Cliche Queen

I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since my last update here! Well, I lie. Yes I can. Since my last post my life is a completely different creature. I’ve relocated from my lifelong home in NYC to Los Angeles, California and I guess I have an itchy mouthful of late night things to say as I bask in the stillness of *that* monumental achievement.

When you go through huge, sweeping life changes – all kinds of cliches come flying at you. Some are from your friends and acquaintances, some are from the Internet, some are from TV and the movies, some are ingrained into your own brain from childhood. Then you realize that some of these cliches exist because they are rooted in some amount of truth. I’ll admit it, I’ve  even been guilty of throwing a cliche or two at my own dear friends during their times of woe. But unlike all of the stupid memes out there that try to artfully slap a fortune cookie phrase on top of some Willie Wonka photo – I am here to tell you that they aren’t some kind of be-all-end-all finite wit and wisdom. They’re part of a subjective universal narrative. They aren’t distilled directly from Yoda’s ass  and they certainly are NOT a solution to all of life’s complex and individual problems. They try to package a truth into a punchy sentence and make it a done deal with a cherry on top. It could make a cute tattoo perhaps (and yes I have tattooed some of them). But as far as life advice goes,  I call shenanigans.

What goes around comes around.
This too shall pass.
It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.
That’s how the cookie crumbles.
Love does not a relationship make.
If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.
Only time will tell.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
All that glitters is not gold.
Tis better to have loved and lost then never loved at all.
Time heals all wounds.
When you have lemons make lemonade.

If I had a freakin’ nickel for every time I’ve been served some of this bumper sticker wisdom, I’d be spinning ALL of the Johnny Cash songs on ALL of the jukeboxes and crying into my gallons of spiked lemonade. More pop culture reference might lead me to a country song lyric I mighta heard on a major network TV show that went something like “sometimes good intentions don’t come across so well”. You know when your life is entering country song lyric status things are getting interesting. Or at least interesting enough  to warrant a free shot of Jim Beam and another nickel for the jukebox. Wait, what My Tunes deprived decade do I think it is anyway?

In the end, if you’re any real friend of mine you’d tell me to snap out of it or go fuck myself and afterwards we’d have drinks and a laugh and look forward to having a hungover breakfast together because (insert yet another dang cliche) “tomorrow is another day”.

I can accept and appreciate when these trite idioms come to me from those I hold dear because they’re the ones that can back it up with the real deal in your face stuff no one else gives a crap enough to tell you.  Also known as (another cliche coming…) – when the cats out of the bag, are you hiding under the table after stepping on that land mine  (aka ME) — or are you just smiling behind a little Aesops mechanism because you’re trying to be a TRUE FRIEND who wants to make that awkward moment a bit silly so we can both lighten the fuck up about serving a little truth to each other? That’s the kind of friendship I’m talking about. It’s not for everyone but that’s OK. I’ve come to learn this kind of moment is always a blessing because it weeds out the riff raff. I’m now very comfortable with this involuntary auto-selection process.

Bring it. And another round while you’re at it.

I’ll take Aesop and his fables and all the cats jumping out of their bags and (to insert more cliche love) ALLLL of the rainbow colored shit hitting the fan so I can see all of those glorious true colors flying about! When life ceases to be a party and things get REAL, you see who your true friends are. The people who can’t be bothered with standing by your side when life gets painful and uncomfortable are the proverbial DEAD WEIGHT that nature is helping you shed. It all happens by design you see, because nature wastes nuthin’. Not rain, not wind, not time, not energy, not NUTHIN! By sending in a shit storm or two, everything gets shaken up. Only those who have solid and true roots to your strongest foundation will be left standing. Opportunists, narcissists, fluffy party people and fakes will fall by the way side. Your playing field will be different, lighter, healthier and clearer. You might want to scream and cry and feel betrayed at first, but thank your lucky freakin’ stars because you were just sent a big ass favor from Mama Universe. Thank you MAMA! Tip: I find if you thank her regularly for these blessings she’ll keep up with giving them to you too.

Not for the faint of heart, but alas – will you be a warrior in this life and fight for wanting better for yourself? Or will you passively allow life to happen to you and blame everyone else instead of taking responsibility to shape the life you want to live?

NEXT (and almost final) CLICHE – life is too short. This is truth. This is simple. This is a MANTRA of mine. It reduces everything to its purest terms.

