Sunday, May 6, 2012

A fresh start with Thomas Paine.

It has been far too long since my last real entry here. Over the past several months my attention has been solely getting the new shop renovated, opened, and finally getting settled in. We had our first formal event/opening and it was a huge success. (For more info on that, check out the shop's blog.) So now, I feel I can try to settle into some semblance of a new routine. Hopefully this will involve making more quality time with the lady and the mutts, drawing/painting, fishing/kayaking, and maybe even taking a class or two. I have wanted to learn French for years, but I digress. The point is, with the new space and all of positive influences that brings, I really hope to continue in a solid forward direction... With hopefully a bit more time for introspection and calm that has been missing lately. That my friends, is where the blog comes in.

When I first started keeping a blog I intended to use it as some sort of motivation and/or inspiration point. Both for myself and for anyone inclined to read on. For me it allows the opportunity to crystallize my thoughts in a way similar to keeping a journal. Writing it knowing others may read it is the aspect that keeps me on my toes. It forces me to finish out thoughts and ideas I would normally not embellish were I merely writing for myself.

With all of that said, the primary point of this post is a painting tribute to Thomas Paine I had done last month. It was for a good friends group show in Maryland. The theme of the show was also the title of the show. Simply the size restriction of "8x10". The first year he did the show, I had submitted a stonewall Jackson tribute. I figured on keeping the historical tribute aspect, and had been fascinated with the story of Thomas Paine. To try to explain the story of his life and more particularly the aspects that motivated the elements of this painting would take far more than most folks have the patience to read. I plan to make prints of this available and will write and enclose a brake down of the imagery for anyone interested.

Below are the process photos of the artwork and of course the finished piece.
Thanks so much to Chico for letting me be involved in his show.
Thanks to you for caring to look at it.

Above shows the beginning stage. Research and notes. There are so many facets to Mr. Paine's life it was hard to figure a direction to take the painting. Then I got to reading about his death. Again, there is too much to get into here. Just know his story goes on and gets extremely bizarre.

1st thumbnail that actually captured a layout and feel I wanted in the final.

A bit more flushed out, at 8x10

Working out the individual sections.

Inked lines on cold press arches.

In progress and work area.

The final. "Thomas Paine. Author of Common Sense."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Goodbye to a friend.

As some folks may know, Holly and I recently moved. For the past month or so we have been living in a home in Pipersville, PA. In that time we had the chance to get to know the property owners, the Hobsons, fairly well. They have been constantly around taking care of the massive property, mowing and gardening seemingly non stop.

I had the chance to sit with them a week or two ago while they fed the deer in the back yard. They casually mentioned, that day was their 53rd wedding anniversary. They went on to explain that they both worked their asses off for most of their lives just so they could enjoy moments like that one. Arnold had explained a bit more how the property has been in their family for generations, and how he had cut wheat in the upper field with a scythe when he was younger. Ann has amazed us by mowing what i believe is around 15-20 acres with their john deer riding mower. It takes several days each week to keep it just how they want. When I asked why they put so much time into the property, Arnold explained they had done so for 50 years, why stop now. While she mows, he works to keep up his lumber milling routine. Another labor of love that you can see he takes great pride in.

The home we are living in was built by hand by Ann's father and the care and craftsmanship shows in every room. We are truly blessed or lucky or whatever you want to say to have had the chance to be here for even the short time we have. Even more effecting is the time we have been able to have with Arnold and Ann. In the short time we have lived here they have really held a place in our hearts. Ann has kept a garden across from our home, and has surprised us with bounty from it a few times already. It has been like living next door to our grandparents.

Today we got the news that Ann passed away suddenly from a form of leukemia. She was admitted on saturday, and passed on Monday. A shock to everyone.

We miss her after little more than a month of knowing her. My heart is crushed to think how her high school sweetheart and husband of so many years will cope with her loss.

Generations of wisdom and life experience are vanishing every day. If you have the opportunity to spend time with folks from past generations and you pass it up, you are a fool.

Rest well Mrs. Hobson. You will be missed.

