Russian Criminal Owl Tattoo

Not blogged in ages, been really busy. If you follow this Blog, you'll know that a few weeks ago I went to Primavera Sound, and was quite excited about it. To mark the occasion I decided to get a tattoo while I was there. Trouble was, I couldn't find a tattoo shop. I came home un-inked. Luckily, I was booked in to get a new tattoo with Liam Sparkes a week later, back in London. So I guess this is my Primavera tattoo. Funnily enough, while I was getting it done, Liam told me he was at the festival too - and he did get a tattoo done while out there. His was done by Jondix. So this is it (proving once again that I cannot pose for photos). It's a Russian criminal tattoo, taken from the cover of The Russian Criminal Encyclopaedia Vol. III. It represents "a murderer". I already have Russian tattoos of a cat and a spider - which represent "a thief". If you ask me to explain why I chose these - I can't, really. Not to normal people anyway. For me, tattooing is about irony: choosing to get a tattoo is all about being brave and being stupid. You can't really justify it too much. If you do, you're just being pretentious. Go with the flow. And everyone ends up with the tattoo they really deserve... Incidentally, the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia Vol. II sells for silly money on Amazon now that it's out of print. I want a copy.

Wanna Be in My Gang?

When you get a tattoo done - it can be a bit like entering into a brotherhood or a secret society. Sometimes you'll see someone - a stranger - in a bar, or on a bus or wherever - and you'll start eyeing up their tattoos. Sometimes you'll recognise who did the tattoos - especially if you've been to the same place. At those times, I always feel  tempted to go over and start a conversation, although I never do. Some people like talking about their tattoos, some don't. For me, it usually depends on who's asking the questions. Twice recently, I've seen people with Liam Sparkes stuff done - his style is unmistakable. One was a man on the bus with a crown on the back of his hand, another was a barmaid with a penny-farthing bicycle on her bicep. I've got plenty of Liam Sparkes stuff done - he did the "Vlad" on my arm for example. I get more questions about that tattoo than any other - but there's no rational way to justify it - I just like it. It's not a unique piece - it's almost like his trademark in fact. I remember when I was getting it done, he said that he'd like to gather all the people together who he tattooed it on - and get them to do a big Thundercats roar. I'd be well up for that idea. So anyway, I live in an enclosed block of communal flats, and on Sunday, I met one of my neighbours for the first time. He started talking about my tattoos and used it as an excuse to touch me. Practically molested me there in the garden, the dirty swine. I'll be wearing long sleeves from now on. It's often said that people look down on those with tattoos, but in truth, sometimes the reverse is true. I'm sad to say, that often the tattooed ones think they are cooler than everyone else. I was on the bus the other day and there was a girl - probably about 20-years old - who had a couple of tattoos on her knee: a simple thunderbolt and a skull. It was really unusual and damn sexy too. I was also impressed, as I know what knee tattoos feel like. I fell in love with her for about 10 minutes (as I tend to do in these situations). She saw me looking though, and in an instant I could see what she thought of me: "How dare you look at me and my tattoo?! You're not cool enough to have tattoos - you haveabsolutely no idea what it feels like to sit through a knee-cap tattoo. Just go away and die, baldie!" Or something to that effect. But actually I have a huge tattoo on my knee, so fuck her!

Google Re-Indexing

So I'm still waiting for Google to re-index my site, but the bastards don't seem to want to do it. Basically, what I want is for them to list www.tomfogarty.com instead of www.tom-fogarty.com. I don't have a lot of patience. At first I did the sensible thing and I simply redirected the old domain to the new one, but I got bored of that. So now I've made a "Tom has moved" page instead. I got the idea while I was checking out the website of a friend of a friend. He's called Thomas Flintham and this is the page: thomasflintham.blogspot.com It's based on the now defunct Teletext page and I think it's really cool (if you check out his CV there's some pretty impressive things on there, but I think this is better). In fact, I wish I'd thought of the idea first. Changing the subject, Google Analytics can tell you some interestings things; for the past 3 days someone has found my site by searching for "Tom Fogerty Spider Web Design". The funny thing about this is that they know my company name, but misspell my surname (which proves it's not my mum at least). I wish I knew who it was. I also get quite a few hits from people searching for "Liam Sparkes Exhibition". I hope they're not too disappointed with what they find here, as I'm a big Liam Sparkes fan.

Art Attack!

