My hands by Christopher Onstott for Buddhadharma magazine summer issue 2015

I had a pleasant surprise to see my hands pictured in this summer's issue of Buddhadharma magazine. Christopher Onstott took this photo while Maitripa College was preparing for HH visit and during our meditation class on emptiness. I am really happy my hands are making their way around the globe tattooed, scarred and with love. Thanks to whomever is responsibile. Cheerfully, M unnamed-4image.aspx

Compound Art Show

Olivia and Mikki have pieces in the Compound Art Show located at 107 NW 5th street. Opening night was last night.

I heard it was shoulder to shoulder in the gallery being it was Portland Art Walk night downtown.

I am happy they were able to draw folks in to celebrate the opening of the show. I will be going down this week to check out the other artist's work with Dboy and Kristin.

If you get a chance please go down and check it out. Cheers, unnamed-15unnamed-5

Mikki worked on Jake's coverup today

  • I have been working on Jake's sleeve now for a few months. There is a tribal arm band under the dragon which I tried to focus on today. My plan is to lay as much color down and then go through and finish with the details. Thicking lines where need be and adding more saturation where it is necessary. We are getting closer. Happy he is patient as I work out my vision of his concept. Jake_dragoncoverup

Mahakala at Fortune Tattoo

Six-Armed Mahakala

The Six-armed Mahakala is favored by the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism, and in this manifestation is considered to be a fierce and powerful emanation of Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.

He is adorned with the following symbolic attributes:

  • A crown of five skulls: This is worn by all manifestations of Mahakala and represents the transmutation of the five negative afflictions of human nature into positive virtues.
  • The Six Arms signify the successful completion of the six perfections, which are practiced and brought to perfection by bodhisattvas during the course of their training.

The arms hold various implements each of which has a symbolic significance. The first right hand holds a curved knife. In Mahakala's symbolism the curved knife cuts through the life veins of enemies such as oath-breakers and hindering spirits.

The skull cup in his primary left hand is filled with the heart-blood of these enemies. The crescent shaped chopper of the right hand corresponds in shape to the cavity of the skull cup and functions to make 'mincemeat' of the hearts, intestines, lungs, and life-veins of enemies hostile to the Dharma, which are then collected in the skull cup. A similar crescent shaped hand cleaver is used in oriental cuisine to chop meat and dice vegetables.

The next right hand holds a damaru - the hourglass-shaped drum, signifying the primordial sound from which is said to have originated all manifested existence. Its rattle is also said to emanate the sound that arouses us from our ignorant state, coaxing us on to the path of Dharma.

The uppermost right hand holds a rosary of skulls. The continuous counting of the rosary is a symbol of perpetual activity, which Mahakala achieves on a cosmic scale.

Another left hand holds a trident which represents the Three Jewels of Buddhism, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.Finally there is the noose for lassoing those of us who have strayed away from the path of the Dharma.

His left leg is outstretched while the right is bent at the knee. The former symbolizes his accomplishments for the benefit of others and the latter those for himself. An elephant-headed entity lying crushed under his legs represents our instinctive, primary animal force and urge, which when unleashed can prove to be extremely destructive. The sun-disc on which Mahakala stands denotes his illumination of the darkness of ignorance, and the lotus on which this disc rests signifies his undefiled purity.

The blazing fire surrounding him demonstrates his powerful energy out to consume all neurotic states of minds. Further, his three organs of vision express his ability to see the past, present and future. That he stares at the world with wide eyes signifies that he is incensed at the current state of affairs.

Snakes slither across his body as ornaments and also as the scared thread of Brahmins. The writhing serpent is a metaphor for the stirring of our psychic instinctive and primordial energy and Mahakala's wearing them as adornments expresses the fact that rather than impede our spiritual progress, such emotions have been tamed and harnessed, becoming in the process, crowning glories of our spiritual achievements. Mahakala

"Reveal What's Real". Seth and I speak candidly about our profession.

Watch video>>>>Reveal What's Real<<<<< Gap fills.

1.Tattoo schools ran by people that cannot tattoo and charge huge amounts of money to teach people what they don't know how to do within my trade, is a scam that needs to stop.

My shared opinion that reputable tattooers are not teaching the main public how to tattoo in Oregon, says a lot for the climate of who is making a living at pushing forward new fledglings into our industry. There are maybe two people I would suggest going to in this state that will teach a person, how to tattoo and all that comes with that responsibility. That's it. Two.

