Acquired in Albuquerque.

Anchor and Shamrock

Acquired in Nassau.

Anne of Green Gables Quote Quilt

Acquired in Ottawa.

ariesAries Symbol (covered)

Acquired in Chicago by Fred at Jade Dragon Tattoo. I was born on April 6, and my personality is very close to any horoscope description of an Aries that I’ve ever read, so I acquired this ram symbol behind my ear. It felt strange more than it hurt as I could feel the buzzing in my skull. I sometimes wish it was a little more feminine, but Aries is the god of war and this symbol is ready for battle. Because this symbol was a piece of flash and I’m not entirely pleased with it, and I acquired a ram’s head on my chest to represent my astrological sign, I covered it up.


Acquired in Portland. I did not like the wonky, asymmetrical look of this balloon, so I added my own blood spatters around it to add to the “horror” aspect of this Stephen King-inspired Maine tattoo. The blood spatters were acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at


Acquired in Chicago by Dawn Grace at Tattoo Factory. I have always liked the slender, yet strong look of bamboo, and thought it would be a great back tattoo after seeing many examples of them online. Dawn took the time to study bamboo brush painting to be able to recreate the technique in needle and ink on my back. I think it came out beautifully and it’s still one of my favorite tattoos. I especially love how the top leaves peek out over my shoulder.


Acquired in Washington, D.C.


Acquired in Louisville.

“be brave.”

Acquired in Key West.

becool“be cool.”

Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at This was initially going to be my New York tattoo as a nod to my beloved guilty pleasure TV show series: The Real Housewives on Bravo. The New York one is my favorite and when Luann de Lesseps voiced her hungover plea to the ladies to “be cool. Don’t be all, like, uncool,” on a vacation episode, I could not resist adding it to my “be …” quote collection. I ended up deciding on a different New York tattoo, however, and thought it a good practice piece for my hand poke tattoo hobby instead. As my second ever stick and poke tattoo, I thought it came out pretty well.

“be kind.”

Acquired in Oak Park.

Beatles/Frank Turner Mashup

Acquired in London.

Bee and Mandala Flower

Acquired in Omaha. Read about it soon.

Beer Cheers Emoji

Acquired in Milwaukee.

Betty Boop

Acquired in Birmingham.

Bicycle with Tulips

Acquired in Amsterdam.

Black Heart

Acquired in Bensalem.

Black Heart

Acquired in Bensalem.

Boat (covered)

Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at I was giving a few tattoos before my annual Salty Dog Cruise in Miami and I wanted to warm up with a little paper boat tattoo to match my paper airplane. I was a little tipsy when doing this tattoo, however, so it’s not as clean as it should be, nor do I love the location of it, so I covered it with a cross.


Acquired in Kansas City. Read about it soon.

Bungy Jumper

Acquired in Queenstown.

Burning Candle

Acquired in Grand Rapids.

butterfly cherry blossomButterfly and Cherry Blossoms (cover-up)

Acquired in Chicago by Zach Stuka at Deluxe Tattoo. After considerably lightening up the dragonfly tattoo, I was able to get this piece, which Zach artfully drew straight on my leg, after I told him I wanted a butterfly and some cherry blossoms. These are very common tattoos, but they’re so pretty and I don’t feel the need to be original all the time.

Carmen Sandiego

Acquired in San Diego.

catCat (covered)

Acquired in Chicago by Fred at Jade Dragon Tattoo. When I went in for my Aries symbol and skull and crossbones, I saw this bit of flash on the wall and spontaneously added it to the list of tattoos I would get that evening. The only thing I added was the green eyes. I’m not so sure about the strange frog legs on the cat, and although it’s not a tattoo I ever see, I’m not a fan of it. So I covered it with a rose, which had the perfect lines to work with the existing outline of the cat. But I do love cats, so eventually there will be another cat on my body to replace it.


Acquired in Chicago.


Acquired in Fargo. Read about it soon.

Cross (cover-up)

Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at I did not love my drunken boat tattoo so I drew up a potential cover-up and poked it out to make for a heraldic type cross on my arm. It has no particular meaning to me, I just like the way it looks.


Acquired in Lake Villa.


Acquired in Hobart.


Acquired in Auckland.

Dragonfly (covered)

Acquired in Chicago by Allie Sider at Tatu Tattoo. I wanted a dragonfly with some swirls and didn’t quite like how the resulting filigree came out, although I loved the dragonfly. Unfortunately, the filigree spoiled the tattoo and so it has since been lasered off and covered up by a butterfly and cherry blossoms.

