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My chest piece was done in one sitting by my friend Jason Angst at the Brew City Tattoo Convention in 2009 (He won tattoo of the day for it). I got this tattoo at a time when a lot of friends of mine were going through a really hard time related to family problems and state repression and various other legal troubles. The quote across the banner is “we are the birds of a coming storm” which is a paraphrasing of the infamous words of the Haymarket martyr, August Spies. Spies was an anarchist agitator in Chicago who was sentenced to death for his fiery views and convictions. His last words before being hung were “the day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.” In a way, thinking about his words was a way for me to deal with the difficulties my friends and I were going through and to remember that though we felt alone at times, a whole redemptive storm would follow someday.



Medusa


Also by Jason Angst. Medusa is often mythologized as a symbolof femme / feminist vengeance against patriarchal power. When I got this, most of the female assigned people in my life (including my mother) were dealing with bad behavior of men in various ways and capacities. People I thought I could trust, or who were maybe positive examples of how to not be misogynist were proving me wrong left and right. This affected me in a pretty serious way and I had to re-evaluate a lot of the ways I thought about gendered violence and resistance to it. I got a tattoo of medusa as a bit of a solidarity gesture with everyone in my life dealing with violence or pain because of their place in our gendered world. The tattoo is based on a painting by Caravaggio.


Divine:


My first and dearest tattoo, by Gifford Kasen . “Filth is my politics! Filth is my life!”


Thanks Devin!


Live in the Sf bay area and have some ink you’d like to show off, or are a tattoo artist who just finished a really cool piece? Contact me about a shoot. I’m always looking for people with creative and interesting tats to work with.




Originally published at T r i s t a n C r a n e

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I wanted something simple for my first tattoo, and settled on my astrological symbol in the middle of a tribal sun. While looking for artists, I became inspired to start planning out my next, oh, dozen or so tattoos and found myself scribbling constantly in my sketchbook. One day, I banged out four tribal looking symbols for the elements: earth, wind, water, and fire. I was so pleased with the results that I immediately 86’d the idea of getting anything else.  And then, I found Dawn.


Dawn was a corporate graphic designer for ten or fifteen years before waking up one day and realizing she was unhappy. She quit her job, bought a motorcycle, and became a professional female bodybuilder and a tattoo artist. She told me all this to distract me while she inked up my chest, getting my attention most when she was going over the tender collar bone area. I was so inspired, I never forgot her story and repeat it to myself every time I worry about not knowing what I want to do with my life.


For a week afterwards, I wore button-down shirts so I could periodically rip them open and break into the Captain Planet theme song. Really, the symbols are just there as reminders of the love and awe I feel for the power of nature.



My most recent, and probably my favorite so far, are the words on my right forearm, “It’s always something…” I’ve always been a big dork, most of which I attribute to my mother and to my obsessive love of comedy in movies and TV. Saturday Night Live reruns were a staple growing up, and Gilda Radner was always one of my absolute favorites. Her character Roseanne Roseannadanna used to tell outrageous stories and conclude them with “It’s always something.” To me, it just means not to take things too seriously, because nothing and nobody is perfect. You’ve got to have a sense of humor about it all, or you go nuts.


My second tattoo was the wave design on my left arm. I was a water baby and have always found myself drawn to water, whether it be puddles, lakes, rivers, fountains, the bathtub, or the almighty ocean. The beach has always kind of been my happy place.



The hourglass on my left arm was next. I had the hourglass shattering, the top half carried away by blazing wings as clouds of the sand swirled in the middle.   loved the concept, and felt very much that it symbolized where I was in my transition at the time (the very beginning pretty much.)   wanted to much to break away from my past, to start something new, but I also wanted to hold on to the important things that had shaped me. That’s why I left some sand in the bottom half of the hourglass. The rest,  I scattered to the wind.


I added on to this just a year later, adding the turquoise and purple smoke, peace sign, stars, and the quote “Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici” (Latin for “By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the Universe”). I was big into the movie “V for Vendetta” at the time (it’s still in my Top 5) and have always been a bit of a hippie, growing up just 10 miles from where Woodstock took place in 1969. In the long run, I’m hoping to turn it into a ¾ sleeve with several elements from Greek mythology’s Garden of the Hesperides.



Then came the sugar skull on my thigh. I was in college and working at a Ben & Jerry’s that was located right below a tattoo parlor. I became easy friends with the tattoo artists and piercers upstairs through master smoothie and shake blending. One day, I jokingly asked my buddy if he’d give me a free tattoo before he moved to Atlanta, GA a week later. To my surprise, he said, “Sure, I’ll give you a free tattoo, but I get to choose what it is.” My jaw dropped, I started to stutter, but eventually said, “Holy shit, I was just kidding, but if you’re not kidding, then I’m totally not kidding!” He then asked how I felt about “a skull, and a rose, and a switchblade.” I remember laughing and declining the switchblade, then suggesting a sugar skull, which was only then starting to get going again in pop culture. The night of my 21st birthday, I got my free ink.


 


Live in San Francisco and have some ink you’d like to show off, or are a tattoo artist who just finished a really cool piece? Contact me about a shoot. I’m always looking for people with creative and interesting tats to work with.




Originally published at T r i s t a n C r a n e

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“Everyone deserves a chance to fly”


This was my very first tattoo. It’s a quote from the musical, “Wicked”. Its sung at a very pivotal point in the musical where the “wicked” witch defies all odds and flies, even when there are people trying to stop her. This quote reminds me that even though people may try to bring me down, I know I can defy their expectations and just be myself. If I don’t at least try, they win.


j-2


Arrows


My best friend Mo stuck and poked me right before I moved for the Bay. Not only did it symbolize our friendship but it also symbolizes that no matter where I end up, that compass will always keep me from getting lost.



Crane Tattoo


My grandfather was the first family member to pass away. I remember it was so hard for me to cope with his death that getting this tattoo in his memory was the only thing that helped ease my pain. I remembered my grandfather used to play with these Japanese playing cards. When he played, I remember as a child how that was the only time I really saw him smile and really enjoy himself. I took an image from one of these cards and did my own drawing interpretation of it.



Triangle

When I started to identify as “Queer”, not just as a “Lesbian”, is when I got this tattoo. I couldn’t have been more proud of how much I opened my heart and my mind to infinite possibilities of sex, gender, identity, and love.


 


Live in San Francisco and have some ink you’d like to show off, or are a tattoo artist who just finished a really cool piece? Contact me about a shoot. I’m always looking for people with creative and interesting tats to work with.




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