Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jubail Celebrates the Midnight Mile

I met Jubail on the corner of 34th and 6th Avenue, and he shared this awesome tattoo:

"Midnight Mile" is a song by Bouncing Souls, and it reminds him of coming home to New York City.

Jubail, who has "nine or ten" tattoos, was a student at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

He was about to earn his commission as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army when I spoke with him, and he knows he can rely on his tattoo to help him remind him of home here in New York.

He also has the Bouncing Souls logo on the inner part of the elbow, also known as the "ditch," which is one of the most painful places to get tattooed.

Jubail credits his ink to Saka at Tat-Nice Tattoos in Huntington, WV.

Thanks to Jubail for sharing his Bouncing Souls tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

And here's a little "Midnight Mile" bonus:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Where The Wild Thing Tattoo Is

The day after I met one Jared, I met another, out in front of Madison Square Garden.

With a tattoo like this:

how could I not stop him?

As one would imagine, Jared loves the book, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

The tattoo displays, on Jared's right forearm, one of the "Wild Things" that is in Max's imagination.

Jared, who was in town visiting from Boston, has ten tattoos. He had been thinking about getting a Where the Wild Things Are piece for several years and finally had it done by Chris Ford in January 2009. Ford had worked in L.A. but is now in New Jersey.

Jared said that he has had a lot of attention from people about the tattoo, in part due to the publicity from the movie adaptation coming out this Fall.

Thanks to Jared for stopping to talk and share his "wild" tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jared Shares His Vegan Tattoo

I met Jared while he was waiting for a train in Penn Station.

After the Manhattan Mall food court closed last summer, I discovered this wide expanse of Penn Station (especially the Amtrak area) was great for inkspotting when the weather made normal traipsing about unappealing.

Jared's ink runs down the length of his arm, from the top of his right bicep, down to the inner part of his forearm.

As a Vegan, Jared did his research, and sought out a tattoo artist that could give him a Vegan tattoo:

There's a school of thought that some tattoo inks are not "vegan," in the sense that they incorporate glycerine from animal fat, or they use bone char in the black inks. See this article here.

Some artists refute this as gimmicky, and here is a more skeptical view point from a Vegan. But many Vegans who are steadfast in their ideals find the idea of a purely vegan tattoo appealing. I featured another Vegan tattoo back in October 2007 here.

Jared, who is the musical director for the national touring company of the show "Spring Awakening", went to Cary at Body Electric Tattooing & Piercing in Hollywood for this custom design.

The top section of flowers includes at least one chrysanthemum. The bottom part spells out the word "Vegan" in twisting, viny, letters.

Jared's whole arm took three sessions and ultimately embodies the Vegan lifestyle, not just in words and design, but in the ink used to create the art.

Thanks to Jared for sharing his work with us here on Tattoosday!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tattoosday Boxcars: A Leonine Tattoo and Wearing One's Heart on One's Sleeve

I met Jeff and Jeanie in Penn Station as they were about to board an Amtrak train out of the city.

I've been trying to come up with clever terms for different inkspotting phenomenon, basically creating my own lexicon.

I'll call Jeff and Jeanie "boxcars". Meaning, I approached the two of them and gambled, asking them both to participate, and they came through. Like rolling two sixes on the dice (also known as boxcars). I would even venture to call them "blind boxcars", because I could only make out fragments of their ink, but they still shared.

Jeff went first, displaying this leonine figure on his left bicep:

It's a nod to his astrological sign, Leo, and was also selected for its nod to Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast).

Jeanie shared her tattoo below:

This piece literally has her wearing her heart on her sleeve and is inspired by Mexican art. The tattoo was completed by a friend of Jeanine's named John Flack.

I would have obtained more detail, but the couple had to board their train.

Thank you to Jeanine and Jeff for sharing their tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gina's Mayan Design

Earlier this month, I met Gina in Manhattan at the corner of 31st Street and 7th Avenue and I asked her about these tattoos:

The main element is a the piece she had inked in January 2007, on a trip to Mexico.

