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Intro | Right Arm | Left Arm | Extending Sleeves | Chest



INTRO

"Show me a man with a tattoo and I'll show you a man with an interesting past"
Jack London, 1883

I was first introduced to tattoos as a boy through bubble-gums purchased from the local shop with my pocket money. I would ensure I had lots of the little sweet treats included in my 'mixed bag of lollies' before heading home on my push-bike. To the bathroom basin I would head, to get the flannel face-washer – an essential tool for tattoo application. I would decide where I wanted the back-the-front looking design and put the little piece of paper on my skin, carefully following the 4-step instructions. The damp flannel would then be pressed against the paper while I counted and soon took little peeks underneath to see if it was ready. Once confident, all would be removed and revealed. I would look at the colourful little design in the mirror (now back-the-front again) thinking that it looked good on me. It would then be time to go and kick the football outside again, burning off energy from the lollies.

None of my family had tattoos and there were really none around me to check out up-close as I grew up. They were viewed as the domain of rough and shady characters; perhaps this added to my intrigue of them. As a rock'n'roll loving teenager, I was always looking at pictures of my favourite bands and enjoyed checking out any tattoos they had. The general rule was: the harder the band rocked, the more tattoos they had. As I took hold of my independence and became of legal age to get a tattoo, I thought for a long time about what design I would get. I didn't really know what I wanted, but I knew I just wanted one. I was keen to emulate my favourite rockers in as many ways I could.

I befriended a bikie chick that worked at the local photo store on the corner of my street. When I picked up my photos of bands and friends from being developed, Cassandra would comment on them and we'd talk a little rock'n'roll. She had a few tatts including one inside her bottom lip. Her business card was a picture of a pistol with a big headline "Cassandra Shoots Photos" – so we hired her to shoot us on our wedding day! She even drove us there in her old blue Jaguar, swerving madly across lanes; weaving in and out of traffic since we were running late.

When I mentioned to Cassandra that I wanted to get a tattoo, she told me to go and see AJ (Adrian Jarrett). I did… and (between you and me) he scared the shit out of me! He was a large bikie dude who often wore a huge gold bone through his nose with a ruby in the end of it. His head was shaved into a Mohawk and not only did he have full sleeves and tatts on the sides of his head, his face was heavily tattooed as well. When I walked into his shop, he greeted me with, "What the fuck do you want?" I had never walked into a tattoo shop before. Going in to sort out your first tattoo is scary enough, but I guess I knew no different and assumed all tattoo studios were like this. I told him that Cassandra told me to come and see him as I'm ready to get my first tatt. His demeanour changed in an instant and I was now welcome. As I waited to discuss my design with him, I soaked up the smells and buzzing noise of the studio, while looking at the flash designs on the walls.

Adrian Jarrett - AJ, tattoo artist
That's AJ in the middle



RIGHT ARM

My first tattooI took AJ a picture of Taime Downe – the lead singer from Faster Pussycat. I showed him a close-up of his tattoo of a nurse's bust with ample cleavage showing through her jacket, capped off with a nurse's hat and a cigarette in her hand. I told him that was the kind of design I wanted on my arm and he said to come back some days later once he had a chance to draw it up. When I retuned and viewed the design, I liked it... but I wasn't sold on it. Something wasn't right about it – she wasn't as pretty and sexy as the one on Taime and it made me nervous that once inked, she may look ugly. AJ and I talked about it and decided to: change it to a skeleton instead of a chick, make the jacket into a classic leather jacket, switch the nurse's hat to a top hat like Slash (from Guns N' Roses) and change the cigarette to a whip as I was retiring my Marlboro habit. Plus, Faster Pussycat had a great song called Where There's A Whip There's a Way. That summed this day up for me.

So a month after our wedding, I turned 21. Another month later, and appropriately just days before Halloween in 1990, I sat in the chair for four hours and got my first tattoo on the outside of my upper-right arm: a black, white and grey skeleton design that oozed hard rock to me. I loved it – my parents hated it... always did, but I didn't care. It was my body and I was adorning it how I wanted to. It was a well-spent $400 in my opinion.

Second tattoo, very freshIt wasn't too much longer before I discovered the truth in the saying that "tattoos are like potato chips: you can't just stop at one" as I began to formulate my next tattoo ideas. I liked the horror theme and wanted to build upon it and continue on my right arm. Again I looked at pictures of my favourite rockers and to me, no one rocked harder or cooler than Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. He had sleeved out recently, so there were plenty of design ideas and inspiration to help me develop a piece that could become mine. I wanted to also add a touch of colour this time and decided a purple moon with bats set above and behind my skeleton would be awesome. Nikki had a great moon and bat design and I took a large picture of it to AJ. Before long I was in the chair again and my skin's artwork had its first addition. It took one-and-a-half hours and cost $150.

