Carla Hopkins has had art in her life from a very young age. Her mother was a painter who had to quit painting because Carla wouldn't keep her little hands out of the oil paints. Carla's grandmother was an artist with an incredible talent for drawing, who also aspired to be a fashion designer. She is a huge influence in Carla's life today, and is likely the source of her flair for incredible outfits. Not to mention, some of the pieces of the incredible outfits actually belonged to Carla's grandmother.
Growing up in upstate New York, Carla had a great art teacher who was not only an advocate for the students and their programs within the district, but he also showed them how art could be a career. Carla attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, majoring in Sculpture. She does not sculpt today, well, not with clay anyway. After college, she made her way back to New York, where she convinced a tattoo shop to take her on, first as a shop girl, then as an apprentice. She learned to build her own machines there and make her own needles. That was nine years ago.
Today, Carla works at Portside Parlor, at 30 S. 2nd Street in Philadelphia. When you walk into the shop, you notice that it is not exactly like other tattoo shops. There are gorgeous hardwood floors which are inlaid with a stunning compass rose, incredibly high and beautiful ceilings and an antique velvet settee in the waiting area. You also notice that there is original artwork on the walls. The Portside Parlor does something very interesting - on First Friday (for those of you not in Philly, it's - you guessed it- the first Friday of the month where art galleries all over the city open their doors for patrons and viewers) they close the tattooing portion of the shop and have an art show. The next show upcoming is "The City of Brotherly Love"; you won't want to miss it, since Carla Hopkins has a piece in it.
Carla draws and paints, and her boyfriend is also an artist. You can see in her tattoos the incredible technical skill and trained eye that she brings to tattooing. Many of her tattoos are quite painterly and she easily cites influences from French and Dutch baroque painters' freshly killed hare and insects, and metaphor, to Art Nouveau and Victoriana. However, that isn't Carla's specialty, although she is incredibly, amazingly talented in that area.
Her specialty is traditional Japanese tattoos, and I love the reason why she chose it. When she was about tattoo, she was told that if she really wanted to be a master, she needed to master traditional Japanese tattooing. Since her art school days, Carla wanted to follow in the footsteps of the masters like DaVinci, and so, the gauntlet laid down, she accepted. And master she did become.
The other thing that she really specializes in is cover ups. She's masterful at seeing what can be done with a piece, looking for ways to hide it in her own beautiful art. I was truly amazed by what she showed me. She was teaching me to spot the tattoo in the coverup, and most of the time I couldn't see it. On the left below is before, and on the right is after Carla Hopkins had her way with that tattoo.
She is a self proclaimed huge geek, and I have to say, she is definitely intellectually superior. Not in the sense that she behaves as though she's superior to you but in a Garcia-from-Criminal-Minds sort of way. If she told you she hacked into the government's computer system, you wouldn't bat an eye. She knows a lot about art, history, a lot about pop culture. She is well read, has traveled extensively, including a stint in Europe tattooing for a bit under the top tattoo artist in France. In our brief time together, she taught me about what they're doing with computers and art at RISD, about William Gibson and "Neuromancer" (she did the Molly Millions tattoo that Gibson himself saw and said it was the most like his vision he'd seen yet), and about the plumbers' epoxy you have to use to make miniatures.
In closing, and at the risk of sounding gushy, Carla Hopkins' talent will knock you out but her interesting conversation, wit and kind smile make her someone you'd be happy to have as a friend. If you're in Philly and in the market for a fantastic tattoo artist, you can reach Portside Parlor by phone at 215-922-1313.
This sweet little peanut just couldn't wait to celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year with her parents. So, she decided to make her appearance a few weeks early. Her parents were thrilled to make her acquaintance and set about snuggling her right up! And, how could you not? She is just as sweet as can be. This little lady didn't get her mom's beautiful hair color, but it seems like she got her pretty blue eyes. And she did get gorgeous, dark hair that will look stunning with those blue eyes - which might be the same color as her cousin X, a regular on this blog. Mr. X baby's mama and Ms. Sugar and Spice are brother and sister, and I'm sure that these cousins will be having a blast together in no time at all.
And, true to form, I left something behind (my cell phone) as I do at nearly every session I have, and Mama F was kind enough to chase me down with it. Plus, Daddy F carried in nearly all my gear since I couldn't fit down their street in my car. (He says they have a special, small trash truck for their street. How cool is that?)
F Family, it was my pleasure to meet you all this morning. I hope you will enjoy your sneak peek and I can't wait to show you the rest of the photos of your sugar girl.
Education is a lifelong journey, is it not? As with anything that one is working to master, one must always be learning, critiquing themselves, pushing themselves. I am one who is never satisfied with where I am and always wanting to learn more, grow, get better. One of the things that I wanted to learn last year was studio lighting. In November of last year, my friend Leiba Bernstein of Jolee Photography taught me to use studio lighting and I fell in LOVE! I've been practicing with it and have taken to shooting my newborn sessions using it. I took a few minutes this week to edit some of my favorites from this practice session with Jolee Photography and wanted to share them. The model, Sara Boxer, made the task a pleasure as well. Thank you to Leiba for igniting a new passion in me!
One of my favorite songs about the love that a parent has for their child is "Love Of My Life" by Carly Simon. She sings, "From the moment I first saw you, the second that you were born, I knew that you were the love of my life, quite simply, the love of my life." How true this is for a parent; the moment that you see your child, the love that you feel for them is overwhelming and stronger than anything you've ever known in your life. I rarely hear this song without tearing up, and I bet that if you have a child or are readying to have one and hear it, you will too.
I know that this little love's mama and daddy feel the same way about her because we discussed it - how it's instantaneous and overwhelming and amazing how quickly and powerfully the love for your child grips you. And, truly, how perfect is this little girl? She was beyond darling to spend the day with. She came to me asleep and rarely woke, except when it was absolutely necessary. She loved the heat - it was so cute to watch her whole body relax when she got warm. Honestly, I thought about her photos the whole time I was on vacation and couldn't wait to get back to write this blog post so that her parents could see some of the photos from that day. T Family, I can't wait to have all of them ready for you! Enjoy the peek.
PS - The awesome hat shown herein is sadly not mine. Mama T has very good taste in hats, though, doesn't she?
I had the pleasure of spending Saturday morning with the R Family. I love when you meet someone and you can kind of talk to them like you've known them forever. Both Mom and Dad R were that kind of person; easygoing, funny and sweet. It doesn't hurt that Mama R is a fellow Penn Stater - we're always cool. Daddy R won my heart immediately with his love not only for his new baby but for their incredible dog Delilah. I sincerely wanted to bring her home. (The shame of it all is that I got not one photo of that gorgeous white and gray girl. I'm still mad at myself for that!) But, I was there for a reason, you know - to photograph their 11 day old little sweet boy. He wasn't loving all of the interrupting of his sleep I was doing and all of the moving him around, but in the end, he allowed me to make his parents happy by capturing some amazingly adorable moments with their little man.
Mama and Daddy R, it was great to meet you guys! Enjoy the photos and I'll have more for you soon!