What is it in your life that no longer serves you or keeps you from achieving your greatest good? The largest hailstone in all of humanity might fall from the sky and strike you dead tomorrow – can you live with that? Are you doing everything you can to live life to its fullest? Are you honoring those (good) voices in your head or are you suppressing and denying them because it’s easier to not stir the pot of Cliche Con Carne? Will you chose to not go forward with regrets, whether regret of doing OR not doing something? Will you chose to not go forward with negativity in your heart…? Will you learn forgiveness and compassion? All of these things might sound overly idealistic and trite – but this is the stuff we only seem to be able to apply in the context of others and the world outside of us. Which makes sense because that’s so much easier to digest. Not to get all Buddhist on your ass but realize that in trying to achieve these things towards others, we approach those challenges within ourselves. And that’s the true root of all evil, isn’t it kittens? (Insert the biggest cliche of all…) WE ARE OUR OWN WORST ENEMIES.

Perhaps this is coming out because I’m a little fed up with ALLLL the overwhelming life lessons constantly being thrown at me. Since childhood really, it’s been non-stop. I suppose it keeps me on my toes. But geez… Being human these days is friggin’ exhausting. Can we go live in straw huts with hammocks in Fiji yet? I know I’d be an excellent spear-fisher.

At the end of the day, perhaps it’s mostly coming out because I’m a potty mouthed NYC girl who recently moved to LA after going through some heavy shit and just finished binge-watching  Season 5 of Mob Wives on Hulu.

Big Ang forever!

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The Death of Mother’s Day

It’s been a hundred years since I’ve posted here. Since I decided my “new way to post” I’ve whipped up a pretty amazing website which is the way to see all of my tattoo work and find all that kind of information. I’ve even created a tattoo page on Facebook which is the best way to keep up with all of my tattooing activities on the day to day. This blog has collected some cobwebs yet again but it resurfaces as I try to find the best platform for the stuff I need to say at the moment, so dear bloggers – it’s gonna get personal again.

Every year I dread Mother’s Day. Because I’m never sure what it’s going to bring for me. I’ve always been fair to myself and given myself the license to do what I need to do when it comes to grieving for my parents. If you’ve ever lost a parent you know you never truly “get over it”. The process simply evolves over time. It’s an organic, living, breathing thing just as we are. Milestones come and go. Moments of need arise and subside. Moments of heartache and yearning for what could have been bubble up then simmer down.

My life is truly shaped by that one monumental event. I was ten years old and it was the summer of 1986. She died from pancreatic cancer and it happened quickly. I was sheltered from much of the truth because I’m sure my father didn’t think I could comprehend what was happening. I just knew she was very, very sick. And one day she didn’t come home. I recall the moment my father told me she was gone. I don’t recall crying though. I just understood. I don’t think I even cried at her funeral.

Surely over the years I’ve made up for that and it’s because I’ve come to understand that about myself. I don’t cry on cue. I cry when it’s genuine and when I need to. Some people perceive it as “holding it in”. I felt the eyes on me at her funeral, the “she’s not upset? why isn’t she in pieces??” I was a little girl who grew up really fast in those moments. Because I remember looking at everyone and thinking to myself “I don’t care what people think. She was MY mother. I don’t have to explain myself.” Grief is not a performance for the public. It’s deep and personal and private. Maybe I got that attitude from her, but the heartbreak in that sentiment is that I’ll never really know.

My father raised me after that with a lot of help from my Aunts. Some were in our family by marriage (she was an only child like myself). But most of these ladies were her close friends and through that was the greatest lesson for me. I was shown that your true family is the family you chose. And that you leave your legacy behind through those relationships because more often than not – only your true friends know the REAL you. I was blessed to be around these women growing up, all strong independent fiery ladies who I believe were a reflection of her as well. You are who you hang with after all. I grew up listening to stories and anecdotes….. things she did, things she said, antics she pulled, the ways she was. I soaked it all in as much as I could. Eventually as I matured, they even told me I sometimes sounded like her, something about the inflection in my voice that was unique like hers. More moments of tiny heartbreak. I wish I could even remember what she sounded like.

So many of my life choices have been shaped by losing her and by learning about who she was. She marched to her own beat. She lived a very unconventional lifestyle. She and my father were married but separated not too long after. They had various periods of getting back together, splitting up again, etc. And somewhere in that back and forth they conceived me. She was always told she couldn’t get pregnant and when she did she wanted to keep it. A pretty courageous decision for a single woman in her early 40’s in the 1970’s. However, their unique lifestyle choices did not prevent them from being good parents. I lived with my mom in Queens and spent weekends with my father in the city. He was consistent in his visits and time with me and believed my day to day place was with her. They came together for me and I was never exposed to whatever squabbles they might have had. They didn’t even get legally divorced until I was 6 years old. It seemed so normal to me I thought every kid lived this way.

