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Tattoos and Bald Heads

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    It happens. Some guys can pull off the bald look and some guys . . .well, not so much.  The researchers from GlaxoSmithKline conducted an  study of 1,125 men to test for hair loss factors in men. The results showed that 1 in 7 men are more likely to lose their hair based on the presence of a specific gene. Most people believe that hair loss is passed down from the mother’s side (darn it Mom!). But, Dad is not totally off the hook in the hair loss equation.  While it’s true a key gene for baldness is in the X chromosome, which you get from your mother, it is not the only genetic factor in play. We all know men who are bald and have bald fathers or sons.  Science has proved, that a bald father increases the likely hood of the son going bald as well. (take that Dad!)  While most studies confirm male pattern baldness is genetically determined, scientists say baldness anywhere in your family line may be a sign of your own impending fate.  If you have a full head of hair, take a hard look around at your next family event,. If there are several bald men, who are blood related to you, odds are . . .you may be next. Until recent years, men didn’t have many option to deal with male pattern baldness.  Some tried to copy the Burt Reynolds hair plugs, or they tried to pull off the Mr. Clean look. We ... Read More »

Women Cover Mastectomy Scars with Beautiful yet Intricate Tattoos

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When diagnosed with breast cancer, being introduced to the world of tattoos is the last thing on one’s mind. But for many women who are suffering from this disease, this is exactly what happens after the worst has passed. What these women are left with is a painful reminder of the trauma they’ve suffered. —  If not for all, some of the women who’ve had mastectomies choose to use tattoos, not as their treatment, but rather, their recovery. This year in May, a tattooist from Darwin, Australia shared pictures of a client whose had mastectomy as well as reconstruction of both her breasts, and decided to completely cover her breast with a flowery tattoo that transformed her scars into a work of art. However, tattoos can still make a lot of difference in the lives of women who’ve had mastectomy and decided against reconstructive surgery. Liz Howley, a 73 year old woman from Edinburgh, Scotland had a mastectomy in 2006. After her surgery, she struggled a great deal when trying to come to terms with the way her body looked now. “I hated looking at myself in the mirror, and I didn’t like my husband to see me without my clothes on,” she said. “It was a constant reminder of what had happened to me.” But after watching a show about tattoos, she began to wonder whether having one would make a difference. “I spoke to my consultant and he said sure, go ahead,” she says. “So I found a ... Read More »

Post-Mastectomy tattoos: “I wish I could walk around topless” by Reina

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 My journey began 3 weeks before my 40th birthday. I scheduled a mammogram because in my opinion, I have medical insurance and when you turn 40 as a woman and you have children, it is important to take care of yourself so you can be around to see your children grow and blossom into the great people they are meant to be.  The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I visited a breast care specialist. She examined me but could not make an assessment as to whether or not the mass in my breast was a cancer mass or just very dense breast tissue. I was referred to mammography with the possibility of an ultrasound and possibly a biopsy. December 6th, the eve of my 40th birthday party, I did end up having the full exam, including a biopsy. The radiology doctor told me it didn’t look good… Even after that I continued to tell myself it was nothing until they told me otherwise, so I continued to live life as normal, including celebrating my birthday with friends and family the next night. You may be asking “where is your husband during all of this?”. Well, the mammography appointment I honestly believed was going to be a piece of cake so I did not invite him to the appointment. Once I told him there was actually a biopsy, he cried. My response to that? “Please don’t plan my funeral yet. First we don’t know anything yet, so don’t go dark. Second, don’t plan ... Read More »

Turning My Mastectomy Scars into Art

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I have always loved tattoos. Shortly after my 18th birthday, I walked into a tattoo shop filled with courage and a bit of cockiness. After studying the wall of images, I confidently pointed to a small cartoon devil named “hot stuff” and said, “Perfect!” Many people ask whether or I not have any regrets about my first tattoo, but, honesty, I don’t. 23 years later, I look at it and smile. It’s a part of my history, a personalized scar of sorts. Over the years, I have added other tattoos, so it’s no surprise to anyone that knows me that I decided to add one more. This one however, is the most meaningful piece of art I have ever added to my skin. It is a beautiful ending to a very difficult 6 years. Choosing to remove my healthy breasts because of my 87% chance of developing breast cancer is a decision I don’t regret for one minute. My BRCA gene mutation has forced me to make decisions that no woman should ever have to make.  By choosing this tattoo, it was an opportunity to turn my mastectomy into a work of art! After my mastectomy, I suffered complications with my reconstruction and endured an additional 4 surgeries. I was not interested in another operation to recreate nipples that would never look, feel or work like my real ones. That is when I knew that I was going to do things differently. My search for a tattoo artist was a ... Read More »

