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North Side Archives

Intelligent Design on Pablo's Arm


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

The sexy arm you see below belongs to Pablo. Pablo was on the market to get his first tattoo so I sent him over to Chicago Tattoo to visit Dave McNair due to his fantastic line work.

Since I am no scholar (unless it's the study of crispy snacks, Subway salads or The Real World seasons 1 - 17) I had to have him explain the significance of what is now inked onto his arm.

It is a Quincunx, a geometric pattern that some thinkers in the early modern period considered was present in all of nature: skin, leaves, wood, stones, but also art. To them it was evidence of the intelligent design in nature.

Imagen 016.jpg

There you have it folks, it's the thinking man's tattoo - which is super sexy.
Here are some tunes to get you through the rest of the day:

The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
Laura Marling - Alpha Swallows
Beck's Record Club - Guns in The Sky (INXS cover)
Chew Lips - Seven (Labyrinth Jackals Remix)

A Local Gets Her Imperfect Spine Vine


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Yvonne is not just a badass friend of mine, she is also the lead singer/guitarist in Chicago indie-rock band, The Locals. She's got a sharp sense of humor and the best interpretive dance moves on this side of the Atlantic!

This past weekend, Yvonne got some new ink and sent it my way with a little note attached that said, "It's my perfectly imperfect spine."


I have a herniated disc l4/l5.  It's a pretty common injury (got it from lifting amps the wrong way for years). They even say that a large percentage of people over the age of 20 actually have them and don't even know it. For some people they have an incident, get pain, then just do some rehab and it gets better in a couple of months, and then there are others (myself included) that have chronic pain from it. So I'll be fine then twist the wrong way and bang, massive muscle spasms, terrible pain and all I can do is lay on the floor for like two days.There really is no good explanation as to why some people continue to have pain and others don't.

It got the point over the last year that I was pretty much in some low level of pain all the time. Standing, sitting, sleeping, it had just become a dull ache all the time.

So because I am a special hybrid of hippy dippy and neurotic virgo, I started researching alternative ways to handle this and WHY it continues for me. I've never been good with "that's just the way it is" as an answer, fuck that.

I found a book about chronic back pain "Curing Back Pain Forever", (here comes the hippy dippy part) and it gave me some amazing insights about the power we have over our own physiology specifically as it pertains to chronic back pain. In fact the last time I had a back "episode" I was laying on the floor listening to this book on tape and started doing some of the meditations and breathing exercises. So long story short. I have almost all but eliminated my chronic back pain. I have one small spot that is holding out on me (resistance is futile, i will defeat it!), but I have a very real sense that I will never be laying on the floor again unable to move.

I could be TOTALLY insane and wrong, but 5 months so far so good.

My new ink is about that. It's nothing or it's everything depending on where I put it in my mind. Wavy, off center vertebrae are just what they are. Sort of like wavy off center people.

I think it's just lovely. You know what else is lovely? SEEING THEM LIVE! When you go, make sure you bring an extra set of undies and bras to throw on stage.

Guest Blog: Brad's Breaking Up With His Tat


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

According to laser manufacturer Candela, more than 100,000 Americans will have a tattoo removed this year. This is the story of one of those procedures.

I'm breaking up with one of my tattoos tomorrow. Although it no longer means to me what it did over 10 years ago when I got it, I'm still feeling a bit of, oh, I don't know, guilt maybe? No, that's not exactly right, although a very nice man spent over an hour on it and I feel bad erasing his hard work. I'm not embarrassed by it, not exactly. OK, maybe a little. I'll explain why in a minute. I AM looking forward to what will replace it, but me and my tat have had some good times together and tomorrow a doctor will be blasting him away with a powerful laser. So maybe guilty is the best way to describe how I feel. It's sort of like a relationship that I thought would last a lifetime and, after some time together and some great memories, we have outgrown each other. Or more to the point, I have outgrown my partner, and I'm about to replace him with something younger, fresher, and more colorful. A trophy tattoo, if you will. Well, at least we never had children......

