Review of On Milwaukee 2019 MIAD Student Work
Review of Tattoo Shops
“Positronic Tattoo combines art, community and quality work”
By Oli Dodd, Published Dec 19, 2019 at 6:03 PM
Lennox Lange and Todd Gnacinski have big plans for the Sherwood based tattoo shop. Both grew up in Wisconsin and are former MIAD students.
Positronic Tattoo, 1918 East Capitol Dr. Is a retro-futuristic tattoo and piercing shop nestled between few other the shops in Sherwood. In four years since it opened Positron it has proven itself to be a friendly, clean environment to get tattoos and piercings.
The owner, Todd Gnacinski, is a Milwaukee Institute of Art Design graduate and has been in the tattoo industry for eight years. His work is reflective of his drawing style, meaning more illustrative and expressive compared to traditional style tattooing.
Lennox Lange is Gnacinski’s former apprentice. “I’ve been at the shop since 2018 and professionally tattooing since the start of 2019.” Lange is currently working on getting illustrative portrait and black work style tattoos.
Examples of their work are displayed in the tattoo shop.
Gnacinski says that running a shop is different than being a solo freelance artist and that there are more responsibilities. Keeping the shop supplied and doing the accounting are responsibilities that need to be taken care of. Interpersonal issues have to be dealt with which is not always fun, but necessary.
Gnacinski’s style ranges from science fiction, fantasy novels, comic book art particularly artists like David McKean, NC Wyeth, and David Mack.
Lange’s Aspirations run from Yoshitaka Amano, Kuni Fukai, Patrick Nagel, Aubrey Beardsley, and Edward Gorey’s cat illustrations.
MIAD affected both artists in a positive way. Gnacinski received a lot of guidance from Tom Noffsinger who pointed out directions through classical art that were an influence.
Lange is interested and having an impact and a city in a community-based way. “I’d really like to find a way to benefit the Milwaukee queer community, but I’m not sure how I can do that yet.”
Gnacinski, “I want to be more involved in the general art scene.” “It would be really cool to integrate that into the shop somehow. Not by being a gallery, but having some art show nights or art-based events here and there. It’ll be cool to have gallery night for artist whose are different from what they tattoo.”
“Adambomb owner proves permanence of tattoo shops”
By Alejandro DeAnda, Published Dec 15, 2019 at 5:03 PM
Adam Werther was one of the first artists to open a tattoo shop – called Adambomb Gallerie – after the service became legal in Milwaukee in 1998.
"Since the time MTV started showing tattoos on television with shows like ‘Inked’ (2005-2006) and ‘L.A. Ink’ (2007-2011) there’s been this momentum happening," says Werther, a Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) alumni, who graduated in 1997 with a BFA in sculpture. "I happened to catch that momentum."
The momentum created huge success in Werther’s career early on, especially in the mid-2000s when there weren’t many tattoo artists around. He was driven by ambition, and passion, to become one of the greatest tattoo artists in Milwaukee.
"When I first started tattooing, I was all about being the best and at the time there were a few amazing artists moving the industry along," says Werther. "I remember buying every single tattoo magazine that came out every month. I cut out all the ones I liked. I would laminate them and put them all in a binder. Then I would go through and get inspired by them, using them as drawing references. I called it my Bible."
"At one point I had four other artists," says Werther. "It was myself, Lane Turowski, Kurt Halsey Frederiksen, Laurent Marin and Scott Lee working at my shop. We peaked, and we were booked out. I never got booked solid like big artists who book years in advance, but all my artists were booked solid for like six months. Now they all have their own tattoo shops."
Now Adam finds the market has become saturated with tattoo artists and tattoo shops. He’s looking for the next venue whether that be a change of location or venue. He considers putting work in galleries or moving to Madison.
He has faced many challenges, but has remained resilient. "I was told, ‘oh, you were given a gift,’" says Werther. "I think to myself, 'if I was given any gift of anything, it was persistence in the constant face of failure.'"
I met Adam when I curated for Saint John’s Uihlein Peters Gallery in the year 2000. I had considered doing an exhibition of his work, which was quite impressive. It is nice to see alternative methods of producing artwork.
More stories on: Adam Werther, adambomb, tattoo, miad series