“I love staring at my breast again” by Toni

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Each month we a feature the inspirational and transformative Stories of few post-mastectomy cancer survivors and the artists & ink that help change their lives. Please support these Warrior Women by sharing their stories with those you love! It’s all these women ask. And remember- schedule your exams, ladies! -TAM Warrior: Toni S. Artist: Shane Wallin Shop: Garnet Tattoo Studio, San Diego, CA by Toni Skane My story all started in September of 2009. I woke up one morning feeling just weird, like something was wrong inside. I didn’t feel sick or have any pain. It was just my intuition telling me to go get checked.  I went to my doctor and asked for a complete physical and blood panel.  She did everything except a mammogram because I was only 39 and no there was no reason to do one; generally you have to be 40 or with symptoms. All my tests came back normal. I walked out of there telling her, “OK, but something isn’t right”. In 2010, just before a gallbladder surgery, I noticed that my right breast was really itchy. When I was scratching I discovered a golf ball size lump. The next morning I was back in my doctors office telling her ” I knew it!, I knew something was wrong”.  I proceeded with the gallbladder surgery and knew I would need some time to recover before I could go get the mammogram done and ultrasound to look at the lump I found.  I was scheduled for that appointment ... Read More »

6 Questions to Ask a Tattoo Artist Before You Hire Them


Getting a 1st tattoo, for a majority of people, is a life changing decision. Once you get ink in your skin there is no coming back from it. Thus, there are quite a few things you should know before that first prick of the needle, because not knowing can result in an unpleasant (if not a prolonged, expensive) experience. For both new and experienced people who get tattoos, there are some questions you must ask to gauge the competency of the tattoo artist that is going to be working on you. In this blog, we are going to cover six of the most important questions you must ask a tattoo artist before you hire them to make a tattoo on you. Ask About the Artist’s Qualification Whether you’re getting something custom designed or a piece of flash, it is the artist’s skill and experience that will ultimately determine the quality of your body art. It is always worth your while to compare artists, shops and pricing, but keep in mind that when it comes to tattoos, you get what you pay for! Keeping all this in mind, asking about an artist’s skill level and experience are questions most people hesitate to ask because they fear the artist won’t consider it a question, but rather a challenge. Realistically though, if an artist is reactive to this question, it could be a strong indicator that they are more than a little uncomfortable with their own quality of work and/or experience, even if their tone ... Read More »

The Dangers of Shopping for Price: scratchers, infections and bad tattoos

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With tattoos becoming increasing popular by the day, the dangers associated with getting tattoos are also increasing. While most adults are already aware of these dangers, very few teenagers seem to realize what’s at risk. Often, it’s much more than just a bad patch of inked skin. Yet bargain-shoppers in the tattoo world can’t seem to keep sound reason in mind when they shop for price, rather than quality of technique, cleanliness AND artistry. This blog serves as a reminder for people who pass on reputable tattoo studios and opt for a subpar tattoo artist working out of an unsanitary shop or worse, from home. The dangers of getting a tattoo from unreliable studios and scratchers are as follows. An Unsafe Environment Most scratchers work out of kitchens, living rooms and basements. The fact that they lack professional equipment like the mandatory autoclave means that they cannot properly ensure your safety. And they do NOT care. Given that even professional tattoo artists use disposable tubes now, this is actually a positive thing. But really, tubes aren’t the only things that matter and a scratcher is unlicensed, untrained in cross-contamination, blood-borne pathogens, or legally responsible for any the numerous requirements set by an insurance company willing to make themselves responsible for a professional tattooists actions and inactions. The Risk of Cross Contamination Simply wearing latex gloves doesn’t make the practice sanitary. In fact, tattooing while wearing gloves for prolonged periods of time can also cause contamination. Unless precautions are taken, everything ... Read More »

“The Amazing Phoenix tattoo on my post mastectomy breast”, Anne Sanchez

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Each month we a feature the inspirational and transformative Stories of few post-mastectomy cancer survivors and the artists & ink that help change their lives. Please support these Warrior Women by sharing their stories with those you love! It’s all these women ask. And remember- schedule your exams, ladies! -TAM Warrior: Anne Artist: Shane Wallin Shop: Garnet Tattoo Studio, San Diego, CA Here’s Anne’s Story: I was diagnosed with breast cancer way back in 1990 on Valentines Day. Even though aunts on both my mother’s and father’s sides had had bilateral mastectomies, I was still shocked. I can remember walking through the lingerie department and thinking I would never look pretty in a bra again, or especially without one. The doctors recommended a full mastectomy to give me the best survival rate. Most reconstructions don’t last forever, so I have had 2 implant replacements over the past 25 years for a total of 4 surgeries on that breast. —  My husband has been wonderful, in fact, he proposed to me when I was diagnosed.  I always wanted a tattoo to cover my scar and uneven nipple reconstruction. It took me all this time to think of the perfect design and get up my nerve! Well, it was definitely worth the wait because I found Shane Wallin. I really appreciate his professional approach, artistic ability and attention to detail. The studio is so welcoming, clean and non threatening, especially to a “first-timer”. I am letting all my other “survivors” know about your outstanding ... Read More »

