Post 48

Well... today should have been my first day back at the studio after having a mini vacation last week. My client sent me a text message last night at 7:30pm to confirm her appointment was today at 11am, and then decided to sleep through her alarm and miss her appointment. Awesome. So no tattoo photos today because there was no tattooing today....

Instead here's the first 1/2 of photos from our mini vacation. Teagan's brother was getting married so we made the trip out to Vancouver and decided to take a few extra day to drive home via Penticton.

Teagan flew out early to visit and decorate cupcakes for the wedding. I drove down by myself a few days later.

I used to drive to Vancouver all the time, but as fast as possible, and in the middle of the night to avoid traffic. Now when I do the drive, I take my time, and travel during daylight hours as much as possible. Sure it adds a few hours to the trip, but what an amazing drive.Steve, I took this photo for you-Teagan getting ready for her brother's wedding......setting up her cupcake tree......and blowing bubbles in the wind.Teagan and JoshAfter the wedding we headed to the Beatty compound (Kathy's parent's acreage) for dinner and many, many plastic red glasses full of Grandville Island Lager from the keg. I don't have many photos because it was starting to get dark and only had an iPhone for a camera. I was also fairly intoxicated by this point....

There was a HUGE cooler full of fresh oysters, fresh from Cortes Island.They started by being cooked over and open fire, and then all of a sudden it quickly became quite the event to just slam them back raw. I've never seen anything quite like it. Teagan and Josh were herding people to the table as if they were lining up shots at a bar- "Who's going to do one?" "You in or what?" "Let's do this" etc.Brother and sister, slamming oysters
As you can probably see, I really do enjoy the randomness of the Toy Camera app for iPhone.

Sunday morning we packed up and headed out to Penticton for the day to relax and replenish our wine supply.... Pics of that tomorrow...
from: Kim B.
date: Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 8:43 AM
subject: Tattoo

Your blog is fascinating. I have attached a picture of the tattoo I have on my left shoulder blade.

I got it while in New Orleans and like the shape of it, I'm just not sure how it translates. When people ask, I usually tell them: Stupid American (although at the time I was told it means beautiful or beauty).

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Kim B.


If this character is intended to be "beauty", , then it is missing a horizontal stroke. However, the joke does not stop there.

Chinese character for sheep is , and what Kim B. has on her shoulder blade does indeed look like sheep with a little dropping.
from: mike h.
date: Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 11:28 AM


I have a similar story to those posted on your blog, my sister allowed a trainee to practise his 'art' after a day of indulgent partying and likewise has no idea what this 'disaster' means.

I really hope you can help.

Many thanks.


Whoever got this probably over-stretched a book on a copy machine. The characters size are inconsistent. My favorite part is the tattooist even included the period behind .

is Lotus Sutra.


About 8 years ago, the shop was open on Broadway and Ontario. I was in need of another artist to fill a chair and Mark walked in. When potential artists come looking for work, I usually look at their portfolios and take a day or 2 to decide, unless it's real mediocre stuff or poor stuff, in that case, I shut 'em down right there. But Mark was a whole other story. I said "can you start tomorrow?" Ha!! He agreed. Now, we had another secret weapon in the shop to combat any mediocrity in the city.

Every artist has their own style and some artists, these days, don't. They have someone else's style. This can be seen in the trend of repetitive traditional tattooing. Some artists don't travel outa their comfort zone. Mark doesn't have a comfort zone, he's uncomfortable all the time, that's why he does great work like this!!

If I was to categorize his style, I would say it's a cross between action hero comic books and realism. See these dragons he's doing, that's what dragons look like in real life, for your information. And this is what Heather our shop helper and owner of THE GOODS SCREENING AND APPAREL ON BROADWAY AT KINGSWAY just across from the KINGS GATE MALL looks like when she's on the toilet! Go talk to her, maybe you can buff her flamed helmet and then, she can buff yours... if not, go purchase some of their items, or get some shirts printed.

Maybe you're just like the rest of the world and really enjoy collecting fetus skeletons and want to pay tribute to your collection with a tattoo of one in a test tube! Or maybe you are a girl who likes to drive tanks and destroy sh*t. BAM!!!

If so, Mark will do it.

Maybe you want that portrait of your dalmatian. Y'know, that special photo you took of him before he died from smoking may mean everything to you. At least you got one before he died!! And now, you could remember him FOREVER the way he was when he was happiest...before the tar in his lungs turned into tumors and suffocated him to death.

Whatever it is, realistic, Japanese, bio-mechanical, color, black and grey... come down and talk to Mark. Come down and talk about hobos, government, food, Bart Simpson, the dumpster, the socks.

from: tim
date: Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 2:32 PM
subject: tattoo interpretation

A coworker of mine has a tattoo he got while he was out partying a couple a years ago and has absolutely no idea what it means. Can you tell us?




Why would anyone be proud of tattoo that says: "to commit any imaginable evil"?
from: john r.
date: Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 2:58 AM
subject: tattoo translation help please...

Hi There

I have enjoyed reading through your blog a few times and this weekend talking to my girlfriends sister, I felt need to ask you for help. She was showing me her tattoo, that she had a few years back which is supposed to be Heavenly Girl in Chinese. Having looked at the characters, I recognised the first as being the Japanese Kanji for Heaven, Im not sure it means the same in Hanzi or not, but I could not recognise the last two characters as anything related to girl or woman. Although I can recognise the first character as - (sky, heaven) and the last character which I think is - (government official, official), the middle character is awkward. I think it is - (leaf, block, cake), giving 天丁吏, which I don't know how this would work combined, but all these are Japanese translations anyway. Any chance you can shed a little more light on this?

Thanks very much for your time



It is 天使 or "angel" with 使 not clearly written.

