Results tagged “Calypso Tattoo”

09:32 AM
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In honor of my tattooist's birthday today, I'm posting some of his latest dotwork pieces.

Happy birthday, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo!

07:04 AM
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On Friday, I added another piece to the full leg tattoo I'm slowly working on with Dan DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Liege, Belgium. Building on the existing dotwork ornamentation, bit by bit, is a lesson in patience. I just want it to be done, but with the full composition done in the stippling method, the sessions take longer, even for smallish pieces. When it all comes together, however, it'll be worth it all. Dan will be back in NYC in March for my next session, when we'll start tying all the pieces together. Can't wait!

If you haven't already seen them blasted shamelessly all over the internet, here are some tattoos Dan has already done on me below.

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09:02 AM
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It's been a while since I featured work from my own tattoo artist, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Liege, Belgium; however, I'm also posting because it's a rare opportunity to grab the limited available appointments he has when working outside of his studio.

Next week, from September 23rd to the 26th, Dan will be working at London Tattoo, and has a couple of session times available. To make an appointment, email or call 02078335996 in the UK. There may also be a session free on Friday, September 27th during the London Tattoo Convention. Email him at for more info.

Check the Calypso Tattoo site for more of Dan's signature dotwork and blackwork. He is also featured in Black Tattoo Art 2: Modern Expressions of the Tribal.

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12:11 PM
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Last night, I was reminded just how much tattoos hurt. It hurt in a way that I wanted to travel back in time and slap my 20-year-old self who would proclaim, "Oh, it's just like scratching a sunburn" because, back then, I had never sat for hours while needles drilled into my bony shin [or 5 hours of line work on the ribs like last year.]

Over the past 4+ years, since I've moved back to my native Brooklyn, I've only been getting tattooed once or twice a year, when my artist, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo travels to NYC or when I make a trip back to Liege, Belgium -- home to Calypso Tattoo and where I lived for almost 8 years.

As I work on a unified body suit, a year can feel even longer because I'm excited to see my body continue to transform and to become the person I envision myself to be. At times, when working piece-by-piece on the design, it can feel like I'm in a state of flux. That "I'm not done." But the pace is important for a number of reasons.

In an age of instant gratification, there's something special about having to wait for what you want. It offers a greater sense of gravity and even ritual to the tattoo process. On a practical level, it also allows for more time to research patterns and gather ideas on how to bring all these motifs on my body together. Dan is really a master at creating that harmony and flow and taking a holistic approach to how the tattoos look on the body overall.

And then there's the fact that I have enough time to forget the pain.

The new tattoo on my calf and shin, is comprised of all dots. No lines this time. When it heals, I'll post better pictures so you can really see how Dan worked the density of the dots to create some beautiful light effects. Using a rotary machine, which doesn't have the harsh buzz of the coil, Dan worked tirelessly for over four hours to make every point perfect. And as always, I'm thrilled -- although my happy dance will have to wait until the swelling goes down.
09:17 AM
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I just secured my next tattoo appointment with Daniel DiMattia, of Calypso Tattoo when he comes into New York for the NYC Tattoo Convention, May 17-19, so I'm excited, especially considering that I only get tattooed once a year now. But it's interesting to watch how my body suit is slowly coming together, piece by piece. Last May, he tattooed my ribs -- which wasn't fun -- but this time it should be easier with small calf work. I'll be posting photos in two weeks of my new work when it's done.

Dan is booked out for the time, but consider taking a trip to Liege, Belgium, the home of Calypso Tattoo. Dan will also be working the London Tattoo Convention in September.  Oh, and we'll be there too!
10:29 PM

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As my next volume of Black Tattoo Art is in its final stages, set to launch later this Spring, I wanted to offer you a preview of some of the work that will be featured. And considering it's the birthday of my tattoo artist today -- Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Belgium -- I figured I'd post one of his more recent works that will be in the book:  this adorable dotwork Matryoshka dolls (or Russian nesting dolls) tattoo . I love the background dot patterns with the henna-inspired line work as well.

Check more of Dan's work here. You can also read about my last couple of sessions with him as we continue my body suit here and here.

