Sunday, November 7, 2010

Megan's Empress Impresses

I spotted Megan at the end of September walking down West 23rd Street in Chelsea.

She has an amazing sleeve-in-progress but, because it is still unfinished, she offered up this tattoo, on her upper right arm, instead:

This tarot card is significant because her mother is from the Caribbean and she grew up with SanterĂ­an religion in her household.

She has a profound respect for tarot cards and based on the time and date of her birth, has what she refers to as a "weird numerology".

This card is known as L'Impératrice,or The Empress, and has a very positive meaning. As interpreted by one site (here):

The Empress seems to be sure of herself, calm, intelligent, worthy. This major arcana represents the capacity, the Empress clothing is luxurious and invaluable.

This arcana is extremely positive...

...In the right position the Empress represents the intelligence, dignity, the authority, the mother, the wife, the right decisions.

The detail in this tattoo is amazing:

The art was inked by Annie Lloyd at Three Kings Tattoo in Brooklyn. Work from Three Kings has appeared previously on Tatoosday here.

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

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Brandice's Family Ink

I met Brandice in Penn Station back in August, as she sat on the stairs by the New Jersey transit terminal. She shared her half-sleeve-in-progress on her right arm.

This is the inside of the arm:

Brandice explained that her work is a tribute to her family. The Confederate Flag is a nod to her family from the South, most of whom come from Virginia.

I had to ask if she had any reservations about inking the flag on her arm, since some people see such a symbol in a negative light. She acknowledged that she took this into consideration, but decided that it is part of her family history, and that when she explains this to people, they understand. She does not wear it to make a statement but, rather, to honor where her family is from.

The "Daddy" is a memorial nod to her father who passed away and the phrase "Family Tradition" reinforces the central theme of the tattoo, and further acknowledges her Southern heritage.This is an allusion to Hank Williams, Jr. and his song (and album) "Family Tradition".

On the second part of the tattoo, the design is filled with additional meaning, with her cousin represented by the skull,

and the skull with the bow represents herself. The banner bearing the initials MLC is a nod to her grandmother. She has used symbols to represent the living and names for those who have passed.

The dogwood flowers in the tattoo have religious meaning as well, in addition to being the state flower and state tree of Virgina. The magnolias are also shout-outs to her southern family heritage.

Brandice has about eight hours of this tattoo done so far, all by Dan Paone at White Lotus Tattoo and Art Gallery in Tom's River in New Jersey.

Thanks to Brandice for sharing her tattoo steeped in family traditions with us here at Tattoosday!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

John Shares More Than Just a Fly on the Wall

I met John walking down 7th Avenue in the upper 20s back in the beginning of September.

He has six tattoos, but it was this one, on his left side, that I spotted through the hole cut in the side of his t-shirt:

Fans of the popular British graffiti artist Banksy will recognize this as a tattoo based on his work. Another Banksy-inspired tattoo appeared here on Tattoosday in October of 2009.

Why this design? Aside from the fact that John likes the imagery, he especially likes the dripping effect at the bottom of the piece, as if it was spray-painted on. He also related to the ape's sign that reads "Laugh now but one day we'll be in charge".

The piece was inked at Tattooville in Neptune, New Jersey.

Here's a shot of the original Banksy work:

John offered up, an additional tattoo, as well:

Yes, that's a fly tattooed under his right armpit.

John explained that this was tattooed by an artist under the moniker "Porkchop" at Asbury Park's Parlor Gallery. It was part of an occasional event called "Fly Day Friday".

If that sounds bizarre, it gets even crazier. If you present Pork Chop with an item that was bought for under $5.00, and he finds it valuable, he will trade it for one of his fly tattoos.

John successfully presented an item and got the tattoo in exchange.

"What did you offer?" I asked.

"A sock puppet," he replied.


Thanks to John for sharing these unusual tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


It's not often that I get someone to share facial tattoos here on Tattoosday, but the occasion arose last month while I was browsing at one of my favorite inkspotting locales, the Borders in Penn Plaza.