So what is this egregious symbol of my youthful folly that I'm having whacked? It's a tribal armband. Wait, wait, don't judge, there's a back-story. Not a very good one, I admit, but at least let me explain. It was the 90's. Surely I get some kind of special dispensation for getting the most clichéd tattoo of that decade. OK, in the spirit of full disclosure, I also have some kanji - the other most clichéd tattoo. So maybe you CAN judge. But I actually like the kanji, even though I did forget what a couple of them meant (there's a great story about how I got a cute guy to ask a Chinese coworker to read them for me. Buy me a drink sometime and I'll tell you). So my story begins where so many regretful 90's era stories begin, with the boy bands.....

N Sync, 98 Degrees, Backstreet Boys, you know the names if you were of music listening, video watching age back then.

For every Justin Timberlake that escaped that decade, there are dozens of Nick Lachey's that never did. I personally was not a huge fan, but I did notice, at some point, that a lot of the cute guys at my gym were sporting these very sexy tattoos across their biceps and I can only guess that they were inspired by these hot, muscular performers splashed all across the media. I admit, I DID think Nick and his brother were very cute, and it sparked an interest in getting my first tattoo. Surely, if I thought that they were sexy, other people would see mine and think that I was sexy too. So this whole thing maybe started on a bad note from the beginning, but I have a feeling, supported by watching a lot of Miami and LA Ink episodes, that for every meaningful, well thought out tattoo, there have to be a dozen ill conceived, spur of the moment designs that the owner will at some point look down and think "What the hell was I thinking".

So my tattoo was once in fashion, and now feels a little dated. I don't try to cover it up or anything, but I no longer find it all that sexy anymore. And more to the point, I want to get something that means more to me, and that is more representative of my likes and interests. A vampire girl pin up. There you go judging again.....I thought about doing a cover-up on it, incorporating it into a larger design, but tribal band cover-ups are tricky at best, and it just seems more aesthetically pleasing to start with a blank canvas. So tomorrow, I have an appointment at the Ritacca Laser Center in Vernon Hills for my first laser session, and after 2 or 3 of those, I will be seeing Nick Colella for my Vampirella design. Mia asked me to describe the process of laser tattoo removal, so I'll be sharing the experience with all of you, in the hopes that my pain enlightens, informs, and maybe makes you think twice before getting something trendy. Learn from my mistakes. Today's hot topic might be tomorrow's tribal arm band.

Nick Colella Does A Mean Pin-Up Tattoo


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Oh man, today is going to be rough. I'm trying to recover from a severe groin pull that took place last night after attempting to do the splits during a "Lip Synch For Your Life" contest at the Call bar after a brilliant first episode of RuPaul's Drag Race. Only two of us competed (myself and my fellow CN blogger, Katherine Winfrey-King) but I took home the prize, which I will obviously share with her.

Anywho, last Wednesday I made the trek to Chicago Tattoo to get the pin-up girl I've always wanted. I had met with my artist, Nick Colella, the weekend before to look at some books and styles  so he could piece together exactly what I was looking for.

I'm in the beginning stages of sleeveing out my left arm and keeping a music theme. I decided that my pin-up would be standing at a 50's style microphone wearing a green dress and having red hair.

Originally, I was thinking of getting it on the inside of my forearm, but for some reason, that night it just seemed right to put it on the top side. In terms of pain, it was pretty much what I am used to. I documented the process and put it together in a little clip to show you the process from start to finish. As you can see, Nick is a master at this - the coloring and shading he did is spectacular. I'm happy to say, it's healing beautifully.

Fresh Ink reader (and my new bff) Bradley, actually met me there to see some of it taking place. He is on the market for a pin-up so he wanted to talk to Nick about doing something for him. Looks like he'll be making an appointment in the near future - but has to get some removal done first. Actually, today will be the first part of his laser treatment and he has been gracious enough to volunteer to do a guest blog for me to describe the removal process. Be on the lookout tomorrow to see the beginning of his story.

