Friday, October 31, 2008

More of Jessica's Ink: Halloween Post

I have featured a lot of Jessica's work before. The previous post here will link you back to earlier posts.

This seemed an appropriate piece for Halloween. It is on the other side of the leg that features Beetlejuice holding a pumpkin. You can see the pumpkin in the photo.

The image is of a child in a ghost costume holding a rock and a paper sack. It's based on a scene from "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". A bunch of kids are comparing their goodies and Charlie reaches into his bag and sadly proclaims "I got a rock."

Happy Halloween everyone! And thanks to Jessica for sharing her ink!!

Here's a little "I got a rock" bonus:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Charlie Honors The Birth of His Youngest Son

A cold and dreary day drove me underground on Tuesday, as I spent some of my lunch hour inkspotting, and meeting some new tattoos.

Since it was Tat-Tuesday, it only seemed fitting that I met a father and son, Amtrakking from Florida up to Boston, who had four tattoos apiece.

I met Charlie first, who had a tiger on his forearm. However, he offered up this piece on his right bicep instead:

As a parent with child-inspired ink, I certainly appreciated this tattoo which honors the birth of his youngest son, Derry.

He wanted to do a tribute, but didn't want to do a portrait, which is a popular method for doing so. Instead, he went for the footprints, name and birth date.

Whereas a portrait is a snapshot in time, footprints and/or hand prints are a record of your child's beginning, and a literal imprint of part of their flesh on one's own. There's something remarkable about the historical record contained therein, like the door jamb in the family home that displays the height-marks of the child, growing over the years.

This piece was inked by "Old School" at AK's N Chevrolets in Hollywood, Florida.

I can't find an active link for the shop, and it appears as it was renamed Almost Famous 2 Tattoos (not to be confused with Almost Famous Tattoos in Miami).

Check back in the coming days to see the tattoo offered up by Charlie's older son Jason, that ties in to this piece as well.

Thanks to Charlie for sharing his little piece of family history here on Tattoosday!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hemorrhage: Ryan's Derek Hess Piece is Bloody Awesome

I technically didn't meet Ryan, but he did respond to a flier I passed out. I gave it to his girlfriend, we're guessing around 34th Street in Manhattan, she passed it to him, and he e-mailed me the following photo:

Initially, all he told me was "It's a Derek Hess piece. It's my blood around it in the ... photo. It was done by Nick [Males] @ Silk City Tattoos".

Of course, I know inquiring minds would want to know more, so I asked him for more specifics.

"It's a piece of art that Derek Hess did [it's entitled "Hemorrhage"].
I have the print on my wall in my room, among others by him...this is just my favorite one. My girlfriend was getting her garter done on her leg and I had asked [Nick] if he could do it. He said yeah, so when she went for her second sitting, I got mine done. I think it took about 3 hours, theres a lot of detail in it. The black didn't hurt much but the blood was the worst part, non-stop pain with little to no breaks. A lot of fun."
Work by Nick at Silk City Tattoo has appeared on the blog previously here.

Thanks to Ryan for sharing his body art here with us on Tattoosday!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Eryn's Yarn Skull

I had seen Eryn before in the vicinity of 39th and Broadway and wanted to ask her about her tattoos. When I finally got the opportunity, she rolled up her right sleeve to reveal this incredible tattoo:

Eryn is a professional knitter and works with yarn on a daily basis (see some of her artsy stuff here). A friend of her designed this piece for as an homage to her vocation, although Eryn admits it exemplifies her "dorkitude".

This skull, capped with yarn, boasts knitting needle crossbones:

It's a brilliant piece and was inked by Alex Vidaud at Nautilus Tattoo in Hartford, Connecticut.

Thanks to Eryn for sharing her awesome ink with us here at Tattoosday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An Interlude: Third Time's a Charm

Last week I had a bizarre lunchtime walk on Thursday. I met a woman outside of Macy*s who had an interesting neck tattoo. She seemed like a willing participant until the older woman standing with her kept repeating that what I was doing was "weird". The tattooed woman began to appear uncomfortable, so I bowed out gracefully, handing her a flier and moving on.

A while later I stopped another woman with a really cool pin-up on her arm. She said I'd stopped her before and thanked me, but wasn't interested. I vaguely remembered her after the fact, but couldn't pinpoint when or where I may have met her before.

Inkspotting can be streaky, and I considered quitting for the day, but I was determined to give it one more try. It was then that I met Melanie. In fairness to her, and to give her tattoo the spotlight it deserves, her ink is posted below (here).

