Apple Rocks!

Yes, it does. Well, technically, they do :)

My PowerBook got sick. Its USB ports went numb and, somehow, the crippled logic board was affecting the whole shit. The trackpad froze, the entire OS froze. Restarting would give me the black screen treatment, booting from the install disk was taking forever, all kinds of force boots, safe mode boots and the likes were taking ages or were joining the give-Dali-the-black-screen-treatment party and so on.

My Powerbook went into a coma.

Exactly six days before the trip to Europe… Tragedy!
Six days, with a weekend included… Four working days and the terrifying revelation of having to go traveling without my laptop… No e-mails, no internet, no iPhoto… Terrible terrible tragedy!

And then it all ended, as suddenly as it started.
Saturday morning, a phone call from the Apple Store downtown — in Shibuya — and the Genius at the other end of the line telling me that they’d fixed my PowerBook and I could come to pick it up whenever I wished.
Three days! Only three days it took for them to replace the logic board, fix the fan — which I had no idea was actually acting weird as well — test the beast and send it off back to the Apple Store.

So yeah, these guys rock! Big time!
And yeah I will have my PowerBook with me on this trip, I will have e-mail and internet and iPhoto :)

And they weren’t only fast, they were free of charge too — AppleCare rocks as well. This saved me at least a couple of hundreds — in your favorite currency — and whatever else I would’ve been forced to spend with internet cafés and shit…

So yeah again, Apple rocks! It does and they do!

And I’m a rocking satisfied customer, rocking my PowerBook, soon to be rocking into a rocking airplane heading to Europe :)

Away For Three Weeks

I’ll be away — between Tuesday, August 23rd and Thursday, September 15th — on a trip to Bucharest – Paris – Rome. Actually, Paris – Bucharest – Milano – Paris – Rome, but that has to do only with the flight schedule and shopping for the lowest prices :)

Naturally, the website stays on — as usual — and, although I’ll carry my PowerBook with me, I’ll probably be out of reach for this period, because I have no idea how often I’ll be able to get online while traveling.

Last time — except for being able to connect via the excellent WiFi network at Schiphol — I had a bit of a hard time connecting. In Romania, the WiFi network is quasi–inexistent and the hardline connections are slow and buggy; even with a wire stuck in my ethernet port, it took lots of time, patience and hold-it-don’t-kick-the-laptop-it’s-not-its-faults to be able to receive and send a couple of e-mails.

So, basically, send your mails as usual but please don’t expect a reply until I get back, because I simply can’t promise I’ll be able to make it.

The FAX and the answering machines will stay on, but I won’t be able to take any phone calls — unless I figure out a way to use the Force to pick up the phone from thousands miles away :)
This’ll be the last vacation I take this year, except for those few days before the New Year’s.
Next year, full-throtle workaholism until September, then again off to Romania and hopefully, Amsterdam :D

I’ll be taking a ton of pictures and, as soon as I get back — or as soon as I find a reliable, fast connection — I’ll upload them to my flickr photostream. Meanwhile, I closed my Yahoo account and quit that piece of censorshit, so there’s no flickr photostream anymore…

Until then, I wish you all a great rest of the summer and all the best.

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

Cretins Of The World Wide Web • Part I

We’re sorry but our school currently doesn’t support Macintosh computers. Please use Microsoft Windows OS 95 or above in order to view our site properly. Thank you.
I was trying to log in to this website the other day and bumped into this piece-of -shit-error-page. Naturally, I was using Safari.
Switching the user agent string to “MSIE” didn’t work, so I tried Firefox, Mozilla, Camino and Opera.
No luck.

Of course — after seeing the imbecile error message they put up there — I wasn’t really hoping to be able to access, but I was curious… It appears that, indeed, the respective section of the site can only be accessed — I emphasize can only be accessed as opposite to viewed properly — on a Windows machine, no matter the browser one would use.
I obviously don’t have IE installed on my Mac, so I couldn’t check how far the cretinity goes, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t work.

The designer who put that page together is, no doubt, a genius!
Or, as we – in awe for the unique technical and artistic skills these geniuses possess – use to call them, a cretin :)
A multilingual one, nevertheless! The very same message appears, on other pages, in Japanese, Spanish, Chinese and some other languages.

