Category Archives: Tattooing

articles about tattooing

Studio Move

After several months of having to put up with the frustration of repeatedly being refused by uptight and obtuse landlords, I finally managed to find a good place for the studio so I can announce now, with certainty, that the move is going to happen after all.

I’ve already rented the new space and, starting tomorrow, we’ll proceed to redecorate the interior. The whole thing is supposed to last only one week so, before the end of this month, I’ll be able to go in and take a few photos and post them here.

Meanwhile, the important details:


150-0013 Shibuya-ku, Ebisu 4-10-8, Ebisu Building 3rd floor, room 302

The new place is really close to the east exit (towards Garden Place) of Ebisu Station (one stop from Shibuya and Nakameguro on Eidan Hibiya Line; one stop from Shibuya and Meguro on JR Yamanote Line). From the east exit, it’s a 7 minute walk along Route 305.

For a landmark, easiest to find —and most popular— is the Zest Cantina, which is right on the other side of Route 305.

Area Map

If the map below doesn’t display properly, please visit the GoogleMaps page or view the printer–friendly version.


The new studio will be open on Saturday, June 21st, 2008.

Until Sunday, June 15th, I’ll be at the current place.

What Will Change?

Except for the location address and the phone/FAX number, nothing will change. I don’t know the new phone number yet, but The new phone and FAX number will be (03) 5422-9552 (from overseas, + 81-3-5422-9552) and I will also arrange to have the calls transferred from the old number so, for a few months, the old number will still be OK. In any case, as soon as I have the new number, I’ll update the contact information page and I will post it here too.

What Won’t Change

The website and e-mail addresses will be the same.

For the current year, the working hours and the days off won’t change either. I’m going to separate the workplace from my home, which means I probably won’t reply to e-mails in the middle of the night anymore, but don’t count on this ;)

My attitude toward the filthy governments, the big ass greedy corporations, monarchy, religion and generally, the meat puppets, will not change, I’m pretty sure of that :) I’ll probably grow a beard and click on a shitload of buttons [cheers, Rick!], but this too doesn’t have anything to do with this topic, does it? :D

I guess that’s about it for now. I’ll post updates when I have more details and I’ll definitely post some photos once the studio is redecorated. Soon, I will send out a bunch of e-mails to everybody, with the area map attached and all of the above info; if you’ve changed your e-mail address since the last time we corresponded, please let me know before the end of this month.

Thanks a lot for reading this!

Impostors and Charlatans

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Charlatan Amongst Us

Yesterday, by accident, I came by this website, called, who sells cheap tattoo flash (for people who want to be someone else’s clone). And —surprise!— there’s a page for Dali Rău too, complete with a profile photo, a tag line, a short description and some contact information, links to my website and no less than eight drawings on sale, for prices ranging from 4.90 to 14.90 American dollars.

[screenshot of the fraudulent page, taken on Sunday, April 6th 2008]

The only thing is that it isn’t me and those shitty drawings are definitely not mine!

Well, the name is mine, the description is mine —a few paragraphs copied from my profile page—, the shop address is mine and the links do point to my domain, but the rest is fake. That creep in the photo isn’t me, the tag line is not a quote of something I ever said and those drawings aren’t fucking mine.

So what we got there is a charlatan using my name and my internet presence to pose as a real tattooist, so he or she can sell a few cheap drawings.

I’m sure the people at had no idea about this sham —and, by reading their terms of use, I understand they never bother to verify the authenticity of the items before publishing them— so there wasn’t much they could do to prevent it. At least, I hope it was like this, otherwise they’d end up looking pretty stupid for promoting that kind of cheap stuff by allowing impostors to sell it through them…

So, What’s Gonna Happen?

Well, of course, I contacted them right away and told them about it. I chose to use their regular feedback channel and I chose to refer to this as a publishing error, because I’m not the kind who’d start spraying knee-jerk cease and desist threats —if I hate something more than tattoo flash, I hate this whole “legal” approach— and I hope the owners of the website will respond in a positive manner, saving us all the unnecessary trouble of having to go through lawyers and all that shit…

Haven’t gotten a reply so far —at the time I sent the e-mail it was too early for someone there to be at work— but, as I write this, I think I’ll be seeing one pretty soon.