She went on a cruise to Mexico with her mother. While exploring some Mayan ruins, she made a rubbing of the design above, which bears some relationship to Xul, a canine god in the Mayan pantheon. She took the rubbing to a local tattoo artist and had it inked while in Mexico.

I questioned her about the cleanliness of a tattoo shop south of the border and she maintained that the place was immaculate, much cleaner than some of the shops she has seen in the U.S.

Just above the Mayan piece is a smaller tattoo, featuring an outline of Texas, where she was born. When her mother saw this "Made in Texas" tattoo, she asked Gina, "What makes you so sure you were made here?" Clearly a woman with a sense of humor. But, Gina noted, the remark "made [her] throw up a little".

This small tattoo was done by Homer Saenz at 713 Tattoo Parlour in Houston. Work from 713 has appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

Finally, as a matter of habit, I always ask people how many tattoos they have. Gina gave me an unusual answer, "Nine, going on seven."

When I gave her a puzzled look, she explained that she has nine tattoos, but she is planning on having two removed. As an actress, she feels that two of the more visible pieces may prevent her from attaining roles.

Thanks to Gina for sharing her tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mark's Gypsy Tattoo Pays Tribute to the Female Singer-Songwriter

I have mentioned before that I tend to shy away from approaching subway commuters about their tattoos.

However, like most of my self-imposed guidelines, I always make exceptions for work that is transcendent. That is, if the tattoos are supremely blogworthy, I will solicit, for the sake of the reader, people on the subway. One such case presented itself last week on the Brooklyn-bound N train.

I approached Mark Turrigiano as the N emerged from the subterranean underworld and climbed the Manhattan Bridge. He has phenomenal sleeves, intricate work that wraps and surrounds the limbs.

His right arm, with an Asian-inspired theme, is mostly attributed to Elio Espana at Fly Rite Tattoo Studio (whose work has been seen previously here). His left arm hosts an incredibly huge and colorful octopus, which was inked by Lou at Third Eye Tattoo (whose work has appeared on Tattoosday here).

Because of the scale of those sleeves, we opted to go with one of his newer pieces, a gypsy on the back of his left calf:

This piece, designed and inked by Craig Rodriguez at Hand of Glory Tattoo Studio in Brooklyn, is seen by Mark as "a good way to commemorate [his] work with female singer-songwriters".

I like this piece a lot because it contains a lot of traditional gypsy elements, but is atypical in its presentation. It seems much larger with greater detail than the traditional gypsy profile tattoos that are much more common. The vividness of the colors also helps the tattoo pop, and you can almost feel the texture of her scarf.

Mark says the piece was completed in about four hours over two sessions. He estimates that his body is about 30% covered in ink.

Feel free to check out Mark's website here.

Thanks to Mark for sharing this great gypsy tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Leesa's Memorial Tattoos

There are certain signs I look for when I am scanning a crowd for tattoos. Colored hair and/or facial piercings are good, but not always reliable, indicators that someone may be inked. A guitar case, you would think, also favors the theory that its possessor has tattoos, but it's not always the reality.

So when I spotted a tall woman walking out of Penn Station carrying what appeared to be a guitar case, I took notice. And, she had a neck tattoo that resembled this pattern:

Despite being in a hurry, she let me shoot this photo of her forearm tattoos:

She explained that the one on the left arm features her mother's initials (HLH) under the phrase "máthair mo ghrá" and the dates 2-23-25 - 1-5-09". The tattoo is Gaelic and translates to "Mother, my love".

She explained that her mother died earlier this year and, before I could react, she explained that the right arm is a memorial to her husband (AMS), who died thirty-three days later.

Her right arm reads "Fear chéile mo ghrá" which means, "Husband, my love".

In an attempt to express condolences, I said, "Wow, it sounds like you've had a bad year. I'm very sorry".

But she was not down about it and said that actually, despite a rough year from a family perspective, it had been a good year for her personally.

She indicated that she was running late for rehearsal and I asked her if her band had a website. She started to spell the name "L-E-Z..." and I knew instantly what band she was in. The runic tattoo on her neck was familiar because it had stood for the great drummer John Bonham. Leesa is the drummer for the all-female Led Zeppelin tribute band, Lez Zeppelin.

