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Local Artist Mini Profile – Marie Wadman (Oakland)

February 22, 2010

I don’t know Marie Wadman and have never worked with her, although hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to do so at some point in the future.  I haven’t even ever set foot in her shop, Diving Swallow Tattoo, even though it’s only about a 1/2 mile from my apartment, but I have been an admirer of her work for quite a while.
haeckel, tattoo, science tattoo, illustration, animal tattoo, plant tattoo, flora tattoo, fauna tattoo

I have no doubt she would be capable of producing striking work no matter the subject matter, but even after brief perusal of her portfolio, one is struck by the stylized charm of her nature tattoos. Whether plant, animal or a combination thereof, her work has a lush and serene quality that belies the brutality of the tattoo process.  The delicacy of her style is deliciously ironic in light of that brutality.  As much as her tattoos are most decidedly stylistically her’s, Wadman’s work also has an almost scientific precision to it that echoes the taxonomic illustrations of Ernst Haeckel
haeckel, tattoo, science tattoo, illustration, animal tattoo, plant tattoo, flora tattoo, fauna tattooIn addition, he use of visual space and eye for composition are phenomenal.  Every one of her pieces is so seamlessly integrated into the body that the skin appears as if it had never looked any other way.  Needless to say, if you want a nature themed tattoo, there are few artists, if any better suited to actualize your artistic vision.


Great Article on Tattoo Aftercare

February 17, 2010

A tattoo is an investment, the better you care for it, the longer it will stay fresh looking and bright.

Hebrew Tattoos

February 9, 2010

I stumbled across a site today called and found this thread/article on non-Jews getting Hebrew tattoos. This particular thread asks if it’s “stupid” to get a Hebrew tattoo if you’re not Jewish.

Ignoring the fact that most of the people commenting on the thread are closed minded, ridiculous or just flat out wrong, the question of Hebrew tattoos is an interesting one for both Jews and non-Jews. Suffice it to say that no, in no way is it stupid to get a Hebrew tattoo if you’re not Jewish. First of all, Hebrew does not belong to Jews alone, the old testament is part of the Christian faith as well, but even that is beside the point.  Tattoos are about personal expression; if a particular Hebrew phrase has meaning for you enough to have it tattooed on you, then by all means, go for it. People get Japanese and Chinese kanji tattoos.  People get Buddhist  scripture tattoos; I have seen Sanscrit, Thai language tattoos, Tibetan and Nepalese language tattoos, Celtic tattoos, Hindu tattoos, Arabic and Farsi tattoos, and on and on.

Being a Jew myself, before I got my first tattoo, I looked into the supposed prohibition against tattoos in the Jewish faith. Ignoring for the moment that although certain specific cemeteries may choose to interpret the Torah’s prohibitions against tattoo to preclude burial in Jewish cemeteries, the notion that there is some sort of bright line rule against burying tattooed Jews in Jewish cemeteries is simply religious urban mythology run amok.  Furthermore, and just to be clear, this is strictly my own personal feeling on the matter, but on my list of life concerns the location of my burial site comes in a few slots behind what happened on the last episode of Hannah Montana.

My irreverence with respect to the burial issue is merely emblematic of one facet of my philosophy about tattoo as well as my personal ideology, but I fully recognize and indeed am curious to learn about the panoply of philosophies permeating the cultural dialog at the intersection of tattoo culture and Jewish culture.

I had a pretty typical conservative (some might say reform) Jewish upbringing, celebrating Jewish holidays, attending Hebrew school and being Bar Mitzvahed at 13, after which I refused to attend any further religious education. For reasons that have been revealed to me over the years, the religiosity is something that just never clicked for me. I went to College at UCLA where I majored in American Literature. I later received my JD from UC Hastings College of the Law and have been a practicing attorney since 2007.  If there is a common thread to be taken from my background, it’s that I have been skeptical, analytical and argumentative since I could form complete sentences.  It is these characteristics that brought lead me, in my quest for self discovery, to atheism, which for me, in many ways shares a kinship with my interest in tattoo.

