The tattoo of the month column here on my site highlights one of my favorite tattoos that I have recently had the pleasure of doing. In these columns, I then delve deeper into the makeup of the tattoo, what it is that makes it great; what it is that makes me love it so. All of these tattoos have one thing in common. They are pure, unadulterated, traditional tattoos! There is just no two ways about it. In the last 23 years of my professional tattooing work as a Dallas tattoo artist, I have seen many styles come and go. I have seen many trends arise, and then die. I have seen the individual perspective of both artist and customer put forward. But all of these fall short, when compared to an American Traditional Black Panther tattoo, or a Traditional Japanese Dragon. There is just no way to beat images like these. They are the tried and true traditional tattoos that people are calling for. As I am known for my traditional work, which I have practiced for the entirety of my career, I get a lot of calls for this type of tattooing. It is always a joy to open […]

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August’s Dallas tattoo of the month proudly goes to Mr. Andy, an aerospace engineer who also enjoys the down-to-earth style of a traditional tattoo. With that said, there are three things that I am most proud of concerning Andy’s tattoo. The first would have to be that Mister Bob Roberts liked it and commented “Kool Style” about it on Instagram. It was awesome knowing that he is the best living practicing tattoo artist in the western world, and he is taking time to look at and enjoy some of my tattoo posts. Never mind that many of my friends, peers, or slightly older than I tattoo artists couldn’t be bothered to check in on my harsh style and my straightforward approach to this art I love. Often times in this world, it is a matter of many liking something just because others do. I am not in with that crowd. I am off to the side. I have my humble craft, and the ones who like it tend to think for themselves, be bold, and stand alone, much as I do. The second thing about this tattoo that is superlative is that it was all accomplished in a single session. […]

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Heart in Hand Gallery
div class="listing_meta"> January 25, 2017 by Carl Hallowell in autobiography, Tradition, Work

With my new website now online, I wanted to share a work picture from the still new Heart in Hand Gallery, right here on Elm Street. This is the all private, all appointment only studio location for the thriving street shop Elm Street Tattoo. Located in Deep Ellum also, Heart in Hand attempts to bring you the best Dallas traditional tattoos day in and day out. I am very proud and very pleased to have a room here, where I can pursue the kind of tattoo work my vision leads me to, that good ol’ fashioned traditional tattoo work we’ve all known and loved for so many years. The relaxed surroundings help me to better connect with my customer, with their ideas, their mindset, and our artistic chemistry as we work together to achieve the best tattoo we can. Here, Mr P reclines as I hammer out a custom tattoo sugar skull on the back of his forearm. Most of you probably recognize my long time friend Oliver Peck watching as I line out this tattoo. He is accompanied by Mr. Tommy, and Aaron Finnin, who took a moment to capture this shot.

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  Mr Z has conquered another session. He drives up from Austin to get tattooed here in Dallas. This work in progress is executed with the traditional and singular black ink of Japanese tattooing, sumi. It must be hand ground and prepared for each tattoo, one at a time. I am very proud to work with this magic tool. It is a distinction that marks the work of most japanese tattoo masters, and very few American tattooers. I am lucky, as this gift was given to me by my teacher, Derek Jefferson, who has always had a passion for using the best equipment he could make the connections to obtain. We used to call up Rollo on the phone, asking what machines he had available that week. When once again we had to admit we couldn’t afford these handmade masterpieces that cost more than the rent on our shop, Mike would share machine tuning tips with us, and we would run back to our stations to implement these ideas immediately… One of my favorite parts of writing here are these trips back in time my mind takes me on, even when i had planned to write something else… Mr Z […]

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  Japan is the jewel center of the arts. Stretching backwards into time, nothing has been undone, or taken away. The rich tapestry of symbols, of images, of virtues, has only been added to. Modern glass buildings spring up around Shinto shrines that are hundreds of years old. Uniformed schoolchildren bounce past monks under large, pointy hats. Bullet trains cut through the countryside, where trees shoot up in dense forests and farmlands unfold in aged plots. The maple leaf is as important as the skyscraper. A grain of rice is equal to a slice of sashimi. Everything locks together in a kaleidoscope of expression, of aesthetic beauty. The stoic faces on the subway seem to meditate around us. The hum of the city is unstoppable, unending. The country opens up to us, pointing inward at itself, revealing to us these jewels. The red faced bartender is laughing, disappearing into the kitchen to return with another round. The help of a random passer-by, whoever is closest, is complete and extremely hospitable. The culture is beginning to show itself to us. The subtleties are unfolding like the brocade of a concubine’s kimono, extremely alluring, if you can catch a glimpse… The culture […]

