New tattoos on old friends

The patron of martial arts, the bird-like Tengu is a skilled warrior and mischief maker, especially prone to playing tricks on arrogant and vainglorious Buddhist priests, and to punishing those who willfully misuse knowledge and authority to gain fame or position. In bygone days, they also inflicted their punishments on vain and arrogant samurai warriors. They dislike braggarts, and those who corrupt the Dharma (Buddhist Law”

Sometimes you get to do awesome tattoos, sometimes you get to tattoo good friends, and sometimes you get to do awesome tattoos on good friends. Josh is one of the sweetest people I know and when he asked for something Japanese-ish to go on his chest our friendship helped me pick the perfect subject. Josh has been involved in the martial arts for years and like most true devotees he feels a spiritual as well as a physical improvement that it brings to his life. The Tengu are a perfect example of that melding of the two aspects of martial arts into one. It doesn’t hurt that they look really cool and are seldom done as tattoos (at least seldom seen by me). So we had the plan to do the outline, a Tengu mask amid a rushing stream:

The red stamp is the Haku bun seal of Joshs wife, Erica, who passed away recently. Erica was a wonderful friend and a true tattoo aficionado who loved tattooing like few other people I have met in my 14 years of pushing the pins.  I had also done this same haku bun on Ericas sister and brother, and it seems truly fitting for Josh to have it over his heart. The sternum is probably the most painful part of the torso to get tattooed but you wouldn’t know it from Josh, no complaints as I ground away on his breastbone he just closed his eyes and kept chatting with Cara and I.

For some reason I have been getting much faster at this type of tattooing lately, apparently the muscle memory finally took hold and I have become very comfortable with my graywash recently. In tattooing confidence definitely translates into speed, and when you are tattooing someone who you feel a connection with its almost like time disappears. We got the outline done in record time and Josh felt good to get some shading in which also seemed to fly past. After a short deliberation and in recognition of the 5 hour drive Josh has to make to get another session we decided to push through and just get it finished:

The whole thing ended up being just shy of 5 hours and then we went out to eat and Josh stayed over to rest up for the drive home tomorrow. I believe that we will be doing the other side in April when Cara and I work at the Baltimore Convention near where Josh lives.

Another great friend is Bert, he not only makes awesome shirts for us but can sit like a rock and picks tattoos that are super fun to do. A couple of days ago he came in to get a traditional-ish lion on his stomach. Again we started off planning to just do the outline since the stomach hurts so much usually, but once the got the linework squared away he was feeling good so we just finished.

Later on we decided to add some red to the mouth and some bit of color to the eyes and fur but not much, after this bit heals it will take just a few minutes to add those parts.

It was a great week and we are really lucky and blessed to have such good friends.

Next week Cara and I will be working the Philadelphia Tattoo convention with the great fellas at Black Thorn gallery in Mechanicsburg. In past years Philly has been crazy busy (and occasionally just plain crazy) so we should have some cool pictures when we get back hopefully including one of the new tattoo Im scheduled to get!

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