Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Matt's Golden Silence

I met Matt one afternoon as he stood among the masses at the southwest corner of Madison Square Garden, waiting for a bus out of town.

This is his tattoo which he shared with us, covering his upper right arm:

The message is simple: silence is golden. I love how the side skulls spill off of the front skull, and how the teeth of the primary jaw are fused together.

Matt attributes this piece to "deep life experiences" and how it serves as a reminder to keep his head on straight.

He told me he's "been low and wants to stay higher" and that "keeping what I've done to myself has given me the ability to achieve what I have in life".

This tattoo was inked by Loki M. LaChapelle when he was at Kaleidoscope Tattoo & Art Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Loki now works out of Mazel Custom Tattoo & Piercing in Everett, Massachusetts.

Thanks to Matt for sharing his tattoo with us here on best-tatto-design!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tattoo from a Francophile

Earlier this summer, I posted a couple of tattoos from Joe, seen here.

Needless to say, Joe became a fan, and updated me with a new tattoo, below:

Joe explains:

"The picture is fresh from the artist finishing it. It is "C077X" and is a nod to James Franco and General Hospital. He is my fav actor and I have been watching General Hospital for at least 21 years. It is the the tag that "Franco" sprayed on everything when he recently guest starred on GH as an artist/serial killer. His character's name is Franco, reflecting that art imitates life. A motto the actor and character believe, and so do I. That is why I got the tattoo. To prove art imitates life!"
Photo Credit: ABC via
The tattoo was inked by Rob at Brooklyn Ink. Rob originally appeared here as a contributor here. And is one of several artists that has represented Brooklyn Ink over the years on best-tatto-design. This label links all of the work from the shop previously seen on best-tatto-design.

Thanks to Joe for sharing his new tattoo with us here on best-tatto-design!

Monday, September 27, 2010


I know that I was supposed to post pictures of Noah on Wednesday, unfortunately he wasn't feeling well so he couldn't come in. I'll be seeing him this Wednesday though so no worries...

So last night everyone else was booked so I was able to take a few small walkins. I had these two sisters from Australia come in and they wanted matching heart outlines on their feet. I never understood why people want only outlines, but who am I to tell them what to get. If they want an outline, that's what they get. Here's a shot of one of them... I was happy with the linework, it really wasn't too complicated, just took my time.

After these two, another woman came in for her first tattoo and wanted her daughter's names... Anna drew the lettering for her and she liked what she drew, she just wanted a bit more filligree stuff around it. After modifying the drawing a bit we ended up with this....

I was also happy with how this turned out, I wish that I could have approached the swirls a little differently. This was the most challenging so far. I really love to draw lettering, now its time to get really good at tattooing it. There are some things about this tattoo that I wish I could have done differently.... but I definitely learned alot from this one and the next time I do some lettering I'll apply that. This woman was super sweet and the two lovely daughters we with her to see it :)

Meeting really sweet people really made it all the better. It's a bummer when you have people that walk in that are just complete and utter jerks.

I'm not tattooing again until Wednesday... Noah is supposed to come in again. I also have Josh this week to work on his tribal fixer-upper.

More to come.....

Rachel's Bird Helped Her Let Go

The same night I met Brian, I met Rachel, who has eight tattoos.

She shared this one with me:

This piece on her left biceps is based on the work of artist Kurt Halsey. This little bird appears in multiple works by the artist, but Rachel imagined it for her own personal situation. She got it after a break-up a couple of years ago, and the tattoo gave her the strength to "let the bird go". In this case, the bird represents the ended relationship and the tattoo is a transitional piece that helped her recover from the difficulty of moving past it.

From Memphis, Tennessee, Rachel had this inked at Underground Art Tattoos and Body Piercing by Chris Fitzgerald. Chris had been a piercer at the shop and then moved into tattooing. He has since left tattooing and moved to photography. His new business is Cult Noir Photography, and his work can be seen here.

Thanks to Rachel for sharing her tattoo with us here on best-tatto-design!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Brian's Ink Speaks About Art

I met Brian in Barnes & Noble, Union Square, back in August and he shared two tattoos with us. Put your thinking caps on, folks, because Brian, who is a video artist (website here), has very cerebral ink.

First up is this tattoo, on Brian's left biceps:

This tattoo is based on an illustration entitled "Every Night We Are Haunted by a Dream" by the artist Alfred Kubin (1877-1959).

Jede Nacht besucht uns ein Traum (Every Night We are Haunted by a Dream), ca. 1902-03
Pen and ink, brush, wash, and spray on paper
39.1 x 31.8 cm (15 3/8 x 12 1/2 in.)
Albertina, Vienna
Brian explained that this work corresponded very closely to the publication of Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams, and that Kubin's illustration represents "art between the cusp of pre-surrealism/expressionism and surrealism". It speaks to Brian's understanding of the perception of dreams and art.