Melanie's Traditional Revolvers

As I mentioned above (here), Melanie crossed my path on a day last week when I had been having some bad luck with inkspotting.

However, when I saw her on 34th Street across from Macy*s, I had to talk to her about her tattoos.

What caught my eye first was her chest piece, two traditional Sailor Jerry designs, including a near replica of the neck piece sported by Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail.

She told me an artist named Kenny up in Kingston, New York had inked the chest piece, but instead of photographing that, she offered up her stomach piece instead:

The reason for her offering this other piece is that it was tattooed by the artist she is currently working with, Cookie, at Pop's Tattoo Emporium in Kingston.

Melanie got her first tattoo at sixteen and fell in love with the traditional style. When I asked her how many she had, she had the typical response of the heavily-inked: she wasn't sure.

The guns and roses along the waistline are a traditional motif and part of her desire for ink is to fill in space, to keep working with the body's canvas. The sheriff's badge exemplifies this, as she noted it was added as an afterthought.

The "City of Sin" identification on the badge is consistent with the piece's theme, and it artistically brings the whole tattoo together, centering the focus at the ends of the gun barrels, and providing a stronger sense of balance in the design.

Thanks so much to Melanie for sharing her traditional holsters with us here on Tattoosday!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jessica's Back, Sharing Tattoos 51 and 52

I met Jessica back in June, prior to a Pearl Jam concert, in front of Madison Square Garden. She is an artist in her own right, doing a lot of the work her self, using her own kit and mirrors. Check out the original post here. I followed up with a post of more of her work here. I had a third post planned, as she had sent me some more photos of new work at the end of July.

I recently reconnected with her via e-mail and she responded with follow-up photos of the July pics, plus a whole bunch of others she has worked on since.

I am easily overloaded by too much information so I am going to try and space Jessica's work out over time and give her work the attention it deserves.

I'm going to start looking at the two pieces Jessica sent me back in July:

At the time, she advised me that she had "just finished starting [tattoo] #51 (Beetlejuice holding a jack o' lantern which I've wanted a really long time." She had just had "session one of a dragon started by Joe Matisa from il Bacio Tattoo in Trenton...he'll finish coloring it in after i get back from my vacation...".

So that was then, this is now.....

Jessica expanded a little more:

Beetlejuice is on my right leg. [I] always loved the movie and show. I've said if I ever got married, it would be awesome to wear Lydia's red dress, dress as Lydia and find me a Beetlejuice groom! and to have a big Tim Burton-style costume ball reception. Fall is my favorite time of the year. The leaves. The weather. All the spooky hayrides and haunted houses... Halloween!!!

[As mentioned above,] Joe Matisa of il Bacio Tattoo in Trenton, NJ did my dragon. That's on the left leg. It's a total custom freehand design he came up with. All I came up with was the awesome color scheme. The rest was the amazing Joe's work. I plan to put an Ed Hardy dragon next to it myself, which shall be my most ambitious idea to tackle so far....
Thanks again to Jessica for sharing her awesome work with us here on Tattoosday!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Representing Levittown

This isn't the first Long Island tattoo here on this blog (see Ian Jones' post here), but it is the first specifically marking one place on Long Island.

This tattoo belongs to Dave, who told me that he and about 8 or 9 friends share the exact same piece, "geographically correct".

There's not much to this piece other than that it is an homage to his home in Levittown, a hamlet in the Town of Hempstead located on Long Island in Nassau County, New York. If one is not familiar with the place, it's worth a perusal of their wikipedia page here. The historical significance of Levittown as one of the first planned suburbs is generally undisputed.

Dave's friends had their hometown tribute inked at Skin Deep Tattoo in Levittown itself. Dave's piece was done at East Coast Tattoo & Body Piercing in Bethpage which, he informed me, has relocated to Reno, Nevada.

I have a deep respect for geographic tattoos, as they say much about a person, and their permanent presence on the body means that the place journeys with the individual, even after that person has moved on to other locales.

Thanks to Dave for sharing his Levittown tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jerome Sports a Dark Tower Tattoo

I spotted Jerome at the corner of 31st and 7th Avenue talking with a friend.

He offered up the piece above (one of his nine tattoos) with the disclaimer that the top end had to be redone, due to some unfortunate ink running.

Regardless of the small imperfection, it's a pretty sweet tattoo.

The piece is based on the artwork featured on the spines of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series.

Jerome was quick to point out, it is not a Guns N' Roses tattoo, which it often is mistaken for. The artwork in question, for example, it is seen at the base of the spine of the sixth book in the series, below:

I have not read the books in which The Gunslinger is a major character, but I know that fans of the series are fierce in their love of the novels.

