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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Tattoo Bodysuits:

A bodysuit is the ultimate way for a tattoo collector to show their dedication to the craft. A bodysuit is most often done as one cohesive piece, usually in one style. But some people do start getting tattooed without the intention of having a bodysuit, then end up growing into it.

Adam Craft at The Tattooed Heart
Japanese bodysuit done by Adam Craft at The Tattooed Heart.
Frank Lewis Montreal
The late Rick Genest’s bodysuit done by Frank Lewis in Montreal Canada.
MATT JORDAN SHIP SHAPE TATTOO
Hyper realistic suit completed by Matt Jordan at Ship Shape Tattoo.
Samuel Christensen
Brilliant black work/tribal bodysuit done by Samuel Christensen.

Japanese is the most well known style for creating bodysuits. Done by one artist, tied together with background work such waves, clouds, and other nature themes.

back by Shige at Yellow Blaze in yokohama. Sleeves unknown
Back and legs done by Shige at Yellow Blaze in Yokohama.
Guy Le Tattooer
The recognizable line work of Guy Le Tattooer.
Nissaco
Black work and geometric bodysuit done by Nissaco in Osaka.
Tomas Tomas Seven Doors London
Black work/tribal bodysuit done by Tomas Tomas at Seven Doors Tattoo in London.

More recently black work is becoming more popular for full bodysuits. Either heavy black work or smaller pieces.

Collaboration piece between Gerhard Wiesbeck and Little Swastika
Heavy black work torso and arm piece. A collaboration between Gerhard Wiesbeck and Little Swastika.
Jason Butcher immortal ink tattoo studio
Beautiful black and grey bodysuit done by Jason Butcher at immortal ink tattoo studio.
Paco Dietz Tattoo Artist, Oil Painter, Sculptor. Santa Clara, Ca
Colourful bio mechanical bodysuit done by Paco Dietz in Santa Clara, Ca.
Valerio Cancellier
Heavy black work done by Valerio Cancellier.

Similarly people get bodysuits of American traditional pieces. Hundreds of small pieces filling up a body to make it look more or less like one huge suit.

Cory Ferguson Good Point Tattoo Ontatio Canada
Geometric and dotwork done by Cory Ferguson at Good Point Tattoo in Ontario Canada.
Julian Siebert Corpsepainter Tattoo Munich:Germany
Arm, Back, and leg done by Julian Siebert at Corpsepainter Tattoo Munich, Germany.
PIERLUIGI DELIPERI
Black/geometric bodysuit done by Pierluigi Deliperi.

Black and grey, neo traditional, and realism styles are also being used for bodysuits now, making for eye popping artwork.

Duncan X
Black work torso and shoulders done by Duncan X in the UK.
Koji Ichimaru
Full body Japanese suit with lots of black done by Koji Ichimaru.
Rich Hadley UK
American traditional bodysuit done by Rich Hadley in the UK.

The word bodysuit may make you think of really a full body covered in tattoos, but it also refers to torso pieces that lead onto the arms, and/or legs.

Gakkin
Beautiful and heavy black work nature themed bodysuit done by Gakkin.
Lupo Horiokami Italy at mushin studio
Heavy black Japanese done by Lupo Horiokami Italy at mushin studio.
Rich Hardy UK
American traditional mostly black work torso and arms done by Rich Hardy in the UK.

Which bodysuit is your favourite?

Panther Tattoos:

Panthers have been a staple in American traditional tattoos for a long time, but they can also be done in many other styles such as neo traditional, realism, black and grey, and new school.

Aaron Breeze
Panther and rose by Aaron Breeze.
Didac Gonzalez
Neo trad panther head on a hand done by Didac Gonzalez.
Drew Shallis
Neo trad panther head and skulls done by Drew Shallis.
Isnard Barbosa
Neo trad lady and panther done by Isnard Barbosa.
James Armstrong
Panther paired with a peony flower done by James Armstrong.
Mike Stockings
Gorgeous neo trad panther with red lighting done by Mike Stockings.
Shio Zargoza
Neo trad chest piece done by Shio Zargoza.
Susanne Suflanda König Based in Manchester • Tattooer at Redwood Tattoo Studio
Blackwork panther and peony flower piece done by Susanne Suflanda König Based in Manchester • Tattooer at Redwood Tattoo Studio.

Panthers are powerful animals, and make for a powerful tattoo. They can represent, power, strength, honor, wisdom, and beauty.

Becca Genné-Bacon at Kings Avenue Tattoo in NYC
Panther and snake back piece done by Becca Genné-Bacon at Kings Avenue Tattoo in NYC.
Diego Apu
Angry panther head done by Diego Apu.
Evgenia Sin
Huge torso panther head paired with flowers done by Evgenia Sin.
J Swan
Panther and roses done by J Swan.
Justin Dion
Big traditional panther head done by Justin Dion.
Peter Lagergren
Terrifying panther head with third eye done by Peter Lagergren.
Simone Sbam
Panther, skull, and dagger done by Simone Sbam.
Valentin Hirsch
Realistic black and grey panther and skull done by Valentin Hirsch.

