The Last Laugh/ Los Angeles


Grand Opening Celebration Features an Open House of the New Storefronts

WHO/WHAT: San Francisco-based apparel and art company Upper Playground,
photographer and director Estevan Oriol and artist Mister Cartoon are
excited to announce the unveiling of a series of four one-of-a-kind retail
establishments in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles. Each storefront
will offer customers a unique fashion and fine art experience. In
celebration of the new properties, the three entities will host an open
house on Saturday, May 31, 2008 that will feature a special art exhibit and
appearances from some of the world's leading designers involved in the
project. Details about the four businesses are included below.

Upper Playground
Upper Playground includes apparel for men and women including their popular
line of hoodies, t-shirts, jackets, shoes, luggage, an innovative line of
home furnishings and more. An exclusive line of Los Angeles-inspired apparel
designs will also be available. The Upper Playground store will have a
separate space for an art gallery similar to many of Upper Playground's
other retail locations. Upper Playground L.A. marks the seventh city in the
world to feature an Upper Playground retail establishment since its
inception in 1999. The company recently opened two other California stores
in Sacramento and Berkeley.

"Upper Playground has a large following in the L.A. market and we're excited
to offer our Southern California friends an outlet to experience rare art
and fashion from some of the world¹s leading designers," said Matt Revelli,
founder and owner of Upper Playground. "As a West Coast brand, Los Angeles
is a natural progression for Upper Playground to have a retail presence and
it's nice to be located in a developing area of the city. Upper Playground
thrives in unique and emerging neighborhoods like Skid Row, and we're
honored to be working with the talented Estevan Oriol and Mister Cartoon on
such an innovative retail experience."

Upper Playground is the pioneer of combining fashion and fine art. In
celebration of the new store opening, there will be a special art exhibit
featuring the works of Usugrow, Sam Flores, Jeremy Fish, David Choe, Herbert
Baglione, San, Retna, Saber, Alex Pardee, Ron English, Doze Green, Slick,
Armsrock and David Ellis. Many of the featured artists on display also
contribute designs to Upper Playground's apparel line.

In addition to Upper Playground, the new venture includes "The Last Laugh,"
which will house the Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol retail experiences.

Mister Cartoon Popular L.A. tattoo and graffiti artist Mister Cartoon's new
store will house signature Mister Cartoon items and artifacts from his
passions and hobbies. "I wanted to create a space that was open to the
public that is an extension of my lifestyle and culture," said Mister
Cartoon. The Mister Cartoon experience will include a special tattoo station
for a select group of tattoo artists to make guest appearances.

Estevan Oriol In 2006, photography legend Estevan Oriol selected Upper
Playground as his official apparel partner. This new retail space will house
Oriol's apparel line with Upper Playground and his iconic photography prints
will also be available for sale to the public. "Upper Playground understands
what I want to convey with my art and they have given me the freedom to
transcend my imagery with my apparel line in the way that I want," comments
Oriol on his experience working with Upper Playground. Oriol is a longtime
resident of L.A. "I wanted to open a store in downtown L.A. because it's
where we've spent a lot of our time for the past thirteen years," said

Bonus Space
The fourth location involved in the new retail project will be a rotating
concept that will house unique fashion and art concepts for short periods of
time. During the open house, it will feature a display of custom motorcycles
from 1998 AMA 250cc Champion-turned motorcycle designer Roland Sands and
limited-edition fashion pieces from designer and model Tony Ward's line, Six
in the Face. From August through September the site will be transformed into
a truly unique promotional experience for the upcoming feature film from
Overture Films called "Righteous Kill" starring Robert De Niro and Al
Pacino. SA Studios Global, the agency of Estevan Oriol and Mister Cartoon,
was selected to produce the iconic poster for the film. The space will
become the exclusive promotional headquarters for the film and will feature
a shrine to the film's stars.

WHEN: Grand Opening: Saturday, May 31, 2008 from 1 ­ 8 p.m.

