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Serpents of Bienville Retail Space, Podcasts, and More Updates!

Categories: Featured Blogs, General, News | Posted by: Sean Herman

I have been meaning to write this update for the past month, but life has been creating other projects to work on, so I apologize for the tardiness.  I am excited to share some of the new projects I have been working on, along with tattooing.  Tattooing is still, and always will be, my first priority.  I am so grateful for my clients, and for all of you who are reading this and are interested in my tattoos.  Part of the projects I have been working on involves creating an environment for you, sharing with you my love for the beautiful craft of tattooing and my appreciation for your interest. 

So here begins our updates for your reading pleasure. 

retail1Serpents of Bienville and Our New Artist Collective

I founded the Serpents of Bienville last year and since that time it has become a huge part of my life.  I have had a lot of people ask questions about what it is, so I thought I would explain the project here, along with our exciting new growth.

We want to be a platform for the individuals that use the talents they have and want to create a positive change. In any and every form that we have the means to do so, we want to make change for the better, highlight the talents and achievements of our neighbors, and celebrate our community’s progress.

From the Serpents of Bienville website, I explain the history and my thoughts on founding the project.

I started The Serpents of Bienville project in January of 2015, but it is really something that I have been thinking about for a long time. Growing up on the Alabama Gulf Coast, I would hear little stories here or there revolving around long gone eras in this area. After moving away at 17, and coming back at 26, I began to really have an appreciation for the history and folklore that resides here. In May of 2014, we opened a new shop (The Bell Rose Tattoo) and were trying to decided on a name, which is never an easy task. This is where my research into the folklore of the area really started.


portrait of Bienville

One of the things I found that fascinated me was the story of the founder of Mobile, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville. The story revolved around Bienville getting tattooed by local native tribes in order to gain their trust. I was amazed that this story was in my area and I never really knew about it. I became obsessed with the idea of tattooing being a sacred oath that Bienville took with this native tribe. I began to research deeper into the topic, and found out that this oath may have been more real than I ever could have thought, with both participants stories ending in the same dark way.”

Bienville's disc tattoo is seen in Julian Rayford's 1974 sculpture which hangs on the entrance to the George Wallace tunnel

Bienville’s disc tattoo is seen in Julian Rayford’s 1974 sculpture which hangs on the entrance to the George Wallace tunnel

The most important part of our project is the next part of the story, the one I like to emphasize and that is the fact that the story doesn’t have to end with Bienville’s sacred oath (read more about that here) causing a cursed ending, and we can write the next chapter by rising up and making a positive change with our community.  At this point in our adventure, Serpents of Bienville’s focus is to unite our community of artists, writers, and creators.  We want to bring attention to those creating amazing work and ideas, and introduce people to each other to start a united network of creators in our area.  When we started moving in this direction I began to realize how little I truly knew about the amazing things going on in our area, and I now find myself amazed and excited about all the incredible people we have here in the Alabama Gulf Coast.  From the Bay Area Food Bank, to Ant Farm Journal, we have so many heartfelt people who we want to bring to your attention.

The Serpents of Bienville is a community of artists, writers, filmmakers, and creators from southern Alabama. We travel the region to highlight the odd history, share the rich folklore, and support the inspiring community willing to imagine a better future for every individual.


a picture from our Skateboard Art Show

We believe that stories hold tradition, help folks find common ground, and open up our imaginations to what could be, together.


