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Heidi Lavon

Influencer, Photographer, Model and Columnist

What was it like growing up in Alaska? What activities did you enjoy most?  Were you into the outdoors?

Alaska was so awesome as a kid and growing up. I was so used to the extreme temperature changes because thats what my normal was. I didn’t really know any other way. It is true what they say about it being completely light and completely dark, especially growing up in Fairbanks. There was about 3 months of real summer. Temperatures could climb to 100 degrees then 9 months of darkness with maybe 2-3 hours of daylight and temperatures crept as low as 50 below. There was a really cold summer I never experienced but supposedly it dropped to 60 below Fahrenheit, kind of unbelievable right? We would jump on the trampoline in the winter in full snow gear and drive on frozen rivers and lakes. During summer we had lots of pallet parties and gravel pit swims. We would also drive out to Harding Lake and just lay out in the sun. 50 degrees is pretty warm in Alaska, we dress dress in flip flops and summer gear during those temperatures haha.

What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?

Honestly, I was never a bad kid, I just did a lot of bad things. Not all the time, but what else does a kid do growing up in such a small town. How else do we keep each other entertained? I have a TON of strong memories, but hanging out with my best friends always sticks out. Im still SO close to them more than ever and we all ended up living around the same place. We all kinda paid our dues but later as an adult turned it all around for the good. We all laugh about those times still to this day. If we’re talking family though, I’d say it was probably when I was around 9. My sisters and I would play with our parents cam corder. I would actually get on and pretend to kinda be a news reporter talking about whatever I was doing. I would also dance with my sisters to our favorites songs. I was always full of energy and had a larger then like personality.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

I pull a LOT of inspiration from myself. My former self. The former self who literally threw myself away for substances and negative situations. This is a HUGE reason why I turned to modeling, photography, and the arts. Arts being content creating. Its inspiring creating something from the floor up and working with other people who share that same passion and vision. Whether they be a photographer, magazine creator, producer, musician etc. I know I’m not the only person who has turned to this avenue after living a toxic lifestyle.

Did your upbringing prompt a specific reference point that inspired you to start collecting?

Not really sure. Since I grew up in such a small town, the only kind of “edge” we had at the time was a tattoo shop. A shop I’d always dream of being tattooed in. I’d hang around it every chance I got too. Next door was a head shop, so I’d go in for incense and candles and what not then stop over at the then “Good Karma” where I got my very first tattoo. I had seen a girl on Myspace with her whole chest tattooed. I knew I wanted to start there first. Thats exactly what I did on my 18th birthday.

Alot of your tattoos are fantasy and horror.  If there was only one movie left to watch and repeat for the rest of your life what movie would you choose?

THATS SO TOUGH! I’m a HUGE movie buff. Sci-Fi / Fantasy & Horror are my favorite. I LOVE the thrill of being afraid. I got over being too scared to watch horror movies alone a long time ago. The movies I always find myself wanting to watch on repeat though are “Childs Play” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” “The Dark Crystal” ALL Marvel movies and “Aliens”

What was your first publication?

I’m trying really hard to remember back. Its been YEARS. One of the first was the cover and spread in a local and independent magazine called “Northwest Alternative” I THINK. I’d have to do some super deep digging – next might have been the former magazine “Bound by Ink” wearing latex from Vital Vein Fashion.

Describe to us what you were feeling for that first cover shoot, publication?  If anxious or scared…  How did you overcome those feelings and produce a killer end result?

I’m not happy to report that a LOT of the time I would use alcohol to try and mask or neutralize my fear and or anxiety back in the day. What’s funny is I don’t even like drinking nowadays as an adult. It really throws off my whole routine of waking up early, lifting and getting on with the days work. I cannot say no to a Bloody Mary though. I LOVE THEM! Now days – Its just so easy to take photos. It’s nice and convenient that my partner James Ramsey shoots 99% of my content. Something really important I’ve learned as I’ve grown my brand is to try and learn as much as possible on your own. Be your own boss!!!

What memorable responses have you had to your photos and modeling?

I’ve had every response under the sun. Most of which are pretty uplifting and kind. I’ve had my fair share of negative ones though. It depends on whatever is published or shared. You have to grow thick skin for this kind of industry. If anything it hasn’t been my work that might cross someone negatively, its my over all personality. What I mean by that is – I’m INTENSE. It’s funny when people like to tell me that, as if I didn’t already know. If I listened to any of the nay-sayers than I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in now. Which is a pretty well rounded, accomplished one. I am blessed and grateful.

Who are your biggest influences?

Again, I pull influence from many sources. Some of which are photographers, and people I know in real life who aren’t even involved in the modeling or photography industry/scene. Brendan Forbes is a very successful and talented photographer. I love his work and his edge in his photos. I would LOVE to work with him one day if that was ever an option. http://www.brendanforbes.com/galleryhttp://www.brendanforbes.com/gallery. I also pull influence from my closest of friends. They have seen me go from the person I used to be, into the person I am now. The energy and time it took for them to pull themselves up helps me continually grow as a person as well as a tattoo industry model and person.

You currently live in Portlandia, what is one of your favorite or most inspirational places?

Is it okay to say restaurants? HAHA! Lots of delicious places here. For food, I’d say Boxer Ramen on Burnside. For beauty, definitely out where I live currently in Estacada, located 20-30 minutes outside of Portland… I live on 13 acres equipped with a gun range, barn, giant shop, and an entire home gym courtesy of Rogue Fitness. I also just bought some property down the road where James and I will be putting another home. LOTS of new and exciting things coming up that I can’t even talk about yet. AHHH!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

STAY CURIOUS & ASK QUESTIONS. Also – do NOT let your fear ruin your chances of reaching your fullest potential. Most people, including myself tend to allow fear to rule them. As I’ve grown, I’m learning with each day to let go of that stifling grip it has on me.

