Skin & Bone is a combination gallery and tattoo studio. The gallery will exhibit art and ethnographic handicrafts related to tattooing, while the studio will have Colin Dale tattooing alongside various guest artists throughout the year. Through his years of travelling and tattooing around the world Colin has had the pleasure to meet and work alongside a wide range of tattoo artists and experts working in ethnographic and other specialized styles. Amongst these friends, we have hand-tattooists from Borneo, Polynesia and Japan as well as some of the world's leading artists in Blackwork and Dotwork coming to visit. Check the homepage to see some of the work

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Burn & Pillage Tour 2016: Københavns Middelalder Marked KMM

Our first market for the year was the Copenhagen Medieval Market.
Held during the 4 day Pinse long weekend it fell earlier than usual this year and was rather cold. Aside from the cold and one day of rain the weather was relatively sunny and we had a fantastic time reconnecting with friends we haven't seen since last Summer. The market is blended... primarily Medieval but in the last few years the Viking reenactors have really been making a push to take over. There is a roleplay area as well where kids can get outfitted with the latest latex weapons or try their hand at battle against a Troll. Held in Valby Parken in central Copenhagen means that this is also one of the most visited Markets of the Summer.


Please people... only go to Professional Tattooists at the Markets

Loki and his girlfriend Rebekka... who holds her own with a sword

Started the weekend by continuing on a project I've been working on... Odin's Spear, Gungnir

Klaus wanted a spear up the side of his leg similar to leg tattoos found in the Hawaiían culture and of which I've done a few Nordic variations. Unfortunately a spear would have been a very thin design to set on a leg and still have it recognizable as a spear. To compensate for this we stretched the design as long as we could and then widened it by putting a Celtic Key Pattern on each side of the spear to frame it in. In this way the spear is still a slim negative space with a rune text down the shaft while the tattoo itself gets some width and strength. This tattoo was done over 2 and a half visits

Day 2
a Family Tattoo for Thomas

Man & Wife... surrounded by the Sun and 3 Daughters

First Tattoo

Day 3
Very cold and raining so I continued on "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" for the day in the back room on some warm lambskins

Day 4
Kept the day free to do some walk ins in collaboration with Loki

Had the pleasure of tattooing a fellow tattooist from Celtic Tattoo in Germany.
I asked him if he ever thought of taking up hand tattooing at the markets and he replied, "... of course not, this is my vacation"
Wise man indeed

Got to tattoo a heraldry design on one of the knights who was so persistant that I finally was lucky enough to find time.

One final Vejviser before heading home

And that was all for this year

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Copycats: Part 2, Art imitates Life

Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life
- Oscar Wilde

Life doesn't imitate Art... it imitates Bad Television
- Woody Allen

Working with Cultural tattooing I'm actually more of a believer in Art Imitating Life as all the forms we use in Cultural tattooing are derived from forms in nature... whether the spirals of a Koru, the triangles of Shark's teeth or the scales of a Serpent. However art does seem to have an influence on popular culture and in this way our own lives through fashion and media. An original idea can become popular and then in turn watered down through excessive copies in all aspects of our existance... however this means little to the Koru, Shark and Serpent ;-)

Generally Deviant Art has become a forum for people to steal other peoples art and post it as their own :-) However I really like this piece... not only is it technically well done I would consider it almost a collage, taking reference from many different sources and combining them into a beautiful tribute to the character of Rollo on the Vikings series.

The source of the tattoo is not historical, but rather inspired by a freehand piece I did on Jan Ronald from Holland.
Art Imitates Life

The character of Rollo has tattoos painted on his shoulders and chest representing the two Nordic wolves Sköl & Hati who chase the Sun & Moon around the Earth. Occasionally they come close to succeeding as seen by solar and lunar eclipses.

This design was actually inspired by a T-shirt design by Nordic silversmith Alban Depper 
Life Imitates Art

And Art Imitates Life...
A copy of one of my tattoos done as a belt pouch
Unfortunately the design was taken before the piece was completed (which continues onto the chest) so the heads and tails of these dragons and serpents don't make much sense :-(

Another belt pouch made by the same craftsman using my Vitruvian Thor design as inspiration
I originally made this design for the Florence Tattoo Convention poster in 2015 and it was used for the convention T-shirts and Trophies as well.

