Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Bonus: Zombie Pinup

Back in September I posted Little Dead Riding Hood, courtesy of Amy, who I met in Penn Station.

Amy has a new tattoo, which she generously shared:

It's a zombie pin-up girl, and appropriate for the holiday today.

Like the previous piece, this was created by T.J. Mcinnis at Mcinnis Tattoo Company in Providence, Rhode Island.

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

Have a safe and ghoulishly fun Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Choose the Right Tattoo

Matt has twenty-three (23) tattoos and he offered up this simple trio of letters:
The CTR represents the expression "Choose the Right," a common thread in the ideology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly referred to as the Mormon church.

In essence, Matt explained, it means "follow the right path". Its akin to a mantra eschewing sinful activities frowned upon by the church like drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, doing drugs, and, yup, you guessed it: getting tattooed.

Matt finds great power in this tattoo because it represents an oxymoron: the letters CTR stand for a way of life that is contradicted by the fact that they have been tattooed on flesh. It would be like a Jewish person having the phrase, in Hebrew, "You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or imprint markings upon you: I am the Lord" tattooed on them. As a tattooed Mormon, this is Matt's way of addressing,and coming to terms with, the disparity between faith and his love of tattoos.

This was tattooed by a friend of his in Ogden, Utah.

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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shiri's Logos

"Excuse me," I called, loudly, on the 34th Street train platform, "Can I ask you about your tattoo?"

Anyone reading this who has been featured here may recognize this as my opening salvo. Most people are open to my questions. Very few dismiss me. For this I am thankful.

Shira was the woman to whom I was speaking, and she was very welcoming to my inquiries.

Here is the best of the many tattoos I saw she had:

It's a fairly intricate (and extremely well-done) replica for one of the album designs for a band named Sponge. Shiri had a matching t-shirt, but taking a picture of that would have been borderline creepy, in my opinion. Unfortunately, the only image online I could find was small:

On her left arm she had two other band designs:

The one on the right is from the group Gogol Bordello, which surprised me as I had seen a similar tattoo several weeks before (and recounted here).

The logo on the left was from a group called Spookey Ruben.

Obviously, Shiri is a big fan of all these groups. The tattoos were all inked by her brother Ron.

You can see other band-related tattoos by clicking on the appropriate tag at the bottom of the post.

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"You Gotta Go There to Come Back": Sarah Shares Three Tattoos

Sarah's half-sleeve jumped out at me in Penn Station as I was quietly bemoaning cooler weather and the dwindling of my blog backlog.

I was pleased to find Sarah more than accommodating, as she shared several perspectives of the ink tattooed on her upper right arm.

Visiting from Newcastle, Australia, her tattoos revolved around this piece at the center of her bicep:

I asked if there was any significance to these two women, but Sarah noted that they were just two pretty girls.

This fluid script is on the outside of her arm:

It states "You gotta go there to come back..." or, in her words, you have to "understand how shitty it can be, before how good it can get".

On her inner arm is the following tattoo:

Sarah says that this design of an angel on a cigarette break is based on the work of a popular London graffiti artist named "Banksy".

All of her work was done by Pat, the owner of 2012 Tattoo Studio in Newcastle.

Thanks very much to Sarah for sharing her incredible tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hang the DJ

I met Rohan on a Brooklyn-bound A train.

He has "thirteen or fourteen" tattoos, and he offered up this one from his right arm:

The phrase "Hang the DJ" refers to lyrics sung by Morrissey when he was with The Smiths.

I was only on the train with him for two stops, so I didn't get a full explanation of the tattoo until later, when Rohan e-mailed me:
I got this tattoo for several reasons - first and foremost I love The Smiths and their music changed the way I viewed myself against the social and cultural backdrop that we're all in. I thought a jukebox with the lyrics "Hang the DJ", the refrain from the song "Panic", was ironic.

The jukebox is what allows all of us to be the DJ and in "Panic", Morrissey is singing about how the music the DJ is playing means nothing to him and his life, and I share that sentiment with most of what I hear. The tattoo is sort of an encapsulation of how I feel about rock and roll and how certain bands and certain songs can, when they're really good and really honest, mean a lot more than just entertainment value.
The tattoo was inked by Dusty Neal in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is currently working at Donny Manco's New Republic Tattoo.

