Sun Dancer Tattoos:

The Sun Dancer tattoo is an easily recognizable American traditional design, first painted by Bert Grimm, a pioneer of American traditional tattooing who worked from around 1916-1970. An important part of Indigenous history and culture, the Sun Dance is a spiritual ceremony that was and is still very important to different groups, primarily to those of the plains cultures in America and Canada.

Sun Dancer with eagle and heads by Fabio Onorini.
Blackwork back done by Clemens Hahn.

The ceremony is a gruelling but important one, primarily (though not entirely) performed by males. The dancer fasts, going without both food and drink for days at a time, while dancing around a sacred fire and traditional pole meant to represent the sun. Others drum and sing prayers while the dancer dances until exhausted.

Sun Dancer true to Bert Grimm by Kim-Anh.
Backpiece true to Bert Grimm by Gustavo Silvano.

As part of the ceremony, piercing and suspension is also common. This involves a leader piercing rods into the chest or back of the dancer, while they drag a bison head until the skin rips. Other variations involve horses pulling at the rods, or the dancer being suspended from the pole by the rods in their skin. This inspired modern suspension.

Blackwork interpretation by Flurick Ruslan.
Cute foot Sun Dancer by Heath Arnolde.

Often times the dancer would become delirious and hallucinate both from the physical and mental exertion, topped with dehydration and extreme hunger. Unfortunately the ceremony was banned in Canada in 1885 under the Indian Act, but the ban was dropped in 1951, though Indigenous people continue(d) to be treated unfairly. Today the Sun Dance is still performed by some communities.

Sun Dancer with dragon in this piece by Florian Santus.
Big thigh Sun Dancer done by Nick Griffiths.

One of the first examples of this ceremony being painted is Bert Grimm’s Sun Dancer flash and tattoo. The original painting depicts a girl dancing with her left knee raised, right hand holding a spear, with a shield depicting a bald eagle in her left hand. A red sun and traditional roses make up the background.

Sun Dancer and dragon by Rich Hadley.
Skeletal Sun Dancer by Roger Oliveira.

As the design was first made by a pioneer of American traditional tattooing, it is mainly tattooed today in the same style. Though people do take artistic liberties, sometimes including animals or other flowers, and even changing the subject of the tattoo. It is often done as a back tattoo, but can also be seen on arms and legs, usually as still large pieces, though through adaptation artists have created smaller pieces as well.

Punk interpretation in a painting by Miguel Neils.
A more neo traditional animal version of the Sun Dance by Robson Nagata.

To read more about the Sun Dance please check out https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/sun-dance

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Artist of the month: Samuel Christensen

Samuel is a German artist who has been tattooing since 2008. He has tattooed in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Thailand. New Zealand was where he cemented his interest in Maori/Polynesian tattooing, which is what he mainly does now.

Blackwork100
Full bodysuit, including hands and feet. Lots of blackwork is incorporated into this Polynesian style suit.
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A front angle of the same suit.
B23
Dotwork style forearm piece.
Dotwork1
Dotwork/mandala full back piece and 1/4 sleeves.
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Polynesian neck piece makes for a bold design.
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Half sleeve including the chest, with traditional Polynesian folklore faces.

Samuel is drawn to the thick bold lines and black work of Polynesian tattoos, and the possibility of creating full bodysuits in this style. Along with Polynesian work, Samuel also does dotwork and blackwork pieces, including lots of mandalas and henna inspired pieces.

B11
Bold hand designs with some blast over work above.
B29
Full sleeve, heavy on the black!
B30
3/4 sleeve, right up onto the shoulder.
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Polynesian sleeve with some dotwork mixed in.
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Full leg sleeve.

Most of Samuel’s work is large, half or full sleeves, back pieces, and even full bodysuits. Though he will do some smaller designs, mainly mandalas.

