Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Usher in the Year of the Tiger with a New Tattoo!

2010 Looks to be a great year and I am looking forward to ringing in the new decade on January 2nd by visiting a new tattoo shop of the Lower East Side called Thicker Than Water Tattoo Studios.

From Noon to 10:00 PM, artists in the shop, which just opened on December 1, 2009, will be inking Year of the Tiger tattoo specials for $50.00 apiece. It's first-come, first-served, folks, so don't show up too late.

In case you were wondering what kind of tattoo this deal will get you, we here at Tattoosday were thrilled to get a sneak peak of the flash from which customers can choose, and got the blessing from Shon Lindauer, designer, tattooer and shop manager, to share the designs with our readers:

So, come on down to Thicker Than Water and start the new decade with an appropriate Tiger tattoo to ring in the year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

All I Want for Christmas is a Tattoo with Teeth

On Christmas Eve afternoon, I was passing through Penn Station, I spotted Lindsay, a woman with what appeared to be a sleeve that had a water-inspired design.

It wasn't until after I approached her and asked if she wanted to contribute to Tattoosday that I saw, as she rolled up her sleeve, what awesome work she had done on her left arm:

Lindsay said that, like all of her 14 or 15 tattoos, none of them have "deep meaning". She just goes with whatever she describes as an "intense urge" at the time she's getting the tattoo.

The sleeve above started with her taking photos with stylings to the artist, saying she wanted a bloody shark. This was the first part of the tattoo:

She then expanded it with this segment of shark

which is certainly reminiscient of the movie poster for Jaws.

This piece was created in four sittings lasting 3-4 hours each, by John Reardon at Saved Tattoo (which was the shop responsible for yesterday's post, too).

Work from John Reardon has appeared here on Tattoosday previously. Work from Saved appearing on the site can be seen here. Reardon is also the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting a Tattoo.

Thanks to Lindsay for taking the time to share her incredible shark sleeve with us here on Tattoosday!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Max's Spin on a Traditional Gypsy Tattoo

I was passing through Penn Station late yesterday when I spotted Max, who offered up this fascinating tattoo:

At first glance it looks like the traditional gypsy piece, but if you look closely at the back of the gypsy's head, you can see Max added an element that extended the design up and around his right arm:

That is a deer skull that the gypsy woman is wearing, complete with a set of antlers.

When I asked Max about this he acknowledged that the tattoo, in concept, had started as just the old-style gypsy profile but, growing up in Maryland, he said that there were deer everywhere around his home, and that this was a nod to his former home state.

Perhaps reading too much into it, I asked him if he was taking a symbol of home and tying it to the nomadic image of the gypsy to illustrate a dichotomy between the two contrasting lifestyles. He nodded and said he hadn't thought of it in those terms before, but it seemed to make a little sense if you looked at it like that.

This is one of nine tattoos Max has. The piece in question was designed by Paul Bosch at Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn. Max came to Paul with the concept and left it to the artist to design the tattoo. Work from Saved has appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

Thanks to Max for sharing this fascinating spin on the traditional gypsy tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Woman, Deconstructed

With winter upon us, I have been tempted to bemoan the scarcity of visible ink on the streets (or subways) of New York.

But Mother Nature giveth, as well, by depositing the powdery white stuff and causing delays that held up commuters in Penn Station.

One such soul was Kaeti, a visual artist passing through NYC on her way from Philadelphia.

This pheomenal tattoo jumped out from her corporeal canvas on Tat-tuesday, catching my eye as I walked by:

Kaeti originally thought she was going to get a sleeve inspired by the work of Salvador Dali, but the scale and concept didn't converge in a final design.

She went to the artist, Andrew Johnson-Lally, at Body Graphics on South 4th Street in Philadelphia. She described for him the general concept behind what she wanted, something along the lines of a representation of a female figure, deconstructed. Kaeti also is very influenced by stitching, so she brought along examples of work she had, which included stitched sculpture and sketches. Andrew drew something up based on these styles that she liked, with her ultimately yielding creative freedom to the artist.

To me, she was describing a collaborative effort, which many tattooists and their clients create. Another example of her influence on the end drawing is the empty eyes, which Kaeti said was similar to a lot of the work she herself was doing around the time of the tattoo being inked.

