Baxter's Tattoo Blog's Daily Blog

Tattoos at the San Genaro Festival 2014


-11Love it or hate it, the annual Feast of San Genaro is the quintessential New York City Street Fair. It all happens on one stretch of Mulberry Street. In past years, Mulberry Street was the heart of the original Italian community, “Little Italy.” And yeah, the neighborhood, like much of Manhattan, has changed. The original Italian immigrants are long gone. Chinatown is just to the South and the Chinese Community has slowly moved in. And there’s a McDonald’s on Canal Street. But somehow, much had managed to stay distinctly Italian. Like there are lots of food specialty stores that have been there forever. People drive in to load up on stuff you can’t get anywhere else. I get my fresh pasta from a place that served the Pilgrims when they arrived and the cheese store next door was in business years before that. Ask anybody.

But for these two weeks every year, everything changes. I think I once described the Feast as what Marti Gras would look like if it was produced by the Sopranos. OK, that still holds, only it seems to get bigger and more over the top every year. First off, we are talking about over a million folks who will cram into this narrow street before the final pizza is sliced. Then there are a hundred of booths selling every possible variation of Italian street food. For the more fastidious eaters, restaurants set up tables out on the street. Booze flows and it is one of the few City events that allow it to be carried and consumed legally as celebrants wander. For those who suffer from an overloaded wallet, there are “games of chance” to help lighten the load. There are rides for the kids. There is stuff to buy to take home, look at and wonder why you bought it.-21

Crowds make it impossible to move at anything faster than a crawl, which is what some partying patrons are doing by mid-afternoon. At some point, here is a cannoli-eating contest. Smoke form grills and frying makes it difficult to see very far. Every song ever recorded by Tony Bennett and Dean Martin is played over the P.A. systems. Endlessly. People get lost. And found. New friends are made. One lovely lady asked me to take her photo. Then she told me she thought I was very attractive. Then she told me she had been drinking since 9:00 that morning and wandered away.

Oh yeah: I shot a few snapshots and, as always, had a great time!

—Maury Englander (

Note: Click images to enlarge.

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Written by Baxter

September 16th, 2014 at 9:47 am

Tattoos in the Workplace


Alexander C. Kaufman/The Huffington Post

Starbucks baristas who’ve long been forced to hide their tattoos may soon be able to show off their ink. In an internal email to employees last week, Starbucks said that it’s reviewing its dress code, including its long-standing policy forbidding workers from displaying their tattoos. The move comes as baristas  mobilize against the coffee chain, demanding the freedom to let their tattoos be seen. A petition to overturn Starbucks’ tattoo policy has gathered nearly 23,000 signatures since Aug. 20.

CaptureKristie Williams, a 25-year-old mother who works at a Starbucks in Atlanta, started the petition because covering her tattoo caused constant discomfort. Williams has a tattoo of her 2-year-old daughter’s name, Summer Blythe, written in cursive up her left forearm. When the air conditioner in her Starbucks went out in the middle of the Georgia summer, she had to suffer the oppressive heat in her long-sleeved shirt.

“The day I buy my first short-sleeved shirt will definitely be a great day,” said Williams. “I know personally I could work better and faster if I wasn’t sweating and fussing with my sleeves all the time at work in order to hide my tattoo.”

Starbucks requires its workers to wear black or white collared or turtleneck shirts with “professional” black or khaki trousers, shorts or skirts, according to copies of the employee manual posted on the blog Starbucks Melody. Hair and nails must be kept clean. Facial hair must be neatly trimmed. Perfumes and aftershave aren’t permitted. Earrings are restricted to a maximum of two per ear, and all other piercings are banned.

In July, a Starbucks in suburban Detroit reportedly threatened to fire a five-year employee if she didn’t remove the outline of a heart tattooed on her hand, according to Fox affiliate WJBK. It is unclear whether the woman, identified only as Kayla, was fired.

Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment.13coff.1.600

Sara Frandsen, a 25-year-old who worked at a Starbucks near Amazon’s campus in Seattle, said she had to wear long sleeves to cover a tattoo of roses on her right arm and one of characters from the video game “Legend of Zelda” on her left arm. The outfit choice was unsanitary, she said, because the cloth shirt soaked up milk and syrup as she worked.