B20
3/4 sleeve in Polynesian style.
B41
Half sleeve with some dotwork up top and into the chest.
B48
Full leg sleeve, top fresh bottom healed.
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Stand alone mandala.
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Incomplete 3/4 sleeve including the armpit.

Samuel works out of his studio in Ravensburg, Germany.

B21
Intricate finger designs.
B55
Mandala dotwork sleeve.
B57
Geometric back piece.
Mandala100
Mandala sleeve.
Sudsee46
Beautiful blackwork/dotwork back piece.

The Lord of the Rings Tattoos:

The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R Tolkien is one of (if not the) most iconic fantasy stories ever written. The story was written as a sequel to another novel of his, The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings was written in stages between 1937 and 1949.

Jesse Rix
Magnificent realistic back piece featuring Gandalf, Gollum, the ring, and the eye of Sauron. Done by Jesse Rix in Keene, NH.
Ben Kaye Tattooer & part owner of Ship Shape tattoo, New Zealand
Hyper realistic portrait of Gimli done by Ben Kaye at Ship Shape Tattoo in New Zealand.
Heath Clifford
Solid neo traditional hobbit hole done by Heath Clifford at Fat Ink Tattoo.
Kristian Kimonides Tattooist | Leviathan Tattoo Gallery | Melbourne | Australia
Elrond portrait done by Kristian Kimonides at Leviathan Tattoo Gallery in Melbourne, Australia.
Onnie O'Leary
American traditional Witch King done by Onnie O’Leary.

Tolkien fought in WW1, and this was extremely influential in his shaping of Middle Earth. As an example, WW1 was fought not by heroes, but by civilians. This reflects the hobbits who are quite literally the “little people”, who then step up to fight a war that they had not asked to be a part of.

Fong Vang Tattoo Artist @Inkarnate Tattoos 2211 11th ave E, #120, north Saint Paul, Mn
Black and grey portrait of Aragorn, featuring Gimli and Legolas. Done by Fong Vang at Inkarnate Tattoos in North Saint Paul, Mn.
Carles Bonafe
Terrifying portrait of Gollum and his precious. Done by Carles Bonafe.
Iliya Astafiev Tattoo Artist. N.Chelny city, Russia
Terrifying and realistic portrait of a nazgul. Done by Iliya Astafiev Chelny city, Russia.
Lauren Gibler Tattooer & Permanent makeup artist at Inkeeper_s in canton OH
Broken shards of Narsil. Done by Lauren Gibler done in Canton OH.
Róbert A Borbás
Graphic black and grey sleeve featuring Gandalf fighting the balrog on the bridge of Kazan Dum. Done by Róbert A Borbás done at Rooklet Ink, Hungary.

The films were directed by Peter Jackson, starting with The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. They were filmed back to back on location in New Zealand, making for fantastic landscapes and scenery.

Alex Rattray Owner:Artist at Empire Ink EDINBURGH
Hyper realistic colour portraits of Sam, Frodo, and the ring. Done by Alex Rattray at Empire Ink in Edinburgh.
Cody Young Emerald Tattoo
A very green ent done by Cody Young at Emerald Tattoo.
Izhar Rott Owner of Manifacto Amsterdam Tattoos
Black and grey Gandalf amidst a geometric background done by Izhar Rott Owner of Manifacto Amsterdam Tattoos.
Lauren Melina
Blackwork Barad Dur (dark tower) done by Lauren Melina done in Perth, Australia.
Samantha I Love Mom Tattoo Studio in Dovercourt Village, Toronto
There and back again, inspiration taken from The Hobbit book cover. Done by Samantha at I love Mom Tattoo Studio in Dovercourt Village, Toronto.

Some of the most popular characters include Gandalf, Frodo, Gimli, Legolas, Gollum (Smeagol), Sam, Aragorn, Elrond, Saruman, Witch king, and Sauron. Fantastic creatures include the ents, the balrog, and the nazgul. Popular items include the swords sting, and the shards of Narsil, as well as the Witch King’s flail, and quaint hobbit holes. Of course we also can’t forget the ring itself, which makes a stellar tattoo, especially when paired with a portrait.

