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A Tattoo That Completes a New Breast


FINKSBURG, MD. — A tattoo parlor here has become a mecca for an unlikely crowd: women with breast cancer.

Little Vinnie’s Tattoos offers designs ranging from swordfish and skulls to intricate Japanese-style art. But women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer do not typically come for traditional ink. They flock here seeking one thing — a three-dimensional nipple tattoo by the owner, Vinnie Myers.

“Nobody really talks about the areola and nipple area, but it’s so important,” says Kimberly Winters, 44, a human resources benefits administrator from Wooster, Ohio, who underwent a mastectomyand reconstruction of her left breast two years ago. This spring Ms. Winters traveled nearly 400 miles to Finksburg seeking a realistic nipple tattoo from Mr. Myers.

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Word of his skill has spread among women who have undergone surgery for breast cancer. More than 5,000 women have traveled from as far away as India to have their reconstructed breasts tattooed by Mr. Myers.


Tattoo Artist Brings Dots And Lines To New Heights In Stunning Geometric Ink Designs


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original article here

Imagine this scene:

Sharp waves stretch back for as far as you can see, eating up the horizon in a vast display of stunning movement. Like the peaks and troughs of a chaotic line graph, the seas capture jumping fish as they weave in and out of the thrashes. Careful shading separates the animal bodies as they surface, drenched in the bleeding red pigment of a sunset-flooded landscape.

The description might sound like a recounting of an ancient Japanese print or a sprawling painted canvas, but the words are actually attached to artwork of a different sort. They tell the story of artist Chaim Machlev and his gorgeous tattoos.

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Seattle Tattoo Expo This Weekend!!


I will be attending the Seattle Tattoo Expo this weekend.  This is one of my favorite shows in the US… So many talented artists… the show is busy, and the city is fun.  If you’re around, please stop by and check it out.  They always have good entertainment, good food, a good bar, cigar lounge, and most importantly… GOOD TATTOOS!  Hope to see you there!

For more information about the show like featured artists and event schedules, visit:










Women Finding Beauty in Tragedy:

Gugo Tattoo, Sao Paulo, Brazil: []

Tattoo by: Gugo Tattoo, Sao Paulo, Brazil


This year’s Day will be October 10, 2014.

Last year was a huge success—it was truly a transformative event. Check these amazing pictures

Still, last year was a prototype experience. We learned from it and the plan is to make our next Day even better.

Friday Jones

Tattoo by: Friday Jones


Propaganda Podcast: Joe Swanson with Josh Hagan

Scars of a Past Life, Lend a Helping Hand

By Erin Boyle

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Scar coverup by Melissa Fusco.

I think there’s something to be said about searching for an artist you can trust with personal symbols and parts of the self. I stumbled upon Melissa Fusco’s portfolio by pure chance after searching 4 years for artists in a different style; I was instantly swayed. I found her work captivating and unique: her craftsmanship was soft, colorful and organic, and I saw hints of depth and spirituality in her portfolios – these things really clicked for me. I had consulted with many artists over the years, and the request to tattoo over my scars was nothing new to me – I even met some who refused to work on scars. Finding a good fit was important; the artist would, after all, be spending several hours confronted with these scars and whatever it brought up for them. I was looking not just for the quality of an artist’s work but also the personhood of the one applying it, Melissa’s warmth and professionalism really showed through during our consultation process. Though she had no idea of my story at the time, I told her, “but really, who gets out of life unscarred in one way or another”…everybody has their thing…it’s all in what you do with it.

Now, I’m not much for telling soggy and dramatic tales about my life, much the reason why I chose this particular flower for my tattoo – but I’ll get to that later. The Buddha once said, “every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind; the goal is to find it”. I, like many, was blessed with a difficult childhood; abuse and neglect were my reality for much of my childhood and adolescence. Though high achieving, at 17 there came a point where my goals took a backseat and I thought there was only one way out. This thought became not just a memory, but left behind the scars to prove it.