More previews to come!
02:46 PM
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This past Saturday I added to my tattoo collection by getting both sides of my ribs done, courtesy of Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo. Here's how it went down:

I woke up to the smell of steak and eggs (sorry, vegans), which Brian was preparing especially for my appointment. While this may seem like a frivolous detail -- akin to me seeing photos of everything my friends eat posted on Facebook -- my point in mentioning it is the importance of a fueling up before a session because, really, getting needled takes a toll on your body and you need to feed it to keep going. [Keep in mind that I'm Greek, and we eat like we're getting tattooed every day.]

After breakfast comes outfit choice. Something loose fitting and slung low on the hips so as not to rub against and irritate the fresh tattoo. When I got my hips done last time, I wore breakaway pants -- the kind sports figures and male strippers tear off (woohoo!) -- so I can undo the snaps along the sides to expose just the skin being tattooed and not flash everyone at the shop. I highly recommend them. But they weren't necessary this time as we decided to extend the tattoo from the existing flowers and snakes on my hip bones and not lower down. Yoga pants did the trick.

Fed and dressed, I headed to Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where Dan was guesting, along with fabulous abstract artists Noon & Loic Lavenu aka Xoil. There were a lot of jokes in French throughout the day but they largely centered around genitals than Jerry Lewis. I was entertained.

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Pay attention: Ok, here we go about the actual tattooing part in case I lost you at the food and fashion. Days before the session, Dan took my measurements and we decided how we wanted to shape the tattoos on the ribs to bring a more cohesive look with my existing stomach and hip work. I chose to keep to floral and mehndi-inspired motifs, which flowed inward along the shape of my waist. It's slimming and way better than lipo. While Dan is brilliant at freehand designs directly on the body, he drew the design in advance for better symmetry and because we didn't have time to spend hours coming up with something on the spot. He was leaving for Belgium the next day.

Stencil on. Mirror check. Great. Let's do this.

Ouch. No really, ouch.

Tattoos hurt, yes. Some people feel them in certain spots more than others, and the ribs were my unhappy place. Couple that with a large Belgian bearing down on me (see above) and the inability to move because it's all line work, with some dot shading. Not much room for error if I twitched.

Not much room for sympathy either. Most of my big work (back, sleeves, etc) is by Dan. Dan and I were once married. There's no need for polite client relations. This pain was payback for the times I didn't do the dishes. He is quick to mention, however, that he enjoys tattooing me because it's the only time I shut up. He's right.

There were some short breaks here and there. Dan's lovely fiance Devanei shared great stories about her experiences on this NY trip. Brian showed up with the most important tattoo provision ever: a Snickers bar. Chocolate and peanuts. It satisfied.

Within five hours, including breaks, both sides were done. Dan works fast, and you want fast on the ribs.

Three days later, the healing has been super-quick as well. I've been doing my usual LITFA method: Leave It the F*ck Alone, with just a thin layer of A&D ointment here and there. I'll switch to moisturizer soon.

The tattoos are perfect. The work harmonizes with the existing designs and also lends itself to further additions as we continue my bodysuit, slowly. I love the way I look in them.
That's why I get tattooed.

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03:53 PM
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Well, I'm still molting but because some of y'all have been asking about my new snake hip, here's a sneak peak while it heals.

On Monday, Belgian blackwork maestro, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo spent nearly 8 hours on a stippled snake that winds up my left thigh to my hip. Dan was a guest artist at Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn so I didn't have to travel to his studio in Liege (although I recommend doing so for a European tattoo vacation). The work mirrors and balances out the snake on my right thigh, which Dan tattooed in November at his shop. More on that in this post.

Because I wasn't jet-lagged, and I had the ridiculous and wonderful Tattoo Culture crew as entertainment (plus Brian Grosz feeding me candy), the pain seemed significantly less than the first snake, even though it was the same tattoo and same amount of hours under the needle. A testament to mind over matter and optimal tattoo conditions.

Like the other snake, I decided not to use the numbing spray because the hurt was manageable, but yeah, by the seventh hour I was seriously ready to have it be done. After seven hours and forty-five minutes (with only a quick lunch break) of tattooing, I was standing (on shaky feet) completely in love with both of my hips. I still can't stop shimmying.

The snakes will form the foundation on my legs for different decorative elements that will surround them, but I think I'll take a little break for a while.

See more of Dan's work here.
08:18 AM
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It's red. It's swollen. And it needs to be lubricated.