Alexandra Skarsgård
Sting and flowers done by Alexandra Skarsgård in London.
Dan Mawdsley Pop Culture Tattoos in Melbourne✖️The Black Mark Tattoo Northcote
Black and grey Gandalf portrait done by Dan Mawdsley at Pop Culture Tattoos in Melbourne, Australia.
Jerome Chapman
Linework version of an ent. Done by Jerome Chapman.
Maksims Zotovs
Hyper realistic Gollum done by Maksims Zotovs.
Tony Sklepic Pop culture inspired tattoos and artwork. EDMONTON ALBERTA
Hyper realistic matching portraits of Saruman (and the eye of Sauron) and Gandalf. Done by Tony Sklepic done in Edmonton, Alberta.

Lord of the Rings tattoos are often done in a photo realistic or hyper realistic style, as well as black and grey, dotwork, linework, American traditional, and neo traditional.

artist--khail-tattooer--legolas-tattoo_17190113824
Black and grey Legolas done by Khail Tattooer at Young bloods Tattoo in Perth, Australia.
Dave Swambo
Witch King hand and Morgul blade done by Dave Swambo at Stronghold Tattoo in Cardiff, Wales.
Jess White
Bright and bold hobbit hole done by Jess White in Sacramento, CA.
Nick imms Fumbling through life. Owner of @thechurchtattoo ☦️
Gorgeous portrait of Frodo and the ring done by Nick Imms at the Church Tattoo.
Travis Stanley Ink City Tattoo Bonney Lake, WA Capitol City
American traditional Witch King and flail. Done by Travis Stanley at Ink City Tattoo in Bonney Lake, WA Capitol City.

Which do you prefer, the books, or the films?

Snowflake Tattoos:

It’s the most, wonderful time…. Of the year!! Some people hate winter, some people love it. What we can all agree on though, is snow can be beautiful!

Niki Norberg Gothenburg, Sweden
Gorgeous hyper realistic black and grey/white hand snowflake and moose done by Niki Norberg in Gothenburg, Sweden.
B I C E M • S I N I K •• Tattoo Artist •• Istanbul.Turkey
Dotwork/geometric snowflake done by Bicem Sinik in Istanbul, Turkey.
Emil Supertramp
Dotwork head mandala/snowflake done by Emil Supertramp.
Karl Marks
Lots of pink in this one. Snowflake landing on a flower done by Karl Marks.
Maksims Zotovs
Realistic Jack Frost portrait tattoo and snowflake done by Maksims Zotovs.
Mattia Mambo
Newschool snowflake design by Mattia Mambo.
Sasha Unisex
Watercolour snowflake with mountains done by Sasha Unisex.

Snowflake tattoos are often done in a realistic, dotwork, black and grey, or bright/new school style.

Alexandra Baksza
A painful palm snowflake in dotwork style by Alexandra Baksza.
Banul seoul south korea
Elegant micro tattoos done by Banul in Seoul, South Korea.
Georgina Ostheimer Munich, Germany
Tiny finger snowflake done by Georgina Ostheimer in Munich, Germany.
Lucky Bella
Blue foot done at Lucky Bella tattoo shop.
Marilyn Studio Curitiba
Hand mandala and snowflake done by Marilyn at Studio Curitiba.
Olaf Botel
Dark blackwork snowflake done by Olaf Botel.
Shanna Keyes
Dotwork/linework wrist snowflake done by Shanna Keyes.

Each snowflake tattoo here is unique, just like the real deal!

