Custom Tattoo Blog

Hokusai Wave

jackJack came in to see me last year for his first tattoo, which was a leg piece. This winter, we've been working on his second: an upper arm piece that features the famous Hokusai Wave. He says,"I came to Victoria with some fairly disconnected ideas for this tattoo. First, I wanted a wave; a big wave. To me, waves are symbols of power both destructive and regenerative. I like a lot of Japanese art and wanted something in the style of a classic wood block print. There should be a lotus flower that would remind me of my wife's tattoo. The outline should imply an Enso or circle shape. This reinforces the notion of regenerative power that I associate with waves. It should be big and bold and colorful, taking up all of my shoulder. I showed Victoria some pictures that I liked from the Internet and we talked. Before long, she worked out a design based on Hokusai's Great Wave with the boats, people, and mountain removed. A couple of back and forth emails later, I had my design." Click on the Read More link to see the drawings, outline, gray shading and final color photos.

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Five Feathers

AaronLast year Aaron and I completed his left sleeve-- see "Leaping Water" on my blog for that story. This year, we're working on his right sleeve- a feather project. He says,"Animal totems have always resounded with me and I've been drawn to large birds since childhood. This tattoo project began with three feathers that hold symbolic connection to people in my life; then I opted to bookend those with two others of private symbolic significance. They are: Great Horned Owl- atop the design, it symbolizes silent wisdom through observation; something I've needed and strived for in recent years. Bald Eagle (juvenile)- along with a reference to my father, Eagle is a symbol of balanced power; juvenile because I will be seeking this value for a long time to come. Red Tail Hawk- a personal totem for me, harkening back to my early childhood; the first bird of prey I related to, and symbolic reminder to release oneself to the spirit-guided vision of the wind. Blue Heron- my daughter and I were gifted by a perfect Blue Heron feather that floated right into my hand while kayaking this past summer; Heron symbolizes the stable self reliance from confidently walking one's own unique path in this life; my wish for her. And lastly, Raven - nearest my hand, a symbol of creative, mystic transformation; a theme that has taken hold for me in the past year, and the result of seeking truths in this existence." Click on the Read More link to see the outline and gray shading photos.

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Old School Steampunk

JasonJason had some tattoo work on his forearm that he had done by a friend of his who was a tattoo apprentice. Before they could finish the piece, she died and he was unable to retrieve the drawings she had made for it. When he came to see me, the work was about four years old but still looked pretty decent. He wondered if I could complete his forearm and maybe even create a full sleeve for him. He has an older piece that he'd like covered up on his upper outer arm."Of course--- let's give you a total Steampunk sleeve and continue the Traditional American/Old School style she has going on here. Let's put a broken watch and some pistons and more gears in here--- it'll be cool! We can then easily connect the imagery to whatever we decide to put over your old tat up top," I said. Click on the Read More link to see the before photo and shots of the outline.

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Flowers for her Children

SaraOLast year Sara came to me with the idea for a back piece celebrating her family, but especially her father, who had recently died--- for details see "Faith and Family Back Piece" on my blog. This year she wanted to add her children into the mix and thought it would be lovely to have each child represented by flowers, growing out of her back tattoo, up and over her shoulders to her arms. She says, "The thought was from John 15:1-8 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me and I in him, bears much fruit.'" Each child chose the particular flower that they wanted, working with Sara to decide which one really represented themselves: their personalities, their likes and dislikes, etc. Click on the Read more link to see the drawings and photos of her right arm (gray) which still needs the color session and her left arm (color) which is finished.

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Seed of Life

WillFor his first tattoo Will was thinking that he wanted to use a design from sacred geometry. He sent me some images of the Flower of Life symbol and when he came in to get inked we worked up a design together. It was simpler, and featured the Seed of Life, which the Flower is based on. He wasn't sure if he wanted color or not, so we came up with two versions--- one with color and the other without. Adding color really emphasized the central flower element, which was not prominent in the non-color version. He says, "For me, the meaning of the tattoo design evolved. The center point represents origins and non-duality and the singularity (the point pre-Big Bang). The color symbolizes our spiritual evolution and the galaxies and the atoms in our universe." Click on the Read more link to see the drawings and photo of the finished piece.

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"Make it pretty."

TanziTanzi got an anklet tattoo awhile ago; it's in a fairly heavy, "neo-tribal" style. She wanted to cover it or maybe add something to it, to make it lighter and more colorful. "Can you make it prettier?" she asked. I said, "Absolutely. It would be better to add some other, more delicate plant imagery to it, than to try and cover it up, as it is very dark. That's just the style." After some thought, she sent me some photos of flowers and butterflies that she liked and I incorporated them into her drawing. Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, before photo and photos of the outline session.

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Waves for Friends

sabrinakelliPeriodically, I tattoo people from out of state who want to get a tat while they're on vacation here in Portland. As there are so many tattoo artists in the city now, and so many good ones, I feel honored to be chosen. Sabrina and Kelli are friends who have known each other since 11th grade. They were here to check out Portland and wanted to get custom tattoos featuring waves somehow. They each drew some sketches while they were on the plane and presented them to me when they came in for their consultation appointment. Kelli wanted something small on the top of her upper back below her neck, so for her, we put together a design based on a small part of the drawing I created. Sabrina wanted a right shoulder piece and decided to take the middle out of the drawing, as she liked the simpler look of that better. Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, and Sabrina's photos (I didn't get a shot of Kelli's tat.)

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For His Family

jimsJim came in to see me about covering up part of a tattoo that he had on his left upper arm. (See the "Before" picture below.) The tattoo commemorates his grandchildren but he felt that the part of it that featured his grand son was not successful and he wanted something that worked with the other images better. We decided that using his grand son's birth flower (chrysanthemum) would work well with the other flowers he had for his grand daughters, whose names include rose and violet. Chrysanthemums also work really well as cover up images, as they are very detailed and colorful. Jim also wanted to add a tree in the background to represent the rest of his family--- a "family" tree. Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, before and outline photos.

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Memento Mori

benFor his first tattoo, Ben thought he would like a memento mori piece for his grandparents. For imagery he also wanted to concentrate on his heritage and where his family is from, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area. So at his consultation appointment, he brought in images of skulls with a crown, Fleur de Lis, a quote he felt was appropriate and his grandma's favorite flower. Click on the Read more link to see the drawing I came up with and photos of all three sessions: outline, gray shading and final color.

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Henna-style Scar Cover

jeannineGetting a tattoo can be a great way to cover up a scar. Jeannine came to see me about covering over a scar on her left forearm. She says, "I had four surgeries over eight years to correct wrist problems. The last two (and most recent) left a three inch scar on my forearm. I decided to change the conversation from 'How did you get that scar?' to something more pleasant and interesting. Having had a Hindu wedding, I wanted the design to be based on the simple henna tattoo done for our wedding. I showed Victoria the design, as well as a few other drawings I liked. The result was better than I expected. Simple, yet elegant. Even two years later, I'm still getting compliments and it's hard to even notice the scar. From pain, comes beauty." Click on the Read more link to see the final piece.

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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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