BME/Risks: Extreme Tattoo Ink Bleeding

It’s not unusual for some people to get a slight “halo” of color around their tattoos, as the ink moves out via capilliary action and permeates and stains subcutateous tissue. Sometimes this is because of a mistake make by the artist (for example, tattooing too deep), but because anatomy is so variable from person to person, even the best artists have it happen at times. Typically this halo extends not much more than 1/4″ and is subtle enough that most people won’t even notice it, but a friend just sent me this example which is one of the most extreme examples of tattoo ink bleeding out into surrounding tissue that I’ve seen to date.

In the pictures below, the left one (which also shows a rash that developed after the tattoo, which may or may not be related — I suspect not — and was treated successfully with Sibicort, a Chlorhexidine/Hydrocortisone cream) is two weeks after the tattoo was done, and the right one was taken four months afterward, showing what looks almost like a bruise all the way around the arm. Over a year and a half later and the discoloration still looks the same. The woman with the tattoo has very light, thin skin which is generally sensitive and prone to allergic responses. The ink that was used is the same ink the tattooist normally uses and hasn’t caused problems for other clients as far as anyone knows.

These pictures shows the extremes to which ink is capable of spreading. It should be noted that because of the likely depth and diffuse nature of the discolouration, it is unlikely that this can be treated short of simply tattooing over all affected skin. If any professionals have comments or feedback on this — theories on what caused it or how to minimize it, or whether this is just an unavoidable risk in a certain percentage of clients — I’d love to hear it.


Dark King

“Dark King” is the title of this tattoo by Wang at Tattoo Temple in Hong Kong.  I’m a big fan of tattoos that have this brush stroke style.  If ever I find myself in Hong Kong I’ll definitely be tracking down Tattoo Temple.

Check out more work from Wang and the other artists at Tattoo Temple in the BME galleries.

Mr. O and Mr. R got nothin’ on this

The Monsters of Schlock, Burnaby Q. Orbax and his brother Sweet Pepper Klopek, just rigged up a tattoo machine to run on battery power and brought it onto the PNE’s big — and very shaky — wooden rollercoaster and tattooed a lizard logo onto Sweet Pepper’s leg. Photo by Syx Langemann (click to zoom), and there was lots of HD video shot so don’t be surprised if you see more that just this quick teaser video in the future on television.

Yes, yes, I know, this is an insult to everything you hold sacred. We’re all very offended.

For the first time in recorded history, a man has been tattooed on a running roller coaster. That man was none other than Sweet Pepper Klopek, one half of the world’s most extreme two man circus sideshow comedy magic extravaganza known as the Monsters of Schlock. His brother, and other half of the daredevil duo, the great Orbax, performed the tattoo. As a matter of fact it was the first time he had EVER tattooed!

The wild stunt took place at the PNE Playland fairgrounds in Vancouver BC Canada on Oct 24th 2012 on the wooden roller coaster. Two successive trips around were required, totalling in just under four minutes of track time covering a total distance of 1732 m. At points the coaster hit 47 mph, took a drop of 75 ft and pulled 2.2 g’s.

The tattoo itself was a lizard face, the logo of their long time sideshow friend and coworker, Erik Sprague, the world famous Lizardman. As the coaster hit the first incline, the five time Guinness World Record breakers proclaimed ‘One small tattoo for man, one giant leap for douchebags everywhere!’.

The Monsters of Schlock have performed skilled, daring and dangerous all over the world but this, by far, they claim to be their stupidest.

Coming at you like a frieght train!

Could there possibly be a better tattoo to celebrate ModBlog’s new superfast servers that Jon set up for us last night? I know how happy it makes me as someone who used to have to wait minutes for edits to my entries to be accepted, so I hope it makes you happy as a reader as well.