I struggled with religion for many years after my Bar Mitzvah, all the way through college, when on my occasions I consulted the Rabbi and UCLA’s Chabad.  But in the end, as it is for many people, it was the intellectual environment of college and my proclivity for critical thinking the allowed me to ultimately accept what I had been struggling with since my first year of Hebrew school when I privately counseled myself about the implausibility of many of the old testament stories we learned about.  It wasn’t that I decided not to believe, it was more the realization that I never truly believed.  Make no mistake though, I cherish my Jewish heritage; it played a significant role in shaping the person I am today. To be clear, I don’t begrudge anyone their sense of spiritualism, but I believe that my personal beliefs are integrally linked to my editorial voice, and for this reason I choose to share it with you all.

So what does this have to do with my choice to get tattooed?  Simply put, atheism opened the door the acceptability of turning my back on my cultural programming.  I have always been aesthetically motivated.  Over the years I have enjoyed drawing and painting in my spare time, I have worked as a graphic designer here and there and I ever attended a year of industrial design school before selling out to do something “practical” like go to Law School (gimme a break! you can’t escape ALL of your cultural programming).

Consequently, tattoos have always appealed to me, but I never really considered getting one until my younger brother had gotten into it and started talking to me about tattoo art and culture.  Even then I didn’t pull the trigger until I was 28, when I decided to express my longstanding love for Japanese aesthetic by getting a 1/2 sleeve from Japanese tattoo specialist Paul Dhuey of Guru Tattoo in San Diego.  In retrospect a half sleeve might have been a bit aggressive for a first tattoo, but fortunately for me I love it and am totally hooked.  I have since added a pair of humming birds on my stomach with plans to add to that piece, extend my ½ sleeve into a ¾ sleeve and add a complementary ¾ sleeve on my left arm.

Tattoo is a path I have been walking since I could speak, but was only able to commit to 4 years ago.  It is a physical manifestation of my aesthetic sensibilities, a rejection of the “old rules,” an invitation to judgment from the world, and in no way incompatible with my relationship with my Jewish heritage.

Need an excuse to go somewhere cool? How about getting tattooed?

February 3, 2010

In 2007 I took a trip to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam) with a bunch of law school friends.  When I was researching my trip I became engaged in an extended flirtation with the idea of getting a traditional Thai Buddhist tattoo (Sak Yant). These tattoos are done by the monks themselves and are essentially free (my understanding is that typically you give your artist a gift of cigarettes or some other token of your appreciation).  They are applied to the skin using a sharpened steel rod in an action that somewhat resembles the motion of a pool cue in microcosm.  In the end, partially owing to the fact that my father is a physician, my neurotic Jew brain freaked out about sanitary protocols used by the monks and I chickened out.  Although my research said that there has never been any reported cases of Hepatitis or HIV resulting from Sak Yant, the word “reported” was not much solace.  Perhaps one day I’ll go through with it if the conditions are right, but for the time being I think I made the right decision.

That being said, I would love to take a tattoo vacation some day.  I have always wanted to visit Japan, and it just so happens that one of my absolute favorite tattoo artists works in Yokohama.  The artist, Shige (Shee-gay) is an absolute master at combining the new school style of bold, bright color with traditional Japanese aesthetic. I would love to some day (money permitting) visit and get tattooed by Shige; maybe it will happen.

Japan would be amazing, but there is an incredible tattoo culture with amazing artists right here in the US.  I am fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is blessed with some of the most talented artists in the world, but tattoo talent in this country lurks everywhere from the largest metropolis to the smallest hamlet.

Today I came across this article about tattoo spots in Austin, from the Jetblue website no less, (who knew Jetblue was hip and comfortable?).

