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how to travel with a smile

the [perfectly calm] adventures of david-andrew

permanent ink

love this typography art by Deph (ToDieFor Clothing)
Last month I mentioned an art event to my brother, Uncle$am. I’ve been toying with attending this art show ever since I heard about it. Nicole East (The Baroness) and Hope Gallery Tattoo in New Haven, Connecticut, organized a rare event to get artwork by your favorite artists permanently inked on your body by super talented and influential artists. The event is aptly named Quick and Painful. Giclée prints in tattoo flash style showed the choices available. At the Chicago leg of this tour, Joe Capobianco from Hope Gallery Tattoo and Sean Adams, Patrick Cornolo, Jennifer Trok, and Heath Rave from Speakeasy Custom Tattoo were bringing their mad inking skills for a one night only experience.
There are tons of badly drawn tattoos imitating these artist’s work all over the internet. This event provides and opportunity to get the official artwork done by extremely talented tattoo artists the right way.
I poured over the tattoo choices for over a month before we went. All of them were made by artists I love. Some of them had complicated meanings that I appreciate and understand, but wasn’t sure I wanted that story on my body for life. Also, I didn’t want to diminish my respect and love for an artist by getting tired of their work on my body. Still I wanted something meaningful to me. I began to narrow it down as the day approached.
I also called friends that have tattoos and asked them about their experiences, regrets, and opinions. Each time I talked to someone else, I became more convinced that I was definitely getting a tattoo. It didn’t matter what they said. I knew what I wanted to do. It was helpful to talk about it aloud though.

Uncle$am, ThePilot, and I all arrived at O’Hare airport at nearly the same time. It had been way too long since I returned to Chicago. I immediately felt the rush of familiarity in the terminal. I miss the city. We rode the van to the Aloft hotel. I’ve never stayed in one before. It was interesting and definitely not your average hotel. As the name implies, it has the feeling of a loft apartment. They make an effort to seem modern and artful. You can even get a 5oz bag of chips for the artful price of $4.75.

The next day we sleep in to an hour my brother felt was late. In reality, it was 8am on the west coast. That’s where my internal wake up clock was set.

After lunch it was time to head over to Rotofugi. I was surprised by their new shop. I used to go down to their shop and gallery on West Chicago Avenue all the time when we lived here. It was my 1st toy addiction. I had not seen the new place since they moved to Lincoln Park. It is a huge store and they have everything! It also has a really nice gallery space.
roto-a-matic & kaiju wall
4ft KAWS figure

When we arrived, the gallery was roped-off and a line was already forming. 1st in line was a guy that came all the way from Ohio. We had him beat by a few miles. I wide-eyed all the toys in the shop, salivating.

guess which one I chose
Uncle$am and I found the book of tattoo choices on the counter and began looking through them again. That’s when one of the three choices I had looked at from home jumped out at me.

“I’m the one!”

I looked at my brother and said. “I think this is the one.” He said he thought so too and I was convinced. That hoped-for feeling if clarity came over me.

I grinned.

Uncle$am chose artwork by Greg “Craola” Simkins

Now I just had to decide where it was going.

We talked to the owner, Kirby Kerr, for a bit. Then I noticed a nervous look on Uncle$am’s face. I ask if he wants to get out of here for a bit. We found ThePilot and got some air down the block.

“Is your heart not pounding out of your chest?” Uncle$am says.

Not yet.

After an Intelligentsia pit stop and a bite, we returned to see the line had grown a little. We counted the spaces. Damn. Looks like we were going to be 13 & 14 out of 25 available spots. Guess we’re getting tattooed. In my head there was a chance that we may not be able to get ours done as space was very limited.

  We sat down in line for the 2 hour wait until the start of the event.
The Baroness came by and handed us our waiver forms.
That’s when I knew things were about to get real.
It was cool to see Nicole “The Baroness” East in person. Her name was always present when something amazing was happening at Kidrobot. I learned early that The Baroness knows everyone and everything that is going down. We also got to meet one half of The Beast Brothers, Carlos East.
She also has some great tattoos. One of her tattoos by Joe Capobianco was even made into a vinyl figure by Kidrobot.
The Bride

The flash folder was passed down the line and I realized again that I was struggling with the placement on mine. It seems like it might be the hardest tattoo decision. The Baroness announced that none of the tattoos for the show could be in bikini areas because of the lack of privacy at the gallery. So, that narrowed my placement options.

As the show started, we were told who would be doing our tattoos and what number we were in line for each artist. I was 3rd for Sean Adams and Uncle$am was 3rd for Joe Capobianco. Sean was finishing up his 2nd tattoo and I realized that I was next. That’s when the nervous action started. “I have to pee. brb.”

Jennifer Trok on her 1st tattoo Sean Adams starts the tattoo marathon eye-patched Cat by Devilrobots


Uncle$am was called next to sit for Mr. Capobianco.

Uncle$am was finished before mine was started. He looked at me with an apologetic grimace and said “I’m so sorry. SO sorry.”
“I forgot how much it hurts.”
“Awesome.” I thought as Sean turns to me with needle in hand. “Ready?”


Oh. There’s that heart pounding-out-of-chest action.

The following experience was one of the most surreal of my life. The needle causes the strangest sensation. It is a pain sensation for sure, but not as sharp as you would think. My brother has always described it as mostly annoying. I had to agree. The worst part of it was that Sean would stop every 30 seconds or so to get more ink. Those moment were full of relief that I wasn’t being poked with needles anymore. Then another second later it would return. If those things weren’t weird enough, there was also fair amount of folks watching and some pictures being taken. During all this I was trying to casually smile answer all the questions from those around. Ever try smiling for a picture while some one is poking you with needles? I recommend it highly.

Sean started with pressed-on temporary ink to confirm the placement and serve as a guide for the process.

I say this is my 1st tattoo because I’m sure there will be more. I can completely understand the addiction. I don’t think it’s too far reaching to say that the experience left me feeling a bit high.

I chose this tough little diamond by Simone Legno (Tokidoki) as a symbol of beauty and resilience. Diamond is my birthstone and since I don’t wear jewelry often and can’t get married, it may be the last diamond I own. Every time I see it, I will remember to value strength of will while also remembering to enjoy the beauty and adventure of life.

Sometimes you have to go through a little pain to experience life fully. The result is unforgettable memories.

post-tattoo w/ the Easts
  *see more pix from the Chicago stop on the Quick&Painful blog


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Posted in art and toys and travel by dA on November 11th, 2011 at 11:11 AM.


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2 Replies

  1. Well, you know that now you can not be burried in a Jewish Cemetery, but the tattoo is cute as hell!!! Great story, keep up the good work and safe travels… P.S. sure wish there was a Montana story on here… ;}

  2. I remember it like it was yesterday. I hadn’t seen the pictures until now. We made the blog like 5 times. It’s so weird that I recognize all the people from that event. The Easts were so awesome. Can’t wait for our next adventure.