Brian also had these words inscribed on his inner right forearm:

The words "Créer Dangereusement" are the French title of a 1957 essay by Albert Camus entitled "Create Dangerously". This "essay on realism and artistic creation" likewise spoke to Brian who acknowledged that "all art is a political act". It makes perfect sense, if you think about it, in that no great work of art was ever created by the artist playing it safe. It is those who created dangerously that are remembered as trailblazers and icons in their respective fields.

Brian had both of these tattoos done in Austin, Texas.

Thanks to Brian for sharing his artistic ink with us here on best-tatto-design!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Danny's Koi Struggles Upstream

I met Danny in Penn Station early in August just as he was about to board a train.

Before he headed to his platform, however, he allowed me to take this photo of his tattoo-in-progress on his upper right arm:

He explained that the koi swimming upward on his bicep represented that he was still moving upstream, that is, he was "still overcoming struggles, trials and tribulations". He added that he would get another koi on his left arm, facing downstream, when he had completed his struggle in life.

Before we could talk further, however, he had to run for his train. Fortunately for me (and for you, dear Readers), he e-mailed me shortly thereafter with some more details:

"The leaves are Japanese maples...Everyone gets the traditional lotus flowers, etc. But I chose a leaf that represents no religion or significant meaning to it. I would have gone with the Korean national flower [Hibiscus syriacus] but that, too, had meaning behind it. Many flowers that are traditionally on bodies are either Buddhist or Catholic, etc. Coming from a Christian background, I chose one without any meaning. How can I live with a Buddhist lotus on my arm?

At the time I got the tattoo I was confused with life... Direction, purpose, goals, meaning.. I had obstacles and self goals I had to achieve and was in a standstill (not drug-related or any of that sort). I looked to the pain tattooing offers and how it puts your mind in a zoned-out state, which I now thrive for when I'm stressed. It's therapy to me. I'll update you when I find an artist to finish this tattoo. The windbars were left open to expand."

The tattoo was done by Lee at Infinity Tattoo in Manhattan.

Thanks again yo Danny for sharing his koi with us here at best-tatto-design!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Steve's Sleeve of Leaves Ushers in the Fall Season

Earlier this month, I met Steve on the D train, as we headed home to Brooklyn.

He had a veritable panorama of fall foliage on his left arm and he happily shared his autumnal tattoos with us here at best-tatto-design.

It only seemed fitting that, as summer has ended, we celebrate the new season with some fall colors.

Behold, Steve's sleeve o' leaves:

The eleven maple leaves on Steve's arm were all inked free hand by Mark Harada at Manhattan's East Side Ink over four sittings.

Steve acknowledges that the leaves changing colors represent a change, and these colorful symbols remind him that change is good.

Happy Autumn to all! And thanks to Steve for sharing his fallen maple leaves with us here on best-tatto-design!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

catch up

So I forgot to get on here yesterday to post my tattoos.

Monday I tattooed two walkins, a small heart on the wrist and small hibiscus on the wrist. Here they are. I was having a really stressful day on top of it.... need to keep my mind focused. Ever have those days when everything you do and say is just off somehow? That was one of those days for me.

This heart didn't stress me out as much as the hibiscus. There are alot of ways that I know to do it better next time. Still need to work on making my lines deliberate, and work on how I'm going to color before I start. Top to bottom.

I struggled a little bit with the swirly lines, but after I chatted with Bill about better stretching, things went just fine. I know for next time now.

This was the tattoo I put on Ashley yesterday.... this went by alot smoother I think and I know she was happy to get it. I think next time I'll use a smaller liner on the flowers, but overall i like the design she picked out, and I got to try out making the brush stroke look.

I get to tattoo Noah again tonight. More pictures to come.


Sara's Psalm Speaks to the Desires of Her Heart

I met Sara on the 36th Street subway platform in Brooklyn last month during the late afternoon rush hour commute.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for words and this tattoo looked poetic:

Sara filled me in. She has three tattoos and this passage "spoke to her". She wanted something religious for her 30th birthday.

This is an excerpt (verse 4) from Psalm 37 in the Bible.

The verse reads "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" [King James Version]. Sara changed the thee and thine to read me and my, respectively, making the verse more personal.

This was tattooed by Alex Franklin at Brooklyn Ink in Bay Ridge. Work from Brooklyn Ink (and much from Alex) can be seen on this best-tatto-design label here.

Thanks to Sara for sharing her source of inspiration with us here on best-tatto-design!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Khalil's Organic Biomechanical Arm

One thing regular readers may notice is that I tend to prefer singular tattoos, as opposed to larger "concept" pieces. This preference is what you see illustrated here on best-tatto-design.