Professionally, what are some of your goals?

To elevate my knowledge for retouching images, to get better at making professional videos, and be featured more on television. All things I’m currently working on

How do you seek out opportunities and push yourself forward in the tattoo industry?

Literally by asking questions. There is no secret ingredient other than asking as much as possible to anyone who will listen or who will give guidance. I am often asked how I got started and it was kinda slow at first because I didn’t realize how to move forward. If you don’t know where you want to go or ave some kind of direction then you will often get stuck or lose sight on your goals. Make goals. ASK QUESTIONS. CRUSH THEM, and never stop grinding. You never know if that next question you ask someone will lead you to the answer you’re seeking.

What would be your next dream project?

I am already working on that. This piece of property we just purchased is currently being demolished to place a new home on. Also – a couple other exiting things in the works. Stay tuned!

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What’s one thing about Heidi Lavon that no one knows?

That I actually have an off switch lol. Most people who know me see this loud, intense person and probably wonder if I ever get tired. Well, yes folks, I actually do. Quite often. I didn’t start drinking coffee til I was about 27. I was always asked how much coffee I had drank that day or what I was on. NOTHING, thats just how I was made, believe it or not.

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Mikael Brandrup

Dancing with design in an infinite universe • A review and interview with Mikeal Brandrup and his sharp fascinating style in vibrant world.

Driving up through the winding roads of Hollywood hills, we were fortunate enough to be welcomed by Mikael Brandrup and his MB family trup. We got the opportunity to see the heart of Brandrup and his studio garage filled with brushes, spraypaint, acrylics and canvas.  With a cool glass of water we sat down in homeand got to learn a little more about this rising arist from Copenhagen who is living the American dream in Los Angeles.
Contemporary artist from Copenhagen Denmark, Brandrup started his carreer in his early 20’s but creativity was a part of him since his childhood, during school recess. He would express himself by drawing tattoos on his classmates and soon after painting their walls at home. At the age of 22 Mikael Brandrup sold his design business to focus more on his love for painting and large scale murals. His first art show was in 2013 in Denmark. The show focused on a World map series which was a major breakthrough in his social media platform, reaching over one million followers over night. This marked a pinnacle moment in his career and motivation to move to Los Angeles to live the American dream and continue to follow his passion for a style like no other that combines a futuristic approach of cubism meets baroque.

Following this life changing experience, Igor recalls embracing his new found fetish for street art and, like a good young graffiti artist would do, he makes use of blank stickers by writing his nickname on them, and putting them up everywhere he possibly can throughout his school. Igor’s progression as a street artist was completely fluid, and he quickly progressed to painting his very first wall at the young age of 16. “I was scared, and at the same time I felt an indescribable feeling,” Igor reflects, “I went back to watch everyday, and thought about how I could make it better the next time.” So, what was the next step for teenage Igor? Trains. Igor had obtained a true affection for graffiti and he absolutely loved the fact that, when his art is on a train, it is a traveling creative expression of his very own for the world to see.

The obsession was real. Igor was painting whenever and wherever he possibly could. This meant constant road trips with friends throughout Europe to let the world see his artistic capabilities. “We drove to paint all over Europe. If I was not painting five days a week I had a feeling that I was missing out.”

For Igor, tattooing became another instant love in his life from the moment that first tattoo machine hit his hand. One of the biggest factors for this artistic transformation was the allure that his artwork could not be washed away, it would now be on display forever. Although the artist had changed his instruments, this didn’t change the view or creative process that Igor had obtained through years as a dedicated street artist. Igor starts his tattoo idea’s on a wall with paint, just as he would have done years ago when hitting a train in a random European city on any given night. “I view it as a higher level of graffiti… I start my designs on a wall and then transfer it to skin, this way you can really see the street art in my tattoos.”

One of the greatest qualities about Igor is his desire to grow, which is somewhat unique, considering the unbelievable level of skill his tattoo’s exhibit. He is just as hungry as he was after seeing that very first train covered in art when he was 10 years old. Just as hungry as he was after his initial tattoo venture, which was performed on his own skin. And in this day and age it is sometimes difficult to find artists at his level who still have that deep yearning to learn and grow as an artist. Igor’s “specific view on life and art as a whole,” is one that has been developed through street art, a vast hunger, and a willingness to remain teachable. “There are so many artists throughout the world that are doing great things,” Igor says, “it gives me strength to keep going. Inspiration and art are all around.”

Igor’s color realism pieces will make your mind wonder if what you are seeing is actually a tattoo, they are that good. The color bursts off the skin just as it would if it were flying out of a fresh can of paint. When you look at his intricate and masterfully designed pieces, the flowers, people, characters, artistic tools, and all features look so real that it’s almost surreal. He is, unquestionably, one of the most prodigious tattooers in the world, an authentic artist, and a true student of his profession.

The post Mikael Brandrup appeared first on HOUSEINK Art & Tattoo Magazine.

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Sam Taylor Tattoos

Freehand Lettering Behind the Naked Truth • Written by Bobby Boykin

When discussing some of the most creative, exquisite, and overall top tattoo lettering artists in the world, Sam Taylor is a name that one cannot ignore. From his amazing use of negative space to his mind-blowing technical designs, Sam Taylor has quickly become one of Melbourne, Australia’s leading lettering tattoo artists. Sam’s evolution as an artist derives from his experience in a numerous amount of different artistic fields. From watching his mother paint, to his sign writing experience, to his love for street art, all of these factors have helped shape him into the stand out artist he is today.

For Sam, his love for art started at a very young age while closely observing his mother paint. Watching her start with a blank canvas and seeing a beautiful masterpiece evolve was highly intriguing to young Sam. His earliest drawings were of people playing sports, but this drastically changed when he found a love for drawing skateboard and band logos on his school desks. This is where his obsession for graffiti truly took flight, along with his infatuation for complex lettering.

