I WILL BE IN PRAGUE AT THE PRAGUE 15th annual TATTOO EXPO FROM JUNE 14th, 15th and 16th. I will be tattooing and of course meeting some of Europe's best tattooers. I can't wait to come back and share things with others.
"There is no substitute for experience." email@example.com TATTOOING SINCE 1972 The photo on the left is a photo of Danny Danzl, my teacher and mentor along with the famous Don Nolan and Rio Degenero and myself on 1st Ave. and Seneca in l974.
Vyvyn Lazonga has been a tattoo icon for more than 40 years. One of maybe 2 women who were working as tattooists at the time, Kate Hildebrandt being the other female, who worked under Sailer Jerry in Honolulu. It was a time when new revolutionary ideas were being explored, such as civil rights, women's rights, and many traditional boundaries were being re- examined. At this time in the early 1970's it was a rare thing to see beautifully done large work. The only large tattoo work that I had seen were photos that Sailor Jerry would send to my teacher CJ Danny Danzl. Occasionally someone would come through the shop with photos of the original Yakuza tattooing, which totally enamored and excited me. I couldn't get enough of this style which told ancient old stories of heros, ghosts, lovers, battles, and mythology. They always had layers upon layers of imagery that flowed together as one piece, something that people in the West were just not used to seeing. Tattooing in the West was usually memento pieces, or many small images put together. To me they never looked cohesive, or complete or that dynamic. I was determined to find out more about this asian style art/craft, that was so hidden and underground. This was the beginning of the tattoo renaissance in the west. Shortly after I began to tattoo at C.J. Danny's shop on skid road in Seattle I got to meet Don Ed Hardy who would pop in on his way up to Vancouver, B.C. I didn't know much about him at that time until a year or so later. He was one of the few men at the top of the beginning of the tattoo renaissance along with Sailor Jerry, Don Nolan, Zeke Owen, Cliff Raven, Hong Kong Tom, Oguri, and Nakano from Japan. It was a time where every tattooer pretty much knew who was tattooing around the country and information got around pretty fast considering it was way before the internet. There was excitement in the air whenever we came in contact with other tattooers, but on the same token we were all very territorial. A few years later I had the opportunity to get tattooed by Hong Kong Tom. This was shortly after the famous Pike in Longbeach disbanded all of the military and so many tattoo shops closed down. Tom came to work with Danny and myself in Seattle for a while and then about a year later Don Nolan came to work there. I was so young and naive and didn't really know what gems they were. Looking back though I'm honored to have experienced this part of tattoo history. It wasn't long after that that I made an appointment with Don Ed Hardy to have him tattoo the 3 very large phoenixes that I have wrapped around my body. This was the work that won the award at the Minneapolis Tattoo Convention of l978. That notoriety that came from that was not all that appealing, but I learned a lot from the experience. All the while, I was always drawing and creating new ideas that broke away from the old school tradition style tattooing. It was just the time and age to do that. It's funny looking back now, because over the last 10 years tattooers have taken the traditional old school tattooing to great new levels of technique and style. Trying out different imagery and was the test of the time and it was very exciting to have the opportunity to explore different themes from different cultures and mythology. It's funny that these men are my mentors and I aspire to their greatness, so not having any real female icons to follow I must become one to myself. I am forever grateful to those that went before me and in my old age I have a completely different view and appreciation for them. My gratitude goes out to Danny, my teacher who gave me a chance to be part of this great cultural pop art experience.
She was one of the first female artists in the world who went out on her own and didn't work for her husband or partner; she worked for herself and her art. Vyvyn has won many awards and has challenged the tattoo/artistic norm, and continues to create amazing custom body art today at her shop in the historic Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington.