She was on her way back to work from lunch, so she took a flier and said she'd check it out. She e-mailed me later that day and we agreed to meet a week later to talk about her six tattoos. She has three on her right biceps, two on her left, and a chest piece.
Candice works for a New York-based non-profit hunger organization, and gets to travel a bit. I discovered, as she went through her tattoos chronologically, that she collected tattoos in various cities across the country.
Her right arm has three pieces:
The one on the top right is her first:
Since the age of 10, Candice has been fascinated by Iceland. She pointed out her ancestry is Sicilian, not Icelandic. Nonetheless, she has always loved Iceland. Thus, her first tattoo was the Icelandic crest, which graces the backs of most coins, or kroná, in the country.
The four quadrants each represent one of the four mythical Guardians of Iceland, each in turn representing the North, South, East and West sections of the country. This myth is central to Icelandic culture (read more here).
Clockwise from the upper left, there is an eagle, a dragon, a mountain giant, and a bull. Candice has a special affinity for the bull as her astrological sign is Taurus.
Her second piece was inked in August 2004 at the same shop in Sunset Park by Rob. The person who did her coin had subsequently left the shop:
Aside from liking birds, the piece's design history came courtesy of her boyfriend at the time (they have since broken up but remain friends). He found the bird image in a textbook and duplicated and customized it into a larger collage. At a time, she thought about using it as a back piece, but they pared it down to fit on her biceps. She's not sure what type of bird it is, but it remains one of her favorite pieces. I love the inverted imagery, which recalls a bit of yin-yang correlation.
Her third tattoo is a very basic, rudimentary design. Flipping back to her left arm, Candice explained that it represents a medieval watermark of a crossbow:
At first, I wasn't very impressed by it. Then I got the story. She was visiting New Orleans on business, pre-Katrina in March 2005, and it took all of 7 minutes and cost only $25. The piece was inked at Eyecandy Tattoo in New Orleans and, Candice believes that the artist was intoxicated ("I think she was drunk. It was a total New Orleans experience.")
She sensed my surprise at her analysis of the sobriety of the tattooist. Diplomatically, she re-stated, "Well, she was drinking a beer while doing it. She said not to worry, she worked like that a lot." So, let's give the tattooist the benefit of the doubt. Maybe not drunk, but certainly quick.
And why the crossbow watermark?
The crossbow represented a Medieval theme, another subject of interest in Candice’s life.
This watermark design also appears on the cover of the first single by an artist named Jason Molina, performing as Songs:Ohia.
Tattoo #4 was inked in August 2005, her third August tattoo in a row. The design originated after waking up from a dream and immediately drawing the image that had been so prominent in the dream state. She designed the piece, purposely modeling the hands after her own, down to distinctive spots and coloring:
My first impression was that it was a variation on the claddagh ring, with the two hands and the heart in the center of the balloon. Candice was surprised when I mentioned that, but acknowledged the similarities, although she had never considered them before. In fact, to Candice, this tattoo represents one being able to let go of things in life, while at the same time allowing things to come back, as well. In essence, it embodies one’s ability to control one’s own happiness.
When I asked Candice why it was the sole tattoo of hers in color. She simply replied, “Because I dreamt it in color.” Makes perfect sense. I could probably write another page about the apparent influence that The Wizard of Oz had on this tattoo. I say apparent, because the movie never came up when we discussed it. But the theme is applicable, the dreaming in color is similar, and the hot air balloon, which was what transported the wizard to the land of Oz, also makes the case for an homage, conscious or sub-conscious, to the images of L. Frank Baum.
Candice’s fifth tattoo was inked in March 2006 while on a trip to San Francisco. I actually didn’t take this photo, which she understandably provided to me. It’s a chest piece that runs vertically from the middle of her chest down to her stomach:
This style of ink is known as a “Sailor Jerry” tattoo, which is basically classic, old-school tattooing. Candice just loved this piece of flash art. This photo was taken about a week after the piece was done at Black & Blue Tattoo, “a woman owned and operated San Francisco tattoo shop”. The fact that it is woman-owned increased the comfort level significantly for Candice, as the inking required much more exposure than she had been used to with her arm tattoos. She also noted that the location on her body created an interesting sensation: both pain and laughter - it tickled and hurt simultaneously! The artist was Natalie Chandler, who is now working out of Oakland.And finally, her last piece is a line drawing of a structure representing a house:
This piece was inked by Curtis James at Anchor Tattoo in Seattle, in January 2007. Modest Mouse is from the Seattle area and when Candie was visiting her ex-boyfriend, and several other friends, the image from the album seemed apropos, as she felt she was in a home away from home.
Well, I must thank Candice for her active participation in this post. She and I exchanged multiple e-mails, coordinating our schedules so I could snap the pictures, and she made my life easier by doing a lot of the research on her tattoos. Thank you for sharing your ink here at Tattoosday!