Most Viewed Stories
Skin stories: Tattoos a 'personal expression'
The Yuma Sun recently went looking for the "coolest and baddest" body art.
Seventy-six readers responded.
Those men and women shared photos of their favorite tattoos - and the stories behind the ink.
The entries were posted online and readers voted throughout February.
Alex Ellsworth's tattoo received 201 votes, making him the first-place winner in the contest. He was followed by Nathan Palacio in second place (143 votes) and Kayla McIntire in third place (130 votes). The winners will receive a goody basket sponsored by Full Throttle Energy Drink.
Ellsworth, a truck driver based in Ellsworth, Kan., told the Yuma Sun he was "pretty excited" to have won the contest. His uncle, Damon Pruitt of Yuma, submitted his nephew's tattoo of a Japanese hannya mask in bright green and red.
"It looks evil, but it actually means protector of family," he said, noting that he chose it for its meaning.
His cousin, James Pruitt, did the artwork. He also lives in Kansas but does guest spots in Yuma several times a year and was voted as Yuma's Best Artist in 2009 by Yuma Sun readers.
The tattoo contest idea grew out of a suggestion made to Sun Media Marketing Manager Adrianne Wagner.
"One of our associates stopped me one day and suggested we do a tattoo contest," Wagner explained. "She had seen someone with a piece that covered their back, and while she does not like the concept of tattoos, she was really impressed with the artwork and overall design.
"When she mentioned the idea to me, I realized what a big tattoo community Yuma has. When we sat down to discuss upcoming contests, I pitched the idea and everyone seemed to think it would be a fun contest. So we put it on the schedule and made it happen," Wagner said.
All submissions, with the exception of one, were posted online. They can still be viewed at http://contests.yumasun.com/tattoo. Tattoos could not be profane, graphic or be on inappropriate areas of the body.
"I believe there was only one submission we had to reject, based on this criteria," Wagner said.
As with anything, there were people who loved the contest and people who did not. "There were a few people, who strongly oppose tattoos in general, who really spoke out in protest of the contest. However, there were more people who jumped in with both feet and helped make the contest really successful," Wagner said.
Leonard Reed, in a letter to the editor, called the contest a "perversion" and "reprehensible."
"Tattoos are not a form of art," Reed wrote. "They are a form of graffiti on an otherwise body of perfection that is one of God's creations. It should be revered and not marred by permanent drawings of often inappropriate things in places that shouldn't have attention drawn to them." His letter sparked an online debate, garnering 100 comments.
Ellsworth has 10 tattoos, his first a flaming eight-ball that he got when he turned 18. His tattoos include nautical stars, a dragon, a tribal tattoo, Grumpy of the Seven Dwarfs, his son's name and a skull with a rose, a memorial to his best friend.
Why does he like tattoos? "Personal expression," he said.
Palacio's winning tattoo is of a Japanese snake with a purple body, which he calls Death at Every Bite. He told the Yuma Sun he got it in December 2008 at Old School Tattoo in Yuma. The artist was Dave Curtis, and it took 10 hours to complete. Palacio, 20, said he chose the snake because it's his Chinese zodiac sign.
"It's a piece of art that nobody else really has. It stands out from everyone else's," he said. "Everybody liked it. They said it's really good, the colors just pop up."
The snake is not his first tattoo; that distinction goes to a black rose he got in June 2007 after his grandmother passed away. "It helped me cope with it," he said, noting that his other tattoo is of a sugar skull in honor of Day of the Dead.
Palacio works at the Dairy Queen on 32nd Street. He is saving up to go to culinary arts school.
McIntire's third-place sleeve tattoo, "Dia de los Muertos," is a combination of sugar skulls and flowers.
"I've always been fascinated with Dia de los Muertos and what better way to show it off than with a sleeve! Some parts do have personal meaning, others are just artwork I loved," McIntire, 22, wrote on her online submission.
McIntire and artist Meme Kunkel worked on the design together. "It was mostly done at one time, not piece by piece," she explained. "My arm has 26 hours put into it so far, I sat 10 hours alone just for all the color." Kunkel co-owns Alliance Tattoo Lounge with Tony Ochoa.
She said the sugar skull on her shoulder "is in memory of my grandmother and the three roses surrounding it are for the love I have for the other amazing women in life ... one for my mother and the other two for my older sisters, each done in their favorite colors."
As for why she gets tattoos, "it's an addiction," she told the Yuma Sun. "Once you get one you always want more. So yes, I do plan to get more, a lot more."
McIntire, born and raised in Yuma, manages Brown Bag Burger.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6856.