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Erin Boyle beginning Stencil

Every good story has a twist; mine came a few years later after coming out of an abusive relationship. At that point I looked long and hard at my life, I spent a lot of time healing old wounds and rebuilding the Self. Mindfulness, courage and sacrifice were essential building blocks in my process of change and moving towards doing what I love and loving what I do. I threw away my masks of success and achievement, gave up my fancy title and hefty paycheck, got a second bachelors degree in pre-clinical psych, and began working at a Residential Treatment Center for youth with mental illness. In other words, for mere pennies I worked with teenage boys who liked to break shit, especially your face, and taught them how to give and receive love. This is what makes sense for me; this is what life is about, using our humanity to help others grow.

The paradox of my story is that no matter how much I healed and evolved, I still had my past written on my arms along with the judgment from others about what that means. No amount of success, forgiveness or compassion would ever make that go away. However, life with this tattoo is different. Not just myself, but others see beauty and strength where shame and secrecy once lived. In a way it removes the stigma I once felt. I don’t perceive myself as a victim or a survivor, I see myself as a person with the drive and motivation to create and sustain social justice through guiding others to lead the best possible life they can. As an Art Therapy graduate student en route towards doctoral research, I’ve found that having the permanence of this image in my skin helped ignite this fearless internal integration of my personal and professional lives. It’s closure, it’s dignity, it’s confidence, and in a huge way it is taking ownership of my body while standing grounded in authenticity and unapologetically residing in my own identity and truth.

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Tattoo by Melissa Fusco.

Embedded in the image also lies the memory of the process. To match my initial impressions, Melissa was grounded, focused, caring, calm, gentle, warm, empathic, funny, respectful, edgy, and an incredibly skilled independent female artist in a male dominated field. She made the process personal and relational, and that’s not something I got from any other tattoo artists I reached out to. I don’t know if I would have found another talented artist that I felt as comfortable with during this process, not to mention one who honored the experience. I’m grateful to have found her, and look forward to collaborating on future work.

As a symbol of the self, this phoenix of a flower holds no mythology – only truth. Coming from one of the oldest families of flowers on earth, whenever a wildfire ravages the area the King Protea is the first sign of new life. In fact, wildfires are central to their evolution – just as challenges, failures and setbacks are to ours. As I see it there is no fantasy in real life – our results come from our own hard work…or as Melissa would say, there is “no progress without sacrifice.” I couldn’t say it better myself.

MFUSCO red rocks


To see more work by Melissa, or to get in touch with her, go to:

Fresh Ink for the Human Canvas

3-D, Watercolor and Flash Tattoos

 Elizabeth Vogt shows off her watercolor tattoo. CreditRajah Bose for The New York Times

article by:

If you are thinking about getting a tattoo, or adding another one to the half-dozen or so you already have, the options of what are available may have multiplied since the last time you visited your tattoo parlor.

How about going 3-D?

The Swiss artist H.R. Giger, who died inMay, is known mostly for his creation of the nightmare-inducing character in “Alien,” but he is also the godfather of three-dimensional tattoos. His work spawned a style called biomechanical tattoos, which have an allure that has recently extended beyond sci-fi fans.

“People would get these tubes tattooed on their skin in the ’80s,” said Mark Mahoney, the owner of the Shamrock Social Club in West Hollywood. “So it’s funny that it’s just been starting up again.”

Clients are bringing in photos from “Bodies: The Exhibition,” a museum show dedicated to showcasing the human body. “I just did a cutaway of real muscular imagery on somebody’s shoulder,” Mr. Mahoney said.

Other versions include the illusion of ripped skin and more-approachable styles, such as lifelike animals or objects that appear to be in motion.


An original watercolor tattoo by an artist in Spokane, Wash.; Corrine Skeen, from Baltimore, has a 3-D butterfly tattoo.

CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times (right)

“The 3-D effect makes it look more organic, like it belongs on my skin,” said Corrine Skeen, 28, a dental hygienist from Baltimore. Last month she chose a 3-D tattoo to memorialize an aunt who died of cancer. “I wanted it to look like there’s a real butterfly sitting on my shoulder.”