And some music to get you through this Tuesday:

Lali Puna - Remember
Drive By Truckers - This Fucking Job
High Places - On Giving Up

Tomorrow I've Got A Date With Nick Colella


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

That's right - tomorrow night I'll be getting my pin-up girl singing at a 50's-style microphone stand on my forearm (to get my future sleeve really started). I sat down with Chicago Tattoo's Nick Colella and talked out tomorrow's art. I'll be bringing along my flip cam to get some video of the process so if you've got any questions you want him to answer as he's doing his thing, feel free to send them my way.

Until then - enjoy some of the music Spinner is giving us to stream for free this week, there are some incredible albums out this week:

Beach House - Teen Dream

Patty Griffin - Downtown Church

David Bowie - A Reality Tour

New Charlotte Gainsbourg "IRM" For Friday


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

This weekend I will be heading over to visit Nick Colella over at Chicago Tattoo because

1: I miss those boys
2: He is going to help me design my next tattoo - a pinup girl, hopefully on my left arm to get my sleeve further in motion.
3: I miss the sound of the tat guns. Is that wrong? If so, I don't want to be right.

I am about half-way through reading the Amelia Klem Osterud book, The Tattooed Lady, and it is fantastic. I am in awe of these women. Their girl power kicks the Spice Girls in the boobs**.

I just came across the new Charlotte Gainsbourg album today and have been listening all morning. It was co-written and produced by Beck and overall it is perfect to accompany me into a relaxing weekend.

**That was not to knock the Spice Girls. I actually own Spice World and have a thing for Ginger Spice.

Around The Web - All Things Chicago


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Tanya from All Things Chicago  contacted me last week to give me some blog love and in the process, I took a gander at her url and caught some DOPE ASS Chicago tattoos that I am jealous of and might rip off as soon as I get some money in the bank.

She has the beginnings of a gallery devoted to Chicago tattoos including her own:

tvk chicago tat.jpg

That is some badass stuff right there. I love the crossbones combined with the skyline, what a great idea. When I asked about her tat and how she came up with her blog, this is what she had to say:

I moved to Chicago in 2001 from Miami... I'm a dedicated north-sider and have lived in Rogers Park for the past five years. I'm involved in photography and I freelanced for a couple music publications as both a photographer and a writer for several years. I have always had an affinity for tattoos and got my first one (Chinese zodiac) shortly after my 18th birthday. These days I have one complete half sleeve and one still in progress, a star on each shoulder, four small ankle/leg pieces, one on my foot, one small piece just below my neck on my back, and one on each wrist. I got my Chicago piece in 2004 at Tatu Tattoo by Rodney Taylor back when Bob Jones was piercing there. Bob opened Insight Studios in 2005 and I have been a loyal customer since. I started All Things Chicago back in November as a tribute to the city and the amazing people that live here. I'm constantly enamored of the city's history, beauty, and culture.

I currently have a poll up regarding fave tattoo shops... and I also have a contest up for a free subscription to ALARM which is an amazing art & music publication headquarted in Chicago.

Seriously folks, check out her site and if you've got a tattoo that features your love for Chicago, send it both of our ways, we'd love to see it.


In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day, Needles and Sins has a nice post up about MLK-inspired tattoos

Download: Lady Gaga - Paparazzi (Filthy Dukes Remix)
The Smashing Pumpkins - Widow Wake My Mind
I Blame Coco (Feat Robyn) - Caesar (Diplo Remix)

In Search Of Pin-Up Artist


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Fresh Ink reader, Brad, contacted me in hopes of getting some suggestions for great artists who can do a custom "Sailor Jerry-ish rockabilly style pin up girl sleeve". I gave him some recommendations of my own - 

Nick Colella of Chicago Tattoo
pinup nick

Casey Sass at Tattoo Factory


Keith Underwood at Taylor Street Tattoo (UPDATE!!! Just found out Keith lives in Austin now so unless you want to pay for a plane ticket out to Texas, you might want to find another artist
Alright, so who has some more recommendations? I know they're out there!

