Monday, August 31, 2009

The Return of Victor's Ink

One of my favorite posts last year was my encounter with Victor, whose tattoos were numerous and wonderfully eclectic. The post was one of the first "tatalogs," as I call them, when a subject shares a multitude of their ink.

So, when I had just finished speaking with Austin about his sleeve, and saw a familiar face (and ink) hanging out in front of Fuse at the corner of 32nd and 7th, I ambled on over to say hi to Victor.

He had new tattoos, of course, and I soon had my camera out, adding to the tatalog.

I contacted him later to get the scoop on the work. Although he told me about it on the street, I didn't write any of it down, as I was too busy taking pictures. We've added five more pieces to the record here, and I'll let Victor narrate the rest:

The Divine Tattoo [just above his left wrist] was done by my cousin Ed Bonacore in the poconos. He is the only tattoo artist I really go to know. I trust him, he does good work. He works at this amazing shop in the Poconos called FUNHOUSE TATTOOING. The vibe there is cool from the colorful horror movie atmosphere, to all the artists and the friendly shop girl.

Anyway, I got the JOHN WATERS signature tattooed on [on my outer left forearm] last summer the day after I had met him with my best friend RUBY LAROCCA.

She got the same thing. She got him to sign his name to her arm as well! We make films and John Waters is one of our biggest influences so to have his mark on us for life is a reminder to keep making dangerous art.

I got the John Waters done at RED ROCKET TATTOO in NYC, I had to get it quick and fast so the autograph didn't fade. The artist's name slips my mind, but he was making a guest spot at that shop and he was originally from Texas. Red Rocket is one of the best shops in Manhattan.

So anyway, I got the autograph super big on my forearm, because in his movie Cecil B. Demented, all the characters get the favorite director tattooed on their arm. I though it would be pretty cool, to do that in real life, from the director that created that idea.

Back to Divine. Then I got the Divine tattoo because, how can't you love Divine. One of the greatest actors ever. I saw Pink Flamingos as a youngster, and I remember my parents talking about how this tranny was eating poop at the end of the film, and how they were all gagging watching the film! That got me really interested to say the least. And after Female Trouble, I know I would love anything these people collaborated on. I unfortunately cannot dig up Divine and get him to sign my arm, so [I] did a little portrait of him. He was a true artist, actor, performer, comedian, and I respect that.

Mink Stole, is also from the original DreamLand gang, and is in almost every John Waters film. She is amazing in Desperate Living, and when I met her, she was so sweet, so I figured with John Waters already inked into my arm, I would start the John Waters tribute arm. I met her at a horror convention in Baltimore, and one of the vendors was a tattoo artist, so I got the autograph, then got it tattooed and was able to show Mink by the next day. She was in shock.

The Taxi Driver tattoo [on my inner left wrist] was again done by my cousin Ed Bonacore...I have loved that movie forever, and think Travis Bickle [Robert De Niro's character] is the ultimate Anti-Hero. Its like an oil painting version of the shot at the end after he has killed all the pimps and scumbags in the brothel.

The quote on [the left side of] my ribs was also done by my cousin Eddie, but this is before he was in a shop.

It was done at this house after I had smoked a fat blunt and [was] high as a kite. It hurt a lot, my most painful tattoo. The side of the ribs hurts a lot because there no skin there, and every time the needle hits your skin, your ribs vibrate. It took 3 different sessions to do that tattoo. The quote is from a band called HUNCHBACK, that just split up. And it's from a song called "RED IS THE COLOR OF MY TRUE LOVES HAIR." When I saw the song live for the first time, I was convinced this would be my new favorite band. And I can honestly say, this is the best song ever performed live. It blew me away. And the lettering that was used is the font from THE WARRIORS. Another one of my favorite films!
So, there you have it, folks. Another block of Victor's tattoos! I can't wait to run into him again to see what's new!

Thanks once again to Victor for his generosity and sharing his ink with us here on Tattoosday!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A.J.'s Floral Ink

I ran into A.J. earlier this month, walking aling Seventh Avenue near 34th Street.

