The Rising Sun

Despite the warmer weather, it was drizzly and overcast on Friday when I was walking north on Broadway at lunchtime.

Despite the occasional raindrop, the journey didn't warrant an umbrella. As I ambled toward Times Square, I passed a gentleman smoking a cigarette outside of a building. His arms were inked.

I walked to the corner contemplating whether I should head back and ask him about his tattoos. I dismissed the weak excuse of precipitation and wandered back and introduced myself.

He had multiple tattoos on both arms, but what jumped out initially were the pin-ups on the interior of his forearms:

I especially liked his newest piece, on the right, with the Stars & Stripes theme and what appeared to be a rising sun tattooed on the lower right buttock of the woman. "Great detail," I thought.

I handed him a printout and said that Tattoosday averages a modest 150 hits a day. He indicated he had a blog too, with significantly more traffic. I asked if I could get the site to link and he hesitated.

Remembering that he had met me only minutes before, and that people generally have strong opinions about lifestyles that may be different than theirs, his pause was understandable when he disclosed that his blog, The House of Richard Windsor (Mature Readers only), is dedicated to the fetish of, well, spanking.

I'm an open-minded guy and such a revelation hardly phased me. If anything, it made the encounter more interesting.

So, going by the name Richard Windsor, the possessor of the above tattoos is a 44-year old originally from the English town of Swindon.

He offered up the pin-ups happily. They actually represented the lifestyle he lived. On his left forearm is the "good girl". He drew her himself* and she was later inked by Kelly Krantz at FlyRite Studio in Brooklyn. The shop has previously been featured on Tattoosday here.

The opposite arm bears the Naughty Girl, as tattooed by Krantz most recently. Both were done at the same shop, although Krantz is now working out of Hold Fast Tattoos, in Williams-
burg, Brooklyn.

It was then that I made the additional connection. I said to him: "Oh, the mark on the Naughty Girl is a hand print! I thought it was a rising sun!"

Richard smiled and laughed, "Well, it is."


Anyway, thanks to Mr. Windsor for being so open and sharing his ladies with the denizens of Tattoosday!

*NOTE: Richard wrote to me, clarifying the design of the "good girl" after this posted:

I just want to clarify a little bit what I told you. While I did indeed sketch the first tattoo, all credit should really go to Kelly as his interpretation of my "very rough" drawing by far exceeded my expectations. He took my ideas and the finished product is actually his work, I shouldn't really take credit for what he created. All I did was provide the ideas and the original sketch, which in fairness was 100 times inferior to his creation.
Thanks to Richard Windsor for a) clarifying this matter and b) sending visitors this way to check out his pin-ups over here on Tattoosday!

A Trio of Stars, Remembering a Father

A few weeks back, at our local fashion and accessories store, I noticed three stars tattooed on the store manager's foot. I made a mental note that, when I returned, I should ask her about them.

I was in the store yesterday and the opportunity presented itself. From the sound of it, every employee in the store has ink, and most of them seem to be open to talking with Tattoosday.

But Samantha took the lead and offered up the three stars on her feet:

These were inked by Joe at Studio Enigma.

The triad of stars is a memorial to Samantha's father, who passed away about five years ago. She initially got the one large star, but then added the two others about 2 months ago to make a set of three, representing her and her two siblings, a brother and sister.

She chose to do these on her foot because it seemed to her like a different spot.

Thanks again for shining your stars on the blog, Samantha!

Tattoos I Know: Brooke's Back

Readers of Tattoosday may already be familiar with Brooke from her first appearance here, showing off her courage.

Well, she's back. Literally. The other day I spotted her wearing a sweater over a halter-top, so I thought I'd invite her back to show off her previously alluded-to koi.

From a distance, they look like wings, or perhaps even eyes:

But a closer examination reveals that they are two koi. For more on koi, jump here and follow the links.

Just to recap, Brooke is from Utah and currently lives in Hoboken.

Her first koi was inked on the right side of her back in May 2005. She was in Boise, Idaho, at the time, reeling from the end of a ten-year relationship. She was in a watering hole called Bittercreek Alehouse where, she estimates, she consumed a pitcher of mojitos. It was decided that a tattoo was on the menu for the evening so she headed over to 6th Street Studio in downtown Boise.