Not for the sensitive, 3-D ink requires a large amount of detail and needlework, which can be fairly labor intensive. (Translation: more pain.)

“That stuff is so dense, and it has to have a kind of darkness to it,” Mr. Mahoney said. “So that’s a committed, real tattoo person at that point.”

So far, social media has the largest volume of 3-D inspirations.

“Instagram is a great way to view artists’ portfolios if I’m interested in a new piece,” said Ms. Skeen, who has four tattoos. “So when I saw photos of photorealistic and 3-D effect tattoos, I knew I wanted something like this.”

Despite hyper-realistic tattoos’ growing visibility on social media sites, Jon Mesa, a traveling tattoo artist who has recently worked out of Bang Bang Tattoos and Sacred Tattoo, warns that relying on some of these photos as references can backfire.

“It’s still really cool, but may not have that same shock value that it has on an image in your phone,” Mr. Mesa said.

A couple of other choices are out there for those who want to decorate themselves.



An original watercolor-style tattoo by Joey Hamilton of “Ink Master.”

Tattooing has long been regarded by many as an art form, but rarely do ink lovers get to make as literal a parallel than with watercolor tattooing.

The style is derived from a European free-form method of tattooing, Mr. Mesa said. “They are not based on old-school sailor designs or Japanese designs,” he said. “It’s more about expression, movement and color choice rather than just the power of imagery.”

Joey Hamilton, the season-three winner of“Ink Master,” on Spike TV, recently painted a watercolor butterfly on a client’s ribs. “You are trying to make them look like there are little paint runs or splotches of color,” he said. Elizabeth Vogt, 24, from Spokane, Wash., recently chose a watercolor tattoo of a bird for her fourth and largest tattoo. “This particular piece is from an artist that I’ve been following for a while, and it fit the watercolor, aviary theme that I seem to have going in the rest of my ink,” Ms. Vogt said.

In contrast to 3-D tattoos, watercolor tattoos have very little detailing to emulate the imprecise, flowing aesthetic of a painting. But a drawback is their inability to age as well as traditional tattoos. “The color is kind of applied as a wash, so less pigment means less saturation on the skin,” Mr. Mesa said.


Designed to look like bracelets, necklaces and beach bling, Flash Tattoosare this summer’s noncommittal style upgrade. Perhaps an answer toTattly, the geek-chic temporary tattoos popular among design and typography devotees, Flash Tattoos are a hit among the surfer set and those with a bohemian flair. With summer music festival season afoot, the jewelry-inspired tattoos were already a crowd favorite at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April. Alessandra Ambrosio and Vanessa Hudgens were among countless bloggers and festivalgoers seen showing off their adornments.

Miranda Burnet, 39, who created the brand, says she was not entirely aware of the attention the festival would bring until her sales spiked right before.

Last July, she introduced Flash Tattoos after becoming inspired while sourcing ideas at her previous job. In Dubai, she noticed the big trend was 24-karat temporary tattoos. Ms. Burnet, a Texas native, said she wanted to create something similar without the hefty price tag.

The waterproof tattoos are sold on the company’s website,, but shops like Planet Blue and Nicole Miller have also made them available on their sites. (Prices range from $20 to $30 for four sheets per pack, and a tattoo usually lasts four to six days.) Straddling tattoo and accessory, two of the nine Flash Tattoo collections are design collaborations with Eileen Lofgren, the owner of the jewelry company Child of Wild, and Rebekah Steen, the blogger behind Goldfish Kiss, a beach lifestyle blog.

The collections are exclusively designed in gold, silver and black, but Ms. Burnet said that she hopes to introduce fluorescent colors later this summer.

FDA: Contaminated tattoo ink causing infections

This is why you SHOULD NOT get tattooed at home or by a scratcher.

Thinking about getting inked? Check the bottle first.

The Food and Drug Administration is warning tattoo parlors, their customers and those buying at-home tattoo kits that not all tattoo ink is safe.

