Monday, February 28, 2011

Keone's owl part 3

So I despite his healing issues with the background, I had Keone come in last night to get some work done on the body of the owl before I leave Hawaii for a while. We were able to finish the branch entirely, and start shading the rest of the body. I didn't finish the head, I want to see how the grey heals and add alot more texture next time. This one was so much fun and I got to play around with different types of shaders to get different results.

I'm glad we got some of the body done, that way hes not walking around with an empty owl for a year.

I leave for Philly in two days... SO ready to get back to Philly and get my life on track. New residence, new schedule. NO MORE SALES! So excited.

I have a plumeria coming in today and I'm doing huge polynesian letters across this guy's back, another friend that Noah recruited for me :) Will post more later.


Virginia's Flowers Forecast Spring

This is a quick one for Monday morning, on the last day of February, with spring looming just around the corner. Here's one of Virginia's tattoos:

Virginia is a long-time reader and fan of best-tatto-design who I have met on anumber of occasions. This is the first piece she has shared with us.

This floral tattoo is at the top of her right shoulder and was done by Craig Rodriguez at Hand of Glory in Brooklyn.

She explains further, "We are all hoping for an early spring. Daffodils and forget-me-nots. It is a memorial tattoo. I always bring yellow flowers to the cemetery when I honor my family members."

Work from Hand of Glory has appeared previously here on best-tatto-design. A piece of Craig's was featured here.

Amen to the early spring! Thanks to Virginia for sharing this lovely tattoo with us here on best-tatto-design!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mark's Tattoo is Bound by Faith

I met Mark in Penn Station on Friday, as I was passing through the New Jersey Transit waiting area. It was a rainy, unseasonably warm day, so I spotted his tattoos easily, as he sat in a short sleeve shirt waiting for his train.

Mark has six tattoos in all, and he shared this one on his left forearm:

There's a lot going on here, in this tattoo which was completed in two sittings.

In essence, this is a religious tattoo, which Mark considers an expression of his Christian faith.

The base of the tattoo may look familiar, as it resembles the caduceus, which is now a symbol of the medical profession.

However, Mark explained that this symbol was originally attributed to the cult of Mithraism that existed in Rome in the first to fourth centuries, before the city became the center of Christianity. The caduceus was originally attributed to the Roman god Mercury, and the symbol also important to the god Mithras. The Vatican in Rome is built over the remnants of Mithraism and Mark bears this symbol that represents that which Christianity replaced.

At the base of the tattoo are the letters "XIVI". This is the Roman numeral for "17". Again, there is more to this than meets the eye. Many may think that the number 17 in Roman numerals is written differently, as XVII. However, Mark explained that this reversal of letters is intentional. According to wikipedia, "In Italian culture, the number 17 is considered unlucky. When viewed as the Roman numeral, XVII, it is then changed anagramatically to VIXI, which in the Latin language it translates to "I have lived", the perfect implying "My life is over." (c.f. "Vixerunt", Cicero's famous announcement of an execution.)". It is this "I have lived" phrase that resonates most with Mark, who told me that the "XIVI" number is often seen on gravestones. 

And finally, the word "SINNER," which runs vertically down the caduceus, is the belief that "we are all sinners". Again, this ties in deeply to Mark's faith.
The piece was tattooed by Matt Pope at Another Tat2 Shop in South Amboy, New Jersey.

Thanks to Mark for sharing this cool tattoo with us here on best-tatto-design!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Parrot tattoo

So last night I got to finish Kris' parrot tattoo on his leg. We worked on him for about 2.5-3 hours. I got to experiment with some color blending and doing alot of color work. Overall I really like how it came out. I know hes going to have to get one more session on this in the future but it's done enough for now considering after I leave the island I won't be seeing him for a while.

best-tatto-design Weekend Recap

I just wanted to share some interesting tidbits that have come my way over the last few weeks:

First, someone has been sharing links in the comments section anonymously on several recent posts. As is my custom, I only approve comments if they are related to the post in question. Nonetheless, the links point to a YouTube channel for Sullen TV. I thought I'd share one here, which features the artist Nikko Hurtado, and interested parties can explore their YouTube channel here.


The other day I came across a cool site called that has a really nice collection of body jewelry, a lot of which would look great with a new tattoo. It's definitely worth a look!


Last June, I featured this tattoo by artist Scott Campbell. I was recently told about this short film on the site Nowness.Be sure to check it out!