The whole piece took about 3 and a half hours to complete. Initially she told me that when the tattoo was initially completed, she thought that it was finished. Like many people with large tattoos, however, Kaeti is tooling with the idea of expanding the work to include background, which might involve wrapping around her arm and making it a "true" sleeve.

Incidentally, work from Body Graphics has appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

I want to thank Kaeti for taking the time to speak with me in a crowded Penn Station, and for sharing her fascinating tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Two More Tattoos from Josh

Well, more than six months have passed since I posted Josh's amazing Verrazano Bridge tattoo, and I almost forgot he sent me some additional shots, including the clock from the old Penn Station on his inner bicep, which is interconnected with the bridge piece:

This is a fairly accurate homage to this bygone historical monument seen at the top of the photo below:

Josh, being in the military, also has this back piece:

This tattoo consists of a pair of variations on the caduceus, surrounding the insignias of the 44th and 30th Medical Brigades - the two units he was assigned to in Iraq.

Thanks again to Josh for sending along these pictures and if you haven't seen the Verrazano tattoo linked at the top of the post, you must go check it out.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tattoorism: Aaron and Brandi Share Their Ink

We here at Tattoosday love our fans. However, sometimes when someone sends us a submission from abroad, we may be slow to post it. Brandi and Aaron's submissions are the extreme case in point.

Brandi e-mailed me back in April. Yes, as in that part of the calendar six months ago.

Oh, I had grand plan for the post, planning to unveil it to coincide with a cinematic release, or a DVD release, but I could never get the timing just right.

In the better late than never category, let me introduce you to a couple of tattoos that have been patiently waiting for their moment in the Tattoosday sun.

I'll start with Brandi's tattoo, which is on the front of her right shoulder:

Brandi explains:

"This tattoo is one I got on my 25th birthday but it had been 7 years in the making. I lived in Seattle, WA for 10 years (currently in Texas) and have always loved snowflakes so for my birthday I decided to get this tattoo in memory of my life in Seattle."

The second tattoo is from Aaron. Just to show you how long it has been, when they first sent the photo in April, Aaron was her boyfriend. In a follow-up e-mail a few weeks ago, Brandi called him her fiance, so congratulations are in order as well!

Here's Aaron's tattoo:

Yes, that is the crest of Gryffindor, the crest of one of the four "houses" at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy in the the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

Brandi explains:

This tattoo is the first installment of a sleeve project Aaron is in the process of that was started after I suggested to him he get it. He is a HUGE Harry Potter fan and I thought what better way to express his love for HP. The rest of the sleeve will be black and white illustrations from each book and I couldn't love him more for expressing his inner "dork."
I also am a fan of the series and have also share the qualities of dorkitude from time to time, so how could I not share this cool tattoo with our readers?

Both tattoos were inked at Epic Tattoos in Fort Worth, Texas. Nick Clark did Brandi's snowflake and Rudy Perez inked Aaron's Gryffindor piece.

Thanks to both Aaron and Brandi for sharing their work with us here on Tattoosday and for waiting so patiently for me to get around to posting their tattoos!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jack Shares His Love for Graphic Novels

I had somewhere to be and a few minutes before I had to be there.

At the intersection of Clark and Henry Streets in Brooklyn Heights, I saw a guy stride into a corner bodega. Something told me to peek in. I did. And there, on the back of his right arm was a cool-looking tattoo.

So when he exited the store I introduced myself and we walked twenty yards to a well-lit frame shop to talk about his work.

His name is Jack and he works as a framer but is also a painter and fine artist. Feel free to check out his website here. His work is quite good.

He shared two tattoos with us, the first being the one on the main section of his back upper arm:

Jack is a fan of graphic novels and this piece is based on a panel from the a Hellboy book (Volume 6: Strange Places) by Mike Mignola.

The words in the upper corner of the panel are "I will cast off my afflictions...". The tattoo was done by Erick Diaz at Asylum Tattoo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

A Hellboy tattoo has appeared previously on the blog here. You may remember the name of Erick Diaz and Asylum Studios based on an appearance on Tattoosday previously from this amazing back piece.

