Tanuki Tattoos:

The tanuki is an animal found mainly in Japan, as well as other parts of Asia. It’s sometimes called a raccoon dog in English, and is related to wolves, foxes, and domestic dogs, and has a vaguely raccoon-like appearance. 

Tanuki and flowers by Josh Wright at Moonlight Tattoo in Seattle
Black and grey tanuki by Joshua Burd

While the tanuki is a real animal, it is usually depicted as a creature with magical powers in Japanese folklore. It’s usually seen wearing a straw hat, holding a bottle of sake, with a large belly, happy or mischievous facial expression, and extremely large testicles (which, according to legend can stretch large enough to create sails for a boat).

A very happy tanuki face by vale.rip in Italy
A more mischievous tanuki riding a carp done by dang0__ at The Alchemist Tattoo

Tanuki’s are mischievous creatures and enjoy playing pranks on humans and tormenting them. One way they do this is by transforming themselves into happy looking Buddhist monks, then mocking and imitating the humans during ceremonies to both confuse and delight. 

A more neo-traditional tanuki done by Macy Tattoos at Kaya Garden Tattoo
Tanuki and its lantern done by Byron Barker at The Body Architects in Cape Town, SA

They also enjoy transforming into tax collectors or police officers and showing up at peoples homes at odd times, accusing them of made-up crimes or pressuring them into paying additional or fraudulent taxes.

A chubby tanuki and a bottle of saké done by kelu in Stuttgart, Germany
A happy looking tanuki done by Matthew Crimson at Crimson Tattoo

As a tattoo tanuki are usually done in a traditional Japanese style, sometimes accompanied by flowers or other creatures. Neo-traditional and black and grey are also popular styles for tanuki, and are sometimes only shown as a happy face instead of the full body.

Tanuki and his large testicles and a drink, done by Lance Vilbro at Little Tokyo in Sydney, Australia
Another more Neo-traditional tanuki, with his saké done by Megon Shoreclay at Hidden Hand Tattoo

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Grinch Tattoos:

The Grinch; one of Christmases most beloved fictional characters is also a popular choice for holiday themed tattoos. 

A neo-traditional Grinch done by Iris Lys at The Foundry Leeds
Realistic cartoon Grinch done by Sol Aguiar at Suka Tattoo Studio in Madrid, Spain

The Grinch was created in 1957 by Dr. Seuss for his book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” This was followed by the animated adaptation in 1966, starring Boris Karloff as the voice of The Grinch and the narrator. While there were a number of other adaptations created, the next most well-known version was the live-action musical film from 2000, starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch.

Jim Carrey’s Grinch done by Will Woods at Peppermint Hippo Tattoo in Lethbridge, Alberta
The original cartoon Grinch done in a simple black and grey style by Kay A, Bowman at Freedom Tattoo in Ipswich

The Grinch is a popular character for many, and for different reasons. For some it’s the heart warming ending in which The Grinch rights his wrongs and becomes a part of the Who community, but for others its his earlier persona that makes him so popular. His Christmas hating, gift stealing, Who scaring personality makes him both amusing and sometimes relatable, as Christmas can be a difficult time of year for many.

Old school Grinch done by Alex Duquette at Tatouage Royal
Old school baby Grinch done by Kyle Gonzales at Faithful Tattoo in Bellingham, WA

As a tattoo, The Grinch is often created in a more realistic style, but neo-traditional, new school, black and grey, and old school are also options for the wearer. 

An adorable baby Grinch done by Megan Fell in the UK
New school Grinch done by Joshua Wilson

Did you know that Jim Carrey had to spend 92 days in his Grinch costume and make-up? It took about three hours every day to get ready in make-up, and he had to get special training from a CIA trainer (who teaches CIA operatives how to endure torture) to be able to manage the oppressive costume and make-up which was reportedly “literally like being buried alive everyday.” The actors and extras who played Whos had to go to a special Who-School to learn how to properly behave and act as a Who, mainly through choreography. Actor and singer Taylor Momsen (Gossip Girl and The Pretty Reckless) got her start playing Cindy Lou Who, where she did a great job both acting and singing. 

Jim Carrey’s Grinch hand and ornament done by Jessica Wallace at Avon Tattoo Collective
A new school version of Jim Carrey’s Grinch done by Marlen Mckey at Betobeto Tattoos

What’s your favourite version of the Grinch?

