Because She Said So

I spotted a woman on 86th Street in Brooklyn on Sunday with two visible tattoos. She had an intricate piece on the back of her shoulder, but she was wearing a lace shirt that would have required removal for me to get the photo. This picture above, however, was on her left bicep, and she was kind enough to let me snap a picture.

Some people can talk for hours about their ink, and some don't say anything. She gave me an approximate location of the shop where she had this done, 20th Avenue and 71st Street, which is very close to Kings County Tattoo Company, so I will make an educated guess and credit them for this piece.

When I asked the woman what was the significance of the phrase "Because I said so," she just looked at me with a sly expression and said it was a message "for my husband".

To see other work from Kings County Tattoo Company that has appeared on Tattoosday, click here.

Jessica Follows Up and Shares a Little More

Last Tuesday, I met Jessica outside of Madison Square Garden before a Pearl Jam concert. I posted a few of her 49 tattoos here.

Since then, we have exchanged e-mails, and I have updated the previous post, which now includes a link to her MySpace page (and photos of ALL her ink).

But for the purposes of Tattoosday, I am posting photos of three more pieces.

She told me "If I had had a tank top on ya coulda taken pics of my two favorite tattoos".

First, at the top of this page, is one of the seven crows she has inked. This is on the right side of her back and is called "Caw Caw Bird". The artist is Thomi Hawk from K&B Tattooing in Hightstown, NJ.

The second crow she sent me is on her left side, near her collar bone. She calls this "Hiya Kung Fu Karate Chop Crow" and she inked it herself, using a mirror. Quite impressive.

And finally, I featured a "sliver" of a sleeve on her right forearm. This is one of the finer pieces she has (that I personally observed). She passed it on for our appreciation here. They are her geisha and foo dogs.

Thanks to Jessica for sharing her ink here at Tattoosday. Remember, you can see all of her tattoos over at her MySpace page. We're hoping she'll let us know when she gets tattoo number fifty!

Introducing Fabiana's Ink

My wife, Melanie, in the course of her daily travels, has the chance to speak with lots of people. Occasionally, they will talk tattoos, and she often promotes Tattoosday by handing out fliers to The Inked.

One such acquaintance is Fabiana, who has a whole of slew of tattoos. She has viewed Tattoosday, and has sent me multiple photos of her work. The above detail is from a piece on her upper left arm.

Here's a section not visible in the long view, from the inner part of the top of the shoulder/bicep:

Fabiana gets her work done at Third Eye Tattoo in Brooklyn. This piece consists of a butterfly, a rose, a sunflower, and some other flowers.

Here's their story...

"The flowers I just got about 1 month ago are Lilies! I love lilies. They are so beautiful! They are my fav! Purple is my favorite color and orange is my girlfriend' I got purple and orange for her!

Underneath that is my butterfly!

That tat was actually from about 6 years ago when I was with a different girl....we decided one day to get matching tats! NOT a good idea, she broke my heart! So I decided after a couple of years to have it covered up! I love butterflies, so my tat guy made it into a big beautiful butterfly, and added a pink rose as well. Under that tat I have my giant sunflower.

The sunflower I got for my ex-girlfriend Jill! We were together for 5 and a half years. All throughout our relationship she would call me sunshine...In that sunflower I also have a ladybug, that is for my twin sister... she loves ladybugs so I added one in!"
Thanks to Fabiana for sharing her ink here on Tattoosday! Stay tuned for more of her tattoos in the future. There's more to share!

An Elaborate Sugar Skull Reminds Chris That Death is Part of the Fabric of Life

Last Friday, I did my civic duty and served jury duty for Kings County Supreme Court. We were assembled and shown a video. They collected our cards and the first group of 30 citizens were called. I was among them. A court officer walked us several blocks to a different building. We passed through the lobby and broke into small groups to enter the elevators up to the 19th floor. In the elevator, I noticed I was standing next to a guy with with sleeves rolled up to mid-forearm. His right arm had an amazing sugar skull tattooed on it.

