#BoozyLife is Bound for Puerto Rico and Senzala Tattoo

Puerto Rico Bound

Puerto Rico Bound

Finally, after years of being the airport drop-off driver for this very commonly repeated trip, I’m tagging along to Puerto Rico with the husband! Early December, my man Lefty will be back at it, doing a guest spot at Senzala Tattoo in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico–one of the oldest existing cities in America. I’ll be blogging along the way, hanging out at the tattoo shop, trying local delicacies and boozy beverages galore–when I’m not touring rainforests and a bioluminescent bay…..and beaches, and hiking….

Have any recommendations for stops along the way that I absolutely shouldn’t miss? Leave a comment here, on my FB page, or tweet at me on Twitter @BoozyLife 🙂

Lefty at Senzala Dec 8-14

Lefty at Senzala Dec 8-14

Aaaand, if you’d like to schedule a tattoo appointment with Lefty while we’re in PR, get a hold of Senzala Tattoo for any tattoo availability and booking (follow the link above)!

Tattoo Conventions and (Boozy)Life on the Road

Paris Tattoo Convention

Paris Tattoo Convention

Tattoo Conventions are a huge business, and show numbers are growing exponentially worldwide. Promoters compete for the best weekends, and to host the biggest names in tattooing. Larger cities and markets often have the highest regarded shows- Paris and London are long running, premiere events that artists try to plan their schedules around. Serious tattoo collectors often follow favorite artists on social media, and travel hundreds of miles for a sitting with an artist they might not otherwise have access to. Sites like Facebook and Instagram help artists to gain exposure internationally, and connect first hand with potential clients. So, what happens at these things? Why would a tattoo artist go out of their comfort zone and hit the road?

NETWORKING- Conventions are a great place to expand your circle. The best of the best choose only particular shows- if you’re good enough to get in, you’re hanging with the top percentage of artists practicing the craft.

Tin Tin from Paris

Tin Tin from Paris

Meeting other artists and connecting on a personal level sets up future growth potential. ‘Guest spots’ are essentially invites to work at another shop for a small amount of time, which enable artists to learn from each other and work in a different space. Give and take to build and grow within the circle.

IMG_0804.JPGTATTOOING- YES, tattoo artists tattoo at tattoo conventions. Seems like common sense, right? Artists pay for a booth that has all of the necessities to work,- tables, chairs, electricity, and basic supplies are provided (paper towels, electricity, etc.). Artists vary in setup: some bring a banner and their equipment, others can enjoy more showmanship and decorate the booth with a bit more flare. Convention promoters for high end shows focus on safety, for clients as well as artists. If you want to get tattooed by a particular artist, it’s always a good idea to communicate with them first! Email usually works best,  and setting up an appoint will guarantee that you’re not left out of getting tattooed. Saturday is usually the busiest day of any show, so plan accordingly.

EXPOSURE- Getting out there builds a tattoo artist’s name as well as client base. The more people that see you on the road (artists and clients alike), the more familiar you become within the tattoo industry. Magazines and media cover larger shows, and now it’s pretty common to see TV cameras too. Nothing like a good freak show! 🙂

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Artists on the beach in Tofino, Vancouver Island

TRAVEL- If you had a job that allowed you to see the world, and it required your dedication and energy and study to continue to improve and grow? Would you? Tattoo artists take advantage of these opportunities, absorbing reference and details from touring like sponges. Artwork is a living process, and the work these artists produce is even more so. Seeing this great big world adds a level of a different consciousness, and a tie to the world history of tattooing.

20140314-162425.jpgLOCATIONS- So, where the hell are these tattoo conventions? Damn near everywhere!  If it’s a major city, there is at least one major show. If there are no shows near you, chances are you’re not living in a metropolitan area! Want to go to one? TRAVEL!! Drive, fly, however….don’t stagnate and wait for one of these shows to come to you in the stix. Make a weekend of it, spend a day at the show, and then enjoy the area you’re in! That’s where I came up with the BoozyLife–conventions are fun, but unless you’re getting tattooed CONVENTIONS ARE BORING AFTER A FEW HOURS. YOU CAN ONLY WALK SO MANY LAPS AROUND THE FLOOR BEFORE YOUR EYES GLAZE OVER. Head to a city, catch a convention, and see what that particular city has to offer! I focus on mostly wineries and booze, but tattoo artists LOVE to eat at the highest rated gourmet restaurants– also a tradition for Sunday night dinner at the wrap of the show. If you see a gang of heavily tattooed, usually slightly loud men and women headed into your restaurant after eight on a Sunday night? LET THEM IN. They will make it worth your while (servers LOVE these guys!)

