Friday, December 31, 2010

Out With the Old.....

As we wind down 2010, and look ahead to 2011, I wanted to take care of one of my several loose ends from the past year.

Back in July, I met a guy named John on the D train. He had tattooed arms and we chatted a bit. He said he'd send me photos and he did a few weeks later.

I never posted the photos because the resolution was low, and when I tried to increase the size, they blurred. I was going to include these in the Christmas housecleaning post, but the work is just too good.

So hear you have them, small photos, but recognizably amazing:

I mean, what is there to say? This work is quite excellent. The koi, the tiger, the sailing ship, sugar skull, nautical stars - it's all quite a body of work!

The artist is Nacho, who appeared once before on the blog here. You can check out Nacho's work here. in New York, he tattoos out of Studio Enigma on Avenue U.

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

And thanks to all of our fans and contributors for making 2010 a successful year of inkspotting!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Bright Spot in December: A Phoenix and a Pin-Up

As one would expect, inkspotting is tough during December. Here we are at the end of the month, and I have only interviewed three people since the 1st. There were a few times over the summer when I interviewed three contributors during my lunch hour!

The last person whose work I photographed was Megan, who I found upstairs at the Penn Plaza Borders store.

Megan has seventeen tattoos, but it was this one that caught my eye:

This is a phoenix, of course, but fewer people may recognize it as Fawkes, the phoenix of Professor Albus Dumbledore, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

The artwork is based on the illustration by Jason Cockcroft on the cover of the UK edition of the aforementioned book.

The tattooist Jamie Nichols at Gargoyle Tattoo in Aberdeen, Washington, completed this piece in about eight hours over two sittings.

Megan also has this pinup on her upper left arm:

The use of negative space for the bombs is pretty cool.

Marcus was the artist at Gargoyle that Megan credited for creating this piece..

Thanks to Megan for taking the time to speak to me about her cool tattoos!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Two-for-Tattoosday, Brazilian-Style

Sometimes, due to a) a language barrier and b) the passage of time, we're not always able to give you the most in-depth story about our subjects' tattoos.

Such is the case with Celso and Reginaldo, who I met back in September outside of Madison Square Garden.

Both gentlemen were visiting from São Paolo, Brazil and one of Celso's tattoos caught my eye:

That was on his right arm. He also had this one on his left arm:

Celso's friend Reginaldo pulled his shirt off so I could get the full view of his koi tattoo:

Celso credited Artur at True Love Tattoo in São Paolo for inking his dragon and his mermaid.

Artur also was the artists who did Reginaldo's koi.

Thanks to Celso and Reginaldo for sharing their tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas House Cleaning

Regular readers of Tattoosday will notice that, although I generally follow a chronological order when I share tattoos I have encountered.

However, certain pieces, for various and sundry reasons, have been bypassed, and haven't made it to the blog, until now.

I was originally going to post a dozen to represent the Twelve Days of Christmas, but I settled for eight. For the nights of Chanukah, perhaps?

Without intending to offend anyone for not receiving a post all to themselves, I have lumped these tattoos, spanning from late August to late October, in one post.

These are the neglected tattoo pictures that are just a little off, some not through the fault of the contributor, but for reasons beyond their control.

The quality of the photo may not be ideal, or the host and I faced a language barrier that prevented a good back story from emerging, or I didn't find the story behind the tattoo especially compelling. And then
there's what is likely one of the poorest tattoos I have seen, but the story behind it is somewhat compelling.

So, without further ado, here is a Christmas cleaning, eight posts rolled together into one gigantic one.


First up, we have Esteban, who shared his sleeve when I met him in September, at Fairway in Red Hook:

Alas, I was still using a borrowed camera, and several shots were over-exposed and/or blurry, but I was able to salvage this one:

The artwork is pre-Colombian in its inspiration, and is part of a larger tropical motif.

Next up we have Dave, who I met in Penn Station. He has over 25 tattoos and selected this one to share:

The phrase "Uniting the Strong" is the title of a song from Victim in Pain, the second album from the band Agnostic Front. This is a friendship tattoo that stresses unity and the host's nod to the hardcore punk scene.

Dave credits Jelena at Lone Wolf Tattoo in Bellmore, New York with this piece.


Next we have Orlando, a Fine Arts student at FIT, where I met him outside while walking toward 23rd Street on my lunch break, also in September.

