Although I've only been to tattoo conventions here in CA and up in WA, the Bay Area Convention put on by State of Grace has always been my personal favorite. Taki invites elite tattooers from around the globe and they answer the call and put on some great work. I started attending back in 2007 when it was held in San Jose and have only missed it one year since! This convention has allowed me to collect some amazing tattoos from artists I wouldn't otherwise have the time or funds to visit in their home shops. Even without getting tattooed myself, there are plenty of great tattoos to witness, art to take in (or buy!), shirts, stickers, business cards, lessons to learn, and cool folks to meet. Having a camera makes it so tattooers and clients alike don't mind me stealing peeks and moments that many don't often get to see. Here are some of those peeks and my thoughts captioned as I look back...
I recently had the honor of getting invited to my first guest spot by Grey Sunz Tattoo in Kent, WA. I met Cabug a while back when I was living in WA thru a mutual friend visiting from CA. He hit me up for a chat and we immediately connected thru our love of tattooing. After moving back to CA, we stayed only semi-connected, but randomly ran into each other at the Bay Area Convention of the Tattoo Arts last year. Fate brought us back together and his hard work and perseverance brought him to opening up his own shop. Lucky for me, he thought of inviting me to help out with their first ever Friday the 13th special. We got there early and busted our asses 'til late, putting some good work on some happy clients. It was dope getting to be a part of the vibe in that shop... Props to the entire crew at Grey Sunz! May your books be full and Homie Couch be well occupied!
Aside from the guest spot, I also had a chance to work on some existing clients. Always great to catch up with these two and put on some fun tattoos...
As much as I enjoy tattooing, Bigfoot Java, and Dick's, the best thing about going up to WA is getting to see my beautiful and crazy family! There have been instances when I visit and we have nothing at all really going on, so we get to spend all kinds of time together. This was not one of those instances! Everyone was busy with this and that, so we only got together for a couple of dinners. I definitely cherish these moments where we get to tell stories and share laughs and frustrations alike. The longer we're alive, the smaller the fractions of time become
Take advantage of the time ya got!
And lastly... this was Milo's first time on a plane, first trip up to WA, and first time meeting the family! For those of you who only know me from this blog and don't know in person or from my other social media accounts (which I doubt is really anyone)... we got a puppy in May! As you may have gathered, his name is Milo. I'll spare you the rest of the details (find me on IG) and get right to the pics of his journey. I mean... who doesn't love some puppy pics?!
Thanks for reading.
I obviously don't blog often enough, because I came back here recently and found this draft entry from MARCH!! Plenty has happened since then and these tattoos bring back many of those memories. It's funny how even the tattoos I do on others can trigger these thoughts in my own mind. I can only hope they trigger the best thoughts in the clients themselves.
The line work on the inner arm has since been touched up and a few more tattoos have been added to that client. I'm excited to see him finding the love for something I hold so dear.
The chess piece was on a dude who already has nice collection going. I know him from high school and we've both changed immensely since then. He taught me the meaning of "Chopped and Screwed." If you don't know, look it up.
I tattooed my bro's own design of that "Bahala Na" on his inner wrist. I consider it a honor to be on that sacred spot. It's a daily reminder. I happen to have a few of my own around that area. He brought this tattoo home to the Philippines and I hope it's serving its purpose.
The Wheedle on the Needle. So much has happened since putting this tattoo on and it touches my heart to see it. The back of the arm might not be as much of a sacred spot, but 4th and Michigan for sure was. Love you Ninong!
And finally, this in-progress full sleeve tiger and dragon. This one has been "dragon" (draggin') a bit, so I'm glad to work on it. Sometimes it's difficult to find time that works with clients, but it's rewarding when it finally happens. I'm glad to finally put some color into that tiger! Hopefully we can find another session to clean it up a bit.
This post also reminds me to bring my black background with me when I travel. It really makes the pictures look clean and professional.
Enough sharing my secrets to you readers. Go figure it all out on your own!
My company is currently in the process of going thru performance reviews. If you don't know what this is, you're lucky. But I'll explain. This is the process where each employee is given a review by their boss based on what impression you've made on them, input from coworkers, and a self-evaluation. Aside from being the basis of your potential merit increase percentage (raise), this performance review provides you feedback so that you can feel good about what you've done, are doing, and where you can make improvements in the future. All in all, it can be a little bit of a pain, but it's a good thing! During this time, everyone is on their best behavior! Since you're writing reviews for other people, you know what's on the questionnaire/review form that's coming up for yourself. Folks are working hard to get their shit done on time, making the soundest decisions, and doing so with the best attitude they can muster.
