Under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

As mentioned in the previous post, I was having some luck spotting some tattoos while riding my bike along the path that runs along the southern tip of Brooklyn.

Last weekend, I was riding north and passed a woman sunbathing in a bikini in the grass along the bike path. I noticed she had some sort of intricate pattern inked on her foot. Yes, I am that committed to Tattoosday that when I see a woman in a bikini, I notice her foot!

However, I chose not to stop and disturb her and kept riding. Yet, the image of her tattooed foot hounded me, and by the time I had reached the 69th Street Pier and grabbed some water at a local store, I had decided to head back a couple of miles and see if she was still there.

Of course, she was gone. I stopped my bike and looked at the spot where she had been and thought of what might have been. I checked the time on my phone and was getting ready to head home when a guy named Danny walked by on the path. He has 12 tattoos. I approached him and we started talking about his ink.

Danny offered up this lower back piece:

This seemed the most appropriate tattoo to discuss as we were standing under the Verrazano Bridge. This long shot gives a better idea of the appropriateness of the tattoo:

Danny is Brooklyn-born and raised, and a lot of his friends growing up were graffiti artists. This street-style tattoo is true to his upbringing and a key element of his roots in South Brooklyn.

The piece was inked by Mr. Kaves at Brooklyn Ink. Danny explained that Kaves ran Brooklyn Ink before the current owner Joe had the shop (he has work by Joe as well). There's a nice piece about Mr. Kaves in Prick Magazine here.

Kaves is a founding member of The Lordz, a well-known rock-rap band. They were featured in five episodes of a show called "The Brooklyn Way" which aired on FUSE. The show website is here.

As an added bonus, here's a clip of the Lordz, featuring Everlast, performing their song "The Brooklyn Way":

Thanks to Danny for sharing his Brooklyn ink with us here on Tattoosday!
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Chris Honors His Mother with a Back Piece

Last weekend, while riding my bike along the Shore Promenade at the southern tip of Brooklyn, I spotted the back piece above.

Although it is not completed, Chris, to whom the tattoo belongs, was more then happy to share it with us.

The story of this tattoo goes back a bit. Chris explained to me that, when he was seventeen, his father took him to get a tattoo. He got a piece on the left side of his back. He recalls his mother being beside herself over this, upset that he had gotten a tattoo at such an early age.

You can tell from the photo that, on the left side, one of the wings is covering the previous tattoo. Eventually, one won't be able to tell it was there.

Chris' mother passed away several years ago and he began this back piece to honor her memory. The central figure is the religious icon from Mexico Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Not only is it a spiritual tribute, but it is a practical one in that it is covering up the tattoo that Chris so vividly recalls upsetting his mother.

This grand design has been a work in progress for three and a half years. Renee at Memphis Tattoo has been the artist working on the piece. Work from Renee at Memphis Tattoo (now called Top Shelf Tattoo) appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

Thanks to Chris for sharing his tribute to the memory of his mother with us here at Tattoosday!
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April's Tribal Piece

No offense to people with tribal tattoos, but they (the tattoos, not the people) generally don't generate much interest from me.

Unless they are incorporated into a bigger design concept (like this tiger lily piece), they don't seem particularly interesting. I know, I know, that's a sweeping generalization, and there will always be exceptions.

But tribal arm bands, anklets, or lower back designs are just that: designs. Often aesthetically pleasing, sometimes not. These tattoos (again, generally) are more about the look of the piece and the desire for a tattoo, than about a deep meaning about a specific person or event. Sure, you may have got that tribal piece to commemorate the time that your dog Lassie saved your son Timmy from a rattlesnake in the bottom of a well, but how does such a blogworthy event translate into an inked pattern?

But, I digress. The title of this post is "April's Tribal." On occasion, a tribal piece does call out to me, as April's did last Friday at the 86th Street subway platform in Bay Ridge. Again, there is no earth-shattering story behind it, and had it been smaller in scope on an ankle or lower back, I may have kept walking.

But April's tattoo is bold and striking:

She had this inked in Los Angeles in the early 1990s, by a friend with whom she has lost touch. He was just starting out as a tattooist.

She had initially envisioned having a short sleeve, but after the initial back piece was completed, she just never finished it off. April didn't seem too concerned, though: "It's on my back, so I never see it," she smiled.

Thanks to April for sharing her tribal piece with us here at Tattoosday!
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Untouchable is Something to Be

John had much ink and, as often happens when I ask, a previously unseen tattoo is revealed which is just as impressive as all the other visible work.

John offered up this right upper arm piece, a pin-up straddling a bomb. It's exceptional work and I found the source material on which this is based, a concert poster for the Against Me!:

The poster is from a October 14, 2005 gig in Portland, Oregon at Loveland, with the bands The Epoxies, Smoke or Fire and The Soviettes. The designer is Mark McCormick Lee Zeman* who is associated with the company Mad Pakyderms.

