paul’s tree!

it’s finally finished! two heavy sessions is all it took.


some trees I have made, tattoos and the like.

I love trees. 

Most of the tattoo trees I do are drawn on the skin, in marker, right before being tattooed. That way the person getting the tattoo can control the size and scale better, and I get a better feeling for the flow the tree needs to have to fit on three dimensions. I go outside and look at trees. That’s what I use for reference-I take a lot of photographs of trees as well. I love drawing them.

I used to climb trees all the time. Actually I still do when I see a decent climbing tree. Climbing a tree was always a way for me to get some time alone in a house full of extroverts- a way to escape.

I learned a lot about what each tree was like. They not only have a personality because of their species, but individually too.

Willows are always friendly and mellow, but can be risky to climb- they like to slip their bark once you’re high enough to get hurt by falling. Oaks are big and old and kindly, but their twigs are crackled and dry. Birches are my favorite trees- spry, springy, and easy to take a nap in.

When I tattoo a tree, I try to imagine how a real tree would grow, if the muscles were wind and weather. This means each tree is form-fitted to the wearer, their own. It would only fit that person, in that space of the body. I feel like trees adapt to any place where they grow, they adapt so completely, twisting to fit- they’re the perfect subject for tattoos.

(Originally Published on: Oct 20, 2011)


big tree, work in progress!

while working on my friend’s tree tonight he told me about his zen retreat experience.

the group meditates, all sitting in position. a monk creeps stealthily and calmly between the rows of silent people, carrying a long flat stick. when he notices someone out of position or obviously distracted, he taps them on the shoulder, then whacks them hard on each shoulder.

I’ve also been promised a link to a podcast that discusses the nature of pain and how to cope with it by staying in the moment.

I find that if I start paying attention to someone’s physical pain while tattooing them, it becomes more difficult to focus on the art itself, the technical aspects and creative aspect of the work. So I try my hardest to block it out or make a joke – I am far from a soothing nurse, in other words.

So maybe if I have access to a soothing podcast, I can throw headphones on my clients while I torture them.


creepy tree tattooI do a lot of tree tattoos. A lot. I love them. They’re just about my favorite thing ever. This one is getting closer to being finished, so I thought I’d share a progress shot with you guys.

I love trees, and I love drawing them, and I love tattooing them on people too.

mornings in the world of skin

skull and anchor tattootree tattooI’ve worked a few opening shifts in my time, not for the last few years but I’ve done it before. The first few hours at the tattoo shop are pretty quiet, usually. It’s always only that slow trickle, starting out with people who have early appointments, a few random guys trying to sell something, maybe someone coming in to look at the books.

It’s nothing like closing shifts at the tattoo shop. I prefer the night crowd. People in packs, flipping through the flash racks. Some guy showing me a pile of scribbles he got in his cousin’s basement and asking to get it fixed. A couple arguing while they ask about getting their names tattooed on each other. People rambling, weirdos coming in and asking to use the phone, and always the last minute rush of people right before closing time asking to get party dots, tiny tattoos, something that “will only take a minute”.


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