Anger Management

It is my practice, when someone is heavily inked, and they've agreed to let me take a picture, to ask them to offer up the piece that means the most to them.

Last week I approached a guy named John in front of Madison Square Garden. He had numerous tattoos on his arms and looked like an excellent Tattoosday candidate. However, when I asked him what tattoo was the most special, he raised his right pant leg to show me this interesting design on his calf:

John described this "biomechanical" design as a shield that keeps his demons locked inside. The tribal symbol is an anchor that keeps him grounded. He was very open and acknowledged that he had anger management issues. The tattoo gives him strength to control those issues.

This tattoo is one of 15 that John has. It was inked by High Roller Tattoo, in Hicksville on Long Island, NY.

After thanking John, I asked the woman standing next to him if she had any tattoos she wanted to share. She did. Donna has two kanji characters on her lower back that I wasn't able to get complete photographs of. I asked her to, at her convenience, send me better pictures, if she was interested in joining these pages. She said the kanji meant a lot to her, so I am interested in finding out why.

Thanks John, again, for your participation. Here's hoping Donna will e-mail me about her tattoos.
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Hawaiian in Brooklyn

It's not every day that one sees the Hawaiian language tattooed on a Brookylnite, so I was stunned to see the following tattoo wrapped around the arm of a woman in Foodtown earlier this week:

The tattoo reads, in Hawaiian, "e ola aui ke Akua". I'm not fluent, but I know the Hawaiian language when I see it. I had to speak to this person and find out what possessed this person to inscribe these words on their flesh.

The woman is Danielle Tay, and the tattoo is a tribute to her Hawaiian heritage. Her paternal grandfather is Hawaiian, her father was half-Hawaiian, or one hapa-Haole, as we would say it in the islands. Danielle is therefore a quarter Hawaiian, by birth, and despite being a Brooklynite, feels connected just the same.

"Uh," I asked, "Can you tell me what that means?"

Danielle believes it to loosely mean "May God grant me Life".

This was inked at Funcity Tattoo in the East Village.

Danielle, thanks for letting me take your tattoo's picture. I lost your e-mail address, however. Please shoot me an e-mail if you're reading this....I have some additional questions for you.

UPDATE: My friend Cat in Hawai'i says:

"E ola au i ke Akua" means "I live in the Lord" or "I live because of the Lord". There's some flexibility in translation, but that's the gist, I think. It's OK, although the "aui" should be split into "au i".

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Devil Angel

I spotted this tattoo on the left arm of a guy hanging out in Starbucks on Monday, October 8.

I was doing some laundry, and saw him smoking a cigarette a little later outside the store. I went up and introduced myself and Tattoosday.

The owner of this tattoo is Steven. He refers to it as "D.A.," which stands for Devil Angel. She was inked around 1998 at Studio Enigma on Avenue U in Brooklyn. The artist was a guy named Michael, who is no longer listed with the shop.

Steven said the tattoo is based on a design that was on the wall of the shop and, like many tattoos, a few adjustments were made, and this was the final product. There was really no inspiration behind this particular design, there's no real life person behind the Devil-Angel persona.

This tattoo is showing some age, but it still is a nice piece that was intriguing to see peeking out from Starbucks.

Thanks to Steven for sharing D.A. with all of us here at Tattoosday.
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Vegan Tattoo

I see tattoos in Foodtown, my local grocery store, all the time, but I had yet succeeded in getting someone to contribute from there. Granted, I had only asked once, and was shot down. However, last weekend, I met Jay, a totally cool inked dude with a full sleeve and a couple of nifty leg pieces. Here's the sleeve:

Jay swears by the artists at Brooklyn Ink.

The work of Brooklyn Ink has appeared previously here. He credited the sleeve to the artist Alex Franklin.

Because I interrupted Jay while he was shopping, we didn't have the luxury to chat at length. However, he did discuss two elements.....the word "Vegan" is prominent at the top and the bottom of the sleeve. That's self-explanatory: Jay is a vegan. The "X X X" aspect of the tattoo also refers to the fact that Jay is also drug and alcohol-free. There may be more to that, but the triple X referred to a straight-edged lifestyle.

I hope to catch Jay again in the future, so I can update this post and, hopefully, snap some shots of his leg work.

Thanks, Jay, for your cooperation with the Tattoosday project!

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Tattoos I Know: Marc's Eye

On Monday, I had the day off and hit J.J. Carty Park with the kids, where we ran into one of the girls' camp friends and her father.