“It looks really unappetizing when you’re helping a customer and your arms are covered in milk, but you can’t roll up your sleeves because, heaven forbid, they see your tattoos,” she told HuffPost in an interview on Friday. “You’re never going to make everyone happy, but I feel like most customers don’t go into coffee shops expecting robots to serve them.”

coffeetattooFrandsen quit last October after seven months with the company. Soon after, she started a new job as a barista at a mom-and-pop coffee and ice cream shop, where she said tattoos and piercings are the norm among her colleagues.

“It’s expected today for baristas to be young, hip, alternative-looking kids,” said Frandsen.

In August, Starbucks vowed to change its scheduling policy to give workers more regular schedules and prevent them from having to work back-to-back closing and opening shifts. Workers’ groups, however, said that the changes would not do enough to help struggling parents.

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Written by Baxter

September 13th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Posted in Commentary

Ft. Worth’s Zoey Hunter Wins Backpiece Contest Voting!


Zoey Hunter

Zoey Hunter Backpiece


Paul Nolin Backpiece

With an enormous surge of votes in the last couple of days, Heart & Soul Tattoo‘s Zoey Hunter (Ft. Worth, Texas) pulls off the win and is awarded a  Micky Sharpz “Hornet” tattoo machine. Paul Nolin from Physical Graffiti (Linden, New Jersey) was second and nabs our latest, 300-page, 7½-pound coffee table book,  “Tattoo Road Trip—The Best of the Southwest”. Patrice Pamphile from Murda Ink 3 (West Babylon, New York) was close behind and will get a copy of Fip Buchanan’s fabulous “Drawing and Designing Tattoo Art.”

Many thanks to those who entered and especially those who voted from all over the U.S., Canada and beyond. The quality of the entries was phenomenal and goes to show that tattoo art keeps getting better all the time.

The winners can be found by clicking their shop names in blue, which will take you to their contact information. By the way, it was encouraging to see that all twenty finalists are members of our Tattoo Shop Directory!

To see all the finalists’ backpieces, click HERE.

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Written by Baxter

September 13th, 2014 at 8:59 am

Posted in Contests

Terrible Tattoo Customer Service

Thumbs_Down 3

Click for List


Thank heaven it’s rare, but in response to being hung up on, treated like swine over the phone and generally experiencing rude, arrogant and inept shop-owners, artists and various other hangers-on that shouldn’t be within a hundred yards of the general public, we are initiating a new sidebar icon on the sidebar of our pages.. Look for the thumbs-down symbol. The list is small now, but, after all, we’ve only been adding names for a few weeks. Peace.

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Written by Baxter

September 12th, 2014 at 10:37 am

Posted in Announcements

101 Most Influential People in Tattoo—(No. 6) The Leu Family Iron


Tattoo by Filip Leu


While he experienced ill health in his last few years (Don Feliz was taken by cancer at age 58) and not able to travel as much as he would have liked, Don Feliz was the man of the hour at the First International Tattoo Festival, Raiatea-Tahiti, in April of 2000, and continued to keep up a lively correspondence with fellow tattoo artists and aficionados worldwide. Thanks to his frequent letters and family photos, Don Feliz had, more than once, inspired us to excellence. It is with great joy and humility that we share a May 2002 interview with the legend himself.

—Bob Baxter

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Written by Baxter

September 11th, 2014 at 5:01 pm

9/11—Remembering the Fallen


Jim Leahy-101

Police Officer Jim Leahy

Until the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, you could look South along any of the Avenues of my neighborhood and see the Twin Towers. When the first plane hit we all could see it clearly, including 2 officers from the 6th Precinct riding in their patrol car. One of them was Police Officer Jim Leahy. According to the story his patrol partner later told, even though the site was out of the Precinct, they immediately took off downtown. They went so fast and hit so many potholes and curbs that by the time they got there, all 4 tires had blown out.

When they arrived in the midst of that horror, Jim saw a firefighter struggling with a load of air tanks. He jumped out of the car, grabbed some of the load and the two of them took off into the building. That was the last his partner saw of him.

As many of you know, I have been an Auxiliary Police Officer of the NYPD for many years. My precinct, the 6th, is located in Greenwich Village. I knew P.O. Leahy as a street cop. It is almost a cliché to describe a fallen hero cop as being “well liked,” but in Jim’s case it was true. Folks in the neighborhood knew and liked him. He was a good guy.

