On Gypsies and Gentlemen: Marcus Kuhn’s Series Profiles Some of Our Favorite Artists

The residents of the 1000 Trivialities bunker all agree upon the indisputable radness of tattoos and tattoo culture. Most of us started marking ourselves up at a fairly impressionable young age and all have continued to do so apace.

I first learned about Marcus Kuhn’s excellent, “The Gypsy Gentleman” series while in Austin, Texas. Following Narrows last show at SxSW, Rob Moran arranged for several of us to be tattooed at Rock of Ages by his old friend and amazing artist Steve Byrne. We took Steve out to dinner when we were all done and the conversation turned to Vice’s series Tattoo Age . Steve mentioned that Marcus Kuhn had recently been in Texas filming a series of his own and that he and his business partner (the equally talented ex-Concrete, WA resident Tony Hundahl) were featured in the 2nd episode.

Each episode of “The Gypsy Gentleman” features different cities, themes and artists. Kuhn’s old stomping ground, New York City, kicks off the series.  Virginia Elwood and Thomas Hooper  accompany Kuhn as he talks a bit about the life of a traveling tattoo artist. Daniel Santoro of Smith Street Tattoo Parlour and Black Gold Records also makes a brief appearance. Episode 2, embedded below, sees Kuhn exploring the evolution of American tattooing following the end of the 2nd World War. His partners in crime are Steve Byrne and Tony Hundahl. The most recent episode finds Kuhn in San Francisco. He enlists the aid of Jason Kundell and George Campise  to discuss the current Renaissance in American tattooing.

The series also does an admirable job of introducing the viewer to unique attractions and unforgettable characters beyond those in the tattoo game. While Dan Santoro’s antique and record store is easily featured due to Santoro’s work as a tattoo artist, many of the others standout all on their own. Kuhn introduces a man who creates a cathedral from junk, an old friend who trains police dogs as well as taking the viewer on a tour of a museum devoted to old carnival pianos and fortune telling games.  While each is unique they also inform the viewer as to the spirit of the city.

Kuhn ends each of the episodes with he and the featured artists collaborating on a theme which is then translated into a series of glorious tattoos. The quality of the artists speaks to the strength of the end product but, more than anything, the theme is effectively transmitted into the tattoos. Marcus Kuhn’s “The Gypsy Gentleman” is well worth your time, long may it continue!

– Captain of Games

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