You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. TATTOO NATION tells how a few incarcerated but very talented Chicano artists changed the world of ink forever.
In 1975, Cartwright and Rudy boldly opened the first tattoo parlor in the heart of East LA’s Chicano community. Freddy Negrete became the first professional Chicano artist employed by a mainstream tattoo parlor – a tattoo parlor that was embraced as a new vehicle for self-expression by the Chicano community in East Los Angeles. For the first time, these legendary figures tell their stories in a feature-length documentary film. Their victories brought international recognition to the uniquely American approach known as “Black & Grey”. Portal is a pretty significant game to most of the people I know – In the few years I’ve worked in game development, I can’t remember there ever being as much of a collective excitement over a game as there was for the release of Portal 2. So here’s an admission that I need to get out of the way before I go any further with the story:  I had never played Portal until this past March. So here’s the deal – in February I was heading home from downtown Boston when it started to snow. At first hanging out, sitting on my butt, and watching Food Network in all of my spare time didn’t bug me so much. Around this time I was preparing for PAX East, specifically for a panel I was moderating that tackled gender and video game culture.
My Portal tattoo is still healing at the moment, but even in its current state its already brought me, and a number of folks, a good measure of joy.
I wish I had a more profound reason for choosing the cake from Portal, the first, but I don’t – simply put, cake fit in with the theme of my other tattoos and I thought it worked better than a heart that said “Wheatley” or a little turret dude.
PS – check out my friend and former boss, Sean Baptiste’s, blog about recovering from brain trauma. How did tattoos go from the renegade, readymade, carney cartoons inked as fast as possible to the art form they’ve become today? It follows three tattoo pioneers, Charlie Cartwright, Jack Rudy and Freddy Negrete, and shows how a new, fine line style using detail and shading to achieve a remarkable realism revolutionized the world of ink.


They hired a recently paroled teenager who, while in jail, unknowingly established iconic images that spoke to an entire generation of Chicanos.
Included are other important figures such as David Oropeza and “Chuco” Caballero, winners of many prestigious tattoo competitions.
But I obviously didn’t get a Portal tattoo because my friends and colleagues love the game and its sequel.
I have a polite stock answer for strangers who ask me about them, or the occasional pushy, but well meaning, relative who wants to try to make me regret the multiple illustrations decorating my body, but usually the actual story behind each piece is something personal. Granted I do have a number of pieces that certain folks would probably consider “silly” like my zombie prom queen (pictured here below), but I generally put some amount of consideration into the drawings permanently etched in my skin. Yes, that’s correct, the woman who just tattooed a bit of Portal lore on her, didn’t play the game until shortly before the release of its sequel.
I missed my bus and realized I had just enough cash in my wallet for the short cab ride to my home.
My fabulous partner in crime, friend, and all around after-car-accident care-taker, bought me a copy of Portal and insisted I give it a go.
I often wear sleeves, but when my arms are uncovered, I find that folks often want to comment on the brightly colored pieces of Americana style art decorating my arm.
Our mailroom package table was covered with Amazon deliveries on release day – all of them Portal 2 pre-orders. After all I get tattoos not because I want to look awesome, or colorful, or any of the other reasons people have thrown out at me to explain them, but because I’m commemorating pieces of my life. I hailed one, hopped in, started chatting with the driver, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up on the floor of the cab, unable to breathe, or move, in more pain than I’ve ever felt in my whole life.
I was also struggling with some quirky memory loss following the accident and trying not to let anyone know just how crazed, depressed, and frustrated I felt by the whole experience. One of the most maddening things about getting a big old bonk on the head is discovering things that you didn’t know you had forgotten.
I make my livelihood working o them – and I’d like to, one day, be a lead designer on a major title. Even people at the company who didn’t consider themselves “gamers” in the same sense as some of the other devs were jazzed about this release.


It’s kind of like a scrap book that uses my own skin as the medium (and doesn’t get tossed into the attic or under my bed after it’s made).
The concept hit me, early one morning, after I’d digested several blog posts about Portal 2. I don’t want to go into details about what happened, but I was banged up pretty terribly (thankfully no one else involved in the accident was hurt). For me, Portal and Portal 2 also evince what are, in my opinion, my favorite elements of playing games. Here are 15 of our favorite Toy Story tattoos!Click an image below to see the entire gallery. Miraculously, I didn’t break anything, but I did hurt my ribs, back, neck, and a few other things.
That is, they’re fun, accessible, inventive, witty, and offer many incentives to replayability.  I also appreciate the importance that Chell plays in the pantheon of video game protagonists as both a woman and a woman of color. My brain also got scrambled about pretty badly from getting hit in the head (the EMTs told me I was thrown into the divider between the back and front seats). Finally, as an aspiring designer, both games have taught me an incredible amount about puzzle, narrative, and character design. For the next few weeks I couldn’t move much – and even a month later, was still enduring trips to the ER for rib muscles that just did not want to behave (and still don’t, all this time later).
In fact, given the chance, I could probably write a dozen different blog posts all focused on particular aspects or influences of Portal – but this post is about my tattoo, so I’ll get back on topic. The weekend I got Portal 2 I sat down and played through the entire story in one sitting (much to the annoyance of my cat Elvis).



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