Breast Reconstruction Process: Carrie

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Each month we a feature the inspirational and transformative Stories of few post-mastectomy cancer survivors and the artists & ink that help change their lives. Please support these Warrior Women by sharing their stories with those you love! It’s all these women ask. And remember- schedule your exams, ladies! -TAM Warrior: Carrie Artist: Shane Wallin Shop: Garnet Tattoo Studio, San Diego, CA Here’s Carrie’s Story: Hello, My name is Carrie.  I am a 2 time cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with Hodgskin’s Lymphoma 25 years ago when I was 26 years old and did chemo and radiation to my chest wall. In 2013 cancer reared its ugly head again in the form of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma aka Breast Cancer. After 4 chemo treatments I endured a double mastectomy with reconstruction. The reconstruction process has several steps, my 1st set of implants were problematic with one implant actually flipping over so they needed to be replaced. The final process of reconstruction is the tattooing of the areola’s which was done in a hospital setting by the plastic surgeon. Give him credit for a try but the areola tattoo that he did was a flat flesh colored circle…no definition!!  I thought “this is it? after all that I have been through???” I was extremely disappointed in the results. In my desperation to feel complete I started to research 3D tattooing and I became hopeful. In my search process I saw the group (Personal Ink) on Facebook and in looking into what ... Read More »

Patty: “I didn’t want the scars to be all I saw”

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Each month we feature the inspirational and transformative Stories of few post-mastectomy cancer survivors and the artists & ink that help change their lives. Please support these Warrior Women by sharing their stories with those you love! And remember- Get your exams, ladies! -TAM Warrior: Patty Artist: Shane Wallin Shop: Garnet Tattoo Studio, San Diego, CA Here’s Patty’s Story: In 1991 my father was diagnosed with breast cancer.  That was a shock since we didn’t realize that men could get that particular form of the disease.  Over the next seven years he underwent a mastectomy and many rounds of chemo before passing away in 1998.  In 1997 my sister Robin was also diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and went through many rounds of both chemo and radiation as the disease metastasized.  Robin passed away in 2004. After speaking with her oncologist I decided to see some experts.  One genetic counselor and many doctors later I had a prophylactic double mastectomy and reconstruction.  My surgeons were fantastic and things went very well but after 2 1/2 years and two serious infections the implants had to be removed.  By 2014 I had undergone two more surgeries and received new implants. Every time I looked in the mirror I would have very mixed feelings.  I didn’t want the scars to be all I saw everyday but these were scars that I chose, and that I would choose again.  My father and sister didn’t have that choice. I started looking at ... Read More »

Why I wanted to get my breasts tattooed: Juanita Williams, survivor


Why I wanted to get my breasts tattooed By Juanita Williams, Survivor Hi. I would like to first tell you a little about myself. I am a Sagittarius. I have four loving children that I raised as a single mother with the help of my family. When I first found out I had breast cancer I was only 25 years old and pregnant with my third child, Katie. My (ex) husband was the one that found the lump in my left breast. He was good for something, a lump finder. I quickly made a doctors appointment. At first my doctor told me because I was pregnant that it could be one of my milk ducts. To make a long story short, I found out that it was actually breast cancer. I was 7 months pregnant. I ended up having to have a mastectomy on my left breast. I gave birth to my daughter a month early, due to the stress after surgery. She weighed only 4lb 6oz. That was in July of 1987. I had my breast reconstructed. Thank you Jesus I did not have to go through chemo or radiation. It was in stage 2. I survived that experience. 24 years later, in 2010, I was examining my right breast and I felt a lump. Back to the doctor praying that it wasn’t breast cancer. It was. I had another mastectomy. In this case I did need to have chemo. That was one of the hardest times in my life. Chemo ... Read More »