As luck would have it, the tattooed individual sat next to me on a bench outside a courtroom while we waited. And waited. And waited. Fortunately, we had something to talk about: tattoos (with a little surfing thrown in).

Chris and I talked for over an hour. Then, we were dismissed. No longer needed. Three hours of jury duty rather than three days. Since my camera had to be checked by security at the main courthouse, Chris walked back with me and let me take a couple of shots of his sugar skull.

This tattoo was inked by Adam Hays at Red Rocket Tattoo. There have been many sugar skulls posted here, but this one is among the most intricately done. The detail is phenomenal.

Chris, who is heavily inked, values this tattoo because the sugar skull's symbolism reflects the fact that he doesn't like to mourn death. It is a part of the natural cycle of life, and this piece helps him deal with life's problems.

He followed up with an e-mail expanding on his philosophy:

"...In my childhood/teenage years, a lot of close friends and family passed away in a short period of time - and yes - I was devastated, but couldn't just tie myself up in the mourning process, because that's what people do - they live and they die. And when I was first introduced to the concept of the sugar skull and it's meaning, [I came to understand] it's really all about embracing the power of death into the fabric of life. The symbolism of the sugar skull to me is kind of a way of transforming the painful 'miseries' of death into a source of nurturing and internal strength. It's a way for me to cherish my fallen dead and a way for their memory to live on in me (or, on me, for that matter). In any case, I feel that it's kind of ingrained in our culture that we need to feel grief and despair when someone dies, but you don't always have to follow the trend. The sugar skull is a way to remember, honor, and feel closer to the dead. And that's what it reminds me of each time I see it."

For prior posts with sugar skulls, click here.

For prior posts with work from Red Rocket Tattoo, click here.

Thanks to Chris for sharing his Sugar Skull tattoo here on Tattoosday!

Tom's Pearl Jam Stickman Tattoo

So last night I caught Pearl Jam at Madison Square Garden and, of course, there were tattoos aplenty. But, as I mentioned yesterday, concert-goers generally seem a little more focused on the event at hand than the pursuit of blogfodder by a fellow concert-goer.

Luckily for me, Tom was sitting right behind me and I got him to show me his "Stickman" tattoo. This is one of the band's oldest logos, and is a common piece to get inked by the biggest devotees of the group.

Tom had this inked in 1994 at Da Vinci Tattoo Studio in Wantagh, New York. He had yet to see his first Pearl Jam concert when he had this tattooed on his left ankle. Last night was his 14th show (it was my fifth).

Thanks to Tom for sharing his Stickman with us!

It's Getting Hoot In Here!

Chad Stone


I love the fucked-up style of Kamil Mocet, it certainly works well in this piece.


I love the fucked-up style of Kamil Mocet, it certainly works well in this piece.

La Vie En Rose

A nice departure from the gory stuff he's famous for - Tim Kern

La Vie En Rose

A nice departure from the gory stuff he's famous for - Tim Kern

Lovely, Boyo!

More Old Skool effort from Matt Kolling, but Ay Caramba! (or whatever they say in Wales)

Lovely, Boyo!

More Old Skool effort from Matt Kolling, but Ay Caramba! (or whatever they say in Wales)

What a Temptress!

I love the subtle effects in this Matt Kolling piece

What a Temptress!

I love the subtle effects in this Matt Kolling piece

Weighed Down

Another lascivious Tim orth nude

Weighed Down

Another lascivious Tim orth nude

Hoot Fuzz

Angry Clothespin (?!)

Some Like It Hoot

Brad, Sacred Tattoo

Hoot Rod

Frankie G.

My Cheating Hoot

Becca Marsh

Jessica Shares Some of Her Tattoos before Pearl Jam Plays the Garden

I had it all worked out. Last night was the first night of the Pearl Jam concert at Madison Square Garden. Even though I wasn't going, I would see plenty of ink right next to where I work. Pearl Jam fans are prolificly tattooed (see this site as proof). What could be easier?

