Tattoos in Film: From Dusk Till Dawn

My exposure to the gritty world of pulp and horror movies was belated due to strict parental restrictions. Once I peeled back the layers to the camp style films my heart had been completely captured.

I pride my self in the indulgent taste for Campy Grindhouse style movies.
A genre that has sincerely evolved from poorly made low budget movies now rising into cult classics and given the utmost respect from modern producers and directors.  Nothing satisfies the nostalgia of a quintessential B-movie more than a Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino combo!   This dynamic duo have deeply dedicated their childhood film influence by paying homage into recreating their love affair with Grindhouse movies.

With breaking popularity in the 90's, Rodriguez and Tarantino created such cult hits such as El Mariachi, Desperado, Four Rooms, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction which lead to the epic collaboration of From Dusk Till Dawn.

This action-thriller submerges you into the chaotic world of the psychopathic criminal team known as the Gecko  brothers.  Determined to complete their murderous rampage, nothing will stand in their way until these savage siblings are safely transported across the Mexican border. After escaping the grips of the unrelenting manhunt, the Gecko brothers seek refuge in a local strip club known as the Titty Twister (possibly the best club name ever).  There in the depths of the booze and the babes strikes a full blown blood bath.

Throughout the movie, break through actor George Clooney is adorned in the up-and-coming 90's tribal tattoo trend. The big black shapes creep from his blazer onto his neck for unapologetic public display. During the early to mid 90's tattoos were heavily considered the sign of of criminality and still illegal in many states.  This mark only added to the dysfunctional portrayal  of the character.

One of the most magical moments in film is when you are completely surprised by the unexpected.  Without spoiling the change of events of the later half of the film, this movie becomes one of the finest displays of B-movie culture ever captured.

No... Sleep... Till....BROOKLYN!

Across the water from "the city that never sleeps" is home of the bridge, the Dodgers and the brewery that makes the famous borough known as Brooklyn.

New York Magazine invited me back for a second time to create the tattoo imagery that captures these specific icons in a recent issue dedicated to "everything Brooklyn".  Each tattoo was carefully painted by hand to maintain the sharp graphic quality and careful placement on the body.

Unfortunately my tattooed model did not make the final option for the cover but I get to share the image exclusively on my blogs!

Above is the final shot along with some behind the scene photos from my photo shoot.

Marvel? DC?....Comix Gone Rogue!

Ever fantasize about having your artwork on the cover of Marvel or DC Comics?   

I would often walk up and down the ailes of my local comic shop skimming over the new released covers hoping to collect the most unique and memorable issues.   This did not always work out the way I had planned.  I would often find myself expressing emotions from incontrolable excited to ultimate disappointment.  In times of dissatisfaction, I would often dream of how I would improve those glossy fronts.  Fortunately I would get the chance to create my own.

With the release of the crisp, white, blank covers from Marvel Comics emerged an artist who decided to take the DIY concept into his own hands.  Edwin Vazquez, creator of Comix Gone Rogue, is thriving  on the challenge of finding 25 artists to create their own versions of mainstream comic covers.  These covers would not be something you would see in your local comic shop.  Each artist who is invited to participate in the series is given complete freedom to create their own artistic interpretation of the cover.  All artists donate their work to be featured on the website and future fundraising gallery shows toward the Hero Initiative.

After using the pre-made covers that Marvel Comics had produced, Edwin waited for DC Comics to follow suit.  When it was apparent that DC was not going to be trailing in the Marvel footsteps, Edwin decided to create his own.  Pirating the DC headliner designs and using special mass production technique, the unique version of Comix Gone Rogue had been born.  The series will continue with different featured comic book houses and various artists.

Above are both the Marvel and DC Comic cover that I have donated to the series.  It was so much fun to have a chance to create my own cover and a privilege to be apart of such an amazing project.

"You Smoke 'Em Till You Pass Out"

Once I began to dive into the world of tattooing, Sailor Jerry has been an influence on my work.  I instantly connected to his bold imagery, vivid hand crafted colors and witty humor.

