A New Awakening

At the beginning of the week, Summer was still clinging to the Northeast, which meant that there were still tattoos to be spotted out in the sunshine.

Monday afternoon, I noticed a woman in the plaza outside of Borders with a cool ring of flames and a lion tattooed around her ankle.

When I approached her about it, she was kind of down on the piece, saying the guy who did it out in Huntington, NY overcharged her and messed it up. It still looked pretty cool to me.

She also showed me her first tattoo, a star in a circle, on her lower back.

However, the third tattoo, which I hadn't seen until she pushed her hair back from her neck, was her favorite. That was the one she liked the best:

She gave her name as "Marla," which she acknowledged wasn't her real name. She slipped later and said what her real name was, but I will honor her desire to be anonymously misidentified.

Marla had her piece inked by Cheryl at Ink Alternative in Ronkonkoma, NY. She spoke nothing but praise about the shop. Marla was thrilled to not only let me photograph her tattoo, but was excited when I showed it back to her on my camera as she hadn't seen it in a while.

Marla said she had the tattoo done after getting through a hard time and that it represented "a new awakening". The symbolism of the sun and the tears represented the moving on from the difficulty she had just gone through.

Thanks to Marla for sharing this cool design with the Tattoosday community! Thanks also to Stacey Sharp, another artist at Ink Alternative, for identifying for me the artist who inked Marla's neck.

Update 7/27/2009: Stacey is now at Inkpulsive Custom Tattoos.
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Mike's Quintet of Tattoos

Last week, in front of Madison Square Garden, I met a guy named Mike who had several tattoos.

I have found the most success with people in this area because, generally, people are loitering in the fresh air while waiting to head into Penn Station and catch a train.

That's what Mike was doing and I must give him kudos not only for being open to talking with me, but for proudly showing me all of his tattoos (5 in all) and for being forthcoming about his life, more than others may have been.

This is the tattoo that first drew my attention:

This piece was designed and inked by an artist in Miami at a shop called Art Attack, which is now known as Merlin's Tattoo.

Mike's ex-fiancee's pet name was "Jellybean," because, he said, "she was sweet". The name was merged with the express train logo by the artist.

Mike was a first for Tattoosday, as when I asked him what shop his tattoos came from, he hesitated briefly, but then stated matter-of-factly, "State Penitentiary".

So, four of his tattoos were credited to an incarcerated artist named "Kenny V." I must say, in my opinion, considering that these were not done in a shop, per se, the work is superb.

Below the "Jellybean Express" tattoo on his right arm, there was this dragon (because he likes dragons):

What was particularly cool about this dragon was that its rudimentary spine-like body wrapped around Mike's arm from the biceps down toward the wrist. It's hard to really capture the effect, but I did the best that I could.

On his left arm he had two tattoos. A wolf:

and below the wolf was a row of paw prints, wrapping around his arm. Each paw print, Mike said, was a tribute to a friend in the penitentiary.

Lastly, on his right calf, Mike had this intricate ace of spades with a skull inside of it:

Thanks to Mike for sharing his tattoos and helping display them here for Tattoosday.
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Tattoosday Goes to Sweden, or Sweden Comes to Tattoosday

Walking down 7th Avenue on Friday, October 19, I spotted a sleeved arm approaching, Sorry, it was a couple. Man and a woman, young, in their mid to late 20's...(apologies if you are reading this and are younger).

Behold, the guy was game for talking tattoos. In fact, Jörgen Wiklund, visiting from Sweden, was extremely cool and patiently indulged me as I tried to write down names in his native tongue.

Jörgen wasn't sure how many tattoos he had...he guessed around 15 or so. I snapped two. First, since we are in New York City, this seemed apropos:

Jörgen characterized all his tattoos as whimsical, fun, spur of the moment decisions. This is a tattoo representing Dee Dee Ramone, as a duck. He elaborated that his girlfriend had a duck-like haircut and earned the nickname "Ducky," so this piece was a tribute to her.

The Ducky Ramone was inked at Evil Eye Tattoo in Stockholm.

Jörgen also let me take a picture of this interesting piece, which he says is an homage to the musician Roky Erickson:

It took some searching, but this tattoo is based on what I'm guessing is an out-of-print or special edition cover of Roky Erickson and the Aliens CD I Dream of Demons :

When I asked who Roky Erickson was, thinking he was perhaps a Swedish musician, he enlightened me, saying he was from Texas and that he was "the greatest musician that ever lived."

When he asked if I had heard of the 13th Floor Elevators, I said sure (one song on my BilliPod, "You're Gonna Miss Me," from the High Fidelity soundtrack. You can hear the song here, streaming on Erickson's website.

The whole demon motif ties into the storied history of Erickson and his past with drug use, electro-shock therapy, and mental illness.

Jörgen had this tattoo done in his home town of Härnösand, in northern Sweden, at a shop called Paul's Custom Tattooing.

Jörgen was a real treat to meet. He and his girlfriend (who is tattoo-less) are/were in town for a week. I suggested she get her first tattoo in New York to commemorate her trip here. The were both good sports and I want to thank Jörgen and his significant other for their participation in Tattoosday and the contribution of the first international contribution to the blog.
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You Must Believe in Spring

I think that what makes Tattoosday successful are all the interesting, unusual, pieces that most people walk by, see, and wonder, "What the heck is that tattoo all about?"

I'm going a little bit out of sequence here, as I still have two sets of tattoos from last week (from Mike and Jörgen) that I am still writing up. This one, however, is a little less work so I am getting it out of the way first. I spotted this on the inner arm of a guy waiting outside of Starbucks at the corner of 92nd and 3rd in Bay Ridge:

It seemed pretty unusual so I stopped and asked him about it. He told me that it was an album cover. "Which one?" I asked. This one:

Clarence, the possessor of the tattoo, had this representational tattoo inked in honor of Bill Evans' 1980 album You Must Believe in Spring.

The piece was tattooed at New York Adorned.

I would have delved further into why this album was so important to him that he had it tattooed onto his arm, but the person he was waiting for came out with his coffee, and his dog started barking at other dogs, so I figured I wouldn't bother him anymore.

Clarence, thank you for your contribution to Tattoosday and, if you'd like, feel free to e-mail me
as to the significance of this record.
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