Chris Interprets Heaven and Hell

    Last month I met Chris, from Malden, Massachusetts, and he shared this incredible sleeve, still in progress. He estimates that it represents 25 hours of tattooing.

    The overall motif of the sleeve is heaven and hell, and Chris was kind enough to address several elements in the design, many of which are deeply personal.

    Chris began this tattoo's journey to acknowledge his first year of sobriety from alcohol and drugs.

    It is an omnipresent reminder that "hell is always an arm's length away". The angel resides in heaven and the gates of heaven, on the inner arm, represent the goal, or entry into heaven.

    Rising up toward heaven are two figures reaching toward this goal. The pair aiming for heaven represent two of Chris' friends, both who overdosed and died, having perished in the hell of addiction.

    Chris drew me attention to Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hell.

    To him, the three heads of the hell-hound represent alcohol, opiates, and cocaine, the three substances to which he had been addicted.

    This sleeve is the work of the tattoo artist Rafael Serrano, formerly of The Painted Bird, in Medford, MA.

    Thanks to Chris for sharing this deeply personal tattoo in progress with us. We're hoping to get updates in the future when more work is done.

    We appreciate Chris' forthrightness and strength, and wish for his continued recovery.

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Chris Interprets Heaven and Hell

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