A little more detail from the tattoo:

John said that the art, and hence the tattoo, represents to him the sentiment that "untouchable is something to be". He had this done when he moved away from home, went out on his own, and started taking care of himself.

The detail in the tattoo is incredible. His wife Liz, who was with him, made sure I took a shot of the top of the piece and captured the detail and shading in the planes:

This was inked by Chance Kenyon out of Jack Brown's Tattoo Revival in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

fucking good tattoos

John was on his way back home from New York where he was spending his honeymoon with his new wife Liz. See the post below to see the tattoos John and Liz got to commemorate their union.

Thanks to John for sharing his awesome tattoo here on Tattoosday!

*I initially reported that Mark McCormick designed the poster, as it was attributed to him on the poster website, Expresso Beans. I e-mailed Mark through his company's website to tell him about the post and he wrote back:

Hey Bill!

That is AWESOME!!! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I am Mark McCormick, but Mad Pakyderms is myself and Lee Zeman. That particular poster was created by Lee. If you could credit him accordingly that would be amazing! I'll be sure to let him know about it and direct him to your site to see it for himself. I'm actually moving to NYC myself next month. Perhaps you'll see me on the street someday and ask me about my own tattoos. HA! Awesome site, man! Thanks again! Battle on!

I have amended the post to give proper credit to Lee Zeman. You can see more or Lee's work at here. If you've never checked out the gigposters site, do yourself a favor and go exploring. It's fun!
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Building Their Own Nation

At the tail end of my discussion with John about his tattoo (see the post above), he revealed that he was here in New York with his new wife Liz. Ah, a honeymoon in the Big Apple!

Liz and John posed the above tattoos for the occasion. I generally don't go on and on about the photos I take, but I just love how this photo came out: John's wrist nesting lightly in Liz's hand. The matter-of-fact delicacy and naturalness of their two arms connecting just makes the photo that much more compelling.

Anyway, Liz explained that this was the logo for the Young Pioneers, and that their slogan "Build your own nation," or "Make your own country," seemed an appropriate visual metaphor for a new life together.

And, I completely agree.

But, as a disclaimer, I had difficulty locating this exact emblem and connecting it to the youth organization in the former Soviet Union. But, my being able to do so is moot. The logo is striking and it's symbolism is brilliant.

Thanks to Liz and John for sharing their nuptial ink on Tattoosday. Here's wishing them a long, happy life together!
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Vicki's Shamrock Tattoo

Earlier this month, I posted this tattoo which was a tribute to Olivia Rose, a new daughter born to Vicki. I mentioned in the post that it was Vicki's tattoo below her neck which first grabbed my attention, but that Vicki offered up her newer piece for us here at Tattoosday.

Vicki has recently sent me a photo of the original tattoo I saw on her. It's a nice, simple shamrock and hearts.

This, like the other piece, was inked at True Blue Tattoo in Queens. Alex McWatt is the artist.

Vicki writes: "I got the design for a few reasons. First of all, I am Irish and I wanted to get something to celebrate my heritage without getting a flag tattoo. Second, my boyfriend, the love of my life, is 100% Irish, and I wanted to get a tattoo to symbolism me and him - that is what the two hearts are for. I chose to get it on the back of my neck so it would be out there for the world to see."

Thanks again to Vicki for sharing her ink here with us on Tattoosday!
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Vincent Bears the Spear of Longinus

I met Vincent Corrigan on the way to the subway on 33rd Street between 7th and 6th Avenues. It was a giant arm piece that crawled up under his shirt and onto his shoulder that first caught my eye.

However, he offered up the piece above and, in the course of speaking with him, I took pictures of three other tattoos that were notable. I am going to discuss them in reverse order.

First, this piece may be familiar to many:

That's the Guinness harp, a trademark recognizable to beer connoisseurs:

Not to overstate the obvious, but Guinness is a dry stout beer that originated in Dublin, and is thus a matter of pride for the Irish. Mr. Corrigan, as one might venture from his surname, is of Irish ancestry.

The harp is on the top of his left bicep and is one of his older pieces. In fact, he credits Ryoko at Brooklyn Tattoo for taking what was previously a bit of shoddy inkwork, revitalizing it with some excellent restoration and making a respectable tattoo out of it.

Further down the arm, on Vincent's inner left forearm, are two symbols I recognized immediately:

The top one is the logo familiar to fans of the band Audioslave. The fiery emblem appeared on the band's debut album cover.

Vince is a singer and a huge fan of the singer Chris Cornell (lead singer of Audioslave, and more famously, Soundgarden).
I also am a fan of Cornell's (although I haven't seen him in concert,
unlike Vince who guesses he's seen him twenty times).

