Love is a Mix Tape

On a recent trek to Starbucks at 31st and 7th Avenue, I saw someone sitting at the table lining the window. I thought to myself, "Hmmm... She looks she would have tattoos....". This is just the way I think. However, there was no visible ink on this person.

Standing in line, a minute or two later, I discovered I was right at first, wrong at second. The young lady, indeed, had a tattoo:

After grabbing my venti sugar-free cinnamon dulce (with room) Americano, I headed over and introduced myself.

The possessor of the skull tattoo was is Vanessa, a student at SUNY Purchase. The tattoo above was Vanessa's first, and originated from her being fond of cassette tapes, a characteristic her friends tease her about. She loves mix tapes. I asked if she had read Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield, which is a love song to the mix tape. She had.
Here's a little more detail:

This piece was inked by Adam, owner of Adambomb Gallerie, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Vanessa, however, said that the tattoo meant little to her compared to this one, on the inside of her left forearm:

Seems pretty simple, yet Vanessa insisted that this basic tattoo had great meaning for her. It's the logo from Eyeball Records in New Jersey.

Eyeball has a lot of indie bands, including a band with one of the coolest names I have heard in a while, The Number Twelve Looks Like You. Eyeball records, according to Vanessa, changed her life, which is why she paid tribute to it with the logo on her arm.

Thanks to Vanessa for her contribution to Tattoosday!
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3rd Avenue Festival, Bay Ridge, Part 6

The last of the 3rd Avenue Festival tattoos belongs to Tracy, who boasted a beautiful floral piece on the left side of her back.

It's a bright, colorful tattoo that definitely catches one's eye. This was inked about five years ago by Peter at Body Art Studios, whose work appeared previously here on Tattoosday, and can also be seen at the bottom of the page in the form of the cherub playing the green guitar.

What makes this piece particularly interesting is that it is a cover up, the first to appear (as far as I know) on Tattoosday.

When Tracey was 17, she got a wizard tattooed on her back. At first glance, you really couldn't tell and, one might argue, if she didn't disclose it was a cover up, it might not be even remotely visible. As it is, I think I see where the wizard was.

Tracy said that the tattoo was very similar to that of a woman she knew who had survived breast cancer. She had some scarring, and had a similar tattoo, which Tracey admired. This piece was inspired by this woman, and carries with it an extra meaning, as a result.

Seems appropriate, then, that this post was written and posted on Lee National Denim Day, one of the nation's largest fund raisers for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure fund.

Thanks to Tracy for sharing this beautiful tattoo!

So that wraps up the Third Avenue Festival tattoo onslaught. Stay tuned as I have two more tattooed volunteers in the pipeline, and it's unseasonably warm here in New York as the weekend approaches.
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3rd Avenue Festival, Bay Ridge, Part 5

I really hit my stride on Sunday when I approached a group of young guys hanging out at the street fair in front of the Rite Aid at 93rd and 3rd.

No offense guys, if you're reading this, but I most likely would have passed you up as possible Tattoosday subjects had it been any other setting. These guys were young, in the early twenties, and looked pretty tough. The mass of ink added to their hard edges.

I approached one of them and started explaining myself, but he seemed very reluctant. However, his friends joined in the discussion and, before I knew it, two of them had allowed me take some pictures and post them here.

I will start with John Candela. He was totally into participating. He first had a young lady lift up the back of his shirt to reveal a huge back piece:

The large cross is a tribute to his friends Rob and Frank.

He then showed me the tattoo on his left arm which was a tribute to the same guys and to a third friend, Smokey, who he called his guardian angels. It's hard to tell from the picture, but there are three angels are around the edge of the piece (only the one at the top is visible).

Lastly, he showed me this free-hand graffiti-like piece, which spells out his last name, Candela, which is the Spanish word for candle, which represents flames, and merged with the fiery border design produces a nice effect.

John credited the work to an artist named "Steve the Butcher," who free-lances out of his house, and is not affiliated with any shop.

I did not ask, as he did not offer, what happened to Smokey, Rob and Frank that caused them to die at such an early age. Had he wanted me to know, I'm sure he would have told me.

The other tattoo I captured belonged to Jaimie, who I think had one of the coolest pieces of the day.

It's actually one piece that wrapped around his left forearm. I generally avoid tattoos that wrap around because it is hard to capture the essence of the piece in photographs.

But it's worth a try, so check these out:

The message is "Brooklyn, born and raised." The Brooklyn Bridge is represented, along with the Statue of Liberty. The best part of the piece, however, is the "and" represented by the letter N of the N train (on wich I am currently riding as I type this up). The N express services a big chunk of Brooklyn (as well as Manhattan and Queens). The "raised" is inked like graffiti on the N train, completing a sweet Brooklyn-themed tribute to the borough in which Tattoosday is based.

Jaimie credited this awesome tattoo to Angel at Hypnotic Designs in Sunset Park.

A hearty thanks to Jaimie and John for their participation in Tattoosday!
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3rd Avenue Festival, Bay Ridge, Part 4

While my kids were bouncing around in the Moon Bounce-a-rama, a woman named Helen approached and her child joined my girls in their attempts to defy gravity.

Helen had this awesome tattoo on her right arm:

Helen explained it: The wolf, combined with the female symbol, and the letter A, or alpha, combined to represent that she is the alpha female in her family.

She had this tattoo done by the artist Dan Brown at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, a tattoo and arts convention in Maine.

The wolf was inspired by a woodcutting. She added the symbols for the alpha female. Her husband was the alpha male, but he sadly passed away two six years ago.

