September 2013 Archives

Thomas P

Thomas P Chicago flag tattoo

Thomas comes to us from the Chicago Flag Tattoos inbox.

CFT: What’s the story behind your tattoo?

Thomas: While I was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina free out of Basic training for the US Army, I wanted something that I missed more then anything. Home. There is no better symbol for Chicago than our flag. The amount of background from the blue strips to every star, there is so much history and pride in it.

CFT: Whats so special about Chicago to you that you’d want to get this tattoo?

Thomas: Chicago has always been my home town, I was born there. I moved when I was younger to the suburbs and let’s just say I never adjusted. I did move back into the city when I was 18, and it opened my eyes to everything. So many different people together, I love the culture. Never a dull moment.

CFT: Are you a chicago native?

Thomas: Hell yeah, I am a Chicago native!

CFT: where did you get your tattoo done?

Thomas: Since I was on leave from Basic Training, I had my tattoo done in Myrtle Beach, SC since I did have a couple days to kill until I had to start up again. Long story short, I got it done at Elite Ink Tattoos, Myrtle Beach, SC.

CFT: When people see you tattoo, do they know what it is?

Thomas: I would say in Chicago, yes everyone! But while I was in Las Vegas some people said it looked like the flag of Israel.

Mike Feldheim

Mike Feldheim - Cubs, Bears, Chicago Flag Tattoo

Mike Feldheim - Softball Team Tattoo

Mike Feldheim works nights (his second tattoo was the Batman logo, because the superhero works nights, too) and so we met up for a daytime drink at a bar up in our neighborhood.

CFT: So first tattoo for your dad and your softball team.

Mike: Yeah

CFT: Second tattoo for working nights with the Batman logo.

Mike: Right

CFT: And third one for the Cubs, the Bears and the City.

Mike: This was our softball team’s logo. Me and my friends wanted to start our own softball team, so for like a year we were talking about it. My dad was like “I’ll play with you guys.” I was like “Dad, dad, ok.” My dad played softball all the time, until he got hurt and got a little older and he couldn’t play anymore. So I said “No, dad, you’re 48.” And he’s like “Naw, trust me, I’ll play.” So when we got started, our first year playing, we were awful. I mean, we sucked. My dad played with us, and really, he was the best player on our team. It showed his experience hadn’t gone away. Because he played 16-inch softball all the time. I grew up watching him play softball. I love playing 16-inch softball. Plus, only Chicago has it. We invented it. So that’s another thing of why I like Chicago so much—it’s one of my favorite sports.

After that year we played, we got this bar to be our sponsor. So we’d come here. A lot of his friends would give him shit like “why are you playing? You’re too old to be with all these young guys.” He said “I’ll tell you something. You wanna know why I’m playing? That’s why.” And he points to me. He says “I’m playing softball with my son. That’s why.” I was like, “Aw, thanks, Dad.” But then, after the first year, he got sick, and then eventually passed away.

So for our second year, moving forward, every year since then, when we got jerseys, we got his initials sewn in on there as a tribute. So with this, I got our logo, and his initials on the bat. It’s kind of a tribute for me, to him. Same thing with the Batman, it’s like you know what? Batman works alone at night, he likes the night. I like the night, so that was more like something for me. Like, I know what it stands for, but no one else does. They’ll be like “Oh, you like Batman?” Yeah, but that’s not why I got it.

So then I was thinking I want to get a Bears one, I want to get a Cubs ones and something for the city. Something for Chicago. So I was thinking maybe three more. The skyline always works, everyone does that one. I’m thinking maybe the Cubs logo, the Bears logo… and I was thinking maybe something to throw them all together? But I’m not that creative. So I told my brother, who is a graphic designer, and he was like “what do you want?” Something like the Cubs & the Bears, cause those are my two favorite teams, and then something for Chicago. He said “Let me think of something.” He emailed me this mock-up of what it is, and said “What do you think?” And I was like “Dude—that’s perfect!” Everything just flows into it. You’ve got the Cubs over on the top, then you’ve got the ivy, then you’ve got the city flag, then you’ve got the Soldier Field columns… once I saw it I was like “Dude. I want it. I’ve got to get it.” So I got it!

