Rob's Rite of Passage

I braved a trip to Staples on Sunday, contrary to my notion of self-preservation. September in Staples is one of the outer circles of Hell, at least in my neighborhood, where it seems everyone with children goes for their school supplies. Everyone.

But I digress. On a mission for a printer cartridge, I spotted Rob, who is covered moderately by tattoos. I approached him with a flier, which he was already familiar with, as I had handed him a few weeks back when he was sitting in the front of Brooklyn Ink, a nearby tattoo shop.

If you read Tuesday's post, you can see how many different folks have contributed their ink to these hallowed pages. I estimate that only 1 out of 7 people I approach actually participate, so estimate that in the past year, I've spoken to (conservatively) six to eight hundred people about
Tattoosday. Sometimes I forget a name and or a face.

So, it's amazing to me that I've only, by my best estimates, only asked people about their ink a second time on maybe five occasions.

Once Rob reminded me who he was, I remembered him from the shop, and he told me I could stop by any time and take pictures of his tattoos.

It was then that I qualified one of the things that makes Tattoosday special. I won't go to shops to take pictures. That's just too easy. Like shooting fish in a barrel. The sport is in the random stumbling upon a fellow citizen of the inked nation.

So, to make a long story short, he offered up the piece above (posted so long ago, I will show it again).

This was tattooed by Alex at Brooklyn Ink, and the placement on the hand is as significant as the piece itself.

For many tattoo artists, the inking of the hands is a rite of passage. Once you tattoo your hands, it is very tough, nearly impossible, to hide the fact that you are a tattooed individual. The tattoo in theory meant that there was no turning back and that he was fully devoted to his craft.

He chose the sparrow flying through the horseshoe as both are emblems of good luck. I particularly admire the perspective created by the back wing of the bird behind the horseshoe and the front wing in the foreground. This device adds a nice depth to the piece.

Thanks to Rob at Brooklyn Ink for sharing his momentous tattoo here with us on Tattoosday!
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Paul's 9/11 Memorial

Earlier this month, I mentioned meeting Paul here, on the bike path that runs along the southern tip of Brooklyn.

I saved the other tattoo photo I took of Paul's work for today, the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

What I didn't mention in the previous post is that Paul is a federal agent who grew up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

From his vantage point there, he watched the World Trade Center being built in the late 1960's. He was working in 6 World Trade seven years ago for the U.S. Customs Department when the towers came down, and he spent four months at Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island, searching for remains.

The tattoo is a poignant piece, with the sun shining between the towers. Below is Paul's badge from the Department of Homeland Security, which has evolved into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Particulatly unusual is the depiction of 9/11 in Roman numerals:
I don't believe I had ever seen it represented that way before.

Like the tattoo in the earlier post, this piece was inked by Joe at Brooklyn Ink.

Thanks to Paul for sharing this WTC memorial piece with us here on Tattoosday.

Click here for work from Brooklyn Ink appearing previously on this blog.
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A Patriotic Tattoo for Patriot Day

I ran into Rob in my neighborhood in late August and he gladly shared his patriotic tattoo.

Rob is a Revolutionary War buff and has a distinct interest in American history.

He wanted an "old school" tattoo back in 2000, and wanted something patriotic back "before it was fashionable". He's referring of course, to the explosion of post-9/11 red, white and blue ink. He wasn't disrespecting or being critical of patriotic tattoos done after 2001, he was merely clarifying for me that his piece was not a product of the huge wave of emotion that surged through the country after that day of infamy seven years ago.

Rob's "Land of the free, Home of the brave" banner with the original 13-star flag was inked by Darren Rosa at Rising Dragon in Manhattan. Work from Rising Dragon has appeared on Tattoosday previously here.

Thanks to Rob for sharing his red, white, and blue patriotic tattoo with us here on Tattoosday on this occasion.
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Repost for Patriot Day: Mike's Tribal 9/11 Tribute

The following excerpt predates the official launch of Tattoosday as a stand-alone blog. I think it's fitting to revisit this tattoo that I spotted on September 4, 2007:

I made another pass and headed back home. Once I made my way to the Shore Road promenade, where I do the majority of my cycling. I have several spots along the several-mile route from which I can head home. I decided to go down to the 92nd Street footbridge. Standing on the bridge was a gentleman who seemed to be cooling off from running. He had earbuds in and a large biceps piece. He also had an ankle piece and another tattoo on his triceps.

I passed him while walking my bike and then headed back and said loudly, "Excuse me!" He removed his earbuds and I explained my mission. He was game. His name was Mike and he had 6 tattoos in all and didn't mind which one I photographed. I asked him which one was the most special and he held up his arm and pointed to the piece on his triceps. This one:

He explained it a tribal Native American designed mixed with the American flag which he got as a tribute after 9/11. The piece was done by Craig Cooley at Abstract Tribal Tattooing in Brooklyn. I asked him if he was a fireman, and he said, "No, a police officer." I thought, with the 6th anniversary of September 11 just a week away, it was a perfect punctuation mark to end a week of tattoo-spotting, and to begin a week of reflection on this somber anniversary.
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Mercedes Honors Family Members with her Ink

Mercedes doesn't remember the specific shops where she got her ink, but each piece honors members of her family, both living and gone.