Gatsby's Second Chance & French Bulldog Tattoo Meetup


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

I'm sure if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know how obsessed I am with my French bulldogs. We actually rescued one of our pups, Marshall, through the Chicago French Bulldog Rescue, a truly incredible organization that devotes so much time and money to bettering the lives of Chicago's Frenchies.

This Saturday, the amazing tattoo artists from Insight Studios are donating their talents to the rescue.
On December 19 and 20 Insight Studios will be having a benefit for The Chicago French Bulldog Rescue. We will be donating 100% of the profits on those two days to help out The Chicago French Bulldog Rescue. Since these benefits are usually busy, we will NOT be taking appointments. It will be a "first come-first served" basis. Make sure you tell us you are here for the benefit.

I will be there getting some work done of my two cuties (though I still need to figure out what to get...I might have to bite some of David's style since I love his pug tats so much). So please, come on down and help support the rescue.

In related news, my girlfriend and I belong to the Frenchie Meetup group and it was on there that I saw Jazmine's tattoo of her pup, Gatsby. I contacted her immediately and asked her to share her story. Warning: it made me cry a little, I am such a sensitive flower.

My fiancé and I got Gatsby in February of 2009.  We had recently moved in together and neither one of us ever had a dog before so we were extremely excited about getting one for the first time.  We looked online for four months after deciding that we would get a French Bulldog and finally found Gatsby--who was named Jordan then--on

The breeder and I talked for hours on the phone and my fiancé and I decided to go up to Spring Grove, IL the next morning and take a look at him.  Within five minutes, I just knew that this was my dog and my mind was made up.

Two months after bringing him home, in early April, Gatsby started to have extreme medical issues that were not disclosed to us by the breeder.  During the course of one month, Gatsby had two rectal prolapses and we discovered that he had a spinal issue (one of his vertebrae is smashed together and raised).  After two thousand dollars and two months, I finally got a hold of the breeder we got Gatsby from and she made me an offer.  The agreement was that she would reimburse us the medical expenses if we returned Gatsby to her so she could put him down or she would replace Gatsby with another Frenchie if we returned Gatsby to her.  My fiancé and I decided that there was no way we would ever return Gatsby for any amount of money or any other dog.  So we kept him and it was one of the easiest decisions ever made.

Gatsby celebrated his first birthday November 4th 2009 and there was a party, cake and all.  Gatsby finally made it to his first birthday and it only took two rectal prolaspses, getting run over by an SUV and thousands of dollars but it was extremely exciting since we didn't know if that day would ever come. 

To celebrate this family accomplishment, I decided to get a tattoo for Gatsby.  I looked online for a substantial amount of time and I found the perfect tattoo artist--Jessica Weichers (Tattoo City, Lockport, IL).

The Whim Style of tattooing is one that Jessica Weichers is known for and a style which I fell in love with.  I felt extremely connected with Jessica as she is the proud owner of a Pug (and Pug tattoo as well) and she understood my love for my dog and the way I wanted to display it on myself for the rest of my life.  I am extremely satisfied with my tattoo and it means everything to me.  I truly feel like I have a picture of my dog on me forever and I don't have to carry a camera to show someone a picture of my dog when they ask.
I'm looking forward to getting Gatsby to play with my pups at one of the meetups, he seems like an incredible dog.


Gallery sneak peek (3 images):

View the gallery...

Beth Cisco Offering Sweet Deals for The Holidays


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Tattoo Factory ink artist Beth Cisco wants you to stop putting coal in everyone's stockings and get them something they'll love...forever. She's offering a really sweet deal for this holiday season:

Keith's Race Car Tattoo - A Love Machine


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Thanks to Fresh Ink reader, Keith, I got a little misty-eyed while making my way through Costco on Friday. This Lincoln Square resident sent in some pictures of his tats along with the following story:
The right arm is a tattoo of my Dad's Race car he sold to buy a ring to propose to my Mom. Glad he sold it or I may not be here!
Are you kidding me? That is one of the sweetest things I've ever heard. The tattoo is a great tribute to some good old fashioned love.