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Artist of the Month: Galina

Galina is a vintage non-electric (hand poke) tattoo artist based out of Moscow (though she does guest spots world wide when she’s able to).

Inspired by vintage photos
Beautiful geometric and vintage Russian woman and Church

Her work is largely inspired by old school tattoos done in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, which includes lady heads, portraits, weapons, animals, etc.

Large hand poked tea party
Clown featuring rare hand poked colour

 Galina’s work is primarily inspired by both Russian and French prison tattoos, again mainly from the 18-1900’s. 

Well placed tower on the back of the head
A classic dagger and heart

Along with more old school work, Galina also does great geometric work, particularly on fingers for full hand pieces. Because the work is hand poked it allows her to do more detailed work then a machine could do, particularly in such a small space as a hand.

Lute player
Traditional Russian woman

Most of her work is done without colour, but if you’re wanting some red thrown into the mix she can do that for you. Many people think hand poked tattoos have to be small, with very little detail, but Galina is proof that hand poked pieces can still be big and bold. If you’re visiting Russia Galina is a must visit artist! And pay attention to her Instagram to find out her guest spot dates.

The perfect combo, wine and cheese, with geometric fingers
Inspired by vintage French art

Edited by Harrison. R.

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Black Out Tattoos:

Black out tattoos have been growing in popularity over the last few years, with some people even getting full body suits in this style.

Sleeve and chest piece by 3Kreuze at Ruin Your Life Tattoo in Germany
Negative space black out work by Hoode Tattoos at Black Vulture gallery in Philadelphia

Black out tattoos are exactly what they sound like, large amounts of black ink as the subject, sometimes covering older existing tattoos.

Heavy black out work by Dekalcomanu in Toulouse, France
Fresh black out sleeve by Lukasz Melcher at Stygmat Tattoo

Some black out tattoos also feature some geometric style work mixed in, or white ink over top of the black.

Geometric black out work by Guy Le Tattooer at Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Geometric black out work in progress by Kenji Alucky at Black Ink Power in Berlin

Many black out tattoo collectors do it in part for the experience of getting the tattoo, as a full blackout (especially as a coverup) can be very painful, creating an almost spiritual experience for the person getting tattooed.

Black out sleeve with white ink flower by Miguel Vanacore at Black Club Tattoo
Black out half sleeve by Xiao Lun at Hailin Tattoo studio in Los Angeles

Most artists who do black out tattoos specialize in it, as it’s not actually all that easy to make a full sleeve or torso look even in its blackness, especially when the piece is done in multiple sessions.

Full black out sleeve by Joe Larralde at Historic Tattoo in Portland, Oregon
Black out sleeve around some existing work, by Kalle Koo at Paradise Helsinki

What do you think of black out tattoos?

Sak Yant Tattoos:

Sak Yant tattoos are well known to tattoo lovers as a mainly Thai Buddhist form of tattooing. “Sak” means “to tap” or “to tattoo”, and “yant” comes from the Sanskrit word “yantra” which has many meanings. Usually referring to a “machine”, “instrument” or “apparatus”.

Bodysuit done by ajannookanpai.yant in Thailand
Ajannookanpai.yant blessing a finished tattoo in Thailand

Most people who have heard of Sak Yant tattoos are familiar with them because of their tie to Thai culture, but this specific form of tattoo actually comes from the Khmer people of Cambodia.

Healed work by ajannookanpai.yant in Thailand
Back Sak Yant done by Chai at Adikt Ink Lexembourg

Sak Yant tattoos are very closely tied to religion and spirituality, mainly Buddhism. Most Sak Yant tattoos are performed by Buddhist monks at a temple where they can bless the tattoo properly. But the Sak Yant designs are becoming so popular that tattoo artists are doing them, just without the blessing or spiritual connectedness that accompanies the tattoo when done by a monk.

Back Sak Yant done by Oj Jo at 113ink Tattoo in Thailand
Back Sak Yant done by Ken Tip at Yant Studio

Much of the script featured in Sak Yant designs come from Buddhism and are meant to be a chant or a mantra. This is why it’s important to research what kind of Sak Yant you would like, as they all carry different meanings.

