The World is His

Thursday (April 17) was the most beautiful day yet this spring, but I was at work sans camera and passing out Tattoosday fliers without the possibility of taking pictures seemed lame.

Remember, this blog is not just about tattoos, but about the pursuit of interesting tattoo stories as well.

Thanks to Brooke, however, I was armed with a camera phone on my lunch break, as I ran a couple of errands.

And it was walking on 23rd street that I met a guy from my neck of the woods with some ink on his arms. I am always fascinated by examples of words people choose to inscribe in their flesh. This is on his right forearm:

Our tattoo host said that it's a quote from the film Scarface, one of Tony Montana's many mottos, delivered with gusto by Al Pacino. I couldn't find any direct quotes on the web, but it makes sense, based on the existence of a video game called Scarface: The World is Yours.

In addition, his left arm had three shamrocks, which were recently inked:
It's a celebration of his Irish ancestry. They're just outlines right now, but he plans to fill them in with green, orange, and white ink, to represent the flag of Ireland.

Both of these tattoos were inked at Groove Tattoos in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. When I mentioned that I had work from Body Art Studios, he flashed some print on the backs of his biceps, indicating that those were inked there too.

Thanks to our anonymous friend for sharing his ink here at Tattoosday!
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A Double Shot: Steve and Krista Show Off Some Awesome Ink

Last Friday, my head was spinning. It seemed that there were tattoos everywhere. They were as prevalent as the blossoms on the trees. I passed out a few fliers, but hadn’t received any commitments from people to chat. The good weather means that we here at Tattoosday can be more selective in our choices, hopefully bringing you more intricate and complicated tattoos.

Just outside of Penn Station, I saw a man and a woman chatting in the sun. The guy had a bright red tattoo on his forearm. I couldn’t tell if the woman had ink, as her back was to me when I approached.

In introduced myself to Steve, who has six tattoos in all. He offered up the arm piece first, as it was the most meaningful of all his work:

Steve plays bass for a band out of Long Island called The Devilles. Check them out here. He described them as "punk rock n roll". Their MySpace profile categorizes them as "punk/blues/soul". Here's Steve at a gig:

To break the tattoo down a little, the quote in the banner is “When I got the music/I got a place to go,” which are lyrics from the song "Radio" by Rancid, from their 1994 album, Let’s Go. A little research proved that “Radio” was originally released on the Radio Radio Radio EP a year earlier, with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong as a second guitarist in a brief stint with the band. Armstrong is even shares writing credit on the track. The album version, post-Bille Joe, has a significantly different arrangement.

Here's a little video of Rancid performing "Radio":

The guitar in Steve’s tattoo is modeled after his own instrument, a Gretsch.

He explained that the tattoo exemplifies the role of music in Steve's life. He finds it very therapeutic and acknowledges that, without music, "I would not be the same person I am today, or even be here at all." It's the biggest, most important thing in his life.

This was designed and inked by Greg Fly at The Tattoo Shop in Medford, Long Island.

Steve also offered up this stomach piece:

This is a direct quote from the Clash song of the same name from the London Calling album. Pepe at The Tattoo Shop did this piece and it represents Steve's belief that he'll be able to make an impression on this world before he dies.

In the course of talking to Steve, the young lady with him was an active participant in the discussion. Her name is Krista and she works as an apprentice at The Tattoo Shop where Steve's work was done. She said she had about six or seven tattoos in all. After talking with Steve, I asked her if she would like to show off her ink for Tattoosday as well.

She tried to downplay her body art, saying that, compared to Steve, her stories weren’t that interesting. I begged to differ but, to be perfectly honest, she could have been right. I only saw one of her tattoos, but it is truly spectacular:

Krista was born in upstate New York but she grew up in North Carolina. She remembers always being fascinated by the "Western motif" and when she drew up the rudimentary sketch of this tattoo, this was in the forefront of the vision. She took the basic premise to a tattooist named Zam at Visionary (a custom shop). She told him "this is [basically] what I want. Go nuts with it." Like I said, the end result is breath-taking. I believe this is Tattoosday's first chest piece.

Krista wanted me to plug her shop's show on April 26th at Club Bianco in Hauppauge. Check out The Tattoo Shop's page here to get all the details.

Thanks again to Krista and Steve for sharing their awesome tattoos!

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Tattoos from the Blogosphere: Introducing Mat’s Incredible Back Piece

With the exception of one photo sent by my Dad way back at the advent of Tattoosday, everything on this blog has resulted from an encounter in the streets of New York City.

However, we’re branching out, and I am actually going to feature tattoos I have never seen in person. A cyber-field trip, if you will, to the canvas of a fellow blogger, Mat Giordano, whose This Blog Right Here, is a favorite web destination of mine.

Mat and I occasionally chat, and his blog and BillyBlog occasionally link one another for various and sundry reasons. A month or so ago, I mentioned Tattoosday to him and he told me he was heavily inked, and proceeded to e-mail me his amazing back piece:

Needless to say, this is one of the more impressive pieces I have seen, and I was eager to post it but you know me, I love the back story (no pun intended). I e-mailed Mat some questions and he didn’t get back to me for a while. Finally, through instant messaging, he not only sent me new pictures of other tattoos (subject for a later post), but gave me the full rundown of this incredible tattoo.

Me: I need to know what [the elephant] was all about

Mat: Well, it's actually a simple one. I have a love for African black elephants: their patterning, symmetry, ear structure, [and] demeanor….and the platelets of jewelry and Tibetan skull crown symbolize a Tibetan tradition.

Me: Since you were a kid?

Mat: Yes, since I was a baby, I think. [The] tradition [is] where there's five skulls: the three in the center

symbolizing my small family…being book-ended by prosperity to the right and longevity to the left, depending on how you are looking at it, I suppose.

[Five-Skull Crown: The skulls stuck onto the five points of the crown represent the five main afflictions, anger, greed, pride, envy and ignorance, conquered and transmuted into the five wisdoms--ultimate reality, discriminating, equalizing, all-accomplishing, and mirror wisdoms. Cited here.]

Me: How long did it take/how many sittings? Was it one shop that you had it inked in?

Mat: Nope, a friend that sleeved both of my legs started the basic line work….and in Orlando, I ran into this up-and-coming fella, BJ, in a bar. He whipped out his digital camera, took some snapshots, said 'don't make any plans on Sunday'. He went, bought some reference books, and free-handed the entire thing. Four sittings total, about 25 hours.

Me: So, BJ did the majority of the work in Florida, right? After a friend of yours did the basic outline in Philly?

Mat: My back credit will go to BJ at Built 4 Speed Tattoo in Orlando, Florida. It should be noted that Built 4 Speed is a custom shop only...

Me: ...Custom meaning, by appointment only, no flash on the walls, all original work, right?

Mat: Yeah, no flash basically. That's the point I wanted to make.

Well, there will be more from Mat down the line, but I wanted to get this contribution up on Tattoosday first. Thanks to Mat for sending the photos and giving me the scoop on this awesome back piece!
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