Edward Gorey “S is for Susan”

Acquired in South Bend.

Elvis (covered)

Acquired in Memphis.


Acquired in Las Vegas.

paisleyEmily Dickinson Quote

Acquired in Chicago by Allie Sider at Tatu Tattoo. I had seen this line on various notepads and magnets and I was pleased to discover it was by one of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson. The poem is about Dickinson’s vocation as a poet and in it, she compares poetry favorably to prose because she finds poetry to be more open and less restrictive than prose. My tattoo is a slight variation of the opening line; “dwell in possibility” is a constant reminder to myself to live without limitations. I had it rendered in Lord of the Rings-inspired font as I was obsessed with those movies at the time.

“expensive art”

Acquired in Nashville.

Fadó Spirals

Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at I had some room here for a filler tattoo and wanted to add to my trivia theme, so I poked out the Fadó spirals from its logo. I tilted them on their sides to fit the spot better, so they’re not entirely accurate, but looks better and that mattered more to me.


Acquired in Prague.


Acquired in New Orleans.


Acquired in Salt Lake City.


Acquired in Berlin.

Guinness Harp

Acquired in Dublin.

Heart and Key (covered)

Acquired in Chicago by Zach Stuka at Deluxe Tattoo. This was a spontaneous tattoo on Valentine’s Day. I suppose I wanted to memorialize giving away the key to my heart and getting stabbed with it instead. It didn’t quite come out the way I had envisioned and so this has since been lasered off and covered up with leopard print. But I always liked the idea behind it so I might reprise the piece with a better version.


Acquired in San Juan.

Hot Dog

Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at The reason I am giving handpoke tattoos, Katie, was visiting me in Chicago for a weekend and we wanted buddy tattoos. Because she is originally from Chicago, we thought hot dogs would be a fun way to memorialize our friendship. As I was drawing the mustard, I thought it resembled a lightning bolt, so I sharpened the corners and made it into a lightning bolt, making for an even more unique piece.

zeldaHylian Crest

Acquired in Chicago by Mario at Chicago Tattoo & Piercing Co., with a fix by Dawn Grace at her own studio. The Legend of Zelda is the best gaming series ever made, Ocarina of Time being the best of the series, and I spent many happy hours playing through these games. I wanted to commemorate the joy these games brought me with the Hylian Crest, which contains the hard-won triforce. The first version of this tattoo wasn’t the sharpest, as it was a walk-in and done without passion by the artist. I should have gone to a gamer. Dawn later sharpened it up for me and did the corresponding Navi and life meter tattoo. She had accidentally used gray ink, however, and so had to redo the design yet again. Three versions later and the design was unavoidably modified, but although the tattoo is inaccurate, it is still recognizable by those who know the game.


Acquired in Keene.


Acquired in Stamford.


Acquired in Albuquerque.

Ladybug (covered)

Acquired in Chicago by Allie Sider at Tatu Tattoo. My favorite insect is this cute red and black bug. I even played a ladybug in my school’s production of James and the Giant Peach. Allie didn’t quite give this ladybug any life as it resulted in a cartoonish red and black circle with legs. I covered it up with some paisley and acquired a more realistic ladybug later.


Acquired in Chicago by Dawn Grace at Tattoo Factory. After covering up the other ladybug, I wanted to get a better version of my favorite red and black insect and this time, she landed on my foot.

Leopard Print (cover-up)

Acquired in Chicago by Dawn Grace at her own studio. I absolutely love leopard print and it adorns various shirts, pants, and shoes of mine, so why not my body as well?

Lightning Bolt

Acquired in Des Moines.

lord of rings quoteLord of the Rings Quote

Acquired in Chicago by Dawn Grace at Tattoo Factory. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of my favorites, and the movies were just as good. My favorite quote is from Tolkien’s poem All That is Gold Does Not Glitter: “not all those who wander are lost.” I’m not yet entirely secure in my adult life in terms of dwelling, job, or relationships, and I travel all the time. However, simply because I’m still wandering a bit, does not mean that I feel lost. I like to believe that I’m on the path to something good, even if it takes me a little longer to get there.

Louis Vuitton Cerises

Acquired in Minneapolis.

Magpie and Pelican

Acquired in Belfast.

Music Note Couple

Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at tattoo. I saw this image on Facebook and liked it so much, I drew up my own as a bit of flash and then decided to tattoo it on myself.

Music Notes

Acquired in Austin.


Acquired in Edinburgh.

