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Preview: Tattoos Day

Tattoos Day

A Love Story tattoos day,tribal tattoos, flower tattoos, koi tattoos, celebrity tattoos, temporary tattoos, butterfly tattoos,zodiac tattoos, skull tattoos, star tattoos, angel tattoos,japanese tattoos, dragon tattoos, flower tattoos, foot tattoos, henna

Updated: 2016-09-29T00:50:08.299-07:00


Scott's Heart Is Testament to Love and Hate


I met Scott last month as he was walking down 7th Avenue just south of 30th Street.

His only tattoo just jumped out from his right forearm:


He referred to this as a "time of my life" tattoo and it was "inspired by a horrible girlfriend".

It's also another example of someone wearing their heart on their sleeve.

He worked with the tattoo artist, Adam Rosenthal at the Th'ink Tank Tattoo in Denver to come up with a design that melded a biological heart with a Valentine's heart.

The heart is stitched together with a needle and thread. The thread spells out the words "love" and "hate," which exemplified the tumultuous relationship.

(image) (image)

Kait, On Her Own Two Feet


While passing through Borders at 2 Penn Plaza, I spotted Kait's feet, both tattooed on their outside edges. She graciously allowed me to take pictures of both pieces.

On her left foot is a green bow, inspired in part by the fact that she is known where she grew up for always having a bow on her, whether it be in her clothing or in her hair. It's her trademark, of sorts, and the tattoo insures that she'll never be "bow-less".

Her right foot bears the following inscription:

"Think Happy Thoughts" is a tribute to her friend Max, a graffiti artist, who passed away a year or two back. The script is in her own hand, in emulation of a free-form style that reminds her of graffiti.

Asian Tattoos Day


A month ago, I posted a bit of tattoorism; Sean from New Jersey sent me photos of his left leg, an intricate Japanese-style piece, complete with koi, dragons, a lotus, and a pagoda.Sean has been kind enough to update us here on Tattoosday with two more pieces, the first being this cool gypsy head that is tattooed on the inside of his upper left arm:As he was in the last post, Sean is not only generous with the pictures of his tattoos, but he also has provided a thoughtful explanation of his work:"I got the gypsy woman about two weeks after graduating from college. I really enjoy the traditional, old school style of tattoos and feel it’s important that this style does not disappear... from tattoo culture. Further, I always viewed these women as adventurers, constantly looking for a new journey. Especially, the woman who are looking off to the sides, almost as if into the distance, as opposed to those who look straight forward. I always envision them looking off to a new land, a new adventure, etc. This tattoo signifies my “journey” through life, especially significant due to just graduating college. It is a reminder to never stagnate and to constantly be striving for better things. I plan on getting a banner added underneath with the word "hope," for obvious reasons."Sean also sent images from his right leg sleeve, to match the work on the left:Again, in his own words:"I had my right leg sleeve done for most aesthetic reasons. I explained [previously here]...that I love Asian style artwork, and to keep symmetry with my left leg this was done in just that style. Originally, I believed I had chosen the geisha image solely for its beauty.However, about a week after my tattoo I realized that my family has a framed picture of a geisha hanging outside of my room that I have honestly never paid much attention to, until seeing it that day. So now, every time I see the tattoo it reminds me of my home and family (particularly, my mother for some reason). Your subconscious has a funny way of revealing itself.Moving on, the phoenix has always been a very powerful image to me.I love the idea of rebuilding yourself from the ashes of past selves. This was significant to me as I received that tattoo during my final years at college (the first two years I spent commuting to a community college, the last two years I spent living on campus away from home for the first time in my life). I feel that those two years living away from home was a period of immense change, where, metaphorically, past versions of myself “burned up,” with new versions arising from those ashes.Finally, the bonsai tree kind of goes hand-in-hand with the phoenix imagery. It was always interesting to me that in order for a bonsai to grow correctly, a have a long life, it needed to have branches/new growths pruned and trimmed, in essence losing a piece of itself. I feel this ideology also applies to human life. In order, for someone to fully mature, I feel one needs to be prepared to lose parts of oneself (whether they be thought processes, habits, etc.) in order to grow into a better-equipped and well-rounded person. The bonsai reminds me to strive for this."I once again thank Sean for not only sharing his tattoos with us here, but for putting the effort into writing a thoughtful, detailed account of the meaning of the art gracing his skin. As with previous pieces featured, the tattoos in this post were done by Mike Schweigert at Electric Tattoo in Bradley Beach, New Jersey. Truly a talented artist that was able to so distinctly transform Sean's body into a living canvas. We here at Tattoosday offer our sincerest thanks and appreciation! [...]