This ship tattoo is an homage to his father, who served in the navy for thirty years. He wanted a "classic look" in the Sailor Jerry style.

Orlando confirmed for me that his dad loves the tattoo.

It was inked at Crazy Fantasy Tattoo in Manhattan by an artist named Antonio.

[Update: I got a better, crisper picture from Orlando of the ship tattoo in May 2011:]

Orlando has seven tattoos in all [in May 2011, he updated this number to ten], and shared this one, as well, inked at Dare Devil Tattoo on the Lower East Side.

The quote, "This my excavation and today is Kumran" is from a song called "re: Stacks" by Bon Iver.

Orlando explained that he interprets this quote as a reminder that "every day has the ability to make you or break you. It just depends on what you do with it." Other interpretations are here.

For the record, I did email Orlando to ask for an opportunity to get clearer pictures, but I did not hear back from him.


I met Farkas in Union Square back in October. He had this wolf on his right arm:

He explained that his name means "wolf" in Hungarian, and that one of his friends in Hungary did this tattoo for him.


A couple days after meeting Farkas, I met an Israeli named Ran on 34th Street across from Macy*s. He shared this iguana on his right leg:

It's a pretty nice tattoo, but he hasn't sent me any further details about it.


A couple weeks later, I was in the West Village before a concert, and met Carlos, a manager at the Qdoba Mexican Grill where we were having a quick bite before the show. He shared this intricate tattoo on his right arm:

He and friend collaborated on this tattoo together. He told me that, when he was little, he did jigsaw puzzles with his mother a lot. The tattoo reminds him of those fun times growing up.


The following week, I ran into Iancu in Penn Station, and he shared this piece on his upper left arm:

Iancu told me he came to the artist, Rico, formerly of Rising Dragon in Manhattan, who was initially unwilling to do the tattoo. However, he convinced him to do it. It's basically a Guns N' Roses tribute although, he
noted, the guns were added about a year and a half after the original design was inked.


And finally, I must first say that  it is very rare that I ever criticize the quality of a tattoo.

Even if it is inferior to the work of much better artists, I always like to believe there are some redeeming qualities in a tattoo.

Which is why I struggled with this next tattoo, which I photographer back in August, and which I have included in this odds and ends post in December.

I approached a guy named Danny who had a lot of interestingly-tattooed words and such on his arms.

However, he offered to remove his shirt in Penn Station so I could photograph this:

Um, yeah.

If this was done by an experienced artist, I would likely not have posted it. Despite its obvious flaws, it is compelling, in my opinion, because Danny told me, like all his tattoos (15 or 16, he told me), this one was
self-inked. Now, I can see tattooing one's arm or leg, but I cannot even fathom how challenging it would be to self-tattoo your chest. He estimated this took one and a half hours to do.

The message is "Diamonds Aren't Forever," or, in  Danny's words, "don't take what you have for granted".


So there you have it, a Spring Cleaning for Christmas.

I do sincerely thank the individuals who shared their tattoos in this entry. Happy Holidays, y'all!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Home Sweet Home for the Holidays

The saying is, "you can't take it with you," but there is a way to carry your home with you when you move somewhere else.

Take, Adam, for example, who I stopped on Seventh Avenue between 29th and 30th Streets.

He currently resides in Pittsburgh, but he has lived in Miami and New York City.

His tattoos are a work in progress and he has had about eight hours done so far.

Adam says he has lived all over the United States and he wants, ideally, to tattoo a "piece of everywhere I've lived".

Check this out:

The Statue of Liberty clearly represents New York, and the palm trees recall Miami. All the bridges and a few of the buildings are Pittsburgh landmarks, like PPG Place

and the Highmark Building.

The "Home Sweet Home" sentiment is anchored by the multiple locations, echoing the idea that home is where the heart is.

Adam's work is done by Michael Patrick at Jester's Court Tattoos in Pittsburgh.

Thanks to Adam for sharing his wonderful sleeve with us here on Tattoosday!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Two, No, Three from Lisa Marie

I ran into Lisa Marie in my local grocery store a few months back and she was happy to share a couple of cool tattoos:

That is, for those who don't know, the symbol of Coney Island's Steeplechase Park.

She got this because she loves Coney Island, one of the most iconic spots in Brooklyn. Lisa Marie later sent me a shot of the tattoo when it was brand-spanking new:

This was inked by Michael Kaves at Brooklyn Made Tattoo.

