Entertainment

We Asked Tattoo Artists About the Weirdest Pop-Culture Ink They've Done

"There was this one woman who was obsessed with Enrique Iglesias... so she came and got his signature tattooed across her arm."

by Ebony-Renee Baker
Aug 8 2017, 6:11pm

Courtesy of Maddalena Ruggiero 

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

If you've ever been so moved by a final episode of The Bachelor that you decided to tattoo the proposal scene on your ass cheek, keep reading because this one's for you.

OK, so while there may or may not be someone currently bearing a Bachelor tattoo on his or her ass (holler at me if that's you), tattoos related to pop culture have skyrocketed amid the 21st century's warm embrace of both tattoo and nerd culture.

Just a decade ago, getting a simple tattoo on your neck or hand was something many scoffed at. Today, you'll see a tattoo of a psychedelic cat caressing Drake's decapitated head and barely bat an eye.

Even Drake himself has taken to ink to pay tribute to one of his famous idols, evident in his new tattoo of Lil Wayne's face, which he revealed last week.

Compare that to other famous tats like Ed Sheeran's Fresh Prince of Bel Air tattoo, Ryan Gosling's bicep tribute to the children's book The Giving Tree, or Janet Jackson's rendition of Minnie Mouse giving Mickey Mouse a blow job, and it kind of makes you wonder what other crazy pop-culture shit people have tattooed on their bodies.

Luckily, a bunch of tattoo artists across Canada were willing to fill us in on some of their most unique requests.

Jenn Willits, Winnipeg

Tattoo art by Jenn Willits

I have a client whose entire back is Disney princesses as zombies: The Mad Hatter is being ripped apart by Alice, Belle has the Beast's head severed, Snow White's eating a dwarf, and all that kind of stuff. So it's super dark but definitely a spin on Disney.

Regarding celebrity faces, I've actually done three Gord Downie portraits since he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, which was actually quite crazy. I did a full portrait of Downie on a friend's entire forearm, and then I did another portrait of him singing from one of his final shows. I also had a father and daughter come up from Syracuse, New York, who are ridiculously big Hip fans, to get Hip tattoos. Her father got [Downie's] face on his arm, and she got "Bobcaygeon" song lyrics down her spine.

Oh, and I also did a full sleeve regarding the show Lost. On that sleeve, we had the hieroglyphics around his wrist, a close up of Locke's scarred eyes, Hurley and Locke looking over the hatch, the Dharma symbol, the numbers, the plane crashing, the Anubis statue... it's a huge compilation sleeve. He was a huge fan and had given me lists upon lists, and I just worked with him to make sure everything was authentic. I love doing themed tattoos.

Neil Tavares, Toronto

I would say the weirdest, but still kind of cool, tattoos would probably be when a girl wanted a picture of a Jedi in her likeness and her cat depicted as Han Solo. I was kind of like, "OK, alright, let's do this, yeah, fine, cool!" It worked out really well and the end result was definitely something I hadn't seen before.

I've done a few Dragon Ball characters. Sometimes, with Dragon Ball fans, I feel like they're never happy with how anyone draws the characters. A lot of the time, those are some of the pickiest clients I've ever encountered. It's a shame because I love Dragon Ball.

Poppy Del, Edmonton

Tattoo art by Poppy Del

When I first started dating my boyfriend last year, we were watching a lot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. So in the third season, they're flying first class, and there's this quick little joke where the stewardess asks if she can get them anything, and Charles is like, "Yeah, I'll take some tissues, a blanket, and, oh, y'all got sundaes?" My boyfriend and I thought that was kind of silly, so one day when I had a cancelation, I ended up tattooing a little sundae on him that says, "Y'all got sundaes?"

Inshaan Ali, Toronto

Tattoo art by Inshaan Ali

I've done at least three [ass] cheek tattoos of sports logos, and I've said no to a lot of them. One of the cheek tattoos I did was the Fighting Irish logo for Notre Dame on an 80-year-old guy who was just like: "Yeah, I was on the team in the 60s, and I want to remember it." I said: "How old are you?" He said 80, so I was like, OK.