Chris Cumbie and Duane Knight

Our move to downtown Mobile for a physical location of our store stems from an idea between three friends over 7 years ago in a small artist studio.  I have known Chris Cumbie and Duane Knight for over 25 years now.  They both have had a huge positive impact on my life, being the kind of people that fill you up with inspiration with every conversation.  At one point we all lived in the same small town, and spent many nights talking about how amazing it would be if we could create a space that we could all work in together, utilizing the work we all create, through different mediums, and try to work towards one positive goal.  Chris was just getting into creating art for others to have, and Duane was in a similar boat. (You can actually listen to Duane talking about this time, and the steps he took to become a working artists, on our podcast here.)  Fast forward years to now and Chris is one of the most sought after artists in the South East, working over 20 art festivals a year.  Duane is also a full time artist, having had a variety of gallery shows, taught classes, and currently is working on a huge gallery show for debut next year.  I have been so inspired watching my friends go after their dreams, achieve them, and grow even further.  Now we are all working together in one place, creating the art we love, and working with the community we admire.  Serpents of Bienville store is the second phase of a larger project that is in conjunction with Flux Gallery.


From Flux Gallery,

“A new creative tide is swelling off the coastline. Artists and friends Chris Cumbie and Duane Knight have joined forces to establish flux, working studio, a curated gallery for local and regional contemporary art, an incubator for creative entrepreneurship, an educational facility and a vital resource for art on the Gulf Coast. Located at 754 Government Street in downtown Mobile, this endeavor is aptly named. flux aspires to be a hub of continuous change and a purifying agent used to unify creative efforts.This exciting partnership is the result of a long friendship, shared vision and a commitment to the arts, artists, and our community. Cumbie and Knight have individually traveled their work throughout the country, but as Gulf Coast natives they have a shared vested interest in supporting the local creative community. flux, among other things will function as a curated venue for local and regional talent of all media. This will establish a much needed opportunity for hard working artist in the area, in addition to fostering a greater appreciation for art in Mobile. The gallery will mount seven shows a year, both solo exhibitions and group collaborations. An open proposal process will allow any artist in the area to apply and a diverse selection of guest curators will ensure that flux brings challenging, edgy and socially relevant exhibitions to our area.”

Check out more of their work here:

Chris Cumbie

and read our interview with Chris here.

Duane Knight



Within one building we now house three artists studios, Serpents of Bienville space, Flux Gallery, a podcast studio, screen printing and more as we grow.  We have amazing artists working with us, helping run and be a face for the Serpents of Bienville space. 


We carry amazing work of theirs like Ally Clements “Barely Bone Boutique”, along with over 15 other local artists and creators.  We strongly believe that the key to a growing community is supporting your friends, and the projects they work on.  We are proud to be a retail space for our friends at Flux, always carrying the art of Chris Cumbie and Duane Knight. 


a piece for sale from “Victorious Finds”

We also carry our good friend Aaron Victory’s Oddities from his “Victorious Finds”, bringing you an amazing amount of animal oddities, antiques and more.  We also have a children’s section, carrying books from our good friends at Out of Step Books, along with our first publication, “Tommy the Tomato Eating Elephant”.  From jewelry, to soaps, to clothing, to prints and more, we are constantly growing, spot lighting the amazing creators in our area.  Story telling is still a huge part of Serpents of Bienville, so we also carry used books on Southern Folklore, history, ghost stories, and more.  We carry reprints of vintage maps and our very own “Alabama Oddities Map” that we created for you earlier this year.  You can see that map here.


a view of our maps available at Serpents of Bienville

As we continue to grow we strive to bring you the art we love, along with showing you how amazing and inspiring the people of our community are.  With love and positive intent we will be able to tell you about the people the their stories behind everything we have for you to take home.  Come by and see for yourself, we are located at 754 Government Street, Mobile, AL 36601, or check out our site, 

Our area falls to the same problem many areas do, our artists are encouraged to move out to other cities to succeed, leaving the area they love.  We want to unite our working artists community showing that we can create that change here, and tell the world the stories we love. 


Terrance DeShaun of Pop-Up Mobile, Myself, Charlana Quiovers of Backflash Antiques, and Duane Knight

Our primary goal is still the same, to work with our community, lifting up the amazing contributors we have, and bringing you the stories behind it all.  Many of those stories were the inspiration for my “Transformative Tattoo” blog.