On her left forearm, Lisa Marie had this whimsical tattoo:

That is a famous golden ticket from her favorite movie, 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the film version of  Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

That tattoo was done by JR Maloney at Vanguard Tattoo in Nyack, New York.

Lisa Marie also sent along a couple of extra photos that she had documenting Mr. Kaves inking another of her tattoos, a cupcake:

Thanks again to Lisa Marie for sharing these cool tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Luis Shares Two Lotería Cards

I met Luis in Borders, Penn Plaza, last month and asked him about his tattoos. He has more than fifteen altogether, and three are based on Lotería cards, which are used as part of a Mexican bingo game, as well as in fortune-telling.

He shared two of these cards with me and explained that, as a first generation Mexican-American, these Lotería cards remind him of growing up.

The first one he explained is number 21, La Mano:

Luis explained that he relates to this card because "la mano" is Spanish for hand, and  he is a builder/electrician/carpenter by trade. He considers himself a "designer of ideas," and because he works with his hands, this is an appropriate card to have as a tattoo.

The second one he let me photograph is number 27, El corazón:

This card is appropriate, according to Luis, because "El corazón" means the heart and, Luis said, smiling, "I've got a big one".

There are a lot of different artistic representations of these cards out on the web, which tells me that they serve as inspiration for a lot of people.

Image courtesy of "The Lucky W" Amulet Archive by Cat Yronwode
Luis had these tattoos done by a tattoo artist named Fish, who was visiting Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn, but generally works out of Th'ink Tank Tattoo in Denver. Work from Th'ink Tank appeared here once before.

Thanks to Luis for sharing these two Lotería cards with us here on Tattoosday!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Marisa's Polychrome Calves

I met Marisa walking down 40th Street in Manhattan late one October afternoon. She had just crossed Broadway when I spotted her and asked her about her tattoos. Namely, these two gracing the back of her calves:

These tattoos are based on the work of artist John R. Neill, who illustrated L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz books. The female figure in both designs is Polychrome, the Rainbow's daughter.

Both legs were tattooed at Rock Star Tattoos in Honolulu. Conor did the left calf:

and Kazan did the right:

Marisa has 11 tattoos in all. Incidentally, having heard she grew up in Hawai'i, I played the small-world game with her and discovered we both had the same history teacher, two decades apart, when he taught at different schools.

Like many people who have Oz tattoos, Marisa loved the books and was inspired by the magic in them, vividly illustrated.

Thanks to Marisa for stopping on the street and consenting to share her wonderful tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chris's Tattoos Motivate and Inspire

I met Chris earlier this month in Penn Station and he shared his 3/4-sleeve. He is the owner/operator of the Muscle Maker Grill at 92 Eighth Avenue in Chelsea.

His sleeve is a collage of designs that motivate and inspire him, with a skull design thrown in, to boot.

He has the phrase "Live Now. Shoot for the Stars" inked on his biceps. This motto is a nod to his ambition as a business owner.

The three pawprints tattooed below the elbow, on the left side of the photo, above, represent his three dogs (2 Cocker Spaniels and a mutt).

The cross and the prayer, "Lord, Protect Me" are based on his Catholic faith.

In all, Chris figures he's had about 10 hours of work done.

He also gave me permission to share this photo from his Facebook page:

Photo Courtesy of Christopher Almazan
I had hoped to show a better shot of the peacock that is on his back, with feathers that come up over his shoulder, but could not get a clear enough picture. The shot above gives a great idea, however, of his tattoos.

All work is credited to Rick Schreck at the House of 1000 Tattoos in Middlesex, New Jersey. A piece from Rick appeared earlier this Fall on the site here.

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

Visit the Muscle Maker Grill website here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Darya's Bi-Coastal Peacock and Cherry Blossoms

I met Darya coming out of the subway in Bay Ridge and asked if I could take a picture of her tattoo. She kindly allowed me to do so and share it here with everyone on Tattoosday:

Darya explained that she always wanted a peacock tattoo, and she has fourteen tattoos in all (not all peacocks). Joe Maggs at Brooklyn Ink tattooed the peacock.

The cherry blossoms, symbols of regeneration, were added by Illya at Studio City Tattoos in California.

Thanks to Darya for sharing her tattoos from both coasts here on Tattoosday!