Austin is one of my favorite cities. I have lived in California my whole life, I love it, and I really don’t see myself moving to any other state.  Don’t get me wrong, there tons of great places in this country that I would love to visit, but there are very few places I could see myself living; however, Austin is definitely one of the few outside of California to which I would have no reservations about moving.  So if anyone is interested in  taking a trip to visit one of the great progressive, music loving, counter-cultural enclaves smack in the middle of the land of pickup trucks and gun racks, and possibly spend some time desecrating your flesh, the above article  would be a great start.

Your 21st Century Marine Corps – Same bloodthirsty killing machines, with a touch of class…

January 29, 2010

Marines “clarify” policy on sleeve tattoos:

The new regulation prohibits enlisted Marines with sleeve tattoos from becoming commissioned officers, even if the tattoos, which were banned in 2007, had been grandfathered in according to protocol. To the list of banned tattoos the regulation adds markings on the fingers, hands and wrists, tattoos inside the mouth, and tattoos visible in PT gear that are larger than a hand with fingers together and extended.

Hypocrisy or just plain stupid? The correct answer is both.  So let me get this straight, the entire reason for the existence of the Marines is to basically be scary and aggressive and kick the crap out of any nation, group or people that don’t respect our authoritah!  We train our marines to be killing machines, to shoot first and think later, to be as aggressive and fearless as possible in the face of imminent death, to cultivate a warrior image and a brotherhood with their fellow marines, a huge part of which has involved the acquisition of tattoos for decades upon decades.  Hmmm, sounds a lot like these guys, no?

So if I understand it correctly the Marines policy is to encourage soldier to look and act scary, but not too scary if you ever want to have a shot at advancing in your career, because no matter how talented you are as a solider, leader, tactician or otherwise, if you look too scary you wont be fit to lead a bunch of people that we encourage to be as scary as possible.  WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?  That’s among the more insanely asinine, hypocritical double standards I have ever heard of.  What’s the problem? Arm sleeve tattoos just don’t look nice with army fatigues?  Even generals wear camouflage fatigues during press conferences.  The notion that a soldier with arm sleeve tattoos is any less fit to lead other scary tattooed killers than someone who doesn’t have sleeve tattoos strains credulity at best and is probably counter-intuitive at worst.  Of course this comes from the same geniuses that brought us “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” so in honesty I have no idea why I find this surprising.  I bet half the assholes that supported this idiotic policy have tattoos themselves.  Good job Marines, way to arbitrarily and unnecessarily limit the pool of potential future leadership within your organization with functionless, brainless regulations.

A Friendly Service Reminder: If your tattoo contains words, proofread!

January 26, 2010

This link has been going around the internet for a while, but a friend recently forwarded it to me; it bears repeating, tattoos are forever, PROOFREAD!

San Francisco Assemblywoman Proposes Stricter Regulation of Tattoo Shops…

January 21, 2010

“When you get your hair cut or your nails done in California, you know that your stylist or manicurist has attended school, received a license and is maintaining the businesses up to legally mandated standards.

You can even check the records online.

But if you decide to get a tattoo or body piercing, you’d have no such reassurance, because California doesn’t regulate body art practitioners.

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, wants to change that. She also wants to ban the tattooing of anyone under age 18 – regardless of whether a parent consents.”

Honestly, it’s pretty shocking that there aren’t already regulations in place.  Ms. Ma is absolutely correct about the dangers of disease transmission without adequate sanitary measures.  In addition, I would advocate shop inspections along the same lines as those performed at restaurants by the department of public health.  This is yet another reason that I am a constant advocate of doing one’s due diligence and not cheaping out on a tattoo.  While an expensive tattoo is no guarantee of a sanitary environment, suffice it to say that a highly professional, and expensive tattooist has the experience, the motivation and the means to run a clean facility.  Make sure that your shop has an autoclave and talk to your artist about his/her sanitary measures before getting in the chair.  Hopefully these measures will ultimately take effect.  They will have no impact on the shops that are already doing business the right way, and will force other shops to start operating under proper sanitary conditions or risk losing their business.