Spent a wonderfully cultured Saturday perusing art galleries (and visiting as many postcodes as possible) with my mate Paul. He was a little bit tired as he'd been up boogying till 7am at some party and only had 5 hours sleep. Well all I'm going to say about that is that I could get up after just 2 hours sleep and run a mile. Anyway, the first exhibition I dragged him to was Gilbert & George's Uretha Postcard Art at White Cube. This was a collection of mucky sex ads taken from phone boxes, and tacky London postcards, assembled in the shape of a uretha (or "Jap's Eye" to use the technical term). Now this sounds like something that would be right up my street, but I wasn't that excited by it. I prefer their skinhead portraits they did in the 80s (or even their more recent poo paintings). I'm still glad that I went to see it though. From there, onwards to Bethnal Green to see Liam Sparkes' exhibition at the Wayward Gallery. I designed Liam's website and he has done most of my tattoos - and he's a very cool and likable bloke. He also drums in a band called Trencher. This exhibition took place in a small white room, containing a woman, a Macbook, a small dog and 5 pieces of A4 paper stuck to the  wall. The dog jumped on me the minute I walked in. At first I was surprised by this show, but considering his work is strongly influenced by Russian prison tattoos, Scrimshaw, Medieval linework and brutal imagery - maybe I shouldn't have been! If you really want to get a flavour of Liam's work - I recommended you go to the tattoo shop where he works, soak up the vibe, check out his stuff and get tattooed. He's good company and the experience will do you good. After that, we went to the Ten Bells pub, where I tried to pose for some portrait photos for an upcoming project. There's something about my psyche or genetic makeup - that simply makes it impossible for me to pose for a photo and look normal. Here's a couple of the photos. There are more over at my Picasa account: http://picasaweb.google.com/tomkfogarty/TenBellsPhotoShoot This whole experience got me thinking more about doing this DarkeSide/DownSide exhibition. I'm going to blog a bit more about this tomorrow with more of a mission statement - but if anyone is interested in taking part - get in touch!

GG Allin Homemade Tattoo

I did this over Xmas. It looks a bit crap but I'm really pleased with it. It's a tribute to GG Allin, who had this tattoo on his chest. I spent longer doing this one than usual (nearly 10 minutes!), and the outline is smooth(ish) and thick. It's also an awkward and painful area to do, so I'm happy. Rock 'n' roll! Liam Sparkes also has this same tattoo - he did most of my stuff - and I hope he doesn't mind that I copied it. His version of the tattoo is really good though, and mine is not. GG Allin was a late 80s/early 90s punk rocker, who died of a heroin overdose. He used to perform naked on stage, and was covered in loads of crude homemade tattoos. He was was notorious for defecating on stage and smearing it over his body (and eating it too). He also used to cut his head open and attack everyone in the crowd. I was a big fan. There's a DVD documentary about him called Hated, that shows loads of footage of him on his last tour (he was on the run from the police at the time). There's a brilliant clip where a university asks him to address the student union as a guest speaker. He sticks a banana up his bum and throws chairs at the students till they flee in terror!