It was only later, after researching a bit, that I learned that the band's guitarist and de facto leader Steph Paynes, had announced on January 5, 2009, that the other members of the band were leaving, and three replacements, including Leesa, were subsequently selected.

I am assuming that Leesa's reference to a good year, personally, had much to do with her joining Lez Zeppelin, and embarking on a tour.

These memorial tattoos were inked by Matt Adams at Sacred Tattoo in Manhattan.

Here's a clip from the band playing earlier this year in New York:

Thanks to Leesa for stopping and talking with me, despite being in a rush. I appreciate her sharing her memorial tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Please check out the Lez Zeppelin website (here) to learn more about this cool band. See here where they are playing later this summer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sarah Shoulders Her Slavic Heritage

A couple of weeks ago, I had a very productive Wednesday, speaking to five different people about their tattoos.

Sarah is the last of those five that I an posting, and was my favorite of the group that day.

This tattoo was her sixth (she has thirteen or fourteen) and is an homage to her Slavic heritage.

The piece is based on the poster for a 1921 art exposition put on by the Czech Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha at the Brooklyn Museum:

The piece, on her right shoulder was tattooed by Scott Budgen at Lady Luck Ink in Waterford, Michigan.

Thanks to Sarah for sharing this wonderful tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Third Tattoo: A Hand Steeped in Faith

Last June, I wandered into a 711 and met a tattoo artist named Pete, who works under the moniker Sweetpea. Like most artists, he himself has amazing work. However, I was camera-less that day, so I gave him a flier and we went our separate ways.

Later that week he e-mailed me and we scheduled to meet and talk about tattoos. We hit it off nicely and, in one of the perks of writing Tattoosday, I gained a new friend. Of the hundreds of people I have photographed for this blog, I'd say I developed some semblance of a friendship with just a handful of my subjects. Sweetpea tops the list.

When I posted his tattoos, almost exactly a year ago today, he was actually contacted by several people who he ended up tattooing. I didn't realize it at the time, but the impact of the post was far greater than I could imagined.

A month or so later he e-mailed me and asked me what I thought of a design on his MySpace page. I checked out the sketch and admired the concept: a disembodied hand, gesturing the "om" sign, emerging from a cluster of flowers.

I told him I liked it, but if I were to get that tattoo, I'd prefer it be modified to exchange the Om for a Star of David.

He came back to me with the updated design and we agreed to get this done. Summer was just coming to an end.

Pete stopped by in September with the design and met my wife, Melanie. The three of us talked about size and placement and agreed that it would look best on the upper part of the left side of my back. Sweetpea was basically freelancing and we decided the only place we could do it would be in my living room. The kids would certainly get an education out of this!

But when he called to see if we could book a slot in early October, a glance at my calendar revealed a conflict with a wedding and Yom Kippur the Jewish Day of Atonement. Not even factoring in the religious connotations, it's generally a bad idea to get a big tattoo on your back shortly before wearing a nice suit. Healing from a tattoo can be uncomfortable and the ointment used to facilitate the process can often ruin many an article of clothing.

So October slipped away, then November, and December. And then Sweetpea left the country for over a month and didn't get back until late January.

He called me in February. Not only was he ready, but he was now working out of Made in Brooklyn a little shop around the corner run by Michael Kaves, an artist steeped in the tradition of South Brooklyn music, graffiti art and tattoo culture (see an early Kaves tattoo here). I stopped into the store a couple of times and set a date.

When I showed up for the intial sitting, Pete was slightly tentative about the design. He wanted to go in a bit of a different artistic direction and wanted to retool the sketch one more time.

It was then that I suggested a chain, to make it look like it wasn't just a star that was being held, but a necklace with a star at the end of it, almost as if the hand had picked it out of the dust and held it up for inspection. Sweetpea loved the idea of adding the chain, as it created another dimension in the piece.

A week later, I was finally back in the shop being inked.

Again, I was reminded how time is distorted by reality TV tattoo shows. In a four to six hour session, the outline and flower was completed. For what was a relatively small piece, I was surprised at the time that the first phase took, until I saw the depth and layering of the colors that went into the floral pieces.

