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 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.
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 email@example.com
~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 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.
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".
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.