My Tattoos

I've always been a big fan of tattoos. I enjoy the juxtaposition of art and seediness. I got my first tattoo when I was 18, my second at 22, but only recently have I started getting them regularly. I currently have 12, and they're all quite random. They're also pretty stupid but I don't regret any of them. You can try to rationalise tattoos - to justify your choices with personal significance ("I got an angel to represent my dead aunt who watches over me" etcetera); but at the end of the day, tattoos are impulsive, reckless foolery. And I love that. Here's a picture of each of them, with a brief description. I didn't know whether to list them in chronolgical order, or reverse chronological order etcetera... so in the end I decided to listy them in random order. This is a piece of Liam Sparkes' flash. I really like the image and it looks like the pub signpost, The Slaughtered Lamb, from the film An American Werewolf in London. My favourite song from the film's soundtrack is Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival, hence the tattoo text. The song was written by Tom Fogerty, so it seemed like fate to get the tattoo. It's underneath my right bicep. This is a Russian criminal tattoo of a black widow, by Liam Sparkes. In Russian prisons, tattoos have deep symbolic meaning, and have to be earned (tattoos = status). If you are found to have a tattoo that have not earned - they will kill you. This one either means "murderer" or "thief" (I can't remember which). I got it for shit and giggles. If I go to Russia and remove my trousers I'm a dead man! It's on the front of my right thigh. Smiley acid face. This is my second tattoo - I had it done when I was 22. I've always liked this symbol and I used to be a fan of acid during my university years. People still think this is a transfer when they see it (and I still love that reaction).  It was done by some bloke in Greenwich. The yellow is fading fast... This was an "X" inside my lip - I had it done done for a girlfriend at the London Tattoo Convention in 2008. After about 2 years it turned into a "Y". I guess that's the power of chromosomes for you. We've since split up but it's still a funny story of whim and folly. This tattoo was visible in the last photo so I might as well list it here. It's a moustache on my finger. It was done in the middle of the night - a work night I should add - by Liam Sparkes. I had it done after I shaved off my handlebar moustache. I'm not a huge Ghostbusters fan or anything, but I've always been a fan of this image. It's on my inner thigh, next to the black widow spider (quite a sore place to get done). People usually think this is the most stupid of all my tattoos.  This was also done by Liam Sparkes. A lot of the red ink fell out after it healed, needs touching up (ooh er, missus...). I did this one myself! It's very crude but I'm still proud of it. It says "CRIPS", a Los Angeles street gang. Again, it means I'm a dead man if I go there and remove my trousers. My first tattoo when I was 18 (12 years ago now!). It's a sun on my hip. I don't even notice it's there anymore - I've had it so long it feels like a birth mark I've learned to live with. Done by a big fat man in Nunhead while I was still at school. Happy days... This is taken from an old wood-cut of Vlad the Impaler (i.e Dracula). It was done by Liam Sparkes as a part barter for me setting up his website (it's sort of his trademark piece). It's on my right bicep and might be my favourite tattoo... I did this one on myself with a needle, thread and Indian ink - prison-style-eee. Took bloody ages to do and it's wonky, but I love it just the same. Nothing else to say really... This is a cat on my knee by Liam Sparkes. I love cats, me, so I had to get a cat tattoo. Because it's on my knee it gets distorted quite a bit, and it seems to have bat/rabbit ears. This one hurt. A lot. Last one (so far). Also by me, not finished yet - another Russian prison tattoo. I messed up the crown, and it needs lots of shading added. Front of left thigh. Work in progress...

What’s In a Name?

I'm not an ego-surfer in particular, but recently I have  been entering my name into Google rather a lot. Not out of vanity, but instead to see how highly Google indexes my site based on certain keywords - mainly my name (which happens to be Tom Fogarty in case you wondered.. although there is a clue in the title of site). There happens to be a famous guitarist who shares my name, although he spells it with an "E" - Tom Fogerty. He's dead now, but he used to play with a really cool band called Creedence Clearwater Revival. Now my favourite film is An American Werewolf in London. Actually it's my third favourite, Withnail & I and Big Trouble in Little China are my tops favourites - but I digress. By coincidence, Creedence Clearwater Revival feature on the soundtrack; providing the best song of the film in fact - Bad Mood Rising. It wasn't until years later that I found out that I shared a name with one of the band. Here's the band (he's the one with the big bushy beard no less): Recently I had this tattoo done by Liam Sparkes - it looks a bit like the sign outside the Slaughtered Lamb pub in the film, and I asked for the "Bad Moon" text to be added to reference the song, which in turn links back to my name. Random I know, but that's the way my brain works... There's another Tom Fogarty ahead of me in Google - he's a doctor and he invented the "Fogarty Balloon Catheter" (I'm not making this up!). Here's the other Tom Fogarty: Lastly, there's a really good David Cronenberg film called A History of Violence. The hero of the piece is called Tom, whereas the villain is known simply as "Mr Fogarty"... And here they are (guess which is which):

www.liamsparkes.com – Live This Week

I've just finished this website for Shangri-la tattooist, Liam Sparkes. The site was made entirely with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and I'm really pleased with the results. Check out the website and get some ink done: www.liamsparkes.com  

www.liamsparkes.com – COMING SOON!

I'm currently designing a website for talented tattoo artist, Liam Sparkes. There's only a holding page there at the moment, but have a look and keep checking back for updates. www.liamsparkes.com
Liam does some really cool and unusual tattoo work, and has recently done quite a few tattoos on me, no less.
Go and see him at his studio:
Monday-Wednesday (12-noon till late) Shangri-la Tattoo Parlour 52 Kingsland Road Shoreditch London E28DP