This was inked by Jon Jon at Cutting Edge Body Arts in Manhattan. Work from Cutting Edge has appeared before on Tattoosday here.

Thanks again to Jerome for sharing his ink with us here on Tattoosday!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jesse's Religious Experience

Religious imagery is among the most popular of themes in tattoo art. There is, to the shrinking minority of people who don't like tattoos, a greater level of acceptance of Christian-themed body art.

[Jewish tattoos are coming along, but the majority of Jews have fundamental issues with ink on Jews. Islamic tattoos are less common, and I can't speak to their acceptance. Eastern religious tattoos may be the most popular of religious ink, but there is a greater understang of body art when it comes to Hindu and Buddhist themes. But I digress.]

I generally avoid talking to people about full sleeves, but when I started talking to Jesse while we were browsing the books at the Chelsea Salvation Army store, it was clear that his right sleeve, which continued onto his chest, was the most important work he had.

Jesse's ink is a reflection of his faith. It is inspired by religious images that he has come across while visiting churches in Europe. He couldn't give me the specific locations of the art which inspired his work (Rome, Paris), but I'd be happy to hear from readers who may recognize the
Aside from the obvious depictions of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, Jesse also pulled up his shirt to show me the most recent of his ten tattoos, which was the extension of his sleeve into his chest:

All of this work was done by Mike Pastore at Masterpiece Tattoo in Staten Island, New York. Work from Masterpiece has appeared previously here.

Thanks to Jesse for sharing his tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

John Paul's Gorilla Tattoo Recalls the Soviet Regime

On Monday, I met John Paul in Herald Square at 34th Street, after spotting a flourish of color on his inner bicep.

He was more than happy to show me this wonderful tattoo above.

John Paul explained that it is based on a prison tattoo from a Soviet Union gulag. The artwork represents a criticism of the regime of the U.S.S.R., depicting it, not as the common Russian bear, but as the brute gorilla. It is ham-fisted and out of control, with the symbolic hammer and sickle at the ready:

John Paul told me he is fascinated with the historic aspect of the former Soviet Union and the criticism of the regime as depicted in art, especially body art. Here's a great source if you are likewise interested in learning more about Russian prison tattoos:

The piece is incomplete in that one may notice the space below the gorilla has a banner that has yet to be filled out. John Paul said the original idea was to have the letters "FTW" for "Fuck the World" inked there, but he was not willing to have that permanently inked there. He is still deciding what to ultimately fill in the space.

This was tattooed about a year ago by Adam Warmerdam in Los Angeles. Adam is a free-lance tattoo artist in Southern California. It is one of four of John Paul's tattoos.

Thanks to John Paul for sharing this fascinating tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mara Shares a Decorative Tattoo

I met Mara this afternoon in the plaza at the corner of 39th Street and Broadway. She was kind enough to share the above tattoo, inked on her left forearm.

She talked to me as she finished her soup, and I'm appreciative of that, as I felt a little guilty intruding on her lunch break.

Mara notes that this piece is "purely decorative". It was tattooed by Stephanie Tamez at New York Adorned, based on a design created by her friend Katherine Irwin.

The tattoo is inspired by the work of Aubrey Beardsley (who provided inspiration for a previous Tattoosday entry here). The lines and design, especially the peacock feathers, have a Beardsley-esque feel to them.

Thanks to Mara for sharing this beautiful tattoo with us!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saint Lucy Graces David's Arm

**This post was updated for clarification of facts on October 13, 2008.

As Autumn advances on New York, tattoos have been less frequently spotted by yours truly, but a recent streak of warmer temperatures have extended the season just a bit.

I spotted the above piece on David's right bicep last Saturday at a green market in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The tattoo was inked as a result of David taking care of a neighbor's dogs for a spell up in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1992. The neighbor had grown up in Syracuse, New York. and attended St. Lucy's Church there. The original Syracuse, in the province of Syracuse, in the region of Sicily, in Southern Italy, was where Saint Lucy was born and martyred. She is also known as the Patroness of Syracuse.

David and his neighbor had a mutual friend who was a tattoo artist and the neighbor arranged for the artist to do the tattoo for David as a form of payment for the favor.

The basis for the artwork, which is a portrait of Saint Lucy, was a Jane's Addiction concert t-shirt, circa 1991 and the Ritual de la Habitual tour. The tattooist had a close affinity for Saint Lucy, as he had gone to a church named for her, and she is the patron saint for the blind.