Along with many other talented artists, Ally Cat had offered for me to be apart of The Second Edition of Babes, Booze and Tattoos.

I was thrilled to contribute to the show, but at the time had no idea what I would create to pay my respects to the Godfather of Tattoos.  Floundering for an idea for several weeks, I finally woke up from a very vivid dream with images that started to flood my mind.  The pinup beauties of which I adored came to me in the form of decapitated heads surrounded by a sinister skull.  I shared my ideas with my confidant, Edwin Vazquez in which he replied "that's sounds great, why don't you try putting it on a cigarette box".  Eureka!

It took a little bit of time and patience but I was able to recreate a homemade cigarette box from scratch.  During my painting process, I could hear the deep throaty one-liners of a old tattoo smoker say "You Smoke 'Em Till You Pass Out".  Barely able to contain my laughter, I knew that was the slogan for the piece as I finished the tiny details on the cigarette box with the accompanied matchbooks.  I felt at this point the best way to display them was an old fashioned velvet lined box.

I decided to hand deliver my tribute and attend the show held at Jinxed art gallery in the heart of Philadelphia where we gathered together to pay the great tattoo artist homage.

The piece did not sell at the show and now will be up for sale on my website.  Please visit the SHOP for purchase soon.  If interested in Pre-purchase email

Hell's Kitchen Comix

Edwin Vazquez and I co-hosted our first Hell's Kitchen Comix jam and it was a blast!  Artists from New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia came together to have a night of drawing and comics.  While Batman the Animated Series played quietly in the background, artists such as Ulises FarinasDan Strauss, Geff Mosher and Dre Grigoropol added their talents to the creative buzz.
Check out some of the drawings and doodles from that night.  Feel like you want to add on to these outrages panels?! Join us for next months Hell's Kitchen Comix.  Can't wait to see everyone again and hopefully some new faces!

Psychology Today: Difficult People

The May/June cover of Psychology Today features my "Toxic" makeup look using Make Up For Ever.  This was my 2nd cover in a row with Psychology Today and made it to Cover Junkies again!  Even though this makeup was intended to warn readers of "Difficult People" it was created with eye-catching products that were still safe for the skin.  It was great to work on another fun cover!

Tattoos for Nurse Jackie

The "Slow Growing Monsters" episode of Nurse Jackie had a guest appearance with Rosie Perez portraying a feisty girl with an unfortunate condition. Her belly mimics the signs of pregnancy but instead a dark secret growing inside. The story was actually based on a true story of a woman who indeed had this fatal condition. The producers of the show asked me to recreate her tattoos for Rosie's character to make them as authentic as possible.

Here are a few clips of the tattoos from the episode with the original art that I designed for Rosie Perez.

Psychology Today: Slips of the Tongue

My body art featured on the March/April cover of Psychology Today Magazine may cause you to do a double take.  The creators of the magazine wanted to a fun spin for the cover story "Slips of the Tongue".  With patience and a bit of time I developed the "lips" of the model for a fun and memorable cover.

"Love Thy Neighbor" FREE GIVEAWAY!

Spring is here and I am doing an April FREE giveaway! This is a raffle for one of my limited edition prints.

The winner will be picked at random and announced by Friday, April 27th to receive 1 LIMITED EDITION PRINT "LOVE THY NEIGHBOR".

Please follow the directions below to enter the raffle for :

1. Become a follower on my Twitter (@JenaiChin) or Facebook Fan (Jenai Chin)
2. Mention on Twitter or Facebook post on my page: "Love Thy Neighbor Raffle"
3. Immediately email your Name & Mailing Address to

~Must be 18 to enter
~Open to Old & New Fans and Followers
~Open to U.S & International

*Print image is seen above. Size: 8.5" x 11" Sealed in a protective bag and board. Autographed on request.

The Tattooed Lady: Lydia

The popularity of the tattooed lady reached new heights when a song was created for the Marx's Brothers movie The Circus in 1939. The clever lyrics paint a vibrant picture of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady". Groucho Marx sang about "Lydia's" detailed imagery of patriotic loyalty and explosive historical scenes which were all very popular depictions on tattooed ladies. This endearing musical bit became one of the most popular tunes of the late Groucho.