Tattoo Two Tourists


Sometimes the hand of Fate guides the Tattoosday blogger as he journeys through the streets of New York. At lunch, a change in traffic signals prompted me to veer East, sending me into a bank vestibule that I rarely, if ever, frequent.I could have ventured into a dozen branches or drug stores to do my business but this is where I ended up on a day that started frigid, but was still in the blustery high 30's at noon.I finished my ATM transaction and exited, not even glancing at the two people to my left, jacketed and weighed down with large backpacks.I hit the sidewalk, peering into a side window bordering the vestibule. I did a quick about-face and headed back into the bank. Despite the coats, hats, and long pants, I could tell the two men I had been next to had significant ink.And, once back inside, I was delighted to find them both willing to talk tattoos.Both men were visiting tourists from England. The first one I spoke to was Jethro "Jeff" Wood, a tattoo artist who works out of The SkynYard in Southend-on-Sea (in Essex County, 40 miles East of central London). I spoke to Jeff first, while his friend Sam worked the ATM machine.Jeff estimates that his body is 30% covered in ink. He offered up this neck piece:I apologize for the angle, but one can see that it's a pretty nice grim reaper tattoo. You also get a view of the small skull and crossbones behind Jeff's left ear.He had been hanging out with another tattooer and "got drunk and tatted my neck". The artist was Dan Sims at Life Family Tattoo in Sevenoaks, Kent, in England.Not to be outdone, Jeff's friend Sam had an amazing pirate-themed neck piece, with a "Do or Die" banner, courtesy of Jeff:The two visitors seemed to enjoy showing their tattoos and were soon rolling up pant legs to show me what Jeff's apprentice, Charlie, had tattooed on the back of Sam's left leg:That is the mask of The Ultimate Warrior.Sam also showed me some work on his right leg, also credited to Charlie, featuring a mythical creature, "The Rare Horned Dolfin," stuffed and mounted by a taxidermist:Granted, it's a funny tattoo, but I believe there was an element I was missing (perhaps a key facet of an inside joke). Sam and Jeff laughed heartily while showing me the piece, along with another gag tattoo on Sam's right calf, a D.L.T. sandwich:In a DLT sandwich, the bacon is replaced by, you guessed it, tiny smiling dolphins!I also get a kick out of the "I love frogs" scribbled above the D.L.T. Note the S is reversed. Sam indicated that Charlie had done some of these, but he had also inked a few himself, on an experimental basis.Both men also have knuckle tattoos, and pictures of their knuckle are posted here at again to Sam and Jeff for sharing their tattoos with us here on Tattoosday! [...]

His explains Xrin Arms Tattoos


I ran into Anthony after work while passing through the Amtrak section of Penn Station.He was in town to perform in Brooklyn and was waiting for his ride. He performs under the name "Xrin Arms," which he pronounced as "Your-in-arms". He's a techno punk musician currently on tour. Here's the flier for the gig he was playing that night:He had an unusual series of tattoos which he allowed me to photograph, after he explained them to me.The tattoos cover a significant part of his upper right arm, as well as one side of his forearm.First and foremost, as a writer, he had his pen inked on his arm.He always uses a Pilot Precise V5, he said,and he produced one to show me, holding it up to the piece to show me that it was tattooed to scale.The next element of his inked arm is a legion of sperm directed at his elbow. Some of the sperm are traveling from the pen, representing the knowledge that flows from the written word.At the center of the elbow is a moth in a circle. He said that it represents a "moth in a beehive". When I questioned that image, he acknowledged that that was how he feels a lot of the time.If you picture a moth in a beehive, you envision many things: solitude and violence. Of beauty and alienation. The sperm heading toward this image reinforce that the creative experience is a birthing process fraught with danger.Lastly, on the back of the bicep, is an owl with its wings outstretched.The owl represents to him that he is noctural, and stays up all night.He has 2 other tattoos but we stuck with these because they played off one another.They were tattooed by Chris Bragg when he was working out of Hammer's Tattoo & Body Piercing in Canton, Ohio.Thanks again to for sharing his work with us here on Tattoosday.[...]