She has seven tattoos, and shared this lovely black and gray floral piece on her upper right arm:

She had been debating on whether to add color or not, but is pretty happy with the way this tattoo looks.

This tattoo was created by Junior at Adrenaline Rush Tattoo in Newark, New Jersey.

Thanks to A.J. for sharing this lovely tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Oscar's Quartet of Tattoos

Born in Costa Rica, a one-time resident of Canada, and now a denizen of the Bronx, Oscar has traveled all over the world.

He expressed his passion for mountain biking to me as we talked in the Amtrak section of Penn Station.

This made sense to me as I had noticed his bike-themed tattoo on his left calf:

The wheel is specific to a mountain bike he owns, and it is connected around the back of his leg by a bicycle chain:

The detail is quite good, almost three-dimensional, and the tribal flourishes up and down the leg add volume to the piece.

This was his first tattoo, inked on his birthday, after many years of thinking about tattoos. He waited until he was ready, so that he could get something with deep meaning for him.

Since then, he has added three other tattoos, all created by Richard at Jent's Tattooing in Yonkers.

He graciously shared those as well. First is a tribal raven:

Oscar spoke of the raven's relationship with God. In the folklore, Raven helps the gods to raise the moon and the stars. He also is known as the prankster, who is always trying to catch the Sun.

In addition, there is a tattoo of Shiva, who Oscar acknowledges as a deity who "destroys ignorance and builds knowledge":

Finally, Oscar wears a Third Eye on his right bicep, which carries its traditional meaning:

Many thanks to Oscar for sharing his amazing tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gregory's Defenders of the Faith Tattoo

Gregory walked by me on Seventh Avenue in front of Madison Square Garden and I saw a familiar icon from my youth:

As a huge fan of Judas Priest in the 1980's, I recognized the basis for this tattoo immediately: the cover art for the 1984 album Defenders of the Faith.

Gregory has four tattoos and is a fan of Japanese-style art. This album and its predecessor, Screaming for Vengeance, boasted cover art that had a distinct Japanese influence.

He worked with the artist, C-Jay at Rising Dragon in Manhattan, to modify the design slightly, removing the tank treads and other militaristic elements from the original design.

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

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Merci Celebrates Female Empowerment with a Classic Image

I spotted Merci in Penn Station with this familiar icon on her calf:

The tattoo is based on this famous poster from World War II:

This image is identified with the character of Rosie the Riveter, and was introduced by Westinghouse to rally the home fires in support of the troops abroad. The image has transformed, through time, to take on a greater meaning, that of female empowerment.

This tattoo, one of three that Merci has, was created by Chris Dilworth at Tough Luck Tattoo in Lewes, Delaware.

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tattoos I Know: Avital's Ink

It seems odd and yet is not beyond comprehension that, at the last two bat mitzvahs I have attended, I came home with tattoo pictures.

The first time (documented here) was a pleasant surprise. On Saturday, August 8, however, I had no expectations, as it was my daughter's bat mitzvah.

However, much to my amazement, I noticed that one of my sister's closest friends, Avital, has two small tattoos. I was more surprised, considering that Avital is a cantor, and that whereas tattooed Jews are not as rare as they used to be, an inked cantor is still an unusual sight.

Granted, her two tattoos don't jump out at you. The om on her right ankle:

and the slender "b+" on her right wrist

are discreet enough to be overlooked by a discriminating eye, and yet these two small tattoos are large with meaning.

Avital gave me a synopsis the day I took the photos, summing up that the "b+" was a personal message to herself to always "be positive," and that it is her blood type, but she has since offered up a lengthier, more thorough explanation, which I'll share here:

" [The b+], though it is very small (1/2") represents many important parts of my life: past, present and future. When my college friend, Erica died in December from Leukemia, I was devastated. Throughout her illness, she managed to have good spirits and enjoy time with her friends and family. Her battle against cancer put life in perspective for me. I have struggled with depression most of my adult life, and when she died, I made the conscious decision to turn my life around, completely. The morning after her death, my father was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. Double whammy. My sister and I had both been contemplating a tattoo for several years, but Jewish guilt always managed to turn me away. After several hours in the ER with our father, we ventured down to Kingdom [Tattoos] and got our matching b+ tattoos. It's incredible how much strength I find from this little symbol on my wrist.