I’d also like to meet the little piece of shit who used my name to sell their stuff, so I can attempt —in the most unpleasant way— to tear him or her a brand new shiny asshole… But I know that’s not gonna happen, so —for now— I’d be satisfied with a prompt and appropriate response from the owners of

I’ll probably put something on the website too, so that those who visit through those links know that the drawings aren’t mine and they were (about to be) sold some cheap fakes… But probably, as soon as the people at get my message, there won’t be any need for this, so I’ll postpone it a day or two.

What’s Not Going to Happen

Assuming those drawings could be there on sale for some time now, I guess the little shit and have made some money by selling those drawings (although those who paid money for that crap might deserve a new asshole too, just for being that stupid, but that’s another story) so I’d probably be entitled to ask for a reward or a settlement for abusing my trademark.

But that’s not going to happen. I’m not that kind of person and, sincerely, I don’t give a shit if they managed to make some money out of that fraud. I do work for the money I get and I have no intention to obtain some crappy cash for something like this.

All I want them to do is to remove this charlatan from their website. Period.


None :)

I mean, there’ll be one as soon as I get in touch with the owners of the website and that’s when I’m going to update this article too. But for now, the conclusion is not yet here…;)

And, since when this is over, the respective webpage —currently located at— will be taken offline and soon will die out in Google’s cache too, I thought it would be a shame not to record it for posterity… so I took a couple of screenshots, for your viewing pleasure :D

Enjoy :)


Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

I have received word from and the matter has been resolved.

We have looked into the matter and taken appropriate actions against the artist. The user account is deemed to be in violation of your personal information. maintains strict copyright and intellectual property policies. As such, the user has been suspended and the link will not be available.

For the record, we have tracked the IP of the user and withheld his payments. We will be glad to follow up or keep you posted on updates related to this issue.

Good enough for me. I will not pursue this matter any further so, basically, this is the conclusion I was looking for.

The owners of have taken the appropriate course of action and I’m satisfied with it. The charlatan has been already torn a new asshole, so that too is good enough for me; I’m not gonna pursue the little shit any further.

My thanks to the staff at for the prompt response.

Case closed ;)

Important Announcement

I’m in trouble… Big trouble!

My desktop computer (an old iMac) died last night, while it was running some maintenance routines, and it died completely. Nothing I tried so far would bring it back up, it seems that it had been damaged badly… The only thing left is taking it to the Apple Store and have them attempt to recover whatever data they can, because there were hundreds of hours of work inside it and if it’s lost I’m in the biggest trouble…

While I am going to visit the store right after I write this, I have an important announcement to make.

I do not have access to any of the e-mails I received so far, therefore I am unable to reply or continue the work I was doing for those who contacted me prior to last night. Worst case scenario, I won’t be able to recover those messages either so, basically, it’s as if I had never even received those e-mails. I can’t apologize enough for this and I want to ask you to please, send me again all the e-mails you have sent me so far, with all the attached images and everything. Without them, I will not be able to do anything so, please, take a few minutes and resend them to me.

Also, since it might take a little while until I set my mail on the other computer, please give me a few more days until I will be able to reply to all.

Again, I can’t apologize enough for this! I’ll keep you posted on the progress with the data recovery…

Gallery Update • June 21st, 2006

Took me four months and a little —to tell the truth, I wasn’t expecting to be able to do it before August, so I guess it took me less than I had thought it would— approximately three weeks of photochopping (read: “struggling with Adobe’s piece-of-shit Photoshop, the slowest, most unnerving software ever) and a couple of sleepless nights, but I finally managed to get it done…

This morning I uploaded all the new pics and just minutes ago I finished updating the gallery pages. Together with a few new pics of older tattoos —that I couldn’t show because the photos hadn’t come out right— there are approximately 100 new pics, spread throughout all the sections of the galleries, including portraits, biomechanics, tribals and letterings.

