Custom Tattoo Blog

For the Love of Dogs

jonJon grew up on a farm and has always liked having animals around, especially horses and dogs. He has kept bird dogs for awhile and enjoys hunting with them; in 2011 he lost two of his dogs and wanted to have a memorial tattoo done for them. He decided that he wanted a Celtic cross for the "tombstone" aspect of the piece, as his heritage is Welsh. The eastern Oregon landscape has always fascinated him, so he thought it would be nice to have that in the background. We are going to add some more of the landscape around into his bicep area and put a dog in it, so that people will understand better what the tattoo is about. Click on the Read more link to see the drawing and some process photos.

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Flowerful Addition

donnaDonna contacted me about a tattoo idea that she had for her foot and ankle area. She already had a butterfly tattooed on the outside of her right leg, positioned right above her ankle and she wanted to add some Frangipani (Plumeria) flowers to it. She was also thinking that she wanted to put a lily on her foot and was looking for a tattoo artist with experience tattooing people with dark skin, specifically, someone who was comfortable putting lots of color in their tats. We talked about that a bit: I told her that from my training and experience, there are certain techniques and particular colors that work well on dark skin. For instance, we can use an open design, bold outlines and bright, intense colors for tats on dark skin that will help them stand out and look good. Mostly, I wanted to talk to her about foot tattoos and how there are special considerations for them: we can only tattoo the top of the foot, it is particularly painful and there are specific healing instructions for foot tats (no running a marathon the day after getting a foot tat, etc.) Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, the before pic and some process (outline) photos. You can still see some of the stencil marks (purple) on her foot and leg.

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Japanese Half-sleeve

rachelleRachelle has a very beautiful, very traditional Japanese half sleeve on her right arm that she is working on completing. When she contacted me she wanted to have the bird on her upper inner shoulder turned into a Red-tailed Hawk and her inner arm filled with mountain ranges from Juneau, Alaska, where she's from. She is almost finished with a degree in art from a university in New Mexico and has a lot of wonderful ideas to finish out her arm; one is to turn the sleeve into a four elements piece utilizing Hokusai waves. I hope she lets me continue to work on it with her! Here is what she has to say, "I've been influenced by beautiful things and experiences in nature and feel spiritually connected to the earth. This tattoo has developed over the last few years into an elemental themed sleeve with each image representing a spiritual connection to a location and an important life lesson to live by. Choosing the Japanese style of tattooing was important because they have been successful at demonstrating their connection to the earth through art. I plan to finish off the sleeve with flowing ocean water and water animals at the bottom, and creating a sky behind the clouds on the top." Click on the Read more link to see the drawings and some after photos.

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Phoenix Cover up

saraLike a lot of people I tattoo, Sara got a tattoo when she was younger that she wanted to have covered up and converted into something that is more meaningful for her now. She chose an excellent concept: the Phoenix, symbol of transformation and change. It conforms perfectly to the "Cover up/Camouflage Formula". The new tattoo cover up/image must be larger, with more detailed line work, use colors of dark value and utilize position to move and fool the eye. We decided to have the phoenix wrapping around Sara's upper arm, to make it look like it's flying/moving around her arm. Click on the Read more link to see the drawing, before pix and some process photos.

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Dragon Flames Saga

jamesJames is a local writer currently focusing on the fantasy/science fiction genre. He has written several books, three that comprise the Dragon Flames Saga. He decided on a back tattoo that would feature some of his favorite characters from that world. "For my back I wanted to have a mural of the Dragon Flames Saga to remind me of my largest and most memorable story," he says. He started out with a list of about 19 of them (!!) but we were able to pare it down to five of the most important ones, after some serious negotiating. After several sessions, we are getting closer to being finished with his tattoo. Click on the Read more link to see the drawing I created (using his detailed character descriptions) and some process photos.

