Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Two Stars Shining on Nicole

A common Tattoosday ritual for me is to go to the bank at lunch and, time permitting, head over to the Manhattan Mall and make a circuit through the food court, before heading back to the office.

Needless to say, as any regular Tattoosday reader could tell you, pickings have been slim since the mercury dropped below 50 for the season.

Yet I am an optimist, and forever on the lookout for ink, as evidenced by last week's "Queen of Hearts" post.

However, my hopes were slim as I headed out at lunch and encountered a drizzle that the meteorologists hadn't forecasted until the evening. Nonetheless, I went to the bank on 6th Avenue and then visited the mall.

The location introduced me to Alex (here) and has had promising ink displays, discovered only when the weather drove me indoors. I passed out a flier or two in the food court earlier this winter, but to no avail. The one problem with the food court is inherent in its very nature. Most
denizens are eating, and I am reluctant to disrupt the meals of people, tattooed or otherwise.

On Tat-Tuesday, I made the food court pass, seeing nothing, and was on my way out when two
tattooed stars behind a young woman's ear caught my eye:

To be honest, I've never been bowled over by stars, but these were colorful, and it is January, and even the simplest tats can be fraught with meaning.

Nicole was sitting alone (another plus, on the approachability scale, as I tend to shy away from groups) and she had a coffee and Cinnabon on the table, as she played with her cell phone.

I approached and asked if I could talk to her about her stars and she gladly obliged.

Nicole and I discussed the two stars behind her right ear.

They have no significance, they are just decoration, "for the hell of it," done partially out of boredom.

So the next question is generally the "how many do you have" inquiry. Nicole reacted to the question like most people who have a ton of ink: uncertainty. My limited experience leads me to believe that, somewhere between twelve and eighteen, one loses count.

At that point the ink has taken on a life of its own, and the clusters, sometimes themed, sometimes not, become sleeves.

Such was Nicole's situation: under the winter coat and long pants blossomed an explosion of colorful ink. I did not see them, nor did I ask, but she catalogued a host of designs, "mostly girlie stuff," like stars, flowers, and hearts.

"About six years worth..." of accumulated ink.

Like most people, Nicole is loyal to one shop, New York Adorned (featured previously here and here on Tattoosday). The artist who inked the "baby pink" and "baby blue" stars was Bryan Randolph.

Thanks to Nicole and her two shining stars! Here's hoping she'll make a return to Tattoosday in the future!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Eric's Memorial for his Grandmother

I spotted this memorial on Eric's forearm in a local Duane Reade drugstore:

This was Eric's first tattoo, inked about three years ago after his grandmother, Milagros, passed away.

He told me he was both "interested and nervous" when he had this done. He had no regrets, as it is a way for his grandmother to be with him, in spirit, forever.

This was inked at Hypnotic Designs, in Sunset Park. Their work has appeared previously on Tattoosday here. That is where the "Brooklyn Born 'N' Raised" tattoo was inked.

Thanks to Eric for sharing his memorial tattoo with us!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The World is Full of Kings and Queens . . .

I've been relying heavily on Tattoos I Know since the end of summer, but today, in the chill of January, I spotted a cool tattoo on a stranger and added him to the Tattoosday gallery:

It was in the mid-30's when I asked Frank about his tattoo. He gladly offered up his newest piece, this playing card queen.

Frank is heavily-inked. He briefly flashed a leg and an arm covered with tattoos. But we stuck with this one. This particular piece, his newest, was done by Mike Profetto at Designs by Michael Angelo in Brooklyn.

When I asked him why he had this queen of hearts, he said it only made sense to complement the king of diamonds on the right side of his neck:

Incidentally, that's a spider in the middle the two royal tattoos.

The queen, being the newer piece, is much brighter and crisper.

Frank is the first Tattoosday subject to offer up side neck pieces. He gave me his contact information, so I hope to feature Frank's work again in the future, with more detail about his tattoos, and the stories behind them.

Thanks again Frank!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tattoos I Know: Tracy's Tributes

Tracy is a friend of mine who lives in Fort Drum, New York. She was in town last weekend, visiting family, and this was the first time I have seen her since Tattoosday was born over the summer.

I knew Tracy had at least one tattoo, because she and my wife have talked ink before. So when I saw her on Saturday, unexpectedly, I was happy that I had a couple of Tattoosday printouts in my pocket.

I explained the blog and asked if she'd like to participate. She was happy to oblige and, as fortune would have it, she was coming to an indoor soccer game the following day. Her nephew plays on the same team as my daughter Shayna. We tentatively agreed to talk tattoo the following day.

After the game Sunday, I asked if she was ready. She lifted the back of her shirt to reveal:

I was surprised, honestly. I was not expecting butterflies, but expecting the one above it which, as fate would have it, is later in this post. But I wasn't about to pass up a cool tattoo, so I took a picture of this one as well.

Tracy is a mother of two boys, Matthew and Danny, and these butterflies represent each of them, as they flutter and transform, as ones children are apt to do, growing from infants into people. Tracy had these inked three years ago in Victorville, when she was living at Ft. Irwin. She said that they had been done at "Victorville Designs," which has either changed names or gone out of business, based on this link.

