Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

A Small Task, A Big Heart

December 28th, 2014 by

Despite the rise in popularity of tattoos and the glamorisation of tattoo artists, there is still a certain degree of negativity that accompanies the art form.  I can even speak from experience as someone who writes about tattoo, that when I talk to people about my work they don’t really understand what there possibly could be to say about it.  Tattoo for most people is nothing more than putting ink on skin, right?  Wrong.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the years that I’ve spent writing about this topic, it’s that tattoo is such a multi-dimensional art form.  There is the art itself, which varies greatly from artist to artist, the community that the craft builds and strengthens and the artists themselves as individuals who regularly exceed expectations of what tattooists should be.

Here at Tattoo Blog, I’ve given numerous examples over the years of tattoo artists with heart, who perform selfless acts that touch the lives of one or more people at a time.  I want to make it known that if you’ve ever disputed the generosity or humanity that can exist in the tattoo community, all you need to do is go through the blog posts on this site and it won’t be long before you see something that changes your mind.  Of course, I’m not foolish enough to paint all tattooists with the same brush and try to say that everyone is the same, but I know a good thing when I see one and I know that tattoo retains a strong and tight knit community atmosphere.


So it is with this somewhat heavy introduction (sorry about that – once you get me started…) that I would like to present yet another kind hearted tattooist.  Jason Ward lives and works in New Zealand and tattoos at a studio called Muscle and Ink.  For the past three months, he has had a recurring customer in Suzie, a woman with Down syndrome who brings in temporary tattoos for Ward to apply.

‘The first time she came in, she walked up to the desk, put her things on the desk, and said ‘put these on my arm.’


Ward doesn’t mind doing it and he obviously does not charge her for the effort.  He adds that if Suzie were a member of his own family and had been turned away from another tattoo studio he would be angry.  So now every Friday like clockwork, Suzie turns up to get her tattoos put on.  The temporary tattoos are usually Maori designs.

Nice guy, huh?  Like Ward says, Why would you say no?

Chad Koeplinger Interview

December 27th, 2014 by

Hey there, hope everyone is doing okay as we head into the new year.  I thought that it might be nice to get an interview up here with a rad tattooist, so here it is: a nice lengthy chat with Chad Koeplinger, interviewed by the great Scott Sylvia. Yeah.

Wiz Khalifa’s Tattoos

December 23rd, 2014 by

Rapper Wiz Khalifa talks about his tattoos and their meaning.

What Makes Tattoos Permanent?

December 23rd, 2014 by

Here you go kids, science and tattoo history all rolled into one.

Best of the Month Vol 2

November 30th, 2014 by

Best of the Month Vol 1

November 30th, 2014 by

Tattoo Changes Lives

November 29th, 2014 by

When you hear the words “human trafficking”, it’s understandable that the furthest thing from your mind would be tattooing or tattoos.  For those of us who love tattoo, the word itself conjures up pleasant images, images that help to express a person’s feelings or thoughts or character.  There is never any room for negative association with tattoo, though there is certainly no shortage of those who think that the art form has entirely negative connotations.

Unfortunately, in this case in particular, tattoo does initially have negative connotations.  For many women who find themselves fleeing troubled home lives in America, the street eventually becomes their adopted home.  From this wretched environment comes a desire to escape, which is all too often provided by drugs.  When the drugs become an expensive habit, there are those who are willing to offer a steady supply, in exchange for prostitution.  Many women find themselves addicted to drugs and eventually taken in by drug gangs who pimp the women out, abuse them and provide them with a steady flow of drugs.  These women are seen as property and because of this status, are frequently tattooed with the names of their gangs or pimps.


‘Branding, whether by tattoo or intentional scarring, has become a disturbing characteristic of one particular subset of this thriving criminal operation. Pimp-led prostitution is widely considered one of the most brutal and violent of all forms of human trafficking found in the States. Brad Myles is chief executive ofPolaris Project, an influential US anti-trafficking organisation. “When you look at this particular type of trafficking,” he says, “where you have thousands of self-labelled pimps selling hundreds of thousands of women and children for profit in every state across America, the branding is all part of the extreme nature of the ways they control and profit from this trade.”

Myles says his organisation has come across hundreds of women and children who have had their arms, backs, legs, faces, breasts and even eyelids and gums marked with pimp’s names and gang tags or with barcodes, sexual slang words or dollar signs.

Others, like Jennifer, have “property of” tattoos on their groins or foreheads. In recent years, trafficking tattoos have also started to be seen in other countries, such as Spain and Romania, and there is anecdotal evidence of it happening in the UK. But it is now systemic in America.’