After a couple of run in’s with the law due to his love for graffiti and street art, Sam decided to start his own business where he could legally paint large murals. This seemed like the best of both worlds for the budding artist, but for Sam there was just something different about the seemingly perfect professional transition. “I still didn’t want to give up graff after my last chance, so I started my own business painting large pieces for businesses. It was sweet, I was able to take my time and it was cool to get paid to paint, but it just wasn’t the same.”

Sam’s introduction into the tattoo world came to fruition when he reached out to tattoo artist Diego Mickey in search for an apprenticeship. How this whole situation came about is truly amazing. Sam was involved in a horrific car accident when his car collided head on with a tree at 68 mph. This unfortunate circumstance, which he takes complete ownership for, landed him in bed for almost one full year. During this year he made a conscious decision to expand his artistic repertoire by learning new styles. “I didn’t want to just lay there getting fucked up on oxy’s and pain killers every day, so I went through packs and packs of cartridge paper trying to teach myself calligraphy and portraits.”

When he finally received some money for his accident, Sam reached out to Diego Mickey to schedule a consultation for a new tattoo. Later that very night he saw that Diego had put up a new post looking for an apprentice. Sam immediately sent him some drawings he was working on and the career of Sam Taylor, the tattoo artist, started to blossom. “I think it’s important to focus on the positive that comes from these kinds of situations,” Sam said, “yeah I fucked my back up, but if I didn’t have that crash, I wouldn’t be where I am today. ‘Take the mud with the gold,’ as my old lady says.”

Fast forward to the present and Sam Taylor has taken the tattoo industry by storm. One of the most amazing components to his work, the naked truth, is that these insanely detailed pieces are produced freehand. Yes, you read that correctly. Freehand. What makes his work so different from that of other tattooers is the fact that he isn’t forming his letters with dark black shading, he is, in fact, doing the complete opposite. By using emboldened negative space, and leaving the letters hollowed out, he brings an entire new light to the world of typographic tattooing.

Sam Taylor’s lettering has legitimately set a new standard in the tattoo industry. He is not just one of those ‘good’ tattoo artist in which one views their work, thinks it’s a nice piece of art, and moves on. Sam’s lettering will make you stop, shake your head, and contemplate how you can get in touch with him. Taking the art of tattoo lettering to an entirely different level is exactly what this is, so, if you’re ever in Melbourne, Australia, look up Sam for a one of a kind artistic addition to your body.

The post Sam Taylor Tattoos appeared first on HOUSEINK Art & Tattoo Magazine.

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Igor Mitrenga

The SurREAL WORLD • Written by Bobby Boykin

A young child in a small town outside of Prague, in the Czech Republic, witnesses a train pass by covered in graffiti and street art, his mind is captivated, his intrigue is high, and the evolution of one of today’s great color realism tattoo artists begins to take shape. Igor Mitrenga remembers that day clearly, the train and detail of the artwork remain fresh in his mind, it is like a moment frozen in time for him, influential in all of his artistic creations to this very day.

Following this life changing experience, Igor recalls embracing his new found fetish for street art and, like a good young graffiti artist would do, he makes use of blank stickers by writing his nickname on them, and putting them up everywhere he possibly can throughout his school. Igor’s progression as a street artist was completely fluid, and he quickly progressed to painting his very first wall at the young age of 16. “I was scared, and at the same time I felt an indescribable feeling,” Igor reflects, “I went back to watch everyday, and thought about how I could make it better the next time.” So, what was the next step for teenage Igor? Trains. Igor had obtained a true affection for graffiti and he absolutely loved the fact that, when his art is on a train, it is a traveling creative expression of his very own for the world to see.

The obsession was real. Igor was painting whenever and wherever he possibly could. This meant constant road trips with friends throughout Europe to let the world see his artistic capabilities. “We drove to paint all over Europe. If I was not painting five days a week I had a feeling that I was missing out.”

For Igor, tattooing became another instant love in his life from the moment that first tattoo machine hit his hand. One of the biggest factors for this artistic transformation was the allure that his artwork could not be washed away, it would now be on display forever. Although the artist had changed his instruments, this didn’t change the view or creative process that Igor had obtained through years as a dedicated street artist. Igor starts his tattoo idea’s on a wall with paint, just as he would have done years ago when hitting a train in a random European city on any given night. “I view it as a higher level of graffiti… I start my designs on a wall and then transfer it to skin, this way you can really see the street art in my tattoos.”

One of the greatest qualities about Igor is his desire to grow, which is somewhat unique, considering the unbelievable level of skill his tattoo’s exhibit. He is just as hungry as he was after seeing that very first train covered in art when he was 10 years old. Just as hungry as he was after his initial tattoo venture, which was performed on his own skin. And in this day and age it is sometimes difficult to find artists at his level who still have that deep yearning to learn and grow as an artist. Igor’s “specific view on life and art as a whole,” is one that has been developed through street art, a vast hunger, and a willingness to remain teachable. “There are so many artists throughout the world that are doing great things,” Igor says, “it gives me strength to keep going. Inspiration and art are all around.”

Igor’s color realism pieces will make your mind wonder if what you are seeing is actually a tattoo, they are that good. The color bursts off the skin just as it would if it were flying out of a fresh can of paint. When you look at his intricate and masterfully designed pieces, the flowers, people, characters, artistic tools, and all features look so real that it’s almost surreal. He is, unquestionably, one of the most prodigious tattooers in the world, an authentic artist, and a true student of his profession.

The post Igor Mitrenga appeared first on HOUSEINK Art & Tattoo Magazine.

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Amy Pickles

Arizona Tattoo Model

As everyday goes by and I get older I realize life is hard but why make it harder by stressing and always looking at the bad side of things. So be happy, laugh, have fun! Life is only hard if we allow it and I want to enjoy everyday!
What excites you about the tattoo/ art industry the most? Draws you in?