One guy didn't want his tattoos photographed. And he was wearing a t-shirt for a tattoo shop on Oregon. In my disappointment, I forgot what it was called.

Another guy was in town from Italy to see the band. I think the language barrier was an issue.

But I am not generally discouraged. There was, however, a vibe. A general sense that something bigger and better was going on besides indulging the hobby of an almost-41-year old blogger in dire need of a haircut. And of course, they were right. Pearl Jam was returning to the Garden after five years. Really, Tattoosday had to take a back seat to that.

But thank goodness for Jessica. She was thoroughly inked and indulged me. Granted, she seemed a little bemused by my exercise and a little disinterested, but she did let me take some photos and gave me cursory explanations. Alas, no Pearl Jam tattoos, but she still had some cool ink.

This was her most meaningful tattoo:

It's on her left wrist and is the autograph of Jonathan Davis, lead singer of Korn. He signed it, and she inked it. Jessica has her own tattoo gun machine, and does some touch-ups and basic line work here and there. Embarassingly, when she said it was Jonathan Davis' autograph, I couldn't connect the name to the face right away and I asked who he was, knowing full well that doing so would make me look like a total dork. And I was right. Of course I knew who he was, I just didn't compute it at the time.

Here's Jessica's left arm:

She likes crows. She has seven in all. She didn't tell me why the cheetah was significant. If you look at her right arm, you can see a sliver of an amazing piece that I didn't photograph, but should have. It was amazing piece that encircled her forearm.

And here's her upper right arm. That's Pig-Pen from Peanuts, which was one of her nicknames growing up.
And on the bottom is Mokey, a "primary Fraggle" from Fraggle Rock. Mokey was also one of her nicknames from very early in life.

Thanks to Jessica for taking the time to chat with me when so few people seemed interested in sharing. I am celebrating my birthday a week early at the show tonight (Wednesday), so we'll see if any tattoos pop up here on Thursday (or Friday).

UPDATE JUNE 29, 2008:

Jessica followed up with me and wrote the following:

I may not have any Pearl Jam tattoos, unless you count that my nickname is Mookie (Mokey from Fraggle Rock) since I was a toddler, from my dad. My mom calls me Pigpen cause she's a obessive complusive neat freak who thinks an open TV Guide is a mess...

I've idolized Jonathan Davis from Korn since 1996. To finally meet him was amazing. I always thought I'd be starstruck and lose my composure, but didn't. I held a conversation with him. Wow. How did that happen? A group was forming around the tour bus. He came sign autographs. I told him he was my idol for 12 years, and asked if he could sign my wrist. So he grabbed my wrist. On the outside I was fine, but in my head I turned into a 12-year old boy band fan thinking OMG OMG HE'S TOUCHING ME DON'T FAINT!!
The Mokie tattoo, above, was inked by Troy at K & B Tattooing in Hightstown, New Jersey.

Tattoos I Know: Rob's Traditional Japanese Dragons

"The only things I'm going to regret are the things I don't do" --Rob

Rob doesn't show off his ink like a lot of people do. Granted, sharing one's tattoos with the public is part of the appeal for many people. But other folks get tattooed for more personal, private reasons. Many people feel that having a tattoo is in itself, fulfilling. They don't seek recognition to validate their body art. Others do.

That's one of the fun things about Tattoosday- when someone shares the personal in this public venue, it is often a fulfillment that has come to fruition. Other times, it's just fun.

I recently learned that the husband of one of my wife's old school mates, someone with whom I've talked football and who I see from time to time, is inked.

So the e-mails flew and the dinner date was set. My wife and I met up with the couple earlier in the month and went out for Vietnamese food. But before we left their place, Rob let me see his ink:

Unfortunately, my camera didn't like the light in the apartment, and I ended up with a lot of blurred or washed out photos. The above two were the best of the bunch. That's part of the reason it took me so long to post.

My camera really didn't do justice to the color and craftsmanship of the work. But, as luck would have it, the artist, Horisei, of Chelsea Tattoo Company, had clearer and much better pictures on the shop site.