Getting back to Jack, when he pulled up his sleeve, I saw this tattoo above the Hellboy design:

This art is based on the work from another graphic novelist, Anders Nilsen. The piece in question is from the award-winning Dogs and Water.

Jack credits this tattoo to an artist named Jasmine Morrell, aka Jazzy J, who he referred to as a "kitchen surgeon". In other words, this is an example of a home-inked piece, more commonly known as a kitchen table tattoo. Not to say that she is not a professional. In fact, Jack informs me that she is an artist at Atomic Tattoo in Austin, Texas.

Both pieces reflect Jack's love of graphic novels. He adds "I have 4 tattoos, all from comics, the earliest was a back piece from Winsor McKay's Little Nemo in Slumberland." Perhaps we'll see that here in the future!

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Daniel's Machine Head Tattoo

I met Daniel in Penn Station yesterday, one of the few people with short sleeves, and certainly the only person with visible ink.

Visiting from Perth, in Western Australia, Daniel has seven tattoos, and he offered up the piece on his left calf:

Daniel is a huge fan of the band Machine Head, and fans of the group will surely recognize that the piece is based on the Machine Head crest:

The Roman numeral MCMXCII refers to 1992, when the band released its first album.

Daniel has seen the group perform seven times (as of this writing). When I asked if the band had ever seen his tattoo, he did tell me that he had met their tour manager at their airport in Brisbane and he had given him backstage passes to the show. Unfortunately, his plans fell through and he wasn't able to make it to the concert.

The tattoo was done by Jonny at Abandoned Art in the Wanneroo section of Perth.

Thanks to Daniel for sharing his tattoo with us here on Tattoosday.

As a postscript, the woman that was with Daniel indicated that his chest tattoo was also very cool, but Daniel understandably did not want to go topless in Penn Station. He indicated he might send a photo in at a a later date, so stay tuned......

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sandra's Angel Reflects Her Vocation

I was folding clothes at the laundromat yesterday afternoon, bemoaning the fact that it appeared as if another weekend would pass without a new tattoo photo, when I caught a glimpse of some ink on the back of the neck of a fellow laundry-doer.

When I asked Sandra if she would share her tattoo with us here on Tattoosday, she kindly obliged:

Sandra said that she originally saw a variation of this design online, but added the "S" for her name. She likes that this design looks, from a distance, like a caduceus, an ancient symbol that is often associated with the medical profession:

Sandra is a nurse in an Intensive Care Unit in a hospital ward that specilizes in treating patients with bone marrow and other forms of cancer. The letter S symbolizes her name and reflects her commitment to her profession.

This was tattooed by an artist named Mike, who works out of his home in Brooklyn.

Thanks to Sandra for sharing her tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Russian Criminal Tattoo Designs

If you're still looking for that holiday gift, you might consider some attire inspired by Russian criminal tattoos.

Last month, regular readers of Tattoosday may have noticed the ad that popped up on the left side of the blog, promoting a line of clothing from MiR1, an online shop run by a fellow Brooklynite named Roman, featuring designs based on and inspired by this style of tattoo.

Our good friends over at the Needles and Sins Tattoo Blog even featured Roman's online shop as part of their Holiday Gift Guide feature earlier this month. Their piece on Russian Criminal Tattoo Apparel appeared here. You can also check out their Facebook page here.

For the record, I have one of MiR1's hoodies and I'm very pleased with it. If the wind chill wasn't teens this morning, I might even wear it to work.

But I'm not writing about this to sell apparel. Of course, you won't be surprised to hear that Roman has tattoos that run along the themes featured in his clothing line.

He was kind enough to send along this picture:

As explained on the MiR1 site:

The cat has been a symbol in Russian criminal tattoo culture since the beginning, partly because the cat abides by it's own rules. There are many variations of the cat tattoo. The cat symbolizes a thief that is good at what he does. This tattoo can show a man's or woman's connection with the criminal world. The word CAT or "KOT" (in Russian)is an acronym as are many other normal words that are tattooed. KOT stands for "Korenoi Obitatel Tyurmi" or "Native occupant of Jail" as in Jail is my second home.