My new tattoo, that is. But before I head off to the Brussels Tattoo Convention to show it off, I wanted to give y'all a sneak peak. This baby took 7 1/2 hours of straight tattooing and done by none other than blackwork guru Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Liege, Belgium. While I've been tattooed by a few others, Dan is my main artist, having done my sleeves, back, belly, ribs, and my pretty hobbit foot last May. You can see all my tattoos on Flickr here.

The photo and the work itself now is dark but as you know, once it settles, we'll get a better idea of what the tattoo will look like when I'm eighty years old.

I arrived in Liege on Wednesday, ignored the jet lag and headed to Calypso Tattoo to start drawing out the work with Dan. My idea was to have two snakes winding from my hips down to my thighs. Sexy, huh? Dan thought that we should add flowers on the hips as a base for the work and have the snake moving up towards them. [I also have dotwork floral designs on my belly.] The movement and then placement of the snake took the longest time to figure out. While Dan does mostly freehand, for this work, he sketched it all out and made a stencil for tattooing the next day.

dan skteching.jpgOk, Thursday. Game day. I leave my hotel and the city is a ghost town. Nothing is open. Barely a car on the road. I walk into the studio nervous -- about the zombie apocalypse and all -- and find Dan refining the dot patterns in the stencil.

"Dan, where is everyone?"
"It's November 11th, a national holiday."
"What are we celebrating?"
"The Armistice that marked the end of the war [in 1918 -- more here]."
"Well considering we're divorced but live in peace, this is my armistice tattoo."
[loud laughs]

But hell, that armistice tattoo was a battle. I always like to start the needling at the more painful part first, when endorphins really kick in. My right hip was particularly sensitive because I had zapped an old tattoo a few times and there was some minor scaring and skin sensitivity. But the pain was nothing like my foot or upper ribs.

We did the lining of the hip and upper thigh part of the tattoo -- and damn, Dan does looooong lines in one shot -- and then worked in the dotwork patterns. This took up most of the time. You have to have A LOT of patience for dots. It also does a number on the artists' wrists. The effect is beautiful, however, and settles in nicely over time.

Then came the snake's tail end. That was around the 6th hour and I was shot. I really wanted to grab the bottle of Vasocaine numbing spray I bought, desperate, like a pregnant woman begging for an epidural. But Dan encouraged me to tough it out with only an hour or two left because he wasn't sure how the skin would react. So I toughed it out.

Remember when we talked about tattoo pain in the Robert Atkinson post?

Robert said that he had no problems with people using the numbing sprays, adding: "At the end of the day, no one is giving out trophies for being tough." But I also took your thoughtful comments into consideration where many had negative experiences with healing tattoos that had been sprayed, so I did it old school. No trophy. But I came out of it with a tattoo I adore.

Will post pics once it's healed. My session for the other hip is in May. I have time to forget what it feels like until then.

Ok, off to the Brussels convention!

PS: There was some reason for having a Shakira song in the title of this post but now I forgot why. I should practice my snake hip moves just in case.
02:51 PM
I just got a message from our Editrix-In-Chief: she's currently in the midst of her 7th hour of tattooing at Calypso Tattoo and wants to apologize to all of her minions readers for the lack of updates today and tomorrow.  She'll resume blogging once she gets to the Brussels Tattoo Convention, where I'm sure she'll keep us entertained with live-tweeting and blurry iPhone snapshots.

That said, if you're anywhere near Belgium (as an American, it is my God-given right to know absolutely titty about European geography), get yer butt on out there, bring our Fearless Leader some antibiotic ointment for her fresh ink and buy her book!


11:57 AM
new foot tattoo.jpgI'm in pain.

Yes, we know tattoos hurt. It's what gives the art much of its badassness. I used to think that the pain was absolutely necessary to be part of the tattoo tribe. That is, until I got my feet tattooed and all I wanted was a Vicodin. [I didn't get one.] There was a time when I would've said tattooing my ribs had to be the worst, but now I know that my freshly tattooed foot--all swollen and throbbing (and not in a good way)-- wins for the most suckage.

But I'll stop my whining here and give you the lowdown on my new pretty tootsie.

Yesterday, I was at Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where Dan DiMattia works as a guest artist when he's in town, away from his Liege, Belgium studio. Dan has done most of my tattoo work: my sleeves, backpiece, ribs, stomach, and small hand tattoo.