Below the Audioslave logo is one of the four runes representing band members from Led Zeppelin:

These runes appeared first on the band's fourth album. The rune tattooed on Vincent's arm is the one on the far right and according to Wikipedia:

Robert Plant's symbol is the feather of the Egyptian goddess Ma'at, representing truth, justice, fairness and writing, encapsulated by an unbroken circle representing life. According to Egyptian mythology, Osiris, the god of judgment and death, would take the heart of those who died and put it on a balance with the feather of Ma'at. If the heart outweighed the feather, the person's soul would go to hell, but on the other hand, if the heart was lighter than the feather, the soul would go to heaven.

However, Plant's rune is significant to Vincent because he is the lead singer.

And now to the amazing piece at the top of this post, well worth another look:

Vincent indicates that this is the "Spear of Longinus," one of the many names given to The Holy Lance, which was the weapon used to pierce the side of Jesus Christ during the Crucifixion.

The name Vincent has an origin in the meaning of the word conqueror and the surname Corrigan
derives from a root word which means "spear" or "lance". It is this primary parallel that gave Vincent the urge to ink this relic of Christianity onto his arm. It appears that the tattoo is modeled after the Hofburg Spear which is kept in Vienna.

This spear is an object of fascination in literature and the arts, often as the subject matter for narratives pertaining to the Crusades, with a link in some cases to Ireland. This brings the spear of Longinus an additional link to Vincent's pride in his Irish ancestry.

The spear tattoo, along with the Audioslave and Robert Plant tattoos, was inked by artist Eric Wigger at The Devil's Rose Tattoo in Blue Point, New York, on Long Island.

Thanks to Vincent for sharing all his ink with us here at Tattoosday!
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Tattoosday, Across the Pond

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and earlier this month a young lass named Mel over in Newcastle contacted me to ask my blessing to spin off the blog over in England. I blessed and she's off with it. Check it out here.
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Kelly's Memorial for a Best Friend / Carpe Diem

I spotted this beautiful cross of flowers on the back of Kelly's neck in front of the entrance to Penn Station on Seventh Avenue.

Regular readers may sense a little bit of déjà vu. Did I say her name was Kelly? Sure did. She was, in fact, the third woman named Kelly whose tattoos I photographed in just two days.

Kelly's floral cross is a memorial for her best friend who died in the last few months. The tattoo was inked just a month ago. She didn't offer many details about her friend's death, nor did I press her for them, as she seemed to me that she was still deeply saddened by his passing.

It almost seemed appropriate that she had a second tattoo, which had been her first, inked on her left ankle about two years ago.

The phrase "carpe diem," Latin for "seize the day," is among the most popular "word tattoos," and for good reason. The concept of carpe diem has helped people live their lives proactively, rather than passively. Juxtaposed with a memorial for a young person who was taken from life early, it seems especially poignant.

Both tattoos were done by Civ at Lotus Tattoo in Sayville. Work from Lotus has appeared previously on Tattoosday here.

Thanks to Kelly for sharing her two tattoos with us here. The loss of a close friend is not easy. Here's hoping both pieces give her the strength she needs to move forward and past this difficult time.
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Kelly Remembers her Grandmother

This awesome portrait was jumping off of Kelly's right shoulder in Penn Plaza last Wednesday.

Kelly has ten tattoos in all, but she chose this portrait for Tattoosday, inked six years ago by Joey Ortega at Kingpin Tattoos in Harker Heights, Texas.

This was, according to Kelly, Ortega's first portrait, and he created for her a lasting memorial to her grandmother, who had meant the world to her.

The portrait is accompanied by the phrase "may angels lead you in," a lyric from the song "Hear You Me" by the band Jimmy Eat World:

May angels lead you in
Hear you me my friends
On sleepless roads, the sleepless go
May angels lead you in

Kelly was in town visiting with her friend Amber. They have matching tattoos. See them below here.

Thanks to Kelly for sharing such a meaningful tattoo here with us on Tattoosday!

Bonus footage- the video from "Hear You Me":

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Punx: Two Friends from Texas

This is a continuation of sorts, from the post above.

When I met Kelly, she was hanging out with her friend Amber. And although Kelly appeared to be the more inked of the two, Amber was very positive and enthusiastic about the concept behind Tattoosday.

So after taking a picture of Kelly's tattoo, I turned to Amber and asked if she wanted to share as well.

The two decided to show off their "Punx" tattoos, both inked on their wrists on the occasion of their 21st birthdays.

According to Amber and Kelly, the "Punx" label is affiliated with the band The Transplants, headed by Lars Fredrickson, formerly of the band Rancid. According to Kelly and Amber, it is common for fans of the band to get this tattoo as a mark of solidarity.

They don't remember the name of the shop where they had these spur of the moment tattoos done, but they do recall that it was a place near the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas.

Thanks to Amber and Kelly for being so cool and sharing their ink with us here at Tattoosday!
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