It is not known if "Lydia" was based on a specific tattooed lady but it captured the essence of many tattooed ladies during this time in classic comical way.

The Tattooed Lady: Lady Viola

Many tattooed ladies often told elaborate stories and false claims to their start in the sideshow business. Lady Viola was no exception.

Viola claimed that she got her first tattoos after she fulfilled a promise to her father to become a nurse at the tender age of sixteen. The story was concluded with her father paying for her $5000 tattoo bill. This portrayal was far from the truth.

Lady Viola was originally born as Ethel Martin in 1898 in Covington, Kentucky. At the age of seventeen she had her first son and in the following year she married but the marriage did not last. In order to support herself and her child, Viola decided to get tattooed to start her career in Coney Island. She lived with a well known tattoo artist, Frank Graf and his wife who was an "Egyptian" dancer in the sideshow. Viola lived with them for seven weeks while Frank worked to complete her distinctive tattoos. Frank was famous for his very detailed portrait work which he covered all over Viola's body.

Lady Viola worked in the local sideshows as well as performed in Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus with the branded slogan "The Most Beautiful Tattooed Lady in the World". She performed her last show in 1932 before going into retirement in order to raise her nine children with her second husband.

Not only was Lady Viola a famous performing tattooed lady but also an accomplished tattoo artist. She settled with her husband and children in Fresno, California to run her own tattoo shop until her husband died in 1969. Lonely and in need of money, Viola came out of retirement to return to the sideshow business for one more year. She spent the rest of 1970 as a tattooed lady and active tattoo artist for the Thomas Joyland show.

In 1970 at the age of 73, Lady Viola was known as the oldest performing tattooed lady and tattoo artist before her final retirement. Her obituary made no mention of her extensive sideshow career or even her tattoos when Viola died in 1977. This fact was often neglected when it came to the passing of our dear tattooed ladies. Though nothing was said about her tattoos, Lady Viola will forever be remembered as "The Most Beautiful Tattooed Lady in the World".

The Tattooed Lady: Artoria Gibbons

I was constantly getting scolded for drawing on my body as a young girl. My family as well as society were not entirely accepting to the idea of tattooed women. The taboo that was constantly surrounding tattoos only made it that more intriguing and difficult for me to resist.

Delving into my obsession of tattoos, I discovered the fascinating history of heavily tattooed women that dated back to the late 1800's in America. These fearless women pioneered through the rigid rules of society to create a living in the sideshow business. Tattooed ladies were flourishing during a time in history where a woman showing an ankle in public was deeply frown upon. A life in the sideshow provided opportunities to the working class woman that had little alternate options. Most of these tattooed beauties told infamous stories of being kidnapped by savages to be tattooed by "force". In reality these women made the courageous decision to completely tattoo their bodies in order to make a substantial living and travel.

Anna Mae Burlingston was born to poor immigrant farmers in Wisconsin. Anna grew up with hardship and worked to help support her family. She later met a man named Red Gibbons who was a very gifted tattoo artist during his time. It was not long before Anna and Red were married and after a few years of marriage they made the decision to work closely in the circus together. The circus was looking for a tattooed lady to join the show and in return she would get to see the world while working with her husband. Red would be the only tattoo artist that would complete her extensive work of religious painting replications. Anna quickly evolved into the well known Miss Artoria The Tattooed Girl. Artoria started her first sideshow in 1919 eventually traveling with Ringling Brothers and the Barnum & Bailey Circus. She performed in the sideshow carnivals for over fifty years becoming one of the most well-known tattooed ladies in American sideshow history.

Tattoos in Film: Cry Baby

The 1950's gave birth to a new subculture of Rock n' Roll and rebels. Teenagers were developing a new voice to break through the pristine repression of society. "Greasers" were stereotyped as the new breed of juvenile delinquents. With slicked hair, tight jeans, leather jackets and motorcycle boots, a Greaser would not be complete without his rebel trademark the tattoo. Getting a tattoo is the last necessary element to prove toughness and machismo.