WHERE: Upper Playground & The Last Laugh
125 E. 6th Street (between S. Main St. and S. Los Angeles St.), Los Angeles,
CA 90014


Based in San Francisco, California, Upper Playground was founded in 1999 and
has become a leader in today¹s progressive fine art movement with its
innovative apparel line and art gallery, FIFTY24SF. Recognized as a catalyst
for the fusion of fashion with art, Upper Playground produces apparel lines
bi-annually and features designs from notable local and international
artists. Upper Playground apparel is sold nationally and internationally in
over 300 boutiques and online. Please visit
for more information.

· Interview opportunities with Matt Revelli, founder and owner of Upper
Playground, and artists attending the opening including Mister Cartoon,
Estevan Oriol, Sam Flores, premier Japanese painter Usugrow, and others
· Photos of the new store
· Images of Upper Playground¹s Los Angeles-specific apparel designs

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Ian Jones Has Thirteen Tattoos. Here Are Four.

I saw this hannya mask outside of Penn Station and went up to talk to its host, Ian Jones, a Long Islander waiting for a train.

Despite a light rainfall, we chatted for ten minutes or so about his tattoos and the stories behind them.

Since the advent of Tattoosday, participants' reactions to the project range from total disinterestedness to moderate amusement. Ian, however, took it a notch higher, to the point of downright enthusiasm. He sounded sincere in his appreciation for the blog (and the idea behind it), and I got the impression that he would have let me take pictures of each tattoo, had time and weather permitted.

The big piece that first drew my attention was the colorful half-sleeve on his left bicep. The hanyya masks are traditional elements in Japanese tattooing styles, and he has two masks representing good and evil.

This tattoo, about ten hours worth of work so far, was done by Kristen at Artful Ink Tattoo Studio, in Bohemia, on Long Island. He noted that it was also a cover-up of a "bad sparrow and flower".

Ian says he gets the most questions about his Volkswagen logo on the inside of his right wrist.

He explains why he got an automotive emblem on such a prominent spot: he's always loved German engineering and has always had VW vehicles. His first car was a VW Eurovan, but his second car, a VW GTI 2-door hatchback, was what cemented his love of Volkswagens for life.

Ian told me how he was in his GTI when he was in a horrible crash. The other vehicle was purportedly going 100 MPH and Ian is convinced that the VW's structural shell protected him from critical injuries.

As a tribute to the GTI, and as an expression of his love of Volkswagen, he had the VW logo inked on his shifting arm (he now drives a VW Jetta) as a reminder of his survival from such a harrowing experience.

His left arm sports two tattoos:

There is Long Island on the forearm and a star on his inner wrist. The star was inked the same time as the VW logo to provide balance, but it grew to take on a more important meaning. It's a reminder symbol about a friend of his who is in the Marines.

The VW and star were inked by his friend and bandmate Tony Coffins at Resonance Tattoo, also on Long Island (Center Moriches). Ian and Tony are in a band, Phoenix Rise, together. See their MySpace page here and listen to them play.

The tattoo of Long Island, which Ian admits is not done that well (although I would say at least looks like Long Island), is nonetheless, still near and dear to his heart. Ian was adopted when he was a baby, and he feels that he could have ended up anywhere, and Long Island was his home. He is proud to be a Long Islander, and thus wears this as a badge of honor.

Thanks to Ian for his enthusiasm for Tattoosday, and let's hope we see more of his ink here in the future!
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John's Koi: Then and Now

It was only a matter of time.

I wondered when, just buy the nature of my talking to so many tattooed people, I would approach someone about Tattoosday, having already featured them on the blog.

The answer: seven months.

Here's an excerpt from October 2007:

Does that look familiar? I wrote in October 2007:

The first piece is a classic koi tattoo, done on the front of the calf. There is a dragon on the back of the leg but it is not finished yet, as color still needs to be added.

The host, John, is from the Bay Ridge area and had his koi inked at Body Art Studios on 3rd Avenue. We know the artist, Peter Cavorsi, who also runs the shop, because he is responsible for one of mine and three of my wife's pieces. I strongly recommend his shop if you live in southwest Brooklyn. His shop is clean and he does very nice work, as you can see from John's koi.

Koi are a traditional part of Japanese tattoo, and are very common subjects n body art because they represent good fortune. Despite their being regular subjects, they seldom are ever one in the same. Like snowflakes, they tend to differ from body to body, and unlike tribal pieces, I don't think I could ever get bored of koi tattoos.