The characters of Floki and Ragnar showing Floki's new head tattoo with a row of runes

I did this piece back in April 2013 at the Frankfurt Tattoo Convention... coincidence?

A hand embroidered cloak done as an award for a Medieval Tournament

The original design on Alex Cramariuc of ACA Kreations
including the Midgaards Serpent biting it's own tail in the branches, while Nidhögg is gnawing at the roots below

While the unders and overs on this knotwork are cringeworthy what really caught my attention was the Dragon head

Here is Sonny...
a monster of a man with his freehand Rune Dragons designed by me many years ago. 
You can see on his right chest where the inspiration for the axehead is derived.

Another monster of a man... the character of Leif from the Vikings series who was eventually sacrificed to the Gods.
The Midgaards Serpent in the middle of the chest is based on one of my designs and is surrounded by various other designs both historical and contemporary.
I applaude the fact that the Vikings series is putting such emphasis on the tattooing of the Vikings as described by Ibn Fadlan. I also realize that it is difficult to trace every source on the internet (especially by people outside the tattoo community) but it would be nice to get credit when designs are used.
However it is also a bit of an honour to have my work mistaken for historical sources. Due to the poularity of the Vikings series we are also seeing alot more interest in Nordic designs as tattoos that we have been spending so many years trying to promote.

Another piece from Deviant Art... a copy of the same freehand dragon.
The artist was offering this for sale as a tattoo design :-( So now there are dozens of people going around with copies of an original piece while another person makes the money :-(

A stylized Raven on the side of Ragnar's head was eventually covered by a mishmash of unrecognizable scribbles in later episodes...

The original idea however has been the inspiration for many Viking style head tattoos.
Here is a hand tattoo I did on a Rus Viking in St. Petersburg several years ago 
with a Raven of my own design...
And so Art Imitates Life again :-)

Here is a post end carved with a dragon's head of my design... I actually was asked by Asger for permission to use one of the designs, but instead I drew him an original with a great result. 
I've been seeing alot more of my work showing up on the Viking markets the last several years as leatherwork, woodwork and embroidery. Sometimes people know the source and other times not. If it is a one off design for their own personal use I have no problem with this. I think it is flattering that people like my work and I feel that I have in some way made a mark on modern Viking culture. However I would take offence if someone were to get a copy of one of my tattoo designs or start mass producing my designs without consent or credit given.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Z-Tattoo Interview: Guest Artist Jean Michel Manutea

Our guest artist Jean Michel Manutea was visiting the other month and I was able to sit and talk to him over a few whiskys on the last night of his stay. I wrote up a brief interview of what I remembered for Z-Tattoo Magazine which is in their latest issue to be released later this week.  I probably only remember about half of what we talked about... Here is the condensed version of a highly entertaining evening ;-)
Jean Michel will be returning to Skin&Bone in October

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Copycats, Fanboys and Identity Theft: part 1

I’m not sure where to start this post as most of what I have to say, has been said before… and the truth of the words seem to lose their power with repetition. In the New World Order most people won’t even bother to read an entire post and prefer to merely “like” and scroll on. So I will try to keep your attention with a few “kitten calendar quotes” mixed with some pretty pictures as a narrative hook so we can all get safely through this to the end.

I on my own part have never posted photos of my own tattoos but am confronted with copies of them on the internet on many occasions… the price of fame I guess
I actually was reading an article online about people copying other peoples tattoos where the author stated that, "... it was the peoples own fault for posting photos of work if they didn't want it copied". I thought that this was the equivilent of blaming rape victums for dressing provocatively. The funny thing was that at the end of the article I was pointed toward "other articles which might interest me" which poetically showed a photo of my own tattoos with the caption:

Artist Takes Pictures of his Tattooed Hands to Encourage Creativity

My forearms have been a testing ground for various hand tattooing techniques, tools and substances over the last 20 years. I have Polynesian Tatau with boars tooth combs, Inuit sewing with bone needle and sinew, Handpoking with various tools... hawthorn, rosethorn, flintstone as well as inks made from soot, coal and even ochre. The runes are a personal text chosen from the Older Edda and transcribed into Icelandic with Icelandic runes.

A couple bands inspired from my forearms

An entire forearm copy with Inuit designs on top instead of wrist... I assume the runetext is one of her own.

WTF!!! right Loki?