I love that within the tattoo industry so many artists can express and show their talent, along with giving someone something that can hold onto that has meaning and symbolism to them. That is what has always drawn me in. Being able to carry everyday something that you love, believe in, gives you inspiration, and just overall gives you your own uniqueness.

This issue focuses on street art, murals and lettering. Are there any exhibits or artwork that you have experienced that have changed your perspective on life or personal growth?

I know there are so many more places with street art but I’ve always loved downtown Phoenix/ district arts area because of all the art that surrounds it. It gives the area beauty, the vibrant colors, the pictures it can depict, and inspiration.

What got you into modeling? Do you remember your first shoot?

I have really good friends with photographer Michael Vincent and he was in town and they told me to come out and there it all started! I have to say I am so thankful to have my first shoot (being i was so nervous and had no idea what i was doing), with him as he was so experienced, made it seem like it was nothing. I couldn’t of asked for a better first shoot then with him and his wife!!

When you are not modeling… What can we find Amy Pickles doing on your downtime?

When I’m not modeling you will either find me doing normal things like going to the gym, running errands, being a mom full time and spending as much time as I can with my family, as I’m getting older and realizing how important it is to have them more and more in your life!

If you could be anywhere in the world, where would we find you and what would you be doing.

If I could be anywhere you would easily find me on an island relaxing. Being in the sun, listening to the ocean and the beautiful scenery. I’d be in heaven!

If you could put a song on repeat in your car, what would it be?

I LOVE music so it would be hard to choose just one but definitely something by Depeche Mode.

What is your favorite quote? What does it mean to you?

The most important thing is to enjoy your life-to be happy- its all that matters. (Audrey Hepburn) As everyday goes by and I get older I realize life is hard but why make it harder by stressing and always looking at the bad side of things. So be happy, laugh, have fun! Life is only hard if we allow it and I want to enjoy everyday !

Life lesson you would pass down to the next generation.

There’s so many!! But I would always continue to tell them, just be YOU! Everything about you is what makes you unique. Don’t worry about what others say or what society tells you that you should be like.

Any upcoming projects or adventures?

Upcoming projects as of right now is a photography workshop with your one and only Houseink Photography!

If you were deserted on an island what one thing could you not live without and need to survive?

This one for me so easy!! MUSIC!!! Music is everything! It’s the one thing that will never leave us. I could never live without it!

The post Amy Pickles appeared first on HOUSEINK Art & Tattoo Magazine.

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Missy Suicide

Photographer • Founder of Suicide Girls • Empowering Women Around the World

The name Suicide girls is a term derivative of committing “social suicide” and breaking from the norm. It is a movement that embraces empowerment for women around the world. Founded in 2001 by Selena Mooney (“Missy Suicide”) and Sean Suhl (“Spooky”) in Portland Oregon. Missy Suicide continues to inspire women around the world as she broke from the norm to be unique and carve her space with a modern twist.
Talk to us about the origin and background of Suicide Girls and what inspired you to start the web site  suicidegirls.com.

Suicide girls was started in Portland Oregon in the summer of 2001. Portland is where I grew up, technically in Beaverton but I spent a lot of time downtown. I was inspired by Bunny Yeager and photos of Bettie Page to start the Suicide Girls site. There is something so interesting to me about the female gaze. Bunny Yeager would take photos of Bettie Page two seconds before or after when she was in her most natural position. I thought there was something so beautiful and unique about those images and how she could be so confident and comfortable while enjoying herself in the photos. I thought that was something that I could find strength in and so I started to photograph my friends around Portland in similar poses. At the time most girls with piercings and tattoos where photographed in a very harsh light with white seamless backgrounds, usually in a BDSM style. It was really important to me to photograph the women in the way they felt sexy about themselves, in a natural sort of setting, so I would photograph them waking up in bed or taking a bath and really try to give them that confidence. It’s different from how you think of yourself then how other people see you.. ya know. If you can see how other people see you, then you gain a certain level of confidence, especially when people appreciate you. I wanted to give that confidence to my friends and level of comfort with a reflection back on me. HOW DID YOU TRANSITION FROM PHOTOGRAPHY TO AN ONLINE PLATFORM?

It was tough before social media sites like Tumbler, Twitter, Instagram, and MySpace… It took a little bit of convincing for people to share thoughts and feelings online. At the time it was like a playground for serial killers and perverts and they were the only people who used the internet and if you shared your information online a serial killer was going to show up at your door. Anything you put online was going to go down on your permanent record and be used against you, so people were pretty reluctant to share at that point. WHAT DO YOU THINK HELPED CHANGE THE STIGMA of SHARING ONLINE?

Growing up in Beaverton, I was kinda like an outsider and had different beliefs then everyone around me. I felt very alone but online there were people around the world growing up in all sorts of communities that also felt alone and if you could find each other though the internet then you felt less alone. AN ONLINE CONNECTION? Yes, they had similar experiences growing up in Brazil, Spain, Italy or wherever they were… they also felt like an outsider. So when you find a community of like minded people you feel less alone in the world.

Do you remember the moment where Suicide Girls Became a movement for Empowering young woman around the world?

We all think like there’s that one moment where our life changes and everything gets better. But I believe life is a series of learning experiences and everyday things change a little bit and you have that power to make change. You still have to wake up the next day and make it all happen. I totally wish there was that one moment where I can say I got it all figured out. I felt my whole young adult life I was trying to level up and beat the big boss and I would go onto the next level and my life would be awesome and live happily ever after. Things were hard at the beginning but everyday I feel like things got a little better and a little easier but life is a lot of work in general. You have to work at making things better and different.

We will be heading to Tempe, AZ. this week to check out Suicidegirls Blackheart Burlesque which is on tour around the nation. Can you talk to us more about the show and idea behind the theme.

