Patrick Cornolo

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Patrick Cornolo Chicago Flag knuckles tattoo

Patrick Cornolo did my second tattoo, back in 1999. I was still a few months away from actually moving to Chicago and drove up from Indiana so he could do my alphabet tattoo. Patrick now owns Speakeasy Custom Tattoo and when I came in to get my Chicago flag tattoo twelve years later he stopped by and said “alphabet on the upper arm, right?” When he saw what I was getting that visit he showed me his awesome knuckles tattoo. When I started this site, I knew I had to get back and interview him. He started off by turning the tables on me:

Patrick: So tell me about your project.

CFT: I just love the flag and the way it’s so malleable. The first person I had an opportunity to interview after I was even sort of vaguely thinking about the website was somebody who had bike chains and bike gears turned into the flag and I was like, maybe there’s something here of just talking to people about this …

Patrick: I’m seeing it everywhere not even just as tattoos. There’s a new cafĂ© down the street. There’s an E as their symbol so it had the sticker that has got the four red Es in place of the stars. So it’s definitely a good marketing thing. Chicago pride.

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

Patrick: For me, I will be honest. I got the idea from a button. I saw a button that had the star and the bars behind it and I was like oh, that’s a cool little take on it. I could make like rings out of them and the joke was if I’m punching somebody in the face, they will know I’m from Chicago. So I don’t go around punching people in the face ever but I thought that was funny.

Growing up, I was hanging out around Clark and Belmont. I was going to punk rock shows and stuff as a teenager and a lot of us had little Chicago cop jackets, the leather jackets and they always had the flag patch on them which I don’t think made the cops too happy if you’re wearing them.

So that has always sort of stuck in my mind too as sort of a punk rock thing even though it’s not. But after I saw that button, I mean I had done dozens of Chicago flag tattoos on people and had toyed with the idea of getting one but it didn’t gel with me until I saw this pin and I was like oh! fingers! It has like a little flag of its own. Genius.

So now I’m just waiting for people to rip it off because it gets commented on it all the time. I was picking up lunch today and a teenage girl behind the counter was like, “Oh, that’s badass!” Thank you. Don’t steal it. But honestly, people do steal it. That’s fine too. I don’t have the copyright.

CFT: Yeah. I guess it wouldn’t make sense anywhere else and a hand tattoo is still a barrier.

Patrick: Still for the time being anyway. It doesn’t seem like it’s going crazy.

CFT: A little bit.

Patrick: Everyone is getting necks and faces. I was at a pumpkin patch the other day and there was like a teen mom there with just crude hand poked stuff all over her hands, on her neck and didn’t look like she had any other tattoos just like the neck and the hands and I guess you just want to never get employed. That’s cool. She wasn’t in the industry. But I guess that’s a topic for another website.


Patrick: Right.

CFT: So who did yours?

Patrick: This one was done by Omar Gutierrez at Revolution Tattoo. I just like his work. He’s very precise. He did some lettering on me after my daughter was born. I like his attention to detail. Plus he’s from Chicago so that wasn’t like a requirement, but I thought it was a nice bonus.

CFT: Were you born here?

Patrick: I was born in Joliet, so suburbs of Chicago. But I moved to the city in 1994 and moved out in 2002, back to the burbs. Not as far as Joliet but I mean I’m in Berwyn now. But I can still see the Sears Tower so I still consider myself a Chicagoan even though Lockport, Joliet, 40 miles away.

So it’s not as bad as - I’ve had some people who have tattooed. Where are you guys? Where are you from? They’re like “over the south side”. South side? Where about? “Lockport”. That’s beyond south side. That is its own thing but I never considered myself a south sider.

Actually, I just did a Chicago flag tattoo the other day. This guy was getting a tribute to his dad who’s a Chicago fireman and so he got the badge off of his helmet. So he did like bricks around it to look like it was behind the wall and the wall was broken and behind the bricks and stuff, you will see fire coming up. But on the inside, we tuck the Chicago flag behind some things, too. So it’s still going on. It’s happening everyday. It’s a popular thing. Not a week goes by someone is not getting a flag tattoo.

CFT: I have no idea if this is an answerable question: Any cool stories? You said you had noticed a trend or you had done a bunch of people who were leaving and were getting it as a memento.

Patrick: Yeah, I’ve done that a few times. You’ve seen the color-coded map of the L system. I’ve done that as a tattoo before. An interesting one that sticks out in my mind was a girl from Detroit who moved to Chicago and is now back from Detroit but had enough Chicago pride or whatever that she got the Chicago flag amidst the sort of female sculpture things that are on Meigs Field, whatever they call that now.

CFT: Oh, Northerly Island?

Patrick: Northerly Island. There are some sculptures there. So, these women were based on those sculptures and then the Chicago flag but one with the stars is the sculpture in Detroit. It’s like a dude holding something. So that’s one of the stars and it’s a Detroit/Chicago tattoo, which is kind of cool and unique.

Yeah, there have been a lot of people who are getting them on the way out. Yeah. I’m all for it. I like Chicago.

CFT: Me too.

Patrick: I like it. I’m prideful.

Patrick Cornolo

Patrick Cornolo Chicago Flag knuckles tattoo

1 Comment

I have the Chicago flag tattoo Patrick is talking about, behind the brick wall. My dad was a Chicago Firefighter for 27yrs and all my favorite memories growing up are tied to Chicago. After he passed I wanted to pay my respect eternally on my skin and the Chicago flag was a part of him, so it obviously was going into the mural.

The Chicago flag is so iconic to me and it's always been everywhere I looked; not to mention my dad served this great city and anytime he was going to work I would see it on his uniform.

Patrick is a great representation of a true Chicagoan and an excellent person to "dish out" Chicago pride in the form of tattoos. I'm jealous of his knuckle tattoo, awesome idea and looks bad ass!

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This page contains a single entry by Fuzzy published on May 14, 2014 10:00 AM.

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