These butterflies are nicely inked and really seem to float over the skin. Definitely a nice tattoo, from design to execution.

Above the butterflies is the tattoo that I had heard about:

A simple, basic script. The arced triad of three pillars of strength in many people's lives: "Faith. Family. Friends."

In order to understand this tattoo, we have to take a little side journey.

Whatever one's politics may be, or however one feels about what we are doing in Asia and the Middle East, one thing must be acknowledged: the men and women in our military are there to do a job, to serve our country, and to fight to not only protect the people there, but here as well. Thousands of American men and women have given their lives and their souls to serve our country.

As one may have guessed by two prior references (Ft. Drum and Ft. Irwin), Tracy is closely tied to the United States Army, as she is married to Pete, who is a soldier with the 10th Mountain Division, Light Infantry.

On October 31, 2006, Pete's friend and fellow soldier, Major Douglas E. Sloan, was killed in the line of duty in the Wygal Valley in Afghanistan, while serving with Company B, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment. You can read more about Doug here at the Arlington National Cemetary website.

As every drop of spilled blood in the line of duty hits home, the loss of Major Sloan was devastating to his family and friends back in the States. The community of Fort Drum mourned Doug's passing and hearts went out to his wife Kerry and their children.

In December 2006, to pay tribute to Doug's memory, Tracy and three friends, including Kerry, went to Tattoos Forever in Evans Mills, NY, and each had the same inscription inked. In hindsight, Tracy recalls how funny it must have appeared, for four moms in minivans to drive up to the shop and collectively get tattooed.

It is a recurring theme on tattoo shows. Memorial tattoos are among the most popular types of body art. People mourn, heal, and remember through the art of the tattoo. And a piece of the loved one lives on, for years, in the flesh of the survivors, who gain strength and hold on to the memory of the departed.

The alliterative mantra of "Faith, Family, and Friends" reminds not only the tattooed, but those around them, of the most important things in life.

I want to thank Tracy for sharing her tattoos, and the stories behind them. I would add a special nod of gratitude to the memory of Major Douglas Sloan, who I never knew. Yet, by virtue of this tattoo, helped remind me of the sacrifice that our soldiers make day in, day out, and their families they leave behind.

Some related links:

A touching tribute to Major Sloan from YouTube:

Also of note, Occidental College professor Mary Beth Heffernan's "The Soldier's Skin," currently on exhibit at Pasadena City College.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tattoos I Know: Johnny Fears No Evil

A few months ago, Johnny started working at my company and I almost immediately noticed his tattoo on the inside of his right forearm.

I broached the subject (along with Tom) of having him join the Tattoosday ranks a while ago.

The last few warm January days hinted at a possible windfall unfurling of ink in the New York area, but I had no takers.

Today I asked Johnny if he wouldn't mind sharing his ink, and he agreed. Here it is:

This piece was inked three years ago in Newport News, Virginia, when Johnny was stationed there in the Navy. He had it done at Army-Navy Tattoo.

Like many tattoos, this horned skull is occasional. That is, he had it done to commemorate a significant event in his life. In this case, the occurrence was his first jump out of an airplane. He fearlessly overcame the initial anxiety of skydiving and chose to mark the moment with this
sweet tattoo.

Basically, in Johnny's words, it represents: "Fear no evil, not even the devil."

The tattoo is a composite of a skull design from the shop and the horns are borrowed from the art of David Boltt. His gallery of tattoos is here. I have to concur that the horns make the skull exceptional.

This is the third of Johnny's four tattoos, and the only one that appears regularly. Johnny and I were talking with Jerome recently and he talked from experience about the pain of having your side tattooed, so I imagine there is a big one there.

Johnny acknowledges that this piece is a work in progress and that he not only hopes to add the words "Fear No Evil" above it, but also plans to eventually add to the arm and build a sleeve.

Thanks to Johnny for sharing the reminder of your fearlessness with us here at Tattoosday!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Tattoos I Know: Jerome Finds Strength in a Tattoo

After my year end double-barrelled post of Erika's Ink, I wasn't expecting to post right away, but another co-worker of mine got his first tattoo over the weekend.

I hadn't even got into my office when I ran into Tom and Jerome.

Tom said "Bill, you gotta see this!"

Jerome took off his shirt to reveal this freshly-inked portrait of Jesus:

I had my camera out before I even knew what I was doing. There's nothing like fresh ink that pops off the flesh.

Jerome is 45 and this was his first tattoo, less than a week old.

Jerome says "I wanted a tattoo all my life, but I was fearful of the pain. I wanted to overcome my fears".

Jerome says that he finds this tattoo gives him strength. He is in Recovery, and this brings him "closer to a higher power". By being on him, Jerome beamed, "He is part of me".

This tattoo was inked by Jeff at Adrenaline Tattoos and Body Piercings in Brick, New Jersey.

Thanks to Jerome for sharing his fresh ink with Tattoosday!