However, once in a while, I see work  that, although atypical of our content, is irresistible.

Just check out Khalil's sleeve, which I captured one day after work in Penn Station:

Representing thirty-two hours of work by Mike Boissoneault at Black Lotus Tattoo Studios, in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, Khalil explained that this vision represents a spin on a biomechanical design, "but more organic".

To him, in a world in which people are becoming less human, this tattoo reminds him to be human.

Here's a "fresher" shot from the Black Lotus website:

Tattoo by Mike Boissoneault © 2008 Black Lotus Tattoo Studios

Thanks again to Khalil for sharing this amazing work with us here on best-tatto-design!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 2 with Noah

I got to work on Noah for 2 more hours last night. He sat great! This was the first time that I was left alone the entire time. I have to say that I wasn't so nervous this time around. Since I was going to be alone Bill asked me to stay away from relining the tribal, instead just color in what I could and leave the linework for when him or Anna is around... which I can understand totally. The last thing I want to do is mess up what he has... I'm no where near being confident in my linework yet. Soon enough with more practice I'll be ok....

Here are some more pics.

Heres a close up of the area on his shoulder... used one of the 7's I made to fill it in. there's a light spot at the end of the curve which I could have filled in more with the mag... but to be honest I was too scared to get too close to that point with the mag and risk going out of the lines. After this heals i'll go back in with the liner and clean up the outline and fill in the points. Next time, fill in the points first dummy!

I didn't take a picture of the other side, but after 4 days his other shoulder is already peeling! That's a good sign! No holes. It's still too early to tell if there's light spots or not, but he'll be in again this Wednesday so we'll see then and I'll take some pics.

 Tonight I don't have anything going on, I work the floor with Anna after 5 so we'll see what walks in. The evenings at the shop have been weird lately, either its busy or it's dead... no inbetween.

On another note, saw a huge rainbow yesterday from the condo! figured this would be a good note to end on.

If I get to do anything tonight i'll post pics tmrw.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Christina's Owl and Lighthouse

I met Christina one day after work while walking outside of Madison Square Garden.

She had this incredible tattoo, which she gladly shared with us here on best-tatto-design:

This tattoo that covers her upper left arm was actually done in two segments by artist Orrin Hurley, who currently tattoos at Dare Devil Tattoo in Manhattan.

As for the source material behind this beautiful tattoo, Christina chose a piece of art by Frances Olive Esme Eve:

A closer look at the tattooed owl shows how it was changed, but you can still see that there is still a lot from the original design:

The lighthouse was inspired by the Portland Head Light on Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Thanks to Christina for sharing her tattoo with us here on best-tatto-design.

Stacy's Amigo Tugs Her Back to Milwaukee

At the end of July, I ran into Stacy waiting for the F train at West 4th Street in Manhattan.

She had a panther peeking out from under her shirt on her back, but we couldn't get the whole tattoo in a shot, so she offered up this piece on her right arm:

Stacy is a poet and the Artistic Director of The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church in New York City. She has been here five years and originally hails from Milwaukee.

Living next to Lake Michigan has many benefits. Having always lived in a location near a large body of water, I can relate to her admiration for the beauty of a seascape, whether it be an ocean or a great lake.

Stacy told me she enjoyed watching the tugboats in her home town, and that these small vessels are a "connective image" that draws her back to her original home.

This tattoo was designed and inked by Stephanie Tamez at New York Adorned. Work from Stephanie on best-tatto-design can be viewed here.

This is also the second tugboat of the summer. The first one is here.

Thanks to Stacy for sharing her tugboat with us here at best-tatto-design. Perhaps we'll see her panther when the Tattooed Poets Project returns next April for its third year!

more tribal

So here is the dude I was telling you about yesterday. he came in and sat for me for about 3.5 hrs. I got alot done! Here are some before and after pics....

here is a close-up of the linework that he had already there....

So here you can see how Anna and I drew some guidelines to straighten out the not so straight linework that didn't really match up right.

After this I lined what I drew and started filling in what I could before he had to leave. Here are some more pics.

here you can see what I started filling in. cleaned up the lines a bit and tried not to overwork the skin. So far no holes! sweet!

it was so sweet working the floor tonight with Scotty and Anna even squeezed one in!

Tomorrow I tattoo Noah's other shoulder again. More pics to come!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

recap of thursday

I got to do two tattoos on Thursday and i totally forgot to log it.

These two are some cool people that Noah brought in for me. Miss Liz wanted the word "forever" with some pink diamonds, and the dude Royce wanted some kanjis down his back.