So Blackheart Burlesque is a pop culture themed burlesque show which means all the numbers are themed around movies, video games, comic books or tv shows. It takes the classic sexy spirit of traditional burlesque and puts a definitive twist on it. It’s very modern and choreographed, with girls that sing as well as girls that are contortionists while staying true to the positive spirit of classic burlesque. In the same way we updated the traditional pin up photo, we put a modern twist on it, we updated the classic burlesque with a modern twist on it as well. It’s unlike any other burlesque show that you’re likely to see.

I remember my first Burlesque show in the early 2000’s at Dante’s Sinferno in Downtown Portland off Burnside, where I first was introduced to Suicide girls like many others. What was your involvement and how has Suicide Girls evolved?

Yes we had a regular weekly night on Sundays. I feel like the same way the photos have evolved on the website and all our experimentations at Dante’s  in general, have helped us to get to where we are now. The girls at Dante’s weren’t doing traditional burlesque. They added their own spin with wacky bunny suites, chocolate sauce, glitter or baby powder. It was definitely experimental and I feel like we have taken that same sort of experimentation, refined it over the years and made something wholly unique and beautiful. I am so proud of the girls that are out on tour because they are all so diverse. They have their own unique strengths and interpretations with an amazing crew.

What are the next milestones and goals for yourself and Suicide girls?

It would be great if we could have a permanent home based club. I am trying to write a book as well… an autobiography but it’s not finished yet. I THINK WRITING IS SO TOUGH IN COMPARISON to PHOTOGRAPHY. It’s so tough!! With a photograph it’s like a moment you have captured and you can’t change the future or the past, with writing it’s there forever. I took an Irish history course in college and remember that history was written by the victors except for the Irish because they had told the best stories and their version of history is remembered as well… but it’s like telling the best story with a million different viewpoints and you only get one shot at it. Oh gosh!! I definitely appreciate all the writers out there.

HOUSEINK QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS What’s a perfect Saturday night for you?

Man.  The perfect Saturday night is watching a horror movie, going out to dinner with my family, coming home and having fun with my husband then going to sleep early.

Funny you should mention horror movie. If you were a horror movie what would it be?

I would like to be a Blumhouse movie because they put a unique twist on the genre. Everything that they do has a unique twist on it. So I would like to have that unique twist. I like to tell a story in a different way.

What is really hard for you to say no to?

It’s really hard for me to say no to new projects. It’s really hard for me to say no to the girls and good ideas. It’s hard for me to say no to life, although my kids would differ. They say I say no all the time. (laughs) I’m lucky enough to be be presented with amazing opportunities and surrounded by people that I love and are inspired by everyday. So it’s really hard to say no when they come up with really cool ideas.

What quote do you turn to for inspiration?

The one that I go to for practical work inspiration is “release early and revive often” from Steve Jobs. It’s not so much inspiration but a work horse quote. Keep your head down, keep putting stuff out there for the world and don’t be afraid of changing it up. Don’t be afraid of the initial reaction, just put it out there. Put your ideas out there. Keep changing them, keep perfecting them, keep revising them.

Do you have any advice for young woman starting in the industry and working on their portfolio with different photographers?

I feel like compromise your vision for what you want. I admire photographers like Annie Leibowitz and her passion to paint your portrait with her camera but for the most part when you’re starting out and trying to establish who you are, you shouldn’t compromise what you want. The photographer should be there to capture what is unique and beautiful without putting their twist on you. In the digital age where we are, so many of the Suicide Girls and different models have made a career for themselves doing what they love and people appreciate that. I feel like when creating a space for myself that wasn’t a traditional path, there was no established media site for female photography sessions. When creating a space that was wholly and unique, was what I was passionate about and wanted to share with the world. It has created so much more opportunity in the world to do what they love for a living. I feel like people should carve out their own space and if you don’t fit into the traditional mold, don’t worry about it. Carve out what you love and do that well.

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HugoV Photography

Internationally Recognized Photographer • Family Man & Foodie

Engagement photos by Huy Nguyen of The Eye & Hand Project

Two years ago we were fortunate enough to hang out, shoot and get to know Hugo Velazquez in Portland, Oregon.  Recently we caught up with him after the birth of his new baby girl and engagement to the beautiful Natalie Cullum.  It is by no surprise they are still killing it in the industry as they travel as a family to exciting destinations to explore as one.  We asked Hugo a few questions regarding  the balance between professional and family life, recent challenges, daily activities and lessons to live by when experiences mean the most!

Read HugoV’s previous interview with HOUSEINK – www.houseink.com/hugov-photography

Quote that sums up your family and professional life.

“Bitter Sweet”… Our photography business is one that involves a lot of traveling, we don’t shoot much in our hometown Omaha, NE. because our market is not necessarily here. The bitter part of it is that we can’t travel together all the time, which means we have to sacrifice time away from each other, and with the new addition to the family, it really hurts to have to leave everyone behind alone while I have to carry on working and traveling alone.

The sweet part of it is that we make our own schedule. We get to travel together as a family on work trips at times, even to the point that we have traveled internationally together.  I also work from home when we are not shooting, which means a lot of family time.  We get to do something that we love, is fun and that we consider art. We take pride in our work.

What is it like balancing family and your career/ photography?

Having to balance family life with the business side is probably the biggest struggle we run into. I have 3 children and they need as much attention as possible but when we aren’t traveling and shooting, we are at home editing, doing social media, advertising, doing customer contact, maintained all our equipment and website, and much more. It is hard but I have learned to work at night with the kids asleep or during the day while they kids are at school. Once the kids are up and at home we are focused on the family thing.

How has being a father evolved you as a photographer and a person?