In our booth

In our booth

Now that you have all that info, where is a show near you? Well, we landed in Ithaca because it’s rural, but about four hours central to several hubs we use a lot. (NYC, Toronto, Montreal). Rochester is now home to the Roc City Tattoo Expo, best upstate NY convention by far– this year May 1st-3rd! http://www.roccitytattooexpo.com

We also use the website http://www.worldtattooevents.com  This comprehensive calendar lists conventions in the US, Europe, Canada, and damn near everywhere else in the world. No matter where you are, Waldo….there’s a show (and probably a winery or two) worth checking out. Keep reading BOOZYLIFE to see where we end up next…catch you soon kids!Chardonnay vines in the snow

Time Lapse Tattoo Test with Lefty and Kees at HOF

Cool climate Riesling grapes

Cool climate Riesling grapes

Ok, more GoPro testing the other day! Lefty and his client Kees (vineyard manager for Boundary Breaks) were nice enough to let me harass them with the camera during their latest session. We taped the camera mount to Eddie’s mirror, and just let it run…there is no audio in the interest of keeping the session between men, not to mention I did leave for a bit with Kees’ BoozyWife and hit the wine bar for a few minutes 😉 Tricky stuff, but fun! I’m catching on with the editing software, but if anyone has an editor they love, chime in!

LeftyBastard and I will be headed up to Good Point Tattoo in Oakville next week so I can get more work on my sleeve, and perhaps hit a few Niagara on the Lake spots….thus all this testing! You can check out the fastest tattoo session with Lefty and Kees here: http://youtu.be/-Y6Caw9_VW8

Take a look at Boundary Breaks’ beautiful website HERE: http://boundarybreaks.com

Eight Year Tattoo Anniversary –My Road to a Backpiece

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From the time I was young, I had an infatuation with New York City. Maybe it was the fact that my uncle had cable, and after school I would watch cartoons that were littered with commercials for magical places like Toys R Us and Macy’s, where children played with toys that came to life. So much excitement, so many things to do! I needed to go there. My first trip to NYC was with my fifth grade art history club. We went to a few major museums, the Village, the World Trade Center (still have pics from the observation windows), and Chinatown, where one of my teachers was pick pocketed in the bathroom of the buffet restaurant by a tricky woman of at least eighty. By the time we made it back to the bus, I was in tears. I didn’t want to leave-there was the feeling that I was missing something, that I was leaving something behind. I would make many trips, always wanting to stay there, missing that other piece of myself when I left.

I finished my time in Upstate NY, and spent the next twelve years moving around the east coast for my job as an event photography manager for Kodak. When the eventual management spot opened in NYC, I fought to get it-and the spot was mine. I managed the Kodak imaging area for the new World of Disney on 55th St. and Fifth Avenue. I also started researching tattoo artists-I had decided to take the next step and start a traditional Phoenix back piece. After almost a year and change, I was introduced to tattoo artist Eddie Molina through a friend of a friend. His tattoo work fit what I had in mind perfectly, and he worked all custom on large pieces, meaning the piece would be drawn on to fit my body’s natural curves.

From outline to color-six months

From outline to color-six months

Eddie was in a transitional period where he was trying to leave the city for a while and get perspective on what he wanted to do in his future tattooing career. I sat for him once a week, sometimes twice, in the fear that one day Eddie would leave and I would have to find him to finish my back. It was an unfounded fear, but one that I had starting such a large piece. My first sitting we lined in the entire bird; second sitting was the entire tail and feathers. Progress was fast, and I was investing most of my spare time to it as well. A back piece is a huge investment, not only financially but emotionally as well as physically. Trust in your artist is paramount.