The legacy of their choices absolutely impressed upon me that I should always chose what I feel is best for me. I was never told to care what the rest of the world thought and that no one else could make the correct decisions for ME but myself. And so when Mother’s Day comes around I let it be what it needs to be that particular year. Some years I feel like being social and being around my Aunts or other people’s mothers. Some years I can’t bear to walk around and see everyone at brunch with their moms because I miss her so much.

Other years I just need to just be unapologetically alone and listen to Bessie Smith records while I look at her pictures and remember her. While I wish her memory hasn’t been reduced to motionless two dimensional photos, I was recently gifted with a digitized video from 1979 that my Uncle filmed of a family dinner. My mind was completely blown because I got to see her move, hear her speak… and most heartbreakingly… she speaks of me and how proud she is of me. I’m so grateful to have this treasure. I thought I’d never hear or see her again.

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New Year, New Approach

I like sharing things that make me… well, ME. Alas, not everyone cares about the same stuff as I do. Not everyone is so interested in my inner-workings. So my new blog approach for the New Year is that not every entry has to be so poignant and “Dear Diary…”

My point is that I’d like to post more frequently and I constantly promise to be better at it. Clearly, I’m setting myself up for failure. It always seems like such a monumental task and I’ve figured out why. Looking back I find myself thinking “dang, that’s a lot of reading to chew on.”

I’ll absolutely throw you meatier posts from time to time. But more often than not I think I’ll just give you pretty pictures to enjoy. Here’s some fun pieces that I haven’t featured here yet.

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(Above: Erin’s Garden sleeve! I started this linework 3+ years ago and we finally finished filling it all in! The most recent additions are the pink rose, leaf bug and grasshopper to the lower left. We plan to continue to her lower arm and connecting it all with background color eventually.)

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(Above: Erika’s Psychedlic Goddess forearm tattoo. This piece is inspired by all things psychedelic, gemstones, astrology, sacred geometry and Goddess-like. This was a super fun original idea on a super cool original chick. Erika does all kindsa funky custom dreadlock extensions and you can find out more about her HERE. )

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(Above: Nanci’s Brigid’s Cross faerie. Nanci wanted this otherworldly creature to be the harbinger of the symbol for her patron Goddess, Brigid. It was her first tattoo as well! This piece spoke to me on many levels. I have mentioned Brigid in a previous post, click HERE to learn more.)

To see more of my work, click on that little “More Photos” link below my Current Tattoo Work folder on the right —–>

I am currently taking appointments at my private studio in Brooklyn. Please email me with any questions regarding tattoo ideas, pricing, consultations and appointments. I’d love to work with you!

Also note, for the month of January I am running a 10% off special for new tattoos! It’s my way of saying thanks to my old clients for being so loyal and a way of making a warm  first experience to new folks as well.

Shoot me a line – scarlettattoos@gmail.com

Happy New Year, folks!

Season of the Witch

It has been a truly beautiful and eventful autumn here in NYC! We just passed Samhain and Day of the Dead festivities. Since my last entry – a couple of my dearest friends gave birth to a beautiful baby girl (which means I’m an AUNTIE for the first time ever!), I got to see some amazin’ blazin’ spooky pumpkins on The Hudson, saw one of my favorite burlesque couples get married at the Freak Show in Coney Island and last but not least, I got to shake it on stage once again at the Wasabassco 9th Anniversary Show.

The latter is becoming a yearly tradition for me and something I can safely say I’ll most likely keep doing every year. I still feel I need to remain focused mainly on my tattooing (aka I’m not planning a full-on burlesque “come back”) but I recognize that I am an artist that will never just do one thing. I’m a multi-faceted girl and need all of my interests satiated at all times. My deep appreciation for participating in this show every year stems from how Wasabassco and the entire NYC burlesque community has not only shaped me into who I am today… but they are some of the biggest supporters of my tattooing. As most of you know, I truly believe I would not have been able to fulfill my dream of going to France to study drawing with Brian Froud if it was not for their generous fundraising efforts. It truly is all about love in that community.