Unfortunately the artist who does all of his work currently lives in Seattle. So, if you're looking to get some great stuff done when you're out there, contact Serena. Otherwise, you might have to just wait for her to make a trip home (but get in line behind Keith...and me).

Gallery sneak peek (3 images):

View the gallery...

Ink from Chicago Tattoo's Nick Colella


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Nick Colella is one of the best tattoo artists in Chicago. Every time I've walked in to Chicago Tattoo, he's been hunched over a customer working on a new, usually large, piece. He prefers working in the traditional style, but truthfully, can do pretty much anything and do it well.

I went for a drink over at Mary's Rec Room about a month ago and overheard some customers next to me asking the bartender about his awesome tattoo - I had to smile when he said it was done by Nick.

Take a gander at some of his work:

Gallery sneak peek (9 images):

View the gallery...

Stream Nora Jones Peep Ink From Chicago Tattoo


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

My main homeskillets over at Chicago Tattoo do a great job of posting some of their work as it happens via their Twitter account - so I asked them to send over some updates of finished work. Luckily, they complied - so take a gander at some of these beauties from artist Josh Howard while streaming Nora Jones "That's What I Said" remixed by Beastie Boys Adrock & Mike D.

Also for your listening pleasure:
Toro Y Moi - Blessa
Reading Rainbow - Restless
Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM (featuring Beck)
(via Stereogum)

Gallery sneak peek (4 images):

View the gallery...

Pug Tattoos And The Year of The Pig


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

David has been collecting comic books since a very young age and now that he's begun to collect body art (he's got about 26 so far), it seems only appropriate (and totally rad) that many of his tats are superhero-related.

I found David when I was looking up pug-related things. I've been obsessed with those flat-faced love-muffins since I was 6 years old and am lucky enough to be the godmother to Amber's pug, Minnie Pearl.

When she worked at Deluxe Tattoo, Hannah Aitchison did most of his work before trekking off to the lights and cameras on L.A. Ink. Now he goes to Speakeasy Tattoo and has sat in the good hands of owner/artist/pug-owner Patrick Cornolo and his associate, Rodney Taylor. Patrick took care of the bitchin' pug tats and Rodney took care of David's most recent purchase: "I was born in 1971 and that was the year of the pig in the Chinese Zodiac - I stumbled across that image when I was looking up different symbols and I thought it was so wild and unique, like myself, that I decided to go for it.  I already had a Poison Ivy tattoo so I had Rodney do the Pig under her and then had a flower growing up around Poison Ivy so I kind of incorporated it into my old one.  That one took 2 sittings which I wasn't wild about but the pig took a lot longer to get done that expected.  I prefer to get it all done at once."

I can't wait to see what he gets next.

Gallery sneak peek (5 images):

View the gallery...

My 3 Year Old Niece Talks Tattoos


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

I am really not a holiday person (unless it's Halloween) but this year my Thanksgiving was great simply because I got to spend time with my 3 year old niece. She lives 800 miles away yet somehow she has managed to turn into a miniature version of myself (though - much more girly).

She loves to dance, she makes the same angry face as me, she's full of the devil and apparently she has an obsession with tattoos. She wasn't too thrilled about recording this video but I did get her to tell me about tattoos for a little bit.

Lila Talks Tattoos from Mia Jones on Vimeo.

Cheetara Gets Tattooed


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

The ladies of one Chicago's funniest, and most loved, improv groups - Cheetara, decided to spend some quality time before one of their recent gigs getting inked together at Tattoo Factory.  Some of you may remember these three from VH1's World Series of Pop Culture (both the first and second seasons). No, the girls didn't win it all, but they did win the hearts of (or maybe give handjobs to?) the people who make the magic happen and they were asked to come back to interview the contestants as they came from the stage.