The biggest growth I’ve made as a father and photographer is become a more responsible business man. Although that sounds like more of a photographer oriented growth, it’s both because a father has to provide for his family, while knowing how to balance the fun or collaborating shoots and paid work. I have to know when I can shoot for fun and when I need to be serious about my work. It is important to be taken as serious as any business you encounter in your every day life. I have grown to manage every aspect of my business more efficiently, to be able to provide for my children and my lady, but also keep enjoying what I do as to not make it a job I dread doing.

When you’re not shooting, what does a typical day look like?

I’m a home body, we love hanging out at home and cuddling together with our babies, cooking, watching movies or playing games together. We hang out with our local friends and enjoy cooking together as families and enjoying time and drinks together. We like to travel and spend time with family as well as much as we can, but I’d say we are more foodies than anything. Our lives revolve around food when not shooting hahaha.

What one thing or lesson you would like to pass down to your children?

Follow your dreams and work hard for what you desire in life. Trust yourself, keep you circle of friends close and love the people that matter the most. Don’t be afraid to travel. Get out of town as much as possible and experience other cultures. Life is too short to be stuck doing what society thinks is the requirements to be happy.  Material things have zero value and the intangibles are the most tangible things you will ever experience which will have the most significance in your life and beyond!

What are some challenges you have had in the past two years? How have you overcome and grown from these challenges?

The last two years have probably been my toughest years for my business, but the happiest. I went through a phase where I was going to quit photography altogether to focus on my new relationship and my children. I started taking on other non-photography related projects in town so I didn’t have to be traveling all the time. After finishing off my last biggest tour going through 6 countries in Europe and getting engaged in Santorini, Greece to Natalie, I pretty much made the decision to put photography on hold to nourish our relationship and make the steps to conceive a new baby as well as enjoy my family more. With the help of Natalie and her encouragement to keep doing what I was passionate about and keep doing something that I am good at, we decided to plan our new tour around the US and take it internationally again next year. We are starting strong and plan on taking the bull by the horns again! We want to make it the best year we’ve had so far for our business, but most importantly, for the art we create and the lives we touch with our work.

Above engagement photos by Huy Nguyen of The Eye & Hand Project

The post HugoV Photography appeared first on HOUSEINK Art & Tattoo Magazine.

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Ryan Sakamoto

Seascape & Pacific Ink Expo Event Photographer

Known for his love of long exposure and painted seascapes, Ryan Sakamoto spends most of his hours shooting on the island of Oahu, where he was born and raised. As a young kid Ryan enjoyed drawing. His mom would buy him superhero batman, superman comic books to indulge his creative side. He grew up taking art classes at the YMCA and reading comics which was an important part of his creative journey as an artist. Although he feels he is not a master at photography he continues to study and master techniques to grow as an artist. A quote dear to him from David Duchmen reads “Mastery is a journey, not a destination”. Ryan Sakamoto has had some ups and downs over the past ten years studying the craft of photography but feels the end of each day he knows that he could not accomplish today what he will tomorrow. Last year we where able to work with him and capture some behind the scenes at the 2017 Pacific Ink & Art Expo.
At what point did you discover you wanted to be a photographer?

I ran a part time side business as a graphic designer and custom airbrush artist for 15 years, in the last 2 years I got so burnt out. I was so tired of making everyone’s dreams into reality, there was no time for me to express my creative side. In those last 2 years I picked up a camera and started to photograph my daughters playing basketball and soon after found myself diving into sports photography. In 2009 I wanted to shoot something other than sports & ventured out of the gym to shoot my 1st sunset at the backside of the Iliki Hotel with my camera on full AUTO mode. The picture was stunning, at least I thought it was at that time and I was totally hooked, that was the moment everything clicked for myself. From there I sought out photography clubs & meetup groups where I honed in on my technical & creative skills. During that time I met so many talented photographers who have helped me learn the different techniques and styles of photography, which shaped the photographer I am today. It’s the ADDH in me that, when I find something I like, I totally immerse myself into it, as I’ve done with my photography.

What was your 1st camera and go to gear when on location?

My camera evolution, 1st camera Nikon D50, D90, the D700 with battery grip. The D700 & the 70-200 f2.8 took my sports shooting to a new level, I loved that setup! When my daughters graduated from high school, that ended my sports photography journey. I jumped ship basically to reduce gear weight, to a Sony A7S I then to A7S II. For the past year & a half, I’m now shooting with a Fujifilm XT-2 paired with my Rokinon 12mm f/2 lens which is the perfect combo for a sunrise seascape… I’m in love with this system!!! For my portraiture work the Fujinon 56mm f1/2, I always bring 2 other lens, but they always stay in my bag.

 The workflow hasn’t changed much, lightroom & Photoshop, the equipment & software has gotten better, more accurate and better dynamic range. Unfortunately Lightroom has gotten slower than faster, hopefully that will change in the near future. Portable lighting has gotten so much better. No need to drag studio lights to & from a location. That was a major pain! All my 4 lights fit into 1 backpack now. My 3 stands & 3 softboxes fit into 1 heavy duffle bag.

What is one of your favorite photographs and why?

One of my most favorite shots was displayed in the 2017 Contemporary Photography In Hawaii gallery in downtown a few months ago, entitled “Orange Dream”. The shot was taken late last year in 2016, at a time of my life where My mom, 89 years young, was going thru some health issues, and even though I was surrounded with my family’s support I felt so alone at the same time. I’ve tried to tap into those same feelings photographically, since that time, but have never been able to. So very frustrating. My friends tell me not to force it and to just let it come to me. My Mom has pulled thru her struggles and is very healthy once again, that’s the main thing.

I’ve learned a lot from this 1 photograph & how important emotion plays a part of an image. At 1st I didn’t understand it & it took me over a year to figure out what my “Orange Dream” shot was telling me, & I realized how important mood & emotion pays a vital role in any image.

If you could place yourself in a photograph or piece of artwork what would you choose and why?