Last month, California company White and Blue Lion Inc. recalled inks in in-home tattoo kits after testing confirmed bacterial contamination in unopened bottles.

At least one skin infection has been linked to the company’s products, and FDA officials say they are aware of other reports of infections linked to tattoo inks with similar packaging.

Infections from tattooing are nothing new. Hepatitis, staph infections and even the superbug known as MRSA have been tied to tattoos. Dirty needles and unsanitary environments are often to blame.

But people getting tattoos can get infections in the skin even in the cleanest conditions. The ink can carry bacteria that can spread through the bloodstream – a process known as sepsis. Symptoms are fever, shaking chills and sweats, and the risk is particularly high for anyone with pre-existing heart or circulatory conditions. Less severe infections may involve bumps on the skin, discharge, redness, swelling, blisters or excessive pain at the site.
And you may not be out of the woods for a while: The FDA says it has received reports of bad reactions to tattoo inks right after tattooing as well as years later.

The FDA says it is concerned that consumers and tattoo artists may have some of the contaminated products from the July recall. White and Blue Lion may have just been one distributor.

Some of the recalled bottles have a multicolored Chinese dragon image with black-and-white lettering, while some are missing manufacturer information. In general, the FDA says those looking to get a tattoo should always ensure that the ink has a brand name and a location of the business that manufactured it.

“What the consumer can do is talk to the tattoo artist and see the ink bottles,” said Linda Katz, director of the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors.

This isn’t the first outbreak linked to tattoo ink. Reports of infections have increased as tattoos have become more popular in the last decade.

Three years ago, 19 people in Rochester, New York, ended up with bubbly rashes on their new tattoos, linked to contaminated water that was used to dilute the ink.

Permanent tattoos aren’t the only tattoos that carry risk. An FDA alert earlier this year warned that temporary tattoos popular with kids and often found at beaches, boardwalks and other holiday destinations can be dangerous. The main risk is from black henna, an ink that is combined with natural red henna and can include chemicals that can cause dangerous skin reactions.

In that notice to the public, the FDA said regulation differs from state to state and can be lax in some places.

“Depending on where you are, it’s possible no one is checking to make sure the artist is following safe practices or even knows what may be harmful to consumers,” the alert read.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Where Is Bjork…? Part II

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By John Niederkorn

Iceland may be a tiny island-country in an obscure isolated corner of the world, but the hearts and spirits of the Icelandic people are larger and broader than a Viking’s shoulders… Much like this charred volcanic rock of an island, the Icelandic Tattoo convention stands alone in the sea of tattoo conventions. Increasingly, side show gimmicks, music festival atmospheres and sub-par tattooing plague much of tattoo convention circuit today.


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You will find none of these things at the Iceland convention… There’s no male strippers, fire-breathers or go-go dancers. You will however find amazing tattooers making some bad-ass tattoos.



Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World

MARCH 8 – SEPTEMBER 14, 2014



About the Exhibition

Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World explores the artistry of traditional Japanese tattoos along with its rich history and influence on modern tattoo practices in this groundbreaking photographic exhibition.

As Japanese tattoos have moved into the mainstream, the artistry and legacy of Japanese tattooing remain both enigmatic and misunderstood. Often copied by practitioners and aficionados in the West without regard to its rich history, symbolism, or tradition, the art form is commonly reduced to a visual or exotic caricature. Conversely, mainstream Japanese culture still dismisses the subject itself as underground, associating it more with some of its clientele than with the artists practicing it. Both of these mindsets ignore the vast artistry and rich history of the practice.

Although tattooing is largely seen as an underground activity in Japan, Japanese tattoo artists have pursued their passions, applied their skills, and have risen to become internationally acclaimed artists. Through the endurance and dedication of these tattoo artists, Japanese tattooing has also persevered and is now internationally renowned for its artistry, lineage, historical symbolism, and skill.