I then asked about her left arm, which had the following piece:

This is St. Francis, patron saint of the animals. The cat is present because Helen rescues cats, and currently has ten (10!) living with her. She credited Lynn Dulaney as the artists of this tattoo, also done at the Mad Hatter's Tea party. In fact, she advised me, all of her work gets done at Mad Hatter's.

I must have raised my eyebrows, as Helen appeared to have only these two tattoos. She revealed that she had 11 tattoos in all, not typical for a school teacher from Queens. These two were the only ones visible, and, had she been wearing a shirt other than a sleeveless one, you'd have thought she looked the part of a tattoo-less educator. She acknowledged that some times its best not to be seen as having tattoos by the students and/or parents. Although if one of my kids' teachers had tattoos, the family would think it was cool.

Thanks to Helen for talking with me and sharing her tattoo stories here on Tattoosday!

Update: After Helen posted her comment below, I updated Lynn's name with the correct spelling and linked her page at Moving Pictures Studio, in Wooster, Ohio. Also, I thought it would be nice to link the page from the New York Times "Portraits of Grief" with the blurb Helen's husband Liam. Helen, if you do not wish to have me link this, please let me know and I will remove it. Liam's brief portrait is at the bottom of the page and rolls over to the next.
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3rd Avenue Festival, Bay Ridge, Part 3

In the continuing story of my Third Avenue Festival Tattoo scavenger hunt, we have a piece from the much-tattooed Kimmy, aka Lolita Ford, who passed me at the corner of 93rd and 3rd and, when I stopped her to ask her about her tattoos, was very friendly. Lolita is the blonde, second from the right, in the photo below, from her MySpace page.

She had much ink (13 tats in all) and like those folks that have a plethora of tattoos, I asked her what particular piece meant the most to her.

She had a friend pull down the back of her shirt to reveal the following small tattoo below her neck:

Kimmy explained that this tattoo was inked about ten years ago in honor of her grandmother, who had recently passed away. Her grandma had a china doll collection and, upon her passing, left all of her dolls to various members of the family. Kimmy received one doll, which she cherishes to this day. The tattoo represents her grandmother as a guardian angel, holding the china doll that she passed on to her.

Lolita Ford is head "jeerleader" of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby and is captain of the Royal Pains Jeerleaders who are allied with the team, the Queens of Pain.

This particular tattoo was inked in Pittsburgh, at Inka Dinka Doo. The artist was Tony Urbanek.

Thanks to Kimmy, aka Lolita, for sharing this tattoo with me and the Tattoosday community.

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3rd Avenue Festival, Bay Ridge, Part 2

The next tattoo I photographed at the Third Avenue Festival belonged to a guy named Chris.

Chris has a leg piece that is an American flag emerging from under his skin. He wanted something patriotic, but didn't want a regular American flag. The result is pretty cool:

Chris was walking with a guy in an eagle costume, who was at the street fair to promote the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a local paper. While I was snapping these shots, the Eagle, who knew Chris, kept telling me to take a picture of Chris' other tattoo, and kept trying to lift Chris' left sleeve.

Chris was game and showed me his other one:

This is the artist's rendering of this famous photograph:

That's 1963, when Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc self-immolated in 1963. Chris advised that the monk tattoo represented self-sacrifice.

Chris had these done at Brooklyn Ink. The artist is Joe-Mags.

Thanks, Chris, for your participation!

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3rd Avenue Festival, Bay Ridge

On Sunday, September 30, the community of Bay Ridge held its annual Third Avenue Festival. Every Fall, there's a street fair on 3rd and every Spring, one on 5th Avenue.

The weather was beautiful and there was a plethora of tattoos, as I had anticipated. I had kids in tow, however, and despite their appreciation of body art, I have found myself less inclined to approach people when they are around.

Nonetheless, as people familiar with New York street fairs know, the kids love the big, inflatable bouncy rides. You know, when they jump around with a bunch of other kids on a huge inflatable pad, surrounded by netting and inflatable walls.

Thanks to their love of such attractions and the leniency of the operator, the kids had unlimited fun in the hour or two we spent at the festival, and I got to talk tattoo.

I am proud to report that I met and spoke with seven different folks who agreed to let me photograph their ink and get a little history of the work gracing their flesh.

In fact, until post-street fair, when I asked a guy in Foodtown about his shoulder piece, and was rebuffed, I was batting a thousand, 7 for 7.

So, thanks to all my inked volunteers. Due to space constraints and time as well, I'm going to roll them out gradually, a day at a time. Unless, I find more cool tattoos this week and start to further backlog. Oh, to have such problems!

Enough of the talk, here we go.....

The first piece is a classic koi tattoo, done on the front of the calf. There is a dragon on the back of the leg but it is not finished yet, as color still needs to be added.

The host, John, is from the Bay Ridge area and had his koi inked at Body Art Studios on 3rd Avenue. We know the artist, Peter Cavorsi, who also runs the shop, because he is responsible for one of mine and three of my wife's pieces. I strongly recommend his shop if you live in southwest Brooklyn. His shop is clean and he does very nice work, as you can see from John's koi.

Koi are a traditional part of Japanese tattoo, and are very common subjects n body art because they represent good fortune. Despite their being regular subjects, they seldom are ever one in the same. Like snowflakes, they tend to differ from body to body, and unlike tribal pieces, I don't think I could ever get bored of koi tattoos.

John estimated that this large leg piece, including the dragon on the back of the leg, not pictured and not yet colored, took 13 hours so far. A lot of people don't realize how much time goes into elaborate pieces like these. On shows like Miami Ink, a ten-hour project can be compressed to five minutes of screen time.

Thanks to John for getting me off to a great start at the Third Avenue Festival! Tune back throughout the week to see the tattoos on Tracy, another guy named John, Jaimie, Helen, Chris and Lolita Ford.

Happy October!
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