Damon: It’s Become a Meaning of Me

Damon’s Celtic Band tattoo was done by Steve at Art Freek Tattoo in Providence, RI. When I asked Damon about the meaning of his Celtic Band tattoo, he first said, “No real meaning behind it.” Yet, his story speaks of the ways tattoos can have emerging meaning. He writes: I’ve always had an affinity for […]

Rebecca: Sugar Skull

Rebecca’s Sugar Skull tattoo was done by the legendary Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand. Her Calavera (Sugar Skull) is more than decorative, and commemorates the life of a lost family member. This is in keeping with her Mexican heritage. She hoped that tattoo fans could become more informed about this tradition, so I provide this source which […]

Jess: Living Rose Garden

Jessica Mendez’ Rose tattoos were done by a variety of tattoo artists over a period of time. I photographed her tattoos in the night market at Share Space in Providence, RI. Jess explains her tattoos as follows: The roses started out as a lasting memory from my childhood, but have grown to my collection of […]

Julia: Two-Headed Swallow

Julia Genesis’ two-headed swallow tattoo was done by Andy Reach of Providence Tattoo. Her tattoo is so interesting that I couldn’t wait to hear the story behind it and what she explained was so fascinating that I can hardly do justice to it, but I will try my best. “Looking up close like this, it […]

Emily: The Library of Babel

Emily Fu’s mandala tattoo is not quite what it appears to be at first glance. A closer look reveals that it is a representation of the infinite library found in the story, “The Library of Babel,” by Jorge Luis Borges. [If you’ve never read that story, it’s a great one you can find here.] Her […]

Poe: Life Has Not Forgotten You

Poe’s tattoo is an original design that she and her tattoo artist, Peter Toatley of Providence Tattoo, collaborated on to capture the meaning of a passage from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet #8. Macro photographs of tattoos capture small portions of tattoos, like portraits, so the design as a whole is obscured […]

Sondra: Companion through Life

Sondra’s Rose and Compass tattoo was done by Mike Johnston at Blackstone Tattoo Co., Pawtucket, RI. We did the shoot at the Makers and Merchants Sale on Wickenden St. in Providence. Sondra explains the meaning this tattoo has for her: This tattoo came to me during the greatest transition of my young adult so far. […]

Platonic Solids

My newest tattoo of Johannes Kepler’s Platonic Solids design was done by Dennis at Providence Tattoo. The Platonic Solids have a significant metaphysical status. In Plato’s Timaeus, they are the basic elements forming the material universe. Their special status is sustained in the alchemical and early modern astronomical traditions. I specialize in Ancient Greek philosophy […]

Lonely Moon Sister

Sometimes people volunteer to be photographed and tell me their stories, leaving it up to me entirely to post about their tattoos. This is the story of the Lonely Moon Sister, which I retell as best I can: It’s sort of like the David Bowie song, “Bewlay Brothers,” except with sisters, which is what we […]

Nate: Biomechanical Exploration

Nate Fisher collaborated with me on photographing his Xenomorph Giger tattoo recently at the Field of Artisans‘ Night Market. His tattoo was is by Marcus Blanchard, owner of Eridanos Tattoo in Cambridge, MA. The sun was setting at the time of our shoot, the lighting becoming strange, challenging, but totally appropriate. There were alien worlds inside […]