I still have about 150 photos here, but I really couldn’t wait anymore, so I guess they’ll get published later on… Hopefully, before September, since many of them are almost six months old and I’m dying to show them off :)

So, when you have a minute, drop by and have a look! It’s been one of the most inspired periods in my life, there are lots of really nice pieces among the new ones.

While I’m at updating and tweaking, I guess it’s time to update the calendar too and add 2007 to the display, since I’ve already started to make appointments for January and February and the current display falls a little short. Also, WordPress 2.0.3 is out and, although I’m really not in the mood for this, I think I’d better upgrade the blog too… The current version works very well as it is, but whenever I read “security fixes” in the release notes, my tweaking-hacking-chopping fingers get a little itchy :)

P.S.: The Axl Rose portrait is almost done; on June 29th I’ll be able to finish it and upload the photo to the galleries. Meanwhile, the preview shows most of it, since the hair is still incomplete and I haven’t decided yet how the design will fade out at the lower part…

Gallery Update

I should’ve been able to do this about a week ago, but I found myself in a time crisis like never before, with the additional flavor of some server trouble last night, causing the Japanese blog to go apeshit and hit me with an annoying 403 error (haven’t found the real cause, but I managed to fix the problem, thanks to the magicians at DreamHost) so I ended up uploading everything this morning and editing the gallery pages just a couple of minutes ago, right after I closed the shop for the day.

So the galleries have been updated, some 60 new photos are up and all is back to normal :)

With the exception of the dragons and tribal rings galleries, all other sections have been updated with at least 3–4 pics each; as usual, the latest ones are at the upper-left side of the thumbnail galleries, at the top of each subsection of the collections. Actually, the ones you don’t remember seeing are the new ones, so I’m sure you’ll notice them right away ;)

Some really cool stuff, especially in the biomechanics and kitsch art sections, so whenever you have a minute, please visit. I’m sure you’ll like them!

While I’m at it, the calendar has also been updated (the weekly routine), and so were other few things here and there, mostly under the hood, to keep the site running smooth. WordPress 2.0.1 is out and everybody says I have to upgrade, because it seems that 2.0 has a handful of bugs that needed to be fixed — I’m pretty sure I was hit by one of them last night, when the Japanese blog decided to choke itself to death — so I guess I’m gonna have to find some spare time one day and get to it. It is a pain in the ass, no doubt, because I have customized a lot of files and I will need to port those customizations to the new ones, but I think it’s worth the effort… so if you see the site down these days, no worries, it’ll be back as soon as possible ;)

And that’s it for now, my inbox screams for attention so I guess I’m just gonna have to give it to it :)

P.S.: The Michael Jordan portrait preview in this post is not yet done, I still need to work on it, so it’s not yet in the galleries either. That’s why it’s a preview :) Something like the ”Under way…” page I used to have a couple of years ago, but toned down to one tattoo per post… blog style :)

Photo Galleries Update

A tiny update to the photo galleries at the main site, as I promised a couple of days (weeks?) ago.

Not too many, but some really nice stuff, as always. A couple of portraits, a few animals and flowers, a few tribals and a few letterings; a total of 30 or 40 new pics, out of the hundred and n-ty sitting on my desktop, waiting to be uploaded for the next update.

There are so many I wish I could upload right away, but it’s very difficult to find enough spare time to take care of the galleries… So, every time, I have to pick a few out of the ones I’m dying to show off, being careful to include all types of designs — otherwise I might end up with an update containing only portraits or biomechanics — so everybody can find something interesting in every update, and then dodge whatever not-urgent to-dos I have on the list, keep an eye on the clock and start editing.

Editing, meaning resizing the images to something suitable for web, both dimensions– and file size–wise, cropping those images that have too much “wasted” space, cutting out portions I had been asked — by the clients — to hide, adjusting brightness to those photos that are too dark, dull those areas that are too bright because of the flash or accidental reflections from the room lighting, making the monochrome thumbnails and so on.

Once the image editing done, I list them — literally <li>st them — on the appropriate pages, upload everything, check it once for typos and well-formedness of the markup, update my sitemaps and the feeds and then here I go, writing this update announcement :)A mix of Photoshop — I hate to admit it, but I’m still using it — for the image editing part, the Terminal and BBEdit for the web pages, Transmit or, again, the Terminal for the FTP part, Uploadr (in case I need to use some eye-candy for the blog article) and then Mozilla, Firefox, Camino or Safari (it only depends on the mood I’m in at that moment) to get to my admin panel and start posting.