I started Sewing myself back in 1998 after having studied Inuit tattooing and art for many years. I was fortunate enough to work as a Clinical Illustrator at the same hospital which autopsied the Qilakitsoq mummies and used my research to eventually attempt to revive the traditions which had died out the century before. Initially I just wanted to recreate the technique for myself... my main interest was more in the patterns which had come into disuse. Whether they are tattooed with machine, hand or sewing is of lesser importance than the survival of the designs. However just in the last year or two there have been several tattooists trying out the sewing technique.   

These photos were taken by French photographer Claire Artemyz and have been show in various articles and books over the years and has probably been used as inspiration on many occasions.

Often within cultural tattooing such as the Polynesian you have a series of symbols which have specific meanings and form a visual language of sorts. While the symbols are repeated, how they are put together is individual and used to tell a more personal story of who you are.
However, you also find some cultures where the tattooing designs are copied and repeated more exactly within the members of the tribe to show a fellow kinship rather than individual achievments.

For our own part you see the same thing with European tattooing where Flash designs covered all the walls with designs which were repeated regularly. Even if a person met another with the same design  they would often have a common reference... having served in the military, being from the same country or merely having visited the same tattooist. A tribal bond of sorts.
Nowadays people are seeking more individual expressions than tribal affiliations but chances are even if you never meet someone with the same tattoo you may find it on the internet at some point.

Recently fellow artist Dion Kaszas did a tribute painting of this photo which he said inspire him in his search to revive the tattooing practices of his own culture including sewing. While this is a copy of Claire Artemyz's photo imagery it is neither a copy of the actual photo or tattoos, as it is a personal interpretation in a different medium. Being a one off painting it is also not being mass produced for profit and Dion has been kind enough to give credit to Claire and myself.
Kids... always quote your sources!

Artist Takes Pictures Of His Tattooed Arms To Encourage Creativity???

This was the recent heading on an article posted on the Tattoodo blog
feel free to post comments on the link:

Tattoo Do Do

Unfortunately Claire's photo has also been used inspiration for other tattoos. While I've seen copies of Nanna's and my tattoos before, but could always comfort myself with the knowledge that I made them first and that Nanna and I are so visable on the tattoo scene that any copies would remain mere copies. However Ponypork has 55K followers and now Tattoodo has also done an article on the photos he has taken of #whatmyhandsdoing , giving credence to these tattoos as originals within the tattoo community... 
so now it starts to look like he has the original while I am a fanboy with a copy. 

It is sort of cool when people start thinking that my work is traditional.. but it is also personal. When people start posting it as their own or promoting themselves with it that things get messy. The problem is that many people just use google and search "Viking or Polynesian Tattoos" instead of searching "Viking or Polynesian Art" to find the original sources. So their inspiration is already from another contemporary artists work rather than historical sources
The problem in some cases is that the Asian tradition of teaching comes from the repetition of copying ones master until one can recreate it perfectly and then take the masters work farther by creating your own pieces. However nowadays people don't take the time to be taught, they would rather "Do" than "Learn"... one continues to copy the masters, but it is often not ones own master. In the Western world this is also often seen... not because of tradition, but usually just laziness.

But what can you do?
PonyPork aka Romo Jack is doing photos as art... the photos themself are not a copy of my work, while the significant imagery repeated in all his photos is a copy of my tattoos. Asking him to remove the photos is a bit redundant now... asking him to refrain from doing more photos would be censorship and asking him to remove the tattoos would be against the  Genevia Conventions.
Romo Jack is not a tattooist... he has copied my tattoos but is not copying my work. However by promoting this image as his own it could constitute a type of identity theft couldn't it?
And despite the artistic value of the photos... would they have been near as interesting if not for the tattoos?

Well at least "The King" has more than 55K followers :-)

While I don't think Romo Jack's intentions were malicious they are unfortunate. He is from Indonesia and has a Mentawai tattoo adorning his other forearm, where the tradition of members of the tribe having the same tattoos is still alive. I myself share tattoos with members of the Mentawai, Iban and other tribes as well. It would also be a shame if he couldn't continue creating this type of art. I'm secure enough in myself not to let this bother me, so consider this more as a social commentary of tattoos and tradition versus social media.
You can check more of Romo Jack's photos of  #whatmyhandsdoing on Instagram@ponypork