All photos by the author
The day after Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primaries, I found my way to Clay Dragon Tattoo Studio, a tattoo parlor in Seabrook, New Hampshire, where owner Bob Holmes made worldwide news by offering to give Donald Trump tattoos for free.
Holmes, who's been a tattoo artist for 32 years and has never voted, says he has given 41 free Trump tattoos over the past couple of weeks—and the numbers grow daily. Just this week, he told me, a mother and daughter came in asking for Trump's "Make America Great" slogan tattooed across both their chests.
"They're doing the slogan. They're doing the Trump head. They're doing customized flags. They're doing so many different kinds of things," Holmes said. "Have you ever seen the Donald Trump picture of him as Uncle Sam? That, I would love to do!"
I'd never met a Donald Trump supporter until I visited the Clay Dragon, where I was suddenly face-to-face with people who had willingly inked Trump's face on their bodies. I asked four of the people I met there why they got their "Trump stamps," and whether they had any regrets.
Bill, 46, Local Peace officer
"It's a commitment. You can say you support a candidate—you can say you support an understanding or belief. But to get a tattoo, which is for the rest of your life, that's a commitment. And that's kind of the statement I wanted to make, which is, I believe in making America great, to the point where I'm willing to wear it for the rest of my life. The people I've talked to feel the exact same way.
The tattoo is a way to show people our commitment, not just to Donald Trump but to the idea that we want to make America great again. He coined the phrase and I'm going to pick it up and carry it—for the rest of my life. It doesn't matter if it was free or $100. The price is irrelevant. It's something that you can believe in. Who doesn't want to make America great?"
Dmitri, 24, Employee at a Pizza Restaurant
"I saw the Trump tattoos on the news and called that night. When I called, they said, 'Do you want the slogan?' I said, 'No, I want the face!'"
It's a story for me. Ten years from now, I'm going to be telling people, 'Yeah, this dude ran for president.' If he became president, that's one thing. That'd be awesome. If he became president and got assassinated, that's another story right there. Right? Like, 'Dude, dead president on my leg.' It's a win-win. And win-win-win, because it's ink on my body for free.
My mother hates it. She thinks Donald Trump is ignorant. I don't care. I don't even care who is president at all. I'm a felon—I can't even vote. It's just a story for me."
CODY, 24, Construction Worker
[Editor's note: Cody's tattoo, one of the more elaborate ones, features Donald Trump in front of an American flag, ripping open his shirt, and exposing a Superman logo.]
"It's just something crazy, and I wanted another tattoo. This one is sick. People were talking about Trump tattoos, and I was like, 'Screw it. Why not?' Trump is very outspoken and he speaks his mind, and that's what I like about him. That, and I don't like Bernie Sanders."
Max, 26, Construction Worker
"I did the portrait like a week ago. It took maybe an hour, it wasn't too bad. I support Trump, you know—he's behind me and I'm behind him—literally. He's an icon. It's pop culture. He's been around my entire childhood. He just breathes success, and he's someone to look towards and to shoot for. So I think it's cool.
I really don't trust any other candidates. I can relate to Trump, and I agree with a lot of what he's saying. I'm working class, so I support him and what he believes in and trusts what he says. The past election I didn't have kids, and now I have kids, so I'm looking towards the future. It's all about my future and the kids' future. If he's not in it, then I'm not voting.
All my friends who don't have jobs were like, 'That tattoo is stupid. I don't agree with it. Blah blah.' Everyone who's a construction worker like me, working 40-plus hours a week were like, 'Man, that's epic. I love it!' I think that shows a lot right there. All the people I know who don't do anything all day—live off the government, they just sit on their ass and do nothing—they all hate it. It shows a lot right there."
Follow Harmon Leon on Twitter.