January 2013 Archives


Closeup of Topher's Chicago Flag tattoo

We were lunching at River North’s Slurping Turtle (with, let us brag, the awesome artist who designed the restaurant’s turtle logo/mascot) and couldn’t help but notice our server’s brand-spanking new tattoo.

CFT: You just said before I started recording that your tattoo is three days old?

Topher: Three days old. I’ve always lived around Chicago, parents are die-hard Cubs fans, the whole everything, so I just moved here in August and that was kind of like my leaving the nest, so to speak. So I came here, kind of struggled a little bit with school and balancing everything out. But I succeeded, in more ways than one. So it was kind of like, I love Chicago for all these reasons, and now I have more of a reason to. So I came up with this idea of Black Flag), one of my favorite hardcore bands, they have the uneven bars, it’s supposed to look like a waving black flag. So I was like, what if I did that with the Chicago Flag?

CFT: And the laurels underneath?

Topher: That was kind of something that my tattoo artist, she was just like “I want something to more round it out, to make it look more like a traditional tattoo”. It was just kind of something to give it a little bit of a framework.

CFT: The flag can rest on its laurels.

[Groans from everyone at the table.]

Topher: Right, exactly.

CFT: Where did you get it done?

Topher: I got it done at Speakeasy Tattoo on North in Wicker Park.

CFT: Who did it there?

Topher: Jennifer Trok.

CFT: Jennifer! She’s awesome.

Topher: Yeah, she’s really cool. I was very happy with her.

CFT: Now, you’ve only had it three days, but one of my questions is usually, “do people know what it is?” How’s the reaction been?

Topher: The reaction to the Chicago Flag has been good. The Black Flag thing kind of gets lost on some people, but that’s OK.

CFT: Oh, he knew what it was instantly.

Topher: Awesome. Yeah, that’s what I was going for. My parents, I get a lot of my love for Chicago from my dad, but my dad’s totally like conservative, business, salesman kind of guy. This is my first tattoo where it’s more visible, you know, so he was like, “hey, we need to talk about this”. And then we had this huge lecture. But then he was like, “well, it’s a really cool design, how’d you come up with it?” It was so funny, it was a complete turn-around. Yeah, it was awesome.

CFT: So cool. Thanks a lot.

Topher and his Black Flag inspired Chicago Flag tattoo


Close up of Michael's Chicago Bike Flag tattoo

This winter, paying attention to the arms of waitstaff seems to be the most productive for this site. Hopefully I’m not too weird when I go out to eat, staring at everyone’s arms. Michael bartends at the 14 Karat Lounge, the bar connected to Ada’s Famous Deli in the Silversmith Hotel right under the Loop El tracks on Wabash.

CFT: So what’s your Chicago Flag tattoo story?

Michael: I did it for a tattoo to symbolize biking, because I’m a big biker around the city. I’ve been doing it now for seven years. It’s my favorite way, the best way to get around the city. So I saw like the gears and the chains and I thought it was something different. And I figured if we ever add another star, I can just add another gear and another chain link on the side and just kind of extend it out. So it’s like a Chicago Bike-Flag tattoo. It was a thirtieth birthday gift to myself.

CFT: Awesome.

Michael: I get a lot of complements on it at the bar. A lot of people think it’s a cop tattoo, right off the bat. Do you get that alot?

CFT: I get that every now and then.

Michael: I’m like, “No, I’m not a cop, I’m a bartender, obviously.”

CFT: But people recognize it as the flag, even though it’s got gears…

Michael: Yeah, I was in Minneapolis a few weeks ago for a Bears game when they were out there and I had a lot of people calling me out on it. So a lot of people do get it. They’re like, “Chicago Flag, I get it!”. I’ve only had like two or three people get that it’s like chains and gears and it’s a bike flag. They’re like, “is that a bike flag?” and I’m like “yeah, actually, I’ve been biking around the city forever so I wanted to get something to symbolize that.” [Points at Fuzzy’s tattoo} I thought about getting it all the way around, but I just decided to go on the forearm. Yeah, I love this city and wanted to get a tattoo.

CFT: Are you a lifelong resident?

Michael: Yeah, my whole life. Thinking about maybe moving out the city just for a few years, but I’ll always come back. That’s why I’m like, I’ll always carry the flag with me, no matter where I go.

CFT: Where did you get it done?

Michael: Oh god, I got a referral from a friend, and she doesn’t even work in that shop anymore. Her name was Crystal. I want to say it was something like Top Hat? It’s up in Jefferson Park at the time. I got referred, she was the apprentice of an awesome tattoo artist, this guy named DJ, who now owns a shop at like Western and Irving, I believe. [CFT: The Burnt Tiger] She was able to sneak me in on my birthday, so that’s why I did it.

CFT: Thanks a lot.

Michael and his Chicago Bike Flag tattoo

About CFT

We love all sorts of Chicago-related tattoos and love interviewing the people who have them. If you've got one or know someone who does, please let us know at tats@chicagoflagtattoos.com.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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