Skin Deep and our “Transformative Tattoo”


In August of 2016 I started adapting my “Transformative Tattoo” blogs into full length articles for the UK based magazine Skin Deep.  I explain about what my intentions are with our articles with Skin Deep in our introduction article that came out in August of this year,

“With “The Transformative Tattoo” I want to share stories on a more intimate and personal level of the tattoo experience, and the life after.  We will be working with, an amazing organization, encouraging all people to reach out and share their stories. Since the dawn of time, tattooing has been a form of connection, a tie to a group or culture.  Some find a home in these connections, like the energy of a crowd singing along the same words of acceptance to a punk rock band.  Others have had a connection that may have changed their fate after receiving the tattoo, like our friend Bienville.  Tattoos live with us, changing with us, and creating a new story with every year that passes.  Tattooing opens people up, and gives a chance to present them something positive to hold onto, and to heal with.  A person’s reasons for getting tattooed vary, from marking accomplishments, to redefining the self image they have, to creating an idea of hope.  In this series we are going to cover different stories of people’s tattoo experience, my experience with them, and the change that this living amulet of a tattoo has created in their varied lives. To learn more about this and our project, make sure to visit and”


I am so grateful for our partnership with Skin Deep Magazine and their editor Sion Smith.  Their faith in the articles we are presenting to them, and their support of them, means more to me than I could ever say.  I am excited for the next upcoming articles with them through the year, and I can’t wait for you to see them.  Make sure to pick up the newest issue this month, and you can pick up back issues from their website

Serpents of Bienville Podcast


Lastly, within the past few months we saw the introduction of our Serpents of Bienville Podcast, which you can find here.  We are working on different formats, from interviews, to short stories, to long form, soundtracked pieces, all to bring you something to remind you that you are not alone on this ride and we want to share our personal narrative with you.  This project has been a labor of love with our good friend and contributor Wes Kennison.  We have spent the past year writing pieces, interviewing people, with Wes creating original scores to bring you the most honest and interesting podcast we can.  We laugh, we get choked up, and we get you a little scared, walking through the many facets of our unique Southern experience.  You can find us on iTunes and here, make sure to subscribe and tell your friends.


We have many other projects currently in the creation process, and with our new space we have the ability to always be working with the amazing people in our community.  In 2017 we will be bringing you a new book of ghost stories, written by my amazing wife Amanda Herman, with illustrations by myself.  We have a preview print titled “Down to the Bone” with the story included that you can view here.


  My new print is available exclusively at the Serpents of Bienville store in Mobile, and will be available online after Halloween.  We will also be working on new clothing projects, a film documentary series, a magazine series and more.  In the year since we began Serpents of Bienville many things have changed, and the project has quickly grown into a unique collective, with contributors stretching from California to London, and a now growing physical location, we can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring.  As always, I will still be tattooing, currently more than I ever have.  I would love to tattoo you, so if you’re interested, make sure to send me a message via the contact section on my website and we will set you up with an appointment.  Thank you for your support, and I can’t wait to share more with you soon.

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For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo: Leigh Rooks

Categories: Featured Blogs, General, Interviews | Posted by: Sean Herman

Here’s an excerpt of the third story in our series “For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo”, that we are presenting with our good friends over at To learn more about this series, check out our introduction blog here. We hope you enjoy!

-Sean Herman

“…tattooing can serve to heal, to empowering, and to promote body acceptance and self-esteem.” (1)


“With a positive or healthy body image, a woman has a real perception of her size and shape. She also feels comfortable with her body. With a negative body image, a woman has a distorted perception of her shape and size, compares her body to others, and feels shame and anxiety about her body. Being unhappy with your body can affect how you think and feel about yourself as a person. A poor body image can lead to emotional distress, low self-esteem, unhealthy dieting habits, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Developing a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to a woman’s happiness and wellness.”  (2)