UPDATE: I exchange a few e-mails with the artist Dusty Neal after this posted and he remembered doing this tattoo very early on in his career as an artist. He wanted me to clarify this point, and to communicate that he feels that his art has developed to the point that this piece does not best represent his work as a tattooer. A look at photos of his work on MySpace here certainly showcases some amazing tattoos. Dusty encourages people to check out his current endeavors and, with all due respect to Rohan and the tattoo in this post, judge his talents based on what he has done more recently, and not early on in his career.

Thanks again to Rohan for sharing this cool tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

As a little bonus, here is the video from "Panic" by the Smiths:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Benjamin's Amazing Viking-Geisha Sleeve by Tim Kern

Please join me as I extend a metaphor.

I approach inkblogging as if I were one of those guys that goes out on the beach with a metal detector.

You find a lot of interesting stuff and, every once in a while, you find treasure.

Earlier this month, I saw a man in front of Madison Square Garden walking south. I was headed in the opposite direction and, despite my general reluctance to post sleeves here (I wonder if I can even do them justice), I stopped and asked him to show me the amazing work on his right arm.

I should also preface this by acknowledging how awesome it is to randomly find work by a tattoo artist who is at the top of his game, and is a recognized talent in the tattoo community.

Benjamin, the guy I stopped, was visiting New York from Denmark to see his artist, Tim Kern at Tribulation Tattoo. He was in town to begin work on a new sleeve. Benjamin happily shared his first sleeve:

Benjamin summarized the theme of his arm by stating that life is about choices. The two extrmes are, you can take a life, as represented by the Viking warrior at the top of the shoulder:

This is juxtaposed by the geisha who is taking her own life through ritual suicide:

The detail of the blood-spattered hand holding the seppuku blade is fascinating in its stark grisliness:

The sleeve also includes stunning waterfall and pagoda elements on the inside of the arm:

I especially appreciate the beauty and shading of the pagoda:

The color and artistry of this entire sleeve are astonishing and we are honored that Benjamin consented to contributing this work to Tattoosday.

We thank him and the artist Tim Kern for their work!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Maggie, a Fan of Pink, Shares Some Ink

One of the pluses of working near Madison Square Garden is that concert-goers and fans are always about.

Occasionally, they can be found camped out near the artists' entrance on 33rd Street. The presence of fans milling about can often be great opportunities to spot tattoos, as in this case, previously.

Earlier this month, I chatted with some Pink fans out on the street and one of them, Maggie, shared her tattoos:

Maggie has nine tattoos in all, and these represent four of them.

She seemed surprised that I was interested, more so because there weren't typical "stories" behind the art.

The top piece is a tribute to her mother,

and the heart, the bands, and the angel wing are just elements she felt like adding.

I particularly like the free form of the heart design.

All work was done at Tattoo Heaven in Manhattan.

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

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Joe's Tribute to His Uncle

I spotted Joe earlier this month outside of Penn Station. He has seven or eight tattoos, and chose to share this one from his right forearm:

Joe explained that this piece is a tribute to an uncle who had passed away. He had served proudly in the United States Marine Corps and had had a skull tattoo upon which was perched a top hat.

Joe collaborated with the artist, Pepe, at The Tattoo Shop in Medford, New York, to take that idea and customize it for Joe's arm. Another tattoo from the shop appeared earlier this week here.

The whole thing took about three and a half hours to complete.

Thanks to Joe for sharing this cool tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Little Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

I met Cristina on the R train several weeks back.

The weather was just beginning to turn cooler, and I noticed that summer had ended quickly, with no gradual diminishing of tattoo sightings, but a sudden disappearance, like shutting the light switch off in a large, bright room at midnight.

Cristina had this small, unusual tattoo on her foot:

Despite being small, I was curious to learn about this design.

Cristina explained that her husband travels a lot and that, on a whim, they each got sun tattoos while in Dallas. The designs are slightly different.

She told me her husband thought the sun tattoos were perfect for them because, he said, when they're together, he's walking on sunshine.

You can look at that as incredibly corny, incredibly romantic, or a mixture of the two. Cristina acknowledged that when she looks at her tattoo, it reminds her of what her husband said, about walking on sunshine, and that makes her laugh, which makes her happy, which can be a solace when her husband is traveling.

