Fresh Ink

West Side Archives

Couple Getting Inked to Raise Money for Wedding


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

$20 won't get you a lot these days but it WILL get you a place in history within the hearts and on the skin of an engaged couple from River Grove. For a measly Ben Franklin, the couple will tattoo your name on their bodies. They're putting the cap at $5,000 for their dream wedding but anything above that amount will go to Cancer Charities (may I recommend the ABTA?).

The WGN news team pitched in $20 - you'd think they'd at least be able to give them a Skilling Snuggie as well. If you're feeling like being generous, you can visit their Facebook page or email Deena directly.


Jessie Barber Photography Love


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

I was going through Flickr a few months ago, marveling at both the photography and the different tattoos on display. One caught my eye because it is not only beautiful photography but it is an homage to beautiful photography.

Jessie Barber (visit her site because it is really badass and I basically want to hang out with every person she's ever taken a picture of) is a photographer with a good amount of ink. The old school Polaroid Land Camera 100 tattoo she has on her upper thigh is just beautiful. It was done by Scott Santee at Metamorph Tattoo and as you can see, he captured the image brilliantly.

jesse barber.jpg

Reminder: Tonight, Quimby's, Amelia Klem Osterud


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

It's Friday and I'm about to get my ass on a plane to Florida to visit the coolest woman in all the land, my grandma. Before I leave I will be headed to Quimby's in Wicker Park to see Amelia Klem Osterud, author of The Tattooed Lady. If you haven't picked up your copy yet, tonight is the perfect night to go!

The Tattooed Lady

By the way in case you're looking for me, this is what I look like today (and every day but you don't have to know that I wear the same hoodies constantly).

Mia Today

It being almost the weekend and all (and me not updating at all next week) you know I've got to leave you with some jams. So my pretties, here you are, enjoy:

We Are The World - Clay Stones (Turbotito Remix)

Wild Beasts - Still Got The Taste Dancing On our Tongues (Gatekeeper Gregorian Disco Edit)

Phenomenal Handclap Band - Baby

Strange Boys - Laugh at Sex, Not Her

Butterfly Bones - Heart

Telepathe - Devils Trident Big Pink

Tattoo You: Tattoo Benefit for the Red Door Shelter


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Hey folks, there's another great tattoo fundraiser happening at Insight Studios (just remember to be very careful when you park and don't leave ANYTHING including your pornography laying out for people to steal).

February 20, 2010 - February 21, 2010
Now is the time for you to get the tattoo or piercing you've been thinking about! Insight Studios will donate all the money raised these two days to the animals at Red Door. Insight Studios [1062 N. Milwaukee, Chicago] does custom-designed work.For more info go to or

tattoo benefit.jpg

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!

Everything Is Better With A Little Duran Duran


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Logan Square resident and Fresh Ink reader, Hailey, originally contacted me about her fabulous 80's-inspired tattoo that Ryan, over at Insight did for her. As a fan of the 80's myself, this piece got me super-psyched. Hailey says:

I have been obsessed with all things 80's since I got my first CD which was Duran Duran's greatest hits.  I love the movies, the fashion, the hair, and especially the music.  This is a Patrick Nagel painting, that we took directly from Nagel's book.  It's also apparently the Japanese cover for Duran Duran's release of "Rio", which makes it even more awesome.  I love the bright colors and the whole design.  Ryan did a great job of taking this wider painting and altering it enough to fit on my arm, yet keeping all the great elements in place.
How fucking rad is that!? For me, "Hungry Like the Wolf" is the DD jam that started it all.

Rio - Duran Duran
Hungry Like The Wolf - Duran D...

She also sent over some pictures and the stories behind two of her other tats:

The crow I got when I was 18 (and it was still technically illegal to be that young oh well!) by a guy named Skeet who had to be in his 60's out in Woodstock, IL.  He did an AMAZING job though and charged me pennies.  Honestly I have just loved the movie since I was probably in middle school and I own a ton of Crow shit and read the books and basically I'm obsessed with the story and I still love the tattoo even if people call it a "tramp stamp."

First of all, I love that this 60 year old man goes by the name of "Skeet". I've never seen him but I'm fairly certain I can picture him perfectly in my mind's eye. Secondly, don't you ever fret about the "tramp stamp". I've got one - a lot of girls have them, and I think it's a beautiful place for a woman to get a tattoo. By the time mine gets too saggy, I'll just start talking to a plastic surgeon.
The moon I got done by a guy named Allie at Tatu Tattoo on North Ave.  He is into bikes (as am I) so it was nice to talk to him about that during the session.  I wanted a moon on my neck because I have a deep fascination with werewolf and vampire culture and lore.  Ever since I can remember I've been reading books and watching movies (NO TWILIGHT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH) and i thought, moon, neck, two birds and still kinda mysterious, yet pretty.

Amen on the Twilight, sister. Check out Hailey's ink below, my favorite is most definitely the 80's girl (and nice shot of the PBR).


Gallery sneak peek (3 images):

View the gallery...

