A new streetlight banner program in Dallas showcases the handiwork of Deep Ellum tattoo artists.
Launched by the Deep Ellum Foundation, the program features 10 banners hung from streetlight poles throughout the neighborhood — primarily on Main Street — designed by tattoo artists who work at shops in the district.
It not only connects to a long tradition of tattoo parlors in the neighborhood, it also reinforces the fact that the illustrative work they do is art.
Each banner has its own unique style, reflecting the techniques and oeuvre of the artist.
Make an artsy field trip out of it and look for banners bearing these images:
- woman resting atop a skull in a martini glass with the setting sun behind her
- red banner with a cowgirl and her horse
- watercolor on arches paper depicting birds among flowering branches
- the neighborhood Traveling Man smiling with heart eyes
- whimsical looking woman inspired by the murals of Deep Ellum
- woman with striking amber eyes through a green hijab
- dragon ready to strike
- panther scaling stones reading "Deep Ellum"
- galloping white pegasus among purple clouds
- woman with a shoulder tattoo, flowers in her hair, and a frame of spider webs
According to a release, this is the second time Deep Ellum has featured the work of neighborhood tattoo artists; the first time was in 2017 and proved to be one of the area's most popular series.
The Foundation is also reprising a banner featuring the work of the late Norman Dean Williams, a founder and owner of Elm Street Tattoo who passed away in summer 2021.
"[It] has left a big hole in our hearts," says Shawn Hodges of Elm Street Tattoo. "He truly was one of a kind."
Other artists whose work is currently on display include:
Cody Biggs, Taboo Tattoo. Son of Taboo founders Sharon and Jimmy Flatte, Biggs is a second-generation tattoo artist who started his career as a professional tattoo artist at age 17 and has been mentored and groomed by some of the biggest names in the tattoo business.
Mike Duncan, @theartfulcodger, Dallas Tattoo and Arts Company. Mike Dunan has been tattooing for three years. Before that, he worked in the ministry and teaching in the public school system. He has been an artist for as long as he can remember and has a special love of comics and fantasy art.
Kat Freedman, Taboo Tattoo. A native of Southern California, Freedman started out as a calligrapher, and previously did sign painting and murals, with an exhibit at Norman Collins (Sailor Jerry) Art Exhibit at the Harley Davidson Museum in Wisconsin. This fueled her love for the American Traditional tattoo style.
Rudy Hetzer, @artbyrudy, Dallas Tattoo and Art Company. Hetzer is professional tattoo artist specializing in black and grey realism and lettering; he's also a professional painter with an emphasis on canvas and mural art, and an expert in mixed media. His work has appeared on the TV show Best Ink. as well as magazines such as International Tattoo, Inked Magazine, Tattoo Magazine, and Texas Inked Magazine.
Kendall Kirkland, Taboo Tattoo. Dallas native and a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Kirkland has been a tattooer at Taboo for five years.
Chelsi Morrow, @chelsimorrow, Taboo Tattoo. Raised in East Texas, Morrow has been a tattoo artist for nine years, seven at Taboo Tattoo.
David Nash, @thatsnashd, Elm Street Tattoo. Nash is a native Texan from the Dallas area and tattoo artist who also does painting, sculpting, graphic design, prop making, metal-, and wood-working.
Ham Rasul, Artistic Encounter. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Ham has been drawing and making art since he was two years old. He started tattooing at Artistic Encounter in 2020. He works in lettering, black and gray style, and American Traditional tattoos and art.
Damian Reign, @bloodyreigntattoos, Dallas Tattoo and Arts Company. Damian is a tattoo artist centralized in Dallas-Fort Worth. He focuses his style on a blend of new school and old school, creating bright, bold, American and neo traditional tattoos with popping colors that sing.