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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gap filler tattoos are exactly what they sound like, small tattoos that fill the gap between other pieces to make a sleeve or torso look more fluid.
Generally when someone says gap filler they’re referring to a more old school style, as the custom with old school tattoos is to collect lots of smaller tattoos that then form a larger piece when it’s all put together.
Some common gap fillers include centipedes, flowers, butterflies, spider webs, nails, snakes, frogs, etc. Almost anything can be a gap filler if it can be made small enough and can have some diversity in placement to fit those odd angles.
If you’re going for that bodysuit look you’ll probably end up with some gap fillers unless you pre-planned your whole body before you started getting tattoos, or worked with a style like Japanese where gap fillers are less common (though not unheard of).
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 1 in 8 Canadian cisgendered women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, and 1 in 33 will die from it. In 2020, 25% of all cancers in Canadian cisgendered women was a form of breast cancer, with approximately 27,400 women diagnosed and 240 cisgendered men also diagnosed.
Breast cancer is unfortunately quite a common form of cancer, and mainly affects cisgendered women. Often a breast cancer diagnoses leads to a mastectomy. A mastectomy is a surgery that removes part or all of the breast. There are 5 kinds of mastectomy surgeries including; “Simple” or “total” mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, radical mastectomy, partial mastectomy, and subcutaneous (nipple-sparing) mastectomy.
For years now people who undergo various forms of mastectomies have turned to tattooing to either cover the area after it is healed, or in some cases recreate what they looked like before the mastectomy.
Many tattoo artists even specialize in mastectomy tattoos, either covering the whole area with an image, or nipple and/or breast recreation. Many people who decide to get tattooed after a mastectomy opt for some form of cancer awareness piece, such as the breast cancer awareness ribbon with flowers or a butterfly, or something that they find beautiful to help them deal with the trauma they’ve been through.
Some tattoo artists also offer to do mastectomy tattoos for free if they have some sort of personal connection to it, but those who specialize in this type of work always do a great job.
You can donate to the Canadian Cancer Society here.
Combining classic old school portraits of ladies and the wings of butterflies has long been a staple in old school tattooing. Flash from such legends as Bert Grimm, Ben Corday, and others from the 1800’s and 1900’s featured variations of the designs below, and more.
Portraits of women are one of the most popular images in tattooing, as are butterflies. Combining the two beautiful designs makes sense, and can form an elegant tattoo that stands the test of time.
One of the most popular ways for this design to be tattooed is a woman’s head with butterfly wings sprouting from behind, to the left and right.
These butterfly ladies can also be seen more like fairies, with the bodies of women and butterfly wings.
Old school American traditional is the most common style for this design, but black work, black and grey, and Neo-traditional are also popular.
Francesco does classic old school tattoos that are bright and vibrant in colour, with bold black lines. Looking at Francesco’s work, you’ll only see black, red, and yellow/gold making up these beautiful pieces.
His portfolio includes both one shot smaller pieces, and large full back or front pieces. Among these gorgeous designs you’ll find classics such as the Rock of Ages, Sun Dance, devils and angels, lady heads, and animals such as snakes, eagles, and butterfly’s.
Whether you live in Rome or are passing through, Francesco is another must see artist.
Mathew is a tattooer at Trophy Tattoo in Hamilton, Ontario, formerly of Rebel Waltz in Winnipeg.. Mathew does crisp American traditional tattoos the way they were meant to be made. Bold as hell!
If you take a look through Mathew’s work, either online or in person, you’ll see he really does the classics. His Instagram is full of eagles, pinups, sailors and pirates, skulls, snakes, and more.
If you’re looking for a bit of a Japanese twist to an American style, Mathew is also your guy. He’s done both dragon heads and full bodied dragons, and Japanese flowers.
Mathew mentored under Don Ritson, the owner of Rebel Waltz, and you can certainly see Don’s influence in Mathews work. Both artists stick to a very traditional colour palette of mainly black, red, some green, and small amounts of yellow to make pieces pop.
Check out his work on Instagram @mathew.machado where you’ll find his email for making appointments. You can also watch Rebel Waltz’ Instagram to see when Mathew and the other artists there are doing walk-ins.