Roman was kind enough to elaborate on the origin of his tattoos:

The cats were done in Watertown Correctional Facility, by a man named Diablo. For 3 packs of cigarettes and some cakes, cookies, and various junk...Cats are supposed to bring good luck. One cat means u mostly act alone, two means usually with others or part of a crew. I really didn't care either way, I just like symmetry.

The hammer and sickles were done by a friend in the 90's...

I encourage readers to check out the clothing line over at their online shop here. And thanks again to Roman for sharing his own personal ink with us here on Tattoosday!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Darren's Trio of Tattoos

I was contemplating the best way to approach a rather imposing figure who was completely covered in ink, when Darren passed me at the entrance to K-Mart in Penn Station.

When I caught up to him in the store, I introduced myself and, being a piercer in a New York City tattoo shop, he was more than happy to indulge my curiosity.

Darren has three tattoos, all on his arms and crafted by Young Cho at Monster Tattoo in the Elmurst section of Queens.

The first piece, on his lower right arm, is a pin-up depiction of Lady Luck perched on a crescent moon:

The second tattoo is a half-skull that pays homage to Boys Night Out, a band in which one of Darren's friends plays:

This is the outer forearm on his left side.

Finally, we have this piece, which is more than just a few numbers and letters:

Located on his inner right forearm, this tattoo is translated as 40 degrees, 40 minutes, north latitude and 73 degrees, 9 minutes west longitude. These coordinates refer to a specific location in the world, in this case, a spot in the Great South Bay off the coast of Long Island. It was here that Darren's father loved to go fishing and the coordinates in question mark the spot where his father's ashes were scattered after he passed away.

I must emphatically state that this is one of the coolest memorial pieces I have seen. It is extremely thoughtful and creative, speaking to a point on the earth where Darren knows his father will remain, in spirit, for the rest of time.

I thank Darren for taking the time to stop and chat with me about his three tattoos here on Tattoosday!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jason's Tattoo Reaps What it Sows

Today's tattoo belongs to Jason, who sports this nifty Reaper on his left forearm:

Inked by his younger sister, Mystie, who was an apprentice at the time in Savannah, Georgia, this is one of seven tattoos Jason has.

He had been working as a grave digger and headstone carver and, he said, "after burying kids younger than me," it made sense to get the tattoo. It's a reminder that "nobody's got forever".

Thanks to Jason for sharing his "grim" tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Roundabout Tale of a Swedish Tribal Tattoo

Yesterday, I joined my friend Janet for lunch at Chipotle on 45th Street.

There was a fundraiser at which a $5 contribution bought you a burrito, chips, a drink, and an opportunity to meet Yankees manager Joe Girardi. His charity, The Catch 25 Foundation, was the beneficiary of all proceeds from lunch. Here's proof I'm not making this up.

Janet and I were dopey enough to go without any Yankees memorabilia to get autographed. So he signed a flier for me and (yes, there is a tattooish point to all of this) declined to sign Janet's skin, above her "I NY" tattoo (featured on the blog here). It was worth a try.

And no, Joe Girardi didn't offer up a tattoo.

However, Janet and I grabbed the downtown V train after lunch. I got off at 34th Street and figured I'd cut through Manhattan Mall.

Waiting at the bottom of the J.C. Penney basement escalator was Julio, visiting New York from Sweden.

Now, I'm not a big fan of tribal designs, but Julio had this pretty cool one on his upper right arm:

See! There is a tattoo in this post!!

Julio's tattoo was inked for him by an artist at Magic Man Tattoo and Art in Skövde, Sweden.

Thanks to Janet for lunch, Joe Girardi for the autograph, and Julio for the tattoo. Tattoosday appreciates all you did to make this post happen!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Yellow Rose for a Fallen Friend

I met Dan outside of Penn Station last week on a balmy December day.

He has 22 tattoos and shared this one from his right forearm:

It's a memorial piece for a friend who passed away in 2008.

Her initals are in the heart, which is pierced by a lone yellow rose. "She loved yellow roses," Dan told me, which led him do design this variation on the dagger-through-the-heart tattoo.

The piece was inked at Fat Kat Tattoo in Keyport, New Jersey. Work from Fat Kat has appeared previously on the site here.