At the same time, it’s been business as usual. My studio mate Dorothy and myself continue to build our nest. It’s been close quarters but we are currently looking at a larger space in the same building which we hope to move into by December 1st. For those of you who have experienced our current lil gypsy den, you will appreciate that we’re looking to have a window and a bit more elbow room; artists need light and air! We might even be able to let ya’ll *gasp* bring guests with you soon! Stay tuned for more on that…

We have decided to call our new home Cyganka Tattoo Collective. Cyganka is the Polish word for “gypsy” and we thought it appropriate as we both have Polish roots and are very much modern-day gypsies. It’s also a way for us to have a collective online presence and help eachother cross-promote our goings-on and our work. We still remain individually operating artists, we just wanted our “house” to have a name. It is by-appointment-only and private and is not a walk-in shop. So please do contact either of us directly for more information, tattoo questions, consultation appointments, etc. Check out our website to learn more!

I leave you now with a few new pieces that I have added to my portfolio!

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(Octopus tattoo by me, koi was pre-existing without color.)

Turn, turn, turn

As we approach the Autumn Equinox, NYC is finally starting to feel like fall. Part of my love affair with this city is knowing I’ll get to experience all of the seasons to their fullest. Hands down Autumn has been my favorite season since I was a kid. Hot cider, fall fashion, fiery foliage colors, the scent of burning fireplaces and fragrant stews; the promise of Halloween, pumpkin pie spice, costumes and candy; The Witches New Year, rituals and magick.

My second tattoo ever was an autumnal piece done by Rodney (RIP) of the Lion’s Den Tattoo in New Hope, PA. Experiencing the season in this little historic village along the Delaware River is hard to top, so I got a tattoo of a 7-pointed Faerie Star encircled with autumn leaves and acorns on my wrist. Merely thinking I was decorating myself with a symbol of my spiritual path and my favorite time of year, it has since become a stamp of my life’s pattern. Fall is the season of change. The verdant world of summery green and floral perfumes shifting into a deeper, earthier evolution, all making way for the darker half of the year. My life is in a constant state of THIS. It’s not always as dramatic as I’m making it sound. Sometimes, more seldom thankfully, it’s like a sledgehammer and other times it’s subtle and gentle. But it’s always present and I’m always aware.

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(Above, freshly done circa 2002)

Last year around this time I was gearing up to head down to New Orleans for Halloween. It was just around that time: Hurricane Sandy decided she had other plans for me and NYC. All reservations and flights cancelled, I decided to take advantage of the week at home and start hunting for a new tattoo shop to work from. I was making my game plan and started a list of places to hit up when I came across this one interesting spot in Williamsburg called Twelve 28 Tattoo. The first thing that struck me was the page of artist bios. I marveled that they were all female and with these fabulously glam pinup-like headshots! To me it seemed a bit of a holy grail discovery but even moreso when I actually had my interview and found they were all really down-to-earth folks with an even cooler shop vibe. I fit right in and it was the perfectly natural and next place for me to be.

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Hoping to make it to my anniversary mark with them in November, real estate developers shifted our course as they make their way through the Williamsburg area buying, demolishing and building. New, tall, gleaming structures erasing all of the old, historic vibe-y spots and 28 Marcy Avenue was no exception. The wood planked flooring spoke volumes of its past. Apparently, our particular space at one time produced the gold leafing on the sides of bibles! There are rumors of a ghost even inhabiting the space. All the stuff that my old NYC dreams are made of, soon to become something with much less character but much more profitability.

It’s hard to find a place in this world where you fit in. Even harder still, to find folks that you can exist and flow with, be creative around and even call like family. I’ll miss us all being in the same room together but I feel lucky that I’ve met such kick ass people and that we are all making an effort to stick together in some way. We found a pretty sweet spot just “next door” in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Twelve 28’s owner Joy Rumore and Gianna Galli are moving to their own private studios in October. I’ve been working in a shared room with Dorothy Lyczek since early September. While adjusting to the new digs, we’re still working together, almost as a collective, and tattooing up a storm. We are all now working by-appointment-only, so if you want to have a consult or set up an appointment just email us individually. Even though this pushes us all to focus on ourselves as independent artists and business-ladies, we’re still remaining a pretty tight support network for eachother and I love that with a passion! I’m sure Chris Wednesday will still breeze through to do some work here and there. And I better still see Miss Roxie around (my favorite shop girl EVER. I seriously am gonna miss this pretty little Baby Bat in my daily life).