2 local photographers that I admire is Bruce Omori & Tom Kualii & their imagery of Pele’s lava on the Big Island. I’ve never had the opportunity to go out & shoot lava but would love to one day! If I was to put myself into one of their lava images, just to be able to see the beauty of the flow on a single frame & to capture a moment in time to immortalize Pele’s mana that would be so amazing! .

Tell us about a shooting adventure you have had in the past and how did it help shape your portfolio?

This happened about a year & a half ago. I used to shoot 7-9 bracketed shots for my seascapes & did exposure blending in post. I would have to cull through nearly 400-600 images to produce 2-3 final images. I did this shooting with screw on solid ND filters. Just out of curiosity I did some research into the Lee Filter system & decided to buy a set. Wow! It totally turned my entire world upside down! With the solid ND & the gradient filters I was able to do most of the things that I edited in post in camera! My frames per outing went from 400-700 frames to 7-24 frames. I indulged & purchased a 6 stop Little Stopper & 10 Stop Big Stopper. It has changed my entire portfolio & how I see & capture my sunrises. It has also helped me to slow down & see my environment & composition. Another side effect was that I’ve started to move my lens away from the sun & see the effects that the sun’s golden light has on the environment as it slowly touches & reflects against the surrounding ocean & shoreline.

What Informs How You Look at the World?

This is a fully loaded question, I dislike politics with a passion & with all the bad news that I hear/read on the newspaper, social media, TV, I’ve stopped reading the paper & rarely watch TV nowadays especially the news. Even in social media with people ranting & raving, I’ve tried to minimize what I see, but it’s hard. Photography is my ESCAPE from reality!!! Cutting off some of the negativity on news & social media has helped me focus more of my creativity into my art, but it’s impossible to cut off ALL the negativity. My imagery especially my seascapes & waves is very serene, perhaps one day the world will reflect that same feelings? I can dream, can’t I?!

What has helped shaped your style and techniques for photography?

I believe it was the edium in which I could give something back. I’m a big advocate of giving back to the community. I’m now teaching free workshops at 2 local camera shops, Pro Camera Hawaii & Hawaii Camera. Both owners have graciously given me a venue for me to share the knowledge that I’ve acquired throughout my short journey as a photographer. I’ve also organized & put a team together of 12 of my closest photography friends to participate in 3 Help Portrait events, 2012-2014 & took family pictures for the Hawaii Children’s Cancer Association & the Shriners Hospital in Hawaii. We successfully gave these families a framed 8”x10” print with the hi resolution digital files to share, at no cost to all the families.

What are a few pieces of advice you find yourself offering most frequently to aspiring or emerging photographers who are looking to advance their careers?

Like anything in life if you want to get better, you got to go practice, practice and practice! When you’re done practicing go out & practice some more!!! Get off your lazy ass & get out, rather than just saying I’m gonna do this & not do anything… Get out & do it! You’re not doing yourself any favors by talking crap. Always keep an open mind to learn from others! With all the different types of media available to anyone with an internet connection it’s so easy to learn through the web & meeting other like minded people! And don’t let the TROLLS get you down!

What can emerging talents do to stand out from the crowd in the context of submissions and building their portfolio?

If you want to improve your portfolio & photography, stop taking snapshots and MAKE a picture. Slow down & look around you, it’s not about quantity it’s about quality & creativity. Stop rattling off 20 shots in a bursts & hope you have 1 usable frame, think about your composition in relation to your subject & background. You not only have to see your environment but you have to feel it as well. Look for subjects that are interesting & shoot it from every possible angle. Take what you’ve learned & put it into action. Yes you’re going to fail miserably & fall flat on your face, but so long as you learn from your mistakes, I guarantee you that you will become a better photographer. As a side note, I’m still failing & falling flat on my face, even after 10+ years of shooting. Technically know what your camera is capable of doing & work within it’s limits, having the latest & greatest gear/software is not always the best thing. You can rent bodies & lens now, use that & experiment. You have everything at your fingertips. When working on your edits, & even before, when you’re composing your shot in the field, learn how to lead a viewer’s eye throughout your image. Make your viewers think & captivate them with the beauty that is your vision. With all this said, the bottom line for you to get better as a photographer is to practice and most importantly have fun while you’re doing it!!!

Aloha a hui ho, Ryan Sakamoto

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Fades by Daze

Photographer • Artist • Barber • From Miami Florida

Born November 19, 1983. Photographer, artist and barber, goes by the name of Daze. The name Daze comes from back in the day growing up as a graffiti writer in the streets of Miami in the year 1996, when the song “Days of our Lives” from Bone Thugs n Harmony came out. Bone Thugs n Harmony was one of his favorite rap groups at the time, and when he coined the name Daze. He has lived up the name ever since because he is always in a DAZE with visuals. Daze still resides in his hometown on the outskirts of  Miami in the city of Hialeah. He has traveled to many places around the country but still calls Hialeah, FL. home. Hileah is his roots and and will always by home. His family best describes him as CRAZY, the WILD ONE, maybe the WEIRD ONE, words all in love for this unique artist from Hialeah.
What is daily life like for you in your hometown of Hialeah?

My day usually consists of waking up as early as possible, taking my daily vitamins to then start my day with some daily exercising in the gym or park, depending on the mood I wake up in.  I have to change it up from time to time, so I don’t get comfortable doing the same routine. After leaving gym I come home to shower, drink a protein shake or prepare a great healthy meal to start my daily grind, either cutting hair, tattooing, photography, editing, modeling or consulting. It really all depends on my appointment book and scheduling since I have so many talents and jobs.  After my days of working long hours which vary from time to time – late nights at times.  I like to get myself ready for bed by self medicating myself, like smoking a joint in order to RELAX the mind, body and soul and to wake up refreshed for the next day and continue my artistic work.

