LA Skin & Ink at Craft and Folk Art Museum

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Just inside the Craft and Folk Art Museum on Wilshire, a girl quickly unbuttoned the top of her pants to show off a small tattoo on her the inside of her hip.

No exhibitionist, the girl simply showed off her ink design to gain admittance in the locale’s show “LA Skin & Ink.” On opening night Saturday, whoever showed off their own skin art got into the show for free to trace the evolution of the tattoo world in Los Angeles.

Composed of photographs, tattoo sheets (“flash” to the trade”),  and other materials, the show highlights important styles and pioneers of the tattoo world. The crowd ranged from a variety of ages with tattooed and non-tattooed skin. If you felt left out of the tattooed crowd, you could get your very own temporary tattoo with the show’s name pressed onto your skin on the spot by helpful museum workers.

The show presents different sections that succinctly presented a bit of history matched with impressive tattoo works. One of the most fun facts: Thomas Edison invented the electric pen which led to the tattoo machine. Viewers could gaze at the strange mechanism that eventually allowed many to bring their unique artistic visions to life.

With names like Mr. Cartoon, Don Ed Hardy, Estevan Oriol,  Jill Jordan and more, the show offered viewers an image feast of some of the most important tattoo figures and their supporters throughout the history of tattoos in the City of Angels. Vintage photographs people who got tattoos from Bert Grimm especially communicated the experience of putting ink on skin, their faces showing honest emotion.

The show included a good variety of mediums and pieces. In one corner visitors could sit in a reclined chair and watch as projected images of tattoo floated onto their skin. In another area, more traditional paintings showed the talent of fine artists or tattoo artist who also created art. Works from Sergio Sanchez, Nikko Hurtado, and Kevin Llewellyn proved that tattoos can be incorporated into fine art, no matter the background of the artist.

Outside the lively crowd sipped on wine and munched on snacks while a DJ doled out beats that echoed throughout the surrounding blocks of the museum. Each person seemed akin to the idea that tattoos are an art form whose history should be looked at more closely. Here’s to hoping that the next few decades only keep the art form evolving.


“LA Skin & Ink”
Through January 6
Craft and Folk Art Museum
5814 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 937-4230
Tuesday – Friday: 11 am – 5 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 12 pm – 6 pm
General admission: $7.  Students and Seniors: $5. Free for members, children under 10.
First Wednesday of every month FREE




“Chuco” by photographer Edgar Hoill









“No Pain, No Gain” (Portrait of the artist Jeffrey Lutz), Sergio Sanchez, oil on linen, 2011.


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