Not too long ago, my wife and I got into a little argument sparked by some untimely feedback I provided in a somewhat non-constructive manner (sorry again, hun!). It doesn't matter what that feedback was, but I thought about it in the context of who we get feedback and performance reviews from in our LIVES, outside of the workplace. Some people may never get constructive, wholehearted feedback from anyone close enough to be completely honest with them with the utmost and sincere intentions, which is what I hope I'm able to provide my wife. Some people may also never take a few moments to assess themselves and provide this same sort of feedback with the same loving intentions. Not criticizing feedback... but constructive. Advice, insight, and observations about oneself that will help them to GROW!
In my recent years of contemplation, I've come to the conclusion that growth is one of the key meanings to life. Not just of human life, but to all life in general. Most every being is constantly growing. We, as humans, not only grow physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In order to continue to do so, we must assess where we are and find ways to learn, improve, progress, and evolve. Self assessment can sometimes be difficult, since have the bias of the ego, so feedback from a reliable source is essential.
But a key to growth from this feedback back from others is the ability to accept the feedback. A simple example of this, that an be applied to life, is an art class where the teacher and students must provide critiques. There are those who might take feedback the wrong way. They may take it as criticism or hating or whatever it might be. They might think their work is the shit! They might not be ready to grow at all, so this feedback could go in one ear and out the other. In order to grow, you have to be able to take the lumps and be willing to learn from them.
We all grow at our own rates and are on our own paths. If you think about the people in your lives, you can probably think of teenagers who are much more mature than you are now or were at their age. On the flip side, you can also probably think of elders who are on much different paths or journeys. It is important to not judge or compare your path to others, since each person's journey is their own. The key is to concentrate on your path and strive to continue growing and improving yourself. And if you just so happen to have the ability and opportunity to help others along the way, then do so in a loving and constructive manner.
A few questions to consider, if I've got you considering...
- Who gives you feedback?
For the record, I personally enjoy providing constructive feedback, when asked. I've also learned to try not to give feedback or advice when NOT asked. In a way, this blog entry can be considered unsolicited advice, but it's my blog! I'm just capturing and sharing thoughts with those bored enough to read it. If you take offense, you couldn've surfed away a long time ago. Or perhaps you take offense as a defense mechanism and you're actually in need of some constructive feedback and have some room for growth.
We all do.
And on that note, I'd love to hear more feedback about myself. Tear apart my art! Tell me I don't know what the hell I'm talking about and or where I can improve. I'm working on myself all the time and an area I'd love to test is my ability to accept feedback from others and grow from it.
One last after thought...one thing I'm also striving for is a PMA all day! Positive Mental Attitude! This blog has mostly been about constructive feedback for growth, which can seem somewhat negative. In my writing of performance reviews, I also made sure to include the positives and also tried to state the seemingly negative in a positive way. "A spoon full of sugar..."
I need to figure out how to end these things better after long rambles.
Thanks for reading.
As I was preparing to watch a movie after my wife went to bed, I felt those little stomach pangs that show up at that certain time of night (one reason to sleep earlier). I wandered to the fridge to see what we had going on and came across the three small to-go boxes of dim sum leftovers from lunch at our favorite dim sum spot (shout out to King Wah on Calaveras!). After examining the contents and labeling them for future reference, I decided that a good portion would be one chicken foot with a comparable serving of sticky rice.
Side note: the Cantonese name for "chicken feet" translates directly to "phoenix claw." Kinda funny to think about since I was preparing to watch the movie Arrival. And don't think I didn't write phoenix claw on the to go box!
Side side note: The movie was great and I would highly recommend watching it. If you don't know anything about it, don't research it first.
After microwaving these two items, I needed to choose a utensil to portion out my comparable serving of sticky rice to go with my phoenix claw. When you open a drawer in my household, you have the option of silverware or chopsticks. If my wife were still awake, we would definitely select the latter. However, being that she was not and I happen to be a Filipino American, I went with a good ol' spoon.
As I used the spoon to scrape the sticky rice from the leaf into the bowl, I thought about the utensil decision that I consciously and subconsciously just made; analyzing the delicacy of the chopsticks versus the barbarism of the spoon. A point from my only sushi lesson from a buddy of mine came to mind, "Touch every grain." This made me think of the scene from Kill Bill, when the bride is eating rice with Pai Mei. How hungry she must've been and how important each grain must be. I also thought of one of the old parental reminders, "don't waste your food."
The parental reminder brought up the image of my dad as a child, working his ass off on a farm in the provinces of the Philippines. How everyone must have had to work together to get the food they were going to eat. I don't even know if he ever farmed rice, but for sure SOMEONE did. And whatever they farmed was their life source. Every leaf and stem of every vegetable and every grain of rice had to be planted as a seed, watered, given sun, and taken care of until ready to reap. Then, after preparing, and cooking, each morsel on each plate should be shown that respect and eaten.
