Tattoosday #2: Dragons and Gargoyles

    7/31: Last Tattoosday, the inaugural day, was a bust. First exhibitor Sephora was thrilled with her initial post and suggested I add some of her other tattoos to the post. We agreed to do so.

    I looked, but found no worthy candidates. A woman in Starbucks had a tribal tramp stamp lower back tattoo peeking from the chasm between the bottom of her short shirt and her low-rise jeans. It wasn't very impressive and I'm not comfortable asking a strange woman to move clothing in order to photograph her ink. Co-worker Ian, when I told him of this later feature, said I should rename it "Tramp Stamp Tuesdays" instead. He said he would be more likely to come visit the blog. I agreed it would surely attract more viewers, but I don't see it as very positive.

    8/1: Spotted a cool anime shoulder tattoo on a passenger on the A train. Alas, I was getting off at the next stop, so time was a factor, and the opportunity passed.

    By 4:30, , it looked like the day was going to be a bust. So, I settled. I took an opportunity in the public domain. This person did not know I took their picture. One thing about New York, a camera doesn't necessarily make you conspicuous.

    A closer look reveals a simple black tattoo that jumps off the flesh:

    A cool design with the star in the center of a different star.

    8/2: A promising day ended with a thud. A couple on the train were chatting, and the male, young in his twenties, seemingly a nice guy, had a very interesting piece on his right biceps, but I couldn't figure out what it was. They were deep in conversation and I didn't want to interrupt, when they abruptly got up and exited at the Prospect Avenue stop.

    I did however, get a clearer picture of Sephora's om (go back to last Tuesday to see), along with her swastika on the back of her neck.

    Came to the realization that stories of people telling me they don't want to participate will likely be more interesting than stories of me thinking about talking to an inked person, and then not following through.

    8/3: No luck today, despite temperatures in the 90's. Not even any close calls!

    8/4: Ditto. Even stepped into Body Art Studios, our local tattoo shop, but asking the guys that work there to participate seems a little bit like cheating, no? This is harder than I thought.

    8/5: Sunday. I have a positive feeling I might find someone at the laundromat. Just a hunch.

    Success at last!

    At the laundromat, I saw a guy who I have seen in the neighborhood for years, and he had a gargoyle tattooed on his upper arm. His son was talking with my girls and, as it turned out, he is a year behind Shayna in the gifted and talented program at P.S. 104, so they have had the same teachers each year. I broached the subject about his tattoo, mentioned my "Tattoosday" project and asked him if he wouldn't mind telling me about it. He agreed and when I asked if I could take a photo of it, he said, "Sure, but it's big." He then pulled the sleeve of his shirt up to show me how it went up his shoulder and across over his armpit.

    He then said he had another one, and turned around and showed me the one below his neck:

    This one was his first tattoo, that he got about 12-13 years ago. Originally from Guyana, he explained that he understands it to be a Native American birth sign and also represents the water sign for Pisces. The artist was known as "Fallen Angel."

    About the other, larger tattoo, it's actually a combination of three works that were done by an artist named Carmine based on three separate covers of Metal Edge magazine, or he, said, a magazine similar to Metal Edge. His wife at the time subscribed to the publication and they really liked the designs.

    He indicated that the dragon over the armpit was extremely time-consuming, as there had been a lot of pain and sensitivity in that area.

    I told James that the piece I first saw on him reminded me of the demon on the cover of one of Metallica's early singles, "Jump in the Fire".

    He was quick to point out that what he had was not a demon (I guess his mother thought it was, as well), but a gargoyle which, he explained, are viewed as symbols of protection. They serve a design purpose as well, as water spouts, moving water away from the edifice.

    He is particularly happy with the way the eyes glow:

    We had a lengthy discussion about tattoos and how he initially would have gone further down the arm but, at the time, he was in school and considered studying biology, that he did not think it would have been a good idea, considering a potential career in medicine, to have the tattoo visible below the elbow. Of course, plans change, and James changed his career path and became an electrician, and is now a member of the I.B.E.W.

    What I also found interesting was that none of this work was done at a shop, but was done at the artists' apartments. James explained that the rules regarding tattooing in New York State were different over ten years ago, offering greater flexibility for artists working out of their homes.

    It was very cool talking tattoos with someone new. Later that day, I complimented a woman in line at Rite Aid and would have loved to snap her tattoos as well, but she was in a hurry, thanking me for the thoughts before exiting the store.

    8/6: Nothing to report today. But a first week of tattoo-spotting was at least not a total wash, thanks to James. I'm hoping the relative success of getting my first person to offer up their tattoos for BillyBlog will make things easier in the future. James seemed to really like sharing his stories.

    Thanks again to James and Sephora from last week for helping launch this feature on BillyBlog!

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Tattoosday #2: Dragons and Gargoyles

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