Friday, December 17, 2010

They Call Him Mr. Spades

I met Matt in Penn Station last month and he was happy to share a couple of his eight tattoos. The coolest one was this heart on his left arm:

A closer look shows just how intricate this design is:

Matt explained that the idea behind this tattoo is simply that there are two sides to everything. He collaborated on the design with the tattoo artist Sean Malone, who works out of Rose City Tattoos in Rahway, New Jersey.

Readers may notice that, in the top photo, there is a distinct outline of another tattoo on Matt's arm in the shape of a playing card spade. What started out as a random tattoo of another spade ended up giving Matt the nickname "Mr. Spades" and it stuck. Here's a shot of the coolest Spades tattoo, straddling both of Matt's inner forearms:

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Tattoosday Book Review: The Word Made Flesh

If you're looking for an awesome gift for an ink-loving special someone this holiday season, and you can't afford a budget-buster like Marisa Kakoulas' Black & Grey Tattoo, I'd strongly recommend The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide.

As a lover of both literature and tattoos, The Word Made Flesh is right up my alley and, judging by the long-standing interest in sites like Contrariwise, should be an enjoyable read for many.

Last year, it seems, when I first posted (here) about Eve Talmadge's call for submissions, I was a bit jealous in a why-didn't-I-think-of-doing-that sort of way. But I quickly got over the inkblogger envy and waited with anticipation to see how this would turn out.

The answer: pretty darn good.

The Word Made Flesh, as the subtitle describes, juxtaposes photos of tattoos of a literary flavor, with blurbs from the contributors. There is poetry and prose, as well as more symbolic imagery to represent specific themes.

Compiled by editors Eve Talmadge and Justin Taylor, the reader is treated to a nice range of work, with a handy appendix which gives, when possible, credit to the artists and/or shops where the tattoos were inked.

I wondered, when starting the book, if I would see any tattoos that had appeared on Tattoosday. Sure enough, page 117 features a pair of alphabetic ankle tattoos, one of which appeared in this past year's Tattooed Poet's Project, here. To counteract that, there are two subjects who declined to participate in the same project.

The range of photos and stories is done quite well. We also get a snapshot of Shelley Jackson's Skin Project, and a lovely piece belonging to Katherine Barthelme, accompanied by an apropos story by her father, the late Donald Barthelme. Plus, amazing work like this:

©2010 Eva Talmadge & Justin Taylor

There is something for everyone here, unless of course, you're a barbarian and have never read a book in your life.

I heartily recommend this title and at a list price of  $14.99, it won't break the bank.

There's a slide show here, over at The Daily Beast.

You can read and see more, as well as hear how to submit for a possible sequel, at I also recommend visiting, as well as checking out the Tattooed Poets Project index, which links all the tattooed poets who have appeared here the last two years.

You can buy the book here:

And, as for what's next from the editors, a recent email from the editor's says it all:
"I'm happy to announce that we are now collecting images of music-related tattoos for our next book. Song lyrics, band logos, record labels, musician portraits, you name it -- if it's in your skin and has to do with a musician, song or band, we want to put it in a book. Pass the word, tell your friends. Here's the fine print:

THE WORDS TO EVERY SONG: Music Tattoos from Around the Globe (working title, suggestions welcome), edited by Eva Talmadge.

Submissions now open for high-quality photographs of all kinds of music related tattoo work: band logos, song lyrics, record labels, musician portraits -- if it's a tattoo inspired by music and it's on your body, we want to see it!

We're looking for a wide range of genres and eras -- from classical to rock'n'roll to hip hop, punk rock, indie and soul -- if you ever loved a song or a band or a musician so much you went to a tattoo shop and made your devotion permanent, we want to know about it!

As with THE WORD MADE FLESH, we don't want just the images. We also want a few words from you about why you got your tattoo, what that music means or has meant to you, and any anecdotes involved. 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.

And of course please do provide us with tattoo artist/shop credit, photographer credit, your name or pseudonym, the city and state or country where you live, and the name of the band or song or composer your tattoo refers to (even if it's obvious).

Deadline for the first round is 12/31

Please send clear digital images of the highest quality possible to Images should be around 2000 pixels across, or a minimum 300 dpi at 5 inches wide, but if you're not sure about all the technical stuff, just set your camera to its highest resolution and send the best photo you can. 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.

And finally, we are indeed still collecting literary tattoos for the tumblr blog, If you have a literary tattoo and want the world to see it, please do e-mail it to us at, or submit it directly (as an image, not text) to
And, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't direct people here and here, the tags that link all the literary tattoos that have appeared here on Tattoosday.