Before Ink Dries on Army Rules, Soldiers Rush to Get Tattoos


LAKEWOOD, Wash. — An Army soldier walked into Brass Monkey Tattoo last month and told Dan Brewer, the tattoo artist, to go for it.

“He dropped a thousand bucks,” Mr. Brewer said, standing in the shop here, about five minutes from the gate of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Ten hours under the needle later, an ex-girlfriend’s name from a previous tattoo had been covered up, and a memorial to six buddies lost in the war in Afghanistan had been inked across the soldier’s back and ribs. “It was a good day,” Mr. Brewer said.

The military tattoo has a deep history, with reports going back at least to the Roman legions, historians say. Images of adventure or battle — if not a haunting beauty from the frontiers of Gaul — could be captured forever on a bicep. Declarations of unit loyalty or individuality, or both, could be sealed through rituals of ink and pain.

But now a tightening of the Army’s regulations on the wear and appearance of uniforms and insignia — issued on March 31 with a 30-day window of unit-by-unit enforcement — have driven a land rush here and at other Army posts to get “tatted,” as soldiers call it, while the old rules still applied. About 40,000 active duty and reserve personnel are stationed at Lewis-McChord, about an hour south of Seattle, making it one of the United States military’s largest bases.


Two soldiers waiting on Monday at All American Custom Tattoo in Lakewood, Wash., which is close to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times

“I’m just going to let her do it until I can’t take anymore,” said Specialist Charles Chandler, 22, an Army infantryman, as he pulled up his left sleeve to show the canvas he planned to present to his tattoo artist this week.

The new rules restrict total inkage on arms and legs visible on a soldier wearing short sleeves and short pants. They also limit the size of each visible tattoo to no bigger than the wearer’s open hand. But the Army is also generally allowing soldiers to keep the tattoos they had before the effective date of the new rules, as long as they do not violate prohibitions on things like obscenity, racism or extremism, and are documented with a photograph before the deadline.

Hence the rush to get inked. With some superior officers, many of them tattooed as well, giving ample warning as to when those photographs would be taken, soldiers said they have experienced a unique window of opportunity — but also, perhaps, a nudge — to get that next tattoo, or a lot of them.

“I would probably do it anyway; I’ll just do it sooner,” said Sgt. Ray Stevens, who came after work on Monday to Aces-n-Eights Tattoo and Piercing here in Lakewood for some work on his left forearm. “I like getting tattoos,” said Sergeant Stevens, who is originally from Portland, Me.

Tattoo artists like Tyrell Barbour, at Stay Fresh Tattoos on Lakewood’s main commercial drag, Bridgeport Way, said they had never seen such fat times. “I’m getting hit like no tomorrow,” he said. “Especially younger military, but a lot of superiors, too,” he added.

Military regulation of tattoos, or at least the attempt, is not new. Shortly before World War I, military authorities tried to reign in wayward ink with a prohibition on “indecent or obscene” tattoos — mostly naked women in those days — but allowed existing depictions to be altered to meet the new rule, which led to many a discreet grass skirt as cover-up.

The Navy updated its tattoo policies again in 2003, and again in 2006, and with a further update in 2010 — nodding to the modern military of men and women serving together — that tweaks the rules on so-called permanent makeup tattoos, allowed for eyebrows, eyeliner, lipstick and lip liner.

“Permanent makeup shall be in good taste,” the Navy’s regulations say.

The Marines tightened their personal grooming and appearance regulations in 2010, the Air Force in 2012. All four main military branches prohibit tattoos around the neck. No person with what is called a sleeve — or fully tattooed arm — can become a Marine.

“They’re asserting an individualistic identity,” said Anna Felicity Friedman, a tattoo historian and blogger at, describing her hypothesis about the average soldier or sailor’s love affair with skin art.

“People who are in situations of depersonalization, whether it’s wearing uniforms, or other ways stripped of the ability to assert their identity, tend to react to this depersonalization by getting tattoos,” said Dr. Friedman, who is heavily tattooed herself.

