Initially, our discussion was brief. He is a fan of traditional tattoos and loves the Japanese style. He had this inked in 2001 by Civ at Lotus Tattoo in Sayville, New York. Work from Civ appeared previously here on Tattoosday.
I certainly thought it was unusual to see a blue koi. It's certainly not the most traditional color for a koi tattoo. When I asked Joe about it, he replied, "...there is no significance and I believe it was suggested by Civ...I thought it would certainly be unique, since I had yet to see a blue koi. It was strictly an aesthetic decision."
It was only later, when I was looking at the photo at home, that I noticed a fine detail I hadn't picked up before:
Having grown up in Hawai'i, that certainly looked like a honu design, or traditional Hawaiian sea turtle. I had remembered that Joe had a Polynesian-style tribal arm band on his right forearm, so I shot him an e-mail.
The story behind the Polynesian sea turtle is ... I was on my honeymoon in Hawaii, 2001. I had wanted to get tattooed while there and found a shop in Waikiki, Skin Deep. Walked in, shot the shit with one of the guys for half an hour, had an idea of what I wanted to do, a Polynesian band around my forearm being that we were in Hawaii. It seemed fitting as far as a "souvenir" tattoo. Since the band I decided on did not work in a perfect circle around my arm, I decided on the turtle to make it work. We did the tattoo in about an hour and I still love it...Thanks to Joe for sharing his koi tattoo. I am looking forward to featuring more of his work in the future.