Semi-Charmed Life


Jes Ashby (White Rabbit Tattoo Studio)

I have had a difficult time finding tattoo artists in the NYC area who have a style that I like. A friend linked me to some of Jes Ashby's work recently and I'm digging it. I'm going to check out her studio soon to see more of her work.

You can check out her website here.

On another note, it was cool when only my buddy Pat The Perpetual Ponderer and I were the only ones out of our mutual friends to have work done by Loic (Xoïl, Needles Side TattOo ) but now a lot of friends are getting work done by him too and it takes a little bit away from the uniqueness of his style when more people start having the same style. This is definitely making me sound like a hipster tattoo snob. It's inevitable though, because his work is dope as fuck. You can't blame people for recognizing dope shit and wanting that dope shit for themselves.

Btw definitely check out my boy's blog @ The Perpetual Ponderer. His blog is tight but I still have to shit on it a little bit because it's Tumblr and also because he does not post as much as I would like.

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The Quest for Medusa's Head

Because Perseus was poor and didn't have anything to give at his mother's forced wedding, he was sent out on a quest to kill the Gorgon Medusa by his soon-to-be stepfather, Polydectes, and bring back her head as a gift. He expected Perseus to die on this quest just so he could live with his new wife in peace.

As soon as Perseus was out of sight of any mortals, two gods appeared: Hermes and Athena. Hermes gave Perseus a sword to slay the Gorgons with, and Athena presented him with a highly-polished shield - he was told to use this as a mirror, because if he looked directly at any of the Gorgons, he would be turned to stone. She also told him to go west and find the Gorgon's sisters, the Graeae - they were the only ones who knew where the Gorgons were.

The Graeae (literally "gray people") were three sister born as old ladies and shared a single eye and tooth amongst themselves. Perseus took the eye from them and threatened to pop it between his fingers if they didn't tell them where the Gorgons lived. They told him it was a swampy island with hardly any light, but just enough to see.

Before Perseus traveled to the island of the Gorgons, he first went to the land of Hyperborean where he received three special items: a magic wallet (to place Medusa's severed head in once she's vanquished), a pair of winged sandals (to travel back to his home), and an invisible cap (to hide himself from trouble).

Perseus landed on the island to find the three Gorgons laying on the ground sleeping (courtesy of Hypnos). Using the shield as a mirror, Perseus approached the sleeping Gorgons. When he was close enough, he brought the sword down upon her head, severing it from the body and having it roll and wake the other Gorgons. From her blood sprang a creature, Pegasus. He stuffed her head in his pouch, but the remaining Gorgons woke and flew at Perseus. Using his winged sandles, he flew back home using the cap of darkness.

He arrived home during his mother's forced wedding. He yelled, "Mother, cover your eyes!" He then pulled Medusa's head out of his pouch and turned everyone to stone. He went to Athena's temple and gave the goddess the shield with Medusa's image etched on it, which she named Aegis. Then he threw Medusa's head into the ocean where it drifted across the sea, creating coral on the way.

At the very bottom is this quote:

"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplacable spark. In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved, but never have been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours."

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Getting Inked

After I was done sitting on the chair for my first tattoo, I didn't know if I ever wanted any more tattoos ever again. That shit fucking hurt! People say the back area is not really supposed to hurt that much but I really don't know what the heck they're talking about because I was in agony!

The first hour went by relatively okay. It hurt but it was generally tolerable. Then Loic (the artist) took a break for about 20 minutes. I didn't know if it was because the break or not, but it just started sucking. I kept making retarded grimacing faces and he even asked me if I wanted the "pussy spray," which was some type of painkiller liquid spray. I said no the first few times but as the session went on, when he asked me again I was like fuck yes pour that shit on.

So yeah, I'm a bitch when it comes to pain. I mean I was able to sit there quietly and remained relatively still, but I was dying. If you saw my face you would think the guy was sawing off a limb or something. It hurt that much.

After it was all over, I was so relieved and thought it came out pretty well. Then I thought to myself: What the hell was I thinking, of planning out all these things I wanted to get after this? I'm done!

Well maybe I'm a sucker for pain because a few weeks ago I started to think about what I want for my second one.

I always thought angels were pretty cool but it's hard to do right on a guy. I think it makes men look more effeminate. But one image I had in mind was . . . wait for it . . . from Magic: The Gathering.

It was something I liked a lot in junior high and all through high school. One of the colors I used was white and one card in particular was one of my favorites:

Besides being a reasonably mana-efficient flying badass, her best quality is that she it both an attacker and a defender. Visually speaking, I like how valiant she looks and the glory and majesty she portrays.

My initial idea was to have an artist do an interpretation of that image.

Then I found another image of her fighting a Hypnotic Spectre and I thought holy shit, this is perfect!

Badass drawing and I like the good versus evil depiction. The best part is that good is always going to win because everybody knows a Serra is stronger than a Hypnotic Spectre.

But I've been having a lot of difficulty finding an artist to do that. Going through their portfolios, I haven't really fell in love with any artist. All the artists that I like are not in New York!

Yesterday though, I had another idea for a tattoo. I believe that knowledge is power. That the more you learn, the better you are. Everything is a learning experience and we should be doing our best to just acquire as much knowledge as possible. Everything I do aspires to this idea. Or at least I try to.

I wish I was a good artist so I could sketch it out but the best I can do is verbalize as best I can.

I want a book, or maybe books, with their pages open and the sentences are being lifted off the pages. The sentences are forming a figure of Perseus holding Medusa's head in one hand.

This isn't the exact image I want to use but it gives more or less a good idea:

Well, he won't be having his penis showing or anything, but you can look up more images of him. It's a pretty famous depiction of Perseus.You can read up on him here if you don't know much about him. He's a badass.