I’m also really happy to see that tattoo artists have been posting more healed work lately, showing the public what they’re really capable of. If this trend continues, it will really separate the great tattoo artists from people who are simply great artists. Just because someone can paint doesn’t mean they can lay in a tattoo that will look good for your lifetime (as you may recall from the controversial entry on tattoo fading and a couple followup entries). I’m very happy to point out that California-based tattoo artist Cory Norris ( is more than capable of doing both. Even though this photo of Ricky’s chest that he did looks like it was taken the day it was done, it’s actually fully healed in this picture, even though the blacks are deep, the red flames are incredibly vibrant, the shading in the clouds is still rich and you can make out the ghostly seething skulls inside, but the touch I really like is the deep red glow inside the eyes of the skull in the train’s engine, as if it has hellish glowing coal embers for brains.

Thanks again to Cory Norris — let’s hope top artists keep on posting healed work, really letting the world know who can be trusted to implant art that will last a lifetime — not just win you a “best of show” tattoo convention plaque and then fade out a month later. Let’s put the emphasis back on real tattoos. Click to see it a bit bigger of course.

Flesh Art by Liam Sparkes

I just discovered the beautiful archaic work of tattoo artist Liam Sparkes of Shangri-La Tattoo Parlour ( in London, England. Wonderful work that I’ve got a raging mod-on for, tattoos able to transport my mind to another place and time. Not just works of beauty but works that exude a certain power I think. The lines feel somehow scraped into the wearer’s essence, not just casually inked on the surface. Here is a small selection of some of my favorite pieces. Click to zoom.

liam1t liam3t

liam2t liam4t

Bright Color by Dominick McIntosh

Long-time BME readers and IAM members will remember tattoo artist Dominick Allen McIntosh of Dead Gods Tattoo ( in Oregon from the MASH-themed tattoos back in 2006. An amazing Alex Grey inspired tattoo (the one you see below) of his creation was recently featured on Juxtapoz and wowing the online world.

Because in the tattoo world we see so many bright tattoos that look amazing the day they were done, and then look like faded “meh” when healed, I wanted to ask Dominick for healed pictures before posting. I was both pleased and surprised that this is a healed tattoo, taken two and a half months after the tattoo was first done. To get a better picture, he shaved the client and moisturized the skin — something I’d recommend to anyone who wants to show off their tattoos. You’d be amazed how much even a light covering of hair can obscure a tattoo, and moisturizer makes the upper layers of skin slightly more translucent, allowing the colors glow at their brightest. Anyway, what an amazing tattoo this piece is, and I’ve also included a small collection of other tattoos from a photoshoot at Dominick’s shop earlier this year. Unlike what you see in many magazines and portfolios, all of them are healed, and truly representative of the wonderful tattoos these clients will carry for life.


A Piercer’s Tattoo

Eric Mezzanotte, owner of Living Canvas in Columbia, MO, has been piercing since 2006, and is also a huge fan of the Steven King opus The Dark Tower. He wanted to get a Dark Tower tattoo, and when Adya Crawford was working on it, she suggested combining his love for piercing with the story of the gunslinger, and thus the tip of the castle became the tip of a needle, creating an iconic tattoo for both piercing fans and Steven King fans — “and those are the reasons why I love artists”, he says!


Look, ma, no hands!

As I’m talking about microdermals added to tattoos (like the googly eyes by Joeltron) in ways that actually make sense and add to the preexisting tattoo rather than just making it the laughing stock of your body’s ink neighborhood, I wanted to share a piece that jumped out of James Rajewski’s portfolio at me. James works at Infamous Ink ( in Charlotte, NC by the way. When I first saw this little project, I wondered what I was looking at because even though it’s just a normal microdermal with a decorative flat bead, the color choice almost makes it look like a tunnel going down into the body (bringing to mind Lukas Zpira’s inset transdermals). Too bad it’s not, you’d only have to make it about twice that size to create a holder for miniature watch components. Either way, this is another one of those nice but deliriously rare examples of a microdermal-tattoo combo that works well, in my opinion.