Custom Tattoo Blog

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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Snek Snekety Snek

OleOle contacted me about a camouflage/cover up tattoo project for his upper back. He says, "My friends and I decided to get large tattoos on a whim in Hawaii--- makes for a good story, but some unsatisfying ink. After two years of being unhappy with the tattoo I decided to have it covered.

I sent photos and requests to a handful of artists in Oregon and Victoria was the only one willing to take on the large dark tattoo I had. She was fantastic at helping decide colors and patterns that would work for this cover up, and the snake we decided on turned out awesome."

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

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Beloved Pet Memorial

BenRBen is one of my most loyal clients, and has been working with me for years on his tattoos. Last year his beloved dog Jackson died; Ben wanted to commemorate and remember him with a calf tattoo. He decided to use the Traditional American or Old School style of tattoo, as I draw them. Now Ben can look down the back of his leg and see Jackson's face looking back at him.

He wrote this moving eulogy to Jackson and is allowing me to share it:
“I picked you up at Petco in Baton Rouge. I was 22. You were 8 weeks. I filled the shopping cart with too many dog toys and treats. You were with me during my last few days at LSU. We moved into our first house together. You were incredibly protective and wouldn’t leave the yard even if I left the gate open. You taught foster puppies how to be dogs and they loved you. We rode across the country together to Portland. You were the easiest apartment dog ever. Jessica [Ben's wife] immediately fell in love with you. Abbie learned from you; she is an incredible dog because of it and you had an amazing amount of patience with the littles.

You collapsed last week and I knew the end was near. This morning you collapsed for the last time. We were all here when it happened and I hope we were able to bring you some comfort during your last moments.

I will never forget you and what we went through together. I promise. I’ll miss you.”

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

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Stellar's Jay Fly Away

MarcusMarcus came in to see me about a cover up on his right arm; he drives up from Corvallis, where he lives with his young family, for every session.

He says, "My original cross never tied in very well with the surrounding floral design of my tattoo; the cross was too square and not 'organic' enough. I knew I wanted a cover up [for it] but at first didn't realize the complexity involved in tying in a new design with the old, and I kind of assumed that any cover up tattoo was on the table as long as it had darker shading and whatnot.

"I eventually discovered Victoria's website, read her information on cover up tattoos, then realized I needed to pick a design that had a certain amount of complexity to its design and had lines that could be worked in to the existing tattoo. That is why I chose a bird, since its wings and tail feathers were more or less oriented similarly to the cross. I gave several 'favorites' to Victoria and she did some research and eventually sketched out a design (Stellar's Jay) that fit perfectly and did an amazing job concealing the original tattoo.

"Honestly, I was a little skeptical this could actually work. But now I see how well a cover up can be done with careful attention being paid to the cover up design. I am very happy with the piece."

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

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Buddhist Dream of Nepal

DwayneAs a practicing Buddhist, Dwayne wanted his first tattoo to reflect his faith.

His wife, Carrie Ann, has volunteered for years in Nepal; he always dreamed of joining her and one day, finally realized the dream. They traveled to the Mustang area of Nepal, near Machapuchare (Fishtail Mountain) in the Annapurna, where he observed the devout Buddhist practices of the Nepali people living there.

Reflecting on his own devotion, he wanted his tat to include a chorten (or stupa), the mountains in that region (it didn't have to be any specific one but we settled on Fishtail, as it so memorable) and Buddhist prayer flags. I based the tattoo design on some of the photos he had taken while they were traveling in the area-- see what we came up with.

Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, outline and final 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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