When these were inked, Horisei was part of the staff at Rising Dragon Tattoos. Rising Dragon work has appeared previously here and here. However, Rising Dragon moved to new digs just recently and Horisei stayed in the old location at the new shop, renamed Chelsea Tattoo Company.

What Rob has are traditional Japanese panels that cover the upper arms, shoulders, and the connecting canvas of the chest corners.

Rob's work was done over approximately forty (40!) cumulative hours between March and June of 2007. The only thing that remains to be done is the coloring of the eyes.

If you look at the right piece, you'll see a kanji character representing the word "wolf".

That part was tattooed 15 years ago, in celebration of Rob's 30th birthday when he was living in San Francisco. And yes, it's an accurate representation of the proper kanji for "wolf".

Horisei, a master artist from Yokohama, Japan, was able to incorporate the "wolf" into the design, as it manifests itself in a new context, on a pearl clutched in the grip of a dragon.

These two dragons don't "mean" anything, in the traditional sense. A common misconception that people have is that tattoos must mean something. Rather, in Rob's case, they represent an inner appreciation for not just the art of the tattoo, but for traditional Japanese body art.

Tattoos don't have to be visible to have purpose. These two dragons reside on Rob's chest and feed his inner strength.

Rob even lent me his copy of A History of Japanese Body Suit Tattooing for further reference on the subject matter:

It is an honor to have them posted here for the world to see. Thanks to Rob for sharing, and thanks to Horisei and Chelsea Tattoo for the use of their better pictures that allow us here at Tattoosday to fully appreciate the craftsmanship that went into these pieces.

Peter Caruso's Ink: Old-School Brooklyn Represented

These two inner-arm pin-ups belong to local free-lance tattoo artist Peter Caruso.

I ran into Peter a couple of Sundays ago, caught without my camera at the local 7-Eleven, so I left him with a flier so he could check out Tattoosday . He did, and e-mailed me shortly thereafter, offering to meet up, take pictures, and talk tattooing. This past Sunday, we reconnected in front of the 7-Eleven and I took a few shots of his awesome tattoos.

Here's Peter with his forearms extended:

Your standard article on the popularity of tattooing in 2008 always looks back to the old days, back when the only inked folks around (supposedly) were bikers, veterans or sailors, criminals and circus performers.

But we are living in an "enlightened" era, says the conventional wisdom, when there is a lot less stigma attached to the art. Tattooing was illegal in New York City from the early 1960's to the mid-1990's.

Peter remembers growing up in Bensonhurst and admiring the tattoos of the neighborhood heavies. There was a lot of admiration for the tattooed gangster-types that were the fixtures in the neighborhood delis, hanging out in front of the mom-and-pop stores, and being active in the community.

Peter admired the ink, and that old school style has influenced not only his own work, but the work he had done on himself.

Peter learned from, and was influenced by, those artists he considers to be the "Old School" of Brooklyn tattooists.

He worked with and apprenticed under Paul Raffelo of Paulie Tattoo and Vito of Vito Tattoo.

He estimates that he has approximately 13 tattoos, including 2 full sleeves.

A closer look at the pin-ups on his forearms shows a style of tattoo that is classic old-school. Peter said that this was the type of tattoo that was typical in the old neighborhood he grew up in.

The "Steady as She Goes" motto was a standard phrase in a lot of old naval flash art.

These pinups were inked by Paulie Tattoos.

On Peter's inner right forearm is a green Tibetan ritual mask:

The mask is used, according to tradition, to drink the blood from the head in an attempt to keep the spirit alive after the body dies. Vito of Vito tattoos was the artist.

Peter is also particularly proud of this Sanskrit piece on his forearm:

Peter explained that this represents the thunderbolt that destroys ignorance, a concept explained by the term vajra and a precept in Buddhism that leads to the destruction of ignorance through enlightenment.

Thanks to Peter Caruso for sharing his tattoos here on Tattoosday. Peter is currently working free-lance and can be contacted by clicking here.

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