Brooke had heard the expression "bleeding out" when people had gone through the tattoo process. Rather than the threateningly negative meaning the phrase may have in the medical community, or the technical expression of flawed inking, Brooke understands the expression to reflect the fact that many people find the pain and the minimal blood shed of the tattoo process to be redemptive and healing.

Brooke spent time looking through books and found a design she liked, a traditional koi with a background of cherry blossom petals and waves. However, when working with John the artist, she had him enlarge the koi, brighten its color, and remove the background elements.

To her, the koi on her back symbolized moving past the ended relationship into a new chapter of her life.

Flash forward to December, seven months later, she was headed back to Boise. There was a celebrity event she wanted to attend with her friends, at which adult film director/producer/star Ron Jeremy was the main attraction. She met him at the event and the next night, was back at Bittercreek, enjoying their mojitos.

She headed back to 6th Street Studio and had John even out her back, placing another koi on the left side, facing the other.

The symmetry brought a nice balance to the ink on her back. John also gave a little touch-up to the original koi on her right side.

And here's a Tattoosday first: Brooke has provided pictures from the shop as she was getting the second koi:

And here's a photo with Brooke and Chris, the artist at 6th Street Studio:

Brooke loves her koi, which people often mistake for wings from afar. However, he finds them symbolic of her perseverance and courage.

There are many stories about koi and their significance in body art. One legend is that, when koi swim upstream and reach the source of the river, they transform into dragons. Brooke sees parallels to this in her own life, having swum away from home and reached the East Coast. She is not a dragon, but feels that her tattoos represent her transformation here in the New York City area.

Thanks gain to Brooke for sharing her ink and the great back story (no pun intended) behind these and the prior tattoo here. Next time you drink mojitos, think of koi and good fortune!

Alicio's Barbed Cross

Here's a quick one.

Last Sunday at the laundromat, I ran into Alicio who had this simple tattoo on the inside of his left forearm:
Designs are never just designs.

Alicio explained, "When I was growing up, religion was a big part of my life, but it caused me a lot of pain. I wanted something to represent that."

Alicio got this cross, with barbs on it to represent the pain. The tattoo is about two years old and he had it inked in Tucson, Arizona, where he lives. He was in Brooklyn, visiting.

Thanks to Alicio for his willingness to share his barbed ink with Tattoosday.

The First Two Elements of Omar's Sleeve

I was sitting in my local coffee establishment Sunday morning when I overheard some words that got my attention. Among the words uttered were “traditional,” “sleeve,” and “work”. I looked up to see a guy talking to the barista. He had a tattoo on his wrist. I waited until he was done talking to the guy behind the counter and spoke up when he walked by.

His name is Omar and he has two tattoos, both on his inner right forearm:

His first one is the nautical star, definitely a traditional piece:

He explained that, as he understood it, the nautical star tattoo is a common piece that represents a star guiding a sailor home on the right path. He had flames added to symbolize change, as it so often does in tattooing.

This was not inked at any shop, but by one of Omar's friends who is just learning the art of the tattoo. He pointed out that the line work was not perfect, but I wouldn't have noticed it without a harder glance.

The second piece is a traditional sugar skull, very similar to the one that appeared in Tattoosday's "Rad Tattoo from Nebraska" post:

Omar had first gone into Brooklyn Ink and discussed his second tattoo it was there that the artist recommended that he should stay traditional to be consistent with the nautical star.

He ended up in SoHo at Whatever Tattoo II where he had the sugar skull added. I'll be frank, I thought that the design was just a Day of the Dead piece and only recently learned of the significance of the sugar skull. These items are usually associated with the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday, and are made specifically for the ocasion using colored sugar. In the context of the tattoo they represent the dichotomy of life and death. This tattoo is only about two weeks old.

Omar says he plans to have a full sleeve dedicated to traditional tattoo symbols. He next hopes to add to the background of the skull with some flowers and other designs.

Thanks to Omar for his contribution to Tattoosday!