The Tattooed Poets Project: Jill Alexander Essbaum's Poetic Feet


I've decided to launch this special National Poetry Month Tattoosday feature with the wonderful tattooed feet of Jill Alexander Essbaum, author of several collections of poetry, the most recent being Harlot.
Although this month I will be featuring tattoos on poets, not every tattoo is poetic, in the literal sense. Jill's inked feet are.
Jill met me in the Starbucks at 7 Penn Plaza on a cold day in February, prior to a reading at the KGB Bar later that evening.

She was one of the first poets who signed on to this project, and she allowed me the honor of taking a clearer picture of her tattoos, even though they appeared here, on the Best American Poetry blog, back in May 2008.
Although the concept may be alien to many, students and purveyors of the art of poetry know that a line of poetry can be broken down into metered verse that is identifiable based on the stress and intonation of the syllables.
People may have heard that most of Shakespeare's work is composed, for example, in iambic pentameter. What that means is that each line is comprised of five parts, or "feet," and each foot is made up of an iamb, or two syllables, the first of which is unstressed, followed by the stressed sound.
The name "Marie" is an iamb, for example, as the stress falls on the second syllable. "Mary," on the other hand, has the stress on the first syllable, and is identified as a "trochee".
There are other types of poetic fragments, such as dactylls and anapests, but the iambic and trochaic feet are the most common.
So what does this have to do with Jill's feet? When poets study and scan a line of verse, they mark it up, identifying the stress marks with the accents (or longums), and the unstressed syllables with a symbol known as a brevis.

Jill's feet are literally with the symbols denoting them as trochee (left) and iamb (right). Pure brilliance, in my opinion.
Jill and her friend Jessica came up with this idea last year and gave it significant thought.
As most poets (with notable exceptions, of course) are also teachers, they thought it would be a great visual aid when educating students on scansion.
Jill spent a weekend sketching and drawing the marks, not as easy a task as one would imagine. How to make the marks look like poetic symbols, and not stray ink marks, or even worse, scars, was a part of the process.

A Love Story Tattoos Day


Last Saturday night, Melanie and I went into Manhattan for a small holiday gathering. We were going to see her old high school friend Vibeke at her mother's apartment on the Upper West Side. It had been quite some time since we had last seen Vibeke. We weren't sure, but our best guess was 1998.Vibeke had been living in Los Angeles, had recently married and moved to Houston. It was great seeing her again, and it was nice meeting her husband Matt.Invariably, Melanie asked Vibeke how she and Matt had met. She explained that, in the early '90s, she had been living on a boat in St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. For a while, the only way she could get to shore from the boat where it was moored was to swim. I'm guessing she also occasionally hitched a ride on someone's dinghy, but her primary shore-to-ship mode of transport was her own arms and legs.As one would imagine, this proved to be problematic. So she invested in an inflatable dinghy and a small outboard motor to more practically transport her to and from dry land.When the motor developed a problem, she took it into a shop for repairs. A gentleman named Matt was the proprietor and he repaired it. A little tension developed when, as Vibeke tells it, the repairs were less than satisfactory. More work was done, apparently to her standards and from this initial meeting, a romance blossomed.After six months, Vibeke decided, for various reasons, that she would return to the states and move on with her life. The relationship with Matt abruptly ended.Cut to the cinematic technique of a calender shedding pages like a tree in autumn, as time passed.Then 9/11 happened. This prompted many Americans to feel the need to check in with past acquaintances and such. Vibeke looked for Matt, but he has a common last name and she couldn't find him. She was having, and continued to have, "where is he now" moments. She never found him.But he found her.Earlier this year, she was proctoring a test for students at a public school in Southern California where she was teaching. The phone rang.It was Matt. He was beside himself. He had found her. Vibeke was stunned, but she was otherwise occupied. She gave him her number and told him to call back.He did. He lived in Houston, she was dating someone else. The next time he came to town she was single. They met. The rest, they say, is history. They were married in June and are now newlyweds in Texas."What a great story," Melanie and I collectively thought. We were very happy for her, and him.Later that evening, Melanie and I were chatting with Matt near the kitchen.Matt asked about Melanie's ankle tattoo. He seemed interested. I mentioned Tattoosday. "Want to see something?" he asked. He motioned us into the kitchen, away from the rest of the party guests."You've heard how Vibeke and I met, right?" he asked, touching a button on his shirt. We nodded. And he began to tell his story, similar to his wife's version, only he paused after speaking of her leaving the island way back in 1995.The month after she departed, still devastated from the abrupt end to their relationship, he returned to his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.And there, he told us, unbuttoning his shirt and revealing his left shoulder, he went to Route 66 Fine Line Tattoo and got this:See, dear readers, there was a relevant point to this story.And Matt pointed out in this subtle aquatic tattoo, the marks of his true love. Here in the undulating leaves is a V for Vibeke, a C for her middle name, and an H (at the top of the piece) for her maiden name.Woven into his tattoo of lost love and despair were the initials of the woman he loved. And he had no idea where she was.But the years passed for Matt, as they did for Vibeke, and this ink in his flesh was an anchor reminding him of his love. And when people asked him about it, he explained it was just an aquatic-themed piece, an homage to his love of the ocean.And fourteen years l[...]