Post 47

I've worked a whole bunch over the last week, mainly to make up for the few days I'll be out of town coming up

Here's a recap-

Wednesday the 16th of June I worked on Matt's chest. He was having a good day and finished up all the colour.My second apt that day was to add a tree frog to Vanessa's 3/4 Sleeve-
Thursday the 17th I worked on Mikes sleeve. We coloured the inside and back of his upper arm. This was his third sitting-
Friday the 18th, yes indeed.... Mike again. We coloured clouds, and his elbow....As well as one of th roses on his forearm
Second appointment that day, I coloured a bit of background on Olga's bird sleeve. Inside of her arm... I don't think she liked me much that day...
Saturday the 19th, I did a small David Choe whale on Noel's leg-
... and then had the rest of the day off. It was beautiful outside that day, so I really didn't mind

Sunday the 20th, I tattooed the whole day, but didn't get good pictures... oh well...

Monday the 21st, worked on Darryl's sleeve. Again, no photos.

The afternoon, I worked on Tylers Lancaster a bit more. It's insane how fast he's getting this done considering the placement of the tattoo-Tuesday the 22nd I had the day off. I took the car in to get tuned up and cleaned for the upcoming road trip.

And finally today, Wednesday the 23rd.... Again... Mike. We coloured his ditch and another forearm rose. If anyone's keeping track, Mike started his sleeve Thursday the 10th, that's 12 days ago. That's 5 sittings in 12 days. Crazy.... Unfortunately we're both out of town next week, so we'll finish it up the second week of July. Amazing.

from: Alexandria C.
date: Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 2:24 AM
subject: tattoo translation help please...

I heard about your blog from a friend and decided to check it out cause i am worried about a tattoo i have personally. It is supposed to mean " live for today" but i would really appriciate it if you could help in translating the picture of it attached. Thanks do much for your time!


Alan and I saw tattoo template of this for sale back in 2007:

生現 “Live For Today”

As is, this gibberish means nothing in Japanese or at least nothing like “live for today” and I don’t think it means anything in Chinese either. The only meaning I can guess is that if it were written 生きて現れる, this would mean “to show up alive” or “turn up alive” as if someone thought dead had appeared alive. Anyway, it sounds pretty spooky, like seeing a zombie!

I think the person who made this up just looked in a dictionary for the word for “to live” and a word that means something like “now” and thought you could stick them together to make “live for today.”

It doesn’t work like that.


Some of what we do is stuff that most artists in the city won't do. Saying that we do the impossible is close, but if we can do it how can it be impossible? It's skill level that makes it possible! Sometimes, an artist will say "it can't be done that small" and sometimes it's true, there are pieces that can be too small, like some high detailed fonts, but most of the time what these are really saying "I can't do it that small." Professionally, it would be better to tell it like it is to a client because the client will then decide wether to search for an artist who CAN and not have to compromise their original decision on size or settle. Some clients are open minded enough to let an artist "try" or go with it and accept the tattoo in a larger size. John Day's angel (above) took 4 hours... no outlines...just shades of color. No compromising here.

This is Yolanda's cover up... a mediocre under water scene is replaced by a high detailed realistic coral scene.

It boils down to skill level. Some artists will even say "in 10 years the lines will be fuzzy and the details gone"... another excuse. That is something that is impossible to predict! Exposure to sun, their pre disposed aging due to genetics, elasticity of the skin... after care, weight gain, muscle gain... all these things are factors!! But, let's just say, if that were true, that "in 10 years, the detailed, fine line tattoo will look like a turd", then so will the thick bold black lines they prefer to do! May be even worse!!! I don't know which would be worse a faded single needle line which could turn a light grey with shading that will disappear, or a dark bold line which will only get thicker with a grey fuzz around it.

Portraits and realistic work are standards used to measure an artist's general skill by. It takes eye-hand coordination to do these. First a stencil is placed on the skin, marking every subtle shade or wrinkle, the eyelashes, the highlights... and then it's up to the artist to translate the shade or value for that particular area wether it's by mixing the color or thinning down the black ink with water, BY EYE. Some artists excel in "traditional" style tattooing, which today is recognized as trendy, just like the tribal armband of the 90's. It does take some skill to draw a tattoo to match the style of tattooing's early pioneers (skulls with square eyes..), but the technique used to actually tattoo this style of work is rudimentary. Lining with a 7 - 9 needle liner and doing solid color is what most artists learn in their first few months of holding a machine.

This portrait was small, the guy's arm was skinny so he didn't have much room to work with, the face alone was approximately just over an inch wide so imagine the size of the eyes. This is single needle stuff!! The shades making the muscle tones, and facial details wasn't all done in blacks or greys... I won't let the cat out of the bag but any GOOD artist will be able to look at an image and instinctively know what to mix to get there.

Some areas are hard to work on. Just look at the surface of the skin! There are dips and valleys, occasionally there are creases, moles... going from soft areas to hard bony areas!! It's not an easy job... a professional can make it look easy but it can be the most frustrating thing ever.

Some clients have great skin to work on! Even the subtle-est greys show up on them. This portrait was a pleasure to do!! This was freshly done so there is a little redness but you can see on the hat and the collar that Seio's skin was great for portraits. Don't mean to toot our own horn... TOOOOOOOOOOOOOT! But this is what WE CAN do. We are doers. As Wentzle Ruml would say, "I can do it, I'm doin' it." He's the guy 27 seconds in... you must see this movie, even if you don't skate...

SO, after work, do you know what time it is? Hungry?

how bout now?

Work all day... eat in the evening... digest all night... sweat all night digesting meat... wake up, put out a bi- product that looks like the baked beans in the picture.. with a side of what looks like the lemonade in the picture... clean up and do it again.

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