah, 4 hours on the chest…4 hours anywhere is super shitty.

George: It’s a good feeling because you went through all this to get them though right? I Googled you and an image where you tattooed Snooki from The Jersey Shore popped up. Elaborate?

Bryce: A girl that does her hair recommended her. She’s actually really smart and far from the character she played on TV

George:   It was awesome to be able to attend your wedding. It was super classic and had a traditional theme to it. It was one of the nicest weddings I have ever been too. Very 1950’sish. Are you a fan of that era?

Bryce: It was an era of very clean, very structured look.  Looks rough and tough and still very simple . It’s the enchantment of it and nostalgia after

George: Does your wife play a role in your creative process?

Bryce: I bounce ideas off her and she tells me this could be good or this can work better but most of my inspiration just comes from LA, and the culture I live in

George: So LA has played a part in shaping you professionally. Do you feel like travelling and getting tattooed by artists has as well?

Bryce:  Definitely! For sure! Learning different things, there’s so much knowledge out there.

George: Do you feel like there are any parallels between skateboarding and tattooing?

–One of the other shop artist jumps in.  Justin Klegka:

Justin: Exact same thing! There are the guys who have true style and are actually doing it cool and then the guy who is so good but you can care less that he has no style, it’s the mentality if you’re doing a good job with it people are going to like it. It takes more than being good it’s super hard and super frustrating.

George: How important is style

Justin: It’s the only thing you have.

George: What’s your favorite Envy Needle configuration?

Bryce: I like the traditional 8’s where it’s not so bold and it’s not so tight where it’s not going to look too dainty

George: How about the Wrath Tubes?

Bryce: The Nexus is my favorite. I love the beveled angle and the tiffany color. Look at my shoes, we love taking them to conventions because they are easy to pack also.

George: Top 3 most influential artists?

  1. Cheyenne Sawyer @ Atlas – He’s a killer daddy
  2. Ross Jones @ Idle Hand – He’s a legend who’s been tattooing forever and such a nice guy
  3. Chris Marchetto @ Iron First & Redemption Tattoo

George: How about outside of tattooing?

Bryce: There are so many. YG inspires me. My little sister inspires me the most though she’s tough. She’s adventurous is only 5 foot 4 and works on a boat in Alaska and is getting her captain’s license right now

George: Most annoying walk in?

Bryce: When people want words… It’s never really that simple and they want way more and in their minds, they really don’t know the difference on what sounds good as opposed to what looks good for a tattoo.

George: What do you like the most about being on the road?

Bryce: The adventure. The new food, the tattoos, the people. I feel like it’s been a part of tattooing history for so long

George: Any favorite places to tattoo ?

Bryce: Australia is dope! I’m in love with that country and I love to tattoo in SF

George: Where do you feel like in the world is killing it the most for traditional tattooing?

Bryce: I feel like Europe is killing the traditional game

George: Do you feel like you have a technique to making your tattoos pop?

Bryce: I definitely think more black pushes out the color and I find myself using more color than black and it just balances itself out, bright colors pop

George: What ink do you prefer?

Bryce:  I really like that Solid Ink now

George: Pros and cons about owning a shop?

Bryce: Being your own boss, but everyone here is their own boss. I’m basically here to keep things in check.  The con would be management. Here in LA especially

George: How did you come up with name Martlet?

Bryce: I wanted to figure something out that wasn’t done.  There were sailors on ships who would see little swallow birds and they were so small people thought they didn’t have any feet so with the inability to land these fuckers thought they were going to fly forever. To me that symbolized knowledge and adventure associated with that type of learning and freedom, constantly moving and learning. Everything is an adventure

George:  So for anyone reading, thinking about starting a new shop, what would you say to get the name out and draw more people to the shop?

Bryce: Now with social media it’s important to have your own voice. Conventions used to be the thing but now you have to have a good presence online.

George: That’s pretty much a wrap dude thanks so much man!

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10 Pounds of Shit in a 5 Pound Bag

I had a friend complain to me about a client once who wanted to get a lion tattooed on his arm to symbolize courage. My friend spent a really solid chunk of time drawing this lion out. He had sketched it out in different angles, really worked on making a beautiful mane that would stand out, wanted to make sure the face captured “courage”. When my friend presented the drawing to the client, he did not approve. He demanded it be redrawn with a million other things added to it. He proceeded to ask my friend if he could include a rose and that the rose petals have his kid’s names on them. His dad drove an Impala, so of course now the lion needed to be in a car. My friend advised including all of these things was not aesthetically the best idea. Still, he redrew the image to the best of the ability and showed it to his client. The client said it wasn’t what he was specifically looking for and ended up wasting my friend’s entire morning. Granted, my friend was able to keep the small $50 deposit he charged but ended up missing out on much more.

The problem with this was the lion my friend had drawn up was for a tattoo. He is a tattoo artist by profession and he knows what will make a good tattoo. Enthusiasts might have an idea of something they want and think it will look great anywhere but different images work for different places on the body. What will work on a leg might not look good on a forearm. The placement of the lion and the demands of this dude was too much for the small space on his forearm, so instead of working with my friend and trusting him as a professional that puts art on bodies for a living he decided to bail on it altogether wasting my friend’s time. A lot of artists I have talked with have identified this as one of their pet peeves and biggest annoyances of the job- trying to throw 10 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag.

Ultimately in the end. It’s the artist’s responsibility to make sure the client is happy but it’s also their responsibility to make sure the tattoo looks good as it is a reflection of his or her art. No hair stylist will send a client out with a messed up haircut and expect referrals. If you want something that will be on your body forever, you need to trust your tattoo artist’s judgement.

George Wang, Humanitarian

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