Location:Hollow Horn Rd,Pipersville,United States

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mercury Tattoo Studio Doylestown...19 Donaldson St. Doylestown, PA 18901

It has been a long time since I’ve made any sort of substantial update on the ole’ blog. Largely it has been due to just being so absurdly busy. Both on the work front, and the home front. Holly and I have been in our new home for a month now. The new place is amazing! I'm writing this on our patio surrounded by trees, stars, frogs, and the sounds of 4th of July celebrations way off in the distance. Daily there are deer, turkey, turtles, foxes and countless other critters that share this quiet property in the hills of Pipersville, PA.

The largest and most important thing going on that would matter to anyone reading this, is finally being comfortable announcing the shop is moving! More accurately, we are opening a new shop while keeping the Glenside shop open under the new ownership of Drew Rash and Brian Patton. If all goes well, these changes should be happening in about a month. I am figuring on a late July/ early August opening time in Doylestown. The new shop will be under the name Mercury Tattoo Studio, Doylestown. While the original shop will keep the original name of Mercury Tattoo Studio, but adding “Glenside” to the name for clarification.

I am so damn excited to get this new shop up and running it is killing me. It has been in the works for several months, and for most of that time I haven’t felt comfortable making a formal announcement because there was always something hovering to keep the move from being 100%. I feel comfortable at this point as we have finally reached the point of starting renovations, and hanging the “coming soon” banners on the storefront.

The space itself is really well suited to what I was looking for. It was a dentist’s office for many years and has jumped from business to business for the past few years. There is a fair bit of work to be done inside and out. There are some issues we need to address to meet ADA standards that make up the majority of what needs to be done before opening. All of it is manageable tho, it simply comes down to the time it takes to get it all done. As for making it a space we are proud to call home, there is still a fair bit of that to do as well. Walls, floors, lighting, gardens (yeah how rad is that gardens!), and of course when all else is done a fresh coat of paint!

One of the best parts of the whole move is to be a part of the downtown community in Doylestown. Just since we have been working on the space we have already met and become friendly with a number of the local business owners. It is truly amazing how welcoming everyone has been. We have big plans to host more gallery shows, promote live music in town (most likely at Siren Records, one of my favorite record shops for over 20 years, that just happens to be about 30 yards from our front door!) and turn up the frequency of guest artists coming through. All of these things are just the sorts of activities that this town embraces. Man, im getting stoked just typing about it! haha

I could go on and on about the new place, but i’ll save you the rambling. Suffice to say it’s gonna be rad as hell!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Standing Like A Stone Wall.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to have a painting hanging At Punkrockfish Gallery in Ocean City MD. A good friend (and a hell of a good tattooer at Black Cobra in MD) Little Chico invited me to be a part of his show titled 8x10.

As you may be able to guess the only real requirement for the work, is that it fit into the 8" x 10" size requirement. There is a newspaper article about the show and about Chico here... Having the freedom of subject matter allowed me to put the time into an idea i had been kicking around for a bit. I have been on a bit of an American Civil War kick lately and wanted to do a piece about the great Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. I had recently finished reading/listening to a brilliantly written bio about him called "Standing Like a Stone Wall" by James Robertson. In the book Mr. Robertson gets fairly descriptive in Stonewall's personality and history. Jackson was an eccentric to say the least.

To do a painting of him, it was impossible to simply choose one or two key elements of his life to focus on. Instead I tried to focus on various stages of his life, and tried to use imagery to point out some of the occurrences and traits that i thought defined him as a man and as a General. With his unwavering faith in God's will to his brilliance and bravery on the battlefield, it is easy to miss the more bizarre and quirky parts of what made him the man he was. For instance: He would hold his hand up, palm facing forward, at random points during the day weather he was in the middle of a battle or not. He would do so either in prayer (as he was commonly heard mumbling to himself), or because he insisted that one of his arms was actually heaver than the other and he wanted to get the blood to flow out of the raised arm to balance himself out. I could go on and on but have not the time to explain it all. A few folks have specifically questioned why in the painting he has a Northern Pike draped across his lap. The short version of that image is: As a child Thomas was paid .50 by a local townsman for each pike he caught that was 12" or larger. One day he caught one that was at least 36" and as he carried the massive fish through town, another shopkeeper offered Thomas $1 for the fish. When Thomas declined the man offered $1.25. Thomas declined again explaining the fish was owed to the other fellow at the agreed price of .50 and if he himself wanted a taste of that fish, it could be had through the other gentleman. When Thomas got to his destination he was offered an extra .50 because the fish was so big. Thomas said the original agreed price was all he would accept. He was sure the man had paid full price for a few fish that fell short of the 12" mark, and he was grateful for that kindness.  

