Bad Boy Bill

Earlier today Shannon brought up the fact that BME has seen quite a few video game tattoos in its time.  Sure enough, I go to check the galleries today and look what turned up…

For IAM: gunsxofxsummer this tattoo by Andy Yoder of Ace of Spades in Asheville, NC, means a bit more than just a simple video game reference.

I like to speak on many levels at once. The obvious “bite me” message, the “bite the bullet” message attributed to general tattoo/pain experiences, and lastly, a reminder to myself to stop riding the fence and bite the bullet and go to one side or the other.

Speaking of ears: pawprints and geeks

A while back Ryan Ouellette of Precision Body Arts ( invented an incredibly clever combination ear piercing project that captured everyone’s imagination that saw it. He took four flat round ends for toes and a flat heart end for the footpad, and combined them with five needles to make the cutest little ear project. That’s his hear on the left. As is no surprise, others are starting to ape it, because it’s a super idea, with the example on the right being done by Beans of Dragon FX Kingsway (, giving full credit for the idea to Ryan of course — this isn’t a “look at the plagiarism” entry. Both are beautifully executed and I have no doubt that in each case the wearer are being driven nuts by the number of compliments they’re getting.


While I’m talking about ears, I have to also share with you this little “GEEK” ear tattoo that Fabio Ryuk Nini, owner of Only For Friends in Italy had done by Chiara Callegari, one of the tattooists at the shop. There’s something just really charming about it that I thought fit the character of this entry nicely. I also wanted to draw your attention to his tragus, which I assume has lost a piercing, but is actually much more interesting for its misadventure, having a little “notch” taken out of it by the experience. Neato!


QR-Codes and Augmented Reality Tattoos

I was recently asked if I’d seen the “animated tattoo” that was recently done for the first time, and I replied that I didn’t think this was possible with current technology. The person who asked me the question did a little searching, and discovered that it wasn’t truly an animated tattoo — the tattoo didn’t move — but a tattoo of a QR-code type link that would cause a cellphone to display a specific YouTube video designed to sit as the center piece of the tattoo. This is the very misleadingly labeled news report they got back to me with:

The tattoo was done by French tattooist K.A.R.L. in June of 2011, and claimed to be the “first ever” animated tattoo, but of course readers of ModBlog know that it is neither an animated tattoo, nor is it even the first “augmented reality” tattoo of this type — let alone a particularly impressive one. For example, in May of last year, before K.A.R.L. did this PR stunt, Rob had already covered the subject of augmented reality tattoos here on ModBlog, and over the years many have been posted. A simple search shows that QR-code tattoos like the one K.A.R.L. claims to have invented, are not only incredibly common, but are regularly used in marketing in the form of temporary tattoos.

However — and this is a big “however” — people considering this should be aware that QR-tattoos do not translate well to skin. For starters, most tattoo artists are not particularly adept at the sharp and consistent linework and geometric perfection that QR-Codes demand, and to make matters worse, the undulating contours of the skin are anything but flat, and while QR readers are able to compensate for skew (taking a picture of the code at an angle), they are not able to compensate for warping that comes from the code being on a surface with multiple curves. This limits QR-code tattoos not only to the best artists, but to flat areas of the body. I took a random sample of ten clear pictures of QR-code tattoos, and tried to scan them. I was successful only with two of them. It’s likely that in real life, with careful repositioning and better lighting that I might be able to scan a couple more, but I don’t see more than half of QR-code tattoos being functional, which is pretty depressing — it’s the digital equivalent of a spelling mistake so bad as to make your quote gibberish.


You can zoom that in and see if your phone does any better if you want.

In addition to QR-code tattoos — which are really just an odd way of writing text data that I would argue would be better achieved just using regular letters — there are augmented reality tattoos. These don’t just give your phone a URL. They actually provide a “junction point” for the world of virtual reality to interface with your body. As you may have realized if you read Rob’s article, they provide your phone or computer information about the location, size, and orientation of your body by showing it a symbol that it can recognize from many angles. The computer is then able to take the video shot of your phone and add three-dimensional elements that move synchronized with your body’s movements — thus the term augmented reality. You can find more videos with a simple search for “augmented reality tattoo”, but let me show you a couple relevant videos to get you started. The first one, of the dragon, is from 2009 and one of the first that I know of. The second is more recent, but notable because it uses a realistic skull as its recognition symbol, showing that you don’t have to use a blocky icon that instantly identifies your tattoo as a digital interface.

I know, this falls far short of what people hope for when they hear the words “animated tattoo”, but it’s a start. It shows the dreams that people have for their bodies. It also points out that people are starting to see their bodies as interfaces to the virtual world, which is an important first step for cyberpunk and transhumanist body modification. One day we will surely have animated tattoos in the literal sense, but these QR-code and augmented reality tattoos are an unrelated trend — they are however very interesting for their own merits.


…and I can’t wait to see Adam West’s old ass in spandex! Oh wait, wrong batman……..doh!


Anyhow, this client of Matt K’s (from One Shot Studio in  Edgewater, MD) apparently has an affinity for the OG Batman (before even the “with nipples” Michael Keaton Batman) Adam West and the “same bat time, same bat channel” tv program he starred in many moons before he became the mayor of  Quahog, RI on Family Guy.

“I know kung-fu”

Follow the white rabbit.  Take the red pill.  There is no spoon.

Take your pick of any of the many memorable quotes from The Matrix and apply it to this tattoo by Seven O’Brien.

Thanks to IAM:Rachie Tartz for sending this in.

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Book Head

This piece is an homage to the David Stoupakis painting “Book Head”.  According to Jackie Rabbit, the choice of books is “a tribute to science and the struggle of reason over ignorance.”  My only complaint is that he doesn’t have a Neil deGrasse Tyson book in the stack.

May the Fourth be with you

On this blessed of days, we gather to remember all those lost souls, both rebel and imperial, who gave their lives to free the galaxy from the tyranny of the emperor.

Tattoo by Jackie Rabbit from Star City Tattoo in Roanoke, VA.

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