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.

Branded Designers Round 2

Finally after months of delay, I am happy to bring you the second round of the popular "Branded Designers" series. If this is your first time here, please go check out the first round, and for those of you already familiar, welcome back. You may notice things this time are a little different, for example I tried to put more emphasis on the photos of the tattoos. And I really tried to encourage people to go in depth with the descriptions of their tattoos. So please sit back, relax and enjoy getting to know these "branded" designers.

Joel Beukelman -

joel beukelman

The Wave:

The main inspiration behind my tattoos was art and design. After spending hours upon hours in art history class, certain artists and eras started standing out to me. I'll never forget the day when I opened my book up to the page of "The Great Wave off Kanagawa." This is one of my favorite pieces, done by was Katsushika Hokusai, and figured what better place to have it than on my arm. This is obviously a popular piece of art work, but the process behind Japanese art was the tattoo deal breaker. Japanese wood block and print work is one of the contributing forces to the development to graphic deign, therefore adding personal significance to this piece.

joel beukelman wave tattoo

The Flower:

In the traditional Japanese tradition, I choose to incorporate a flower into my sleeve. My tattoos were my wedding present and I let me wife pick the flower. Her favorite flower was the dahlia, so thats how that came about.

joel beukelman flower tattoo

The Scroll:

Scroll on the back of my arm says "speak words of life" in Japanese. In Japanese art, the scroll was the location where the artist would sign his name and I wanted to use that scroll for this message. My father is a pastor and I had the privilege of having my wedding done by my father. After the ceremony, he had some words of wisdom, and thats where the "speak words of life" came from. It's main theme is to be positive, set your mind on godly things, and build (not destroy) our marriage and in life.

joel beukelman scroll tattoo

In short, my sleeve is design, art, and my commitment to my wife. Its only 1/3 done and will be completed with another on of my favorite pieces from Hokusai.

Josh Cagwin -

josh cagwin

Growing up I was always fascinated with body art. I love my tattoos, they have a lot of meaning to me, and are something that can never be taken away from me.

Right Arm:

My right arm is mostly family oriented, my mom’s name and my sister’s first initials ”R & L” are each surrounded by a flower on the front and back of my arm. My daughter’s name Makenna is on my lower forearm and the words “White Dog,” (what my last name means in Scottish) is written within a crown covering my shoulder. The praying hands represent my faith and are there to remind me of the power of prayer, along with a couple other things mixed within the sleeve.

josh cagwin right arm tattoo

Left Arm:

My left arm consists of a one eyed creature with tentacles wrapping around a skull and skeleton with an angel standing in the green moat. The creature represents evil and how it can take you down if you let it. The angel standing strong and the small banner that says “faith,” remind me to stay strong with my Faith or evil will get the best of me.

josh cagwin left arm tattoo

I also have a tattoo across my chest that says, “1 Corinthians 13”. I share that with my wife who has it tattooed on her forearm. It is the love chapter in the Bible and if you have not read it I recommend it.

Aaron Irizarry -

aaron irizarry

The Chest:

My chest Tattoo is a reminder of who I am and where I have come from. The two birds one with devil horns and the one with the halo are on each side of the heart representing the constant struggle between making the right choices (more times than not I end up as the bird with horns) In the banner above them it says “By Grace Alone”. It is the only way I make it day by day is through God’s grace. Most of my life I was not what you would consider a “Model Citizen” and I am thankful for God’s grace in my life to help me be the person I was created to be (as opposed to being the mess I made of myself). It is never easy, but it is always worth it in the end.

The years in the banner on the bottom are the year I was born (1974), and the year that God changed my life by rescuing me from myself (1995). It is a great reminder of who I used to be, and who I have become, a change that didn’t happen as a result of religion, but by relationship.

aaron irizarry chest tattoo

Kathryn Proulx -

kathryn proulx

The Anchor:

My tattoo is of an anchor, flower, diamond, and rope on my left foot. I grew up by the water, born to two parents who loved sailing (in fact, they decided where I would live growing up while at a sailboat race in my hometown.) Both of my parent's fathers were in the navy, too. It just seemed natural to get an anchor. The flower is for my mother and the diamond is for my best friend (who has a diamond in the frosting of a cupcake tattooed on her wrist for the same significance).

kathryn proulx anchor tattoo

Simon Robertson -

simon robertson

I can't imagine not having tattoos. It feels like they were always supposed to be there. I've gone for a traditional style so far, there's just something special about it that appeals and connects with me. the clipper ship represents my life, where like the ship, i have some control over where i go (sail and rudder) there are also outside forces (wind and currents) that will push and pull me in certain directions. i also like the idea that i'm on a journey.

faith hope love

The words Faith Hope and Love are found in 1 Corinthians 13:13 (New Living Translation) ‘Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.’ I see these as being things i always need more of in my life and hope that one day i’ll be known by. As love is the greatest I have a few roses winding their way around my arm, they also serve to represent the fact that I connect most with God in creation, seeing this wonderful world always inspires me.

simon robertson tattoos


I also have an anchor with 'family' wrapped around it, this simply states that it's my family who ground me and support me and i love them.

simon robertson family tattoo

A huge thanks to everyone who contributed and supported this effort. If you are a "branded" designer and would like to be featured in the next round please contact me for more details. Also, I'm thinking of starting a list of some of the best tattoo shops, worldwide. So if you want to share with me your favorites, or maybe you work in one yourself, please leave a comment below. It would benefit the whole creative community. Thanks.