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Tree of Life Cover up

sandy1Sandy had two small, old kanji tattoos on her back when she came in to see me about an idea that she had for a complete back tattoo. (See the Before photo below, by clicking the Read more link.) She wanted the tattoo to be about her family--- herself and her two children--with totems to represent each one. The main image was to be the Tree of Life in the rough shape of a dragonfly. At that time, she wanted to keep the kanji in and add more kanji for her children's names underneath their images and the kanji symbol for "Family" in the center of the tree, which would be in the middle of her back. Then she decided that she wanted to take all of the kanji out and to put the Celtic Trifecta in the middle, as that was more in line with her family's heritage. I altered the stencil to reflect that. Then I pumped some white over the old tats and we inked in her grayline. Graylining is a technique that is used for getting the stencil in the skin when there is a large area to cover. I go in super fast and light with a small needle. The resulting line work is not solid or very uniform but allows me to get my "blue print" in the skin, so that I can get the outline in without losing the stencil, even if it takes several sessions. Click on the Read more link to see the drawing and photos.

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Bleeding Heart Cover up

lisakLisa is a model and came in to see me about an existing tattoo that she had on her chest. She wanted a bleeding heart tattoo that reflected her ideas about beauty and was unhappy with the version that she received. (See the photo below, by clicking the Read more link, where you can see the old tattoo underneath the stencil.) We surfed the web together, when she came in for her consultation, looking for photos of bleeding hearts that reflected a more "realistic" or botanical view of the plant than "hearts on a stick" as one person had described her old tat. We pulled some great images, I created a drawing for her and we inked in her grayline today. Graylining is a technique that is used for getting the stencil in the skin, when there are time limitations on the session; I go in super fast and light with a small needle. The resulting line work is not solid or very uniform but allows me to get my "blue print" in the skin, so that we can take our time with the outline, if need be. Click on the Read more link to see the drawing and process photos.

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A Beet!

ericaErica has many small tattoos, including some lovely gray work pieces of a pine cone near her right ankle and fiddle heads on the back of her left leg. She decided that her next tattoo would be a beet and when she came into the shop to talk to me about it I said, "Yes! I've always wanted to tattoo a beet or some other type of leafy vegetable for somebody! I'm so glad that you came in. What do you think about using botanical illustrations as a starting point for the drawing?" She says that a lot of people ask her,"Why a beet? Why would you want to get that tattooed on you?" And she answers that as a vegetarian, she loves to eat beets, that they are her favorite vegetable and a good source of nutrients. As a fellow vegetarian, I think that's great. I also like that she has leg tattoos that reflect the bounty of nature and I was very happy to have her beet "growing" up her leg. It's a fantastic placement and will be really vibrant when we get it done. We just have one more color session to complete and then the beet will be finished. Click on the Read more link to see the drawing and process photos.

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Sunflower Cover up

aprilApril had an old tattoo of a sunflower with a little lady bug, on her outer right leg that she wanted covered up. When she came in to see me for a consultation, she knew that she wanted the new imagery to be flowers but she wasn't sure exactly what flowers we should use, although she liked Gerber daisies. We discussed using the birth flowers of her loved ones, as well as the daisies and I created a drawing for her with them all mixed in together, following the Cover up/Camouflage formula: new image is larger, more detailed with dark value colors and use positioning to fool and move the eye. When April saw it she decided that we should just use the Gerber daisies--keep it simple--but that she liked the way I wrapped the flowers around her leg. Click on the Read more link to see the before and after pictures.

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Zen Tattoo

francoisFrancois has just recently taken the Buddhist Precepts and was thinking that it might be nice to get a tattoo to commemorate that step in his life. It would be his first tat. He was looking online for a local tattoo artist and found a friend of his on my website; she had just taken the Precepts with him at the same zendo, Dharma Rain in SE Portland. What an amazing coincidence! When he came in for his consultation, he had a couple of images that he thought might make for a good tattoo but wasn't sure what would work best and left it up to me to decide. He said, "I wanted a tattoo that reflects what I am striving for in my practice and I wanted to give Victoria the freedom to create a beautiful image. This tattoo does that, in that the bamboo represents flexibility/adaptability and acceptance of the wind/conditions. This brings about enlightenment/freedom represented in the leaves which resemble birds. The process of doing this is beautiful, as is the tattoo and all living beings." Click on the Read more link to see the drawing I created for him (Zen style bamboo flowing over his upper arm) and photos from our first session (outline.)

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

833 SE Main #104
Portland OR 97214

HOURS: Tuesday--Sunday,