I was super excited about these... I think that I could have done better on the lettering, but for my first script on skin i definitely learned alot and applied that to the application of the kanjis. totally weird tattooing her thigh too. gotta work on my stretching. my biggest thing with the lettering was that i was too damn scared to go too deep and scar her. i asked her to come back when its healed for a touch-up and let me go over what i need to work on. She was a super cool chick, really sat well and already wants me to do something else very small on her. it made me happy to know that she has some faith in me and doesn't know me at all.

my letter consistency needs to be dialed some more so that all the lines look perfect. i've seen ALOT worse in my experience working in a shop, but i sure as hell don't want to give anyone anything less than perfect. this is my first attempt and i intend to improve...

The next one was some kanjis and they came out great! i took what i learned from the lettering and my linework came out alot better and wasn't so afraid of making my lines as much.

This guy was really nice as well. it didn't take me as long to do these either. what really put me in the zone is that Bill left me alone for about an hr after i did the linework to these... this is going to sound stupid but i was totally at peace or something. it was like nothing else was going on.

here's a close up of the kanjis.

I'm excited for this evening! a young guy in the military walked in for a spider on his leg later that night. so i hooked him up with one of our artists at the shop to do that for him, and then i noticed that his entire left arm is outlined only in tribal. soooo of course it wasn't hard to convince him to let me redo the outlines and finish his arm.

i'll post pics of my progress on that this evening after work. then on sunday... noah again! i'm gonna start fixing up his other side! so awesome!

Until next time...


Melinda's Medusa

Last month I met Melinda on the West 4th Street subway platform, a location I came to appreciate this past summer for its diversity of interesting tattoos.

Our conversation began on the platform in Manhattan and ended in Brooklyn after a trip on the D train.

Melinda has two tattoos and she shared this one, from her inner left forearm:

She explained that this tattoo is based on the shield of Minerva (in the Roman pantheon) and Athena (in the Greek pantheon).

The shield features the head of the serpentine-tressed Medusa who, if you didn't know, could turn creatures (men, mostly) to stone with a simple gaze.

Melinda loves the contrast between the Minerva and Medusa figures and the relationship between the two mythologies.

The tattoo was inked by Kelly Krantz, of the now defunct Hold Fast Tattoo in Brooklyn. Kelly now tattoos by appointment only, and more details can be found on his website here. Work by Kelly has appeared previously on best-tatto-design here.

Thanks to Melinda for her good company on the D train back in August, and for sharing her tattoo with us here on best-tatto-design!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Liz Flexes Her Tyrannosaurus Rex

I met Liz last month on the West 4th Street platform as we were waiting for the D train.

She has six tattoos, including a really cool Brooklyn Bridge tattoo that she designed and, she proudly told me, Exene Cervenka once complimented her on.

The tattoo she shared with us, however, is this design of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, inked on her upper right arm:

The piece was modeled after the fossil displayed prominently in The American Museum of Natural History, where her brother had worked for a period of time. The tattoo is an homage to the time she spent there.

The tattoo was inked by Christopher Depinto aka The Ink Shrink at Shotsie's Tattoo in Wayne, New Jersey. Work from Shotsie's has appeared previously on best-tatto-design here.

Thanks to Liz for sharing her dinosaur tattoo with us here at best-tatto-design!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Tattoo in Hawaii!

So I just finished up tattooing Noah for about 3 hrs. He has some old tribal from about 11 years ago that needs to be refreshed.

Here are some pics from my day. So stoked! Learned alot today! I outlined three large areas and was able to fill in two of them before he had to get going.

I started re doing the outline obviously, then worked up to filling it in.

It was really weird tattoong this area! So stoked on it!  Noah was a really good sport the whole time. Bill sat with me the entire time too. Enjoy the pictures! More to come tomorrow....

I booked some diamonds on the thigh and some lettering!


Tyler's Bald Eagle

I spotted Tyler outside of my office building on Seventh Avenue last month.

Actually, the first thing I noticed was Tyler's eagle:

One of three tattoos he has, Tyler explained that he really likes traditional designs, and that eagles, in his opinion, are among the coolest animals.

He also likes the way feathers look in tattoo designs, and this eagle's plumage is inked exceptionally well.

He credits Jeremy at Imperial Tattoo in Portland, Oregon with this piece.

Thanks to Tyler for allowing his eagle to fly here on best-tatto-design!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nick's AK-47

I met Nick outside of Penn Station and, of his "six or seven" tattoos, he offered up this one:

Nick had this AK-47 inked on his stomach to pay homage to his Russian heritage. He told me that this tattoo was done by Fernando Alvarez out in Los Angeles.

Thanks to Nick for sharing his ink with us here at best-tatto-design!