August Thompson
Bright blue and white snowflake leg piece done by August Thompson.
Caro Walch
Dotwork penguin and snowflake background done by Caro Walch.
Kevin Koskela
Dotwork negative space snowflake done by Kevin Koskela.
Madrid Pablo Torre
Micro tattoo snowflake done by Pablo Torre in Madrid.
Martin Wilkström
Fantastic hyper realistic locket and snowflakes done by Martin Wilkström.
Sára Reichardt, Wonderland Tattoo, Budapest, Hungary
Snowflake and leaves on the sternum done by Sára Reichardt, at Wonderland Tattoo, in Budapest, Hungary.
Simona Blanar
Bright and colourful snowflakes done by Simona Blanar.

Which is your favourite?

Artist of the Month: Dan Gagné

Dan Gagné is an artist working at Loveless Tattoo in Montréal, Canada. Dan’s tattoos are perfect for the month of October, and those who love Halloween and horror year round. His work is mainly American traditional and blackwork, and is heavily inspired by horror movies. His work often features monsters and other icons of classic horror movies and stories.

1
Bright Creature from the Black Lagoon with unlucky number 13.
2
Ghostface from Scream with phone and knife.
3
Creepy witch with hard black shadow.
4
Fantastic werewolf and full moon.
5
Huge mostly blackwork Alien torso piece.
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Creepy crawly spider head tattoo.
7
A sinister looking Dracula!
8
The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth.
9
Norman Bates and loving mother from Psycho.
10
Battle of the monsters with Godzilla and King Kong!
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Nasty looking Gremlin. Don’t get it wet!
12
Alien from Mars Attacks!
13
Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th!
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Creepy skull and vampire bat with red moon.
15
A startled looking Leatherface with his pretty mask and chainsaw.
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Matching loving undead.
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Jason Voorhees Vs. Michael Meyers. Friday the 13th and Halloween.
18
The Demogorgon! From Stranger Things, featuring the classic light bulbs.
19
The mighty Count Orlok from Nosferatu.
20
For all the bookworms and halloween lovers. Book, vampire skull, and candles.

What classic Halloween/horror design do you want?

Artist of the Month: Oscar Hove

Oscar Hove is co-owner of Ondo Tattoo in Barcelona, Spain. His work is mainly surreal Japanese blackwork, mixing traditional Japanese themes with macabre surrealist work.

1
Matching feet. Stylized noh mask with horns.
2
Noh mask on snake body.
3
Split mask down the middle.

A great deal of his pieces are Japanese masks, split in half, or more, and making them terrifying.

12
Five split noh masks with horns in brilliant chest piece.
4
Horned mask with facemask common in Asian countries, with kanji lettering.
5
Brilliant blackwork Japanese oni backpiece.
6
Detached jaw noh/hannya inspired mask.
7
Beautifully dark mask and peony flower.

Other than Japanese inspired work, Oscar also does some neo traditional, and American traditional blackwork.

8
Blackwork bird and skull on thigh.
9
Traditional blackwork butterflies.

While his styles vary every once in awhile, his work is all dark both in colour and theme.

10
Mask split down the middle by Japanese knife.
11
Terrifying split hannya mask.
13
Yokai inspired rotting face.
14
Split hannya on stomach, releasing inner monster.
15
Matching hannya and noh masks with kanji lettering.

Oscar is a must visit artist if you find yourself in Barcelona!

Artist of the Month: James Mckenna

James Mckenna is an artist at Foothills Tattoo Byford – Western Australia. James is a painter as well as a tattoo artist, with a focus on surreal and horror themed pieces, mixing American traditional and neo traditional styles.

1
Multiple skulls as a gap filler.
2
Elbow ditch surrealist skull hidden within spider webs.
3
Vicious demon above a skull and snake piece.
4
Leopard within a leopard within a leopard.
5
Traditional elbow mandala.

The majority of James’ work features skulls, often hidden within designs. Other work includes lady heads, animals, and demons.

6
Neo traditional lady head.
7
Leg sleeve castle with secret passages and a snake mixed in.
8
Big ole’ jaguar, scorpion, and flower. Heavy on the black!
16
Skull added to the stomach piece!
9
Neo traditional bear and skull in a tender spot!
10
Healed blackwork snake within a snake!
11
Leg snake!
12
Evil looking demon under the armpit.
13
Butterfly lady head!
14
New twist on a classic skull and snake.
15
Jaguar and lady head.
17
Knee big cat and butterfly.