Beside your work and hustle n’ grind what other activities interest and inspire you?

Well there are so many things that interest me. For example, I love watching movies, documentaries, exploring, traveling, learning and meeting new people. Expanding my mind, absorbing knowledge and collecting new information of all sorts through other people physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and or via social media wise. To keep myself always on edge and updated. I can say all those factors have been a great inspiration in all my work. I also feel that by all these things it has molded me to be a very wide ranged, open minded individual in order to connect with LIFE. As of right now my main motivation and purpose is FAMILY and helping to support my mother MAMA DAZE in her tough times, after all she is the reason I am here. MAMA DAZE is who brought me into this world and I will not leave her side or abandon her when she needs me the most.  This is why I am always constantly working with all my gifted talents in order to provide for my family and myself.  I will continue doing so and spreading knowledge and love, while at the same time creating breath taking art whether it be with my visuals, photography, modeling, tattoos or even haircuts.

Above Photography by @ybvisuals of Model Fades by Daze

Throughout your career what are three major events that have impacted you most?

There are so many things that have impacted me in my life that its hard to describe them all but a few that i can elaborate on.

When I was growing up in middle school I wasn’t really the cool, popular kid in school nor the sight for sore eyes kind of guy for the ladies, instead I was more like the chubby quiet kid that hung out with the popular crowd on the sidelines awaiting to get picked by the cool team I guess is how I can best describe it. It wasn’t like I got picked on if that’s what you’re thinking. I hung out with the cool kids, I just wasn’t THE COOL KID. So basically to sum it all up my self esteem and insecurities had the best of me, that was at least not till I hit high school. High school was where I started to transition in losing weight and started basically focusing on my looks. Also, I met a whole variety of wide range artists and many graffiti street artists, which later led to my vandalizing success and few arrests, that destroyed my mother’s heart.

A few years after, I say somewhere around the age of 21-23 I went through a very bad break up that caused me much pain, but like all strong individuals I pulled through and learned from this experience.  I continued my life ventures, taking in this story of my love life for me to take notes and apply it on to my oncoming years to come.

Few years pass, on and off enjoying my single life from time to time cherishing every moment when then another life turning incident occurred.  My grandmother MAMA DAZE’s mama was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007 and my mom was taking care of her during her remaining time every day, day and night for several months. On November 15, 4 days before my birthday Grandma Daze passed away, leaving my mother with a huge empty whole in her heart, and not to mention our financial situation wasn’t so great either since my mother was taking care of my Grandmother.  She was not able to continue at her place of employment with so much time off and leave. Mama Daze later went into a deep depression grieving over the death of a loved one plus debt and financial issues it was all overwhelming and to much for her to handle being alone with no guidance. That is when I had to step up to the plate and start taking responsibility of caring for my FAMILY.

Above photography by @fleitasphotos of Model Fades by Daze

What quotes, personal or professional affect you most?
There are way to many to list because each one has a specific significance to a point in time in my life whether it be emotional, spiritual, or metaphorical, I basically love every motivational, inspirational quote that will expand my way of thinking and experiences in life. Basically there are truths in all sayings and quotes. But a few of my favorites that I can mention are real easy simple ones; “The truth will set you free”, “Good things come for those who wait” and one of my all time favorites that I live by is “DONT JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER.”

Photography FADES by DAZE of Model Manda Love @mandalovexrated

What got you started in photography and inspires your shooting techniques? Are you self taught?
What got me started into photography is that I was first a model due to my unique look so many photographers would use me as there muse and from there I would create concepts with different photographers and collaborate which then sparked up the curiosity of me creating my own images that then lead to me learning from a few close photographer friends of mine. From there I took creativity into my own imagination and then self taught myself with a little help from time to time of a few friends and YouTube but most of all was hands on experience that helped me develop my skills and still eager to learn and try new things.
What artists and people in your life have impacted you most and why?
I have had many influences from movies, actors, artists, music, friends, etc but the ones I can list are my homie Rey Grillo that did my first tattoo and most of my black and grey tattoo work on my skin canvas. I would also have to say my other close friend of 15 years, photographer Derick G @derick_g, that helped me in my modeling by taking my first pictures in 2005 -2006 or so and also my homies Munky and Tony @fleitasphotos & @tonez127, that impacted me and inspired me in my actual photography which then led to me wanting to experiment on my own. There are so many other dope photographers that I look up to and so many artist that catch my eye in so many different industries.
When looking back at photography and art, is there a specific piece/ photo that you took that still emotionally moves you and what feelings does that piece evoke and why?
Through out my many photo shoot encounters i have cherished them all, each one has a significant moment and marks a time in my life, like a chapter in my personal life journal, so that makes hard for me to pick a specific one. But some fun shoots i can share are the time I did my version of Medusa with model Riley ( @piercingsbyriley) I  brought at least close to 50 snakes on set not knowing that this would be her first time handling a snake in her life, but overall the shoot was so amazing and successful it blew so many heads, got featured in Dark Beauty magazine , and was an amazing hit, not to mention that she killed the shoot with her energy and that everything went smoothly for her first time handling not just one but several small snakes at once, and 3 different 13-14 ft snakes as well, was quite a remarkable jaw dropping and memorable shoot. Another shoot i can remember is when i was in Vegas shooting in Red Rock Canyons with model Shay @queencurbcheck -a greek Goddess themed look, I used some colored smoke grenades that would rise upto at least 15-20 ft in the air in a state national park, i guess alarmed park rangers or authorities that a helicopter was dispatched few minutes shortly after, good thing i had got my shots needed, packed our things and made a run for it before any consequences, lol, that was pretty crazy but yet very exciting and felt a bit of  accomplishment.

Photography by @iamdaze_ of Model @queencurbcheck

The post Fades by Daze appeared first on HOUSEINK Art & Tattoo Magazine.

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