I started announcing a website update and ended up describing how I do it :) Which tells me that I have too much free time on my hands, so I better go get some more work done. Or get some sleep, because it’s already 2:00 AM and tomorrow’s early and long ;)

Greed or Lameness? I Can’t Decide…

This isn’t right!

Tattooing is a privilege granted by your skills and your clients, and NOT A FAVOR YOU ARE DOING TO THEM! You get paid because you chose (or have no choice but) to sell your art, and NOT BECAUSE YOU ARE DOING YOUR CLIENTS A FAVOR!

A Portland, Oregon man who put a tattoo on the right arm of Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace is suing to stop Wallace from displaying the work in ads for Nike basketball shoes.

Matthew Reed from TigerLilly Tattoo and DesignWorks claims he owns the copyright for the design of the tattoo. Reed’s lawsuit wants the Nike ad featuring Wallace and the tattoo off the air and the Internet, as well as damages.

According to the suit filed last week in US District Court, Wallace, who was then playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, approached Reed in 1998, saying he wanted an Egyptian-themed family design with a king and queen and three children and a stylized sun in the background.

Reed researched the idea and came up with a design. Reed said the $450 charge was a small amount, but he expected to benefit from the exposure […]

But Reed claims he became aware last year of a Nike ad that centers on the tattoo and its creation. He claims the ad violates the copyright he holds to “the Egyptian Family Pencil Drawing” […]

Artist sues Wallace over use of tattoo (emphasis by me)

Lame, lame, lame…

Unfair, unprofessional, childish and stupid… that’s what this tattoo artist does here…

It is unfair to pretend you still own something which you already “sold”… I mean yeah, Adobe or Micro$haft can do that, it’s in their nature, but shit! it is so unfair when someone — who otherwise might’ve been a colleague or something — does it…

It is unprofessional to pretend you still own rights over a drawing which you did for a paying customer. I mean, what the fuck were the 450 bucks for?!? For the privilege of sitting in your chair?! Gimme a break..! When you create a tattoo, the drawing on paper is only a sketch, a draft, a starting point. You draw it on paper so you can refine it before you put it in the skin. Once the tattoo is done, that is your creation, not the drawing, which is nothing but a preliminary step. And if you are a flash artist — for whom every single drawing you ever COPIED from someone else is a treasure, because you can’t draw your own — then I understand why you might want to keep that piece of paper and “hold copyright” over it, but then don’t call yourself an artist, because you aren’t.

Childish, because I can’t imagine an adult — even more, a businessman — would even think about doing something like this…

And stupid, because that’s what I think about all this. Attention-whores might make a living on a chit-chat message board, but in business you’re doing nothing else but damaging your own image — if you ever had one…

Please stop! It’s a lame way to get attention…

I’m not taking sides with Nike or whomever else — to tell the truth, I feel good when I hear someone sues these corporate vampires or puts them in trouble — but, in this case, I think the dude is wrong and I think he’s damaging the image of the tattooing world with this crap…

Hmm, one has to wonder why he isn’t listed (anymore?) on any of the aforementioned tattoo shops websites…

Calendar Update and More…

Calendar Update

I’ve updated the calendar to display the schedule up until April 2006.

À propos, at the time of this writing, there are only two days still available for appointments on the current year, Monday, December 26th and respectively, Tuesday, December 27th… so if you’re planning to get something done this year, now is the time to call me. There are a few one-hour openings here and there — available for consultation meetings — but they’re not going to be there for long… my inbox is full of appointment requests and, as I reply, the open spots disappear one by one.

Those who plan to travel to Tokyo next year for a tattoo, it would be a good ideea to contact me for an appointment at least three or four months in advance, so we can book in the dates matching your visit schedules before they get booked up.

Photo Galleries Update

Not yet, but I’m pretty close to uploading a couple dozen new pics. I’m editing them as we speak, so I guess it’s a matter of days. I’ve got a bunch of new tribals, a couple of portraits and lots of those cute little ones you see in the kitsch art gallery.