A few years ago I was fortunate enough to tattoo an awesome guy named Dayton.  Dayton is one of the most positive, easy going people I have ever tattooed.  The whole experience was easy and positive, and during that time, he told me about his wife Leigh.  Dayton is soft spoken, and doesn’t talk just to fill the air, so when he does, he has something to say. From everything Dayton told me, Leigh was strong, out spoken, and confident.  She set up a consultation with me, and I was able to experience it in person.  She had a viewpoint on tattooing that treated it as sacred and empowering, leaving her to be incredibly encouraging and respectful of me and the process of tattooing as a whole.  They are definitely the clients that you dream of, the kind that leave you feeling even better than you did at the beginning of the appointment.  The more I talked to her, the more I learned that this confidence I saw before me was created by her own recent reclaiming of her body and her body image.  I was amazed to learn how she had taken control of her life, and decided she wanted to be happy, and that she wanted change.  Tattoos were a part of that change, making me feel grateful and fortunate to get to take part in this woman creating a strong image for herself, one that has influenced more people that she will probably ever know. Click here to read Leigh telling her story, about where she was, and the power she decided to take back.




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For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo: Jason Taylor

Categories: General | Posted by: Sean Herman

Here’s an excerpt of the second story in our series “For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo”, that we are presenting with our good friends over at To learn more about this series, check out our introduction blog here. To read this full story, click here. We hope you enjoy!

-Sean Herman

Tattoo I did a few years ago dealing with anxiety

Anyone who has suffered with bouts of anxiety, panic attacks, or depression can tell you that it can be physically crippling.  Imagine being in a situation, one that you should be familiar with, but nothing about it feels familiar.  Something you have done everyday now becomes foreign and unreal.  Your brain begins racing, spinning, your pulse quickens, your breathing is labored, and the obsessive thoughts begin.  “Did I lock the door, did I turn off the oven, did I offend someone and say something wrong” and now the world is slowly crumbling.  Your vantage point is lost, your anchor is lost, and you are floating around, reality becoming harder and harder to hold onto.  From my experience, social interactions become less and less, and isolation becomes the norm.  Sleep is a hard thing to find, and time becomes a hard thing to judge.  Without having a strong foundation to stand on, we lose sense of who we are, what’s going on, and what reality truly is.  The spinning brain becomes enemy number one, and the hopes of overcoming slowly evaporate into the fog.  To make it through that haze, the best thing we can do is to relate, to find a common bond that can facilitate understanding, to eventually realize that we are not alone.


Photo of Jason Taylor

As a tattooer, I am extremely fortunate to tattoo people everyday, people that are from all walks of life, coming from all kinds of different places.  Once in a while, after tattooing someone a few times, I get a chance to connect with them and share things that we both are challenged with and struggle with; I find a kindred spirit in hope.  I was fortunate to start tattooing Jason Taylor years ago, when I was in a much more difficult place, one that we both could identify with.  In Jason, I felt like I was less crazy and alone, and I began to realize that maybe there was something else out there besides the fog I had been in.  I really looked forward to his appointments, and it was during one of these that we came up with the idea of tattooing a little brain monster on him, representing that place we both found ourselves lost in.  Overcoming that brain became just as important to me, and I was lucky to watch Jason take the steps to achieve this, and his example gave me hope.  As tattooers we get called therapist, but in this situation with Jason, I found myself being the one finding hope in change.

You can find the full article here.

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For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo: London Reese

Categories: Featured Blogs, General, Interviews | Posted by: Sean Herman

This is an excerpt of the first story we are bringing you for the Transformative Tattoo series at Serpents of Bienville.  Learn more from our prior blog that you can read here. We are working with an amazing organization, to bring you stories of lives changed through tattooing. For the full article, click here.

Written by Sean Herman

Hi, I’m Sean Herman, and I’m an over-planner.  It took me years to accept that I operate in a world that I tend to plan out to the last minute.  I don’t mean to do it, I just keep thinking about things that I want to do, and the best way to get them done is to write them in the book of life, sorry, I mean, my schedule.  It’s a disease I’m trying to overcome, but the first step is acceptance.  Those spur of the moment occasions, those are the ones that end up throwing a much needed wrench in my system.