Kitch film maker John Waters was well versed in the uprising subculture while growing up in Baltimore during the '50s. Waters included these elements while creating his teen parody Cry Baby.

The classic Romeo and Juliet story is surrounded with a strong division between the working class "Drapes" and uptight traditionalist known as "Squares". Johnny Depp debuts in the musical role as Cry Baby, who falls in love with Alison the Square. The teary-eyed renegade is forced to challenge the town bully to prove his love and win the girl.

Black Book Magazine

Here is the "Soft Power" Tattooed Lady spread in the April Issue of Black Book Magazine. It's the story of the Upper East side meets West Village tattoo shop. I used a combination of my personal collection of custom tattoos and Temptu Pro Transfers to complete the sleeves in just a few hours.
Photography: Jason Kim
Styling: Christopher Campbell @ Atelier Management
Tattoo Art: Jenai Chin
Hair: Owen Gould @ The Wall Group
Make up: Maki H. @ The Wall Group
Manicure: Kelly B. @ DeFacto
Model: Katie Fogarty @ Next

Tattoos in Film: Once Were Warriors

The tribal tattoos of the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand were one of the first discovered by modern civilization. The spiral facial markings consist of distinctive line patterns with deep scarred grooves that are known as Tā moko. Most of the high-ranking officials were adorned with tattoos to distinguish them from the lower status members of the society. For both men and women of the tribes, receiving their moko tattoos meant the transcendence between childhood to adulthood involving many ancient rituals. Other than rank and status, the exotic markings were used to attract the opposite sex to seduce a mate. This was unlike anything the European culture had ever seen and became a fascinating enigma. Even though the discovery was introduced into Europe in the early 1800's, it wasn't until recently that tribal tattooing had a global explosion and impact on the modern development in the tattoo culture.

The tradition of the Tā moko tattoos have been resurrected into the modern generation as a sign of proud cultural identity as seen in the 1994 drama, Once Were Warriors.

In the urban setting of New Zealand, the dysfunction of the Heke family is bursting at the seams. Temuera Morrison plays Jake, the alcoholic father who surrounds his family with explosive violence and dangerous individuals. Beth is the wife and mother portrayed by Rena Owen who is trying to cope with the abuse and poverty plaguing the family. Her youngest son is in trouble with the law with threats of being removed from the home to be placed in foster care. After becoming distant from the family, the eldest son is running with a street gang. When the serious problem is revealed about their daughter, Beth is determined to keep her family together after tragedy strikes.

Tattoos in Film: Tattoo

zzzZZZZZZRRRRrrreeeekkkk!!!! The sound of a tattoo machine can be intimidating but it isn't very often the tattoo artist is a crazed maniac obsessed with covering your entire body with tattoos.

In the 1981 thriller Tattoo, Bruce Dern plays Karl Kinsky, a soft spoken tattoo artist who is commissioned to paint temporary tattoos on models for a fashion shoot (wink, wink). Maddy is one of the models and is intrigued with the mysterious tattoo artist. Karl quickly becomes obsessed with her beauty, his perfect canvas. Determined to have her wear his eternal mark, she is kidnapped and held hostage. While she is in captivity, Karl completes his full body masterpiece. After viewing her tattoo covered body, Maddy devises a plan to escape, ending in a deadly fight for freedom.

Discovering this movie had a profound influence on my career. The idea of someone creating temporary tattoos for films blew my mind! As a young artist still finding my voice, I began working closely with Temptu, the original creators of the tattoos in film. I fell madly in love with the endless possibilities of temporary tattoos. Through the years, I have dedicated my skills to developing a unique niche of creating tattoo imagery both on and off the camera. So far I haven't kidnapped anyone...or have I?

Tattoos in Film: Eastern Promises

In Russian prisons, a man's entire life is written on his body. Without tattoos he does not exist. Most Russian criminals carry a collection complex symbols which involve a great deal of detailed information giving full disclosure of their family life and past criminal activities. The placement of these marks on the body hold just as much significance as the symbols themselves.