Prisoners, chefs and athletes are in much the same boat, she believes — all straining to declare difference to a community, or a marketplace, that might other otherwise have a hard time telling them apart.

The tattoo economy on the edge of Lewis-McChord is bracing for change, too. Mr. Brewer at Brass Monkey, where about 80 percent of the business is military, said the shop’s owner was anticipating a big drop in customers after the regulations are fully in place, and is planning a move to Tacoma, about 10 miles north, to be nearer the city’s night life and bar scene.

But at South Tacoma Tattoo, just a few blocks away, the tattoo artists said they thought there would be still plenty of skin left to decorate when things quieted down. The new rules do not say anything about chests and backs and other parts of the body always covered by a uniform, they said.

And Specialist Chandler, the infantryman who was planning out his arm art this week, said he was also studying the rules carefully as to what might push the boundaries of content and good taste. Regardless of the timing question on getting tattooed now, he said, he wants to re-enlist in a few years and does not want any overly racy skin art to hold him back.

So the girl he plans on his arm will be clothed. “A pinup girl, to stay in the regs,” he said. “You have to adapt to the Army — the Army doesn’t adapt to you.”

Article via: Ny Times – By Kirk Johnson 

Bill to Ban Certain Tattoos, Body Piercings Passes Senate


The Arkansas Senate (click link to download bill) passed a bill to ban tattoos, piercings and other similar body modifications which it characterizes as “non-traditional,” recently.

Senator Missy Irvin of Mountain View, Arkansas sponsored the bill entitled ”An Act To Limit Body Art Procedures”. She says that body modifications should be limited to “traditional” tattoos and piercings. Her proposal was to essentially ban scarification procedures and dermal implants, as well as certain tattoos which remain yet to be defined as by the vague language of the bill she sponsored.

Almost unbelievably, this bill passed by a 26-4 vote. Following this, the bill was sent to the House, where it took on even more vague language. See the link above for the bill as it was eventually “compromised” on in the House. The scarification ban from the Senate version was removed, while considerable ambiguous language remained. The House “compromise” bans dermal implants unless performed by a doctor. This essentially, and in practice, outlaws the body modification. As well, the bill’s vague, undefined language – even in the edited, House version – while editing out some of the original language on tattoos, fails to define a number of important issues raised by the Senate version, including what they mean by “cosmetic” tattoos as opposed to “non-cosmetic” tattoos.

If the government dictating what you can and can’t do with your body bothers you, SPREAD THE WORD!

(Article by Micah Naziri, image Sandy TrueBodyArt)

Building for America’s Bravest

Building for America’s Bravest is a program of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation that builds Smart Homes for our most catastrophically injured service members returning home. Each home is custom designed to address the unique needs of each individual. Energy efficient, automated and easily accessible—these homes use “adaptive technology” to help our most severely injured heroes live better, more independent lives.

But as amazing as adaptive home technology is, it’s far beyond the reach of most veterans and their modest pensions. The waiting list is long – and for every home we build, another three veterans join the list. When the call came, these brave service members went. They made extraordinary sacrifices in our place. Please help give them a home they can come home to. Your donation will make a real difference in a service hero’s life.

Meet a few of the many extraordinary Veterans who are supported by the Building for America’s Bravest program.

Donate at

A Soldier’s Tattoo Becomes Truth

Tattoos are as old as war. Lots of soldiers get them, with military motifs, girlfriend’s names, or various guns, skulls or dragons adorning their skin. Some get something less ornate. Private First Class Kyle Hockenberry had “For those I love I will sacrifice” stitched into his flesh. He had no idea how prescient he was.

A member of the 1st Infantry Division, Hockenberry’s world changed June 15. He was on a foot patrol just outside Haji Ramuddin, Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device detonated nearby. In this photograph, by Laura Rauch for the military’s Stars and Stripes newspaper, flight medic Corporal Amanda Mosher is tending to Hockenberry’s wounds aboard a medevac helicopter minutes after the explosion.
Kyle Hockenberry, 19, lost both legs and his left arm in the blast.