I was unable to find art on the shirt, but I did find the following poster art:

and this additional image, credited to a prayer card, which bears a striking resemblance, and may in fact be the basis for the concert poster and shirt art:

David indicates that the shirt looked more like the prayer card than the poster.

According to her story, her eyes were gouged out prior to her execution, and as a result, when depicted in art, two eyes appear on a plate in the portrait. In the case of this tattoo, they appear to the left of the piece:

Her eyes are often regarded as holy relics.

David also admires her as she is seen as one of the earliest feminist figures in Christianity. He also notes that he gave his friend/neighbor the concert t-shirt which inspired the tattoo, due to his relationship with St. Lucy's Church in Syracuse, NY.

Thanks to David for sharing his tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tattoo Posts That Go Bad: Peeping Kanji

Last October, I posted a a tattoo belonging to a guy named John here. His friend Donna also had tattoos and tried to show them to me on her lower back/waistline, but she understandably couldn't successfully reveal them fully without lowering her pants to an uncomfortable level. She said she would send me better pictures. She never did. But I kept the post in my drafts folder under the title "Peeping Kanji". Unfortunately, the Kilroy-was-here-esque tattoos could not be deciphered by Kwok, my subject matter expert on the Chinese language.

So is there any value to these pictures? Maybe, maybe not. But I want to wish them adieu and maybe their inclusion here will prompt Donna to finally getting around to send me the photos.

I'd love to know what these kanji mean. Guesses anyone?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tattoorism 101: Another Form of Tattoo Regret

The other day while walking near Madison Square Garden, I stopped to talk to a woman about the tattoo on her foot. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey, can I ask you about your tattoo?

She: Ugh, that thing? I hate it. I got it when I was younger and wish I hadn't.

Me: Well, I write a tattoo appreciation blog, and would love to tell the story behind it anyway. Would you be interested?

She: Nah. I have three tattoos and I am so over them.

Me: [Thinking I spot an interesting tattoo on her ear] Well, would you talk to me about any of them?

She: Nah. Not interested.

Me: Well, thank you anyway. Have a nice day.

So, did she really hate her tattoos, or was she just saying it to make me go away? I'd like to think the former.

Anyway, this is a segue to the Mickey Mouse Fantasia tattoo above.

This was e-mailed to me back in July under the subject heading "Horrible Tattoo".

Here's what the sender said:

Hi Bill,

Stumbled upon your site and thought I'd share the dark side of tattoos. I was young, roughly seventeen or eighteen. Not sure which, as its been almost fifteen years now. I had been plied with beer from my high school girlfriend's brother, and the next thing I knew I was in a tattoo artist's chair. Now, I know that most tattoo artists are of the highest degree of honor, and that I have had the worst luck. Apparently a drunken teenagers wasn't much of an alarm for this fellow. The next thing I knew... I was heading home with the attached image on my arm.

I'm currently searching for a good cover-up. Contrary to a post on your blog, I was raised Christian and now try to follow more Buddhist philosophies. I debated an Aum symbol, a tree of life, a koi fish... none have really struck me as something possible for a coverup. Its quite a depressing thing to hate wearing short-sleeves or taking off one's shirt in the summer. Please pass my warning to the young readers, REALLY THINK about what you want, and never make any decisions while under the influence (which you shouldn't be anyway)! Make sure that it will have a meaning which will stick with you for years, for it shall.

By the by, if you or anyone has any ideas of coverups, please feel free to pass them my way!


Thanks to Keith for sharing this tattoo and his story. If anyone has ideas for a cover-up, feel free to post them below in comments.

And please, folks, don't be sending me pictures of horrible tattoos, there's already a website for them.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Alvin's Hamsa Honors His Grandfather, a Holocaust Survivor

I appreciate irony, but please note that I submit this post on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calender, with the utmost respect. If I somehow offend, please forgive me.

I met Alvin on Penn Plaza, my favorite inkspotting locale, and noticed he had several visible tattoos. Had it been summer, and warm, perhaps I would have seen his Jack Skellington tattoo (sorry googlers, none here!), but he has promised to send it to me.

Rather, he offered up this hamsa tattoo, located on the back of his neck.

The hamsa is a traditional Arabic and Jewish symbol that is an emblem for warding off the evil eye.

This piece is particularly special because it was inked in honor of Alvin's grandfather, after he passed away. He was a Holocaust survivor (2 years in Auschwitz) and had been very outspoken about people with tattoos and piercings. Yet, Alvin's grandfather was okay with such things on his grandson, and Alvin had even discussed with him the idea of getting a memorial tattoo after he was gone.