Navi and Life Meter

Acquired in Chicago by Dawn Grace at her own studio. After getting the Hylian crest on my right leg, I wanted more Legend of Zelda art and had always loved the idea of getting the life meter at beeping near death, with of course my trusty fairy friend Navi by its side to help fill it up again.

Nightmare Mashup

Acquired in Dallas.


Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at I love the four letters around the “X” thing that Frank Turner does with his “FTHC” logo, meaning Frank Turner Hardcore, akin to all the city hardcore logos from the 80s. So I created one of my own, except that mine stands for Natalia Kolasa Hand Poke.

Northern Lights

Acquired in Reykjavik. Read about it soon.

snake coverupPaisley (cover-up)

Acquired in Chicago by Dawn Grace at Tattoo Factory. I wanted to cover-up my faded and poorly tattooed snake and a poorly drawn ladybug and that were above and below my dwell in possibility quote. I had found some great pictures online of various tribal designs and swirls on women’s sides and stomachs and after some research, found Dawn, who was known for her mehndi-style tattoos, which I thought would be ideal. A couple of hours of paisleys, swirls, and dots later, I received my first Dawn Grace original and understood the pain of the ribcage tattoo.


Acquired in Charleston.


Acquired in Wilmington.

Paper Airplane

Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at I saw this as a tattoo when browsing filler tattoo ideas and thought it would be perfect for an awkward space on my arm.

Park Bench

Acquired in Montréal.

pastel-roses-tattooPastel Roses (cover-up)

Acquired in Chicago by Carolyn Elaine Lingeman at Mayday Tattoo. After Memphis so badly messed up my Elvis tattoo, I couldn’t wait to get rid of it. As soon as it healed, I went to my favorite Chicago artist to get it covered up. I requested roses, because I figured roses are timeless, always look good, and can always be added to. Plus, with their blooms and leaves, they can cover up just about anything. I initially thought Carolyn was going to add a black rose and use white to highlight the individual blooms, but she said the rose would just look muddy that way and instead, she used the black of Elvis as the shadow between two pastel roses, which would work as background to the other existing tattoos on my hip. The tattoo ended up being much larger than I anticipated and a two-session project, but Carolyn expertly camouflaged Elvis and filled in my hip area beautifully. The bats I acquired in Louisville continued to camouflage the remaining bits of Elvis.


Acquired in Charlotte.


Acquired in Flagstaff.


Acquired in Flagstaff.

Pocket Watch

Acquired in Sioux Falls. Read about it soon.

Polar Bear

Acquired in Nuuk. Read about it soon.

Poop Emoji

Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at tattoo. I love the poop emoji and I had a perfect triangular spot for it. I wanted to poke it on myself, however, the spot was on my right arm. Not to be thwarted, I decided to do it anyway, with my left hand. It was challenging and did not come out perfectly, but I did it and I am proud of my happy little poop.


Acquired in Chicago by Carolyn Elaine Lingeman at Mayday Tattoo. The poppy is my favorite flower and it always has been for the large blooms and the bright red petals with black centers. After getting the little non-poppy on my ankle covered up, I wanted another try at these flowers and I wanted to do it as large as possible. As much as I like getting a number of small tattoos all over my body, I’ve always felt the back should only have one or two large pieces. And with the bamboo already there, I wanted another botanical piece to meld with it, and so these blooms will complete my back.

Poppy (cover-up and covered)

Acquired in Chicago by Dawn Grace at Tattoo Factory. The poppy is my favorite flower and I hoped it would cover up the existing tribal rose tattoo. However, because it was a cover-up, the stem was wrong, and the color of it was orange. It didn’t look like a poppy at all. This cover-up would have to be covered up as well.


Acquired in Brattleboro.

flower coverupPurple Flowers (cover-up)

Acquired in Chicago by Zach Stuka at Deluxe Tattoo. I set up an appointment for a cover-up and initially asked for some black stars on my leg, even though the poppy tattoo to be covered up was large and oddly-shaped. Zach refused to put such large black spots on my leg, and instead, looked through a book of flowers, found some that he liked, and drew them on my leg. I walked out with an entirely different tattoo than I asked for, but I loved the experience and the resulting flowers.

Puzzle Piece

Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at I love putting together puzzles and thought it would be a fun idea to do a 3-D puzzle piece with my inner self revealed in the empty space. Because I love the UK so much, and often wish I had been born there instead, accent and all, I chose to do the Union Jack flag.

Ram Skull

Acquired in Marietta.


Acquired in Annapolis.

Redback Spider

Acquired in Melbourne.