I returned two weeks later for the hand and several more hours under Sweetpea's needle....this time focusing on the hand, and the shading. When the session was complete, the hand was very dark, so much so that Melanie was nervous.

But Sweetpea assured us that the hand would lighten when healed, and lighten it did. It still amazes me how much work he put into the detail and shading and how he, along with the best tattoo artists, can envision the tattoo after it has healed. It's like an artist creating a painting, but with an extra layer that he knows will peel off and result in a crisper, brighter work below.

Due to scheduling and the shop getting busier, I wasn't able to sit again with Sweetpea until the second weekend in June.

I came in for some final touch-ups, a little extra tuning and coloring to slam the door on the tattoo.

I suggested some gold for the star to really make it shine, and he added some crisper outlining and some subtle shading to finish things up - white highlights in the fingernails and in the chain, and a little bit of added color in the hand.

And whereas I had been happy with the tattoo before, I was astonished at how much more amazing it looked with the "finishing touches".

So what does this tattoo mean? I know that is a question I extend to the countless volunteers who offer up their ink to Tattoosday readers.

I believe that meanings change over time, as the context of a particular tattoo evolves.

The addition of the chain was significant. Instead of merely proffering a symbol, the hand extended a concrete thing that symbolized something larger.

I alluded to our discussion of the chain, as if it had been picked up and held up for examination. This forms the cornerstone of the tattoo's current meaning to me.

So here it is: the hand of a Higher Power, call Him God, or Yahweh, or another deity. The Star of David represents my faith, my understanding of Judaism.

For many years, I had fallen away from the spirituality of the religion and had merely been a "cultural" Jew, meaning I identified myself as Jewish but didn't worship at the synagogue or observe many of the religious traditions.

But when my children reached the age when they started going to Hebrew School, the pendulum swung back and I became more regularly involved in the faith.

And although I do not consider myself "devout," my faith is stronger than it has ever been, it has been plucked from the dust and is being held up to the light.

This tattoo represents Faith, lost and found.

There are other elements that pervade the tattoo that make it more complete to me, as well. I consider it a Judeo-Christian tattoo, in a sense, with a hint of Buddhism.

The hand is still held in an "Om" gesture, despite the modification. So it has a base in a symbol of peacefulness and meditation. The chain has almost rosary-like appearance to it, which is appropriate in that it represents to me the faith of the artist, and my deeper understanding of Christianity that developed over 13 years attending a Christian elementary and high

I thank Peter Caruso aka Sweetpea for creating this amazing tattoo for me. He has told me that appearing on Tattoosday a year ago was a significant moment in his career, as well. In the middle of our second session, he had shared with me that his passion for tattooing had dwindled, and he had been thinking of hanging up his tattoo machine.

However, he said, my interest in the art of tattoo through the blog, and getting him talking about the history of Old School Brooklyn tattooing, rekindled the flame. He started tattooing again and, at Made in Brooklyn, he has been tattooing full-time, doing his own thing, and creating some amazing works of art.

This won't be the last time you hear of Sweetpea or Kaves or Made in Brooklyn here on Tattoosday. Their influence in my neighborhood is being extended on a daily basis. I have witnessed the phenomenal work that they are producing for others and I am sure to be featuring it here in the future. I also hope to bring you a closer look at the shop as they continue to grow the business and transform from a little shop around the corner into a Brooklyn institution.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jake's Redd Foxx Tattoo Helps Us Celebrate Father's Day!

Last week, I posted about a trio of friends that had recently moved from San Francisco to New York, all of them inked.

Jake was the first of the three to share his tattoo with us, and it is such a good piece, I saved it for a special occasion, Father's Day:

This is, of course, a portrait of the great comedian Redd Foxx. People of my generation (X) remember him as the bristling curmudgeon in the sitcom "Sandford and Son".

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, the show is about a widower, Fred Sanford (Foxx), raising his adult son Lamont (played by Desmond Wilson), and their junkyard business. It was a breakthrough show that was one of the first on network television to feature a minority cast.