James is a must see artist if you’re travelling through Western Australia.

Monmon Cat Tattoos:

Monmon is a Japanese term for tattoo, and a monmon cat is a cat with tattoos. They were designed by Horitomo, a Japanese tattoo artist well known for his hand work (tebori) and his monmon designs. He published a book entitled Monmon Cats and has inspired other tattoo artists around the world.

cat Amber Bananafish at Bananafish Tattoo Parlour
Sassy looking cat with skeletons by Amber Bananafish at Bananafish Tattoo Parlour.

Monmon cats are usually done in traditional Japanese style, and usually have their own Japanese tattoos. They can also be done realistically, in black and grey, and have other tattoos such as American traditional, flowers, and skulls.

cat Ash Valentine
Realistic cat with rose by Ash Valentine.
cat by Simina at Old Bastards Tattoo Shop in Romania
Samurai cat by Simina at Old Bastards Tattoo Shop in Romania.
cat Heather Sinn at Tattoo Room in Simi Valley CA
New school cat with geisha back piece by Heather Sinn at Tattoo Room in Simi Valley, CA.
cat horitomo 1
Matching foot monmon cats by Horitomo at State of Grace tattoo in Japantown SJ, CA.
cat horitomo 2
Another by Horitomo with American traditional tattoos.
cat horitomo 3
Stomach cat by Horitomo with peony tattoos and a fun ball of yarn.
cat horitomo 4
Full sleeve with monmon cat also by Horitomo.
cat Horitomo
More matching monmon by Horitomo with mean looking Oni!
cat Jason Rose
Monmon cat doing its own tebori tattooing by Jason Rose.
cat Jamie Negro at Behardcore Tattoo
Large monmon with koi fish and cherry blossoms by Jamie Negro at Be Hardcore Tattoo.
cat Kika Blunt
Monmon with waves by Kika Blunt.
cat Luana Cavalcoli
Monmon with cloud and wind designs and cherry blossoms by Luana Cavalcoli.
cat Sarah Baldwin at Control Tattoo in Florida
Monmon drinking sake with a wicked dragon tattoo and flowers by Sarah Baldwin at Control Tattoo in FL.
cat Sebastian Giraldo Nieto
Cute cat with peony flower tattoos by Sebastian Giraldo Nieto.
cat Steph White at Cock A Snook Tattoo Parlour in Newcastle
Blackwork monmon cat with skull inspired by Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre by Utagawa Kuniyoshi done by Steph White at Cock A Snook Tattoo Parlour in Newcastle.

Monmon cat tattoos are a must for cat lovers!

Artist of the Month: Dust “Horitsuki” Wu

Horitsuki is a tattoo artist and owner of Galaxy Tattoo 3 in Hong Kong. He studied under Nicckuhori, the god son of the brilliant Horiyoshi III, in Singapore before finding his own style within Japanese traditional art, despite working in China.

He has gained recognition throughout Asia and Europe, travelling as a guest artist. He does all the classic Japanese designs such as hanya masks, snakes, koi fish, fu dogs, and flowers. However it is dragons that he is most famous for. He is nicknamed the Dragon King in Europe.

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Fu dog hand piece.
horitsuki-3
Brilliant Hanya with a bold placement.
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Colourful chrysanthemum.
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Ghost lantern.
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Koi and cherry blossom sleeve.
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Koi and cat piece.
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Matching foot namakubi.
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Beautiful, bloody namakubi.
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Bold red Oni.
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Traditional smoking frog.
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Beautifully detailed Japanese tiger.
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Angry dragon head.
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Dragon head and claw.
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Dragon chest piece coming off of a sleeve.
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Gorgeous dragon back piece with flowers.

Horitsuki is the guy to see if you’re in Hong Kong.