And Avital added:

"And the B in the b+ tattoo is a flat. in music. since I'm a musician. I can't believe I forgot that part! flats are most commonly associated with minor, "sad" keys. so, there is a bit of sadness in the tattoo. too."

As for the om, she elaborates:

"One of the major changes I made in my life after E died was a regular Yoga practice. An unfortunate encounter with a sharp blade left a 1" scar on my inner right ankle. After about 3 months of drawing an OM over the scar with a sharpie (so tedious!) I decided to make it permanent. The OM, like my b+, centers me, calms me, and reminds me of the simpler, more important things in life."

Much thanks to Avital for sharing her tattoos and the powerful stories behind them here with us on Tattoosday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ben Commemorates the Cat and the Tree

Ben recalls wandering off one day when he was four years old. He was up in Wells, Maine with his family and no one knew where he'd gone.

Fortunately for Ben, someone did know: the family cat. A la Lassie, the feline led his parents straight to Ben, who was sitting under a tree, munching on blueberries.

To this day, Ben regards this as a crucial moment in his life when he was saved by the cat.

He collaborated with Brendan Rowe at Pins and Needles Tattoo in Portland, Maine to come up with a commemorative tattoo to honor this animal:

Brendan is now working out of Unbreakable Tattoo is Studio City, California.

The tree nearby on his left forearm, was inked, in part, to complement the cat:

It is, however, also a nod to Gustav Klimt's "Tree of Life".
Not an imitation, but a variation.

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

Monday, August 24, 2009

Liza's Inuit Owl

Liza had been researching a design she wanted for her next tattoo and had found the one she wanted.

On Christmas Eve, she walked in to Halo Tattoo in Syracuse, New York and met Chris Chisholm who, as you'd imagine, didn't have a full schedule on December 24, and he inked this wonderful tattoo on her upper right arm:

This is, of course, an owl, whose design origins come from the Inuit culture.

Owls are symbolic as guardians and are therefore highly popular tattoo designs. Owls have appeared previously on Tattoosday here. But if you really like owls, check out our friends over at

Work from Halo has appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

Thanks to Liza for sharing her amazing owl tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tuck's Bridget

I met Tuck near Borders on Penn Plaza and she talked to me about this unusual tattoo on her right shoulder:

The piece was tattooed by Didi, a Brazilian tattoo artist working out of Angelic Hell Tattoo World in London.

Tuck didn't know the source of the artwork, but did work with the artist to modify the design to fit her body.

The changes were subtle, having the tattooed girl she refers to as Bridget standing, as opposed to crouching. They also altered the movement within the piece.

This is one of five tattoos that Tuck has, not counting additional stars and characters that are also part of her body's canvas.

Thanks to Tuck for sharing "Bridget" with us here on Tattoosday!

Two Feathers, Their Story Still Untold

Several weeks ago, near the corner of 86th Street and 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, I passed a couple sitting at a bus stop.

The woman had some words inked on her left arm and, as I paused to consider talking to her, I noticed a colorful tattoo peeking out from under the man's left shirt sleeve.

I told them about Tattoosday and the woman indicated that she had tattoos as well, but she would have to take her clothes off in order for someone to see them. I was intrigued as she implied that she had a relatively large piece that covered a significant part of her body.

However, the man was accommodating and pulled up his sleeve to reveal this bright, colorful tattoo:

And that, my friends, is where this story sadly ends. I had been watching the B63 bus slowly approaching from several blocks away and, no sooner had I snapped the photos, the bus crossed 86th Street and pulled up to the stop.

I handed him a flier and asked him to please e-mail me so I could finish interviewing him. But he never did. Oh well. If only I had been carrying a Metrocard, I could have boarded the B63 with them and talked with them briefly on the bus.

At least we have the photo of the cool tattoo to appreciate and hopefully, some day, our paths will cross again.

The moral of the story: shoot first and ask questions later. Also, always carry a metrocard!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nick's Rocking Leg Tattoos (Van Halen and Aerosmith)

At the end of July, while searching for Green Day tattoos, I met, perhaps, the ultimate Van Halen fan.