It was then a few years later that I felt the itch again and started to think about getting more ink. I wanted to turn my existing pieces into a short-sleeve. Talking with AJ, he thought the horror theme should continue to fit in with the existing design and I certainly agreed with him, wanting more dark and macabre images. He showed me a couple of large pieces of skull flash by the famous Paul Booth in New York. I liked them and we began planning the number of sessions and hours probably required to ink them in a greyscale form, plus the rest of the filler required for the short-sleeve.

One of the pieces was a vicious wolf skull. The wolf tied in to my art as a creature of the night to fit with the existing moon and bats (and representing my own nocturnal habits). The wolf is also a powerful spiritual character often symbolising ferocity, darkness, stealth and even demonic possession. But instead of howling at the moon, mine looks more evil as it is in skeletal form, angrily baring its teeth. The placement of this piece on the rear of my arm is symbolic as a protective gesture to ward off any would-be attackers from behind.

The other piece placed on the front of my bicep was also a Paul Booth designed skull. This skull is a bit abstract due to the odd perspective of which the piece of art is presented. One of its eyeballs has fallen out along the way and it is poking its tongue out in a creepy way, so whilst it still reeks of evil, it was like no other skull design I'd seen before.

Wolf skull tattooOn October 6, 1995 I had the outlines completed of both these large skull pieces. As filler to the sleeve, a melting face amongst some licks of hellish flames was hand-drawn with a pen before being inked over. The 2 hour session finished at 5pm with me handing over $200.

Exactly three months later in January 1996, my next 3 hour session also finished at 5pm after having all of the black ink work completed on the two skull designs. Another $300 well-spent I thought, as my short sleeve was really starting to take shape now.

Financial commitments made it hard to for me allocate further money to the arm for some time, so it wasn't until November 11 that year that I was able to get back in the chair again. AJ commenced the session at 2:30pm that Monday afternoon and it took 2.75 hours to ink the grey and white of the bicep skull and wolf skull. As I paid my $250, I looked in the mirror thinking how it's odd that the ink goes in brown yet heals to be grey. I was really happy with the pieces and liked their demeanour as I got used to them being a part of me once healed.

AJ performed his last work on me on February 9, 1998. I had a gap between my two large skulls running up the inside of my arm that I wanted filled with something complimentary. It had been bugging me for a little while so I decided it best to extend the melting faces in flames. These new flames and the previous ones were coloured with bright orange and yellow ink – my eternal flame.

Rounding out the outside top of my sleeve, I also had a red and black skyline with stars placed in behind the moon and bats (which were also re-coloured). The specific star design was mimicked from some that Nikki Sixx has on his shoulder blade. Fittingly, these eight-point stars are said to represent completeness. This session took 3.5 hours and cost $350. Finally, my half-sleeve was finished on my right arm after 16.75 hours under AJ's tattoo gun for a total sum of $1650.

 



LEFT ARM

Over time, I began to feel somewhat lop-sided having just my left arm inked. Furthermore, the darkness (both design-wise and colour-wise) of the half-sleeve tattoo was weighing me down on my right side. I am a Libran and looking back now, this was probably one of the first times in life that I was truly becoming very aware of ‘balance in life'. I realised I needed to add ink to my other arm to straighten me up (if nothing else it's a good justification right?) Giving thought to a new design for my left arm, I felt that I also needed to balance out the death and horror with art of life and beauty.

My rose tattoo outlineI was again singing in a band at this time and Paul Stanley of Kiss had been my favourite singer for many years; his small rose design has always held some appeal to me. I again took further inspiration from Nikki Sixx, whose first tattoo was a black rose on his blank upper-arm. Roses are my favourite flower and decided I would have one of my own that would never wilt. Purple petals were chosen for a few reasons: 1) it has always been a favourite colour of mine, 2) it would give me more balance with its even positioning in alignment with the purple moon on my opposite arm, and 3) a purple rose was also the design featured on the cover of my band's first CD release. I was looking for something beautiful and purple is a very majestic and opulent colour. There's no greater sign of pure love and beauty than a rose; it is the ultimate floral symbol. It all felt right.