All from a little tattoo!

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bill's Ink Honors Generations Past and Future

I met Bill in mid-September on the 34th Street train platform while waiting for a downtown A train.

You may have heard of the scent known as a "new car smell". Bill had whatis known as a "new tattoo sheen," which occurs when one anoints a fresh tattoo with a healing ointment used to protect the ink.

The tattoo depicts himself, seen from the back, standing in reverence at the graves of his grandfather "Giff" and his uncle Giff Jr.

It's a nice way to memorialize his family. This was inked by Aaron at Red Rocket Tattoo East, in Levittown on Long Island.

Bill has a great tattoo on his outer right forearm, as well. Whereas his left arm is a memorial to those in his family that passed before him, his other piece pays tribute to a newer generation:

In this piece, two traditional swallows hold aloft a banner bearing the name of his daughter, Allana.

This tattoo, his first, was done by Greg Fly at The Tattoo Shop on Rte 112 in Medford, L.I.

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

Two for Tattoosday: Hawai'i Calling and a Pin-Up Boy

I met Joakim and Marina last month on the sidewalk, just outside of the 34th Street Penn Station entrance.

The couple were visiting from Sweden and it was Joakim's sleeves that jumped out at me.

He shared this one segment on his lower right arm:

He asked me if it looked familiar. It did, but I couldn't quite place it. He smiled, and told me it's a variation on the cover of The Clash's quintessential album, London Calling,

Joakim loves the Clash and loves Hawaiian culture, so he designed had the tattoo artist design the piece to merge both elements for a great tattoo.

The piece was inked by Big Fat Joe at a shop called Art by Fafnir in Stockholm.

I turned to Marina and asked if she had any tattoos. She smiled and said she did, removing her jacket to reveal this piece, also by Joe:

"It's my pin-up boy," she laughed. Her variation on the traditional pin-up girl is going to tie in with a sleeve she is working on, as well.

She remarked that the artist was "thrilled" to do this tattoo, because it was not the typical pin-up tattoo.

Thanks to Joakim and Marina for sharing their great tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Whole Lotta Ink

I spotted Dina's runic tattoos outside of Borders on Penn Plaza, late one Friday afternoon:

Dina is a big fan of Led Zeppelin and, as most fans know, these runes represent the four members of the band.

The four symbols represent, from left to right, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, and Robert Plant. These symbols appeared on the band's untitled fourth album and, for many people, represented the name of the record (i.e. "Zoso" or "Runes"). There's more on the naming of "IV" here.

This is one of three tattoos Dina has and, in case you were wondering, "Since I've Been Loving You" is her favorite Zeppelin tune.

Thanks to Dina for sharing her runes with us here on Tattoosday!

A little bonus, in honor of Dina:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ian's Three Clowns

I met Ian on the West 4th Street subway platform last month and spotted this tattoo on the outside of his right leg:

Ian had this done three years ago when working in Miami. He's an audio engineer in the television industry, so he travels a bit.

He picked the flash out of a book in the tattoo shop. He liked the sad and happy clowns at the top of the piece, a clown-like Tragedy/Comedy homage, and then added the clown on the bottom which, he said, better reflected his personality. The two separate flash designs merged to make one larger tattoo.

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

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Joe's Piece of π

I was on the 34th Street subway platform, waiting for a downtown N express train, when I met Joe who had a series of numbers inked around his arm:

I asked him if the digits represented his social security number (don't laugh, I've heard it has been done) and he shook his head and rolled up his sleeve to reveal the top of the tattoo:

This, of course, is the value of π (pi), which mathematicians have determined, possesses an infinite number of decimal places.

As a physics enthusiast, he loves what pi represents. He told me, as the "meaning of symbols change a lot, what better [to have tattooed] than a transcendental constant?"

Despite π's infinite number of decimals, he only has the tattoo calculated out to 27 places because, he said, it was "all I could afford" at the time.

Later, Joe e-mailed me and gave me more specifics. The tattoo was done at Utopia in Huntington, New York (out on Long Island). I can't find a current listing foe the shop, so it may no longer be in business. And, Joe said, "the font is Times New Roman, the π symbol is 180pt font (π in degrees) and the numbers are 90pt font (π/2 in degrees)".

This careful selection of font size only emphasizes Joe's commitment to the purity of this πtattoo.