I was paying hourly for my tattoo, every session, but I often felt like I wasn’t doing enough to compensate Eddie for what he was giving me. My Phoenix is a symbol, my own forever talisman. It reminds me that I am a strong, fierce, powerful female energy, and completion would mark my journey towards being the woman I wanted to eventually be. The divine female power, forever etched in my skin. I became Eddie’s go-to gal, driving him to JFK and saving cab fares for multiple trips. After all, I was still stubborn enough to keep a car in Queens. We became friends outside the studio, spending too many hours trapped in traffic on the Grand Central Parkway, and Eddie came to recognize that he was as much of a shaman to me as a tattooer.

Finished main image

Finished main image

We started the piece in June of 2006. We were finishing the final touch up session on my bird November 22, 2006-just six months from the start of the Sharpie sessions. I could not believe how fast Eddie accomplished the goal, and how much the entire process had meant to me as a woman growing into her own skin, to decorate it with meaning. I was over the moon with my new work…and a few weeks later, already missing our tattoo sessions, called him to say thank you again. It turned out my tattoo artist missed seeing me too, and asked me out for dinner and a movie. We went to a lovely churrasco for dinner, then saw Happy Feet in IMAX. (Yes, the penguin movie. Don’t judge, that set me up for a marriage full of animated joys! Ha!) Afterwards, we walked to the train station through Central Park, wandering in the moonlight. Looking back, I’ve never had another night like that.

So, eight years later–We moved upstate, bought a house, got married, and adopted a few fur kids. Eddie built his dream tattoo shop, and here we are, making a go of it.20130423-112450.jpg We’ve both lost a parent, family close to us, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Eddie travels internationally for his tattoo career, sometimes going as far as Japan or Korea. Our life together isn’t always easy, there are challenges and balances and difficulties just like anything else. We have each other, and we figure it out as we go.

Walking down the aisle, showing my artwork

Walking down the aisle, showing my artwork

As for my Phoenix? It took six months to finish the main image of the bird, and the last seven years working on background elements. No rush anymore, so we’ve taken the slow and steady path. My background is now a collaborative effort with our good friend Cory Ferguson , owner of Good Point Tattoo Oakvile ON.

Eddie n Cory, my magicians

Eddie n Cory, my magicians

This. Is. SPAAAARTAAAAAA!!

This. Is. SPAAAARTAAAAAA!!

Husband's turn

Husband’s turn

The piece has been a reflection of my journey into the tattoo world, so I’m excited to also have a close friend add to it.

progress

progress

IMG_1302I’m not sure how much longer we have to go with my back. Hell, it might never truly be finished, which is now a reflection of my life in the tattoo world. Strangest thing though, whenever I leave NYC now? I never feel like I’m leaving part of myself behind anymore….I think I took him with me. <3

Us.

Us.

Tattooing as an Artform, and the Stigma That Is Still Attached: Legitimate Business, or still just for Sailors and Whores?

The Bossman at work-- our business The Hand of Fate Tattoo in Ithaca, NY.

The Bossman at work– our business The Hand of Fate Tattoo in Ithaca, NY.

My husband Edward Molina is an artist. His chosen medium is often skin, but he is more than incredible on canvas, walls, and office envelopes. He is the ultimate in duality; a talented, committed artist, and a business owner that is also first and foremost a tattooer. I was raised by a woman that absolutely hated tattoos, as well as the craft. Draw on paper, please, just not on my daughter. Her mentality never changed, even though she loved my husband dearly. I understood her position, but I never let it change my stance, and eventual tattoo wife-dom. I’m relatively heavily tattooed at this point, and I’ve definitely noticed some changes in the way people tend to react to me at times. Love it or hate it, I’m a heavily tattooed woman, that is absolutely invested in being a collector of custom artwork created just for me.

Today, I was scrolling online and an article in the Democrat & Chronicle Rochester caught my attention. Have a read if you’d like, that is what started my line of thought that led to this post. Are tattoo studios ‘artists’ studios’? Pittsford says NO. Once I clicked on the link, I realized these are good friends of ours! Joseph ‘Jet’ DiProjetto is the owner of Love Hate Tattoo in Rochester, a VERY well established shop, AND the promoter for the Roc City Tattoo Expo, probably the best convention in upstate NY to date. It is the only convention that we attend in upstate NY, because it is by invitation only, and the artist roster is always spectacular talent from around the world. Now, what happens when this very respected businessman tries to open a satellite studio in the burbs for his clients? According to the article:

“The sticking point for the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals was whether the men would work out of an “artists’ studio.”