The system is not perfect. It never was and is long due for a new standard that eliminates the possibility of a defunct tattooer that couldn't make it tattooing from taking ten thousand dollars a pop from some naive person, just wanting a career change or looking for a life profession. Am I going to make this change by starting a school? No. I have no desire to make a living off of making more tattooers. I've had two main apprentices in my twenty six years. Who earned their apprenticeships not by paying for them. I helped flame a few other fires that I believed in, that if they could make it, would aspire to making a good change in this business for the better. And they did. If you are wanting to be a tattooer. Ask yourself, what is your reason for wanting to become a tattooer? I'm wondering what motivates everyone these days. Is it really only to make money and be famous? Yicks. Since only a couple of decades ago, we weren't regarded with much respect in society or acknowledged as being a viable trade.

2.There are tattoo pigments that are food grade and not harmful to the body. We use them daily.

The sad part of firing off answers in this type of format, is not all of a conversation is conveyed to point or made in the cut. Our filmed conversation was about the changes that came in the nineties when tattooing started getting more main stream. There was a huge surge of new companies (not ran by tattooers) popping up that were making easy to apply pigments. Bright easy to put in colors that ended up being toxic. I stayed true with my first supply company if I was not using my own pigments. At one of the shops I was working at we banned in coming artists from using a particular brand of pigment in our shop and was then threatened by the company not to slander their product after we requested a material safety data sheet. Which they refused to give us upon request.

I guess my point in bringing up something like this was how important it is for people to use the available technology to inform oneself as to whom they are getting tattooed by. If you are going to invest your money on body art, make sure you are going to someone who is qualified, educated, practices some ethics, and is trained in knowing what they are doing to you as well as what they are putting into you.

3. Fad or Art?

I've got some really beautiful work on me and I've got some really goofy tattoos on me that I got with other tattooer friends. Spontaneous tattoos to mark some silly bonding moments in some forgotten city adventures.

Do I care what I put on people...yes and no. I do practice a huge amount of responsibility as to what I am tattooing and on whom. Every person is different. Every single one of you. If a person comes in that hasn't figured out what they want to do with the rest of their life, or is in a questionable mental state and just wants to say fuck off to their parents/society by having me tattoo their face or hands. Yeah, I'm not your girl.

If you have figured out who the hell you are in this life and can live with the consequences of your actions and want to take the shock out of the closet...yeah, I may help you with that experience. All depends on who you are and how you will live it. I'm not here on this planet to help anyone compound their life with more suffering. I learned early in my career how terrible that can be.

I love tattooing and would rather make some beautiful piece on you that you can share with your future grand kids. Knowing you will not regret it later in life. Every ten years it seems the fads come back and reinvent themselves. Bastardized tribal is out now, which means it will be back in again someday not too long from now. Just like traditional americana was out for awhile and then made a huge comeback. Just like jail house single needle style tattoos were out and now are the bees knees again. I'm a walking bill board of my life career trends. You can look at my body suit and see all the fads I road in on. Today the small print text on the rib cage is hip with the kids, because they saw some rock star sporting it in a magazine.

My wish for people to make better decisions is to help them be aware of these pressures and how they make us do shit to ourselves without our completely understanding why. I can live with my goofy tattoos. I am a tattooer. Have been my entire adult life. In saying this, I would rather say no to you, than take your money.

End cap.

My intention on doing this show was to share my view point as to the condition of my industry at this time and how some positive changes could occur if some facts were made public.

I wanted to caution people to make better educated decisions about getting tattooed. To share some of the things that are bothering me and some of my colleagues. I had hoped to use this format to let people know how much of a racket the tattoo schools are and how they are hurting this profession. Not just by squirting out certificates to anyone who has the money to pay for one. But also by the lack of integrity that is being practiced in exploiting this wonderful art. Like I said in the above paragraph, no one reputable is teaching here in Oregon because anyone that is reputable, other than the two that I know of, are tattooing for a living, not teaching just to get by. There is no job placement once you get your certificate. With no portfolio to work from to show your abilities. You will not get a job at a reputable shop. I have met way to many strippers with tattoo certification that can't get a job because they haven't tattooed enough people. Hence why we made the comments as to how these fledglings after not being able to acquire a job with working tattooers, go and open up their own shops. Which over saturates our market. These same people are charging the same rates that someone with experience is charging, only to practice on you. If you are an educated collector, you know the difference. Not everyone knows.