Tattoos I Know: Paul Part 2, or, The Traditional Japanese Sleeve

NOTE: This post was updated on March 31, 2008 with three additional photographs.

Here's a Tattoosday first: a repeat subject in this blog's history.

Paul appeared here first, showing off his first tattoo, a dragon. In this post, Paul returns, showing off a full sleeve on his left arm.

The sleeve consists of traditional elements: there is a dragon, a lotus, a mask, a lily, and a koi.

If you went back in a time machine 8 or 9 years to visit Paul's arm, you would have seen a grim reaper holding a skull on the bicep:

and some roses in a pattern on the forearm. These earlie
r tattoos have been covered by elements in the sleeve. Even when told where the original ink lies, it's extremely difficult to see the previous work.

So I will break this down into two sections: the upper arm and the lower arm.

The upper arm began with the dragon cover-up:

The dark rock below the dragon covered the old piece. This design, which included the aum or om symbol at the top of the arm, was inked by Carlos at Rising Dragon Tattoos in Chelsea back in 2001. The aum symbol is the Siddhaṃ script version and is a mystical and sacred symbol in Indian religions. Note that this om is different than the one that appeare din the first Tattoosday post here.

Paul was not 100% thrilled with the dragon, so when he decided to finish the sleeve, the following year, he went elsewhere.

The lower part of the arm, which is the more prominent part of the sleeve, was inked by Mike Bellamy at Red Rocket Tattoo in Manhattan, although at the time his shop was known as Triple X Tattoo.

The specific elements in the sleeve are all traditional irezumi, or Japanese tattooing, elements.

The largest piece is the koi. It appears to be a golden koi.

There's a whole discussion here on what koi tattoos symbolize.

In addition, one can read here about the symbolic nature of the lotus flower in tattoos.

Paul also
referred to the other flower as a spider lily.

However, there are so many different varieties of specific families of flowers, that I often have a hard time finding good pictures to represent the tattoos.

The additional element in the sleeve which is only a small part, but is still interesting is what Paul referred to as the "kite mask":

Masks are traditional parts of Japanese tattoo design, but this specific one is hard to pinpoint for me. Here are some Chinese mask kites. Yet, the fact that I cannot easily find one on the web, just fascinates me more.

Paul estimates that the whole sleeve (including the dragon from 2001) took about 20 hours of work, and he did it in 6-7 sittings, mostly in 2002.

Paul sent me the following photos from the New York City Tattoo Convention, where Mike Bellamy did some of the work on Paul's sleeve:

That's Paul and Mike on the far left of the photo:

Thanks to Paul for helping me update this post with additional shots!

Cathy's Cat-toos

I ran into Cathy at our local Rite Aid store where she was working replenishing the greeting cards stock.

Her short sleeves allowed her to more than adequately show off two tattoos on her upper arms. The first I saw was this astrological depiction of her birth sign:

That was, in fact, her first tattoo, inked back in 1993 at a shop in Philadelphia. No real explanation necessary. She is a Leo and wanted her sign depicted on her biceps. Leo was on the left.

Cathy has 8 tattoos in all. She has two on the upper part of her chest, 3 on her lower back and behind, and 1 below her navel along the waistline.

The tattoos on her chest were inked in London, and the one on her waistline was the only New York City tattoo.

The three on her lower back and the one on her right biceps were done at the same shop in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. She cannot recall the names of any of the shops or artists who tattooed her.

The one on her right biceps she's not completely happy with:

"It was supposed to be a female lion," she said, to go with the Leo, but it didn't come out quite right. She loves lions and other big cats.

She laughed and said, now that she thinks about it, she got the lioness on her right arm "the same time as I got my husband's name on my butt."

I did not ask about all of the tattoos that were completely covered. The tattoos on her chest are florals. She did say she would try to send me photos of the others.

Thanks again to Cathy again for sharing her lions here on Tattoosday!

Whole Lotta Rosary

So it was another Saturday night in Bay Ridge and we had just got home from a friend's house. The kids were getting ready for bed. My youngest, Shayna, was having a birthday party the next day. We were pretty much set on the party planning, but needed gift bags for party favors.

