Friday, July 31, 2009

Two Years Ago Today......

"So, there you have it. The inaugural tattoo on Tattoosday here at
BillyBlog. It should be interesting to see what else I can come up with
from strangers, or if I have to revert to friends to help me in this

That's what I wrote two years ago today on my original site BillyBlog.

Little did I know how much this once weekly feature would turn into such a significant aspect of my life. In little over a month, I had spun Tattoosday off of BillyBlog, from a recurring character to a site of its own.

And we have grown! This month we will have our biggest visitor load of our short career here, reaching just under 30,000 hits. This month also marked a quarter of a million hits since Tattoosday stood alone in September 2007.

And we have our sights set even higher.

I once again want to thank everyone who has contributed to the success of the blog, from the occasional visitors, to the rabid fans, from the enthusiastic tourists and New Yorkers who have contributed their work, to the talented tattoo artists who created that work.

And most of all, I want to thank my friends and family, who have seen my passion for tattoo writing, and have supported me whole-heartedly. And to my beautiful wife Melanie, who is my biggest cheerleader, most avid supporter, and one of the most understanding women I know. Not may wives would be keen on their husbands taking pictures of tattoos of strange women
(and men) they've met on the street. But she is my number one fan. And I love her all the more for it.

A week from tomorrow my oldest daughter Jolee, who inspired this, my first tattoo, will be celebrating her bat mitzvah. The week ahead will be filled with planning and visits from family, so I am taking a week off in posting, so I can focus my energies on this landmark event.

Rest assured, I have two dozen tattoo posts in the queue and will likely be unable to restrain myself from collecting more photos and stories in the week to come.

I will resume posting on August 9th or 10th.

I thank everyone for their continued support and words of encouragement.

Bill Cohen

With a Cherry on Top and a Side of Morrissey

I met Jasen several weeks back outside of the Whole Foods in Chelsea.

Jasen's left right forearm has a variation of the torn flesh motif in tattooing where the artist creates an illusion that a person's flesh is ripping away under pressure from the matter below the skin.

I have seen people with biomechanical tattoos, showing steel below the skin. Or patriotic pieces reflecting red, white and blue deep below the surface.

But Jasen is different. He is a Vegan with not one, but many "sweet teeth". So, with the help of the tattoo artist, Nick Baxter, they devised the design that would reflect delicious desserts bursting out of his skin. Jasen agreed that he wanted something "colorful, fun, and kind of ridiculous".

Okay, I know, the quality of these photos is not great. Very sun-washed. So, I was fortunate enough to find the artist's photo on his website:

Nick's site is cool because he even comments on the pieces. For example:

"Why can't every tattoo be a ridiculous skin tear-out? I'm proud to add this to the collection I've done, along with the gay unicorn and the surfer kool-aid man. It's on an awesome vegan dude who wanted to pay homage to the sweeter side of our shared dietary choice. Thanks Jasen for giving me a good excuse to have some friends over for a dessert-making and reference-photographing party...this tattoo was fun before it even started."

Nick tattooed this at a shop in Branford, Connecticut called Transcend Tattoo & Art Gallery, but has relocated to Austin.

Jasen also has the autograph of the singer Morrissey tattooed on his outer right forearm:

He saw him in concert in Philadelphia two or three months back and had the opportunity to meet him.

We talked about people getting musician's autographs tattooed (see all that have appeared on Tattoosday here), and he told me that Morrissey was the only famous person he would do that for. The singer is a vegetarian and is very outspoken about vegetarianism and animal rights.

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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chip and Tom and Frank

Sometimes, the subject of a tattoo is unclear to the un-illuminated eye. Curiosity compels one to ask: what is that?

And the answer makes sense. And one marvels at the mind behind the man (or woman) who says,"Yeah, let's put that on me forever."

Such was the case during rush hour on the N train. An guy named Chip stood nearby and his right forearm intrigued me. I couldn't make out what his tattoos were. Can you?