The father-son dynamic is an ongoing theme, and Jake recalls watching the show with his dad and it being a bonding experience.

His father passed away about four years ago this month from cancer. The tattoo is not only a tribute to the great comedian, but a reminder of the times Jake spent watching "Sandford and Son" with his dad. Jake added, "I'm pretty sure if [my dad] was still around, he would get a kick out of seeing Redd Foxx on my calf."

This amazing portrait was tattooed on the back of Jake's right calf by Greg Rojas at Everlasting Tattoo in San Francisco.

As we celebrate Father's Day today, I thank Jake for sharing this awesome tattoo with us here, and invite everyone to revisit the host of tattoos previously posted on Tattoosday that pay tribute to dads. Click here to see the lot.

And, as a special treat, in the spirit of the day, I present the following clip:

Happy Father's Day from Tattoosday!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ashley's Trio of Tattoos

I've always said that Tattoosday is 50% about the tattoos and 50% about finding them. But once in a while, tattoos just present themselves and I can't contain myself.

Ashley is a case in point. She was at the laundromat the same time as I was, and she had two small tattoos inked on her feet. Out on the street, I likely would have let her walk by without stopping her, but there, as we stood around waiting for clothes to wash and dry themselves, it struck me as negligent NOT to ask her about the tattoos.

Ashley has three tattoos in all. The first one I noticed was this peace sign on her right foot:

It's a popular symbol, of course, and not simply because of what it stands for, but for the aesthetics of the shape.

Similarly, she has a small heart on her left foot:

What's interesting to me about this simple tattoo is the duality of the colors. Ashley says that the colors represent the "two polar sides" of her personality - the "mellow" green and the more exciting pink.

Both tattoos were done in the same sitting by an artist named Taz.

Ashley has a third tattoo, her first, which she was kind enough to share with me:

This star was inked by Joe at Studio Enigma (whose work has appeared previously on Tattoosday here). This is purely decorative, at the base of her neck, and she had it done with a close friend, who had the same design inked on her shoulder blade.

Thanks to Ashley for sharing these tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Amy's Variation on a Sailor Jerry Classic

I met Amy one day a few weeks back, outside of Madison Square Garden.

She estimates she has spent about 36 hours being tattooed, and that her body is "a work in progress".

She offered up this tattoo on her left arm, which is a modified version of a classic Sailor Jerry design:

The original concept is your basic naval tattoo design, with the "Stewed, Screwed, and Tattooed" slogan:

This piece has been elongated, with a few flowers added for that feminine touch, and the banner "1 Life" is inserted as a nod to the shop where she had this done.

This, along with most of her work, was tattooed by Branden Noetzel at 1 Life Tattoo in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Amy, who is a make-up artist by trade, also has the knuckle tattoos that read B-O-O-K W-O-R-M. I would have shot them for my friends over at KnuckleTattoos.com, but she's already on the site (see them clearly here). So, she offered up her two foo dogs (inked on her hands for protection) instead:

Thanks to Amy for sharing her great tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A German Gypsy in New York City

I met Dominic a couple of weeks ago out in front of Madison Square Garden in Penn Plaza.

He was visiting from Cologne, Germany, and was displaying an arm with tattoos:

Dominic has seven tattoos, most of which are based on traditional flash art.

We looked specifically at his gypsy tattoo, which Dominic says is especially poignant:

Why is this piece so meaningful? Dominic says his family once was very well-off ("blue-blooded"), but they lost their fortune. As a result, he feels a certain kinship to the tattoo.

The tattoo was created by Carlos at Fine Line Tattooing in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Thanks to Dominic for sharing his gypsy with us here on Tattoosday!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Three Tattoos from Mary: Marilyn Monroe and Robert Frost, Fire and Ice

What jumped out at me when I saw Mary in front of Penn Station, on a drizzly late afternoon during Rush Hour, was this amazing tattoo on her left bicep:

Marilyn Monroe tattoos are not incredibly unusual (click here to see those that have appeared on this site previously), but this one strays from the glamorous and dabbles in the tragic.

What we see is the back of her head, passed out on a make-up table scattered with toiletries and pills. In the reflection of the dressing room mirror you see the woman's face, serenely unconscious.