This is the importance of hard work. Putting food on the table.
This term has many different meanings for many different people. In America, it usually means having a job to get a paycheck to buy groceries, or even less literally to site a different term, it just basically means to "bring home the bacon." Even though my dad didn't work on a farm here in America, he and my mom still put food on a table, brought home bacon and they made sure we all didn't waste our food.
Why was it, perhaps, so easy for us to disregard the importance of food? Because we didn't have to plant it. We didn't have to water it. We didn't have to pick it and a lot of times we didn't have to prepare it or cook it! We lived in America, where we could just buy it from a person in a window without even leaving the comfort of our cars. We didn't think of the hard work it took for our food to get there. Or the animal sacrifice! We didn't have to raise piglets and chicks and watch them grow to become pigs and chickens, slaughter them, butcher them, prepare them, and cook them. We didn't have to do any of this. We were a few steps removed and a little more entitled.
There are varying levels of hard work instilled in each of us, from either nurture or nature. The same can be said for entitlement. America is a prime example of this dichotomy and my thought is that it the level of entitlement often correlates to how many generations removed that individual is from having to do hard work themselves or how well the parents teach them the importance of that hard work.
At this point, I'm basically babbling. The lessons...
- Work hard.
- Don't waste your food.
- Think about where your food came from.
- Teach the importance of hard work to the kids so they don't become entitled little brats!
- Appreciate your parents!!
Went home home to the Pacific Northwest for a quick Christmas four day weekend. My family used to be big on gifts, but I think we've all come to realize that it's the little things that count... aside from getting whatever it is we need/want throughout the year. My wife and I believe we don't need a special day assigned by society for when it's OK to buy a gift for someone... and perhaps that's spread to my family a bit.
The few gifts we did pass around triggered some smiles and laughs. I'm glad I was able to capture some of those with photos. In my opinion, this is better than the gifts themselves:
Usually when I visit, I like to have food from up there that I can't have down in CA. Our first stops, straight from the airport, are always Bigfoot Java and Dick's. There's a handful of other places that we normally try to have on our trip, but this was a short one.
Although it was a short trip, I made it a point to squeeze in a couple tattoos that were originally scheduled for my trip back in June that I cancelled after the fire.
I started to draft this post a while back and never got around to it, so I'm gonna go ahead and just post pics. If each is worth a thousand words, there are plenty enough below for a blog post:
I will add, the original Thomas Hooper piece that you may have noticed hanging at his booth in the photos above made its way to our living room. It took a little convincing of the wife, but she eventually gave in. I'd been eyeing this piece for a while and later found that I actually saved an image of it on my phone on two separate occasions before even seeing it in person. It's a nice one to get lost in...
Dis-traction. Removing traction. Slipping. The world is full of things that throw us off course from what our true goals and aspirations should be. We lose sight of what's important with just a few bright lights emanating from a screen. Give me some drama to make my life feel normal. Give me a sports team to make me feel like part of a whole. Give me a beer or two or three or four to help me forget the day of work I just sat thru. Even work can be a distraction, if it isn't something you want to be doing. Help me to waste a bit more time so I don't have to think about the things that I should be, or want to be accomplishing. This way, I don't have to assess myself and figure out how I can improve. As long as I can have a TV show to talk about at work or some other commonality with my peers. Give me a new series to binge watch so I don't have to write up this depressing list of all the property that was turned to ash in the house we were renting. Of course, I'm over exaggerating.
The day of/after the fire, the Warriors played game 1 of the finals. They won and it felt good to have that distraction to get my mind off of things. But as soon as the distractions go away, you're left with your thoughts and you become more aware of how many more important things are going on. When the Warriors lost game 7, it made me realize how many games of the 73 won and 9 lost I had watched over the course of the season and seemingly wasted with no reward of the ring. I concluded that it was a damn good distraction, but imagine those hours spent painting, learning a language, or writing... producing instead of consuming! Imagine all the things that keep us distracted instead of making a difference. I was a bit jaded and indifferent with the loss, because of the harsh realities I was going thru at the time. I saw Warriors fans heartbroken over a team they supported for so long, but my heart had already been broken by much more tragic and personal events. It's just a game. Much more real life and loss happens every day. We are lucky to have the privilege to have a sports team's loss be the saddest part of a day, week, month, season, or year. We're lucky to even be able to enjoy these distractions.
I hope to stay a bit more conscious about these things and try to produce more. I was hoping to keep the game schedule next season down to only the important games... but they just signed KD!! As i mentioned in my prior post, I've been raised in this system... they don't call it television programming for nothing. Hopefully I can multitask next NBA season and draw or paint as I watch a few more games than I was intending... Try to keep that traction.
