Branded Designers Round 3

Liz Andrade -

My seahorse is in the center of my upper back. I had always been fascinated with seahorses since I was a small child and I first read about them in this book I had about sea life. At the time that I got this it represented my openness to find a partner in life that could be my equal. I am now a decade older than I was at the time of getting this seahorse and have since found that partner, in a way the tattoo has become about him (and us) and in a way it is also about all of my life's great romances.

The heart on my left arm, I got 3 years ago for one of the great loves in my life — my cat, Cthulhu. He taught me so much about myself, about my capacity to love and about what it means to be selfless. Cthulhu died in June of 2009 after a 2 year battle with Chronic Renal Failure, and I am so glad that I will forever have a piece of him with me wherever life takes me!

I really see my tattoos as an outward representation to something within me.

Aaron Irizarry -

Hold Fast is an old sailor term, that was used to remind the crew to buckle down and hold on when they were coming against rough waters and storms. This piece has a ton of meaning to me. This last year or so has been quite a ride, amazing ups and some pretty rough times as well. I had to remind myself to hold fast to the things that make me who I am. My faith in God, and my family.

John O'Nolan -

Ever since I can remember I've been obsessed with tattoos, and from the age of about 10 I knew I wanted one. My parents will tell you just how much I wanted one, because for the next 6 years I asked for permission to get one just about every single day.

When I turned 16 I decided I couldn't wait any longer, and despite not having my parents' permission I went ahead and got my first one - which was a very large custom tribal piece between my shoulders. If I wasn't already sure that I loved tattoos before then, I was now.

Nowadays I have tattoos covering my entire left arm, my back, my hips, both legs, my feet, my ankles, and I've got lots more planned.

Tattoos for me are just as much about the process as they are about the end result, sometimes even more so. There's something very therapeutic about the burning sensation that comes with being tattooed, it's almost like a physical outlet for any emotion that you have inside. Regardless of what ends up on your skin, it's also a time-stamp in your life; the days, weeks, and years of day-to-day life may eventually blend together - but you never forget what was happening in your life when you got a tattoo. I look back at each and every one of my tattoos and remember that period of my life, and how I felt at the time. That's probably the most meaningful part of the process for me - the memories that are held in my skin forever.

The tattoo pictured here is my full sleeve, which was a collaborative design between myself and my tattoo artist (Barb, Inka Tattoo, Brighton, England). The subject is a combination of styles that I've been obsessed with for many years; BioMechanical art inspired by H.R. Giger, organic art, and snakes. The whole piece is basically a Garden of Eden meets 21st century technological doomsday, combining vines with pipes, leaves with cogs, and of course several serpents and the legendary apple.

Full sleeve tattoos take many, many hours to complete - which is why it was pretty handy that I spent several years working as a tattoo artist so I had a great group of friends at Inka Tattoo in Brighton who I spent a lot of time with. The pictures here show the progression of the sleeve from 2007 through to 2010, including my favourite ever session where Barb's old mentor came into town to visit for a few weeks, and I had both of them tattoo me at the same time for 6 hours. It was kind of cool having 3 generation of master/apprentice all being a part of one piece at the same time - but I can't lie, after 6 hours I was pretty much knocked out. After that long, your body has gone through so much that your nerves become totally overloaded - as a result your brain starts releasing huge quantities of endorphins. It's basically like being very, very drunk - but thankfully it wore off again fairly quickly afterwards.

Cerven Cotter -

I've been into the idea of tattoos from a fairly young age. I can remember decorating, er defacing, desks at school, always drawing in my books instead of taking notes and drawing on my hands. Perhaps it was the diet of punkrock and Slayer along with spending every waking moment in the water surfing or finding places to skate that has influenced me to go down the road of ink. I've always enjoyed being a little different, coloured hair, odd illustrations on my boards, was never content with being normal, and deciding to get tattooed up always appealed to me. Granted having lots of tattoo's these days doesn't make me that different, I'm happy with the fact that I've got an ever growing illustrated history of my life that I wear with pride everyday. A big thank you to Tyler Murhpy (Cape Town, South Africa) and Nick Reid (London, UK) for the inkage over the years. I thought I'd share a little bit of info on some of my ink.


This was my very first tattoo. It took me a few months of visiting various tattooists before I found an artist that really understood me and didn't just view me as yet another pay cheque. I like to do things properly and decided starting out on my stomach would be a good test to see if tattoos were really for me... I'd say it worked out quite well. Out of all my tattoo's this is the one I get asked about the most, "Why 'truth'?". Simple really. No matter what happens in our lives, doesn't matter what is said or done, we know what the truth is in our own hearts.

The Green Mask

Perhaps the most vividly coloured piece I have so far, and still one that makes me smile every time I catch a glimpse of it. People often say or claim that they wear their hearts on their sleeves, I like to wear my mask on mine.

Good Evil vs. Evil Good

Nothing is black and white these days, we live in a constant state of grey. Sometimes doing the wrong thing is the right thing to do, know what I mean? This whole piece is my take on the way the world works. The artwork depicts angels doing bad things while the demons are being good. I think that me not being religious and using this type of imagery also shows you that not everything is as it seems.

An Apology

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to finalize this post, but life doesn't seem to slow down. I won't list all my excuses here, but please know that I'm thankful for everyone who contributed to this series and continues to show their support. I hope you all out there are living each day to the fullest. I hope you're chasing after your dreams and not settling for 2nd best. I'm right here beside you in this race called life.