Defining their workplace was crucial because village zoning regulations specify that artists doing business in the section of Pittsford where these men wanted to set up shop must work out of an “artists’ studio.”

After much back and forth, the board voted 4-to-1 to uphold a decision of the village building inspector that the workplace of Joseph DiProjetto and Ben Wight wouldn’t meet code.

You see, DiProjetto and Wight are tattoo artists and they’re covered in ink.”

Until pretty recently, my tattoos were easy to keep covered. Once I jumped to the ‘dark side’, the reactions I get in the professional forum vary, from interest to disdain, and most folks are happy to tell me what they think without prompting. I understand this is an article that covers a zoning disagreement, but it’s so much more from a tattoo shop owners’ standpoint. I worked in the über corporate Walt Disney World Orlando, and then for EIS Kodak as a location manager in New York City. While most corporations still call for employees to cover their artwork, there is a movement towards a less strict body art policy. When I was the photo manager at Top of the Rock (yes, the big NYC observation deck was one of our multiple million dollar accounts, and yes, a tattoo collector was running the place), I was also dating my now husband. I saw how New York City tattoo shops operated. Trust me, a tattoo shop IS A BUSINESS. Again, quoting from the D&C article-

“Village zoning regulations permit upward of 30 types of businesses there, from jewelers and opticians to supermarkets and drug stores, as well as “other retail businesses and service uses of similar character.”

Ok, there it is–of a ‘similar character’ to already existing businesses. I help run a business that bought us a house, pays for our existence, and keeps kibble in bowls. Compared to my TOTR gig, it’s definitely more of a relaxed environment day to day. In leu of that, I deal with much of the same day to day business goings on that I used to. Advertising, marketing, budgets, customer service, banking–all of this goes into daily operations. It’s a business, it’s an artist studio, and it’s a WAY OF LIFE, not just a job.

What it comes down to? The narrow minded, anti tattoo folks trying to keep the deviants out of their awesome little hamlet. No worries, we go where we are appreciated. Something similar happened recently in our little College Town area as well, so the hill isn’t any better in our seemingly liberal little town–make no mistake. Some individuals still hold true that tattoos are for sailors, whores, and pirates. I kind of dig that, actually. As Jet himself put it-

“It comes down to Pittsford not wanting tattooed people in their town doing business,” said DiProjetto. “It’s okay if a tattooed person is pumping your gas, but a tattooed person opening a business in Mayberry won’t fly.”

What do you think? I’d love to hear your responses below!

Art Tattoo Show Montreal 2014

IMG_0800.JPG BoozyLife is in Montreal this weekend for the 2014 Montreal Tattoo Art Show! Check in after the event for my wrap up, or follow along on my Instagram at @missusmolina – Always a fantastic show put on by Pierre and Val of Tattoo Mania Studio, in the fabulous city of Montreal ☺️

Moms With Tattoos –A Photography Exhibit in Toronto by Cory Vanderploeg

I have been so busy with prepping for all of Eddie’s travels, I haven’t posted about our trip to NIX 2014 in Toronto! We went up just to see friends and socialize, no tattooing (yeah, right!), and it was a lovely weekend of friends and artwork, plus a lot of walking laps. I ran into another tattoo wife extraordinaire, Mrs. Sara Winterbottom, on her way to a gallery show she was featured in! Exciting to see a strong tattoo wife getting some attention too 😉

Sara is the CEO of Citrus City Tattoo and runs the tattoo shop along with her hubby and tattooer Keith Winterbottom. She and her man were on their way to an art gallery show featuring tattooed moms with their children–what a great idea! Sara and her lovely little girl River Jean sat for portraits, and the images are absolutely gorgeous. I’m including a few shots of Sara with her pics hanging in the gallery in Toronto. The love in their eyes is the focal point, and the tattoo work becomes secondary and softened. Tattooed women are fierce, independent, and sometimes loving moms as well. Beautiful, and I hope more photographers take note! Cory Vanderploeg is a photographer based in Toronto, and you can check out his website here: Cory Vanderploeg Photography.

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20140627-143518-52518525.jpgimages by Cory Vanderploeg