I had met Marc, who is a programmer, only a couple of times and the last time I saw him, when Tattoosday was still an infant once-a-week sensation over on BillyBlog, I had noticed a tattoo on Marc's right forearm, above his wrist. For some reason, I didn't ask him then about it, but Monday seemed like a good time as ever, plus my 11-year old broached the subject:

Jolee (ever the model of subtlety): Is that a tattoo?

Marc: Yes.

Jolee (see parenthesis above): Dad, you should tell him about your blog!

The rest is history, I guess. I gave Marc a printout to check out the site while I ran off and played ball with the tomboy.

By the end of the day, I asked him if he wanted to be on Tattoosday. "Sure," he shrugged, "why not?"

He lowered a sock on his left leg to show me the tattoo he had done when he was going to marry his wife, Marina. "I wanted to show my commitment to her," Marc said.

And the same day he got the eye:

The eye represents good luck. It is a protective talisman, of sorts, against the evil eye. Marc referred to its ancient use as a device to ward off evil. Wikipedia states:

Disks or balls, consisting of concentric blue and white circles (usually, from inside to outside, dark blue, light blue, white, dark blue) representing an evil eye are common apotropaic talismans in the Middle East, found on the prows of Mediterranean boats and elsewhere; in some forms of the folklore, the staring eyes are supposed to bend the malicious gaze back to the sorcerer.
Read the whole entry here.

Marc credited these two tattoos (of three in all) to a friend with whom he lost touch named Maya (sp?). She did both pieces free-hand.

Thanks to Marc for his participation on Tattoosday! You can check out his website here.
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Buddhist Regret

The next piece featured here is a first for Tattoosday: a tattoo that its owner no longer wants.

I spotted this nifty tattoo on the back of the neck of Vicki at our local Rite-Aid store:

When I first approached her, she thought I was going to give her information on tattoo removal.

Vicki got this piece about 7 years ago when she was 20, at Butch's Tattoo Studio in Keyport, NJ.

She indicated that the symbols were part of a cartoon in a philosophy book and represented "the path to enlightenment". Vicki, however, stated that she is a Christian and has come to dislike the tattoo to the point of wanting to have it removed. It doesn't mean anything to her anymore.

She added that she probably would have started the process, but for the cost.

I mentioned to her the story of Tracy's tattoo, and suggested that she check with different tattoo artists to see if they would be able to design and ink a cover-up piece. That would be a) cheaper and b) more meaningful if a cover up could be designed to more accurately reflect who she is today. She nodded and said she had considered that, as the bottom of the symbols closely resembled a cross.

I was initially surprised that Vicki was willing to participate, considering how she felt about the tattoo, but she was a great sport about it and I wish her the best of luck with the piece, whether it be removal or transformation.

I know that some artists don't like to do cover ups as a professional and/or artistic courtesy, but that is in my opinion a better option and, from what I've heard, a cheaper and less painful one as well.

Here are some other Buddhism-inspired tattoos.

Thanks Vicki, I truly appreciated your contribution to Tattoosday!

p.s. On an unrelated, yet similar note, read what Charlie Sheen is considering doing with his 13 tattoos here.
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Brazilian Butterfly

It was a long week and I was heading home. I had just hit the subway station at 34th Street/Herald Square. The entrance I was using, by chance, was the Southwest exit into the Manhattan Mall. A woman walked by me with this tattoo:

I couldn't help it. I had to stop and ask her what the story was. Butterflies are pretty common as tattoo matter, but this was the most unusual and stunning one I had seen. This butterfly is unique in that she designed it herself and then worked with the tattoo artist in Nyack over a three month period to perfect the design.

The butterfly body consists of the symbol for infinity, which I thought was a cool touch to represent the eternal.

She was totally open to me taking closer shots of each of the four quadrants of the wings, each of which was a slightly different size, by design, so that no two aspects of her life were the same.

Renata is originally from Brazil, and the two bottom sections have ocean elements because she grew up in São Paulo, near the sea. The left and right bottom sections each bear the first initials of her parents, M & A.

The top sections are beautifully-rendered representations of the sun and the moon, completing the worldly representations in the wings of the butterfly.

Thanks to Renata for her time as she explained this marvelous tattoo to me. I gave her my e-mail address so she can send me the information on the artist, so he can get credit for this lovely piece of body art.
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