Also Drake hands have been popping up a lot since last summer. I did a big one on someone's arm and some else's ribs, but it's mostly [smaller ones] on the arm. I know it's based off the actual designs of another artist, Albrecht Dürer, so it's not a horrible tattoo. The only thing that makes it weird is when someone puts a tiny six next to it.

Chad Jacob, Hamilton, Ontario

I've done Jesus Christ upside down on a crucifix, engulfed in flames while being disemboweled by zombies. I had Michelangelo from the Ninja Turtles eating a brain instead of a pizza, and then, there was Moe Szyslak from The Simpsons as a zombie. I've done a client's childhood cartoon characters all zombified in a half sleeve. I also did the Ghostbusters and R2-D2 from Star Wars, all zombified, whether they were deteriorating or missing an eyeball or limb here or there. I've done zombie mashups with some of the pop icons too, like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash all as zombies. I have no clue [why people get them]... I don't see the appeal really.

Cinthia Melfi, Montreal

I wouldn't say I've done many crazy ones, but every so often we do Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter tattoos. Those are the most popular pop-culture requests we get in the shop. It's just kind of a cult following in a way... people are really into it. I've done a lot of the Elvish language, the Tree of Gondor, and the Deathly Hallows logo. One time, a Quidditch team in their early 20s came in and all got the paddle from the game tattooed on their ribs.

And one time, we got an email from a guy wanting the Caesar crown tattooed around his butthole. None of us were interested in doing that.

Danny Dowling, Vancouver

Tattoo art by Danny Dowling

I've done a hot dog and a Vegemite jar having sex on a girl's butt cheek. I do a lot of Simpsons characters. I actually just did two the other day at a convention. With my work, it's inspired by a lot of craziness like LSD and things like that. So I did a Homer that looked like he was tripping pretty hard. I also do a lot of Beavis and Butthead. Fuck, what else? I've done a weird-as-fuck Drake [portrait].

I love it. We live in an extreme world. Five years ago, it was a hand tattoo that was extreme; now, It's all about shock value.

Maddalena Ruggiero, Toronto

Tattoo art by Maddalena Ruggiero

There was this one woman who was obsessed with Enrique Iglesias. She said she went to his concert and tore off her underwear and her shirt and threw it at him on the stage. So she came and got his signature tattooed across her arm. It was probably palm size—not huge but big enough that it's noticeable. It wasn't subtle.

In terms of pop-culture fads, a lot of people get infinity symbols. Oh, God. I'm so tired of tattooing those. I've probably tattooed hundreds of them, and honestly I don't know what the fascination is. Like, I get it, there's a 100 and ten meanings you could put with it. But the infinity symbol is like the tribal arm band of our day and age.

James Greenaway, Edmonton

One time, a guy came to me with a cell from a comic by this artist Justin Hall; it was Freddie Mercury wearing a king's crown and holding a king's robe, beside a big speech bubble saying "Do I see a little silhouetto of a man?" He has his foot up on a guy—like he just conquered him— who's wearing a ball gag and a butt plug. That one was a little weird but the comic is geared toward the gay and lesbian community.

Another really cool one that I did was last year around the Fort McMurray fire. Somebody wanted a Fort Mac Strong [tattoo] to show their pride, and I ended up doing Officer Big Mac from McDonald's lifting weights. There was no text, just him lifting weights.

Personally, I have [a tattoo of] Super Mario on a pogo stick with a mushroom cap hat. I also have, you know in Nightmare Before Christmas there was a little toy duck on wheels? I have that tattooed on me. And I actually have a huge thigh piece that's of Hannibal Lecter, the Billy doll from Saw, and Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange, and they're all posing together. Honestly, the thing I like about pop culture tattoos is they're already ideas and characters built by someone else and I get to throw my own spin on them.

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

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