When I asked, he explained. The top piece is a photograph from a Tom Waits album:

Despite ascertaining this is a Tom Waits photograph, I can't pinpoint where it came from. If anyone knows for certain, please let me know. The tattoo was done by C-Jay at Rising Dragon Tattoos in Manhattan. Work from Rising Dragon has appeared previously here.

Below the Waits tattoo is a Frank Zappa piece:

This is based on artwork that appeared on the back cover of Zappa's autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book:

This piece was tattooed by an artist he only identified as Chris at Marco's Tattoo in Wakefield, Rhode Island.

Obviously, Chip is a huge fan of both Frank Zappa and Tom Waits. That's all there is to it.

Thanks to Chip for sharing his cool and unusual tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who's Better Than Us: Chris Honors His Father

I met Chris in Brooklyn Heights one afternoon and asked him about his ink. He has seven tattoos in all, but offered up this section of his arm:

What seems at first like an odd juxtaposition of figures makes more sense when it is explained.

The piece is a memorial based on a photograph of his father, who had worked as an editor on the original film of Woodstock, as well as the book documenting the process who worked with the team that made Woodstock (Paradigm), developing and experimenting with new film technology which was eventually used in the process of making the movie.

After searching for a while, I emailed Chris and asked if he could send me the photo. He generously obliged:

Seeing the source material on which this piece is based makes it cooler. The photograph appears in the book, and was taken up at Woodstock when the documentary was in production years laterby one of the cinematographers of the Woodstock film, Chuck Levey somewhere in New Jersey.

And the back of the arm features a quote from Chris's dad, a statement he would often make, which seems genuinely appropriate from someone so deeply immersed in the culture of the 1960s:

Chris had his tattoos inked by Nick Caruso at Fly-Rite Studio in Brooklyn. Work from Fly-Rite has appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

Thanks to Chris for sharing his work here on Tattoosday!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meredith Shares Two Inspirational Pieces for Tat-Twosday

Let's just say the third time's a charm.

It started with me getting off the subway in my neighborhood and noticing the woman walking several paces ahead of me. I saw that she had words inked around her wrists. As I generally shy away from tattoos that circle a limb (they don't translate well on a blog page, in my humble opinion), I made a mental note and we went our separate ways.

A few days later I was walking home, carrying dry cleaning (an activity that has delayed more than one Tattoosday post, for sure), when I ran into her again.

This time, we approached from opposite directions and I was able to introduce myself and maneuver my cleaning in order to give her Tattoosday info.

I was pleased to see, as well, two heretofore unnoticed pieces that she told me about and admired. Both were significantly original and very cool. We tentatively agreed to talk at a later date about featuring her work on the site.

A week later, our paths crossed again, and this time I was ready. So here are two of Meredith's tattoos, just in time for Tat-twosday!

We'll start with the wonderful piece dancing along the inside of her left forearm:

What we have here is the phrase "searching through the static" in an unusual font. With Photoshop, Meredith flipped the text to create a design with the phrase, base to base, almost zig-zagging across her arm.

Meredith is an artist (see her blog here) and she has lived in several places, trying to find her way through life. She did, here in New York City, and the phrase "searching through the static" resonates with her, as she has ventured through the chaos of life experiences to find her true path. She particularly loves this font because it resembles a cityscape, with some of the letters rising like skyscrapers over the street-like valleys between words.

The second tattoo she offered up is this stunning black and gray chest piece:

The center of the design is a broken snow globe, modeled after one that Meredith's grandmother gave her many years ago. Even though it is cracked, she has kept it as a treasure by which to remember her. She did change the snow globe design to contain a tree, not small people, like in the item on which this is based. The tree, she felt, was more appropriate for the tattoo.

The phrase that brackets the snow globe is "Keep going farther Beautiful Seeker." It is a mantra that she has adopted to keep her motivated and focused on a higher goal.

Both of these tattoos were inked by Alex Franklin at Brooklyn Ink. Work from Alex has appeared previously on Tattoosday here here and here. And clicking here will take you to all the posts from Brooklyn Ink that have appeared here on Tattoosday. As I've mentioned before, the proximity of the shop to my residence makes it the most frequently-featured purveyor on the site.