And finally, we're about a month away from April, and our third annual installment of the Tattooed Poets Project. I wanted to give a shout-out to one of last year's poets, Erica Rivera, whose tattoo was featured here. Her new book Maneater is available on Amazon:

Visit the Man Eater Facebook page for a taste of Erica Rivera's writing.

Repost: The World is Full of Kings and Queens

In lieu of something new, something borrowed, or something blue, I am offering up a post from three years ago, in best-tatto-design's infancy, from January 2008:

I've been relying heavily on Tattoos I Know since the end of summer, but today, in the chill of January, I spotted a cool tattoo on a stranger and added him to the best-tatto-design gallery:

It was in the mid-30's when I asked Frank about his tattoo. He gladly offered up his newest piece, this playing card queen.

Frank is heavily-inked. He briefly flashed a leg and an arm covered with tattoos. But we stuck with this one. This particular piece, his newest, was done by Mike Profetto at Designs by Michael Angelo in Brooklyn.

When I asked him why he had this queen of hearts, he said it only made sense to complement the king of diamonds on the right side of his neck:

Incidentally, that's a spider on the back of his neck, between the two royal tattoos.

The queen, being the newer piece, is much brighter and crisper.

Frank is the first best-tatto-design subject to offer up side neck pieces. He gave me his contact information, so I hope to feature Frank's work again in the future, with more detail about his tattoos, and the stories behind them.

Thanks again Frank!


February 26, 2011: Alas, we never heard from Frank again....

Friday, February 25, 2011

New tattoos

So yesterday I was called into work and ended up getting a few small ones. Here's the first. All those swirls really made me sweat!

It's sort of a treble clef and initials hidden in there. This woman came to Hawaii for a wedding and wanted something to remember her trip.

This was a mother-daughter combo that had appointments. Stolfi tattooed the daughter and I got the Mom. She was super nice and let me do what I wanted for the exception of the color combination. VERY specific. One flower for each child. I've decided that I really like tattooing feet. :)

So I bet you're wondering why I havent posted any updates on Keone's owl... Well he came in and had alot of trouble with the healing. So now he has to wait :( 

Tonight I'm tattooing Kris's leg again... hopefully gonna finish that Parrot tattoo! So excited!

Until next time...

Lost and Found: Toni's Cameo

I'm calling this a "lost and found" post because it features a tattoo that was a buried treasure in my e-mail archives. I was sitting on my living room couch when the existence of the photo surfaced in my head. "Whatever happened to that e-mail?" I asked myself and, after a brief search I found it. So, let me explain....

At the end of November, my wife Melanie received an e-mail from someone she met through her job. She often encounters people with tattoos and, if the work is interesting, and the subject arises, she will act as an ambassador to best-tatto-design.

Toni is one such person who checked out the site, took pictures of her tattoo, and sent them to Melanie. She showed me the photos and promptly forwarded me the e-mail, which then sat for a spell in my in box before I inadvertently filed it away until I recalled it two months later.

So, without further ado, here is Toni's tattoo:

Not only did Toni send along this picture of the small cameo tattoo on her wrist, she sent along a healthy story to accompany the piece. We'll let her tell us about it in her own words:

My mother passed away six years ago on 11/17/2004. For a long time I wanted to get a tattoo in memory of her without doing the RIP MOM thing I’ve seen so many times before. I think it’s nice, but it is not my style. A little over two years ago my sister and I were going out with some friends for dinner and my sister was wearing this very Victorian-style blouse. Pinned to the front collar of the blouse was a cameo that has been in my family for many years. It was passed down from my Grandmother to my mother and now to my sister. As soon as I glanced at it, it hit me! I will get a tattoo of this Cameo and then realized it would not only be for my mom. My mother, my sister, and I are obsessed with the Victorian era! We love everything Victorian. My grandmother loved the Victorian times as well. 
So I decided to bring the cameo with me to Twin Moon Tattoo shop [in Floral Park, Long Island] and had the artist Cindy sketch the cameo ... I love this tattoo so much, not only because it represents an era that I love but it also represents the three most important women in my life: my Grandmother, my Mother, & my sister! [Cindy] thought it was a little strange that I wanted it just below the inside wrist of my right arm and suggested I put it on the back of my neck or make it really big and put it in the middle of my back. I had explained the meaning behind the tattoo and how important it was for me that I see it everyday....That being said, she agreed and sketched it the actual size of the cameo and tattooed it on the inside of my arm right below the wrist.
Thanks to Toni for sending along the photo and the story behind it to Melanie, and for consenting to share her lovely cameo tattoo with us here on best-tatto-design!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cat's Hands-ome Tattoos

I met Cat earlier this week at Borders, which has been the go-to locale for inkspotting during a very sparse winter.