A few large ones — including a biomechanical full-sleeve — coming up pretty soon, as I’m almost done with them and I’ll be taking a bunch of photos. Maybe not this time, but definitely next time, hopefully before December. I’m planning a major update at the end of the year, maybe even a redesign for the May 1th reboot (warning: flash website), but that will only happen if the current schedule doesn’t kill me :)

Design Requests

As usual — and only because I really have a hard time finding any spare time in this mad schedule — it’s going to take about two weeks until I can get back to you with the drawings so, for those who had just contacted me and haven’t gotten a reply yet, rest assure that I received your messages and I’ll respond as soon as possible, but please give me a couple more days…

I’m not going to add any “urgent” fee or anything — at least not this year — so, if you have a deadline or are in a hurry, try to contact me at least a month in advance, otherwise I might not be able to help you out in time.

…and More :)

I tried to visit the photo archives, but the pages look weird… Is the site broken?
No, the site works just fine, but it doesn’t look right in InternetExplorer, because it’s been written for modern, web standards-compliant browsers.
So, when will you fix it, because I’d really like to see it?
Never. There’s nothing to fix. You can always use Firefox, Mozilla, Camino or Safari; they’re free and they are built for the contemporary web. I’m not going to deface my website(s) just because a single “browser” doesn’t know how to display what’s written in there.
Yeah… Speaking of which, all your websites — including the blog — look like shit in InternetExplorer. So what’s up, do you have a grudge against that browser or something?
I’d say No, I have nothing against InternetExplorer. It has a grudge against my website but this would be a lie. So I say Yes, I have a lot of grudges against InternetExplorer; it’s old, outdated, broken and stupid because this is the truth. What you’re asking me is, basically, why your black and white TV set cannot see my multicolor broadcast… So if you want multicolor, get a color TV and stop bugging me, because it’s not my fault. If you want to stick with your archaic black and white set, be my guest, but let me tell you: you’re missing a lot of nice shows, friend…

Yup, same ol’ same ol’ motherfucker that I ever was :D

I could, of course, go with the IE 7 — after all, it’s just a little bit of Javascript under-the-hood — but I won’t, because I promised myself this will be one compromise I’m not going to make. Ever.

What, did they paint the world black and white so it looks right on old TVs? Or did they invent the color TV so it can show the world as it was..?

See? I’m not the stubborn one here… ;)

Photo Archives Back Online

After almost a year and a half, the photo archives are back online.

In March 2004 — when I’d stopped doing multicolored tattoos and took to black and grey only — I also put the multicolored galleries offline and replaced them with the current ones, to reflect my new style and activities, but I kept all the old photos in a folder somewhere on the server — out of the way — with the intention to put them back online someday… Because — definitely — even if I do only black and grey nowadays, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love all those tattoos I did in the past and it doesn’t mean I don’t want to show them off as part of my portfolio.

So here they are, for your viewing pleasure, ten pages containing five hundred and eightysomething pics, not sorted in any way but displayed in a relative chronological order, at the Graphic Tribe Tattoos Photo Archives. Here and there, you’ll also find photos of tattoos that you’ve already seen inside the current galleries — portraits and so on — and you’ll also see really old photos, older than Graphic Tribe Limited (when I was still working at the other shop)… An art exhibit bringing back nice memories to me and, hopefully, getting to be an enjoyable experience to you.

You’re reading this so I know you’re using a real web browser right now but — just in case — I want to warn you that, exactly as this very blog, the photo archives won’t be easy to view in Micro$oft InternetExploder so, if you plan to share the link with your friends, make sure you tell them to switch to Firefox, Mozilla or Safari when they visit.


Next Time They Threaten To Fire You… Sue Them!

This might apply only to the Japanese society.
Or it might apply to your society as well… I don’t know, I’ve been living for so long in Japan, I kinda forgot how these things went in other countries…

Thing is, even now — XXIth Century — young people are threatened (and not only threatened) to be fired for having tattoos. Oh, yeah, just like that! Hard to believe, heh? Well it is true and, in my 9 years here, I’ve encountered it so many times I can’t remember, both from people who ask me to make sure the tattoo fits above the lower margin of the t-shirt sleeve (or, for that matter, above the lower margin of the average above-the-knee skirt) and from people who were either forced to wear clothes in such a fashion as to hide their tattoos or got literally fired.

