Matt's Aubrey Beardsley Tattoo (Salome for the 21st Century)

I spotted this tattoo on the inner forearm of Matt, on April 26, 2008.

I was just about to leave St. Mark's Church in the Bowery, a church that is a landmark edifice, both architecturally and culturally, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There had been a poetry reading earlier in the day, a tribute reading to Barbara Guest, who died in 2006. I was packing up my bag to leave the wine and cheese reception when I spotted the ink out of the corner of my eye.

"It's based on an Aubrey Beardsley woodcut," Matt explained, "it's Salome".

Oh, the Dance of the Seven Veils. Matt nodded, but went on to explain that the tattoo was modified a little.

For example, in the original woodcut, Salome is holding the severed head of John the Baptist. I believe this is the Beardsley woodcut to which he was referring:

Matt's friend Kazumi Kikuchi helped revise the sketch to alter the head to a broken heart. He also added the Japanese characters at the top of the piece.

Matt gave credit to the band Daddy for the broken heart image which replaced the severed head. He said that the image was on an album cover of theirs. I was unable to find any art from the album but did find this promo shot, which has the heart image in the lower corner:

This piece was inked at Atomic Ink in Hudson, New York. Matt, who has "4 or 5" tattoos, did not recall the name of the artist.

I thanked Matt for talking with me, but decided to ask one more question. "What's with the heart at the bottom of the piece?"

"Oh," he smiled, "My wife, Laura, did that, with a needle and some India ink". Laura, sitting nearby, piped in, "I have a matching one here," pointing to her right thigh, "but you can't see it." Her jeans prevented an easy peek.

Thanks to Matt for sharing his woodcut tattoo with us!
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Candice Explains Her Six Interesting Tattoos

I first met Candice a couple of weeks ago when I spotted some very interesting tattoos on her arms and told her about Tattoosday.

She was on her way back to work from lunch, so she took a flier and said she'd check it out. She e-mailed me later that day and we agreed to meet a week later to talk about her six tattoos. She has three on her right biceps, two on her left, and a chest piece.

Candice works for a New York-based non-profit hunger organization, and gets to travel a bit. I discovered, as she went through her tattoos chronologically, that she collected tattoos in various cities across the country.

Her right arm has three pieces:

The one on the top right is her first:

This was inked in August 2003 when she was 19 at Distinction TA2 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. She thinks the artist’s name was Carlos, but doesn’t remember for sure.

Since the age of 10, Candice has been fascinated by Iceland. She pointed out her ancestry is Sicilian, not Icelandic. Nonetheless, she has always loved Iceland. Thus, her first tattoo was the Icelandic crest, which graces the backs of most coins, or kronรก, in the country.

The four quadrants each represent one of the four mythical Guardians of Iceland, each in turn representing the North, South, East and West sections of the country. This myth is central to Icelandic culture (read more here).

Clockwise from the upper left, there is an eagle, a dragon, a mountain giant, and a bull. Candice has a special affinity for the bull as her astrological sign is Taurus.

Her second piece was inked in August 2004 at the same shop in Sunset Park by Rob. The person who did her coin had subsequently left the shop:

Aside from liking birds, the piece's design history came courtesy of her boyfriend at the time (they have since broken up but remain friends). He found the bird image in a textbook and duplicated and customized it into a larger collage. At a time, she thought about using it as a back piece, but they pared it down to fit on her biceps. She's not sure what type of bird it is, but it remains one of her favorite pieces. I love the inverted imagery, which recalls a bit of yin-yang correlation.

Her third tattoo is a very basic, rudimentary design. Flipping back to her left arm, Candice explained that it represents a medieval watermark of a crossbow:

At first, I wasn't very impressed by it. Then I got the story. She was visiting New Orleans on business, pre-Katrina in March 2005, and it took all of 7 minutes and cost only $25. The piece was inked at Eyecandy Tattoo in New Orleans and, Candice believes that the artist was intoxicated ("I think she was drunk. It was a total New Orleans experience.")

She sensed my surprise at her analysis of the sobriety of the tattooist. Diplomatically, she re-stated, "Well, she was drinking a beer while doing it. She said not to worry, she worked like that a lot." So, let's give the tattooist the benefit of the doubt. Maybe not drunk, but certainly quick.

And why the crossbow watermark?

The crossbow represented a Medieval theme, another subject of interest in Candice’s life.

This watermark design also appears on the cover of the first single by an artist named Jason Molina, performing as Songs:Ohia.