Photo courtesy of Laura Rauch / © Stars and Stripes

He joined the service last October, four months after graduating from Frontier High School outside Marietta, Ohio. A member of the National Honor Society, he loves motorcycles and hunting. After completing basic training, he returned home and spoke to local school children about the military. He shipped out to Afghanistan in February for a year-long tour with the 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Infantry Regiment, 1st Heavy Combat Brigade, from Fort Riley, Kansas.

Praying for Kyle HockenberryAfter the blast, Hockenberry traveled from Afghanistan to Germany to San Antonio in nine days, where he is undergoing additional surgeries and rehabilitation. “Kyle is doing very well,” his mother, Kathy, told Battleland on Thursday. “He continues to do rehab. Hopefully soon will start working for his prosthetics. He is still in the hospital, not sure for how long.” She praises the “truly amazing” staff at the Brooke Army Medical Center. The family keeps relatives, friends and strangers apprised of Kyle’s progress on the Facebook page. “He can not wait to get out of the hospital,” Kathy posted Monday. “He is eating everything that don’t eat him first. Haha. Thanks everyone for your thoughts and prayers. Just keep them coming.”

Hockenberry’s uncle, Jim Hall, told the Marietta Times last month that doctors have sought to preserve Hockenberry’s tattoo as they conduct multiple surgeries and skin grafts around it. “His tattoo really sums it all up,” Hall said. “He really doesn’t like the word ‘hero.’ So we call him – he’s our miracle.”

Original article published Sept. 28, 2011 by Read more: How a soldier’s tattoo came true |

You Might See Tattoos In A New Light After You See Them On This Woman

As the owner of a tattoo, I know the value of a little ink. They can be used to commemorate moments in your life that are really difficult and serve as a reminder that you’re a strong person. Just like they did for Molly Ortwein.

Tattoo by artist: Colby Butler at Unfamous Miami.

**Slightly NSFW: Nudity**

Share this (if you think Molly’s impressive strength shouldn’t go unnoticed) by clicking the Facebook and Twitter buttons below.

ORIGINAL: By Personal Ink (P.INK).

Grandmother throws out Wigs and Hats for Head Tattoo


When Ann McDonald, a Scottish grandmother of three, lost all of her hair due to alopecia she decided that wigs and hats weren’t for her and got a full head tattoo. What a story of courage! The Daily Record reports:

A GRANNY has ditched her wig in favour of something more permanent – a tattoo.

Ann McDonald, 60, got the £720 floral design after getting fed-up with having to wear wigs and hats.

The gran of three suffers from alopecia and a thyroid condition which made all her hair fall out three years ago.

She says the tattoo, which took 12 hours to complete, has changed her life.

Ann, from Edinburgh, said: “I was getting depressed because I didn’t have any hair. I’d just lie in bed and cry.

“I wanted something to cover my head. I’ve got hundreds of wigs and hats but they’re no good. So I decided to get a tattoo.”

She went to Pete’s Tattoo Studio in Dalkeith, Mid-lothian, where owner Pete Gillespie and his son Kevan agreed to do the piece.

Ann, who has been supported by her husband Ian, 68, and her five kids, is delighted with the result.

She said: “They did a great job. It’s worth every penny.

“It really, really hurt. It was very painful. But I stuck it out because I really wanted it done.

“People at work think it’s fantastic and take pictures of it. Ian likes it and my family like it.

“I feel so much happier.”

Pete said: “This is the most unusual tattoo we’ve done, but the most rewarding.

“At first I thought it was a bit mad but once you get to know Ann and her reasons behind doing it you can’t help but understand. She’s a really nice lady.

“We’ve never tattooed anybody’s full head before, so it was a first for us.”

