Nicole Dunlap's Four Elements and Tribute

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Show us your ink! Starting today, we kick off a new series, MARKED, where we ask locals of all ages, professions and backgrounds to roll up their sleeves, pant legs, and so much more to reveal their marks. Here are their stories:

Name: Nicole Dunlap

Age: currently 24, 21 when I got the arm piece, 23 when I get the foot/leg piece (both were designed by Eric James, co-owner of Phoenix Tattoo Company)

Arm Piece:This is a quarter sleeve on my left arm, it's a collage of the four elements as natural disasters. When I'm wearing a T-shirt, lots of folks mistake the tornado for an elephant trunk. There isn't so much of a "story" behind this tattoo. My initial interest in the elements resulted from my involvement and research in astrology. From there I just liked the idea of all of them coming together in their purest, most destructive form. I have one giant, beautiful storm on my arm. It took 15 hours to complete.

Check out more of Dunlap's marks after the jump ...

My leg/foot piece is a bit more involved. It covers the top of my right foot, covers the side of my ankle and stops about halfway up my calf. It is a dedication to my childhood girlfriend who passed away a couple years ago. It was a difficult experience for me, to say the least.

Both the tattoo and the tattoo process played an active and positive roll in my grieving, though it still wasn't easy. It was the most intense and emotional few hours I've ever spent in a tattoo chair. But the result is a stunning image that represents one of the most beautiful ladies I've known in my life.It's my favorite tattoo, by far.

Some people think it's morbid to have a cemetery be a part of a dedication piece. What they don't understand is that the gravestones are not representative of her death, they represent the cemetery in my hometown where we used to hang out together. Cemeteries are peaceful to me - this collage of images is not meant to be morbid at all, but instead reminiscent of our memories and childhoods together. It took about seven hours to complete.

Both pieces were freehand which means I didn't see a design before he started tattooing. He vaguely sketched out the design on my skin with sharpie right before he took the needles to my skin. Eric is a painter before a tattoo artist, he's extremely talented and I trust him completely.

Next tattoo? I'm still conceptualizing my next tattoo. I know it will stretch from my right collarbone, over my shoulder and down my back. I want it to be very organic and flowy, black and gray work representing the idea of progression, mainly. Moving forward, embracing change, always growing, etc. I'm currently collaborating with my artist friends about the imagery to use that will represent these concepts.

Know of a few creative marks? Send us your photos/suggestions.

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Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.