Mercedes is a make-up artist that has very close ties to her family, and these relationships have manifested themselves on her tattoos.

The piece I first noticed, on her right arm, was this one:

This is actually comprised of two parts, the rose and the ankh. The rose was her first tattoo, inked because her mother and grandmother were both named Rosa. The ankh and the name "Iggy" were done as a memorial for her brother who had passed away.

Her neck/upper back piece is actually three tattoos inked in succession:

Mercedes started with the top segments, which she described as tribal dolphins. They are in honor of her niece, who is a Pisces.

Next is the piece below the dolphins, which is a representation of fire that corresponds to Mercedes' birth sign Aries, whose zodiac element is fire.

Below that are flames rising from the number 3. This is for her nephew. The flames correspond to his sign, Leo, whose zodiac element is also fire, and the number represents that he is third in the family line.

Thanks to Mercedes for sharing her ink with us here on Tattoosday!
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Tattoosday Celebrates Its First Bloggiversary!

I know, I know. You may recall a post from July 31 of this very nature. A year of tattoo blogging in New York City. But this is slightly different.

A year ago today, as I was celebrating BillyBlog’s 2nd year in the ether, I launched Tattoosday as a separate blog, apart from the weekly Tuesday post on its parent site. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since then, Tattoosday has grown in leaps and bounds, although it is still in its infancy, by blogosphere standards.

What’s remarkable is this: after three years, BillyBlog has 69,100 hits. After one year, Tattoosday is just over 65,000. The numbers have astonished me, from 120 hits in all of last September, to 3000 hits in January, 6500 in May, and cracking the 10,000 barrier in June, July and August.

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But enough of that, when I first started Tattoosday, I wondered if people would even give me the time of day. I started with friends and co-workers, but quickly moved to the streets. And although I’ve had a few people ignore me completely, most folks are receptive to the idea, and there are a lot who bought in and shared their ink with me.

Some more numbers. I’ll discount the pre-September 8 posts, which were imported from the BillyBlog archives.

Since last September 8, I have written 201 posts for Tattoosday. Of those 201 posts, 15 were on the subject of the blog or tattoos in the news, but 186 were posts of people’s ink. 18 were in the “Tattoos I Know” category and 10 were pictures that were e-mailed to me from people in the blogosphere, friends of friends, or strangers who I met and subsequently sent me photos.

So, 158 posts were comprised of encounters in the street with strangers, people I didn’t know, who were kind enough to share their tattoos and the stories behind them with me and the Tattoosday audience.

You may be wondering where I crunched all these numbers from. A spreadsheet, of course. The same spreadsheet tells me that the blog, in a year’s time, featured photos of 287 tattoos. That’s a ton of ink. The shop that has had work appeared here most often is Brooklyn Ink, which happens to be the shop nearest my home. Just look at the blogrolls and see the sheer volume of different shops listed. It’s staggering. The number is certainly a testament to the popularity of tattooing in the United States and beyond.

63 tattoo posts came from Brooklyn, 110 from Manhattan. Penn Plaza, my favorite spot for meeting the inked, was the site of 33 of those 110 posts.

But all of that aside, I want to thank everyone who has participated, and to all of you who visit regularly. Those of you who let me photograph your tattoos make this venture possible, and without a readership, this would be a lot less fun. Knowing I have an audience makes this project that much more fulfilling.

Thanks to everyone who has helped contribute to the Tattoosday microcosm. Whether you are an occasional reader, a one-time contributor, or an avid fan, I appreciate each individual who helps make Tattoosday what it is.

Here’s to a great second year!

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Mike Remembers Mom with a Traditional Tattoo

I met Mike in the Penn Plaza area and asked him, among his countless tattoos, which had the most meaning for him. I may have mentioned before that asking a multi-tattooed individual that is like asking a parent to choose his favorite among his multiple children. Mike shared this feeling,
but ultimately chose to offer up the piece above.

It's a traditional mom tattoo that he had to honor her memory after she passed away in January of this year from cancer.

The piece was inked by Tasha at NY Hardcore Tattoo in Manhattan.

Mike offered up his knuckle tattoos, as well:

Thanks to Mike for sharing some of his ink here at Tattoosday!
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James and His Tree of Life

I spotted this Tree of Life tattoo on Court Street in downtown Brooklyn and started talking to James about it.

It was inked by an ex-girlfriend of his about ten years ago.

The tattoo consists of the tree of life, under which sits Buddha (or The Acorn Man) who is holding a chalice. James pointed out that he is surrounded by a serpent, although it's hard to tell in the piece.

Below it is a rune of protection.

Thanks to James for sharing this tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!

Update: One of My regular readers, Livia Indica, who blogs at NeoPagan Ink, pointed me to this source, the Cernunnos on the Gundestrup cauldron:

James told me it was a Buddha, but the similarity between the tattoo and this Celtic god is worth noting. Thanks Livia!
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