Panthers were most popular with sailors and prison inmates, up until the Vietnam war when they became popular with soldiers as well. Now they are more popular than ever as American traditional designs are still going strong.

Brian Flores
Neo trad panther and flaming torch by Brian Flores.
Carlos Chavarriaga
Classic panther design by Carlos Chavarriaga.
Fulvio Vaccarone
Panther with arrow going through the head done by Fulvio Vaccarone.
Jack Goks Pearce
Black and yellow by Jack Goks Pearce.
Nick Colin Corbett
Small traditional panther head done by Nick Colin Corbett.
Rich Hadley
Classic panther forearm piece done by Rich Hadley.
stu Pagdin
A split open panther head done by Stu Pagdin.
Zach Black
Pink new school panther head done by Zach Black.

Which one is your favorite?

Pharaoh’s Horses Tattoo:

The pharaoh’s horses are an American traditional design that dates back to the early 1900’s when it became a staple as a back and chest tattoo, along with other designs such as the Rock of Ages and The Last Supper.

Alexander Tyrrell in Melbourne Australia
Horses with horseshoe and eagle done by Alexander Tyrrell in Melbourne Australia.
Don Ritson Rebel Waltz Winnipeg
Brilliant mix of red and black in this traditional piece done by Don Ritson at Rebel Waltz in Winnipeg.
Hamish Clarke in Bisbane Australia
Traditional blackwork piece done by Hamish Clarke in Brisbane Australia.
Kirk Jones Melbourne Australia
In progress back piece done by Kirk Jones in Melbourne, Australia.
Rich Hadley at Inri Tattoo in Manchester
Very old school looking design by Rich Hadley at Inri Tattoo in Manchester, England.

One of the earliest examples of this design is by Gus Wagner who worked as a tattooer, and circus performer from the late 1800’s until his death in 1941.

Ben McQueen in Indianapolis
Horse, anchor, and roses done by Ben McQueen in Indianapolis.
Done at Wild Rose in Seoul
Full traditional sleeve topped by horses done at Wild Rose tattoo in Seoul, South Korea.
Herb Auerbach in Santa Cruz
Angry looking horses done by Herb Auerbach in Santa Cruz.
Matt Kerley in Ashville
Bold design on the back of a head done by Matt Kerley in Asheville.
Rich Hardy
Gorgeous stomach piece done by Rich Hardy.

The design of the pharaoh’s horses comes from biblical times, when horses were seen as a symbol of wealth, status, warfare, and power. Horses are specifically linked to pharaoh Ramses II who lived more than 3000 years ago. These horses of course portray a sense of power, but there is also an implied reference to Exodus 14 which reads thus. “The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horse-men the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.” This appears to be a warning of following a singular pursuit without regard to the consequences.

Collin McClain
Chest piece with some nice blue done by Colin McClain at Tide and Tattoo.
Duan Woo Sick Rose Tattoo Parlour in Shanghai
Smaller horse piece done by Duan Woo at Sick Rose Tattoo Parlour in Shanghai, China.
Jason Donahue at Liberty Tattoo in Seattle
Chest piece with classic flowers done by Jason Donahue at Liberty Tattoo in Seattle.
Nick Mayes at North Sea Tattoo in Scarborough, UK
Big stomach piece topped by an eagle done by Nick Mayes at North Sea Tattoo in Scarborough, UK.
Shon Lindauer in Hollywood CA
Heavy black design by Shon Lindauer in Hollywood, CA.

These tattoos are often done as large pieces on backs or chests, but can also be done as larger parts of a sleeve or leg piece. The horses are often accompanied by flowers, horseshoes, chains, and other traditional pieces such as eagles.

Dan Pemble Artist & Owner @ Sacred Tattoo Studio Marquette, MI
Brilliant full front torso as a piece of armour by Dan Pemble at Sacred Tattoo Studio Marquette, MI.
Frank William in Chicago, IL
Large stomach piece full of flowers done by Frank William in Chicago, IL.
Kai Soong at Sick Rose Tattoo Parlour in Shanghai
Chest piece by Kai Soong at Sick Rose Tattoo Parlour in Shanghai, China.
philip yarnell
Traditional blackwork piece done by Philip Yarnell at Skynyard tattoos, UK.
Tammy Kim at The Okey Doke Tattoo Shop
Fantastic back piece featuring an eagle, websm and flowers done by Tammy Kim at The Okey Doke Tattoo Shop in Toronto.

Which is your favourite tattoo?