It was last year, when I turned 40. I was like, you know what? I need a birthday present for myself. So I got this one. I got the others like 8 or 9 years ago, so it was a long time before I wanted another one. I started to think about it and said let’s just do it. So I got this one done last May. The guy who did it—I don’t know what he was doing but maybe… the other two were uncomfortable, but this one hurt. This one hurt like a motherfucker—it was bad. I’m laying on the bench, just “Dude, take a break, please.” I was sitting there, like, gripping the damn cushion, like I don’t want to cry, cause it hurt so bad. It was two hours doing that, and when it was done I was like “Dude, that looks awesome.” That thing didn’t heal completely for like, 4 months. It was so bad. But, I’ll tell you, though—ever since I got it, people come up to me, like “Dude, that’s an awesome tattoo. Who did that?” And I tell them my brother designed it. You know, MasterCard had a contest last year for the ultimate Cubs fan, like “What would you do if the Cubs won the World Series?” I was like “Oh, I’ll show you what I already did” so I submitted a picture of the tattoo for that, and I won something.

CFT: Awesome!

Mike: I’m like dude, I never win anything! I won some on-the-field thing on the field at Wrigley, which is cool anyway. I’ve taken the Wrigley Field tour, where you get close to the field but not actually be on the field-field, so I loved it. So Yeah! That’s it! It’s quite noticeable; it’s definitely a conversation starter. I like it. I’m glad I got it. It’s everything I was looking for, so it’s well done.

CFT: Yeah, I’ve seen lots of people have just sort of a logo sort of floating, you know, near each other, whatever teams they like.

Mike: And I’ve seen people do the Cubs logo or just the Bears logo or put them side by side. I was thinking maybe Cubs and Bears side by side, or do one on either leg. I was thinking a couple different ways, it just didn’t seem to fit right. So with the city—everyone does the skyline—it’s been done a thousand ways, or the Sears Tower. I like the city flag. I was a history major, so I’ve always loved Chicago’s history since grade school. In high school we had an optional Chicago class. I took the class, I kept the book, I still have the notes I took from that class—it was awesome. Facebook does those Chicago pages of old-time Chicago pictures—I download all that stuff. I love seeing all the old pictures of what things were back in the 1890s after the fire burned everything down. You know, it’s cool. A friend of mine, an airplane mechanic, moved to Phoenix for a while, so his wife and his family, would go out there and visit. The entire time he was out there, he was like ‘I miss Chicago. I miss Chicago.” I’m like, “Dude, you know what? I’m going back home and I still miss Chicago.” Coming back in, every time I see that skyline by the lake, it’s like man, I love this place. I love it. It’s my favorite city. I’m never gonna move out. I’m never gonna leave the area. It’s the best city in the country. I like it too much. I can’t help it.

Mike Feldheim

David De Santiago

David De Santiago - Chicago flag tattoo

David De Santiago - Chicago Skyline tattoo

David De Santiago - Chicago flag tattoo

After some emails back and forth, I met up with David at his office, at an insurance and financial services company. It’s not just that we share a tattoo, but I think if you needed an insurance agent you could do a lot worse than David.

We launched right into a discussion of some of David’s other tattoos, celebrating his Mexican heritage, and by the time I got my audio recorder going we were already talking about his Chicago flag tattoo, which features the flag connected to a blue outline of the skyline.

David: Originally, I was gonna get something like that [points to my forearm tattoo], and then on this side [points to his other arm] I was gonna get the skyline. The tattoo artist I work with, he made the decision. He told me “why don’t we do it like this. We’ll put the flag on one side and fade it in and put the skyline on the other.” Except, the color, I guess it didn’t agree with me. It’s a little light, you can’t really tell, but I don’t know if you can see it’s the skyline.

CFT: And that’s a great solution, too. I sort of went back and forth on mine, with lik e “well, I like the way the flag is, but I also want to go all the way around.” So that’s a great solution in that it’s the flag, but then it’s more…

David: Yeah. He wants to do more, I talk to him all the time. I take my time with my tattoos. I go once every 3-4 months, if that. But he wants to do like clouds and the river in red and clouds and I don’t know. I told him I kinda like it the way it is right now. I even like it the way it ended up, it looks kinda like it’s rustic almost. And it’s vintage in my opinion, and that’s the city, man. The city’s beat up and it’s kind of a beat up tattoo. So I’d like to keep it that way. [laughs].