Similar to other members of organized crime, the Russian Mafia uses tattoos to identify it's members and their ranking status. Boasting of unearned tattoos is a punishable offense leading to involuntarily removal of painful acid procedures. Forceable tattoos to the forehead is a common source of punishment to publicly humiliate and clearly identify those who have broke the "criminal code".

The gritty reality of these marks in the criminal underworld are brought to light in the movie Eastern Promises. The story begins with the heartbreaking journey from the diary of a pregnant Russian teenage prostitute who dies during childbirth. After discovering the journal, a determined mid-wife follows the clues that lead to revealing the girls rape, drug use and involvement with the Russian Mafia.

Viggo Mortensen
portrays a Russian gangster using his body as a criminal storybook. Each tattoo on his body represents the details of his background and imprisonments that eventual achieve a new ranking in the mob family. This on-screen tattoo process was one of the most authentic I have seen in a film.

Tattoos in Film: Female Yakuza Tale

Grindhouse movies exploded onto cinema with a style of soft-core sexplotation films in Japan. The cult genre known as Pink Films or Pinky Violence had it's height of success in the mid-60's to the late 70's. The cinematography and presence of powerful female roles have had a large influence on today's film makers. This is evident in the movie Kill Bill by director Quentin Tarantino.

Pink films are known to be sexed up bad girl action films with stories of betrayal and revenge. These strong sexy women were often depicted with extensive tattoos. When these ladies flashed their recognizable ink to a rival gang they made it clear that they were about to kick some ass. Till this day tattoos in Japan are associated with organized crime members of the Yakuza.

One of my favorite examples is the Female Yakuza Tale, Teruo Ishii’s sequel to Sex and Fury. The movie opens with actress Reiko Ike proudly revealing her tattoos with sword in hand ready to reek havoc on her enemies. *Slight Spoiler* The movie ends in a full blown Yakuza massacre headed by an army of naked swordswomen. It's an epic finale of blood and guts!

March Movie Month: Tattoos in Film

Not only do I love the movies, I am obsessed with films that feature tattoos.

March Movie Month will be dedicated to Tattoos in Film in which I will discuss tattoo moments in cinema.

For decades several different cultures have featured tattoos in many genres. Most of the tattoos in movies are temporary and painted with makeup which evolved into the creation of tattoo transfers. When an actor is required to wear one or several tattoos it can amplify the mood and energy of the character in the film.

A perfect example is Robert De Niro in the iconic remake Cape Fear. Robert De Niro plays the pyschopathic ex-con Max Cady, a convicted rapist seeking vengeance on Sam Bowden, the public defender who locked him away for 14 years. De Niro was covered in gritty, jailhouse style tattoos with Biblical phrases of betrayal and vengeance created by Temptu.

Check back for the next movie installment!

"Bombs Away"

For a fun February giveaway, I have 10 ORIGINAL LIMITED EDITION HANDMADE trading cards available!

This is a First-Come-First-Serve free giveaway...the first 10 NEW followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook will receive a free trading card!

Please follow the directions and qualifications below to receive your free trading card:

1. Become a follower on my Twitter (@JenaiChin) or Facebook Fan (Jenai Chin)
2. Mention on Twitter or Facebook post on my page: "You da bomb"
3. Immediately email your Name & Mailing Address to

~Must be a NEW follower
~Must send the Tweet/Facebook requested
~Must email me include all mailing information

The first 10 will get one of my ORIGINAL LIMITED EDITION HANDMADE trading cards in the mail! Failure to meet ALL guidelines will be disqualified.

*Trading card image is seen above. Size: 2.5" x 3.5" Ink on Paper.

Lady TaTa

Inspired by the hypnotic elegance from the women of the 1920's, I created this fancy lady for a client looking to start a vintage tattoo sleeve. After spending a quiet weekend completing the drawing and receiving her final approval I gave her the crowning title Lady TaTa.