They’re not a majority, most of the young Japanese nowadays aren’t afraid to show their tattoos and aren’t bothered with the fear of loosing the job, but they do exist, in large numbers, say, approximately 2 out of 5 people I get to tattoo.

I’m not going to dissect and analyze all the reasons and motivations behind this — they range from local policies every place of work maintains (especially activities that involve working with the customers directly, such as restaurants and stores) to simply “this is how it is, can’t bother taking responsibility for this” statements…

What I want to talk about — and I’m going to make it short — is what these young people ought to do, should they be faced with such situations.

Which, in my opinion, is very simple and straightforward: sue them. Sue the bosses, the owners, the managers. If they threaten you, make sure you have a whitness and then sue them. Or threaten to sue them. They threaten you, you threaten them back.

For discrimination. For marginalization.

You can’t sue them for being a bunch of assholes and you definitely cannot head-butt them or crack a chair on their already-bent spines, no matter how much this appeals to you in those moments.

You shouldn’t bow to their demands and wear longer-sleeved shirts or skirts either! Because it’s not fair and it’ll only feed their status-based self-esteem and allow them to do it again and again, to others like you.

I always tell my clients — those whom I sensed fearing this issue — to refuse the stupid rules they’re forced to follow and to not allow to be threatened by their superiors.

Sexual harassment had seen its death when — fortunately — women gained enough strength to make a stand for themselves and tell the patrimonial society that they must be respected and treated as equals.
An army of virtuous lawyers helped, mass-media helped, the evolution of society in general helped (not talking about Japan here, their society is still force-kept in a pre-war, medieval state).

Racial and sexual orientation -related discrimination is still an actual issue, but people do make a stand for themselves, helped by the very same lawyers, mass-media and evolving society.
And they’re going to put an end to racism and homophobism (I wish I could say “religion fanaticism” too, but — unfortunately — this is not something I’m going to be basking in during my lifetime).

So why not?
Why discrimination against methods of self-expression (such as tattooing, body piercing and fashion) can’t be brought to its end?
I can see no reason at all.

So I say: next time your manager, boss, shop-owner or any superior threatens to fire you because you won’t comply with their stupid rules and hide your tattoos, sue them.
Threaten them back with a law suit and, if they still won’t pull their heads out of their asses, sue them.
Send e-mails and letters to newspapers and TV, gather friends to support you and then sue the bastards! Don’t let them dictate what you should or shouldn’t do, especially when it doesn’t have any connection whatsoever with your ability to do your job as anyone else.

Same applies to not being allowed to use a gym or swimming pool for the same reasons.
Sue them, make them understand they’re wrong and they can’t just treat you as if they owned you.

This is the XXIth Century, for fuck’ sake, we don’t need or have to obey anymore!
All these self-righteous, censorship-loving, spineless hypocrites need to understand that we won’t join them in their oblivious, 9 to 5, obedient, complacent so-called “life style”.

Or head-butt them and look for another job, if you hate lawyers like I do :D

Tattoo Photo Gallery Update

As I promised — that is, as I kept promising for the last five or six months — I’ve been able to finally update the photo galleries, after a couple of weeks’ worth of Photoshop surgery and two days’ worth of htmling ;)
For now, approximately 70 new pics of the latest pieces I’ve done, in all the sections of the galleries.

I still have about 30–40 photos here, but I really don’t have anymore time to take care of them right now so, most likely, I won’t be able to upload them until September (when I plan the next major update).

Lots of beautiful ones this time — no different from any other time — and, again, I’m having a hard time deciding which ones I’d want to show you first or most :)

There’s this mechanical dragon — based on the idea of the so-popular gundam machines — which I love a lot.