CFT: You have to be careful with that adding, soon you might have a full sleeve.

David: My original thought was that I wanted to do more, like maybe the El and this and that, but the fact that I got this a little bit infected, I was like, eh, maybe not. Maybe I should just leave it the way it is. But this arm, I’m gonna do, we’ve been working on it about a year. i’m gonna do one piece at a time, but it’s just hard.

CFT: Are you a lifelong Chicagoan?

David: Yeah, I was born and raised on the South Side, so one goal, I did want to do “South Side” right here, but he’s kinda trying to convince me not to, so we’ll think about that. Not too far from Back of the Yards, that’s where we originally lived. All my brothers and sisters were born in California. I was the only one born in Chicago. So that makes me kind of original. I’m very dedicated to the city. I went to school here. I went to Catholic school for grammar school, but in high school I actually went in Cicero, Illinois. Cicero has a bad rap.

So yeah, this city, born and raised. Pretty much I’ve had my chances to leave and I just never took the chance. I always wanted to stay here. My brother lives out in LA, he’s been out there 10 years, and he’s always tried to convince me to go out there, but I always tell him I feel like I need to stay in the city. I feel like in a weird way that it needs me. That I need to stay here. I feel definitely a deep connection to the city, and I’ve done my work as far as community service and I’ve done quite a few political campaigns, progressive candidates. I’m actually working with one not too far from here, out there by Belmont and Kedzie, Aaron Goldstein. He’s running on a progressive ticket. I went to college with him, so I’m trying to help him out as much as I can, which is not too much unfortunately. I hate the city for the corruption, I hate it for the violence, but in a weird way… it’s like someone who doesn’t want to leave a war zone. I hate to put it that way. It’s not necessarily a war zone, because you feel like you can mainly change it. And you don’t always get the solution, but it’s not gonna stop me from trying. I think I got the tattoo more because it’s always been for the love of my city, and it’s a nice flag—but besides that, it’s more for the love of the city itself. It has its problems, so on and so forth, you know how it goes. Up in Edgewater maybe not as bad as around here. It has it’s problems, too. I think you see the corruption everywhere.

CFT: I want to make sure I heard you right, that you said it both ways—you said “you need the city and the city needs you”?

David: In a strange way, it is both.

David De Santiago


(Usually I start these posts with a single picture of the tattoo, but Kayla’s requires more than one photo to capture her full sleeve. Keep scrolling down to find the interview!)

Kayla - tattoo - Chicago flag

Kayla - tattoo - Chicago Theatre sign

Kayla - tattoo - Buckingham Fountain

Kayla - tattoo - CTA

Kayla - tattoo - Fireworks

Kayla - tattoo - skyline, Ferris Wheel, Lion

Kayla came to us from a friend emailing her about the site and asking “why aren’t you already on this?”. (I’ve had some questions about it, and as much as I love randomly running into people, I’m lazy and I love it even more when y’all find me. Email in the upper-right over there.) We met up in Lincoln Park at a coffee shop owned by State Farm*.

CFT: That is an awesome tattoo.

Kayla: Thank you.

CFT: Tell me your Chicago flag tattoo story. What prompted that, why do you love the city so much that you devoted an arm to it?

Kayla: I know. Ok, so I was 19 when I got my skyline tattoo. I was just gonna get the skyline, then I was like, “No, I kinda want more. Maybe I want a half-sleeve.” I wasn’t covered like I am now. So then I went half-sleeve, and I was like “Nah, I kinda want more.” So I went full sleeve, and I got the flag because, I mean, I was born and raised in Chicago, so I needed more Chicago elements to put into my arm and it came out beautifully. I love it. I have many Chicago things on me.

CFT: So that was an evolution. Was it the same artist for the whole sleeve?

Kayla: Yes. The artist is Kyle Berg. He’s an amazing, amazing artist. He just opened up a shop 2 years ago. It’s called the Constable Tattoo Parlor. It’s out in Plainfield. Basically, honestly, after the skyline, I told him what I wanted—I didn’t give him a picture, just told him what I wanted and let him take complete control of the whole arm. I even had him sign it**. It became a masterpiece. It’s one of his biggest successes, and I’m in love with it. I get recognized all the time for it. So, I like it a lot.