Each of the ladies got something meaningful and shared their tats with me.


Erin got the number 34 on her foot - which relates to her family and her upcoming nuptials.


Amber looks on as Katherine gets some permanent art from Casey Sass.


Katherine says, "In my 43rd year, I'm rededicating myself to my youth and my girlishness and I just wanted a really swirly feminine image."

Amber, who also happens to be the mother of my godpug, Minnie Pearl, got a lyric from Jeff Buckley's "Grace" on her ribs. It says, "Drink a bit of wine, we both might go tomorrow." She says, "It's a more poetic version of ye olde carpe diem from a man himself taken too soon. My lyrical tattoo isn't a symbolic reminder of Jeff alone, it memorializes a spectrum others.  On one end, my father, who remains vividly present in my dreams, yet achingly absent from my waking life.  On the other, a blur of faces seen on the news, forwarded in emails or passed along through stories.  All gone in an instant."



Here's a taste of what you might have missed when the ladies put the smackdown on some pop culture bitches:

Erin Finally Gets Her First Tattoo


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

When it came time for my girlfriend to finally get her first tattoo, I couldn't help but feel like a proud mother sending her kid off to kindergarten for the first time. I made sure to bring the camera, extra love and moral support - and kept my hand close by in case she needed to hold it.

I took her over to my friends at Chicago Tattoo and thanks to Dave - she is already thinking about getting her next one. I made her tell me about her experience so she can share it with you, my loyal readers.

What made you get a tattoo?
I have always wanted to get a tattoo and was jealous when a friend got one, but with a combination of indecisiveness and fear of commitment, I never did it. Then recently, ideas started coming to me and when I worked them out on paper, I really really liked it and went for it.

What was your thinking behind the design you ended up going with?
I love cubes! They are just so perfect. Every side is the same. What's not to like about that? I also like simplicity, which is why I wanted to leave it just lines and not fill it in. I wish it had a super deep meaning, but mostly, it is just perspective, a basic design principle, and being a graphic designer, a lot of what I do is built off that.

What were you feeling as you stepped into the parlor?
I felt very nervous but excited. I wasn't really scared of the pain or anything like that. I was more scared of the commitment.

What was the first feeling of the needle on your arm like?
Not bad. I guess I thought it would be worse or maybe I had enough adrenaline going through me that it didn't matter. There were some times it hurt more than other times, but it was never terrible. It felt like a very concentrated burn.

What were you thinking as the process took place?
"Wow, my hands are sweaty." "Ok, that part hurts a little." "Ugh, only half done? I'm getting a little bored sitting here." "My dad is going to be so pissed about this."

When all was said and done, how bad was it?
It really wasn't bad at all. I thought it would be worse and was pleasantly surprised.

Was there anything you didn't anticipate that ended up happening?
I didn't anticipate it itching so badly as it healed. Honestly, that was worse than actually getting the tattoo.

What are your feelings towards tattoos now?
I really like it. I went through a slight commitment freak out a couple days after I got it, but like everything else I've committed to and then freaked out after (girlfriend, dogs, condo), I moved past it and settled in to love.

She is just so romantic isn't she? I decided to show my support by getting one of the cubes she designed on my forearm too - I couldn't let her have all the fun.

Gallery sneak peek (4 images):

View the gallery...

Donnie's Got Chicago Love and Sugar Skulls


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

I am just about the biggest lover of Chicago-inspired tattoos that there is. When I was out having too many drinks at the Paramount last week (try their beet salad), I met Donnie, whose Chicago flag tattoo was poking out of his shirt.

He said he got the tat about two years ago because he loves the city and is proud to be here. Not only has he lived here his entire life but his family has been living here since before the Chicago fire happened! That is a long ass time. Donnie says he wanted to keep it simple, which is why he didn't get the white filled in.