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

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Don't Worry

I was walking through Penn Station last week when I spotted Turner. Actually I spotted what looked like a tattoo on his wrist. So I stopped and asked him and sure enough, he had words on the inside of his wrist, still healing from a recent inking:

The tattoo reads "A: Don't worry".

Turner explained that he is a performer/author/speaker who worries a lot, so it's sage advice that is always good to follow.

The quote itself is from a segment in a one-man show that he performed called "Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps". During one part of the show, Turner answers self-posed questions in an imagined dialog with his father. One of these questions is: "Q: What's the number one thing to think about when you're a dad?" And the answer is "A: Don't worry".

What's particularly special about this tattoo is that it is based on his father's handwriting.

Turner has a book out called Two Truths and a Lie that includes the aforementioned Becoming a Man....

Turner had this tattoo done by Big Steve in Manhattan at Funcity Tattoo.

He also gave me his card, which promotes Two Truths and a Lie. You can read about Turner at his site It was there that I learned that Turner is a transgender, a woman who became a man. Of course, this adds, in my opinion, a whole different layer of meaning on the tattoo, and makes the experience of meeting Turner that much more interesting. He is just another example of what I love about writing Tattoosday. I get to meet so many people in such a wide range of diversity. It's well worth exploring his site to see clips of his shows to fully appreciate Turner as a performer.

I thank Turner for sharing his tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cleaning Out My Inbox: Ugliest Tattoos

I'm cleaning out my inbox over at Tattoosday and am sifting through the gold.

My lovely wife Melanie sent me this link back in June (yeah, June).

So get your fill out of Ugliest Tattoos.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Nathan's Luck

I first became friendly with Nathan over at as a peer in the inkblogging community.

Based in Texas, Nathan's site specializes in what you would expect from the name, Knuckle Tattoos.

As a contributing writer, I have posted a handful of knuckles (ha) from people I have met in my Tattoosday wanderings in the Big Apple.

And although the last post on his site (as of this writing) was back in May, Nathan has been busy indeed, traveling over the late summer, courtesy of a 30-day Jet Blue pass and blogging about it. The trip was documented here, on 30 Days in the Air. Not only that, he has ink to memorialize the journey. See what I mean in this post.

Nathan was in New York as part of his adventure back in October and I met him for a slice of pizza on Broadway near Herald Square.

We talked shop, mostly, about blogging, tattoos, and his trip. And, of course, he shared one of his tattoos for the folks here at Tattoosday:

Nathan explained that this is a "kitchen table tattoo inked by a Japanese fellow calling himself 'Cadillac'. He was in town [Austin] for a week from Japan tattooing in order to pay for his rent when he got back".

The tattoo features all of Nathan's "luck pieces," such as dice, cards, his lucky number (23), a horseshoe, a black cat, and a banner that reads "Fortune Favors the Valiant".

It was great meeting Nathan and I thank him for sharing this tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Love Story

Last Saturday night, Melanie and I went into Manhattan for a small holiday gathering. We were going to see her old high school friend Vibeke at her mother's apartment on the Upper West Side. It had been quite some time since we had last seen Vibeke. We weren't sure, but our best guess was 1998.

Vibeke had been living in Los Angeles, had recently married and moved to Houston. It was great seeing her again, and it was nice meeting her husband Matt.

Invariably, Melanie asked Vibeke how she and Matt had met. She explained that, in the early '90s, she had been living on a boat in St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. For a while, the only way she could get to shore from the boat where it was moored was to swim. I'm guessing she also occasionally hitched a ride on someone's dinghy, but her primary shore-to-ship mode of transport was her own arms and legs.

As one would imagine, this proved to be problematic. So she invested in an inflatable dinghy and a small outboard motor to more practically transport her to and from dry land.

When the motor developed a problem, she took it into a shop for repairs. A gentleman named Matt was the proprietor and he repaired it. A little tension developed when, as Vibeke tells it, the repairs were less than satisfactory. More work was done, apparently to her standards and from this initial meeting, a romance blossomed.

After six months, Vibeke decided, for various reasons, that she would return to the states and move on with her life. The relationship with Matt abruptly ended.

Cut to the cinematic technique of a calender shedding pages like a tree in autumn, as time passed.

