Tattoo Nation: a black and grey history exposed

Tattoo Nation: a black and grey history exposed

CultureApril 04, 2013

When we’re all old, shuffling beings of petrified mass there won’t be much that will be easily remembered. Recalling intimate moments of our past will be more of an insufferable chore than a pleasant pastime. While we sit still, drenched in our own processed bourbon, popping random pills and wishing loved ones would call, what then is going to help us all remember? For one-thirds of us who statistically have them, it will be worn-out, weathered tattoos. That bunched up, faded-green mass of ink above your ass will no doubt have a story and while they won’t look near as clean and crisp as the day we all received them, our tattoos will echo a time we chose to embody.

Tomorrow, April 4th, 2013, Tattoo Nation will hit Denver theaters during its national debut. It’s a gritty documentary based on the black and grey revolution that is known to be one of the most polarizing moments in tattooing’s long history. Director Eric Schwartz (who also proudly calls Denver home) rallies together a few of the most legendary names in the industry including Jack Rudy, Ed Hardy, Kate Hellenbrand and Mark Mahoney, to tell the story of a uniquely American transformation. Tattoo Nation is Schwartz’s first run around in film that was inspired by his photographic work titled “The Tattooed” which portrays the heavy influence Chicano and prison culture played in the progression of modern day ink work.

“It was the Chicano population that developed the illustrative fine line style with black & grey shading. This technique was born in the prison system,” says Schwartz. “The Chicanos started something that we take for granted today. They had images that were personal and important to them, such as a portrait of a loved one or lettering declaring which neighborhood they came from. It was the Chicanos that started the idea of client driven custom work in the field of tattoo.”

Other appearances include Blink 182’s Travis Barker, legendary screen-actor Danny Trejo and is narrated by L.A. Ink’s Corey Miller, who himself has a long and historical background in the art of the iconic black and grey form.

Don’t expect the film to be a client abusing cliché imagery and giving the camera a sob story about what a tattoo means and how it’s to be interpreted. The cast represents some of the real pioneers in modern day tattooing with their stories told directly from how they remember it. Follow the link for theater releases and to purchase tickets now. Tattoo Nation is a limited showing.

-By Brian "BF" Frederick