Tattoos I Know: Tracy Returns with an Important Reminder


We originally introduced Tracy on Tattoosday back in January 2008 here.

Last Saturday night she was down visiting from upstate New York and she showed off her latest tattoo:


Inked on the inside of her left wrist, this simple message "Breathe" is a reminder to herself to "slow down and take it all in". In other words, when stressful things happen in life, pause, take a deep breath, and focus on the here and now.

This serves as an anchor to keep her grounded. Words on the wrist are great ways to help keep the focus (here's another example from earlier this year).

As a mother of two boys (one a teenager) and the wife of a soldier serving our country proudly in Afghanistan, one can only imagine the stress Tracy encounters on a daily basis. Yet every time I see her, she has a positive outlook and a smile. She's one of many people I know who use tattoos as symbols from which to gain emotional strength through challenging times.

The tattoo was done at Tattoos Forever in Evans Mills, NY.

Thanks again to Tracy for sharing her ink with us here on Tattoosday!

The Tattoos day Book Review: 7 Tattoos


First and foremost, let me clear something up: 7 Tattoos by Peter Trachtenberg is a memoir and is not a book about tattoos. Oh, there are tattoos within, and stories about them and how they were obtained. But tattoos help form the context of the story within, and the ink is often secondary to the action at hand.7 Tattoos is a riveting narrative, "a memoir in the flesh," about the author's inner struggles with his identity and the world around him. His tattoos form the structure of the book, serving as chapters around which Trachtenberg's life revolves.Imagine a first tattoo: assuming that it wasn't inked on the fly, everyone's first tattoo comes with context. On Tattoosday, I try and tell the story behind the tattoo. But even I know that I am only scratching the surface of the narrative skin.Each of the author's seven tattoos serves as a focal point out of which a life chapter spins.From a tribal piece that is inspired by the ink of Southeast Asia (and subsequent trips there) to tattoos that mark chapters in a life punctuated by drug addiction and strained parental relationships, we are given a warts-and-all tour of Trachtenberg's life. As important as the tattoos may seem, they are really just sign-posts with memories in the ink.Ultimately, 7 Tattoos is about relationships - Trachtenberg's relationships with women, his father, his mother and, ultimately, himself.He is a writer and his skills show throughout as he describes tattoos with admirable simplicity:"The tattoo Slam had given me was a drawing of a wrench placed diagonally between two gears. She'd rendered the spinner with punctilious thoroughness, down to the highlights on the chrome-plated shaft, while leaving the gears black silhouettes, and she'd unified the composition by framing wrench and gears with a red triangle that sat athwart my deltoid."This passage describes the tattoo with political undertones, in a chapter entitled "I Keep the Red Flag Flying". He does a remarkable job taking a 1992 tattoo and narrating back twenty years earlier to 1972. Again, the tattoo anchors the chapter and is the glue that holds it together.Trachtenberg has skillfully built a personal history around seven works of art. It doesn't matter where they were inked or if any of them are "good" or not. Each piece is a jumping-off point that elevates the memoir above the standard personal history.7 Tattoos was recommended to me last Spring when I was interviewing poets and writers for my Tattooed Poets Project. I wish I could remember who suggested I read it, because I would love to thank them.The tattoos in the book are not at center stage, yet they manage to grab a hold of the imagination throughout as we are carried along by the story of Trachtenberg's life. It's an experience I would heartily recommend to anyone interested in good writing, with a penchant for ink. src="" style="width: 120px; height: 240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0">[...]

