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Tattoo Week

Friday, September 21, 2012

Local profile: Josh Howard of Pioneer Tattoo

Posted By on 09.21.12 at 06:41 AM

I allowed Josh Howard to put this on my body.
  • I allowed Josh Howard to put this on my body.
It's impossible to escape tattoos nowadays. Tattoo shops are opening constantly everywhere, and it seems more people have them than not. Once considered taboo and dangerous, now they're a totally normal thing for pretty much anyone. I remember when I first started getting tattooed, my mother would warn me to make sure that I only get tattoos that I could cover with a dress shirt, to ensure that I was employable. Ten years later, and with more tattoos than I can count, it now takes a little more than a dress shirt to cover up all of my work, and I turned out just fine. I graduated college, got a job, and even have a nice girlfriend.

With the higher demand for tattoos comes higher demand for people who do them. In an overcrowded market, it's gotten harder and harder to find a quality tattoo artist, but I'd like to introduce you to a guy who I think is one of Chicago's best, Josh Howard.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Things to do with semicolons

Posted By on 09.20.12 at 06:40 AM

1) Abuse them.

2) On a long car ride—if you're not insane, this works best with another player—amuse each other by only speaking in sentences that involve two clauses, independent but related, that could conceivably be fused with a semicolon. Try it; this game is harder than, and as personally embarrassing as, it sounds.

3) Eschew the em dash.

4) Missionary style.

5) Use the semicolon to ingratiate yourself with a future employer by inking it onto your forearm, if you happen to work in the media industry. I did not actually get the semicolon tattoo with a job in mind, though my then future (now former) boss has joked that it was the reason she hired me. I actually didn't get the semicolon with much in mind at all, plus I was sober, so there's really no good story behind it: a friend of mine was learning to draw tattoos and offered to do simple designs for the cost of materials; I liked semicolons, so I thought I'd ask him to put one on my arm.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In defense of bad tattoos

Posted By on 09.19.12 at 06:48 AM

One of the authors many bad tattoos
  • One of the author's many bad tattoos
People who don't like tattoos often ask people who have tattoos, "Do you know what that's going to look like when you're 80?" Ignoring the subtle, mean-spirited passive aggression of the question, I probably agree: yeah, they're almost definitely going to look terrible. The first tattoo I ever got—a cartoonish fairy/angel/devil girl from a sketch by the front man of the Canadian indie rock group Eric's Trip that I was obsessed with throughout my teens—is 17 years old, which is almost as old as I was when I got it, and the delicate shading meant to evoke pencil on paper that looked so incredible and lifelike when it was new it has already faded, the lines blending together into a slightly blurry blue-black mass. Between that and the tattoos that I've seen on elderly men, I have no illusion that anything inked on my skin is going to look like anything but a vague suggestion of what it looks like now. And that's fine by me.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gay tattoos and Samuel Steward

Posted By on 09.18.12 at 06:48 AM

I have a few friends who’ll go drinking at T’s and, at some point during the course of the evening, decide they should get tattoos. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your perspective), there’s a tattoo shop just a couple doors down from the bar, which allows them to follow through on their plans immediately—and they do. Surprisingly enough, no one has made any really regrettable decisions so far. In fact, my friend Sarah prefers the half-dozen tattoos she’s gotten at Head 2 Toe Tattoos after having several drinks in the neighborhood to what she calls the “redneck tattoos” she got years ago, even though the latter (which include a howling wolf image and kanji characters) were planned out ahead of time.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Death and tattoos: an introduction to this week's Variations on a Theme

Posted By on 09.17.12 at 06:46 AM

Tell me somebodys never going to regret this.
  • Rex Douglas
  • Tell me he's never going to regret this.
The only image I ever actually considered inking into my skin was a Reader illustration. I can't find it now—and I may have it completely wrong in my head—but I think it was drawn by the estimable Tom Herzberg sometime in the late 1980s and showed a baby floating among clouds. I had an idea that I might get two copies of that baby tattooed on my left bicep, one for each of my sons.

It was partly a joke, of course—a riff on those flag decals World War II fighter pilots used to stick alongside their cockpits every time they downed an enemy plane. I'd made successful hits on two ova. But there was also an at least semiserious calculation involved. As far as I could see, fatherhood was one of the very few things about my life that couldn't be undone. I could get unmarried and stop writing. I could renounce my citizenship, reject my religion, and repudiate my favorite works of art. Putting a picture of Jimmy Stewart on my calf may prove embarrassing some day, however much I like It's a Wonderful Life. But nothing is ever going to cancel out the fact that I had a part in creating two new souls. No way, no how. I couldn't shake that if I wanted to, and I don't. So, yes, two babies would do fine.

Which is why I'm a little mystified at how far the fashion for tattoos has gone.

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