Nick was hanging out at the side of Madison Square Garden, talking with a friend, and I spotted several rock-themed tattoos on his legs.

Nick has seven tattoos and let me photograph three of them. His outer right calf has this Eddie Van Halen piece:

This was done by a visiting artist at one of the Tattoo Lou's locations on Long Island. Work from Tattoo Lou's has appeared on Tattoosday previously here.

The better of the two Van Halen pieces (in my opinion), on his inner right calf, is this one, inked by Thom at Tattoo Frenzy, in Lindenhurst, New York.

The detail on the guitar is incredible:

Nick says, with certainty, that he has seen Van Halen in concert 394 times (as of July 2009).

He also shared this other tattoo, from his left leg:

This piece is based on the cover art from Aerosmith's Just Push Play album:

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

Jordan's Lush Tattoo Takes Him Back in Time

I ran into Jordan at the laundromat and we chatted about his tattoo:

He was living working in Champaign, Illinois and, on his lunch break, wandered into New Life Tattoos.

The shop had flash with the Seven Deadly Sins and Lust was easily changed to his nickname "Lush".

The drawing, he said, "looked like me with a shaved head, screaming".

This piece on his left forearm represents a different time and place from his past.

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

1/2 Done But Complete

It was a Hellraiser Pinhead tattoo that first prompted me to approach Travis, but that was not what I ended up discussing with him.

Rather, he offered up this interesting piece on his left leg:

The design depicts a man trying to break through bars, to force his way out of prison.

If something looks off about this, it is because it does not appear as it was originally envisioned by Travis or the artist.

The artist was Travis' brother-in-law, but something unexpected happened halfway through the process.

Travis' sister got divorced, and the brother-in-law tattoo artist was no longer in their life.

Initially, he wanted to find another artist to finish the piece but, as time passed, he decided that he liked it that way, that the initial tattoo's meaning became charged with additional symbolism.

Thanks to Travis for sharing this cool tattoo with us here at Tattoosday!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dani Helps Tattoosday Celebrate 50 Years of Statehood

Today is the 50th anniversary of Hawaiian statehood.

As a former resident of the Aloha State, I thought we could honor the occasion with a Hawaii-themed tattoo:

This cool tiki is on the right forearm of Dani, who estimates she is 60% covered in ink.

Dani and I met near Penn Plaza and had a lovely chat about tattoos. This tiki is one of her favorites.

Don Lussier at Artfreek Tattoo basically free-handed the design on her. Don is the ex-husband of Doris, who is a friend of Dani's. A piece from Artfreek appeared last month on Tattoosday here.

She has the tiki as an acknowledgment of her heritage, being part Hawaiian, with ancestors two or three generations back.

She loves the detail Don put into the piece, especially the heart inked on the tiki's left arm.

Mahalo nui loa to Dani for sharing this great tattoo with us here, and helping Tattoosday celebrate Hawaii's Golden Anniversary!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer's Celtic Cross Honors Her Father

I see a lot of crosses in my travels through the streets of New York City, so they don't generally grab my attention.

This one, however, did:

There's nothing necessarily magnificent about this tattoo, but it just goes to show that a crisp, simple tattoo can be as aesthetically pleasing, sometimes moreso, than an overly-wrought elaborate design.

Summer had this memorial piece done for her father, who passed away in 2005. His initials grace the center of the cross.

It was inked in Tattooville in Linden, New Jersey. This piece is on Summer's left bicep, she also has the comedy/tragedy masks on the right shoulder blade portion of her back.

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Geraldine's Joseph (With a Nod to Green Day)

It was my boldest moment as a tattoo solicitor to date. A half-dozen or so Green Day fans were decamped in the early afternoon near the artist entrance at Madison Square Garden. Green Day was playing that night and I saw one person inked, a woman, but I chose to announce to all: "I write a tattoo blog and was wondering if any of you had Green Day tattoos?"

Sadly the answer was "no," or, I should say, not exactly.