Then 9/11 happened. This prompted many Americans to feel the need to check in with past acquaintances and such. Vibeke looked for Matt, but he has a common last name and she couldn't find him. She was having, and continued to have, "where is he now" moments. She never found him.

But he found her.

Earlier this year, she was proctoring a test for students at a public school in Southern California where she was teaching. The phone rang.

It was Matt. He was beside himself. He had found her. Vibeke was stunned, but she was otherwise occupied. She gave him her number and told him to call back.

He did. He lived in Houston, she was dating someone else. The next time he came to town she was single. They met. The rest, they say, is history. They were married in June and are now newlyweds in Texas.

"What a great story," Melanie and I collectively thought. We were very happy for her, and him.

Later that evening, Melanie and I were chatting with Matt near the kitchen.

Matt asked about Melanie's ankle tattoo. He seemed interested. I mentioned Tattoosday. "Want to see something?" he asked. He motioned us into the kitchen, away from the rest of the party guests.

"You've heard how Vibeke and I met, right?" he asked, touching a button on his shirt. We nodded. And he began to tell his story, similar to his wife's version, only he paused after speaking of her leaving the island way back in 1995.

The month after she departed, still devastated from the abrupt end to their relationship, he returned to his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

And there, he told us, unbuttoning his shirt and revealing his left shoulder, he went to Route 66 Fine Line Tattoo and got this:

See, dear readers, there was a relevant point to this story.

And Matt pointed out in this subtle aquatic tattoo, the marks of his true love. Here in the undulating leaves is a V for Vibeke, a C for her middle name, and an H (at the top of the piece) for her maiden name.

Woven into his tattoo of lost love and despair were the initials of the woman he loved. And he had no idea where she was.

But the years passed for Matt, as they did for Vibeke, and this ink in his flesh was an anchor reminding him of his love. And when people asked him about it, he explained it was just an aquatic-themed piece, an homage to his love of the ocean.

And fourteen years later they reunited and picked up where they had left off in 1995. Now married to the woman whose initials were subtly inked into his flesh, the tattoo has changed.

When fresh, the piece was a memento of loss, the missed moment of the road not taken, a reminder of a relationship that ended too soon.

Over the years, the tattoo meant hope that some day, the two would cross paths again. It was a daily reminder of what was lost, and what Matt hoped to regain.

Seemingly miraculously the two souls were reunited, and the tattoo, in its simple black and gray tones, represents perseverance and success. The ink may have faded in the sun, but the love only became more clear.

Matt and Vibeke's story is quite remarkable, and the time they were apart has faded. Togetherness always defeats the pain of separation.

I want to thank Matt and Vibeke for sharing their tale with us here on Tattoosday. It's not every day that we get to hear a full-blown love story on this site, and the fact that Matt's tattoo is at the center of it makes it even more wonderful.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tattoos I Know: Tracy Returns with an Important Reminder

We originally introduced Tracy on Tattoosday back in January 2008 here.

Last Saturday night she was down visiting from upstate New York and she showed off her latest tattoo:

Inked on the inside of her left wrist, this simple message "Breathe" is a reminder to herself to "slow down and take it all in". In other words, when stressful things happen in life, pause, take a deep breath, and focus on the here and now.

This serves as an anchor to keep her grounded. Words on the wrist are great ways to help keep the focus (here's another example from earlier this year).

As a mother of two boys (one a teenager) and the wife of a soldier serving our country proudly in Afghanistan, one can only imagine the stress Tracy encounters on a daily basis. Yet every time I see her, she has a positive outlook and a smile. She's one of many people I know who use tattoos as symbols from which to gain emotional strength through challenging times.

The tattoo was done at Tattoos Forever in Evans Mills, NY.

Thanks again to Tracy for sharing her ink with us here on Tattoosday!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Tattoosday Book Review: 7 Tattoos

First and foremost, let me clear something up: 7 Tattoos by Peter Trachtenberg is a memoir and is not a book about tattoos. Oh, there are tattoos within, and stories about them and how they were obtained. But tattoos help form the context of the story within, and the ink is often secondary to the action at hand.

7 Tattoos is a riveting narrative, "a memoir in the flesh," about the author's inner struggles with his identity and the world around him. His tattoos form the structure of the book, serving as chapters around which Trachtenberg's life revolves.

