Rad Tattoos from Nebraska

There are no defined rules for asking folks to volunteer for Tattoosday, but I have alluded to some personal guidelines, like the reluctance to interrupt people who are talking, or my tendency to select individuals who are stationary and generally alone. I have also said I will not follow people. Too creepy, generally speaking.

However, when something spectacular presents itself, all bets are off.

Friday morning, around 11:30 am, I was facing North on the southwest corner of 34th Street and 6th Avenue, on the outskirts of Herald Square, when I saw a heavily-tattooed woman across the street, walking with a guy, heading West. When the light changed, I had already decided to go take a closer look.

About half-way down the block, in front of Macy's, I caught up and without hesitation, tapped her on the shoulder and interupted her discussion with her companion. What inspired me to such boldness? Why this, dear readers:

Although not a completely finished back piece, it was breathtaking, especially if one admires quality ink. Click on the photo to enlarge. She also had tattoos running on both arms as well, neither of which I photographed.

I did my basic introduction and she was immediately receptive. Her name was Jill and she hailed from Nebraska.

After agreeing to participate, I asked her to offer me a piece that she felt most sentimental about. She had a hard time answering. I elaborated, "What one do you have the best memories about?" She selected the one I would least likely have chosen, but I was thankful that she was letting me add her to Tattoosday.

At the top of her right foot, at the bottom of the leg, she had the word "Rad" tattooed.

Jill explained that she and five friends had gone out together and each had a word inscribed on them permanently. The memory of the event clearly had an impact on her. When I asked "Why RAD?" She shrugged, "It's just a word I liked. One of my other friends had gnarly tattooed on her neck."

The tattoo was done in Omaha, Nebraska at Liquid Courage Tattoo and Piercing by the artist Jason Brown.

She said technically she only had 6 tattoos in all. She counted her 2 sleeves as one apiece. And I'm guessing she counted the back as one whole as well, despite the many components.

Well, I didn't want to take up too much of her time, standing in the sidewalk. In fact, while chatting with her, a couple stopped and the woman complimented her on her tattoos. With art like this, I'd imagine she gets that a ton!

I asked if I could take a shot of her back, she agreed. I thanked her and ambled off. I did notice when I uploaded the photo to the home computer later that the back piece still needs a little coloring which might be why she didn't offer it up right away as the tattoo I should photograph.

Of course, I want to dwell on the back a little longer. The script states "Traveler to the Grave".
I will take a stab at interpretation and attribute it as a reference to the lyrics of "How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?", a song from Morrissey's 2004 album You Are the Quarry:

But even I, As sick as I am, I would never be you
Even I, As sick as I am, I would never be you
Even I, Sick and depraved, A traveler to the grave
I would never be you, I would never be you

I also love the image on the neck, which is traditionally known as a calavera, attributed to the Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead in Latin American cultures.

The heart on the left side of the back is, I am surmising, a tribute to her grandfather. The strap of Jill's top covers up the first date partially, but I am leaning toward 1927-2004 as the span at the bottom of the heart.

Thanks to Jill for so kindly sharing her art with me! If you're reading this, Jill, and feel like sending me any shots of your sleeves, feel free to e-mail me. I hope you had a wonderful trip to New York City. Thanks for brightening my day!