The woman I spotted before spoke up and we chatted about her ink. She was okay having me take the following photo, one of the few I've posted in which you can identify the tattoo contributor:

Her name is Geraldine and the tattoo she is displaying is a memorial piece for an ex-boyfriend who recently passed away.

Joseph was a musician and died of a heroin overdose.

Geraldine is a huge Green Day fan and Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer for the band, has the name Joseph on his arm, in honor of his son.

Geraldine chose the same font as Billie Joe's Joseph tattoo and noted that, in the song "Jesus of Suburbia" the first three letters of each word in the song title spell out the first three letters in the name Joseph.

She had this tattoo at Ink Inc. in Kingston, New York.

Thanks to Geraldine for sharing her story and tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Elaina's Ink: The Mermaid and the Tarantula

Elaina has eighteen tattoos. And not to heap loads of praise on her, but her work is brilliant.

It was the mermaid on her inner right forearm that first grabbed my attention:

She told me that the drawing was indicative of her state of mind at the time it was inked. Her boyfriend had just moved out and she was feeling reflective (thus the hand mirror).

Elaina later followed up with an email, further clarifying the tattoo:

"I realized today when you asked me the significance of my mermaid tattoo that I probably would have been better quoted saying the absolute truth. The underlying universal secret wish of all girls and women alike... I've always wanted to be a mermaid."

But Elaina had more to share. Much to my delight, she lifted her skirt on her left side to reveal this wonderful tattoo:

The spider is modeled after her mother's pet tarantula, Shelob, who is named for the giant spider in The Two Towers, book two of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I asked her what Mom thought of her ink and Elaina rolled her eyes and said that her mother recently wept when she told her she was planning her nineteenth tattoo. And, Elaina added, her mom is no stranger to ink. She told me that her mom was tattooed by legendary tattooist Lyle Tuttle during the Rolling Stones' Tattoo You tour.

The mermaid was tattooed by Claire at Funcity Tattoo in Manhattan. The spider on Elaina's thigh was done by Neal Aultman at Physical Graffiti in New Jersey.

Thanks to Elaina for sharing her amazing ink with us here on Tattoosday!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jenny's Amazing Peacock

Timing is everything when it comes to successful inkspotting. Luck is essential. The turning of one's head can result in missing an amazing tattoo.

Case in point:

I met Jenny and her friend Kate by chance coming out of the subway one day.

Jenny has six tattoos, including this phoenix on her left forearm:

But it was this peacock, further up her arm, that really amazed me:

Generally, the peacock represents self-worth and valuing oneself. In Jenny's words, more poignantly, "be happy with your feathers."

The peacock was tattooed by Poohki at Steady Tattoo in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The phoenix was inked by Trevor Kennedy at the same shop, although he now works in California.

Thanks to Jenny for sharing such wonderful tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Kate's Snakes

Although it was Jenny (here) who was visibly inked, Kate also had a tattoo, hidden from view.

So when I was done talking to Jenny, I asked Kate if she wanted to share, as well.

Kate unveiled this great tattoo on the lower portion of her back:

(A Tattoosday production note: I never solicit back tattoos but will happily feature them, when offered).

This piece consists of a couple of snakes consuming one another, a symbol of the circular cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

Or, in Kate's words, "what destroys us, sustains us".

This tattoo was inked at Twilight Tattoo in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Thanks to Kate for baring her back and sharing her snakes with us here on Tattoosday!

Update: "Anonymous" commented that this looked like the Auryn from The Neverending Story:

It certainly does! Thanks Anonymous!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Austin's Sleeve Pays Tribute to His Grandmother

Austin was visiting New York when I stopped him on 7th Avenue right in front of the Fuse studio.

He offered up this sleeve on his left arm:

This was inked by Amanda Grace at Truth and Triumph Tattoos. She now works at Smartbomb Tattoo. Both shops are in Dayton, Ohio.

The playing cards are a tribute to his grandmother, who was a card player. She also tended roses, so these flowers also pay homage to her.

Of the other elements, Austin says he just likes skulls, artistically. Also, the words "Never Again" are there to remind him to remain strong his sobriety, and not to go down that same road of dependency.

I appreciate Austin stopping and chatting with me, and thank him for his forthrightness, and for sharing his tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!