And, in an effect that makes it look like it was scrawled in lipstick on the mirror, the quote,

"...if you can't
handle me at my worst
then you sure as hell don't
deserve me at my best.

The full quote, as uttered by Ms. Monroe, is "I'm selfish, impatient, & a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, & at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."

It's certainly a striking piece, and Mary gladly shared it and elaborated. She feels a bit of a link to Marilyn in that the starlet and Mary's grandmother were born on the same date, June 1, 1926.

Plus, there's the universal tragedy of Monroe's demise that resonates on so many levels with so many people. She's a sex symbol to some, a victim of an abusive male-dominated industry to others. And the quote rings true with self-actualized strength. "I am what I am," she seems to say, "if you can't roll with me through the difficult times, then you haven't earned my company in the good times." Do note, this is my interpretation, not necessarily Mary's.

This tattoo was inked, along with many others, by Jimbo at Lark Tattoo. Work from Lark Tattoo has appeared on Tattoosday previously here.

Mary has thirteen tattoos in all, and shared two others as well.

She graciously lifted her shirt to reveal this poetic snippet, tattooed on her right side, accompanied by a peacock feather quill pen on parchment:

The quote "Some say the world will end in fire, some say ice..." is from the opening lines of a poem by Robert Frost, entitled "Fire and Ice":

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
The tattoo points to another piece, at the base of her neck: two flaming ice cubes:

As I mentioned previously, my encounter with Mary occurred outside of Penn Station during rush hour, so I didn't delve too deeply into the meanings of these tattoos. But I do thank Mary for sharing them with us here on Tattoosday and invite her to elaborate further in the comments below.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two for Tattoosday: Some Traditional Work Imported from California

Last week I spotted a young tattooed woman chatting with a friend outside of the Chelsea Whole Foods store. I hesitated because I was running late, but doubled back across the street and introduced myself. As it turned out, Krista and her two friends, Ryan and Jake, had recently moved from San Francisco to New York. All of them had tattoos.

Her friend Jake shared his first, but I am deferring that one to a later, more appropriate date (hint: check back on Father's Day).

After seeing Jake's tattoo, I turned to Krista and Ryan. "Who's next?" I asked hopefully.
Fortunately, I didn't get the "Wasn't the one tattoo enough?" attitude.

Krista deferred to Ryan and he offered, with his friend's assistance, this amazing piece:

I was surprised, to be honest, to see such a huge, traditional sailor tattoo on a tall young man with a finely-waxed handlebar mustache, so I had to ask what was behind this amazing piece.

He had a simple answer, "I'm American." And the logic computes on different levels. The eagle is our national bird, and the art of tattoo, which was discovered by British sailors on the indigenous populations of the South Pacific, didn't really explode in popularity until American servicemen started bringing their body art home from overseas.

There is something purely American in the naval tattoos that have embedded themselves in our cultural psyches and, although other cultures may argue the uniqueness of such art to U.S. citizens, that is the perception that has been re-enforced by our society.

This amazing tattoo was completed in four four-hour sessions by Zach Johnson at Idle Hands Tattoo Studio in San Francisco. Mr. Johnson is no longer listed on staff there but, according to his MySpace page, he occasionally pops back in from time to time.

Chest tattoos are notoriously painful and Ryan concurred: the pain, he said, especially over the diaphragm, was the worst he's ever felt ("worse than that from accidents" he has been in, he insisted). And he has seven tattoos, to boot, so he is no novice.

I turned to Krista, inquiring, and smiled when it was clear she was contributing as well. I believe it was the first time I got three people together to participate, with three very different tattoos.

She offered up this unique tattoo, also by Zack Johnson:

Krista explained that Zack had drawn up a whole series of flapper-esque, gypsy-style profiles, putting his personal spin on each one. This one has a feline appearance and, as a lover of cats, she took a shine to the design. The tattoo, as a result, has a traditional feel, but with a modified spin that makes it more unique. I particularly like the collar with the bell attached to it:

Thanks to Krista and Ryan for sharing their tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Matt Wears His Heart (of Bacon) on His Sleeve

I first met Matt a year or so ago when he and his wife Allison opened the gourmet grocery Robicelli's in our neighborhood of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn (there's more on Robicelli's here).