Thanks much to Joe for sharing this cool tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dean's Wolverine Tattoo Shows Amazing Perspective

I met Dean outside of Penn Station late one Friday afternoon.

I was interested in talking to him about this leg tattoo:

When I approached him, he challenged me, asking if I knew what it was. There's nothing more embarrassing than misidentifying someone's tattoo, so I gave it a careful look.

"Wolverine?" I asked. In hindsight it seems clearer, but at the time I was worried about answering it incorrectly.

I passed the test.

Dean, possessor of seven tattoos, is a huge fan of the comic book superhero, and was even more so 15 years ago, when he had this done by his friend Shawn Adamczyk, who is co-owner of S&S Ink Spot in Columbus, Georgia.

What's remarkable about the tattoo is the perspective, as Wolverine himself is further back, on the side of the leg and, as he reaches forward with his claws, the character seems nearer, as the hand and razor-like talons dominate the top part of the shin:

The tattoo represents four sittings and approximately twenty hours of work.

Thanks to Dean for sharing this cool tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gypsy Roses and a Tombstone

Last month, I ran outside toward the end of the day to throw a letter in the mailbox at the corner of 31st and 7th, near Penn Station.

Always prepared, I had a flier and my camera with me, just in case, and I spotted a woman ahead of me on the sidewalk with an interesting-looking tattoo on the back of her right arm.

After dropping my letter in the box, I ran up and introduced myself. She said her name was Jeanette and she showed me this chest piece which truly took my breath away:

I was however, without a pen, so she lent me hers. Fortunately, she later e-mailed me a fuller explanation of her work, reiterating what she told me in the street:

My gypsies on my chest are a representation of my open, free spirited soul, my wandering spiritual ways and my childhood. As a child, my mom moved my 4 sisters and I from place to place; never truly getting settled but gaining amazing friendships and experiences on the way.

These gypsies were created and drawn by Mo Coppoletta a tattoo artist originally from Italy but now residing in London.

He owns and operates The Family Business...He is a feisty but charming fellow who I bonded with immediately after meeting. You can view more of his work and his shop at

I also snapped a photo of the original tattoo I had spotted on her right arm:

She explained:

This tattoo is very sentimental...[in memory of] my mother who passed away at the young age of 50 in May of 2003. The words inscribed on the tombstone..."It's Gettin Chistled on yer tombstone" are from one of my favorite films, The Devil's Rejects. These words represent the things you do in life...each moment...each day you are engraving a memory for which people will remember you by, and this is how my mother lived. Always giving a hand and offering her last dollar from her pocket to a stranger. This tattoo is not completed yet, I intend to have the front of the tombstone added soon which will have my mother's name, date of birth and death and the words "Loving Mother and Loving Soul" in bold ink. This tattoo artist is Ezra [McCabe] from Sacramento, CA owner and operator of Timeless Tattoo and his work is truly timeless and remarkable. They are located at 912 J St Sacramento, CA and can be reached at (916) 443-6441.

A little more about Jeanette:

"I am a freelance fashion designer for my own clothing line "Altered Betty's," a line of clothing that comes straight from my heart. All one of a kind pieces made from all recycled fabrics and notions. What once was very special to one could be a delightful surprise for another. I recently moved to New York from California, I am still adjusting but I am beginning to really love and appreciate this beautiful city. "
It was an unexpected treat to meet Jeanette and I thank her for sharing her amazing gypsy rose tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tiger Versus Viper

I had the good fortune of meeting Burton in Penn Station as he was headed back to Georgia.

He was in town because his friend had won tickets to the MTV Video Music Awards the night before, and he got to tag along.

Burton is a tattooist with thirteen tattoos, and the one he shared with me is truly spectacular:

He collaborated on this design with his friend Richard Nunnaly at Psycho Tattoo in Marietta, Georgia.

Burton wanted something traditional, that represented an inner struggle.

They developed the tiger fighting the viper (and winning), but modified it to give the design a cartoon-like spin.

He explained that they had the original design, but that it wasn't that exciting to their creative sensibilities, so they started sketching directly on the arm. The whole piece took approximately 14-16 hours.

I especially love how the tiger's fur spirals at the elbow.

Thanks much to Burton for sharing this amazing tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!