Most Tattoo Friendly Cities in the United States


We are lucky in that recent year tattoo acceptance has been on the rise. TotalBeauty recently reported that they had done extensive research to find the most tattoo-friendly places in the United States. Did your city make the list?

Top 10 Most Tattoo Friendly Cities in the United States

10. Los Angeles, CA – 4 shops for every 100,000 people
This comes as no surprise, especially with all of the Tattoo shows coming out of Los Angeles in recent years.

9. Kansas City, MO – 6 shops for every 100,000 people
Kansas City has a ton of colleges – and we know what college kids like to do.

8. Honolulu, HI – 6.5 shops for every 100,000 people
They also placed in “Best Hair”, “Best Skin”, and “Best Looking”. So they have everything.

7. San Francisco, CA – 7 shops for every 100,000 people
A mecca in the 60s for tattoos this city still is ground zero for expression

6. Austin, TX – 7.5 shops for every 100,000 people
Some people claim that they have never seen so many people so heavily tattooed in one city. We went there once, and have to agree.

5. Portland, OR – 12 shops for every 100,000 people
A very relaxed culture and large artist community in Portland has led to wide acceptance of body mod.

4. Flint, MI – 13 shops for every 100,000 people
This was a huge surprise on the list, didn’t expect anywhere in Michigan to make the list. But then again they did just open up a tattoo shop in a church.

3. Richmond, VA – 14.5 shops for every 100,000 people
Another city with a big arts and college scene.

2. Las Vegas, NV – 16 shops for every 100,000 people
A large percentage of the numbers here are from tourists and shops that cater to tourists. I mean how many people do you know that have gotten a tattoo in Vegas?

1. Miami Beach, FL – 24 shops for every 100,000 people
Showing off your body must account for something. Seeing everyone else with tattoos must be a reason so many people get inked up in the MIA.

We are surprised so not see a few cities on that list – New York City being one of them! But we do think that TotalBeauty did a very thorough job in their research as they outline the criteria: “To find out which towns in America were most tattoo-friendly, we perused chat forums and looked up every state in several public directories, including Yellow Pages, Google listings, Tattoo Yellow Pages and AAA Tattoo Directory, to find those with the most listed tattoo and permanent makeup shops. Then we looked up which cities in those states had the most shops listed per capita with populations based on latest U.S. Census numbers. We also took into consideration the city’s demographics and whether or not it hosted tattoo conventions, remembering that not all tattoo parlors were listed in the directories.”

Via – The Hope Blog

Jesse Lee Denning

Jesse Lee Denning is a model born and raised in NYC’s West Village. She writes: “I love being in front of the camera and have had some fantastic opportunities including my own 2011 calendar (all 12 months are me), a handful of magazine covers, and am the girl on Hinder’s newest album packaging and in their “All American Nightmare Video”. Continue reading

Joe Bass

Joe Bass writes…”I studied Fine Arts and Literature at Arizona State University; I graduated in 2000 and began studying tattoo as a fascinating and transgressive medium. Professionally, I have been exclusively focused on tattooing since 2005.  I currently own and operate a small, comfortable studio –The Jade Mermaid Tattoo Parlor – in downtown Portland, Oregon where I work with family and good friends, and enjoy a thriving, diverse clientele. Artistically, I strive for boldness, precision, and most importantly, singularity – I try not to limit my imagination to any particular style, genre, or trend.  My decisive goals with every tattoo are to render a vision for the client and to captivate the viewer – to mesmerize them with color, movement, depth, placement, detail, some facet of distinction – even if for a moment.” See more from Joe here.

Victor Portugal

Victor Portugal was born in Uruguay, he lived in Spain for several years before moving to Krakow, Poland. He started making tattoos in 1998 and was mostly tattooing dark stuff, biotech with surrealist accents. However he is interested in all different styles. He works at tattoo conventions all around the world. Currently he is working at his studio Dark Times Tattoo in Krakow preparing tattoo projects. He also has his own signature tattoo machines that are for sale on his website. If you are interested in getting tattooed by Victor you can contact him here.