Thanks again to Meredith for sharing her wonderful tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Michael's Mythical Sleeves

I generally avoid featuring full sleeves here, because of the limitations that posting them has - it is difficult to fully capture the artistry in the work. But, on occasion, the tattoos are so amazing, I can't resist.

Such was the case with Michael, who shared portions of both sleeves with me. Here's a sliver of his right arm:

To fully capture the magic of this tattoo, here's a fresher, professional collage, courtesy of the artist Stacey Sharp:

Michael was proud of the fact that this tattoo took second place in the "Best Sleeve" category in the 2007 Philadelphia Tattoo Convention.

And although the top section of his left arm is still "under construction," the bottom half is no less spectacular:

The detail and shading is just absolutely phenomenal:

Michael, a professional make-up artist, explained that he embarked on these sleeves when he was going through a rough patch in his life and that, as a water sign, the creation and depiction of an aquatic dragon, helped mark a spiritual process that gave him strength while enduring life's trials and tribulations.

He estimated that the right, award-winning sleeve, took approximately 36 hours in total work and that his right sleeve is fifty hours in, and counting.

What's interesting about this post, aside from the brilliant tattoo work, is that I have a nice online friendship with the artist, Stacey Sharp, and that she provided me with her prospective of these sleeves. Generally we only hear from the host.

Stacey works out of Inkpulsive Custom Tattoos in Ronkonkoma, New York.

Stacey comments about her work on Michael:

Some interesting info about Michael's arms...

"The WaterDragon (right arm) was drawn on his arm at a moment's notice. He was only looking for 'a little something to add to his armband'. Took about an hour to draw on with a marker and another hour to outline. All of the blue background was done in one shot, 4 hours, including elbow and ditch (Michael advises to NEVER do those two areas at the same time). The lighter water swirls were added at a later date. The entire thing took 36 hours to complete. It's also the only tattoo I've done that has a 'Title'- A warm thing in a cold place. His species is WaterDragon. His proper name is Fathom... but sometimes we fondly refer to him by his nickname: The Sea Chicken!

The dragon on his left arm is Random. That's her name. Why? Because she is. :) Fur and feathers take much longer to detail. We didn't keep track of her time like we did with the WaterDragon. She's more of an Air/Fire combination... where the WaterDragon is more guarding, silent sentinel, she's the fun, spontaneous side. Whimsical."
So there you have it, an additional perspective, from the artist. It's interesting to get an additional point of view that expands on the notes I've scribbled down in the street.

Much thanks to Michael for enthusiastically sharing his work with us here on Tatoosday! And an additional thank you to Stacey Sharp for contributing her thoughts as well, in addition to granting permission to using the photo collage of the right sleeve.

Stacey's work has appeared on Tattoosday once previously, a much smaller, whimsical piece, here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

St. Michael, Inspired by Survival

I met Michael in Penn Station and he shared this incredible tattoo:

That is a depiction of St. Michael, with whom our contributor shares a name.

Michael had this tattoo added to his right bicep and shoulder after surviving a terrible car accident. One of his lungs collapsed and he was touch-and-go for six days.

Afterward, he wanted to pay homage to Saint Michael and went to Lark Tattoo in Westbury, New York. Brian, the artist, spent nine hours on this amazingly detailed piece.

Work from Lark has appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

Thanks to Michael for sharing this incredible tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Call for Submissions - Literary Tattoos


Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide

Edited by Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! We are seeking high quality photographs of your literary tattoos for an upcoming book. Send us your ink! Submissions are open to all kinds of literary tattoo work: quotations from your favorite writer, opening lines of novels, lines of verse, literary portraits or illustrations. From Shakespeare to Bukowski to The Little Prince in a Baobab tree, if it's a literary tattoo and its on your body, we want to see it.

