InkLove #9- Derek, an American hero

May 10, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Meet Derek!

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I met Derek at a wedding I photographed recently. He and his beautiful wife, Megan were in the wedding party. See all that color on Derek’s arm? Well, that caught my attention right away! I couldn’t wait to ask him to come into the studio and be InkLove’s very first male featured! Derek has some awesome stories as well, check it out!


These dragons were done at two different times, by two different artists. The smaller grey dragon was Derek’s first tattoo.
Tattoo Artist-Unknown-Jefferson City, TN

The bigger, blue dragon was done sometime later after Derek joined the Army. The drawing was influenced by  Derek’s cousin who is an artist. He would create his own ideas based around his artwork.
Tattoo Artist-  Jesse – Shooting Star – Fort Bragg, NC

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This tribal was created by mixing two different tribal designs, mirrored on top of one another. Derek had this done shortly before his deployment to Iraq.  There is a letter ‘Z’ in the center of the design for his son, Zach.
Tattoo Artist – Jesse – Shooting Star – Fort Bragg, NC

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Derek’s religion and relationship with God is very special and significant in his life. He wanted to get a tattoo to wear his faith with pride. The cross design was a flash he chose, but the tribal waves behind it are taken from the Godsmack logo, as a way to embellish the cross and make it more his own.
Tattoo Artist – Jesse – Shooting Star – Fort Bragg, NC

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An ancient tale tells of a huge school of golden koi swimming upstream the Yellow River in China. When they reached a waterfall at the end of the river, many of the koi turned back, letting the flow of the river carry them away. The remaining Koi refused to give up. Leaping from the depths of the river, they attempted to reach the top of the waterfall to no avail. The incessant leaping caught the attention of some demons, who make the waterfall taller to mock the koi. After a hundred years of jumping, one koi finally reached the top of the waterfall. The gods recognized the koi for its perseverance and determination and turned it into a golden dragon, the image of power and strength. The following pieces are all based around that story and theme.
Tattoo Artist – Brandon – Craven Ink – Greeneville, TN
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The flowers shown here all represent family, you will see a few petals towards the bottom of Derek’s arm that stand alone. These represent Derek’s uncle and grandfather who have passed away.
The EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) Badge was done because that is what Derek did in the Army for a decade. Thats right-bomb squad.
Derek worked in Afghanistan disarming and disposing of explosives, a pretty dangerous job for a man with a beautiful wife and family back home. To keep his wife, Megan from worrying to badly, he called her after every mission to let her know that he was OK.  This EOD badge is a little different because like all of Derek’s tattoos, he wanted to be a little different. Shortly after this piece was done, an  improvised explosive device (IED) blew up.  Derek must have had God watching over him as he walked away. Three days later, he was electrocuted by a power line that knocked him out cold. Talk about a tough guy-Derek stayed for another three years before leaving the Army on medical discharge.

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The Hannya mask was added to match the Japenese theme of his sleeve. dating back to 1558, Hannya is said to be demonic and dangerous but also sorrowful and tormented, displaying the complexity of human emotions. When the actor looks straight ahead, the mask appears frightening and angry; when tilted slightly down, the face of the demon appears to be sorrowful, as though crying.
Tattoo Artist – Brandon – Craven Ink – Greeneville, TN

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I love this memorial tattoo. Derek had this done for his grandfather. His grandfather loved to fish and be outdoors. Derek created an ideal beautidul outdoor scene to remember him by. His grandpa’s nickname was ‘Goat’, so if you look closely, you can see the name written in the Ichthys.
This is not finished yet, but I think it still looks really great!

Tattoo Artist – Brandon – Craven Ink – Greeneville, TN

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This little guy is Guy Fawkes, also known as the Mad Bomber. He is a much loved symbol in the EOD community, which is exactly why Derek wears him on his shoulder.

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“Here we and all who shall hereafter live in freedom will be reminded that to these men and their comrades we owe a debt to be paid with grateful remembrance of their sacrifice and with the high resolve that the cause for which they died shall live.” -General Eisenhower

Beautiful words for a tragic memorial piece. This is for four of Derek’s friends who fell on duty. They were together in Korea, but in ’03 they went to Iraq without him. Just a few months later, Merville was shot by sniper, Toy, Lozada & Stephens were in a howitzer hit by indirect fire. May they rest in peace and be remembered for the sacrifices they made.

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It was wonderful meeting Derek and hearing his stories. It is amazing getting to know the stories behind the artwork people wear. Some of Derek’s make me pretty emotional, being from a military family myself. I hope after reading this blog, you observe a moment of silence in respect for those soldiers lost in combat, paying the ultimate price for our freedom. While you are at it-thank God for those like Derek who made it home to their loving families.

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Keep an eye out for the InkLove 5, coming out this week!
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