Cody's Eagle Braves the Storm Tattoos Day


On the day after Thanksgiving, I was passing through Penn Station and I spotted this tattoo:

This depiction of an eagle flying through a storm belongs to Cody, who was in town visiting from Key West, Florida.

This symbol of strength and courage enduring the dangers of a powerful storm is fitting, as Cody began work on the piece as a tribute to his father, serving in the Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

Cody has already had three sittings for this wonderful tattoo, and is close to finishing it with "Tattoo" Mike Haugh at Key West Tattoo Company.

Thanks to Cody for sharing this great tattoo! We look forward to seeing the final product!

Tay's Angel Reminds Him Of A Battle Won


There are many things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. I know that may cliché , but at its core, there is the kernel of truth. All it takes to remember this is to cross paths with someone who has overcome the odds to prevail in life.

Yesterday I met Tay in the Borders on Penn Plaza, and he shared this tattoo:


Here's the complete piece:


Inked on his inner left forearm, this angelic image is a product of an idea of a spirit watching over him, He gathered a couple of photos for reference and presented them, along with a short written paragraph about the concept, to a tattoo artist at Fat Ram's Pumpkin Tattoo in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts. It was the tattooer who gave Tay the writing assignment. I am impressed that the artist would incorporate that into his creative process, and it makes perfect sense.

Although Tay is not religious, per se, he wanted something spiritual to remind him of his guardian angel that helped him overcome the mortal challenge of cancer.

As it turns out, Tay is a survivor, who has been cancer-free for ten years after a victory over acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Tay notes that, all it takes is a look down at his arm to remind him that he has come a long way from the lows of facing one's mortality at such an early age.

I want to thank Tay for sharing his tattoo with us here. And I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all the Tattoosday readers!

Doug's Dragon Tattoos Day


Back on July 13, I posted a photo of Doug's Geisha. Doug was waiting around the Penn Station area before heading down to see Horisei, at tattoo artist working out of Rising Dragon's Chelsea Tattoo Company.

Doug followed up his moment in the Tattoosday light by sending us photos of the work he had done that day. As would be expected from work by Horisei, the tattoo is beautifully done:


Work from Horisei has appeared previously on this site here.

Thanks again to Doug for sharing his new tattoo work with us here on Tattoosday!

Mike Shares Some More Ink Tattoos Day


Back in May, I met a guy named Mike outside of Penn Station and he shared this tattoo with us.

Occasionally, contributors who I have met on the street will send me a follow-up of additional tattoos that I didn't photograph the first time I met them. Mike was generous enough with his time and energy to do just that.

First is a piece that was done around the same time that the lion-skeleton tattoo, featured back in May, was completed, back in 1995:

(image) This, like the previous work featured from Mike, was inked by Doug White at the Ink Spot in Linden, New Jersey.

Mike also sent along this snake:


I love the cross-hatch patterns on the back of the snake. The lines are so finely drawn, I am impressed by the amount of patience it must have taken to get these tiny details just right.

Mike also sent a photo of this gargoyle on his back:


These last two pieces were inked at Tattoo Lou's in Babylon, New York back in 2000. Work from Tattoo Lou's has appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

Thanks again to Mike for sharing more of his ink with us here on Tattoosday!

Eclectic Two Tattoos from TG


I will pace subway platforms, while waiting for my train, so that I may exercise a bit, and, let's face it, spot the occasional tattoo.

After meeting TG on the 59th Street platform in Brooklyn, and talking tattoo with him all the way to 95th Street, he told me I was lucky he had removed his sweater back on 59th.

For it was there that I spotted his tattoos. First I noticed this one:


That is a brontosaurus, which is on his left arm. It was an impulse decision and serves solely as a decorative reminder of a moment in time. TG had just left work with a paycheck and wandered into Rising Dragon Tattoos in their (relatively) new 14th Street location.

The artist was Davide, who hails from Italy, and was most likely a guest tattooer at the time.

TG sings his praises as he took a relatively simple design and gave it his all, down to the shading of the dinosaur's eyes and toe nails.

An even more compelling tattoo is this line-drawn piece:


The caption under the robot and the bear reads "Go for the knees! Bears are known for weak knees!"

This refers to a brief snippet of dialogue in Season 1, Episode 3 ("Blind Date") of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. The line is uttered by the character Frank, who is played by actor/comedian Judah Friedlander.


