Custom Tattoo Blog

Irezumi Dragon Koi

Chris came in to see me about covering up all of the old tattoos he had collected over time on his right arm; there were quite a few! Born in Japan, he loves the Irezumi style of tattooing and wanted two Dragon koi, lotuses and Japanese Maple leaves to try and camouflage his old tats. I thought it would be lovely to have the two koi swimming to meet each other, floating in a back drop of the lotuses and leaves. I could use the plant material to cover/camouflage his old tattoos; luckily, he had enough "virgin" skin on his upper arm to realize the koi.

He says, "The maple leaves represent the passage of time, the life and death cycle of all things, and also lovers. They represent my life, all that it has been and will be for good or bad-- also the love for my wife and our families.

"The lotuses represent the struggle of life in its most basic form; as the lotus grows up from the mud into an object of great beauty, people also grow into something more beautiful. So these are also a representation of my life-- but where it's at now compared to where it was in the past, as I hopefully have become a better person, husband, son, and brother, etc.

"The Dragon kois represent determination and a strong desire to succeed and become 'something more'. In mythology very few koi make it past a point known as 'The Dragon’s Gate' and are said to be rewarded by turning into Dragons. This is the reason for their symbology. For me they represent my wife and I overcoming all the trials we’ve faced together, and the determination we have had to keep to overcome so many obstacles in our paths and grow beyond our daily existence with each other and everyone around us."

Click on the Read more link to see the drawings, the outline and gray shading photos.

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Eastern Oregon Landscape

Jack and his wife Becca are long time clients of mine; they have been up in Oregon for awhile now and have residences in Portland and Eastern Oregon-- traveling back and forth a great deal through our gorgeous eastern Oregon country, which they love.

He recently came in for a custom design from me that would remind him of the time they spend near Bend, that would feature juniper trees, the mountains (Mt. Hood in particular) but would also be rooted in triangles, which are the pagan symbol for earth.

Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, the outline and gray shading and the (very fresh) final color photos.

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Gaia (The Empress)

Michelle is a good friend of one of my long time clients, Deborah. She's visited to support Deborah while she's gotten work but now it's time for Michelle to come in for her own tattoo project. She says, "My life as I knew it, as I believed it to be, blew up in January of 2011. Since then daily life is all about balance. And along my spiritual journey I discovered Tarot. One deck that speaks to me is Chrysalis Tarot by Toney Brooks and Holly Sierra. 

"In exploring the deck and companion book I immediately was taken with Major Arcana 3 - Gaia (The Empress in Rider-Waite). In Chrysalis Tarot this card represents the Earth Mother and balance--the interconnection of all of the forces of earth and spirit that keeps our existence in balance.

"I knew immediately that Gaia would be my next tattoo. I went to Victoria with the cards and book and we discussed placement and size. Victoria took Holly Sierra’s art and made it 'tattooable.' She re-arranged the flora and fauna such that the elements are easily seen and the seasonal balance of the original is maintained.

"As of this writing the outline is done. We meet again in a few weeks for shading; the color a few weeks after that. I am honored and pleased to wear this ink. I do look forward to the final portrait. The upper arm placement allows me to see the work directly or reflected and acts as a reminder that I am indeed part of something greater than myself. Thank you Victoria!"

Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, the outline, gray shading and final color photos.

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A Hummingbird Love Story

Spring contacted me about covering up an old tattoo on her left arm. She says, "On June 27, 2018, I lost my soul mate after a difficult battle with brain cancer. Shortly after he passed, on a particularly difficult day I was visited by a humming bird that came and hovered in front of me, looking right at me for almost a minute, then flew away. I believe my soul mate was there in that moment.

"I came to Victoria with a rather vague idea of a cover up tattoo with a hummingbird and my love's initials. She was able to turn a couple of Googled images I provided into a truly original piece of art that is a perfect memorial. I really couldn’t be happier with it, and it is an original design belonging only to me. I am so grateful for the amazing job she did, it turned out better than I ever imagined it could."

Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, before, outline and gray shading and the final color photos.

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Three Wise Monkeys

Kyle had been living in Portland for a little bit, having come up from Los Angeles. He came in to see me about covering up some old tattoos that he had on his lower right leg.

He wanted to feature the Four Wise Monkeys of Buddhist thought in the cover up. Many of us are familiar with the Three Wise Monkeys, representing Buddhist principles-- in particular, “see no evil”, “hear no evil”, and “speak no evil”. The monkeys “hide” from evil, closing the mouth, eyes and ears. However, they also have a fourth friend, whose image is not seen as often--embodying the principle of "commit no evil,” with the arms covering the belly or crotch area. Since the Japanese consider the number four unlucky though, the fourth monkey is mentioned very rarely. Kyle wanted his wise monkeys to be Proboscis monkeys, because of their lively expressions.

He also wanted to add Bird of Paradise flowers, while still keeping his previously done Hotei tattoo. I couldn't fit four monkeys into the design but got the three main ones, which he was very happy to have incorporated into the tattoo.

Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, outline, gray shading and partial color photos.

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A Signature Tattoo

A fan of Amanda Palmer's, Laszlo came in to see me with a great story about why he wanted his first tattoo. He says, "I've been thinking about getting a tattoo for quite some time. I had a few ideas, but none of them felt completely right. I'm also a fan of Amanda Palmer. Her last album, "There will be no intermission" deals with a lot of difficult things - abortion, abuse, death, grief.

When she came to Portland at the end of her US tour, I went to the pre-show meeting at Music Millennium. At the end, Amanda did a quick signing, but I had nothing to get signed at that moment, so I asked her to sign my arm, which she did. Later that night, her show was deep and raw. She talked about the difficult things I mentioned before, and also about the idea of radical compassion. How we should forgive people who did us wrong, if we can. How is it possible to understand people who think very differently from us, or at least come closer to understanding. I wanted to remember this message, because I struggle with this kind of forgiveness. I also wanted to remember how difficult it can be to stand out and pour your heart and your deepest thoughts and be rejected by some.

So the next day I decided to have Amanda's signature tattooed on my arm, to help me to remember these things. As it was to be my first one, I was a bit nervous, but luckily Victoria was very professional. She did an awesome job of turning the picture I took of the drawing into a design that gives back the look of being drawn by a Sharpie. I like to look at it, and remember the things that made me get it. I'm very happy with the way it turned out!"

Click on the Read more link to see the drawing and final photo.

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Succulent Succulents!

KendraBKendra came in to see me about covering up an old tattoo of an oak tree that she had on her left arm. She says, "I spent years disliking this tattoo, but was never able to find someone who was willing and able to try covering it, until I met Victoria. After reading her approach for cover-ups on her website and seeing images of the cover-up projects she has worked on, I finally had some hope that I could have a tattoo I loved take the place of the tree.

I recently decided to go back to school for nursing after spending the last 15 years teaching English. I wanted a tattoo that would represent my newly rekindled love of science. I wanted a succulent garden on my arm and was also interested in incorporating some Fibonacci-inspired spiral designs. The succulents and their bright colors remind me of growing up in the Southwest desert; I appreciate how resilient, unique and exquisitely beautiful they are. Victoria took those ideas and images and created exactly what I was looking for. She even suggested adding in some swirly lines around the edge of the tattoo to match a piece I have on my other arm, providing some continuity."

Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, before, outline, gray shading and final color photos.

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Her Favorite Dragon

Laura Laura had a tattoo cover up project she wanted help with; when she came in for the first time, she was very enthusiastic. She had read my website, brought print outs, and was super stoked to get started--- my favorite type of client! I jokingly said that she deserved a gold star for her efforts to be my Number 1 Client and it became our stock jest to trade back and forth.

She says, "I've been waiting for a long time to get a cover up tattoo. My partner found Victoria's website and I knew this would be the woman to help me. 

I've always wanted another dragon, but also knew it would be a journey over several months. Dragons have meant strength, protection, and perseverance. We think they are gone, then they reappear in another time or in another place. My Dragon represents a new time in my life. And she is badass."

Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, before, gray shading and final color photos.

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Pacific Northwest Flora

BrinBrin has several tattoos in various places on her body, but she was mostly concerned with covering up a lower back piece when she came in to see me. She had done her research (and read my Cover Up Tattoos page--- always a good idea) and knew that she wanted to use specific plants and fungi, mostly from the Pacific Northwest. But she wasn't sure how they would all combine or if they would work at all for a cover up tattoo.

She wanted: Chanterelle mushrooms, ferns/fiddleheads, blackberries, ivy and Trillium flowers and brought in printouts of images of them in the wild. She also printed out tattoos of them that she liked. (I love that-- it gives me a great idea of the style clients prefer.) Stating that she totally trusted me, she let me use my expertise to control the whole process--which was super refreshing. It gave her a fantastic result. And it's a perfect example of the cover up formula in action.

Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, before, outline, gray shading and final color photos.

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KendraPQOver the past few years, Kendra has been working with me on a couple of cover up tattoos for her legs; they work wonderfully and are finished. Now she wants to commemorate her time in Peru, which changed her life, so we are working on a Pachamama tattoo half sleeve for her right arm.

She says, "In Peru, Pachamama is Mother Earth. She is the Andean earth mother goddess. For me she represents connection with nature, spirituality, and divine feminine energy, and feminine power. Both women and nature are the fountains of life. I have always felt most spiritual, present, and at peace when in nature or when in community with strong, inspirational women."

We collaborated on the design, which features an indigenous Pachamama as mountain, with the sun crowning her head like a feathered halo and the blue sky of the Andes behind her. She embodies the four elements and offers water, which is life, pouring from the terraces, bounded by her flowing hair.

Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, outline, gray shading and final color photos.

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Contact me for an appointment at 503 807-7863 or email me at

833 SE Main #104
Portland OR 97214

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