In the year that followed, Jim’s family printed memorial buttons with his photo. I am honored that they gave me one.

Every year, we hold a brief memorial service in front of the Precinct house. We assemble in dress uniforms, mourning bands around our shields and read off the names of the 23 NYC Police Officers who died that day. At the time the first plane hit, there is a moment silence. I have been proud to be there each year and to wear Jim’s photo on my uniform on that day.

—Maury Englander (

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Written by Baxter

September 10th, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Fallen Angels Tattoos—Pottsville, Pennsylvania


As more and more tattoo artists become aware of the important contribution tattoo removal (and lightening) can make to the quality of a client’s body art, some astute shop owners, like Kim Bowers at Fallen Angels Tattoos, in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, are at the head of the curve. Kim (a 15-year veteran of the tattoo life) and her two artists, Chris Bishop and Jess Wanner, know that you can’t add new, more contemporary artwork unless you create some room to work. While tattoo shops utilizing modern, super-expensive laser equipment are few and far between, some artists, like Kim, have incorporated the non-laser Tattoo Vanish system for clearing tattoo real estate right in the shop. That said, Kim has joined both our Shop Directory and Tattoo Removal Directory, so she can offer her clients the most modern, full-service tattoo services in this ever-changing industry.

Note: Click images to enlarge.

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Written by Baxter

September 10th, 2014 at 11:06 am

Posted in Directory

Dennis Larkins at Sacred Gallery, NYC


I didn’t know that the promo piece for Dennis Larkins’ show at Sacred Gallery promised a free, autographed print to the first 100 people who showed up. I got there early anyway, around 6:00 which is around the time most gallery openings in NYC get going. The only one there was Kevin, the manager. I didn’t get a print, which I guess is O.K., since it turns out the gallery wasn’t set to open until 8:00. But the good part is that Kevin did let me wander around the place alone, which – acid flashbacks not withstanding – turned out to be a totally cool way to see the art. His work is totally amazing and totally upbeat. Found myself laughing out loud at some and grinning at all the rest. I think I’d like to live in several of them. Regret that I didn’t get to meet the artist who wasn’t there yet either, which was the only thing I didn’t like about the show. I shot a few snapshots which don’t begin to capture the complexity of the work. Dennis uses a variety of materials to build up depth and texture, sometimes several inches worth, so pieces are literally jumping off the walls. If his style and subjects seem at all familiar, it might be because he he was doing wondrous things in the rock world as far back at the 1950′s. It is also totally cool and most gratifying to see somebody of “my generation” turning out such great stuff! Kinda gives me hope!

—Maury Englander (

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Written by Baxter

September 8th, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Unique Addiction Tattoos—Kalispell, Montana


Mechelle LaMee (4)

The Shop

Located in the upper-left corner of the state, Kalispell, Montana, is home to Jason Otten’s Unique Addiction Tattoos, and we’re glad to have ‘em. Montana is not exactly the center of body art activity in the U.S., and finding an inventive crew at an experienced tattoo shop is not an easy task. But thanks to Jason’s on-the-ball apprentice, John Blea, the information about our website and Tattoo Shop Directory was passed on and we connected by phone next day. Nice folks there at Unique Addiction, and, in a state where reliable tattoo shops are few and far between, Jason and Kevin Rekar and Mechelle LaMee are as good as gold. So, next time you’re in Kalispell, drop on by and say, “Hi.” You’ll be glad you did.

Note: Click images to enlarge.

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Written by Baxter

September 6th, 2014 at 10:17 am

Artistic Edge Tattoo & Art Collective—Dallas, Georgia


We all have heard of Dallas, the third largest city in Texas (after Houston and San Antonio), but Artistic Edge Tattoo & Art Collective‘s Dallas is a small town (population 12,000-plus) about three quarters of an hour west of Atlanta, Georgia.  Artist/owner Josh Schuver and his staff (Mike Douglas, Dusty Mullinax and piercer Josh Pruitt) are up to any task or any style, which is why they are one of the top tattoo shops in a state that’s famous for its tattoo talent. So, whether it’s your first tattoo or you want to compliment some existing work, drop by Artistic Edge and tell ‘em Tattoo Road Trip sent you.

Note: Click images to enlarge

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Written by Baxter

September 5th, 2014 at 6:33 pm