Fashionable Tattoos

The evolution of the tattoo culture has allowed a new acceptance in advertising with a variety of products and models. The arrival of tattoos in the fashion industry have brought a new found edginess and sex appeal for the market. Fashion designers from all over the world have used tattoos to promote their clothing, underwear, perfume and shoes making tattoo art one of the most fashionable accessories.

"No Other Like It"

One of my favorite ways of combining art is the union of tattoos and comic characters. Kleenex had the same idea by presenting Little LuLu and a tattooed sailor in one of their advertisments. In the comic strip style ad, Little LuLu grabs an unattended tattoo machine and turns the unaware sailor into a permanent walking advertisement . Featuring a cute comic character and the playfulness of the tattooed product placement makes this ad very clever and charming. Now there is "No other like it" for both Kleenex and the tattooed sailor!

Tattoo Trading Cards

Trading artwork is a great way of staying in touch with artists around the globe! I made these mini paintings to trade with fellow tattoo artists but they are also available for sale.

These are 100% Original Hand Painted Ink on Paper. 2.5" x 3.5"
(smaller than a playing card)
~Comes with plastic sleeve.
~Price is available on request.

*Trading original tattoo art only with fellow tattoo artists.

Hurry before they are all gone! Several paintings are already being requested!

Please contact to trade your original tattoo art or interested in purchasing my original mini paintings.

Visit or follow me on Twitter!

Resurrection of Chester the Owl

A little over a year ago I was asked to design a traditional owl tattoo. The owl above was one of two options that I drew. Eventually the other owl was chosen leaving this little bird behind. I kept him stored away in my folder of unfinished designs. While on the search for reference material, I came across my old friend and decided to finish him up offering this as a tattoo. The sketch is now complete and on it's way to being painted and hopefully inked.

"Kia Ora!" (Have a Coke!)

One of the largest companies using tattoos to advertise their product was the Coca~Cola Company. Known for their wholesome print ads, Coca~Cola wanted to take an edgy turn to bank on the marketable tattoo culture in the 1940's.

As depicted above, the Army Sergeant proudly shows off his large chest tattoo to the Maori native covered in traditional tribal tattoos while they both enjoy a cool bottle of Coke. The ad gives the viewer a glimpse into the exotic world of extensive tattoos. In those days tattoos were usually seen on men in the military or in the Circus Sideshows. Stories of "tattooed savages" have circulated since the turn of the century but were now being shown in a friendly light unifying the two worlds in the love for tattoos and Coca~Cola.

Tattoo History: Smoking Ink

Within the entire month of January I will be sharing a brief history dedicated to Tattoos in Advertising. Being a tattoo and makeup artist I have a professional relationship with this topic as I have worked in both fields from Dereon clothing to PlayStation games. I will be writing about tattoos throughout the history that have been used in ad campaigns to promote several products.

I was surprised to find out that up until the mid 1950's Marlboro used to be considered a woman's cigarette! Once sales began to fall the company decided to change the image of the typical female smoker to feature rugged tattooed men posing confidently smoking their Marlboro smokes. This was a huge success and changed the history of the company which I only knew of being a "manly" cigarette.

The tattoos were often painted onto the models and I find it interesting that in almost every ad the painted tattoos were always on the hand. Since the composition rarely differentiated from one style I assume this was the best place to feature the tattoo art next to the cigarette.

Check back soon for my next installment: Coca-Cola

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Happy New Year! It's time to bring in 2012 with more art, tattoos, behind-the-scene photos and fun facts!

Throughout the new year, I will be promoting specials and free giveaways to both my new and loyal fans. This is the first giveaway for 2012!

Not following me on Twitter yet? The first 20 NEW followers on Twitter will receive a free postcard giveaway!

Please follow the directions and qualifications below to receive your free postcard:

1. Become a follower on my Twitter (@JenaiChin)
2. Mention me and tweet "Love, Skulls & Tattoos"
3. Immediately email your Name & Mailing Address to

~Must be a NEW follower
~Residents of the US ONLY
~Must include all information

The first 20 will get one of my postcards in the mail! Anyone not following all guidelines will be disqualified.

Tweet Tweet!

*Image of postcard not seen here.