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What to say of this, a piece I worked on for years, on a great friend and a great artist, who’s strength is equal to his talent… Over and over what impresses me is the ability of my customers to stand up to the intense physical pain of tattooing… This pain is especially excruciating when doled out across large areas of the body- and the back is the largest area we have. This is called turtle back horimono, kame no koh, and represents the ultimate achievement in tattooing outside of the full bodysuit. It was my pleasure to work on this piece, again and again, month after month, year after year. Hours would pass when a single conversation unfurled like a flag slowly blowing in the wind. It was relaxed, as if we were fishing, or sitting around enjoying a smoke. But all the while we were hammering, hammering… The armature pulling down, magnetized, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand times… a hundred thousand holes in the dermis letting the sunshine of pigment in.  As I man the machine he tries his best to become a piece of paper, a lay down table… We talk on, then, take a […]

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Sitting up late working, maybe its not tattooing, not painting… Strangely, its writing, one of the first art forms I ran to, after I had read the lyric sheets for everyone from 7 Seconds to The Smiths, even as I recoiled from the reading assignments in english class… school sucked. I had my friend draw green sharpie tattoos on me so at least i’d look cool and have something to stare at while I was bored to tears in class…. now the writing serves my website, supports my true work of tattooing… you can’t just tattoo anymore, now you have to post pictures everywhere of what you did and where and when and sometimes even why. And then you’re expected to stay glued to your phone and look at what everyone else did. it’s exhausting work, truly. I shouldn’t complain. The work gets out there. It gets seen. I remember when photos of my work only sat in a portfolio on the rail, living in darkness, until a rare customer wandered in to flip through it’s pages in a manner somewhere between disinterested and distracted… And I do, I love it when customers come here to my site, my little […]

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Every customer is just as important as the next one. “You are only as good as your last tattoo.” And yet, there is an added pressure when you know the tattoo will be seen more than others, or, when you know that you will see the tattoo more than others. But it is a pressure filled business. I like to fondly recall my first five years of tattooing as one continuous nervous breakdown. But now as I sit in California on my future in-laws patio deck and write, I am far away from that anxiety. The breeze blowing in off the ocean is cool, I can see it down there, the great Pacific, shimmering at the bottom of the hill. I am thinking of my next project, a full sleeve for the guitarist for a prominent hardcore band. He wants to make the long journey to the land of irezumi. If I stare out at the horizon, past the ocean, I can almost see Japan. Mr. N has given me a feel for what he wants, describing a couple two or three images he would like to see in his sleeve. But they are disparate images, how can i bring […]

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Tenka Gomen; Kabuki Kumadori
div class="listing_meta"> August 10, 2015 by Carl Hallowell in autobiography, City, Creation, Flash, In-Progress, Irezumi, Japanese, Nature, People, Store, Tattoos, Tradition, Traditional, Uncategorized

Rememberin’ back when i knew every tattoo shop in town… Next came the era when I actually knew most of the tattooers… Of course i started tattooing in Amarillo, and spent the bulk of my career tattooing in Ft. Worth, and am now tattooing in Dallas, the big city, the Big D… But then again I remember knowing most of the tattooers in Dallas too. It’s still a tight knit group when I think about it, I reached out to a Ft. Worth guy just this morning, and it was just a couple of weeks ago i called across town to a fellow tattoo artist to catch up on industry standards… Those that are outside the loop are lone wolves, they don’t share in the history of the whole, they don’t have a place in the overall hierarchy of the tattoo caste… Our closed system… It’s members only and you need a lot more than a tattoo to join… Ultimately it is about your level of respect for the mark, the mark of the tattoo… It is about your allegiance to it, to the whole… It is about the black, about the color… It is about the machines, the matacide, […]

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Sumi Botan
div class="listing_meta"> July 28, 2015 by Carl Hallowell in autobiography, City, Creation, Flash, In-Progress, Irezumi, Japanese, Nature, People, Store, Tattoos, Tradition, Traditional, Uncategorized

This will be my last shared post from Carlhallowell.com to Facebook, for a while at least. I want to keep all content exclusive from site to site, including my instagram feed @featherhand and the shop feed @elmstreettattoo. The purpose of all of these accounts is primarily to showcase my traditional tattooing and traditional japanese tattooing, or irezumi. As most of you know, I left Fort Worth to tattoo in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of downtown Dallas years ago. This area has long been known for it’s concentration of tattoo shops, and tattooed people. It has been a great 7 years tattooing in Dallas already. I really miss having my own shop but destiny has brought me here for the time being, and blessed me with many great opportunities, which I have seized to the best of my abilities! I wish to thank all the customers of Liberty Electric Tattooing from the bottom of my heart. Thanks to those of you that followed me to Elm Street Tattoo, and thank you to all my new customers in Dallas.  Thanks to those of you I’ve tattooed in Hollywood, California as well, my customers at True Tattoo. Finally, thanks to those of you […]

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