The absurdity of the line made it memorable to TG, who chose to immortalize it on his right forearm.

The tattoo was inked by Mike at Mad Pup's Tattooing in Plattsburgh, New York.

Thanks to TG for sharing his two eclectic tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

The Tattoosday Book Review: Tattoo Machine by Jeff Johnson


First, a point of clarification. I write blog posts with the ideal blog reader in mind. The ideal blog reader being me. And what I have noticed over the years is, despite the interest in the subject matter, it is rare that a blog post will hold my attention longer than a few paragraphs. This is why Tattoosday posts are generally brief, not drawn out, and some times split into multiple parts.Similarly, my attempts at literary criticism are not as in-depth as many may like. I acknowledge that shortcoming while noting, for many, this is actually a plus.That said, I am long overdue in reviewing Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink by Jeff Johnson. Johnson is a tattoo artist and owner of the Sea Tramp Tattoo Company in Portland, Oregon.As anyone in America can tell you, the rise in popularity of the art of tattooing has skyrocketed in the last twenty years, and the first decade of the 21st century has seen the acceptance of body art increase exponentially.Johnson's book is not your typical tattoo primer (the fanciest of which has been Kat Von D's immensely successful High Voltage), but rather, a memoir of his life and experiences as a tattoo artist.What separates Johnson from other tattoo writers is that he has a true gift for prose, a writing skill that eclipses the efforts of your standard "all about tattooing" books. As a result, the reader is sitting there in the shop with Jeff, listening to his story. I could hear the buzzing of machines and taste the neon in the air.Case in point, a paragraph from Johnson's introduction: "This isn't simply a memoir. It is also a personal look at the people behind an art form that has undergone a rebirth and is shaking the natal mucus from its drying wings as a new pool of exciting, schooled, and committed artists take their places. This is also a book about street shops and the artists that flourished or inexcusably withered in those fertile grounds. I want to give the reader a more complete picture of a tattoo artist's life and the lessons learned along the way, the things a TV show or a visit to your local establishment can't capture, the things people wonder about when they look through the window the first time and ask themselves What's really going on in there? This is what I've seen. You might not want to get a tattoo from me after reading this, but there you go..."The narrative wends its way through Johnson's past to his present, getting the reader to appreciate the journey that led the author to the helm of the Sea Tramp.He tells it like it is, warts and all. On shows like L.A. Ink, you don't get to see the unsavory characters that are often hindrances to a tattoo business. We get that here.Part One, Dial Tone, dwells on the business side of tattooing, from employees and scheduling, to flash art and drawing, signs of a good shop, and shop lingo.Part Two, Man's Ruin, provides a primer on the big problems confronting the business: drugs, criminals, scams and oddities. The oddities section certainly opened my eyes and made me realize any good artist wouldn't bat an eye lash over a mild case of psoriasis.Part Three, Love and Hate, talks about the emotional journey that the author has taken.Part Four, Wine, Song and Your Mama, deals with success.Part Five, Tiny Revolutions, revisits the technical aspects of tattooing and spends a nice amount of time discussing the politics of tattooing and the regulation of the industry.And the final section, Part 6, Smile Now, Cry Later discusses pranks, rivalries, and the life cycles of a couple of shops. Johnson does a nice job addressing that aching question: how does an artist feel when a great tattoo dies along with its host.Ultimately, Tattoo [...]

Chakra Tattoos Shom's Day


I met Shom very briefly as he was about to board a train at Penn Station.

Aside from shoulder pieces and Sanskrit text circling his upper left arm, he has a couple of other tattoos, including this one on his inner left forearm:

(image) (image)

This piece represents one of the many chakra for meditation.

It was inked at Jinx Proof Tattoo in Washington, D.C. Work from that shop has appeared previously here.

Shom had to board his train before I could get more information, but I express sincere thanks for his brief participation here on Tattoosday!

Drew's Day Tattoos Samoan Circle


I met Drew in Penn Station and he shared this, one of his two tattoos:

(image) Circle Tattoos Day

It's a cool design that he saw in an encyclopedia and took to an artist at State of the Art Tattooing in Southampton, New Jersey.

Drew ascribed his own meanings to the piece, creating his own interpretation of the designs.

The main circles he regards as two pinwheels, spinning in different directions. These two, as a whole, represent progression, as life moves forward.