Chicago Flag

His favorite piece he got almost a year ago.

"For a long time I really liked Day of the Dead artwork and the meanings behind them.  Then a good friend of mine passed away last October.  So, I decided it was time to get that sugar skull.  I wasn't exactly sure of the design, so I googled the shit out of 'sugar skull', 'day of the dead,' etc....I ended up finding a pic of what I liked.  The photo was of a skull similar to mine burned on the top of an old wooden chest.  I took that photo to my friend Rich Marafioti at Insight Studios and he completely redrew it.  He then asked me what colors I wanted to be.  I had seen Rich's stuff and he also did my flag, so knew he was good with color, so I let him pick them out....I trusted him.  It turned out better than I thought.  Rich does great work and he's now at Family Tattoo."

Sugar Skull

Rawk. Speaking of rock, I apparently missed a man pulling his pants down and almost peeing on the floor of the place. At least I got out of there with a fresh ink story.

Meet Dave from Chicago Tattoo


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Dave has been representing the North Side for 30 years now (eventhough he was born and raised on the South Side). For the past 22 years he's been putting ink to flesh at Chicago Tattoo and even did his apprenticeship there.

If you're looking to get small intricate custom work, he's your go-to man. He's also your go-to man if you want to talk about books. If you're looking for hard to find first editions, check out his site.


Back in the 4th and 5th grades, Dave was always being sent to the principle's office for drawing on himself. At the age of 14 he added the needle with the ink and started tattooing himself. He actually showed me one that he did of a cross that was still there after all these years.

He's gotten a lot of work done in the shop from his co-artists Dale, Nick and Matt. His favorite though, was done by former Chicago native turned celebrity inker Kim Saigh.

Dave 006.jpg

I just love the shading on this one. Lady Liberty has never looked so good.

Another great thing about Dave was that I got to teach him what a motorboat is. Hahaha....oh I love when that happens.

Here's a tat Dave did that I think really speaks to his ability to get some great intricate lines:

Dave Tat

Haunted: Old Town Tatu


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

If you're looking to get spooked and inked this weekend you might want to head out to Old Town Tatu (formerly Odin Tatu). A friend of mine told me about it after seeing it on Weird Chicago.

The story goes a little something like this - the studio was built in what was formerly Klemundt Funeral Home. Richie "Tapeworm" Herrera bought it and turned it into Odin Tatu and started noticing some super freaky shit. He would feel a presence trying to push him down the stairs and would also hear noises  - someone calling out "Walter" another a church organ.

The guys from Weird Chicago  had originally gone to interview Tapeworm and hear about the supernatural stuff going on at the shop. As he took them around he stopped and said,

"you guys see that staircase?.....twice, when I was walking down those stairs, I felt like someone was trying to push me. And that freaked me out, because everyone knows you can't fight BACK with these cats, right? So the first time it happened, I said 'listen! if I die in this place, it is ON!'"

Um, you guys, Tapeworm ended up dying three weeks later. So sad. So weird. So creepy. If you want to hear the podcast they put together inside of the shop, listen here.

I am so creeped out right now I think I'm gonna hide my face in a bowl of candy and a bottle of Miller Chill.

Here, these will make you feel better:

Halloween Help Needed


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Alright poodles, I need some help from you. You see, the office Halloween party is coming up and this includes a costume contest. Unfortunately, I can't bring my dogs into the building and enter them in my place, otherwise I would've won the blue ribbon without a doubt.

my pups.jpg

Marshall the martial arts sushi chef and Bubble Horatio Cain

Before you try to judge me and say this is cruel and unusual behavior, you need to understand that Bubble is obsessed with Horatio and cannot wait to put her costume on.

Look how happy she is!


It's sad but true, my pups have better costumes than I do. This is where you come in. I need something easy, cheap and not too slutty to wear to the office party so I can win $$$$.