He has fifteen tattoos, but we discussed the two I noticed, on the tops of his hands:

The tattoos are variations on Celtic pagan designs that he modified to make his own.

The right hand represents the chalice of the goddess, who represents expressiveness and creativity. Wiccan principles acknowledge that the goddess is the source of all expression.

Cat's other hand is decorated with a Celtic triquetra. The three markings around the design are letters drawn in the Theban script, each corresponding to the first initials of his three children.

Cat says that these, as well as his other tattoos, were inked by Neo at Village Moon Tattoos in Jackson Heights, in the borough of Queens.

Readers interested in these tattoos may also be interested in checking out our old friend Livia Indica's site NeoPagan Ink.

Thanks kindly to Cat for sharing his tattoos with us here on best-tatto-design!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

new tattoos

So yesterday the handprint came in.... this was his first tattoo and he wanted his daughter's name with the print. The name was 14 letters long!!!! Hawaiian name obviously. We stuck with black and grey for this one.

This just walked in today, a young woman wanted her son's name on her shoulder. This is what we came up with.

Tonight at 5 I have Keone for the last session on his owl tattoo.

More to come!

Frank's Laserbeak Tattoo Transforms His Flesh

I met Frank in the Penn Plaza Borders yesterday and stopped to ask him about his tattoos.

"How many do you have?" I asked and he responded vaguely "a lot". That generally means at least a dozen, if not more, and he offered up this two-part tattoo, from his right arm:

This is a Transformer. More specifically, "Laserbeak," a Transformer that does reconnaissance.

This is one of the first tattoos that Frank got and, as one would expect, he had this done because he likes Transformers.

He credited the tattoo to Cort Bengston at Cort's Royal Ink Tattoo Studio in Patchogue, New York.

Thanks to Frank for sharing these cool tattoos with us here on best-tatto-design!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sal's Tattoo Takes Wing

Today's tattoo comes to us courtesy of Sal, who is making his third appearance on best-tatto-design. We first met him in 2008 when he shared this Guns N Roses tattoo, and then again, in 2009 with this quote, inked on his forearm.

Both times I ran into Sal at the video store where he works in Brooklyn Heights. He alerted me to the fact that he had new ink, so I just had to stop by and see in person:

The collage might not bring out the finer details as seen in a closer view:

The bird is an American Robin. Why this particular bird? Sal explains: "Robins mean a lot to me - not just for their beauty, but for their meaning of hope and new beginnings".

American Robin -- Humber Bay Park (East) (Toronto, Canada) -- 2005, by en:User:Mdf

The tattoo artist is the phenomenal Mark Harada at East Side Ink in Manhattan. Work from Mark and other East Side Ink artists has appeared previously on our site here.

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

Monday, February 21, 2011

some new stuff from the past week

Sorry it's been a week since my last post. I had strep throat and spent the last 5 days recovering.

So these last few tattoos were done in areas that I haven't really worked before (except one) and definitely was intimidated doing them. It was certainly a struggle, however I think that after these experiences I feel a little more confident in what I need to work on to make my linework better.

This woman came in late last week and Stolfi was about to do it then something else walked in that I'm not ready to do, so he did that one and gave this design to me. After redrawing it a bit the client (a young woman) and I came up with this. She wanted alot of color in an area that I've only tattooed once. This was a great experience in stretching.... and how to deal with a person that doesn't sit well at all! Looking back on this there are alot of things that I would have done differently. I'm not going to list all of them but it was so weird trying to blend all of these colors into an area that was so sensitive and she wouldn't stop moving it was very frustrating. After 2 hours she couldn't sit anymore so it knew she had it with me so we ended there. I wanted to blend white into the background but that didn't happen. Overall I would have done this differently, however the linework came out ok and I was relatively happy with the grey.

Anyway enough about that. yesterday was a good day. This girl came in and wanted her first tattoo which was a crown with gemini under it. Other than a few lines that were a bit wobbly this came out ok.
My biggest problem with this one is that she wanted it upside down. I think that if she put it the other way I would have noticed a few things.