Curated by Takahiro Kitamura and photographed and designed by Kip FulbeckPerseverance is a groundbreaking exhibition and the first of its kind. Perseverance will explore Japanese tattooing as an art form by acknowledging its roots in ukiyo-e prints. This exhibition will also examine current practices and offshoots of Japanese tattooing in the U.S. and Japan.

Perseverance features the work of seven internationally acclaimed tattoo artists, HoritakaHoritomoChris Horishiki BrandMiyazoShigeJunii, and Yokohama Horiken, along with tattoo works by selected others. Through the display of a variety of photographs, including life-sized pictures of full body tattoos, these artists will cover a broad spectrum of the current world of Japanese tattooing.

Premier Sponsor

Mariko Gordon and Hugh Cosman

Patron Sponsors

LS Tattoo Museum
Pasadena Art Alliance
UCSB Academic Senate
UCSB Department of Art

The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles
Los Angeles County Arts Commission
Richard Ross
Samy’s Camera
Spoonflower, Inc.
Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation

Media Sponsor
The Rafu Shimpo


Tattoo Decision Flow Chart


What’s In a Name?

By Deb Yarian

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By Don Yarian

The first thing out of my mouth when a couple says “We’ve decided to have a baby” is usually “Congratulations,” not “What happens if you get a divorce?”

I wish as many obstetricians counseled their patients against having babies using the same reasoning as some tattooers do when they advise their customers against getting a partner’s name – “What happens if you break up?”
Well, what happens if you break up is that you, having made an adult decision to show your devotion to someone by getting their name tattooed on your skin must now also make another adult decision and learn to live with it, cover it, or change it.

A ludicrous comparison, yes – but the name tattoo (a foolish choice only in retrospect) seems far less permanent when compared with the really permanent – living child.

This sort of counsel is a particular pet peeve of mine… I think that when a person, for whatever reason , wishes to commemorate their love and devotion to another person by choosing to get that person’s name tattooed on their body, then that is their adult decision and they don’t need my opinion, other than possibly font or calligraphic design choice or placement.

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photo 4 Redo of “Carlita” by Deb

I’ve heard so many tattooers respond to name requests with such negativity. With mocking responses ranging from “That’s a sure way to end a relationship!” “You sure you want to do that?” To ridicule or refusal to do the name tattoo.
But why should any couple coming in to get name tattoos from me or any other tattooer have to validate anything other than their legal ability to get tattooed? Since when did the tattooer become the priest and rabbi and moral counsel of their customers?

During my 35 years of tattooing there have probably been hundreds, even thousands of tattoo designs that I have been asked to do that I, myself, would not have chosen to get. In my opinion many more ugly or foolish design choices have been made than choosing to get the name of a loved one.

I am speaking solely on my opinion of a person’s decision to get another’s name – not the aesthetics of it.
Certainly, if the aesthetics of type interferes with the look or design flow of a larger tattoo then when asked for my artistic opinion I would give my honest one. However, if asked my opinion  as to whether someone should get their partner’s name – how could I answer that?

I feel that it’s only my responsibility to advise on design choice and placement and to try and do the best job that I can regardless of my opinion of someone else’s choice of what to wear on their body.

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By Don Yarian


What Makes Tattoos Permanent?

Claudia Aguirre



By Mark Fisher


Multiple lots of tattoo inks and needles sold by a California-based company through the Internet have been recalled due to potential bacterial contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday.

The voluntary recall by White & Blue Lion Inc. includes all tattoo inks, needles and kits distributed by the company. The products are sold separately by 8Decades and White & Blue Lion through

The recalled needles and inks may cause bacterial infection and can lead to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection, FDA officials warned. FDA laboratory testing found microbial bacterial contamination in both the inks and needles, agency officials said. There has been one illness connected with the tattoo products.

Jeremy McGrady, a tattoo artist at Cloak and Dagger Tattoo Studio in Dayton, said the company named in the recall is not a prominent supplier of tattoo ink and needles to the industry.

“I’ve never heard of it, and I’m familiar with most of the large companies,” McGrady said. “I suspect the only people who would be impacted by this are those making the poor decision to get tattooed at their own home.”