The Hebrew word for life, "chai" is in the palm of the hamsa as a celebration of his grandfather's life.

Alvin is the other form of "tattoorist," one who gets tattoos when he is visiting other cities (when he has the time and wherewithal). This one was inked in Boston, but he doesn't remember the name of the shop or the artist.

Thanks to Alvin for sharing his hamsa and the story behind it!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Joan of Arc Graces Claire's Arm

I ran into Claire, a musician and artist, on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge last weekend, as we were both walking in the direction of 86th Street. She had some amazingly colorful and vivid tattoos on her arms, the one above included, and I couldn't help but stop and talk to her.

Claire studied art history at the University of North Texas and currently works at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. She admires Joan of Arc as an amazing historic figure and this incredible stained glass piece provided inspiration for the tattoo:

I haven't been able to locate where this is (the photo above is from a PBS piece on the Joan of Arc Phenomenon), but I believe it to be the source material from which the tattoo was adapted.

The piece was inked by Denise de la Cerda, whose work can be seen at

Thanks to Claire for sharing her awesome Joan of Arc tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Introducing Mary's Ink: An Incredible Chalice

My wife Melanie, from time to time, gets to plug Tattoosday with people she meets through the course of her day.

I recently received the following e-mail:
You don’t know me but your wife Melanie does . . . and of course since I am writing to you…have tats.
I started getting them on my 40th birthday. All were done by Fine Line Tattoos. I have attached a picture of one but I can take more. Melanie thought you would like it. This last one is based on fantasy art. It is a chalice. The artist's name is Mehai Bakaty and ... he has been working for over 20 years. His dad, Mike, is also very famous. [Below, Mike and Mehai Bakaty in the shop]

I think all of them including another artist there by the name of Skull (no joke) are fantastic. They are unassuming and don’t do PR and unfortunately are not as busy as they should be.
Thanks for looking.

Thank you, Mary, for sharing your awesome chalice with us here at Tattoosday!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Some Housekeeping

This is a non-photo post.

I want to thank all the folks e-mailing me and several sites that have added me into their folds.

Check out the Alltop Badge I added. We're on their tattoo page here.

Even more exciting is this awesome review Tattoosday received here on is a "daily tattoo blog featuring all original content on tattoo artists, ink trends, tattoo commentary, and more". Thanks to Jennifer Collins for the shout-out.

And if you're looking for ideas for tattoos, you can check out this resource: Free Tattoos Designs and Pictures.

And don't forget about my pal Mel over at Tattoosday UK.

Joel Marks Memories with Some Significant Ink

What is this? Read on.....

Last week I met Joel, a writer and a marketing director for an artist management and development company.

Joel couldn't tell me how many tattoos he has (he has that many), but he did share two of them with me.

The first is posted above and, despite being a little blurry in the photo, this small piece is an early band logo. In fact, Joel informed me that it was the first tattoo ever inked in honor of the band Linkin Park, one of the first acts to achieve a massive audience with their blend of hard rock
and rap.

Joel explains that, in September 2000, he was travelling with the relatively obscure band in Utah, working as a driver and director of merchandising. They were touring just prior to the release of their breakthrough album Hybrid Theory.

Tattoos are often road maps for one's personal history and this tiny Linkin Park tattoo marks that moment in time.

More important to Joel, however, is this, one of his more recent tattoos:

It's an interesting and unusual take on the knuckle tattoo. Rather than the 4x4 knuckle piece, it's a 2x2, with the letters "M" and "C" on the right hand and the numbers "5" and "9" on the left. When the fists come together, the MC 59 display, representing Mike Conley and the year 1959, when Mike was born.

Joel described Mike as his best friend, who died tragically in February of this year after falling and hitting his head in a parking lot of a Chicago motel. Mike introduced Joel to the work of Charles Bukowski and Jack Kerouac, and to the music of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He was the owner of The Avalon Bar in Costa Mesa, California. I could see the sadness in the eyes of Joel, as he recalled the friend that was taken from life
too soon. Joel said "I'm never gonna be over it."

This was inked by Hek at HB Tattoo in Huntington Beach.

I learned later, by visiting the Mike Conley Family Memorial Fund website, that Mike was a founding member of the Southern California punk band M.I.A. (Not to be confused with the hip hop artist of the same name.)

I encourage folks to visit the website and, if so moved, to make a donation. There are links to some nice articles about Mike and his influence on the music scene.

Thanks to Joel for sharing his tattoos with us here at Tattoosday. And our condolences to Mike Conley's family and friends who lost so much when he was taken at such an early age.