 After the crown a bit later a group of three guys came in, all wanting one of these captains wheels somewhere on their body. Stolfi did one of the guys on his hand, the other was in this guys ditch (right here), and the last one on his thigh. The ditch was weird, his skin puffed up so quickly and was all wrinkly.

 This one on the thigh was fun too however his skin right there was so stretchy and awkward.

In summation this week was very challenging, but I think that after these couple of weird stretching areas I am stoked to learn something new.... everyday is a challenge but so worth the wait.

I have a handprint coming in tomorrow....

Will post pics

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bonafide Bags Winners and Special Discount for best-tatto-design Readers!

Congratulations to the following readers who were among the winners selected among the 51 commenters on the original Bonafide Bags post.

American Pride winners:

Theresa Senato Edwards
Beverly Cornell

Day of the Dead winners:

Kristina V.

Koi Winners:

Sammie K

American Traditional Winners:


I will be emailing winners by Monday. If you are a winner and don't hear from me, please follow up with me at

For those of you who didn't win, I thank you for participating and suggest you check out this amazing offer from the folks at Bonafide Bags:

We also thought we would like to reward your readers for participating and give them some incentive as well to get some bags whether they win or not. We created a discount code specifically for the readers of best-tatto-design to receive an additional 10% off any order of at least $20.  They can get the savings by entering the following code in the voucher section of the checkout page, the code is "best-tatto-design".  This code is good through March...if we want to create new designs and keep pumping them out from lots of different artists, we have to sell these to make that happen.

Please take advantage of this great offer and head over to Bonafide Bags and get some!

Thanks to all of our readers who made this giveaway so much fun for all! And thanks to the good folks at Bonafide Bags.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Reaper for a Saturday

A couple weeks ago, I ran into Vinny at a Duane Reade on 86th Street in Brooklyn.

He had several tattoos and shared this one, on his left forearm:

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

Maori flash to real tattoo photos


Today I received two photos, one of a customer who bought "Shoulder tattoo 150" a few weeks ago. The tattoo healed and lookes really nice.
The second tattoo is the shoulderblade design I did on february 18th, you can see the sketches and work in progress in the previous posts.

shoulder tattoo photos best-tatto-design polynesian styleshoulderblade maori tattoo design flash pictures

Get back soon with some updates!

Kind regards, Mark Storm

Friday, February 18, 2011

Shoulder blade tattoo maori samoan style


It has been a while, but I just finished a nice tattoo piece. It's a design for the shoulderblade and back.
My customer wanted to cover quite some skin, with nice Maori Kirituhi shapes and some Samoan patterns.

First I made a template from the measurements I received, and started sketching:

maori outlines art tattoo sketch designer onlineI really enjoy to make the first basic koru shapes, this gives the tattoo a nice flow and "cuts" the large template into smaller pieces that can be filled with other intricate patterns, like triangles, spearheads and repetitive lines.

Once the basic layout is set, I move on to the next fase.

My client asked for some Samoan patterns, which are mainly formed by even lines filled with very detailed shapes (upper left side of the tatoo):

samoan mauri shoulder back tattoo flash

In the centre of the pencil sketch I drew a row of arrowheads and triangles, but I removed it later as you can see in the completed sketch:

shoulderblade maori sketch custom tattoo designsfree maori flash designs downloadThe final high resolution image was traced with a black felt-tip marker and scanned.

After optimizing it and creating a linedrawing I sent it to my customer.

Kind regards, Mark Storm

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ashley's Ink: On Her Own Two Feet

I met Ashley in the New Jersey Transit section of Penn Station last week after I spotted this tattoo on her right foot:

Now, if you've not read the Harry Potter series, perhaps it is best to skip the rest of the post, because it might not make a lot of sense.

Those in the know will understand what I mean when I explain that the ghostly creature on the top of Ashley's foot is the patronus of Severus Snape, as described in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final installment of the seven-part series by J.K. Rowling. The patronus takes the shape of a doe.

The quote above the doe is "It's real for us..." as remembered by Snape when speaking with Lily Evans, the girl at Hogwarts who became Harry's mother. Identical creatures appear when they cast the patronus charm.

Ashley's friend drew it up and she had the piece done at Tattoo Nation in Wayne, New Jersey by Matt "Monty" Montleon.

This is one of two tattoos that Ashley has. The other resides on her left foot:

The snowflake was also inked by Monty and is a memorial to Ashley's grandmother, whose last name was Snow.