Back Sak Yant done by Sebastian Lydford at Love and Light Tattoo
Back Sak Yant done by Arjarn Fluke in Thailand

While Sak Yant pieces can be for anyone to wear, it’s important to understand the religious and cultural significance of the piece, and make sure you are getting the tattoo in a respectful way, including the placement of the piece. Since Sak Yant’s are largely Buddhist, it can be seen as highly disrespectful to tattoo the design anywhere below your waist, particularly if it includes a design featuring Buddha.

Back Sak Yant done by Arjarn Fluke in Thailand
Finger Sak Yant done by Kike in Barcelona

Edited by Harrison R.

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Artist of the Month: Hattie Rich

Hattie Rich is an artist working out of Rose of Mercy in London, England. Her work is mainly filed with old school traditional work, but she also does great ornamental pieces. 

classic swallow and rose
Bold crab lady on the neck

Hattie has lots of flash to choose from, both old school and ornamental, or you can also bring your own idea!

Elbow spider-web
Black and grey swallows and flowers

Whether you like bright and colourful, or black and bold, you can be sure Hattie will have something you’ll love. In her flash you’ll find lots of lady heads, flowers, dragons, animals, and more. 

Sleeping kewpie and rose
Hand of glory

The ornamental work currently on Hattie’s Instagram will remind you of delicate lace patterns, and can be made to fit most parts of the body.

Ornamental hand piece
Geisha and dragon

If you can’t make it all the way to London from outside of the UK you can also purchase merchandise and flash from Hattie here. But if you’re in the area or live nearby be sure to get a cool piece from Hattie at Rose of Mercy.

Black and grey Coleman lady
Classic lady and spider-web

Edited by Harrison. R.

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Witch Tattoos:

Witches have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, and span across all cultures in various forms and with different names, but we’re all familiar with them, and they’re more popular than ever (in Western culture at least).

A witch being burned at the stake done by Uncle Phil at Wolf and Dagger tattoo, UK
A witch and her staff done by Moira Ramone Rotterdam, Netherlands

Witches and witchcraft have had many different meanings over the years, but traditionally it refers to women (often portrayed as old crones) practicing some kind of dark magic that often involves spirits and/or satan himself. Throw in some cannibalism, a pet familiar, and other ghosts and ghouls and you’ve got yourself a party.

A neo-traditonal witch being burned at the stake done by Renae Haak at Diabolik Tattoo in Newcastle, Australia
A witch being burned at the stake by Bex Priest Tattoos

Wicca is a predominantly western movement whose followers “worship” nature, and base the religion upon pre-Christian traditions of mainly Northern and Eastern Europe. Some important celebrations for Wiccans include Halloween, the summer solstice, winter solstice, and vernal equinox.

A witchy woman done by Ryan Murray at Black Veil Tattoo in Salem MA
A witchy woman done by Matthew Murray at Black Veil Tattoo in Salem MA

Witchcraft and witches have become so mainstream today that even businesses such as Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and others sell products like tarot cards, witch-themed makeup, Ouija boards, crystals, and more.

A witch being burned done by Nikos Tsakiris at the Golden Goat Tattoo
A more American traditional witch done by Alice Burke at Highwater Gallery in Swansea, UK

As a tattoo, many people choose the more “classic” witch look; pointy hat and all. Blackwork, American traditional and black and grey are some of the more popular styles for witches, and many folks choose to get witch burning tattoos, witches haunting places, or witches with their broomsticks or familiars.

An adorable witch head done by Amanda LaForest at Momentum Tattoo Florida
Black and grey witch/plague doctor done by Julianna Menna at Gristle Tattoo in Brooklen, NY

Do you have a witch tattoo?

Scream (movie) Tattoos:

Scream, first released in 1996, written by Kevin Williamson, and directed by the great Wes Craven, has turned into one of the most popular horror franchises around, spanning four films from the 1990’s to 2010’s, with a 5th on the way.

Line work Ghostface done by Jen at Fall Back Down Tattoo
Black work Ghostface in a heart done by Nate Laird

Scream was pretty groundbreaking in its day, being a slasher film that successfully moved into the mainstream through its use of comedy and self awareness. The first film was written by Williamson in just three days after he got the idea for the film during a scare he had a few days earlier in which he heard a noise while watching tv, and noticed that the window was open, which he hadn’t done. He reportedly called a friend while grabbing a knife from the kitchen. His friend apparently started asking him about scary movies to distract him, and the opening scene of the first Scream was born. The idea for the film overall was also loosely inspired by a series of real murders committed by serial killer Danny Rolling, AKA the Gainesville Ripper. 