All images must include the name (or pseudonym) of the tattoo bearer, city and state or country, and a transcription of the text itself, along with its source. For portraits or illustrations, please include the name of the author or book on which it's based. We'd also like to read a few words about the tattoo's meaning to you -- why you chose it, when you first read that poem or book, or how its meaning has evolved over time. How much (or how little) you choose to say about your tattoo is up to you, but a paragraph or two should do the trick.

Please send clear digital images of the highest print quality possible to Pixel resolutions should be at least 1500 x 1200, or a minimum 300 dpi at 5 inches wide. Text should be included in the body of the email, not as an attached document. Also be sure to include one or more pieces of contact information, so we can let you know if you're going to be in the book.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Anthony's Pin-Up

Many people may wonder, when I pass out a card or flier, how often do people write to me and share their tattoos?

Not often.

But I'm cool with that. And it makes it extra special when someone does, especially when they're sharing a nice tattoo.

I ran into Anthony back in June coming up from the subway at 34th Street in Manhattan. We e-mailed back and forth a couple of times and then he sent me this tattoo, which I hadn't even seen when I saw him in the station:

I'll let Anthony do the rest of the talking:
"The tattoo I adore the most is my pin-up girl. I named her Amber, I just love that name the most. My tattoo artist is name Twace. I got my tattoo done at Gotham City Tattoos out in Brooklyn....I have about ten tattoos all in total but she is my favorite one 'cause growing up I just love pin-up girls. It took me nearly three years to find the right one for my arm. I came across to this girl doing a pose wearing nothing but a button down men's shirt with her heels and long black hair. She's the one for me, plus it is sexy when a girl is wearing a men's shirt...even in the morning. My back is getting done, a gypsy woman. So it will be awhile to get that one done."
Thanks to Anthony for sharing his awesome tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

The Butterfly Effect: Susan's Ink

I met Susan at the laundromat a couple weekends back and took pictures of the butterfly tattoos on her right arm:

She loves these colorful insects and, like many people who get butterfly tattoos, appreciate them as symbols of freedom:

Susan has her whole back tattooed (she showed me a bit of her lower back and said she'd think about sending in a photo) and got these tattoos on an impulse, in December 2004. She was living in the Bronx at the time, and when she was unable to get into Manhattan due to the last transit strike, went to a local shop and had the butterflies added to her arm.

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

Friday, July 24, 2009

High Culture Vs. Low Culture: Two of Sam's Tattoos

Sam has seven tattoos, but it was this one that first caught my eye:

Yes, that is an exclamation point (!) on the back of her neck and head, inked by Mony at Body Graphics Tattoo in Philadelphia.

So why an exclamation point? Sam explained that, in the video game Metal Gear Solid on the Nintendo System, an exclamation point appeared over a character's head when he was spotted by a villain. The programming was very basic, so when the technology developed to improve on the (!) appearing over the head, the makers of the game kept the symbol, and it became
somewhat camp.

Sam remarked that her nod to "low culture" is offset by this tattoo which is on her outer right arm:

I recognized the insignia immediately, having read Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 in college. Sam reminded me that this symbol is that of the muted post-horn, a key plot element in the novel.

This is her "high culture" tattoo to complement her video game punctuation mark.

Thanks again to Sam for sharing her interesting tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spike's Tattoos Are Out of This World

Spike stopped and talked to me several weeks ago outside of Madison Square Garden.

His right forearm bore many different stars and his upper arm displayed the solar system.

I didn't get all the details that I wanted to, as there was a lot of information to process, but I filled in the blanks as best as I could to get a very loose interpretation of his star art.

This theme, in particular, was the most fascinating aspect of his tattoos, because his cluster of stars are all uniquely designed by different people, from children to friends.

This one was drawn by a five-year old:

Spike said he and the child's parents were fascinated by the inner design, and only later discovered he had been trying to replicate the NY logo of the New York Yankees.

I labeled each star in my notebook, but didn't get much elaboration.

Here's a star comprised of Star Trek logos:

And an atomic representation of a star:

I'm not sure about this one:

The Madonna star?