I think it's important for everyone to assess themselves, set goals, and take steps to achieve those goals. Anything else we're doing is just wasting time. We can get material things back, but not time and there isn't enough of it to waste. I have the phrase "WAKE UP!" tattooed on wrist to be a constant reminder to not wander thru this life as a mindless zombie. The recent events have been another little shake and eye opener that these distractions are put here intentionally to zombify the masses.
I enjoy giving gentle nudges sometimes to promote awakening from this zombification. There are many who enjoy the sleep and don't necessarily like the all-cap and exclamation point wake up shake. They turn over and pull the sheets and pillow over their heads... "Let me get back to my dreams!" Just be mindful... we don't control these distractions. They control us.
An Avett Bros lyric goes, "Decide what to be and go be it." Life is too short not to.
If you're reading this, it's highly likely that you're close enough to me to know, at least a portion of, what my wife and I recently went through. Everyone's curious and wants a story. They want to know how we're doing. They want to confirm we're OK.
Well, we're OK.
We've learned many lessons in our lifetime and this eventful chapter has tested how far we've come and shown us how far we have to go. I've had the notion of sharing some of these lessons, thoughts, and stories for some time, but haven't had the gumption to make it happen. Today, I set up our new desk (photographed below), turned on Episode 01 of Boardwalk Empire, and was hit with an urge to multitask for some minor productivity. Hence this blog post.
Materialism. It's how we're raised in the great U.S. of A. (Happy Independence Day) and it's spreading throughout the world. We work to get money to buy things. It's how system is set up. Consumerism. CREAM.
A week or two before the fire, Wendy and I were listening to an audio book about tidying up... getting rid of STUFF. We were inspired to start cleaning! Get rid of all the junk we don't want, need, or use. Those pairs of socks that make their way to back, bottom of the drawer. The shoes that are gathering dust, don't fit quite right, and hurt your heel when you walk. Even with a minimalist mindset, it's sometimes difficult to break the conditioning we've been programmed to obey. This fire took care of all that and forced us to minimize in one of the most heartbreaking ways possible.
What we found in that heartbreak is that everyone around blanketed us with support and positivity that we've never really felt before. We are forever grateful and thank each and every one of you for your love and support. The fire taught us that it's ALL just STUFF. The things that really matter are the friends, family, and love that we all share... and oftentimes don't share enough.
One of the goals of this blog is to share honest, open thoughts... at least some of the ones worth sharing. Well, as we're rebuilding in our new one bedroom apartment (easiest moving day of my life), it's become obvious to find that we still need materials. My coworkers and Amazon Orders list can attest to that. This fire has given us a fresh start and new perspective to this new batch of STUFF we're acquiring.
- Get the things you need.
- Get things that will last.
- Get things you will bring you joy for some time.
- Avoid the opposites of these whenever possible.
- Keep receipts and do not remove tags until needed... so you can return it when ample buyer's remorse hits.
- Enjoy the things you get... put it to use!
As much as I'd like to change, I realize that we're conditioned and programmed for this materialism and consumerism. What we plan to maintain and learn from this is consciousness within the system, so we are not controlled by it. Land of the Free. We must use the freedoms we still have to make wise decisions.
I commend those who can break the conditioning and programming altogether, but we are not at that point. We are all on different levels and on different paths in our journeys. My goal is to learn, grow, be happy along the way and hopefully help others to do the same.
Thanks for reading.
I was recently inspired to blog more often, so here's the first one in over an Earth's orbit.
A buddy of mine recently got his first tattoo. He's a reader and he wanted to get "So it goes." in type font, which is a short quote from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. I'm not much of a reader and haven't read that book, but I was interested in the meaning behind the quote. A quick interweb search pointed out that this was a reoccurring line that appeared multiple times throughout the book, after someone dies.
I know! Pretty heavy stuff. Death always seems to get me thinking and another buddy of mine recently inspired to get me writing. This alignment of events led me writing my first poem about death in the days leading up to this tattoo. Many of us have various thoughts about death and what might come after. This poem ended up being a few streaming thoughts tied together with rhymes that closely captures a few of my beliefs.
So it goes.
Tags tied to taxidermied toes.
of attachment to a spirit's vessel
in physical form to roam the earth.
Living being, awake 'fore birth.
The burning question.
Write new chapters.
Left the body.
Pause for reflection.
Speak the truth with no redaction.
Life's too short to highlight with black pen.
A drop in the bucket.
With any luck it
transcends the graves.
If not, fuck it!
Love and play!
Don't get stuck with
to re-solve things you cannot change.
This too shall pass.
Forget your woes.
Life doesn't last.
And so it goes.
Thanks for reading.