Me tattooing Yall's thumb at Hell CityMe tattooing Yall’s thumb at Hell City

In my years of working tattoo conventions, I have always found that the unplanned walk-up will be one that ends up changing my life.  I was approached by a formidable presence of a man years ago while I was packing up my table, getting ready to leave Hell City, and make the drive back to Alabama from Ohio.  Yall Quiñones approached me to get his thumb tattooed.  His passionate love of tattooing, the work that goes into it, and his ultimate respect easily convinced me that Alabama could wait, and I had more important things to do.  That tattoo changed my life, but that is for a different story that I will tell later.  One of the other times that I was approached at a convention to do a piece was by a kind, soft spoken man named London, and little did I know, that experience would create a bond that, in the end, would help give me hope for someone I love.


photograph of London Reese Photograph of London Reese

London Reese approached me years ago, asking about an opening that weekend at the Motor City Convention.  Within minutes we had a common bond in punk rock and hardcore, and even more in struggles going on in family matters.  We both had a mother that was in a similar place, and it tore us apart.  In London, I found someone that not only understood where I was coming from, the pain I was going through watching my mother continue down a path of self destruction.  London had something I didn’t have though, and that was hope.  When we spoke about the piece that he wanted to get, a woman with tears streaming down her face, the thing he wanted to emphasize was that he wanted hope in her eyes.  Listening to him talk, I found that the only way I was going to find that hope was going to be if I got over my own anger and resentments, and focused on love, on showing my mother that same much-needed love.  That tattoo, that day, changed my life in more ways than one.

For the full article, click here.

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For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo: An Introduction

Categories: Featured Blogs, General | Posted by: Sean Herman

The following is an excerpt of my most recent blog for Serpents of Bienville, for the full article click here.

Tattoos are a living, breathing thing, existing symbiotically with us.  They can change rapidly, making them one of the most impermanent arts.  The maximum life span for most tattoos is 70 years or so, aside from cases like Otzi the Iceman, whose lifetime was around 3300 BCE.  Most people will not end up being preserved in ice, the perfect storm of conditions, preserved via the wintery storm that took their life.  For most people, when their time comes and they move on to their next journey, their tattoos are left behind, quickly dissipating back into the air around them.  In essence, tattoos are just like our life spans, gone within the blink of an eye, and also fluidly moving, ever changing, and becoming something new.


Otzi Iceman tattoo

Example of the tattoos found on Otzi the Iceman.


As tattooists, we get to take part in a sacred act, opening up the skin that guards people, now making them vulnerable.  We then get to put something back into that wound, something either positive or negative.  We have the ability to give people something, during that time of vulnerability, that their body will heal over, and the skin that guarded them will wear for their journeys to come.  Scientifically, our tattoos are always changing.  Tattoo needles, made in various groupings, are pushed through the skin by small, precise machines, pushing through the epidermis at some 50 to 3000 times per minute, and distributing ink into the dermis, the deeper layer of skin housing our nerves and blood cells.  Our nerves produce triggers, declaring that a break has occurred.  These triggers tell our immune system to get to work, and attempt to fix break has occurred on our protective skin, creating inflammation.  In essence, the pain is a signal of something being fixed.  Job specific cells called macrophages come to triggered area, guided by following the inflammation, and they begin to consume the ink that has been pushed through the puncture wounds.  What ink that is left is then soaked up by skin cells called fibroblasts.  Much of the macrophages and fibroblasts are then trapped there, suspended in the dermis, in perpetuity.  This suspension of the ink in the cells are why we see tattoos as they are, but the slow dispersant back into the body is why they appear to fade over time.  Perpetuity can only be so long.  There’s that impermanence thing again.  Change is all around.



To read the rest of this post, go to, or click here.

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