I felt the style of the dark and aggressive AJ was not the man to do this work; I was now keen to experience other studios and artists. An old friend of mine from the punk days – Dave Llewellyn – had served an apprenticeship and was now in my city (Perth, Western Australia) tattooing, having returned from working in Hong Kong. (Dave was also in the crowd the night I sang at my first gig) We hooked up and hit it off well again, sharing interest in music and tattoos. I talked with Dave about the type of rose I wanted and he inked it for me on October 15, 1999 for just $250 in a sitting from 12-4:30pm.

Dave was working out of The Tatt Shop on James Street in Perth; the shop also became a sponsor of my band SkinInc. We even recorded the sound of Dave's tattoo gun as he pushed ink, using it at the start of our song Seven Needle Scratch; a song I wrote about tattoos as I was enjoying their beauty and reflecting on their addictive nature.

Dave Llewellyn working on my right armSeven Needle Scratch by SkinInc. Lyrics by Paul Miles: Now I need the sound of you shaking so fast, I don't think I can last. Come flash me your art, custom-made designs. Set me up another of your sweet fine lines. C'mon and catch the seven needle scratch. Buzzing in my head, you really make me ache. My love for you is real, never fake. You made the choice, now shave away. But etch me forever ‘cause you're here to stay. C'mon and catch the seven needle scratch. You are what I need, you make me bleed. C'mon and catch the seven needle scratch.

Traditional Japanese tattoo art really started catching my eye as I explored tattoo ideas and styles. Wanting to continue work on my left arm, I discussed designs that would fit with my rose, and round out my shoulder in the same way as my other arm for balance. Continuing the flower theme, Dave showed me a design of a Chrysanthemum flower being blown by the wind – perfect! Chryssies are symbolic of cheerfulness and optimism; traits that certainly fit with my persona. In Japanese culture, they are considered to be a noble flower, which also ties in perfectly with the majesty of my purple rose underneath.

The traditional Japanese black and grey swirls of the wind blowing the orange and yellow petals of the flower made an interesting visual piece of body art to me. There are also some cherry blossoms in the design and you can see the petals being swept by the sumie wind. This was all done in the one six-hour session on November 11, 2000 from 11am for $500. It remains my longest session in the chair to date (we did yak a lot in between though).

I was loving the beauty of the traditional Japanese theme and wanted to complete this other short-sleeve with Dave as soon as possible; however I was moving across Australia to reside in Melbourne in six weeks' time. I knew it can be difficult to find an artist willing to work into another artist's design, so Dave suggested I look up an artist that he once worked for, trusting he would be happy to continue with Dave's great work to date.

My Koi tattoo artworkAfter the relocation to Melbourne, I found the referred André Cleary in his Highline Tattoo studio in St. Kilda and introduced myself, telling him that I was a friend of Dave. He was willing to contribute further to my sleeve and was impressed at how far Dave's work had come along. Design decision time again, but this time I was clear on what I wanted and again had sample Motley Crue pictures and material to provide.

Tommy Lee's orange Koi fish on his left arm had always impressed on me and now I had a space on my left arm that was screaming out for a traditional Japanese design – it was an easy decision. I told André that I wanted the water splashes around the fish to be in the same style as in this picture of Nikki Sixx's arm, pointing to another colour picture in my hand. I liked the Koi's symbolism of perseverance in the face of adversity and strength of character. The addition of a water tattoo would become my third of the four principal elements of the Universe, to go with my wind and fire already tattooed.

A further large Japanese design was needed to complete the work and after looking at a scroll with Japanese kanji characters next to Tommy Lee's carp, I decided I also wanted a scroll with some Japanese characters. It seemed appropriate that the characters would spell out Motley Crue, so I looked for the Japanese katakana representation and double-checked the characters said what I needed them to. I took in an obi strip from a Japanese version of a Motley Crue CD from my collection and André drew it all up. It looked great. I had wanted a Motley Crue tattoo for some time but needed it to be something unique and somewhat unobtrusive. This was the perfect choice I thought.

A couple of stages of my Koi tattooI began my first session with André on August 17, 2001 at 5pm to complete the half-sleeve on my left arm. I paid him $420 at the end of the four-and-a-half hour session after he inked the entire carp, plus the outline of the waves, cherry blossoms and Motley scroll. The bright colours of the Koi were awesome and I was particularly struck by how beautiful the fish's face is – I still love that!

After a good healing period, I went back on October 6. André got to work at 12 noon by colouring the waves around the Koi. When it came time to colour the additional cherry blossoms, he asked what colour I would prefer them to be. My daughter's absolute favourite colour was pink, so that was my colour of choice for her. He then completed the Motley scroll and the fill of green bubbles around it at 3:30pm and I passed over $330 to him.