If you are a want to be tattooer, I would hope after spending thousands of dollars to have someone shuffle you through the required hours of training to be in this industry you would want to have something to show for your investment after making it. I believe the true path to preserving this trade for the future, if you want to be a tattooer, is by taking an apprenticeship with a world class tattooer. If you don't have what it takes to inspire a master tattooer to teach you what they know, then maybe you shouldn't be a tattooer. It's really not for everyone nor was it meant to be for everyone.

This trade has such a rich history that was long over looked and under appreciated by main stream for way too long because it wasn't accepted in the norm. Now that it is accepted by society for the time being. I would like to preserve what is left of it's dignity. Real deal.

Mondial du Tatouage 2013

Fortune will be visiting Paris during the spring for Tin-Tin's World of Tattooing 2013.  

Here's a sweet trailer for the show.

In 1999, Jennifer Billig and I worked together at Tin-Tin's first Tattoo Du Monde.

I was flying under the Outer Limits banner  at this time.

What do I recall from this first experience? Walking through the Charles du Gaulle airport with bubbles coming off my boots. I had been thrown into the pool by some of my tattoo gal pals in Florida at a poolside party just before I left for Europe. Being ridden around the city on the back of Bruno's 55 BSA. Buying flowers at the market for our booth with Jennifer after enjoying our morning continental breakfast. Coming out of a drunken stupor to find myself surrounded by real vampyres. Thankful P.M. was there to pull me out of that spell. Realizing if I hadn't left when I did, I never would have been able to. Rummaging through the flea market with Seth and some pals on the look out for brass thing-a-mick-gigers and special souvenirs. Every night we had a bottle of champagne delivered to our booth. Spitting off the Eiffel Tower and having half of it flip back into my face. Having Tin-Tin make me look at Robert Hernandez's portfolio. Robert was up and coming then and had not reached the U.S. yet with his talent. I was blown away and couldn't wait to tell everyone at home about this phenomenal artist and what he was doing with his tattoos and paintings. The venue music was picked by artist's for the artist's pleasure.

This was the first time I had experienced a promoter working hard to make not only the public but the artist's experience worth the while.

We were entirely spoiled to great dinners by some of the finest chefs in Paris, and had carte blanche to all the after hours clubs.

I stayed up with the late night creeps til' the wee hours of the morning and made it back to my room in time to join the sober folk to see all the sights I could.

I learned from this experience to take in everything.

Sleep? There would be time for that when back on the plane headed for home.

All these years later, I am excited to seeing how Tin-Tin will top himself this time around.

Much love and respect.



Deities from Los Angeles

This year 2013 began with my working on Tomoko and Charles from LA.tomoko#greentara#ms.mikki They came up for the holidays, to visit some family in Washington and spend some time with us here in Portland. I had started a version of Green Tara on Tomoko earlier this year and still had a ways to go on Charles' back. We were able to ring in the eve of 2013 by spending the day working on their pieces at Fortune.

Tomoko, and our friend Sandy and I used to be house mates in Los Angeles in the nineties. We had two houses on one lot in Los Feliz. Toonerville territory back then. I loved that little house. We made some epic history while living there. During this time, my friend Erika came and stayed with me for a bit while she refocused  her self and began fulfilling her future dreams. Somewhere in between here and there, Erika manifested a beautiful rendition of Quan Yin on Tomoko's back.

In an alternate reality, I met Charles a few years later down the road. Upon developing our friendship over the course of a few years and many miles covered on road trips with our bikes, we began his Mahakala back piece here in Portland. I had assumed Tomoko and Charles knew each other since we share so many mutual friends. Our friend Sandy and Erika being among them.

Reflecting now, on how many times we were at the same shows together, or at parties in various cities. It is truly bizarre they had not been introduced already. Then on one shameless LA night, Sandy invited the both of them to an art exhibit where they finally met formally. A few months later at one of Erika's memorable anniversary parties celebrating the success of her tattoo shop they became an official couple. I love these small world synchronicities. It seems love flickered its tender flame towards their hearts and left a lasting impression. I am happy to say, they are a loving, healthy, considerate couple that I am grateful to have as friends. These two ships had passed each other on so many nights and in the same waters of life in Los Angeles without ever making contact. It took some Deities to bring the lamp of love to show them the way. Many blessings to the both of them on this wondrous union. *Update. They became officially engaged in Paris this past April. Woot.