The products recalled by White & Blue Lion include a tattoo kit of a multi-colored Chinese Dragon Image with black and white lettering with Lot No. OR20036, Batch #8, in a 5-ml bottle. Some of the recalled tattoo needles are packaged in groups of five and labeled as “CE0197 Pre-made tattoo needle.”

Consumers can call the California company for more information at (626) 586-3485 from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday EST, FDA officials said.

Chuck Greenberg: Ain’t just a tat

By Chuck Greenberg


Most of you probably know of Chuck Greenberg, A.K.A. Chuck DeeZee. Over the past several years, Chuck has gotten an insane amount of work all over the country by artists all over the world. The list of artists that have tattooed Chuck is mind boggling. With all of the time getting tattooed, traveling to get tattoo, talking to artists, and generally being around tattooed people – Chuck has picked up a thing or two.

I’m excited to say this is the first of a regular series of columns that Chuck is going to write for Tattoo Snob. Chuck is going to tackle subjects that a simple Google search won’t find. Below is the first of many article. If you have a subject that you’re interested in hearing Chuck’s thoughts on, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.



My name is Charles Greenberg, and I have been a collector for as long as I can remember. I’ve collected all sorts of things over the years, from cassettes to vinyl, mountain bikes to historical and music memorabilia, and, of course, tattoos. I’ve always been a collector of art, starting with comics and collectible cards at a young age. Now I’m working on a near complete, but still in-progress double body suit that features work from some of the most highly regarded artists in the industry. You really have to want it in order to tackle such an undertaking, but I’m here to share some personal insights in the hope that maybe I can spare you some of the bumps you may encounter on your own path to great skin art.

Some of the facets of collecting tattoo work might seem relatively obvious, while others might not. The purpose of this column is to touch on many of the facets of being a tattoo collector, including, but not limited to:

  • The obvious financial element, including some bartering tactics
  • Preparing for (and scheduling) the number of hours involved in collecting tattoo work full-time
  • Working with tattoo artists
  • Tattoo artist collaborations
  • Tattoo conventions and their associated contests
  • Tattoo removal
  • Tattoo shop hygiene and cleanliness, including standards and best practices
  • Etiquette for booking with high profile artists
  • Perhaps the biggest factor involved here is the element of cost

To be honest, I hate it when people ask me how much I’ve paid for my skin art just to hear them brag about having paid less for their own work, or to have them bark at me that they think I’ve paid far too much. $150-250 an hour is standard in the industry these days for upper echelon work. Most people do not realize how much time and effort an artist puts into crafting a custom piece, and time is money. If you are going to get a big tattoo, you need to have some kind of reasonable financial stability to pay for the number of hours that piece will take to be completed.

Bragging about how you got a deal with another artist will not get you terribly far in this industry. It’s advantageous for you to do your homework and to go to an artist who’s best suited to your idea. Time and time again I have read about people going to the wrong artists because they did not do their research in finding the correct artists to suit their needs. I can’t stress enough how important it is to work with your artist. You don’t want to be the sort of person who goes to the local bio-organic artist to ask for a black and gray anime portrait of your grandmother. With that in mind, it’s best to do an in-person consultation about your idea beforehand, if you can. It just might be the difference between a good tattoo and an epic one.

Patience is the name of the game if you seek out the artists who are in the highest demand. Get pieces which will exploit their strengths and challenge them. Avoid the same old recycled ideas that are common on Pinterest and Google. Of course there are different types of tattoo collectors; many want to focus on one style, such as traditional, illustrative, bio-mech, or black and gray work. Others, like me, appreciate all styles equally, and try to collect a piece from each of them. I’ll be writing here regularly, so I’d like to encourage all readers to contribute to this column by asking me any questions about tattoo collecting or other relevant topics that you want to discuss. I’ll do my best to provide a thorough answer for all of them, time permitting. I appreciate your time, and I hope you’ll be coming back to the discussion in the future.