Tattoo #4 was inked in August 2005, her third August tattoo in a row. The design originated after waking up from a dream and immediately drawing the image that had been so prominent in the dream state. She designed the piece, purposely modeling the hands after her own, down to distinctive spots and coloring:

My first impression was that it was a variation on the claddagh ring, with the two hands and the heart in the center of the balloon. Candice was surprised when I mentioned that, but acknowledged the similarities, although she had never considered them before. In fact, to Candice, this tattoo represents one being able to let go of things in life, while at the same time allowing things to come back, as well. In essence, it embodies one’s ability to control one’s own happiness.

When I asked Candice why it was the sole tattoo of hers in color. She simply replied, “Because I dreamt it in color.” Makes perfect sense. I could probably write another page about the apparent influence that The Wizard of Oz had on this tattoo. I say apparent, because the movie never came up when we discussed it. But the theme is applicable, the dreaming in color is similar, and the hot air balloon, which was what transported the wizard to the land of Oz, also makes the case for an homage, conscious or sub-conscious, to the images of L. Frank Baum.

Interesting to note that this piece was inked by Kelly Krantz, formerly of FlyRite Studio in Brooklyn. Kelly’s appeared previously here on a tattoo I spotted just a few blocks away.

Candice’s fifth tattoo was inked in March 2006 while on a trip to San Francisco. I actually didn’t take this photo, which she understandably provided to me. It’s a chest piece that runs vertically from the middle of her chest down to her stomach:

This style of ink is known as a “Sailor Jerry” tattoo, which is basically classic, old-school tattooing. Candice just loved this piece of flash art. This photo was taken about a week after the piece was done at Black & Blue Tattoo, “a woman owned and operated San Francisco tattoo shop”. The fact that it is woman-owned increased the comfort level significantly for Candice, as the inking required much more exposure than she had been used to with her arm tattoos. She also noted that the location on her body created an interesting sensation: both pain and laughter - it tickled and hurt simultaneously! The artist was Natalie Chandler, who is now working out of Oakland.

And finally, her last piece is a line drawing of a structure representing a house:

This image appeared on the cover of an album by the band Modest Mouse called Building Nothing Out of Something.

This piece was inked by Curtis James at Anchor Tattoo in Seattle, in January 2007. Modest Mouse is from the Seattle area and when Candie was visiting her ex-boyfriend, and several other friends, the image from the album seemed apropos, as she felt she was in a home away from home.

Well, I must thank Candice for her active participation in this post. She and I exchanged multiple e-mails, coordinating our schedules so I could snap the pictures, and she made my life easier by doing a lot of the research on her tattoos. Thank you for sharing your ink here at Tattoosday!

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Dragons, Dragons, Everywhere!

On a recent trip to Rite-Aid with my older daughter, I warned her: "I don't know what it is about this place, but I always spot tattoos here." In fact, at least three prior posts on Tattoosday have featured ink photographed under the drugstore's fluorescent lights.

On Thursday the 25th, as I headed to the pharmacy, I ran into Alise Orlando-Aly, who was proudly displaying at least half a dozen black dragons on arms, neck, and legs.

She has a dozen dragons in all, including two on her lower back for her children that she couldn't show me in the store. Those, representing her kids, are her favorites. However, for the purpose of modesty, I snapped shots of the two on the outside of her calves.

Her work was all done by Echo at Masterpiece Tattoo in Staten Island, where she lives. She was inspired by the Mortal Kombat book series and, her tattoos started as pictures, then each was customized by the artist in collaboration with her.

Check out the right side:

And the left:
Both pieces took five hours, combined, to ink. She added that the left side is actually a cover-up of a hammerhead shark.

When I asked her her name, she said I could use her surname as well. "I'm proud of my tattoos," she smiled, "I have nothing to be ashamed of".

I agree whole-heartedly and thank Alise for sharing her dragons with Tattoosday!
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Tani has 15 tattoos - Here's One!

I rain into Tani on 5th avenue in Bay Ridge on Thursday. She has multiple tattoos, on her arms, peeking out from the edges of her shirt on her back, and many that were out of sight.

She offered up this piece on her left biceps, although she admitted her favorite tattoo is on her ribs. Understandably, that wasn't seeing sunlight on a crowded street.

Nonetheless, the one she shared was nice:

This piece was tattooed by Jennifer at Ink Masters on 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge circa 1998.

Tani indicated that she is half-Chinese, and that the Asian aspects of the design appealed to her. The two main elements are the phoenix and the tree, which she identified as a Japanese Maple.

People with a lot of tattoos, I have discovered, either know exactly how many they have, or aren't sure, and have to try and figure it out. When I asked Tani the inevitable question, she did not hesitate. Fifteen in all.

"So," I asked, "are you getting any more?"

"No" she laughed, "I'm pretty much done."

Thanks to Tani for sharing her phoenix and maple with Tattoosday!
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