Tattoo Thwarted by Criminals - Cops Make Things Worse


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

So remember when I told you all about the Frenchie tattoo fundraiser? Well that was this weekend and my girlfriend and I went, with pictures in hand - ready to get the likeness of my pups posed as Johnny and June Carter Cash - and then this happened:

Broken Glass

Yeah, our car was broken into, our GPS stolen, all during the day on a busy street with people coming in and out of the tattoo shop regularly.

Yes, it sucks that the window was busted and that our property was stolen but the thing that really chapped our asses was how awful the police were to us. The two officers we spoke to could not have given less of a shit that this happened to us, and even went so far as accusing us of having an invalid license plate. It's not like we were asking them for a shoulder to cry on - but they didn't have to be assholes about it either.

The second cop we spoke to was angry that we didn't know if the address we were on was North, South, East or West. Normally we would've asked our GPS for this answer but since it was just stolen, we didn't know. For some reason she asked us how old we were and what race we are. I've never heard of this being a question someone asks you for your police report and really have no clue why this would be important information.

The only other time something like this happened to me, it was around the same time of year and the cops, once again, acted like I was wasting their time or making their day suck. Our being robbed is SUCH an inconvenience to them. The big question I have is, why is this part of a cop's job anyway? If they aren't going to do anything about it and really don't care what happens, then why not have some other company with customer service experience, take this over? I'm not looking for someone to kiss my ass or massage my boobs to make me feel better about the situation - but don't treat me like I'm the criminal.

In any case, I'd like to send a big Fuck You to the person who did this - but I'm thankful that nothing worse happened.

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:

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.

A Friend A Memory A Squirrel Tattoo


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Welcome back from a glorious weekend of perfect Chicago weather. Seriously, the last two days were better than the entire summer. It was a really exciting weekend for many reasons, the biggest of which was that my girlfriend got her very first tattoo - which she designed herself. Not allowing her to have all the fun, I got a small one too, cuz that's how I roll.

Last Thursday after our ChicagoNow blogger meetup, I headed over to Big Chicks for a tasty black bean burger and (of course) more whiskey. There were a lot of tattoos out for the evening but only a few that truly caught my attention like Adrea's:


I mean, how many people do you know who have a squirrel tattoo? I felt a little like a creep but I had to ask about it.

Andrea's friend (whose initials are shown) had an affinity for squirrels. Unfortunately, this friend passed away - so in his memory, she got the squirrel on her arm.

Her friend Charly, from Ageless Arts Tattoos in Pilsen, did the work. I think it's a great tribute to a friend and a totally unique piece of ink.

Brendan Does A Basquiat Bratwurst Tattoo


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

I remember when the movie based on the life of Jean-Michel Basquiat came out and I was intrigued. First of all, the soundtrack was dope but also, I totally thought Jeffrey Wright was hot.

Enter Brendan, who brought his Basquit tattoo to my attention. He "was 21, liked the drawing and it was an impulse" which is just as good a reason to get one as any.  That was about 5 years ago and randomly I was talking to some of the guys from Tattoo Factory and they remembered him getting it done.

He wanted to make sure I gave a shout out to Hank (he didn't do the tattoo but apparently he ran the "best tea house in the city, Urban Tea Lounge", which is sadly now defunct.

Ready for a boob shot? I know you are!! Here it is:


I think that's pretty awesome and somehow, as a gay vegetarian, I'm not totally turned off.

So here's what Brendan (and I) challenge you, the reader, to do. Send in pictures of YOUR Basquiat-inspired tattoo. Send in pictures of your friend's Basquiat-inspired tattoo! Send in pictures of your grandma's Basquiat-inspired tattoo! We're gonna have a Basquiat-Off!**

The Basquiat-off does not include photos of the Basquiat crown since Brendan says "That's too easy".

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.
Continue reading...

Sarvas Gets Lasered Then Gets Inked Again


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

Sarvas and I began our love affair over Twitter (which - you can follow me @chubbyjones but be prepared for a foul mouth, lots of boob talk, pictures of my dogs and knowing that I've eaten too much for the umpteenth time). Before the site launched I put a call out for submissions from tattoo artists, local shops and anyone in Chicago who has anything to do with tattoos. Oh, and I promised free motorboats...that's all it took for him to contact me back. See, offer free motorboats and all of a sudden the world is your oyster.


Sarvas isn't a tattoo artist but he's been working as a piercer at Chicago Tattoo for about a month.
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What Time is It? Chris Says Party Time!!


Music + whiskey + tattoos= me

I was chatting with the owner of one of my favorite bars on Wednesday night telling him about the tat blog and he said, "Oh! You have to talk to my chef, Chris. He has the coolest tat ever." Two minutes later, Chris walked out of the kitchen, sat down next to me and told me what time it was:

Party Time Tattoo

I have to admit, this is a pretty rad tattoo and I'm pretty pumped on the message. It's one of those tattoos I wish I could get, but never would (only because I feel like a watch would make my wrist look joke). He told me he got the tattoo because he was listening to a lot of Andrew WK when he was younger and went in search of a watch that flashed "Party Time". When he came up empty handed, he just ended up getting it tattooed on his wrist.
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