I want the image of him to be partially composed of a lot of text and sentences.

The book represents knowledge and and the letters and words forming Perseus represent. If he can throw this in there, I'd be really happy. This is the quote I want to use:

“In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.”

I thought that the artist that worked on my first tattoo would be great for this piece so I impulsively booked an appointment with him for May of next year. He's flying in from France in May and will be a guest artist at Tattoo Culture.

I'm not DEFINITE on this particular design but it's the direction I'm heading in right now.

Wow this post was longer than I wanted it to be!


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Pre-flight Tattoo

Quick post before I head out for my flight to Taiwan.

I don't see how the hell people can be addicted to tattoos. I got my first one yesterday and let me just say, WOW did it hurt. I've heard that the guy I got it from, Loic (pronounced Loh - Eeek), has a style that is more painful than usual. I have nothing to compare it to since it was my first, but boy did it hurt.

Am I happy with it? I'm happy that it's over!

Actually, I was a little disappointed that it was not as stylized as his other works. I wanted him to take more liberties with the subject, but he wanted to keep it clean in order for it to make more of a visual impact. Anyway, Pat had his session with Loic right before me. He had a pagoda done on his ribs. 5 hours of pain . . . fucking warrior.

We're both heading to Taiwan right now too. It's going to be one uncomfortable flight.

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Mono No Aware

I've been reading Tattoos of the Floating World, which is an extremely informative book on the historical significance of Japanese tattoos. One particular section elaborated on importance of the cherry blossom to Japanese culture, especially the idea of mono no aware.

Mono no aware: the Japanese beauty aesthetic

Meaning literally "a sensitivity to things," mono no aware is a concept describing the essence of Japanese culture, invented by the Japanese literary and linguistic scholar scholar Motoori Norinaga in the eighteenth century, and remains the central artistic imperative in Japan to this day. The phrase is derived from the word *aware*, which in Heian Japan meant sensitivity or sadness, and the word mono, meaning things, and describes beauty as an awareness of the transience of all things, and a gentle sadness at their passing. It can also be translated as the "ah-ness" of things, of life, and love.

Mono no aware gave name to an aesthetic that already existed in Japanese art, music and poetry, the source of which can be traced directly to the introduction of Zen Buddhism in the twelfth century, a spiritual philosophy and practise which profoundly influenced all aspects of Japanese culture, but especially art and religion. The fleeting nature of beauty described by mono no aware derives from the three states of existence in Buddhist philosophy: unsatisfactoriness, impersonality, and most importantly in this context, impermanence.

According to mono no aware, a falling or wilting autumn flower is more beautiful than one in full bloom; a fading sound more beautiful than one clearly heard; the moon partially clouded more appealing than full. The sakura or cherry blossom tree is the epitome of this conception of beauty; the flowers of the most famous variety, somei yoshino, nearly pure white tinged with a subtle pale pink, bloom and then fall within a single week. The subject of a thousand poems and a national icon, the cherry blossom tree embodies beauty as a transient experience.

Mono no aware states that beauty is a subjective rather than objective experience, a state of being ultimately internal rather than external. Based largely upon classical Greek ideals, beauty in the West is sought in the ultimate perfection of an external object: a sublime painting, perfect sculpture or intricate musical composition; a beauty that could be said to be only skin deep. The Japanese ideal sees beauty instead as an experience of the heart and soul, a feeling for and appreciation of objects or artwork--most commonly nature or the depiction of--in a pristine, untouched state.

An appreciation of beauty as a state which does not last and cannot be grasped is not the same as nihilism, and can better be understood in relation to Zen Buddhism's philosophy of earthly transcendence: a spiritual longing for that which is infinite and eternal--the source of all worldly beauty. As the monk Sotoba wrote in *Zenrin Kushū* (Poetry of the Zenrin Temple), Zen does not regard nothingness as a state of absence, but rather the affirmation of an unseen that exists behind empty space: "Everything exists in emptiness: flowers, the moon in the sky, beautiful scenery."

With its roots in Zen Buddhism, *mono no aware* is bears some relation to the non-dualism of Indian philosophy, as related in the following story about Swami Vivekananda by Sri Chinmoy:

*"Beauty," says [Vivekananda], "is not external, but already in the mind." Here we are reminded of what his spiritual daughter Nivedita wrote about her Master. "It was dark when we approached Sicily, and against the sunset sky, Etna was in slight eruption. As we entered the straits of Messina, the moon rose, and I walked up and down the deck beside the Swami, while he dwelt on the fact that beauty is not external, but already in the mind. On one side frowned the dark crags of the Italian coast, on the other, the island was touched with silver light. 'Messina must thank me,' he said; 'it is I who give her all her beauty.'" Truly, in the absence of appreciation, beauty is not beauty at all. And beauty is worthy of its name only when it has been appreciated.*

The founder of *mono no aware*, Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801), was the pre-eminent scholar of the Kokugakushu movement, a nationalist movement which sought to remove all outside influences from Japanese culture. Kokugakushu was enormously influential in art, poetry, music and philosophy, and responsible for the revival during the Tokugawa period of the Shinto religion. Contradictorily, the influence of Buddhist ideas and practises upon art and even Shintoism itself was so great that, although Buddhism is technically an outside influence, it was by this point unable to be extricated.


I generally don't like articles I find on ezinearticles but this was one of the more relevant Google search results. I really like the meaning and philosophy behind the cherry blossom, but I don't know what to pair it up with. Cherry blossoms alone would look very feminine if not balanced with something more fierce and masculine. I'm also concerned about aesthetics, as the tattoo I plan to get in October will be western/modern art. I'm not sure if east meets west would look good together.

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