This completed my left short-sleeve of tatts in a total of 18.5 hours for a total of $1500. With a comfortable length sleeve on each arm now, I felt my body art gave me the balance I was missing before.

My Motley Crue tattooA few years later, I got to hang with Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee of Motley Crue, two sources of design inspiration for my own tatts. Less than a minute after meeting Tommy for the first time, his eyes kept glancing down at the Koi on my arm, until he interrupted our conversation and said, "That's a nice carp."

Dining with Nikki in 2004, conversation moved to tattoos and I showed him the stars on my arm asking if he recognised them. He immediately said they were the same as the ones on his back. I nodded and showed him my scroll and asked if he knew what the Japanese writing said. When he didn't, I told him it says, "Dim Sims - 20 cents each!" As we laughed, I told him it really says "Motley Crue." He totally dug it.

On 15 August 2007, I was walking past Ricky Tattoo Studio in Wanchai, Hong Kong when I decided to get a souvenir of my first time in Asia. When Hong Kong was returned from the British rule to China in 1997, the new regional flag of Hong Kong was hoisted. The bright red flag features a centrepiece flower from the Hong Kong Orchid Tree. The actual flowers are bright pinkish-purple, not white as on the flag, but I decided to get my petals coloured red like the flag. The small flower tattoo is on the back of my upper-left arm and ties in with my existing Japanese cherry blossoms. The studio owner Ricky inked it for me in about 20 minutes. I gave him HK$470, which was about $70 Australian for my memento.

 



EXTENDING SLEEVES

Feeling the itch for more ink again, I decided to get more tattoos on my arms and start extending my half-sleeves down. This time I visited André Cleary at his Taboo Tattoo studio in the Melbourne suburb of Boronia on 6 March 2008. Here he spent two-and-a-half hours from 2pm inking some thick, black five-point stars around both my elbows. The stars are upside-down, which I've always preferred as it looks more rock'n'roll to me. I've previously used upside-down stars on the artwork for my band's album, and my business card also has two of them on it. (They're also used for the background design on this website.) I was really pleased with the work and happy to hand over $350 to him at the end of the session.

Two years later at the end of a three-month stay in New York City, I decided on what design I wanted to wear forever as a souvenir of my memories collected in the city during that time visiting. On 26 March 2011, I visited Fun City Tattoo on St. Mark's Place (located in the building next to the one adorning Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti album cover from 1975 – Keith and Mick also walk past the tattoo shop two minutes into the video for Waiting on a Friend by the Rolling Stones back in 1981.) Steve Vonriepen inked the old school-style initials of NYC between the upper-most points of the star on my right elbow. An hour later and $120 lighter, I was a happy man. I fell in love with the city and relocated my life there a few months later.

I went to the acclaimed NY Adorned studio in New York City on 6 October 2012 where Damion Ross tattooed a greyscale feather quill on my outer right forearm. The hour-session wound up at 7pm and cost $300 for the high quality work. I got this tattoo the same month as my Sex Tips From Rock Stars book was released in Portuguese across South America, so to me it not only represents my writing and being a published author, but the spirit of creative freedom.

Feather Quill tattoo on author Paul Miles

On 10 February 2013, I headed back to NY Adorned where Bart Bingham spent 2 hours from 4:30pm tattooing my next piece on my inside right forearm. Taking the head of a classic Sailor Jerry pinup beauty, he customised it to give a resemblance to my wife. A red love heart was then incorporated into this old-school, traditional piece to represent the deep love we have experienced for decades, with the promise of more. In a banner across the heart, I have the word INFINITY to represent that my love has no limits - my infinite, endless love will not be bound by time. I was happy to hand over $300 for this attractive and very special piece of art that I'll treasure for ever.

 



CHEST

On 26 November 2013, I returned to Manhattan’s NY Adorned studio where Bart Bingham tattooed my chest with two classic Sailor Jerry style swallows, carrying a “Rock & Roll” banner where the ampersand is replaced by a large, true G-clef music symbol as the design's centrepiece. Swallows were traditionally worn by sailors once they were very experienced, so my placement symbolises how my life has come a long way with the help of rock’n’roll. Swallows were also a good luck symbol for the sailor to return home safely, and rock’n’roll has certainly helped safely guide my life’s journey of ups and downs – this music has always got me through; it means so much to me and forever will. After paying $450 for the 2.5-hour session, I left the studio at 9:30pm a tender but happy man.


I currently have 44.75 hours of work on me for a total investment of $4740. Will I get more tattoos? For sure! I often have ideas of new designs that will run through my head. I tend to let the ideas marinate a lot longer these days.



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