By Takahiro “Horitaka” Kitamura
Tattooers love to travel… I recently got to catch-up with Danny Boy as he was running up and down California. His wife was getting tattooed by Horitomo at my shop and they crashed at my house for the night. We chatted a bit over coffee and I was especially eager to ask about the New Amsterdam Tattoo Museum. This project is the brainchild of Henk "Hanky Panky" Schiffmacher, a living legend of tattooing and one of the world's leading tattoo historians. The opening is scheduled for later this year…
Horitaka: So you've had a whirlwind trip here…
Danny Boy: Well, it's been a long trip… –started the 31st, flew into L.A. and spent a couple of days there in Huntington Beach with my brother J.J. at his new shop, The Player's Club. Then we headed south to San Diego to see my family, spent a couple of days there. Then we passed through Upland to see Tony at Por Vida. From there we drove north, just went up to Sacramento, super long drive but it was good.
It’s been three years since we left Sacramento, it was good to get back with the guys, Eiland and Brent at Forever. We didn't get a lot of painting done, Eiland wanted to paint but we drank a lot of beer...
HT: That brings you up to now?
DB: No, no way! Ha-ha, we were in Sac and got to go to Hayward for a car show, hung out with Eiland's family, watched our kids play. Then we went south again, first to Huntington Beach to see my dad, he came in from Afghanistan. Then we went to the convention down there in Hollywood Park, had a good time there and saw old friends.
I was especially happy that my brother Chris flew in from Hawaii. From there, we headed back up north, first east to see Tony again at Por Vida, then headed north, stopped at Golden Eagle in Santa Barbara, did a couple of tattoos there. From there we headed north and somehow we ended up going slightly southeast and after five hours we’re barely at Bakersfield. So we stopped there and the next day headed up to Tracy, tattooed there with Eddie at Secret Sidewalk for the day. That brings us to here!
HT: Quite a trip!
DB: There's some funny stuff, left out a lot, but it's been long and hard. Started out in my brother's car, that got repo-ed with all our suitcases, took us a day to get it back. We got a rental after that. I’m putting a stencil on and my wife's calling me thinking the car had been stolen!
It was cool, Tony took care of everything, helped us get a rental car. Our whole trip would have been done after the first day; he put us back in the road in a white Impala.
HT: How long since you've been in the States?
DB: Three years, man.
HT: So tell me what you've been doing the last three years…
DB: Been trying to stay busy, living in Milan, working back and forth between Milan and Amsterdam. We're in Holland every two months or so. In Milan I work for my friend Davide Andrioli, he has a beautiful shop right outside Milan called, The Italian Rooster.
He's been in that area for 15 years, so he has everyone trained to getting cool tattoos. They’ve been really good to me there. I've always had this thing; I can never be in one place too long. You're a traveling man yourself! I try to stay fresh so I go to Amsterdam every two months. It works out good; we have our family's house there. I have a chair at the shop, it makes it less stressful.
HT: So speaking of Amsterdam, we hear big things are coming…
DB: Yes, actually we're looking the end of this year we're hoping, to get the tattoo museum back again. Henk's been working on a museum for 30 years but this actual set project about five.
They finally got a building, three buildings actually. About a year-and-a-half ago, they were trying to get these beautiful buildings restored and of course modernized with handicapped rails and elevators. This isn't a museum like what we're used to… when we think tattoo museum. There are some nice collections that are out there, really amazing stuff, but I don't want to sound condescending but this is a REAL museum, like if you go to the art or science museum in your city this is what we're talking about.
HT: Is it federally funded?
DB: It's getting support from the city of Amsterdam. This is something very unique and has never been done before and probably never will be. It was the perfect combination, Henk and Amsterdam. I don't think any other person could do it and no other city would, it went hand in hand.
The main thing with this, what Henk wants to put out there, this is gonna be the center of learning. That is what I want it to be, if you are interested in any style of tattooing, come on down, bring a notebook, a sketchbook. Come and learn and draw. Don’t just copy flash and photocopy it, come and learn it.
At the same time, Henk will be having legendary tattooers and masters from all over the world guest-spotting. If you want a Japanese tattoo, there will be guys coming from Japan, in a room that looks like a Japanese studio. The Maori hut will look like one. We don't want people to stop there, we hope this will spark an interest for people to go to the islands, go to New Zealand, go to Japan.
The museum will be set up with different sections; they will have a modern gallery with art shows, a library for research and an archive. A lot of people have beautiful collections and may not want to part with them, we can always store photocopies, people can loan things, short or long term. All of this is for the purpose of learning and educating the public. I personally see it as educating ourselves, that is my purpose with this, because I want to learn!!
HT: Sounds great! Looking forward to going there!
For more info on the New Amsterdam Tattoo Museum please visit their Facebook and Twitter pages:
New Amsterdam Tattoo Museum Facebook
New Amsterdam Tattoo Museum Twitter
Danny Boy can be found at:
The Italian Rooster
Via Madonna, 12
20017 Rho Milan, Italy
+39 02 93949508
Horitaka (Taki) can be found at:
State of Grace Tattoo
221 Jackson Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 441-7770
Hours: 11am – 7pm
Closed on Tuesday