Thanks to Ashley for sharing her two tattoos with us here on best-tatto-design!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Melanie's Marilyn

A trip to the laundromat on Saturday yielded a meeting with a young lady who had a couple visible tattoos on one of her feet and an ankle. Fortunately, my curiosity got the better of me because, when I asked her about them, she revealed much better work, namely this phenomenal Marilyn Monroe portrait on her inner right forearm:

This stunning work was created by the incomparable Virginia Elwood at New York Adorned. I have been fortunate to encounter Ms. Elwood's work previously here and here.

Melanie is a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe and she is proud to wear this icon on her sleeve. Clicking on the tag for Marilyn Monrow below will reveal other Marilyn tattoos that have appeared previously on best-tatto-design.

Thanks to Melanie for sharing this phenomenal portrait with us here on best-tatto-design!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

best-tatto-design's Bonafide Bags Giveaway!

Last month I enviously watched as the good folks over at TattooSnob had a contest in which they gave away some really cool items from Bonafide Bags. I reached out to the good people at Bonafide and asked if they'd like to do something with our readers, and they were very receptive to the idea.

So check these out:

Bonafide's Japanese Koi (left) and Traditional (right) Designs

Bonafide's American Pride (left) and Day of the Dead (right) Designs

They're very sturdy and look really cool - perfect for a trip to the supermarket or the beach. They're made from recycled plastic and my lovely bride is already rocking her Japanese Koi bag. There are two sizes of each design. Check out Bonafide's website here for more product specifics, including close-up views, as well.

How do you win a set? Leave a comment on the post below and winners will be randomly selected and receive a matching set of these Bonafide Bags. That's one large all purpose bag and its matching lunch/gift bag counterpart, or a $15.00 value. I have three sets of each of the four designs, so that's twelve winners in all.

Now, let's see if we can outdo the readers at TattooSnob. They garnered 63 comments/entries in their giveaway, so our goal is 70 reader comments by Saturday, February 19, at 11:59 PM, EST. Tell us which one is your favorite design, or any other related comment, and you'll be eligible to win!

Note: I have a filter on comments so if you don't see it right away, it's because I need to approve each submission to make sure it's not spam.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Keone's owl

So I got to work on Keone's owl the other night... we managed to finish the entire background and I am really excited that I think I am finally getting the hang of grey shading. He bled ALOT that night as well... kinda weird tattooing while they're bleeding so badly.

I will post more pics when I get a chance....


Jenise's Tattoo is Decorative and Practical

Normally I would have prefaced this as a "Tattoos I Know" post, since the contributor, Jenise, has been a friend of mine since 1984. However, since we haven't actually seen each other in person in over twenty-five years, I've never actually met her tattooed self in the flesh.

Nonetheless, Jenise has been a fan and supporter of best-tatto-design since its inception and has, from early on, told me that "one of these days" she'd send me shots of the tattoo circling her right wrist. Imagine my surprise when, out of the blue, the pictures finally arrived this week. So here it is:

Jenise credits Clay at Willie's Tropical Tattoo in Daytona Beach, who inked these in February 2008. The piece was "designed to reflect [her] Hawaiian bracelet and it took [the artist] 2 hours to get it just the way he wanted it before he put the stencil on...".  As for the words "Peanut" and "Shellfish," the tattoo also acts as a quasi medic alert bracelet, indicating two foods which make her seriously ill. So there's a practical aspect to the piece, as well.

On a humorous note, she added "NO... these are NOT the nicknames of my children, I have been asked that more times than I can count".

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

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

first sugar skull

so last night this walked in... a woman who lives here wanted the islands on her back in color...

This one was alot of fun because she let me use my judgement to color. She was super nice and eventually wants to add a wave behind the design.

This walked in last night as well.... a young couple each wanting matching sugar skulls with different flowers. I did the smaller one on the girl and Stolfi tattooed the boyfriend. This one was such a challenge and she was a bleeder! I hope to get a better pic of this one day without the spade bleeding out like that. I learned alot from this one, mainly about inks and how to tell the difference between inks that go right into the skin, and inks that don't do so well.... like the blue in the spade. I must have tried packing in that blue at least 3 times before Bill had me change colors. The last blue flew right in... I hope that spot heals up ok... I haven't had too much experience working with alot of color yet so this was fun and a learning experience for me. Everything went well with the linework and the black shading... the color I need to work on.

Overall it was a really good day, and I know how I would like to do this next time.

I'm working on Keone's owl tonight coloring background... more pics to come!