I loved the idea — when we first talked about it — and I loved doing it… Took me about 4 months, I think, to finish it but man, when it was done..!
I still can remember the hard-on I had while taking the photos :)

One of a kind, so far, but I really hope I have the chance to do some more… I can never have enough of these experimental, avantgarde designs!

Hopefully, people who look for this kind of tattoos — but thought, somehow, that they’re impossible to be done — will see this one and find out that on the contrary, not only they can be done, but they’ll also look amazing…

And yeah, you know where to find me ;)

And there’s this other one, the biomechanical dragons, another unique idea I fucking loved..!

As far as I can tell, it too is one of a kind — can’t remember seeing anything similar so far…

The initial idea was a simple, modern Japanese dragon, on the right buttock, but while we were talking about it, she fell in love with the biomechanics and — one thing led to another — the idea of a biomechanical dragon came up.
Changing its position to the center of the lower back also required modifying the overall shape of the design — symmetry is almost a must on this area of the body — which, eventually, brought up the idea of two dragons facing each other, symmetrical in shape and details.

All in all, took me about two weeks and some 20 sketches to come up with the final design and 6 hours — two sessions — to finish inking it. It healed exceptionally well, so the pics I got are perfect!

And I’m still wearing that hard-on :)

To make it all round and nice, let me finish off with a third piece I love, the portrait of Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands, which, after Albert Einstein’s portrait, would be the second large full-back portrait I’ve done in the last 3 years… and, what can I say? I’m loving it :)

It’s a replica of a movie poster the guy brought in, with minor modifications here and there (mostly, to the snowflakes) in order to make it work well as a tattoo design.

Can’t remember when exactly we started — we had to take a few long breaks between the sessions — but I think this one too took about half a year to get done.

So I’m showing it off now because, believe me, I couldn’t wait to take these pictures!

There are more and, as I said, I really have a hard time telling which one I love more, so, when you have a minute (or fifteen or sixty) visit the galleries and have a look. I bet you’re gonna love some of them!

At least as much as I do ;)

The Thing That Shouldn’t Be

You know what the problem with flash? tattoos is? They exist.
They are cheap, unpretentious, mediocre — to say the least — and what’s more worrying, they are (still) popular…

Nearly 90% of the people who come to me for cover-ups1 or touch-ups2 have flash tattoos.
More than half of the e-mails I get from other tattooists or tattoo enthusiasts are requests for flash sheet catalogs.

So what’s wrong with flash tattoos?

Well, for starters, they are anything but original.
Flash tattoos are based on ready-made, one-per-hour designs drawn by others and sold in hundreds — or even thousands — of copies, worldwide. Meaning it’s very likely that somewhere, someone else wears the exact same tattoo, most likely done in the exact same manner (flash “tattooists” tend to replicate the initial designs ad literam) and, worst case scenario, of the exact same size and on the exact same area of the body.
They have nothing to do with art, inspiration, creativity or skill; they are reducing the ritual of tattooing to literally tracing, with the needle, a pattern that had been created by someone else, for somebody else, an insipid act that requires nothing more than getting used to follow a line with the tip of a pencil…
They are denying the clients’ longing for originality and uniqueness, which are two of the most important qualities a tattoo design should have.

Then, they are most likely to be low-quality, poorly executed, badly-needing-to-be-covered-up tattoos.
Because, let’s face it, if one who calls hirself a “tattooist” isn’t able to draw hir own designs and needs to rely on copying from flash sheets, it surely isn’t able to ink them properly either.
Tattoos are drawings, only not on a white, neat piece of paper stretched on a flat, rigid board, but on living, moving, bleeding, elastic skin. And if there’s lack of skill to draw on paper, well, let’s just say that doing it on the skin is 10+ times harder… it should be obvious that tattooing skills are rooted in the drawing skills and lacking the latter is definitely affecting — for the worse — the former.

Speaking of lack of uniqueness, flash tattoos lack one other important thing: meaning. They have no meaning to you, the client, because they haven’t been created for you — or for anyone else in particular, for that matter — and do not represent your feelings, message or reason regarding the respective tattoo.
Every tattoo should be created only based on your ideas and views, shaped especially for the area of the body where you want to have it and in balance (or should I say “dynamism”) with the rest of your tattoos, piercings, scars or whatever else you got in its vicinity. And every tattoo should have a meaning — not its intrinsic meaning of “skull” or “dragon”, for example, but its meaning — to you, tightly related to your experience, character or desire to express yourself.
How personal can it be when it’s only traced over a drawing copied from a stranger’s book?!

