Don't get the 1999 Inked Magazine confused with the glitzy, glossy 2009 Inked -- they are two completely different beasts. Before this review goes any farther I would like to give special thanks to Sandra at Paisano Publications for sending me their last two copies of this groundbreaking magazine. In 1999, I had been collecting tattoo magazines for about 6 years and had just received my first tattoo from Pedro Baluga (who happened to be a guest editor for the premier issue). Inked gave me what I was looking for: reviews of black bands, articles on African body modification rituals, articles on black tattooists. Easy Riders Publications should be commended for even putting this magazine out at the time.
Miguel, this is awesome, totally worth more than a nod and hopefully more significant than a meager two issues would suggest. Urban ink is getting better, but the honest truth is they have to sell to their constituency, which is the black urban market. But they are getting better they have a few excellent articles this issue that I will expound upon this week.
Brian Kaneko: So you do all Japanese tattoo art on people, but what others aspects of that culture do you use in tattooing? I always try to go to the same studio at the same time of year, and most of the places I go visit are doing mostly Japanese-style as well so sometimes we can work together on the same customer. For painting, I love to paint with ink, like the old style suiboku- ga, and I like to do large-scale paintings.
I think it’s more just, you know, things that I like and things that inspire me, more than historic things, I think. That’s interesting about your son, man.  That, even having a father who was so heavily tattooed, he would still approach his first tattoo in that sort of environment. Growing up in Southern California, you’re inundated by Latino and gang-style tattooing on people that you see everyday. Living where you live, man, you’ve got some of the best, fine-line, Latino, black & gray—you’ve got some of the best of that style of tattooing in the world. I have friends that never got a tat, and I can’t help but just go, “God…that’s so cool dude—you don’t have any tats. I was going to say, you know, if Social Distortion hadn’t worked out, you might have become a tattoo artist—because that’s what happened to a whole lot of us from that era.
So I wanted to rap with you, if I could, about the length of time you took between the last record and this new record. We did some shows overseas with you guys in Europe, which was my first time seeing you guys overseas at a couple of festivals, and in Italy, in Milan in particular, at that festival inside that hangar that we did last year—I couldn’t believe the way that fans were so ravenous for you guys over there as well.
We have great hopes, thanks to Oliver Peck and Shane Trulin, to eventually put together a nice article on Eric’s life and work.
Egyptian culture is really important as a part of tattoo because it is known that tattoos are originated from egyptian time and  culture it is really hard to find this kind of tattoo lu- egyptian tattoo ideas. So a lot of you may be wondering why I decided to do a reality show… Yes, we know that some of the shows have put a bad taste in your mouth, and people say that it’s for sell-outs blah-blah-blah, but think about this as an artist in the industry… Some of us are looked up to for advice and guidance from younger artists. Our cast also includes Tommy Helm runner-up of Ink Masters Season 1, and a new face to the community, Jazmin Rodriquez. I totally agree that there is gonna be tattoo reality shows, and great artists like Gus should step up to try and make sure that these shows reflect as well on us as possible.


