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.
Also by Jason Angst. Medusa is often mythologized as a symbol of 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.
My first and dearest tattoo, by Gifford Kasen . “Filth is my politics! Filth is my life!”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Mo has a wicked tribute tat to one of the best films ever made. They’re also a very talented photographer, and one of my many friends brave and tough enough to be doing the AIDS Lifecycle!
What’s your favorite sci-fi film? I’m partial to 2001 myself.
Artist credit for the fantastic ink goes to Marc Cano.
Big thanks to the folks at i09 for sharing this entry on their blog, where a few people noticed that the quote isn’t entirely accurate to the film. Mo wrote in with the full story behind the piece, and I decided to post it here by way of explanation –
As the owner of this tattoo, let me explain. I chose not to change the quote to more accurately match the movie because the tattoo isn’t about honoring the movie, it’s about honoring my dad.
My father was a solider in the US Army. He fought in Korea and Vietnam, and as part of the Corps of Engineers he built roads and infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Latin America. By the time he retired, he was decorated with the National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Humanitarian Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Air Medal, and two Bronze Stars.
His life was incredible. He saw so much in his lifetime that I can’t even begin to imagine. He was often telling stories, and we were always pressuring him to write them down. He began to write some memories down about 4 years before he died, but didn’t get far. They’re mainly quick sketches that outline adventures. His memoirs are beautiful, but fragmented. I wish he had been able to finish them, or that he had told me the stories in person.
His pages of fragmented memories begin with this paragraph:
“At the end of the movie Blade Runner, the replicant as he is dying, makes this last commentary. It reminds me of the admonition not to go into that dark night gently. The creature from another planet at the very end observed that all these memories will be lost in time like tears in rain. My recollections are those separate from tales told by others easily accepted as true memories. Hopefully, I have been able to make that distinction.”
My dad died on February 2nd, 2009. I had this quote tattooed on my arm 4 days after he died. He had the same tattoo, on the same arm- He got it at age 70 at a small biker shop in Colorado. His artist did it freehand. Although I’ll never be able to hear all of his stories, this tattoo allows me to have him with me always, and to remember how fantastic his life was.