Here’s to the season of change! Gotta go dust off my broomstick now…

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xoxo

Tribe & True

Seems I’m yet again remiss in maintaining my bloggin’ promise. But alas as busy as life gets with work and things to do and places to be I’m still trying to keep myself centered physically and spiritually. I have to catch myself at times being too iConnected and wanting to photo document everything that goes on in my life (if you don’t already follow me on Facebook, I also post regularly over on Instagram and try my hardest not to repeat content!).

It’s been a blissful summer so far. Despite the heatwave and insane humidity in NYC this year, I’ve done lots of great things like getting back into a SuperMoonSummerSolstice-charged fitness routine that’s seriously keeping me very grounded, centered and strong. I’ve spent a ton of leisurely time taking in the city and beyond with good friends and my love, Gabe (whose band Ten Ton Mojo is blowing up like you wouldn’t believe!). I have also had the opportunity to reconnect with family members in Turkey (and stateside) that I haven’t spoken to in many years. Politically, it’s gotten kind of scary over there so I’m grateful to know they are all alright and fighting the good fight.

Yes, this summer has given me many warm and fuzzy blessings and I’m gearing up for some more! I’m heading back “home” to a place called Brushwood Folklore Center for Summerfest. I’ve been bonding with the land and the folks up at Brushwood for almost 15 years now and there’s always a little pang of empty when I have to miss a year. I’ve met so many magickal folks and spun so much magick for my life there (only to ALWAYS see it manifest!). It’s just one of those places that you leave a tiny piece of your heart at and every time you return you feel whole again. Here’s a few images of festivals past…

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One of the first things you see heading into camp and it couldn’t be more true.

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Beth and Zeeb’s Fayrie Garden.

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The nightly bonfire at The Roundhouse, the heart of the festival. Image courtesy of Brushwood Folklore Center LLC.

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Above, dancing with my ladies Gigi La Femme (L) and Jenn of Raven Moon’s Oracle (center) ca. 2006. Dig the lack of skin art! Ha!

Ofcourse my summer has also been filled with lots of awesome tattooing! And as I’ve blogged here before, I spun a ton of magick to achieve my dreams and goals which have included becoming a tattooer. Much of the success of my magick was fueled by my time at Brushwood. This year I can’t say I will be spinning for things I feel my life is lacking. Instead, I will be giving a lot of gratitude back to the land, my tribe and the universe for helping me be where I am right now.

Here’s a piece I finished over a year ago and just received images of. More mermaid mojo!

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So mote it be.

Planting wishes

Today marks The Spring Equinox, some of us witchy folks call it Ostara. Once more we turn towards longer days, warmer sunshine and metaphorical new beginnings. No time is more appropriate than now to meditate on the things you wish to manifest in your life and “plant those seeds”.

Once upon a time, I had wished to become a tattoo artist and I planted the necessary seeds. I did a lot of work on all levels to make this dream a reality… many rituals, bits of magick and such that also included the ritual of tons-of-time with my sketchbook. While many drawings lead up to this one, this is the final drawing that got me an apprenticeship:

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It’s my take on The Dance by Alfonse Mucha, as inspired by my best friend who loves mermaids. We were camping at a Pagan gathering at the time, I worked on this sketch for 3 days in the woods of Western New York and sent it via cell phone snapshot (as pictured above). While a lifetime of artistic influence and schooling lead me to all of this, I was dancing my intention around bonfires one minute and going home to become a tattooer the next.

Just a few months later I executed my very first tattoo on myself (inner left leg, just above my ankle). I’m still pretty proud of this tattoo. I like looking at it and seeing how far I’ve come which always serves as a reminder of how far I’d still like to go.

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I chose the bee for several reasons. First, it was smallish (approx 3″h). There were no straight lines or absolute symmetry for me to mess up! As a beginner I figured – organic shapes was the way to go. Second, the bee is a symbol of a matriarchal society (loved having my Goddess minded path literally bless my first piece). Lastly, diligence: bees are damned hard workers! All elements for lots of good mojo to carry with me on this new path.

And to come full circle, here is a bee that I tattooed just last month…

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Reflection is a useful tool. Looking back on the journey is just as important as acknowledging where you currently stand and plotting where you intend to go next. Plant your seeds, dreams and wishes in fertile soil. Tend to them well: water regularly, give them plenty of sunshine and always remember to prune away the dead bits as you go. You’ll have a flourishing garden in no time.