I headed off to the 24-hour Duane Reade, six blocks away. By the time I arrived, there were already a half-dozen things added to my list. I grabbed a cart (although in Brooklyn they refer to it as a wagon) and was somewhere in the haircare section (shampoo for kids) when two young ladies walked by.

I had brought, as always, my Tattoosday folder with fliers in it, along with my camera, despite the fact that it was cold and in the thirties. But one can never be too prepared. These women were dressed for the clubs, coatless, bare-armed, and high-heeled. I spotted a tattoo on one of the women's feet.

I thought about asking her then and there about it, but I balked. These were two attractive young women in a drugstore late at night and I wasn't up for the challenge of being scrutinized as a creep.

Besides, I reasoned, it's only a rosary tattoo. Nothing extraordinary about that. Let me just leave them alone, I thought, they're obviously headed to some club.

But I ran into them/passed them a couple more times and, each time, I cursed myself more for being too cowardly to ask. So what if its just a rosary? Here at Tattoosday, it's not just about the ink, but about the story behind the ink.

I was at the front part of the store, trying to decide which individually-wrapped candies would be the least damaging to my children's teeth (for the party bags), when they headed my way, on their way out of the store. I figured, "what the heck?" and asked the young lady about her tattoo.

This was not the first tattoo I took a picture of. Before I knew it, woman said "Wanna see a sick tattoo?" And she turned around and lifted the back of her shirt up to reveal, indeed, this very sick tattoo:

Wow. Sweet. Which just goes to show, Tattoosday Rule #1: Don't dismiss the "ordinary" tattoo. There may be extraordinary ones just out of sight!

Her name is Layla and she was very cool. I snapped the above shot and then asked if I could take the rosary one as well, since that's what caused me to stop and talk to her.

Both were inked by her friend Vito at King's County Tattoo Co.. She got the rosary modeled after Nicole Richie's tattoo. The awesome lower back piece she inked when she was 19. She was young and rebelling against her parents, she said, and she didn't want a small lower back tattoo like everyone else had, she wanted something big and bold. Check out this detail:

It's beautiful work.

I noticed that she also had a cross on her left forearm and I gave my standard Tattoosday patter: check out the blog in a few days, and feel free, if you like what you see, to email me if she wants to share more of her ink with the world.

I turned to her friend, , and said, naively, and when you get a tattoo, let me know, and I'll put yours on too. She proudly replied, "I have seven already." Silly me, and then I noticed the rosary on her right foot.

Like Layla, Lisa's rosary tattoo is inspired by Nicole Richie's. In fact, Lisa said, hers is an exact replica of Nicole Richie's (below):

I extended the same offer: if you like what you see on the blog, let me know, we can always have you come back as a recurring tattoo feature.

I thanked both ladies and they headed out while I went back to searching for the elusive gift bags.

Thanks to Layla and Lisa for their willingness to put their night on hold, and sharing their tattoos!

By Philip's Own Design

Perhaps it is a sign that winter is coming to an end, perhaps it is just being in the right place at the right time. On Tuesday, February 26, I was browsing in the Chelsea Salvation Army store. And I saw a guy browsing with this cool tattoo on the bottom section of his forearm:

He was in a bit of a rush, so I snapped a photo and he said he would e-mail me the information that I normally ask about tattoos later on. I did learn this, his name was Phil Dusel, he was an artist, and I could check out his website here.

Later in the week, he did write back, and this is what he had to say about the piece:

He "got the tattoo done at Read Street Tattoo Parlour in Baltimore, unfortunately I couldn't find the name of the artist".

Phil explained the design in greater detail: "the design is of two fish swimming in a circle, the heart shapes came naturally out of the drawing, and I decided to accent them in red...I guess it says something about love, but ... the meaning ... had more subconscious origins."

Here's a look at it inverted, from a different perspective:

He continued, "It was my 3rd inking, I have 5 tattoos" in all.

Here's one piece of art from Philip Dusel:

Thanks to Phil for contributing to Tattoosday and following up with e-mail. I truly appreciate it.