If I end up winning and you are of the female persuasion, I HIGHLY recommend that you come to the 44th Ward on Saturday for "Ladies Fright" following the North Halsted costume parade. I recommend that you go there anyway, but if I win that $$ I'll be buying shots for anyone who can tell me the secret password "Janet Reno".

As an added bonus to your day - here is a free download of a hot remix of Florence & The Machine's "You've Got The Love" by The XX. You are welcome.

Featured Artist: Matt from Chicago Tattoo


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Matt is a high-energy tattoo artist who has been working at Chicago Tattoo for the last five and a half years. He had just finished taking care of a customer when he washed his station and made room for me to sit down and ask questions.

Matt Chicago Tattoo

As you can see, he's got plenty of his own ink - the first of which was done when he was 18 and is a hieroglyphics symbol based on some rappers from Oakland. HARD CORE! His favorite though, is the gorilla on his neck.
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Featured Artist: Mario Desa from Chicago Tattoo


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Mario Desa Chicago Tattoo
Name: Mario Desa
Shop: Chicago Tattoo

Mario is definitely someone you can characterize as the strong silent type. When I came into the shop, he said we could talk as long as there was no religion or politics involved - which I could definitely handle.

Desa has been at Chicago Tattoo for five years but has been tattooing for twenty. Much like a few of his family members at work, his favorite style (if he had to choose one) is American Traditional but he'll really do almost anything. The only time he'll turn someone away is when they come in for portrait work "Because that should be done by a portrait specialist".

He loves working at this particular shop because the clientele is so diverse and there's an opportunity to work on different styles all the time.

The first tattoo he got for himself was a straight edge symbol sometime in high school and, unlike most of the straight edge kids I knew, he still subscribes to those beliefs today so I guess he and I won't be grabbing a drink any time soon.

Mario is heavily tattooed but his favorite piece is the giant dragon his co-worker, Nick Colella did for him on his entire back. I'm sure you can agree, it's pretty sick:

Mario's back piece from Nick Colella
Full Disclosure: About four years ago, before I was even dreaming of writing a blog like this, Mario did both of my inner wrist tattoos. I'm happy to say they haven't faded a bit.

Andy - Wisdom, Secret Societies and Protection


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Andy is a Southern gentleman to the core. At first glance, or even first conversation, you wouldn't necessarily think he was the type of guy to get excited about tattoos. Growing up in Ft. Worth, Texas, he says, you were considered either a biker or a gangbanger if you had tattoos. This is why it took him until the age of 30, when he was living in Chicago, to get his first.

Andy arm eye triangle

He was really nervous about getting something permanent (and isn't a fan of needles) but was put at ease by the artists at Tattoo Factory.
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Jeremy - Something to Believe In, Lakeview


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

I met Jeremy a few years ago at a company happy hour I had thrown together. After way too many martinis, another friend and I coaxed him into coming to a gay karaoke bar with us. My memory of the night is lacking but from what I can recall, he was a good sport who stuck around long enough to hear me butcher "Me and Bobby McGee" and then escorted my friend home safely in a cab. I've been happy to call him a friend ever since.

Here's his tattoo story in his own words:
"Most people wouldn't really call me hardcore anything, except maybe a geek. No, not maybe, definitely. But most people who knew me when I was younger would never have pictured me as the type to get a tattoo eventhough I kind of always wanted one.

I liked the idea that someone would believe in something so strongly that they would permanently mark their body with it. I always knew I wanted one, just never knew of what. It was later when I started to really focus on the idea of infinity. I always hated it when people said that everything good must end. I don't agree at all. I believe that some things can last forever. Some things have no limits. So, one day, it dawned on me. I now had something I believed so much that I could permanently mark my body with it.

So, on my 23rd birthday (a number that seems to have a significance in my life, so it felt right) I got the symbol for infinity tattooed on my wrist. A simple reminder that some things last forever. Small, unobtrusive, but it's always there.

Jeremy's Wrist

I hope to get another one someday, but I'm in the same spot I started. Looking for something more to believe in."

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