Anyhow, I can nerd out all night but i doubt most of you care enough for me to bother. If you are truly interested drop me a line and i will explain further what all of the silliness in the painting represents. As for the painting itself, it is mostly done as an ink wash painting on stained hot press watercolor paper. the highlights and limited color were added at the end with colored pencil. It is an approach to painting I've been working out for a bit now and I'm slowly getting more and more comfortable with it.

Here is the finished piece. Click on it to see it larger. It is set at 72 dpi so it can be viewed reasonably clear, but i am making prints available, so if  you really want to see the detail you could always contact me and ill happily trade you $40 for a limited Giclee. haha sorry for the shameless promotion but i gotta pay for more firewood.
If you got this far, thanks for caring enough!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Go Font Yourself!

Below I am posting copies of the email correspondence between myself and the president of Letterhead fonts. I placed an order earlier this evening for a font and some fancy borders to use on some prints I was planning on sending out for Christmas. Bare in mind at no point did I say that I am even a tattooer, let alone what I intend to use the fonts for. He must have seen my email address and figured out all he needed to know.  He declined my order and then insulted both me and my profession. I will let the email correspondence show what I mean. Holly stopped me from getting too aggressive in my final response to him.
The truly astounding part is that I was willing to pay $170 for 1 font and 2 design elements. Screw me for trying to do things honestly and properly.

Here are the emails:

1. From chuck to me:

Your order has been refunded in full. You should see the funds back in your
PayPal account immediately.

Tattoos are prohibited use and Letterhead Fonts may not be used for that


Chuck Davis, President
Letterhead Fonts

2. My reply to Chuck

Hey chuck,
I am confused as to the reasoning for canceling my order. Your message says tattoos are prohibited use. Where did I even state that was an intent. I am also an illustrator, and had planned to use the font and borders as embellishments for prints I was making for Christmas presents.
I am surprised and frankly I am quite insulted that you would block an order to me as the result of my profession. I got a message stating i would receive a call. Had you done that I could have explained my intended use. As for lettering in tattoos, I pride myself in creating the fonts I use. Quite honestly, if I were to use any of your fonts as an inspiration I could just look at your website. In this case I was looking to pay a fair bit of money to save the time of hand lettering the prints I am making.
I was turned on to your website/fonts from a sign painter friend of mine. I was even working with him to design a new sign for my shop Now I will be calling him to tell him his referral does not want my business, and I will happily choose another source.

It's a shame you don't want my business.

Scott Bramble

3. Chuck's reply to me


Frankly I'm insulted that you would attempt to insult my intelligence. Do
you use other fonts for tattoos-- either directly or indirectly. Have you

Once they were installed, would you promise never to use them for tattoos?
Come on.

That said (and I'm serious about this), if you can make your own fonts,
there is a real market to capture... fonts for tattoo artists. As I have
done, you could focus on fonts that are specially tailored to guys like
yourself. That would be very successful. Having cornered a market for that
and becoming known for those kinds of fonts-- you'd have a very stable and
lucrative business.

I encourage you to think about it. I wish you success.


4. My reply to Chuck:

Insult your intelligence?! Clearly you are showing your deficiencies in that department just fine. I placed an order for fonts and borders provided for use by designers. I am working on a design completely unrelated to tattooing in any way. The design is not even intended for profit, but for a Christmas gift to friends and family. You used your intelligence to deduct that because i have an email address that has the word tattoo in it, i must be using the font for tattooing. Then i explained i have no intent to use your font for tattooing, and you are all but calling me a liar. When lettering is involved in the design, I draw it by hand to suit the design. scanning a drawing into the computer to work a layout around your fonts would be a waste of time and effort. you clearly have a set idea of what it is to be a tattoo artist, and apparently part of that idea is that we as a profession are dishonest. How are you involved in an artistic business yourself with such limited vision.