This star with sparks shooting out of its points was also drawn by a child, an eight-year old:

And this complicated one incorporated many symbols, including an ankh, a cross, and the circle revolving around the star is a peace symbol:

Spike did not identify the six-pointed star as a star of David, but as the symbol of Solomon:

And another:
And another:
I believe there were eight in all, and Spike acknowledged he would most likely add more if the right design came along at the right moment.

Here's part of the Solar System:

The Sun occupies the elbow and the planets revolve upward. Saturn can be seen near the shoulder. Here's a closer view of the Earth and her satellite, our Moon:

The two different sections of Spike's arm are unified under the celestial theme.

On his other arm, on the bicep, the theme becomes more fantastic:

What appears to be a space ship racing away from an exploding planet is precisely that.

The tattoo represents Superman as a child fleeing the exploding planet of Krypton.

Much of Spike's work was tattooed at Avalon II in the North Park section of San Diego.

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Behold, Quadrapus!

I met Colleen on Penn Plaza and her ankle tattoo jumped out at me from a distance. It was so unusual, I just had to stop and ask her about it.

Behold: Quadrapus!

If this four-limbed octopus-like creature looks fanciful, it's because it is based on a child's beach toy used to mold sand shapes.

Colleen explains that she and about twenty of her friends all got this same tattoo, but in different colors, to commemorate their summer where a majority of time was spent at the beach. There was a house involved, which was the epicenter of activity, and the plastic octopus beach toys were on the walls, used as decor. "Quadrapus" became a symbol and mascot for a memorable season.

This was inked by Josh at Broken Heart Tattoo in Keyport, New Jersey. Coincidentally, a tattoo from Broken Heart appeared just this past Saturday here on Tattoosday.

Incidentally, Collen has seven other tattoos, and I couldn't resist snapping a shot of this literary ink:

The quote "You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake " is from the seminal first novel Chuck Palahniuk novel Fight Club. Tyler Durden's character states:

"You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all a part of the same compost pile."

Palahniuk is her favorite author and she loves the meaning behind this quote, from a passage where the speaker is questioning the notion of individuality. Deep down, Collen explained, he's saying we're all the same, that no one is as special as they think they are. Juxtaposed with the snowflake, the symbol of uniqueness, this tattoo makes a bold statement.

Check out a couple other Palahniuk literary tattoos here over on the awesome site dedicated to literary ink, Contrariwise.

This was inked at Silk City Tattoo in Hawthorne, New Jersey by Chi Chi Gunz. Work from Silk City is New Jersey has appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

Thanks to Colleen for sharing her fun and interesting tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two for Tattoosday: Two Sisters Share Their Awesome Ink

Jenni estimates she is 35-40% covered in tattoos. When I stopped her and her sister Kailla, I was interested in seeing what she would offer up to Tattoosday readers.

Even though we can't see it in it's entirety, she offered up this chest piece:

Jenni, who was visiting from Philadelphia, says the tattoo honors her mother and father, whose names, Bogda and Adam , are enclosed in the heart at the center of the piece.

When I asked her what he folks thought of this, she smiled and said that they were both "flattered and horrified". Yet, they recognized that the sentiment behind the tattoo was sweet.

The piece which extends out and over the shoulders, was tattooed by Don McDonald at Bodyworks Tattoo Studio in Pittsburgh. She estimates that the whole thing took about seven hours in two sittings.

When I finished talking to Jenni, I turned to Kailla and asked if she was interested in sharing, as well. Unlike her sister, she didn't appear to be tattooed much. In fact, I'd estimate all I could see was about this much of her left bicep:

Much to my delight, she peeled her shirt back to reveal this astonishing tattoo:

Still only about two weeks old, this amazing tattoo was also done by Don McDonald in Pittsburgh (where Kailla resides).

She says the center of the tattoo is a Polish falcon which honors her family ancestry in Eastern Europe.

The whole piece took ten hours, which is evidenced by the scale and detail of this wonderful tattoo.

Both Kailla and Jenni were kind enough to take the time to chat with me about their beautiful body art, and I thank them for their contributions here on Tattoosday!