Ring of Fire

Acquired in Little Rock.

Roald Dahl Quote w/ Tree

Acquired in Cardiff.

Rocky Horror Picture Show Quote

Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at I initially wanted to get this quote on my arm in Cincinnati on the night that the remake came out on TV. That did not work out but I still liked the quote, so I decided to fill some more spots on my right arm with a self-poke. I did the lettering with my left hand, which is hard enough to do with my dominant hand, so I am quite proud of the way it turned out.


Acquired in Boston.

Scrabble Tiles

Acquired in New York City.


Acquired in Greenville.

Ship in a Bottle

Acquired in Richmond.


Acquired in Las Vegas.

skullSkull and Crossbones

Acquired in Chicago by Fred at Jade Dragon Tattoo. I had always wanted a skull and crossbones, but wanted a unique take on it, so I found a design I liked online and asked Fred to make it wink.

Snake (covered)

Acquired in Kirksville at Dyed Hyde Tattoo. This was my very first tattoo, which I found looking through a book of flash in college. I was nervous and I giggled and I got yelled at to stop moving and since then I’ve sat like a rock. It was a pretty crappy tattoo, but though I may have regretted my first, I will never forget it, and the snake outline still exists within the paisley cover-up.


Acquired in Jackson.


Acquired in Denver.


Acquired in Jersey City.

Stars (covered)

Acquired in Las Vegas. This has since been covered up by leopard print.


Acquired in Chicago by Dawn Grace at her own studio. I’ve always loved stars as a shape, and after covering up the others, I wanted another set.

Steampunk Ladybug

Acquired in Providence.

Sugar Skull

Acquired in Mexico City and fixed in Nassau.


Acquired in Portland.


Acquired in Vienna.

Tattoo Needle

Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at I had a thin line of space between my LOTR quote and the lightning bolt and I wanted to fill it with the challenge of tattooing such a thin double line on myself. I think I did pretty well, considering.

Tribal (covered)

Acquired in Kirksville at Dyed Hyde Tattoo. I drew this strange swirly pattern, which Dave Bryant affectionately named the Pringles mustache while covering it up. I first got it tattooed in black, but then it faded quite a bit, so I went in for a touch up and sold some college textbooks to get enough cash for some blue shadowing around it, which looked absolutely awful. I cannot believe it took me seven years to get it covered up.

dragonTribal Dragon (covered)

Acquired in Chicago by Dave McNair at Chicago Tattoo and Piercing Co. I saw this piece of UK flash art online and fell in love with it and thought it was the perfect shape to grace my left shoulder. Its sharpness has faded quite a bit and I have fun with people trying to figure out what it is. I figured it was time to get it covered up with a bigger and custom drawn dragon.

Tribal Rose (covered)

Acquired in Kirksville at Dyed Hyde Tattoo. It was tribal and cute and I was in college. It has since been covered up by a poppy, which was later covered by purple flowers.


Acquired in Columbus.

T.S. Eliot Quote

Acquired in St. Louis.

yarnTwisted Stitches Armband

Acquired in Chicago by Dawn Grace at Tattoo Factory. I enjoy knitting and at the time of the tattoo, I was knitting constantly, selling my pieces, and even designing my own accessory patterns for others to knit. I had initially asked for a yarn ball with a circular needle, the kind I use, but the circular needle came out wrong. To fix it, I had Dawn change the needles to straight needles, and use the joining wire to make a filigree-embellished banner for my Fadó pub quiz team name, which started out as a weekly knitting group.

Ukrainian Collage (cover-up)

Acquired in Chicago and London.


Acquired in Boise.


Acquired in Reykjavik. Read about it soon.


Acquired in Santa Barbara.


Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at When a friend posted a photo of herself hand-poking a tattoo, I was immediately intrigued and decided to start my own hobby of hand-poking and named my makeshift shop When my cat of twelve years died, I decided that my first attempt at hand-poking would be a memorial piece of a heart nose and whiskers. I placed it on my left thumb, which was probably not the wisest idea as it could potentially have been a highly visible mess, but it came out decently for my first and will only require a bit of touch up as I had overworked it and blown out the lines.


Acquired in Oklahoma City.


Acquired in Chicago by Natalia Kolasa at I liked the dog tattoo that I did in Seattle so much and I love my own dog so much, that I had to poke out an image of my chihuahua/papillon mix dog on myself. I rendered her in black, but since she has one blue eye and one brown, I used blue in her one eye to make it obvious that it was my little Zephy.

Running Total (not counting those that have been covered): 104