So am i insulting your intelligence... at this point yes i am.
i am also insulting your integrity. You called into question my motives and canceled my order without talking to me about it first. Then you have continued down the road of defending that error in your judgment and follow that with not so veiled insults. Your passive aggressive suggestion that I make a go in the lucrative business of font design is astounding. All i wanted was a font for a print, and instead i got an entirely new direction for my career. Wow.

happy holidays
scott bramble

I await a reply from him at this point. Tho I don't expect one.
Please spread the word that this companies president follows such absurd and demeaning business practice. I rarely get so wound up over matters, but this guy is too much to take.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

London Convention 2010

    I'm writing this while on the return flight from London. ( yeah i did write it then, but haven't had the chance to post it till now....over a week later ah well) I've watched some flat out awful movies, and figured I'm much better taking the next few hours thinking back on the week that just passed. As usual leaving a trip like that one has left me with mixed feelings. To start with, I had a pretty damned amazing time with the fellows I stayed with. Turk, Safwan, Jee and I all shared an apartment in east London. It would make me the fool to come out of that without at least wanting more out of myself. Conversations and the quiet time drawing at the apartment were as inspiring this trip as touring the city had been previous trips. We of course got out a bit to see the city and made the best of what little chance we had. On Monday we got out to the Freemasons' Hall, the United Grand Lodge of England. It certainly leaves a person with a sense of wanting to be better. When seeing the dedication and work that went into the construction and decoration of the hall, I had to come out of there wanting to be a better man. A similar feeling came last year while visiting Washington's chapel in valley forge, PA. It's funny how history can bring that out simply by showing what is possible with hard work, determination, and the desire to do something properly.

    As for the convention itself, I was lucky enough to stay busy all weekend. There were a few new customers and a few I had worked with in previous years. Establishing the friendships with those folks really makes me count myself lucky. I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed sitting with each of the folks. Instead I'll post the photos of them and save you the long winded recount. I do however want to get into one of them, not to play favorites, but to express a particularly gratifying experience. As I've written in the past I have been conflicted with the idea of developing and even pushing a particular look and approach in my work. I have slowly been leaning more in that direction and this weekend one of my customers really allowed me to embrace that aspect. I tattooed him last year and we had talked about the more illustrative approach to my work. It
apparently struck a chord with him, and this year he really gave me something to sink my teeth into. He comes from a long family history of coal miners in Yorkshire England. To represent that he explained he wanted a zombie coal miner. There were a few specific elements he wanted to see somehow worked in, but left the overall design up to me. After sketching out some ideas, I had come up with the thought of having the miner holding a bird cage with a dying canary exhaling his last song. I had researched the history of English coal mining and saw that they had used the canaries as gas detection as recently as 1987.
That cinched it to me and I drew up the design. I was really excited when showing him the drawing he was into the canary idea. Especially since it sort of became a major element in the layout. By the time we finished our 6-7 hour sitting, he expressed that the bird and cage was his favorite part. We unfortunately didn't get the entire tattoo done, but we will surely finish next year. Heres some shots of a few of the tattoos from the show. most of the tattoo photos didnt come out very well, so here are the ones that at least look ok:

    In another facet of last week, I got a call from Holly as soon as the plane landed in London. Apparently there was a leak in the middle of our waiting room. There are apartments upstairs, and there was a pipe issue from one of them. Thankfully Holly and the guys at the shop were able to deal with it without me. There was limited damage, but waiting for the property owner to act on putting things right may take too long. Awesome.

    On top of shop issues, Holly had a ton of other responsibilities as well. We agreed to dog sit for some dear friends while they get married in Italy, and honeymoon in Spain. They have a rad young Boston terrier named Milo. Also she recently started back at school, so she was pretty overwhelmed while I was out enjoying myself. She's pretty awesome for supporting me so much and making it possible to take these trips.

    So to Sum up and end this post, clearly my thanks are due. To the fellows I spent the week with, to the folks that were kind enough to let me work with them, to the guys at the shop for stepping up and taking care of the leak, and lastly and importantly to Holly for holding the the whole home front together.

Here are some more random shots from the weekend :