CFT: So you were born here, raised here, what is it about the city—like, have you compared and contrast it, or do you just know?

Kayla: Well, I’ve always been a city girl, so I love the city. I hate it when people from the suburbs are like, all Chicagoan, when they haven’t really ever lived here. So I am born and raised in the city—I’m from the South side, moved up North, back to South side, back up North, now I’m back on the South side, so I’ve been all over this city. I’ve always worked downtown, I’ve always been in the city. I love Chicago. I’ve been to New York, been to Boston—not as great as Chicago. I always keep coming home. I never moved there, I would just travel there. And the people here are amazing, and the skyline—every time I see the skyline I fall in love. I just love being in this city. I want to move and start somewhere new, something fresh, but I can’t because I’m just so… I’ve met some of the greatest people here. Our buildings are attractive and so amazing, I just don’t want to leave.

CFT: I ask these questions, because I don’t disagree.

Kayla: It’s just… it’s beautiful. We have a beautiful city with a lot of attractions. I love showing tourists my arm, like “Oh where should we go?” “Oh, go here, here here!”

CFT: Are those your favorite places in Chicago?

Kayla: Yes, my 2 favorite places are Buckingham Fountain and Navy Pier, so I have multiple Navy Pier, and then the Art Institute is one of the most popular, the fireworks—I love going to see fireworks at Navy Pier. The train—I take the train every day of my life, and then the Chicago Theatre. I get baffled because a lot of people are like “Oh, I love your arm. What city is that?” And I’m like [confused, points at Chicago sign.] You don’t understand how much I get that.

CFT: Have people had bad guesses?

Kayla: Yeah, I get New York a lot. A lot.

CFT: Really?

Kayla: Because they just see the skyline and they’re like, “I guess New York is the only place with a skyline.” A lot of people are on the train and ask me what this is [points to El map on arm] and I just point to the sign. People are just amazed that it’s so colorful. I’ve had this 3 years now and I’ve never had it touched up or anything, so I stay pretty pale. But I’ve never gotten a bad response from it or anything. You can tell people who are kind of not into tattoos or stuff are just like [skeptical look], but since it’s done so well, I always get complimented all day. It’s nice, it’s a great feeling, because before, I had a couple of really bad tattoos, but now all my work’s from Kyle. I never wanted tattoos, I was just wanted to start here, but it’s addicting and now everyone recognizes my arm. We go to conventions and try to enter it for prizes. I haven’t won anything yet, which is sad, but we have one coming up next month which is in Tinley Park, so hopefully people will be like “Oh! Chicago, we’re in Chicago.”

It took about 48 hours. I did about 8 sessions of 6 hours I think? It’s a lot. I devoted my whole arm to Chicago. And I’ve seen Chicago sleeves, and there are not a lot that are done well. If you Google Chicago tattoos, I’m one of the first ones on there. It’s just a great feeling, because it gives you such a confidence that you never had before. People are just stopping you “let me see let me see.” Touching you. People you don’t know are just coming up to you to touch you. I’m used to it now. I like it.

CFT: What neighborhood do you live in?

Kayla: So I was born in Midway and grew up there and then when I was 18 moved to Roscoe Village, went home to Beverly, then moved out again to Logan Square—I just moved from Logan Square a couple weeks ago back to Midway, so I’ve been North, South, I work downtown, so I’m all over the city. I go to school right around the corner, so I know the whole city. I’m not a suburb kid, which is cool.

CFT: Anything I didn’t cover?

Kayla: I just want people to know—I love my shop. They’re my best friends and like family to me, so Kyle Berg at the Constable Tattoo Parlor in Plainfield, Illinois. All the artists there are amazing, Kyle did my sleeve. And I want everyone to go there.


* That has nothing to do with the interview, I just think it’s a weird idea.

** Kyle’s signature:
Kayla - tattoo - Kyle Berg's signature

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 to arrange an interview.

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  • What is about Chicago that made you want to get your tattoo?
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This page is an archive of entries from September 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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