Okay, so that is very much the bad news.  This is an ongoing epidemic that obviously doesn’t get the attention it deserves.  Thankfully however, there is good news and yes, it does involve tattoo.  One of the women who has gone through hell and back in terms of the life she led has managed to get free of drugs and prostitution and the gang who abused her.  Not only has she gotten free, she has started an organisation called Survivors Ink which aids other young women in similar situations to get their tattoos covered up with something new, something different that can represent a fresh start on a tremendously important new life path.  The tattoo artist who does the work for Survivors Ink is Charles “Chuck” Waldo.  Waldo doesn’t charge for his tattooing services, he only charges for the cost of the ink and the rental space in the shop, costs which are covered by the Survivors Ink scholarship.


‘For Waldo, whose wiry frame is covered with fading tattoos, this work is also a form of redemption after a life of bank robberies, jail and “other very bad shit”, as he puts it. “I am nowhere near a saint – I have many ghosts in my closet – but with this work I know I’m impacting positively on someone’s life and that this will far outlive me,” he says.

“Tattoo art has been around since the beginning of human history, and I find it deplorable that this is happening. When I think about trafficking, I never thought it was something that happened here in the United States. It gives me an appreciation that whatever trauma and turmoil I’ve had in my life doesn’t even come close. But this gives me the opportunity to change their lives and help them move on.’

I write about many different aspects of tattoo on this blog and this is the first time that I’ve come across something that really impacted me on a guttural level.  I had never considered that such horrors could exist in a first world country.  Often I have heard of such things happening in far away nations where human rights begin and end with being a man.  I never thought that even in America could people be taken as a piece of property and tattooed like cattle.  I am so glad that there is something being done about this from the tattoo spectrum of things.  It goes to show you how powerful tattoo is and what an impact it can have on someone’s life.  The impact can be negative, but there are far more people out there who are willing to turn that negative into a positive.  Well done everyone at Survivors Ink.  Continue all the essential work you are doing and I hope more people will become aware of your cause so that you can get more funding together to help even more women in need.

Altered Point of View

November 29th, 2014 by

Celebrities probably play one of the largest roles in making tattoo mainstream.  I’m not saying this because I think it’s particularly good or bad, it’s just a fact.  The amount of times I’ve seen huge media reports about the brand new and oh so scandalous tattoos of Justin Beiber or Lady Gaga or Katy Perry are too many to mention.  I know that you know what I mean and I wouldn’t blame any of you for being sick to death of it.  It’s really gotten to the point where celebrities just get tattooed because they know the media will fawn all over them and let’s face it: if there’s one thing that celebrities love, it’s some serious me time.

Not all celebrities are out for the media frenzy of a tattoo, however.  There are many actors, musicians, authors, etc, who have tattoos and for whom getting tattooed isn’t an excuse for a media frenzy.  I personally like Jonah Hill’s quiet and understated heart tattoo on his forearm, the centre of which reads: “Nancy Rules”.  This was done in memory of his deceased grandmother.  Adam Goldberg is another celebrity who has a huge amount of very impressive tattoos, all of which were done by the legendary tattooist Mark Mahoney.


Like most people, I’m not immune to celebrity – there are plenty of actors whose work I enjoy and respect.  I don’t know how many of them have tattoos, but I think it’s always kind of cool to imagine how people would look with tattoos, specifically with a lot of tattoos.  Seattle based artist Cheyenne Randall seems to think so too.  In addition to digitally altering photos of famous celebrities and therefore giving us a glimpse of these people with tattoos, Randall’s work also makes us think about how we view people when they are tattooed.  Do these celebrities still seem like the same people to you when they are covered in tattoos?  Why or why not?

Good Tattoos Aren’t Cheap

November 28th, 2014 by

I’ve said it time and time again, but it bears repeating: Good tattoos aren’t cheap.  I’ve also not hesitated to criticise and condemn scratchers for the harm they do to people and the harm they do to the craft of tattooing as a whole.  If both of these statements are new to you, then you should seriously consider taking fifteen minutes out of your day and watching the video below.  Actually, everyone should take fifteen minutes out of their day and watch the video below – it’s a great reminder.

Aaron Coleman Interview

November 28th, 2014 by

Okay, my last post was a little short, so I’m going to more than make up for it here with this MASSIVE interview with tattoo artist extraordinaire, Aaron Coleman.  Might want to sit back with some popcorn and a beer for this one…

« Previous Entries Next Entries »