What a two and a half weeks it’s been! I almost feel like this should be six blog entries’ worth, and I was hoping to blog while I was at Lucky Soul Tattoo last week, but a) they kept me busy and b) I didn’t have a camera with me to take photos of anything that I was doing. I think that Sue may have snapped a few photos, but in the long run, I suppose forgetting my camera is better than forgetting my tattoo machines.

 Jim and his crew at Lucky Soul were super awesome- it was the first time that we had a chance to see the newly renovated shop, and it’s pretty magnificent.  Every tattooer has his/her own room, and there is a drawing/painting/lounge room in addition to a separate kitchen. The shop has a FULL SIZE refrigerator in the kitchen (let’s not forget that it has a kitchen to speak of). It makes me limp back to our humble, one-horse shop with plans of grandeur, although those plans are mostly of my getting off my lazy ass and drawing more t-shirts. Did I mention that they also got their own silk-screen press to make their own shirts?! They are NOT slackers.  I kept expecting to turn a corner at their shop and see some kind of Death Star laser-firing room.  Maybe that’s what the microwave in the kitchen was for.

While I was in Connecticut, I tattooed Jim’s wife, Christine, and I also tattooed Angel, one of the tattooers. Do I have photos? Did you forget that I forgot my camera?  Here’s a photo of her tiger that I stole off of Chris’s Facebook page.

At Lucky Soul, my stomach hurt, and I thought it was an ulcer, but Jim and Angel were nice enough to help me pass a large, undigested piece of … something. Take a look at the photo to see for yourself.

Does anyone else think that this is really what Rosemary’s baby should have looked like?  I mean, if you’re the child of Satan, shouldn’t you basically be a goat?  At least half-goat, right? After Connecticut and the goat incident, we made our way to Brooklyn and visited our dear friends at Fly-Rite Tattoo. And in their beautiful shop, what do they have? T-shirts! Sweatshirts! Stickers! Matchbooks! I know this is a late-breaking New Year’s Resolution, folks, but I will get some new Tsunami merchandise and swag out there in 2010.

While we were in New York, we checked out the Japan Society’s exhibition of woodblock prints from Kuniyoshi, focusing on his prints of monsters and warriors. Pretty amazing stuff- I love making that connection over centuries, being able to look at a woodblock print of dudes fighting snakes and tigers and know we’re still thinking that this stuff is dope.  It’s awe-inspiring.  It’s kind of like when Sue and I went to the Sex Museum in New York a few years ago and saw their exhibit on the history of porn- equally amazing.  To see “porn” from the turn of the 19th century and to see that pretty much the same things turned people on made some funny connections for me; I know that smut can span the centuries with little difference except for a little extra hair here and there.

And in the previous week, we checked out the Boston Museum of Fine Arts exhibit of woodblock prints that featured tattooed men and warriors in the prints- also amazing. The ukiyo-e prints are an amazing chapter in Japanese art, and in my opinion, some of the most beautiful and iconic images that have been created- it’s obviously the sourcebook for traditional Japanese tattooing and imagery, there’s been a lot written and speculated about how the two cultures- woodblock prints and tattooing- influenced each other in the 19th century.

Also at the Boston MFA, I picked up a small book on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s son Charles, who was a sailor and traveler (the book is entitled Longfellow’s Tattoo).  Guess where Charles Longfellow went in the 1800’s?  Japan.  And guess what he got there?  A koi backpiece.  And guess where the Longfellow family is from?  Portland, Maine.  Talk about connections over centuries and cultures, right?

Lat week while we were in Brooklyn, it was hanami– the cherry blossom viewing season- at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; and who loves cherry blossoms more than me? Sue and I had a beautiful day to visit the gardens and the cherry blossom groves, just an intimate walk with about 1,000 other people who went on Saturday. And let me say: it was not the crowds that were aggravating  me. It was the parents who grabbed the low-hanging branches of the trees and shook them violently so that the petals would “snow” on their kids. Really, New Yorkers? Are you really going to grab the branches of the trees and shake them like that? Ugh.


All that aside, the blossoms were beautiful, and we got to see peonies in bloom, too! So with a whole week off, I’m back to work this week… I’ll post some photos later this week to make up for recent the lack of posts.

So a few weeks ago, I did an owl tattoo as a cover up- this particular client had some specific connections with the great horned owl, and part of the tattoo was a memorial piece for her mother.  This makes sense to me.  (The before and after photos are below- three sessions total).

What I find curious is that about seven or eight years ago, owls were the rage among a certain segment of the population- people were getting owl tattoos, tattooers were painting cute pictures of owls, shops had owls as flash; it was downright crazy.  I was surprised that no one changed their name in the owlmania- Owlbie Rock, anyone?  Owlbert Einstein?  Barack Owlbama?

If you believe that certain animals have a cultural resonance, you’d be able to name a few: the snake, eagle, lion, etc.  It’s that immediate association that you have when you see the animal- it’s primal and cultural, and it’s not something that you can control.  Those animals- the lion, snake, eagle- seem to have a long history that is inextricable with Western Civilization.  But the owl?  I know that the owl goes back to Athena and is the emblem for some things, but how it got picked up as a trend in tattoo culture?  Any one out there want to guess?  Is this another example of Gladwell’s tipping point?  It was so prevalent back then that tattooers started making jokes like “candles are the new owls” when people started randomly adding candles to their designs.  “(Blank) is the new owl.”

Don’t get me wrong- I love owls, and I love owl tattoos.  This is more a question of how did this particular thing get so popular among a certain segment of the population?  And if you think that the tipping point theory works hand in hand with Jungian archetypes, what other animals are out there that have the same resonance that we just haven’t connected with?  I, frankly, think that the dolphin is one of the most random animals that became popular in tattoo symbology- about as random as any other sea creature (mammal or fish), yet its popularity is unparalleled in the 70’s and 80’s.  I mean, we all know that unicorns are having a big resurgence right now.  What’s that all about?  And what’s next? I’m guessing the sleestak! That’s right- you heard it here first- I’m going to guess that rubber suited monsters are going to make a big comeback.  No more CGI fanciness- people are going to want crappy-looking latex masks with sweaty, underpaid actors toiling away to look menacing while trying not to pass out from the heat.

Speaking of culturally resonant critters, here’s a HUGE koi that I did on Betsy’s leg- she did not have a good time getting her shin tattooed, and I don’t blame her.

And here’s a bunch of blue water and a swirl elbow that I did on a client from Pennsylvania- the water is flowing from an oni who’s releasing the water from his magical bag.  Check out that elbow!  Yow!

And it’s official:  I will be doing a guess spot at Lucky Soul Tattoo in Connecticut on April 20 and 21, so if you’re looking to get a little something quick (that’s what she said), let me know…