We as professionals have the responsibility to inform clients of the best methods to achieve the best ends. It had a short run of two issues, when Easy Riders Publications (later known as Paisano Publications) decided to stop the magazine for reasons unknown. Today's Inked is a progressive publication that pays homage to all of tattoo culture, unlike others in the industry.
It also published Tattoo, Tattoo Flash, Easy Rider, Biker, Savage, V-Twin and In the Wind, and considering most of these titles were geared largely towards biker readership, creating a mag about tattooed black skin was a progressive and gutsy move. First, the customer contacts me by e-mail, which is the easiest way to get in touch with me. The reason why I want to do that is to make sure we understand the meaning of the design, then we can move on or not. I’ve been working for a couple of years now on a dragon exhibition with my friend Mike Roper. For me personally, it’s been more like things that are reflections of me, or things that are in my life.
And I think you hit on something interesting — how in the eighties and nineties, tattooing was an anti-social statement, and now, it’s almost just a fashion statement. I found this to be a great way of helping the industry, plus I’m getting paid of course. Somebody’s going to have a bad fucking tattoo and with scratchers, or uneducated artists doing tattoos we know this to be very true. However my impression from the episode that I saw was that every tattoo that was taken on was not successfully covered. The majority of magazines were a disappointment to me -- there was rarely a black person in any of them, and I just wanted to see an example of what was possible on my own complexion.
I actually do believe that the whole idea that only light or white skin can take colours is problematic on a whole bunch of levels. Between Mike Roper’s (Horikumo) studio in Arizona, the Diamond Club in San Francisco for America, Ivan Szazi’s studio in Sao Paulo, some time at Mick Tattoo in Zurich, and in Japan at Tattoo Soul in Ikebukuro and Mindscape Tattoo in Okazaki.
Growing up in Southern California, you saw it on cholos, you saw it on sailors at the Pike.
Did you think, you know, I’d like to get some tattoos like that; I’d like to get some black and gray imagery, some Latino imagery? From then until now, what were the changes in the writing, recording and producing process, or were you just taking the right amount of time for the songs, and for the record that you wanted to record? But I’d just gotten back together with my oldest son’s mom, and started raising a family, and started restoring a house to move into—just a lot of normal, everyday life things. I was pulling 16-hour workdays six days a week for a little over a month, which was not an easy task. Yes, it’s gotten a bad rap in the tattoo world but when I was given the opportunity to film a show I took it so I could show America that we can be positive role models to the average person aspiring to be a tattoo artist. Some of which were so bad that they were hurting their relationships, self-esteem and outlook on life. They were not successfully covered because they were too bad and too dark to be covered, and should not have been taken on. The general public is does not possess the training we do, and to them these tattoos look like success’.


How did they get all that color into that black chick's skin, was the first thing on my mind. I also just wanted a tattoo magazine to discuss something I could relate to: being a black kid from the inner city. I think that the industry is dominated by folks who don't actually see or fully understand Black skin and who don't have to because they're not Black. I was 17, you know, and I drank five beers before I went in [laughs]…and I got this heart right here, and this banner—which I designed myself—and like a typical teenager, I wrote Heartbreaker across it. You have a lot of tattoos that are in that style—was that your intention, when you knew you wanted to get tattooed? All these pro athletes are getting tats, going right to the neck…it takes a little bit of the fun out of it. We cannot stop the ever-growing interest in this trade so why not educate them the best we can and with Spike TV in over 98.7 million homes. On the show, we take on the task of these people’s TATTOO NIGHTMARES and give them new hope at the end of the long hours of getting tattooed on the show. I have the utmost respect for Gus, but his tattoo was very deficient as well, the old design showed right through clearly even before healing. You will also get to see re-enactments of their stories, which I can’t wait to see, because some were just too damn crazy to hear. As if people don’t already cop an attitude when we try to inform them of the proper way to acheive the best result when they have a tattoo that is beyond the limits of a coverup. But I told myself that I would never let eight years go by again without a record, but before you know it, there were six. What better way to show them clean tattooing, sterilization, customer service, pride in your art and community.
We are not magicians and can not cover up the worst of tattoos the way this show is incinuating. And back then it was kind of like, I’m 17, I’m looking at a Stray Cats album, and I’m going, “Okay, I just want four”, here, and here, [Mike gestures to both forearms and both biceps] But you can’t just get four, you know?
Trust me, man… the pressure was high representing this community and also all my great friends that I wouldn’t want to let down. We all know abou the cover up of the coverup, which resulted due to an artist not informing there client of the realities of there tattoos state, or biting off more than they can chew. I know I would not be proud to wear any of the tattoos done, and as an artist that would dissapoint me tremendously. And correct me if I’m wrong, but back then, and throughout history, it seems to that tattooing was for anti-social reasons, an anti-social statement. It’s like, “You mean, because you’re sleeved, you and I have something in common?” To me, that’s the same as just living in the same city as me. I was like, “Trust me, son.” Because there is some amount of preparation that I wish I would have done with my tats, of course. So you know, there’s a certain aspect to going and getting fresh flash tattoos, and having it all be uniform—like I didn’t know that you were supposed to get big pieces first, and all that.



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