Imagine a first tattoo: assuming that it wasn't inked on the fly, everyone's first tattoo comes with context. On Tattoosday, I try and tell the story behind the tattoo. But even I know that I am only scratching the surface of the narrative skin.

Each of the author's seven tattoos serves as a focal point out of which a life chapter spins.

From a tribal piece that is inspired by the ink of Southeast Asia (and subsequent trips there) to tattoos that mark chapters in a life punctuated by drug addiction and strained parental relationships, we are given a warts-and-all tour of Trachtenberg's life. As important as the tattoos may seem, they are really just sign-posts with memories in the ink.

Ultimately, 7 Tattoos is about relationships - Trachtenberg's relationships with women, his father, his mother and, ultimately, himself.

He is a writer and his skills show throughout as he describes tattoos with admirable simplicity:
"The tattoo Slam had given me was a drawing of a wrench placed diagonally between two gears. She'd rendered the spinner with punctilious thoroughness, down to the highlights on the chrome-plated shaft, while leaving the gears black silhouettes, and she'd unified the composition by framing wrench and gears with a red triangle that sat athwart my deltoid."
This passage describes the tattoo with political undertones, in a chapter entitled "I Keep the Red Flag Flying". He does a remarkable job taking a 1992 tattoo and narrating back twenty years earlier to 1972. Again, the tattoo anchors the chapter and is the glue that holds it together.

Trachtenberg has skillfully built a personal history around seven works of art. It doesn't matter where they were inked or if any of them are "good" or not. Each piece is a jumping-off point that elevates the memoir above the standard personal history.

7 Tattoos was recommended to me last Spring when I was interviewing poets and writers for my Tattooed Poets Project. I wish I could remember who suggested I read it, because I would love to thank them.

The tattoos in the book are not at center stage, yet they manage to grab a hold of the imagination throughout as we are carried along by the story of Trachtenberg's life. It's an experience I would heartily recommend to anyone interested in good writing, with a penchant for ink.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cody's Eagle Braves the Storm

On the day after Thanksgiving, I was passing through Penn Station and I spotted this tattoo:

This depiction of an eagle flying through a storm belongs to Cody, who was in town visiting from Key West, Florida.

This symbol of strength and courage enduring the dangers of a powerful storm is fitting, as Cody began work on the piece as a tribute to his father, serving in the Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

Cody has already had three sittings for this wonderful tattoo, and is close to finishing it with "Tattoo" Mike Haugh at Key West Tattoo Company.

Thanks to Cody for sharing this great tattoo! We look forward to seeing the final product!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tay's Angel Reminds Him of a Battle Won

There are many things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. I know that may cliché , but at its core, there is the kernel of truth. All it takes to remember this is to cross paths with someone who has overcome the odds to prevail in life.

Yesterday I met Tay in the Borders on Penn Plaza, and he shared this tattoo:

Here's the complete piece:

Inked on his inner left forearm, this angelic image is a product of an idea of a spirit watching over him, He gathered a couple of photos for reference and presented them, along with a short written paragraph about the concept, to a tattoo artist at Fat Ram's Pumpkin Tattoo in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts. It was the tattooer who gave Tay the writing assignment. I am impressed that the artist would incorporate that into his creative process, and it makes perfect sense.

Although Tay is not religious, per se, he wanted something spiritual to remind him of his guardian angel that helped him overcome the mortal challenge of cancer.

As it turns out, Tay is a survivor, who has been cancer-free for ten years after a victory over acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Tay notes that, all it takes is a look down at his arm to remind him that he has come a long way from the lows of facing one's mortality at such an early age.

I want to thank Tay for sharing his tattoo with us here. And I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all the Tattoosday readers!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Doug's Dragon

Back on July 13, I posted a photo of Doug's Geisha. Doug was waiting around the Penn Station area before heading down to see Horisei, at tattoo artist working out of Rising Dragon's Chelsea Tattoo Company.

Doug followed up his moment in the Tattoosday light by sending us photos of the work he had done that day. As would be expected from work by Horisei, the tattoo is beautifully done:

Work from Horisei has appeared previously on this site here.

Thanks again to Doug for sharing his new tattoo work with us here on Tattoosday!