It was only recently, however, when I popped in to pick up some of their incredible gourmet cupcakes (the "Irish Car Bomb" is my favorite), when I spotted this amazing tattoo on the inside of his left forearm:

So it makes sense that a chef and a businessman running a gourmet grocery might have a food-themed tattoo, but what's up with this one?

Matt explained that, well, he's a chef, and he loves bacon, and several years ago when he was prepping for an event he was catering, he and a colleague were wrapping rabbit hearts with bacon. He remarked that he ought to get a bacon heart tattoo and his friend challenged him, laughing "You'll never do it!" That was just the incentive Matt needed, and he went with the idea
to Nacho at Studio Enigma in Brooklyn.

It was done all in free-hand and Matt hopes that some day it will be the cornerstone of a food-themed sleeve.

Thanks again to Matt for sharing his bacon heart with us here on Tattoosday! If you're ever in Bay Ridge and have a hankering for fine foods (especially their amazing weekend cupcakes), stop by Robicelli's ( 8511 3rd Avenue) and perhaps you'll catch a glimpse of this great tattoo!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mike's Tribute to His Thai Heritage

There are generally two kinds of Tattoosday subjects (and by subjects I mean people):

Those that let me take a picture or two and I never hear from them again, and those that send me nice messages and a correspondence more or less develops.

Last weekend I met a guy named Mike at the laundromat (which is turning out to be quite a lucky locale for inkspotting) and he falls in the latter category.

Not only was Mike friendly and interested in the site when I met him, but he has followed up our initial conversation with e-mails that have helped me create a much more thorough and well-rounded post than many readers may be used to.

Mike's tattoo is a tribute to his heritage. His father is from Thailand, so he considers himself "50% Thai". Check this out:

This piece does wrap around the left bicep, and on either side of the elephantine temple, there are "singha" lions:

The idea for this tattoo started with a concept and evolved into the finished work in flesh above.

Mike started with the basic images, found online in the form of the elephant and lion masks, and the photo of a Thai temple:

He notes that he wanted to use the Tribal elephant mask "because the Elephant is a national symbol of Thailand, they [were] used ... in wars and ... represent strength. I chose the Tribal 'wood' look mainly because it looks great and I thought it represented the 'old/history' of Thailand." He added that he finds Thai temples "amazingly beautiful" and that the two Singha lions on either side of the temple in the design "represent protection, and they usually are at the entrance ways of many Thai buildings".

He then tinkered with these images in Photoshop and came up with this rudimentary design:

He took this artwork to Regino Gonzalez at Invisible NYC. Mike explains, "I showed him my idea and he actually kinda chuckled a bit. I told him I realized [that] this was a real shitty representation of what I want and that I hoped that he could do ANYTHING with it."

Mike continues, "...And then literally three days later, he called me into the shop and when I walked in, he had this HUGE AMAZING piece of art...I just turned to him and said, 'Let's do it' [and] I ... sat down right then and there for four hours and had the outline done ... I ... went back about three weeks later and had the black color and shading done, and then about three more weeks later I had the final color done."

What Mike explains is typical of great tattoo work. So many novices to tattooing are surprised that a nice piece takes a while, unlike it does on the reality tattoo shows, when an eight-hour piece often is edited down to a few minutes of air time. It's also the recommended way to get a great tattoo: bring in the framework of an idea and let the artist go to town.

And, if you have a good artist (which you should have, if you've done you're homework), you should put your absolute faith and trust in them. Case in point, Mike recalls "I asked Regino how he was going to color it and I was pretty nervous ... he looked at me and pointed to his head and said 'Trust me, I have a plan'. And that was it ... I walked away with what I think is an amazing piece of work ... I have since recommended Regino to anyone who asks my opinion, and I will continue to [do so] ....".

Incidentally, work from Regino has appeared previously on this site here.

Thanks to Mike for sharing his incredible work with us here on Tattoosday!