Giving up is, of course, just about the only thing one can do when facing this kind of stuff… but not before sending an e-mail to the respective webmaster and complaining about it.

Good luck with that! No contact information – except from the various e-mail addresses they use to sell their stuff — no “webmaster@…” link… not even a sitemap! Eventually, I picked a random e-mail address they had displayed for business inquiries, wrote my complaint — in a polite manner, mind you — and send it.

Still waiting for a reply, stupid me :)
It’ll probably never come — not that I have really high hopes — and they will probably never fix that problem… Which is why I decided to give them the “Cretins Of The World Wide Web” award, take a screenshot of the imbecility and flickr them as the first in another series of cretins with bandwidths :)

There are many like them — many — and they’ll join the circle of the flickred cretins soon.
I promise :)

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 ;)

Back Online

Back in Tokyo, back to the pencil, back to the needle, back to figuring out how to fit ten days of work into six days of calendar, back to taking forever to reply to your e-mails :p
Back to normal :)

Romania was a blast, after all these years… Even after all these years.
Had a hard time wanting to get back to Tokyo and now I’m having a hard time waiting until August, when I’ll go there again.

Except for three days of rainy weather — which was “bad weather” only because I didn’t carry with me anything else than tanktops and t-shirts — and the unavoidable temporary brain death caused by the jetlag, everything was good. Good food, good wine, good looking nymphs all over the place, good looking Bucharest — all green and clean — and good looking friends bringing up good memories.
Good prices too — which were “good” only because I had to buy some clothes and some boots eventually :)

All in all, the trip to Romania was a blast!
And I can’t wait to go back.

I almost even forgot about all the shit that led to this ten days trip in the first place, namingly the total lack of help I got from my embassy here, in Tokyo, for a simple piece of paper that I needed so badly… Yeah, but fuck it, after all it wasn’t a bad thing at all having to go to Romania..!

Anyway, I took a bunch of photos while I was there and, whaddya know, I also managed to put them up online at flickr, all grouped in a set named “Romania, June 2005”.
So, whenever you have a minute — and if you’re curious how my family and friends look like — drop by and have a look :)
Since then, shit turned blue with a red tip so I closed my Yahoo account and quit flickr, so there’s no set to look at…

Meanwhile, I really need to update the tattoo galleries so, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna fire up that Photoshop thing again and start cropping :)

See you around.

Away For Ten Days

No time for a proper update…
I have a couple of articles in the drafts folder, but I couldn’t find time to finish and publish them, so they’re gonna have to wait a little longer…
That is, they’re gonna have to wait until I get back from Romania.

Speaking of which, I’m taking a tiny little holiday, between Monday, June 6th and Friday, June 17th. Going to solve some fucking paperwork — which can’t be solved via the Embassy here because no, they can’t help me out, they’re too busy working their asses off for the whole 9 hours, every single week (I’m not shitting you, look up their schedule; working hours with the public: 3 days a week, 3 hours a day!) but that’s another story — and then meet my family and my friends (haven’t been to Romania for 8 years, by the way) and then — on my way there and on my way back to Tokyo — spend two days, all by myself, in Amsterdam >:)

Anyways, while I’m away, I don’t think I’ll be able to do much of the get mail — reply to e-mail ritual. I am carrying a laptop with me, but I have no idea how good is the wireless network in Bucharest so, apart from the times I’ll connect through a hardline, I don’t know how long and how often I’ll be able to stay online.

I’ll be taking a ton of pictures… Maybe I’m gonna put some up at flickr or somewhere else, ‘show you my hometown and my friendsterz. Maybe some nymphs too, if all goes as planned, if you know what I mean ;)

Meanwhile, have a great week and an even better weekend!
I promise I’ll update this one and the photo galleries as soon as I get back.

Amsterdam, I’m coming! :D

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.


Footnotes
Flash
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.
Cover-up
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.
Touch-up
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.

Satan Est Nomen Fortitudinis In Corde Ignavi

119 mechanical angelfuckers have tried to spam this blog in the last week, but “Bad Behavior” blocked the whole fuckin’ lot of ’em…