In advance of my appointment, I sent Dan an email with images of my other foot tattoo by Jacqueline Spoerle--which you can read about here--and told him I wanted a floral design as well with a shape symmetrical to the other. That's all I said.

When I got to Tattoo Culture, he had a bunch of designs he drew up for me to choose from for the top of my foot; I picked my fave and then he freehanded the side up by my ankle and added a few extra touches all around. Perfecto.
foot tattoo.jpgNow the hard part.

The needles went it, the endorphins kicked, and all was cool for a hot minute until my foot then wanted to twitch and do a little dance. I kept it steady but it caused my body to tense up, so it took a while to relax and get into the shop banter. And there was plenty of it.

Loic from France is also guesting at the shop along with Noon--two of my absolutely favorite artists of the French Avante Garde/Art Brut style. The same way he needles humor into his tattoos, Loic offered comic relief. Or maybe it was just easy to make fun of him. Or maybe it was easy to make fun of both he and his client, a young girl who wanted a French sentence on her wrist that didn't make much sense but still insisted on getting it even after two native Francophones advised against it. [In the end, Loic did word it in a way that was understandable, albeit still retaining its desired idiocy.] Beyond that, I think the dude has a foot fetish, but I'll leave it at that.

It makes such a difference to get tattooed in a friendly and relaxed shop where the art is serious but the people are goofy. Or at least my own goofiness was allowed to flourish and shine.

The downside of being in a friendly shop, is that the guys are too friendly. When a woman walked in with a stroller asking if she could calm her screaming baby down inside the shop instead of outside, they said Ok. She didn't stay long but I was more annoyed by the audacity than the wailing. If there was ever a final nail in the coffin of tattoo studio intimidation, this was it. Again, a trade-off.

While Dan takes his time in designing, he is really fast at tattooing, which is pretty amazing considering he's meticulous in his line and dotwork. The actual tattooing took less than an hour. *phew*

We wrapped my puffy foot up, and I managed to stuff it into my over-sized rain boots. Today, it's nestled comfortably in monkey slippers. [sexy time!] The big question, however, is what to wear when I'm on my feet all tomorrow and through the weekend at the NYC Tattoo Convention.

As I ponder the great footwear debate, I'll end in all caps:  I LOVE MY TATTOOED FEET.
06:55 PM
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In what can only be described as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, tribal/blackwork tattoo specialist Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo is adding more color to his tattoos!!!
[Not enough exclamation points exist to express this shocking news.]

I just saw the half-sleeve above on Tattoo Now's Tattoo of the Day -- a feature I check religiously -- and thought, "Wow, interesting use of color in dotwork shading amongst blackwork. I wonder who the artist is..." Wait, that's my tattoo artist (and yes, the dude I was once married to for all y'all gossip mongers)!

Considering Dan is tattooing my foot next month when he's in for the NYC Tattoo Convention (May 14-16), I figured I'd head to the Calypso Tattoo website and see what other new things Dan's been doing to mix up his portfolio. Alas, I didn't find anything crazy like a biomechanical portrait tattoo of Beyonce surrounded by Koi fish (I wish!), but there were new artistic influences like this modern art tattoo and this Egyptian-inspired piece; however, it seems he is staying true to what he is renowned for: a powerful blend of tribal-inspired art like these works and more feminine henna-inspired tattoos.

While Dan is booked for his New York trip, the best way to get work from him is to head to his studio in Liege, Belgium for a tattoo holiday. [Hit him up via his contact page.]

Once it's healed, I'll be sure to post pix of my new foot tattoo, which will complement the other one prettied by Jacqueline Spoerle (wrote about healing that one here).

If you haven't seen Dan's tattoo work on me, check 'em here.
02:47 PM
skull tattoo calypso.jpgHey y'all.

I'm working on a new tattoo book project, and in it, I'd like to show how artists interpret popular tattoo themes in their own style. That's where I could use your help.

If you have a skull, dagger or heart tattoo that you would like to share in my project (for a major American publisher), please email a high-res image (or send a link for me to download it) to along with information on the artist who tattooed you.

UPDATE: I should've clarified that tattooists can submit as well BUT the artist will need express permission from the client to use the image in the publication.

My eternal love,
Dotwork skull tattoo by Daniel DiMattia, Calypso Tattoo.

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