John estimated that this large leg piece, including the dragon on the back of the leg, not pictured and not yet colored, took 13 hours so far. A lot of people don't realize how much time goes into elaborate pieces like these. On shows like Miami Ink, a ten-hour project can be compressed to five minutes of screen time.

Well, last Sunday, I saw the finished work, not realizing that John had been here previously. I handed him a flier at the grocery store, and he reminded me who he was. He was busy with groceries, but he promised me he'd send photos of the finished work. He estimates that Peter had spent an additional nine hours on the piece since October, making it about 22 hours in total.

That's one thing about the whole "_____ Ink" television experience, the work is edited down so much that many people don't realize how much effort goes into the large quality pieces.

And of course, John came through with these updated shots:

Thanks to John for sharing his finished leg piece with us! Stay tuned!! He also sent me photos of his other tattoos, which will be featured in a later post.
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All Aboard! Susan's Train Tattoo Honors Her Son

I ran into Susan, walking south on 3rd Avenue last Saturday. She sports nine tattoos in all, but the one that jumps out at you is the piece above on her lower left calf.

I have yet to master the art of photographing a wrap-around piece, so bear with this one (although I think I did ok).

First the story behind the ink. Susan is a proud parent and, like most parents, her body art reflects her love of her child. She has been getting tattooed since her son was 3 (now he's 10) and he has even collaborated on designing some of her work.

If memory serves, her son's name is Nicholas, which explains the "N" on the locomotive.

He is a HUGE fan of trains, to the extent that he knows subway lines and is adept at giving directions and the MTA routes. Thus, the central element of the piece.

In front of the train is a railroad crossing signpost

and at the back is the caboose,

complete with hearts and a Pac-Man symbol to reflect her son's love of video games.

His love of rainbows, as well, is reflected by the multi-colored arc over the train. The piece is completed by the rising sun (a play on "son").

The end result is a vibrant, wonderful piece of body art which is poignant and visually-appealing.

This tattoo, along with all her other work, was inked be Peter Cavorsi at Body Art Studios in Bay Ridge. Peter inked my guitar-cherub (at the bottom of the page) and has appeared on Tattoosday many times before (click here to see the various pieces).

Thanks to Susan for bringing some colorful maternal ink to us here at Tattoosday!
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LA Legends.... Hollywood Legends....

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino... Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol... A
collaboration for the History books.

This is it! The iconic "Righteous Kill" movie poster created by Mister
Cartoon and Estevan Oriol before it hits the streets.

Keep an eye out for an SA Studios / Righteous Kill Downtown LA Experience.
Word is out, this is going to be a historical tribute to SA Studios two
favorite actors, De Niro and Pacino. The "Righteous Kill" experience is set
to open up in August 2008 right next door to the "The Last Laugh" Mister
Cartoon's & Estevan Oriol's retail spaces along side the Upper Playground
retail space located on 6th and Los Angeles Streets in Downtown Los Angeles

Also in August 2008, SA Studios and Righteous Kill in collaboration with
Upper Playground will release "Righteous Kill" limited edition merchandise
and lithographs signed by the designers of the "Righteous Kill" iconic
artwork, Mister Cartoon & Estevan Oriol.

The upcoming feature film from Overture Films, "Righteous Kill" starring
Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, will be in theaters 09-12-08
To learn more on the film, check out details and a trailer of Righteous Kill at
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Kyle's Take on Heaven and Hell

I initially just saw the bottom of this tattoo, an inverted cityscape poking out from under a sleeve. Quite unusual, so I had to stop Kyle and ask. We were on 7th Avenue, and I was using the borrowed Sony Cyber-shot of a co-worker (thanks, Tina!). Kyle rolled up his sleeve and blew me away.

The detail and color of the tree were breath-taking. And if you click on the initial photo to enlarge it, the detail in the buildings is astonishing, with color on the billboards and light emanating from some of the tiny windows.

The concept behind this piece, Kyle explained, is that the country is Heaven and the city is Hell, separated by a layer of purgatorial clouds. He was raised in upstate New York, far from the five boroughs of New York City and its eight million-plus inhabitants.

This work was inked by Myles Karr at Saved Tattoo in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

Thanks to Kyle for sharing this piece with Tattoosday!
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