Also, along the edges, in addition to some traditional design aspects, Drew pointed out two half-circles and four quarter-circles. These fragmented wholes represent the realms of dreams and realities.

By ascribing his own meaning and understanding of the tattoo and its elements, Drew makes the impersonal design (out of a book) more personal and special.

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

Rebecca's Reiki Symbols of Healing


Last week I met Rebecca, who was waiting for an Amtrak train in Penn Station.

She had these tattoos on her inner wrists:

Reiki Symbols of Healing

I recognized that they were kanji, but I didn't know that they were reiki symbols.

Reiki is a Japanese healing art, and Rebecca is a certified reiki practitioner.

As part of her certification and training, she studied enough to know that these symbols are accurate and refer to graphic representations of healing. Her right wrist speaks to long distance healing, and her left wrist refers to balance and healing.

Since reiki practitioners work with their hands, it seemed fitting that she had these symbols on her wrists.

She noted, as my wife has told me about her wrist tattoo, that the pain was very intense on this part of her body and that she passed out not once, but twice, in the course of having these tattoos inked over two sittings.

The tattoos were done at Gothic Tattoo & Body Piercing in New Hampshire.

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

Rebecca's Reiki Symbols of Healing


Once in a while I check in with old Tattoosday contributors and I recently revisited Sal, who works at a video store (Mr. Video III) in Brooklyn Heights. You may recall his Guns 'N Roses tattoo (here).

Earlier this year, he had this inscription tattooed on his inner right forearm:


The phrase "not a moment for granted" is inked in tribute to his late acting teacher Fred Kareman, who inspired and taught Sal, not to mention countless others.

Sal explained that Kareman instructed in the Meisner Technique, which he described as an "in the moment" method.

This phrase can be further applied to life, in general, reminding Sal and anyone who sees the tattoo that every moment is precious, and should be savored like a treasure.

The design and tattooing was done by the incomparable Mark Harada at East Side Ink. You can see other pieces by Harada featured here on Tattoosday. Similarly, clicking the East Side Ink tag reveals other fine work done at the shop.

Thanks to Sal for once again sharing a part of his body's canvas with us here on Tattoosday!

Camila's Salute to Her Heritage and Her Home Town of Rio


Back in August, I met Camila in Penn Station after spotting an amazing tattoo wrapping around her lower left calf.

The piece was still in progress, however, so we posted this tattoo instead.

Over this past weekend I was pleasantly surprised when Camila sent me photos of her finished leg piece. Behold:


Camila's tattoo celebrates her Brazilian heritage. The woman is holding two guns and represents female empowerment. The cityscape behind is a Brazilian favela, or tenement, representing her homeland, in addition to the Christ the Redeemer statue, perched high above Rio de Janeiro.


It's completely black and gray, save for the red in the lips of the woman and the lone kite flying above the favela. The red represents the colors of the carioca, or the greater metropolitan area of Rio.

Truly a marvelous tribute to one's homeland and culture!

The tattoo was done by Camila's friend Daniel.

Thanks to Camila for sending me the updated photos!