To sum it up — and emphasize it once more:

  • Flash tattoos are neither original nor unique. There is a 100% chance that someone else already has — or will have, in the future — the exact same tattoo, because flash tattoos are copied from catalogs sold in great numbers all over the world.
  • Flash tattoos are, most of the time, poorly executed and very likely to create frustration and remorse later on, because they are done by so called “tattooists” that do not have the necessary skills to create a quality artwork.
  • Flash tattoos have no meaning. They do not represent you and they are not, in any way, able to express your feelings, simply because they haven’t been created for you. On top of that, they will most likely look bad (unbalanced) on you, because it is almost impossible to have a ready-made design properly fit on the part of the body you want it done.

It is a shame — and a great source of anger (pointed towards the aforementioned “tattooist” wannabes) to me – that many people, nowadays, agree to entrust their bodies, bear hours of pain and — not to forget — pay large sums of money for mediocre, insipid tattoos, only to end up hating them and, most of the times, looking to have them covered up or even worse, removed…

A big part of the fault lies in the — let’s call it — “industry” and I’m talking about the tattoo suppliers who sell flash sheet catalogs and the tattooists who buy that shit and use it to make easy money, at the expense of our clients’ frustration and, let’s be honest, sometimes naiveté.
Can’t blame the suppliers for doing it, commerce is commerce and it has always been in direct antagonism with the art.
But I can — and I do — blame the tattooists who do it. I blame them for being mediocre and unscrupulous and I blame them — however corny this might sound — for doing a job they have no inclination, skills or talent for…

But it’s not only them, it’s also that which matters most. The clients.
The client has the fault of not requesting original work, for not walking out whenever their requests are met with “choose one from this catalog” answers, for not saying no to these worthless designs.
Which says that the fault is actually ours, the tattooists’, for not educating and for not sharing enough of our knowledge with our clients, for not making a stand when we have to.

I am going to try to make up for this fault of mine and hopefully, it will work.
For you out there, who aren’t in direct contact with me and will probably never come over to have me work for you, the best I can do is tell you the truth, give you examples and advices. And ask you to never take this sort of things lightly, to think about it thoroughly and — because it’s only fair — to let your friends know too, help them out when their time comes :)

So, my first advice to you is don’t get flash tattoos!
If you see flash sheets on the walls or in catalogs on the tables in the waiting room, if the tattoist tells you to pick one from a stash pulled from a drawer, if the tattooist doesn’t draw your design free hand right in front of you but instead copies it on a piece of transparent tracing paper from from a (note)book, excuse yourself and go look for another shop!

If you’re a “tattooist” using flash extensively and – most likely – feel ofended by all this because, obviously, you think that I’m damaging your business by spreading this message, well, what can I say, I am trying to damage your so-called business; in fact, I am trying to damage it so badly you will be forced to close down the shop and go look for some other job (I’d suggest paisley patterns maker, it’s a lot more suitable to thy “artistic” inclinations), because what you do is wrong and your mediocrity literally hurts your (and my) clients. You’re getting paid — and unfortunately, sometimes even respected — for unscrupulously copying someone else’s art and putting your signature on it.

Flash tattoos bad. Say “no” to them.
Custom tattoos good. Request them at all costs.

Catalogs or collections of ready-made tattoo designs, presented either in books or wall panels and sometimes, as kiosk-browsable websites. By extension, flash tattoos are tattoos based on these designs and flash tattooing is the act of doing it.
To do/get a “cover-up” means to hide an old tattoo by doing a new one — most of the times, a darker, larger, completely different design — over it, using the lines, shades and spots of color in such a way to completely cover up the initial shape and details.
To do/get a “touch-up” means to fix an old tattoo by inking anew its lines, shades and colors — most of the time, attempting to improve them — in order to give it a fresh look or fix some of the parts that went wrong when it was first done.