Just as in the past nowadays people choose to get tattoos for many different reasons. Some reasons are as a statement of rebellion or totally the contrary but as a form of self expression and spirituality. Regardless of the reasons why people get these pieces of art they all seem to tell a story. I wanted to find out why certain people decide to get tattoos and what they mean to them in particular and understand if they are more than just ink on their bodies.Oakland Ink Tattoo Shop




It is arguably claimed that tattooing has existed since 12,000 years BC. The purpose of tattooing has varied from culture to culture and its place on the timeline. But there are commonalities that prevail form the earliest known tattoos to those being done today. Tattoos have always had an important role in ritual and tradition. In Borneo for example the women tattooed their symbols on their forearm indicating their particular skill. Tattoos around the wrist and fingers were believed to ward away illness. Throughout history tattoos have signified membership in a clan or society. Even today groups like the Hells Angels tattoo their particular group symbol. TV and movies have used the idea of a tattoo indication membership in a secret society numerous times. It has been believed that the wearer of an image calls the spirit of that image.


Oakland Ink is a tattoo shop in the Downtown area owned by tattoo artist Gerald Thompson. The team consist of several tattoo artist from around the country who each add their own unique style of tattooing. Tattoo styles from old traditional American, Portraits, Psychedelic, and Traditional Japanese. Gerald Thompson is a Bay Area self taught tattoo artist. Gerald first began tattooing on himself and later on began doing work for friends and family and in time opened up his own spot in Oakland. Like most parents Gerald mentioned that his mom had a hard time understanding why he got tattoos and did tattoos for others but in time she finally accepted it. Gerald explains that tattooing is the art of creating something meaningful and unique on somebody and knowing that it can last forever.


Eleanor Tobias.

Occupation: Server / Hair stylist.


Eleanor Tobias is a former Indiana resident who moved out here to Oakland, California recently. Eleanor mentioned to me that 90% of her tattoos have a significant meaning to her. One example in particular would be here rose tattoo she has on her left arm. It symbolizes the beauty and strength of her grandmothers life who was named Rosa who passed away years back. Eleanor's right arm symbolizes her appreciation to her love and interest of Japanese art and culture. She isn't quite done with her tattoos she said and hopes to get more and finish her sleeve. When asked why she got tattoos she said,"I love how tattoos look on people, specially when they are good tattoos! I also love having memories of certain things in my life on me literally to remind me of those times, it makes me happy. Each symbol and object on me is a memory of an event in my life it's like I am my very own picture book"



Davide Bedendo

Occupation: Pizzaiolo/ Punk Rock member

Age: 39

Davide Bedendo is a man of many faces. Originally from Verona Italy, Davide By day is a pizza maker at restaurant Hot Italian in Emeryville but by night rocks out to his old school punk bands that he plays in. “I am in a cover band for The Ramones and it's one of my favorite bands from the many that I am in.” Tattooed at a very young age he says confesses that some of his tattoos are young kid mistakes but assures that the rest all have symbolic meanings to them. “I have a couple of tattoos in remembrance to old friends of mines that have passed away.” One in particular he dedicated to a lost love one, it is of a big angel on his chest. Davide says, “I love getting tats man, but they hurt like shit.” When I asked what tattoos meant to him he said, “I think tattoos let you be different than anyone else and make you look better! I don't regret any tattoos I have and want to get more soon. I don't care if others look at me funny I do it because I love it.”