I was lucky to meet Catanya, who I noticed had interesting markings on her face, and I was compelled to ask her about the ink. She gladly posed and told me a little about the designs.

Catanya explained that she got her tattoos in the 1970's in New York. She was involved as a dancer in the art scene and eventually married a photographer and relocated to New Mexico and currently resides in Baja, California.

She referred to herself as a "gypsy tribal belly dancer hula hooper" and explained that the design on her forehead is a yin-yang, the tattoo on the right side of her face is Apache feathers, and that the left side and chin are Moroccan in their origins.

Catanya also told me that she had been photographed by someone named Stanley Stellar many years ago here in New York, and that he might have photos from those early days.

Thinking it would be great to have a photo of Catanya from when she was much younger with these tattoos, I tracked down Mr. Stellar and asked if he still had access to his photographs. He completely came through and forwarded this shot:

I certainly feel  fortunate to be able to share photos of the same tattoos, separated by thirty-three years.

Such an opportunity allows us to see an example of how one person has aged gracefully, along with her tattoos.

Catanya subsequently emailed me and elaborated on her tattoos and their history:

Back in the early 1970's I was part of a "tribal style" group of dancers and musicians from all over the world. The main things we had in common were our love of the Dance, world music, colorful costumes and even more colorful life styles. That included Henna, Kohl rimmed eyes and LOTS of Tattoos! We also sported plenty of nose jewelry!   The tattoos for all of us were personal and also tribal, (as can be seen in India, Morocco and other  exotic places around the world.) I do not think that any of us took our tattoo ceremonies lightly. 

I received my first tattoos in Venice, Calif. in 1973.

I like to think of it as an initiation ceremony. It was wonderful! Lots of music and dancing and plenty of red wine and good herbs.

My tattoos were applied the "old fashioned" way. India Ink, a needle and a broken pen.

They were done by two brothers from Cuba. They were also fantastic Conga drummers!

A few years later, I had a few more tattoos added to my collection. These were executed by a wonderful tattoo artist, Boyd, in Taos, New Mexico.

I do not regret any of my tattoos and find as the years go by that I am actually "earning" them. I am becoming them. They ARE a personal manifestation of my journey in life.

As my friend Walter once said to me, (referring to my Eagle feathers tattoo), "Catanya, when I look into your eyes, I see that you are growing your real Eagle feathers."

Walter Chappell and Catanya, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1985
© 1985, 2008 Robert Saltzman
The photo above was taken by Catnya's husband about eight years after Mr, Stellar's photo, with the late photographer Walter Chappell, their friend quoted by Catanya in her testimony.

I want to profusely thank Catanya for allowing me to photograph her and for sharing her tattoos with me, and all of us here on Tattoosday! It's an encounter like this that really stands out among the hundreds I have had over the last few years. To be able to see how someone has so gracefully and proudly worn their tattoos over time is truly an honor and a blessing.

I also want to thank Stanley Stellar for sharing his photograph of Catanya from so many years ago. You can see more of Mr. Stellar's photography here. Be sure to check out his wonderful tattoo photos under the "images" section.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween from Tattoosday!

Here at Tattoosday, we're celebrating Halloween by posting the spookiest tattoo seen in the last month or so. Well, maybe not the spookiest, but certainly the most holiday-related tattoo:

This was offered up by Robert, who I met in Borders Penn Plaza last month. And yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, that is Frankenstein driving a Chevy (that's the stick shift he's gripping). Robert credits Adel at Addiction NYC with this tattoo.

Thanks to Robert for helping us celebrate Halloween here on Tattoosday!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ashlee Channels Snow White

This work in progress is on Ashlee's arm:

The tattoo features Snow White at the top of the arm, with the witch's hand proffering an apple, wrapping around the arm:

Ashlee explained that the tattoo is commenting on how superficial the world is and how the idea of Beauty was the downfall of the title character, at least until she was rescued from her poison-induced slumber.

The tattoo is the work of Eric at King Pin Tattoos in Harker Heights, Texas. Work from Kingpin appeared previously in August 2008 on Tattoosday here.

Thanks to Ashlee for sharing her work with us here on Tattoosday!