Winter weather can be a bitch. You East Coasters know what I'm talking about, right? And even us nancy-boy West Coasters are getting our asses handed to us with some incredibly heavy rain storms (not that I'm complaining, mind you - we need the water). But even if the rain, sleet, and snow are necessary, it still makes for some gloomy days where going outside feels like an impossible expedition best avoided. So what to do? Well, you could catch up on housework, paperwork, and other boring stuff OR you could get streaming and watch some really interesting tattoo documentaries that will inform, enliven, and surprise you. Think you know everything about the birth of tattooing in this country? Guess again. Here are my top picks for tattoo docs that will make you truly appreciate the pioneers and artists behind this old "new trend". And if your power has gone out? Stay in bed, man. Just Stay. In. Bed.
This came out in 2013 and is a full length movie that really looks at the pioneers who changed tattooing in the USA. Tattoos enjoy a rich heritage around the world, but until fairly recently, the stereotype of only outlaws and sailors having tattoos still remained accurate. Of course tattooing was happening quietly in the upper classes and aristocracy. There are serious tattoo historians who are quick to point out that ink was not only for floozies and outcasts and that those particular streotypes are not 100% accurate. Duly noted. However, in your grandparents time a heavily tattooed person was (most likely) considered a derelict. So what changed? This documentary looks at how the craft itself changed with the invention of new equipment, pigments, and techniques. These advances allowed a select group of artists to push the craft into new territory and greatly expand what was possible with a tattoo machine. This not only changed the look of tattoos but the attitudes and culture surrounding it.
You do realize that Sailor Jerry did more than make rum, right? I sure hope so. This tattoo legend deserves his own documentary and this one really delivers. A comprehensive peek at a legend's life and work that is as interesting as it is diverse. If you are a fan of Old School tattoos, you owe it to yourself to learn something about the artist who just about invented it. Pour yourself a glass of that tasty rum and enjoy.
Don't have a lot of time before the N'oreaster hits? Check out this short, but sweet little documentary about the bane of every tattooed person's existence: the inevitable comment by the ill-informed, "Oh you are going to regret that tattoo when you're older." Well these subjects not only DON'T regret their ink - they have aged with dignity and basically look like 80-something-year-old bad asses.
Before Ed Hardy's clothing line became synonomous with D-bags (thanks John Gosselin), he was a mjor force in the tattoo world. And even though his clothing line became a big commercial juggernaut, he still remains one of the more talented and interesting tattoo artists around. This film looks at his early life as an art student and painter, and his almost accidental foray into the world of tattooing. A unique perspective and interesting glimpse into an artist who is a lot more than a T-shirt brand. (Full disclosure: I have a pair of Ed Hardy sneakers and I think they are pretty awesome - don't hate).
OK kids - you have your assignments. Now pop some popcorn, make some cocoa, and cuddle up with the weather rages outside!