Ghostface and his iconic knife done by Andrew Scott at Chronic Ink, Toronto
Ghostface ice cream cone by Ross Purvis at Primrose Tattoo Parlor in Orlando, Florida

Wes Craven actually wore the Ghostface mask once during filming, in the opening scene between he and Casey (Drew Barrymore), and also made a brief cameo as a janitor. Drew Barrymore’s tears were real, as Wes Craven told her real stories about animal cruelty in order to “keep her upset and crying.” Drew was also using a real phone, and the props master JP Jones had forgotten to unplug it, leading her to call 911 for real while filming.

Ghostface and his knife by Matt Stasi
Sexy Ghostface done by Shelby Sawyer at Tried and True Tattoo

Originally the Weinstein brothers approached directors George A. Romero and Sam Raimi to direct, but they both turned it down. Wes Craven initially passed as well, but when he heard Drew Barrymore was originally set to play Sidney Prescott he signed on. Of course Drew changed her mind, and Neve Campbell became Sidney, and did a great job in the role for years to come.

Ghostface and Casey done by German Ferreiroa at True Black Tattoing in Dublin, Ireland
A more old school Ghostface with knife and trad flowers done by Kristopher John in Los Angeles

As a tattoo most people choose to get some form of Ghostface, usually in a black work or American traditional style. Knives with Ghostface superimposed within are also quite popular. Do you have a Scream tattoo?

“What’s your favourite scary movie?” Done by Erin Sullins at Monolith Tattoo in Nashville TN
A cute lil strawberry Ghostface done by Skylar Skylord Rose Wasserman in Florida

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Hamsa Tattoos:

The Hamsa has gone by many other names including the eye of Fatima, the hand of Fatima, and the hand of Miriam to name a few. In terms of visual appearance the Hamsa is an open hand with an eye in the middle. The Hamsa is usually worn as protection, specifically against the Evil Eye.

Floral Hamsa flash by Joey Ramona at Under My Thumb Tattoo in Toronto
Micro Hamsa by EQ Tattoo in Seoul, Korea

Today this design is mainly seen as an important Jewish symbol but it has been interpreted by many scholars as Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and even as a pagan symbol of fertility.

Neo-traditional Hamsa by Ceci at Trenton Point Tattoo
Micro Hamsa by Camilo Leal Tattoo in Bogotá Columbia

Two of the Hamsa’s other names (referencing Fatima or Miriam) link this ancient symbol closely to Judaism and Islam. Fatima is the daughter of Mohammed, and Miriam is the sister of Moses.

Geometric Hamsa by Jutta Carter at Martins Custom Tattooing
Geometric/dot work Hamsa by Meg Evans in Shrewsbury UK

One of the oldest depictions of the Hamsa comes from a 14th-century Islamic fortress in southern Spain, on the Puerta Judiciaria, or, “Gate of Judgement.” There are also those who believe the Hamsa has its roots in Christianity through the virgin Mary whose hands are often seen in a “fig” pose. Then there are historians and professors who believe the Hamsa doesn’t come from religion at all, because there are Palaeolithic caves in France, Spain, Argentina, Algeria, and Australia with paintings of the hand.

Hamsa, flowers, and gems by Sarah Thirteen at Black Lodge Tattoo Studio in Bournemouth, UK
A more old school Hamsa by Cari at True Blue Electric Tattoo in Knoxville, TN

As a tattoo the Hamsa is often done in a black and grey or fine line, but neo-traditional and geometric patters thrown into the mix are also popular. Many people wonder if it’s ok for them to wear a Hamsa, whether it’s a tattoo, on a necklace, or a t-shirt, and the short answer is yes. It can be culturally insensitive to wear it without understanding what it means, but as so many religions and cultures have ties to it, it really can be for anyone, as protection is a universal theme.

Micro Hamsa and other work by Marjolein Evens at Garden of Eden Studios in Hasselt, Belgium
Geometric/dot work Hamsa by Ozz Tat in Mexico

Do you have a Hamsa tattoo?

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