The Tattoosday Book Review: The Missing Ink


As tattooing has skyrocketed in popularity, the number of ink-related books hitting the shelves has multiplied like rabbits. I picked up a copy of Kat Von D.'s book at Borders the other day (read my review here) and was astonished to see it was in its eighth printing.A fresh tattoo-related title emerged earlier this year, and it wasn't in the Health/Beauty/Appearance category, as you would expect. Rather, it's jumping out in the Mystery category.Karen E. Olson released The Missing Ink, introducing a new protagonist to the literary world. Brett Kavanaugh is a Las Vegas-based tattoo artist who gets caught up in a murder mystery. Behold: a new series is born.Ms. Olson is currently at work on book three in the series. The second title, Pretty in Ink, is due out in March.And I can hardly wait.All judging of books by their covers jokes aside, don't let the art gracing The Missing Ink fool you: this is not "chick lit". Brett Kavanaugh is not looking for love, Manolo Blahniks, or the man of her dreams. She's a career-driven tattooist committed to her art and running her business respectably, as much as can be expected in a Vegas casino.I'm not saying it doesn't have a feminine touch, Brett is still a beautiful woman, with a soft spot for nice clothing and a blazing crush on one of the mysterious characters in the narrative, but she also wolfs down In-N-Out burgers and doesn't back down from her role in a profession that has been traditionally male-dominated. There are notable exceptions to this, of course, but it has only been in the last ten years that we have seen the elevation of the female tattoo artist joining the ranks of their male peers as acknowledged masters of the art form.What The Missing Ink has is a plot that keeps us interested, with characters that are believable and entertaining. Her hefty sidekick, Joel, and diminutive employee, Bitsy, are just two of my favorite characters who are a pleasure to behold on the page.The story wends its way through a maze of a murder that links Brett by virtue of a tattoo she designed but never inked. We get a taste of Vegas that takes us behind the scenes at a casino and even brings us to a wonderfully evocative setting of an Elvis karaoke bar.I can see tattoo purists rolling their eyes at this book because it is a whimsical murder mystery that doesn't necessarily put the art at the forefront of the action. But it's not intended to. Ink is discussed and we often see Bret at work, but the plot often pulls her away from the job.But this, after all, is fiction: a creation of the author that has been carefully researched and presented respectfully in regard to the tattoo industry. For more realism, I'd recommend Jeff Johnson's Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink, which also came out this summer (a review is forthcoming).It's fun to dive into a murder mystery every so often and even more fun to do so when you're interested in ink and the main character is an artist. It's refreshing to read a work of fiction that is centered around the modern tattoo industry and just doesn't use tattoos as clues or signifiers on a character's body.Ms. Olson has created a character that is believable and entertaining. Although I am unlikely to fly off to Vegas and seek out a tattoo at the hotel, I certainly look forward to the Spring when Bret Kavanaugh returns to further grace us with her presence!Here's another review, and another, if you'd like some more opinions. src="[...]

Derek Shares a Tattoo, Inspired by Snake Eyes


I met Derek Ostrander earlier this week outside of Macy*s flagship store on 34th Street.

Derek is an illustrator who also works on visual installations for the department store.

It was this tattoo that prompted me stop and ask what it was about:


Derek explained that he was 19 or 20 when his friend Jay Ferrara, who is also an illustrator, inked this on a kitchen table.

The tattoo in question is based primarily on those that are sported by the Arashikage clan of ninjas and, more famously, a character named Snake Eyes, from G.I. Joe.


At the age that he got this, he thought it was particularly cool.

On a deeper level, the symbols represent hexagram #64 in the I Ching. A simple meaning is translated as thus:
Fire over water:
The image of the condition before transition.
Thus the superior man is careful
In the differentiation of things,
So that each finds its place.
A fuller explanation, from which this was excerpted, is here. Earlier this year I posted another I Ching tattoo here.

Thanks to Derek for sharing this tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!(image)

An Aries Neck Tattoo


I met Stephen walking south on Sixth Avenue this week and I asked him about his neck tattoo:


This is a symbol for the astrological sign Aries. Check out another Aries tattoo on the blog here.

He had this done at Tattoo Nation in the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey.

Stay tuned, he may be sending us more ink in the future. He has six tattoos in all.

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

No Hope But Home


I met Matthew walking through Penn Station last week. He has several tattoos, and shared this one with me:


On his right arm, this traditional nautical star has been embellished with several design elements that personalize the tattoo.

The banner "No Hope but Home" refers to lyrics from a song by a New Jersey band called Scream Hello.

The nautical star is accompanied by a knitting needle and a fountain pen. These two objects refer to his parents. The knitting needle speaks to his mother who is a homemaker and also knits as a hobby. The fountain pen alludes to his father, who is a writer professionally, and also
writes for pleasure.

The nautical star, traditionally worn by sailors to serve as a talisman to find a way home, serves a figurative purpose here, pointing toward, while also emphasizing the hopefulness of home, but also the importance of Matthew's parents in his life.

This cool tattoo was inked by John Reardon at Saved Tattoo, in Brooklyn. Work from Saved has appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

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

Tattoos I Know: Paul, Part 4, or, The Great Cover-Up, continued ...


Late last December, we posted about our friend Paul getting some cover-up work done on his upper right arm. Revisit the report here.

We recently checked in with Paul to see how things were going, and he updated us with the latest efforts by Horisei, who is about a session away from finishing this beautiful work:


Horisei tattoos out of the Chelsea Tattoo Company, formerly the home of Rising Dragon.

Thanks again to Paul for sharing. I'm guessing we'll see the finished product some time in 2010!