Are Tattoo Conventions Sanitary? Helpful Guidelines–


Tattoo conventions certainly have a lot to offer tattoo enthusiasts and the local communities, starting with access to some of the best artists from around the world, without the expense of flights and accommodations. The question of sanitation at conventions has long been a topic of concern debated by artists and collectors in the community…how can you protect yourself? As far as artists and sterility goes, you’re fine- the same professional level of cleanliness is mandated by the local governing bodies and health departments. In many places the artists are required to show proof of their own health licenses, if not acquire temporary ones from the city hosting the tattoo convention. So, that’s not the real problem. All the same sterilization techniques are used, their machines and equipment is covered, cleaned and/or disposed of between each tattoo. And all tattoos done at the convention site should still be properly cleaned and wrapped prior to anyone leaving the booth. No problem, right? So what’s the concern, then? Not much at all, until you visit the bathrooms and find dozens of those fresh, bloody, tattoo bandages discarded in the waste receptacles, lying around on the floors or even sitting on the sink countertops! Cross-contamination concerns abound! Once that bandage is removed, the safety barrier protecting their bloody wound from the outside environment (and vice versa) is gone. Without proper knowledge on sanitary procedures, everything those people touch after that bandage becomes a possible reservoir for disease- doors, sinks, stalls, mirrors, walls, furniture, bars, stools, ... Read More »

TAM presents: Mastectomy Tattoos w/artist Shane Wallin

Janine's photos and of day 2014 were taken by John Swanson of JPS photography

Many of you may remember this amazing post-mastectomy tattoo image, shared across social media and blogs worldwide- Crash: When I first saw Shane’s work I was blown away, not just by the work he does (which is exceptional) but by the stories of the women he has helped reclaim a sense of feminine dignity after the trauma of cancer, mastectomy surgeries and other reconstructive measures. TAM is proud to introduce our new columnist, Shane Wallin, of Garnet Tattoo in southern California. When I first saw Shane’s amazing work and heard the stories of women he was helping reclaim feminine dignity, I was blown away– not just by the work (which is amazing) but by the lives he changes with his work. I reached out to him to learn more-  Artist Shane Wallin: Fast & Furious facts: -Shane Wallin 40 years old -Born and raised in MN -Always wanted to tattoo and focused on it in High School -Used my graduation money to start a sleeve and talk my way in to an apprenticeship -Tattooing 21 years/1994 -Opened Twilight Tattoo in 2001. -Just opened Garnet Tattoo in Southern California last month. To start off this series of seri-ous posts here on the TAMblog, I asked Shane to tell us all a little bit about his history and how he came to this rather unique form of specialized tattooing: I’ve been tattooing for over twenty years now. About 15 years ago, I opened my first tattoo shop in Minneapolis, MN, Twilight Tattoo. I didn’t get my start ... Read More »

Breast Cancer Survivors Get Tattoos In Colorado

Cancer survivor gets tattoos in Colorado

Article by Carrie Antlfinger WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) — For women who have survived breast cancer, breast or nipple reconstruction can be a first step toward looking like their old selves. A Colorado organization is helping some of those women, and others who don’t choose reconstruction, in their emotional healing — through tattoos to help conceal their scars. is a Boulder-based group that helps connect survivors with tattoo artists. Its first annual Day was in 2013, when it raised money and funded tattoos for 10 women in a single day in Brooklyn, New York. In 2014, the event expanded and featured all-volunteer artists in 12 cities in the U.S. and Canada who helped 38 women. –  “I think a lot of survivors see this as their opportunity to define what breast cancer looks like on them, and that is the ultimate in personal empowerment we are shooting for here,” said Noel Franus, who launched with the help of others at the CP+B advertising agency, where he works. Franus got the idea after his sister-in-law, Molly Ortwein, underwent a double mastectomy and wanted something more than reconstruction or tattooed nipples. She went to the family for ideas on a tattoo and got a pernambuco tree blossom one in 2013. The organization also has a charitable arm, the fund, which raises money to pay experienced tattoo artists to work with survivors. has created a smartphone app where women can look at designs and try one on via ... Read More »

Deb Yarian on Zeke Owen


I saw him before I found out who he was. A striking figure of a man… He was movie star handsome with the physique of a boxer.It was 1980.  I was 21 and tattooing at a friend’s shop in Daytona Beach, Fla.We weren’t introduced but when I was told who he was, his imposing physical presence equaled the reputation that preceded him. Zeke’s name dominated tattooing for much of the latter part of the 20th century.  An iconic figure and a forefather of American tattooing.  If you know the names Sailor Jerry, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone you should know the name Zeke Owen. Sadly, Zeke is in a nursing home now and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.His family is asking for the tattoo community’s help to cover medical expenses. They have set up an account to help with his needs and care.  If you are willing and able to help please go to husband Don and I had the great fortune to interview him a few years ago at our shop in Alaska.If you would like to learn about Zeke’s amazing tattoo journey you can read about it in issue #39 of Tam. Thank you for your help!   This Month of January, TAM will donate 30% of sales of issue 39th to assist Zeke! Zeke has done a lot for tattooing, and he needs the community’s support. Please give what you can, and spread the word! Get TAM Issue 39 Today and Help Support Zeke!   ... Read More »

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