If you’ve never seen the man, he is down-right impressive. John Ochandorena Descarga, better known as simply Johnny O, is a walking tribute to the Basques, their culture, their history, and his ancestry. With two arm sleaves, tats up and down his legs and across his chest, Johnny definitely stands out in a crowd. I had the pleasure of meeting Johnny about 14 years ago at a small festival held in Vancouver, British Columbia, where Gauden Bat, the dance group Johnny was a part of, performed. Maybe a little intimidating at first, due to the abundance of ink on his body, he was a great guy. It was a great event overall.
Johnny has sent photos of all of the work he has had done, a project that continues to evolve, most recently including the footprints of his daughter, right in the middle of his chest! Because of the number of photos, I’ve created a separate gallery for Johnny’s tattoos, and he’s given explanations for each one, with photos from multiple perspectives of each arm and leg.
While such ink is not for everyone, it is still a wonder what Johnny has done. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next!
The lauburu is such a Basque symbol that most of the tattoos that I’ve received prominently feature it in some way or another. The two most recent tattoos are no exception.
Megan Etcheberry is a second generation but 100% Basque who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her tattoo features an encircled lauburu on her back. Simple, but, as always, elegant.
Colin Farrell isn’t Basque, but spent time in the Basque Country as part of the pro surfing tour and fell in love with the place. He recently added a lauburu to what I assume was an exisiting tattoo featuring a surf scene. He writes: “I spent some time in Mundaka and Bilbao in 2007 when I was studying abroad and absolutely fell in love with Euskadi. Since then I’ve actually written my senior thesis on the influences of Sabino Policarpo de Arana y Giori and have begun to make plans to move there permanently. I just got the lauburu tattoo about 2 weeks ago at Tattoo Paradise in Washington DC. The artist, Nikki, is part Basque herself!”
Eskerrik asko Megan and Colin!
Lee Azpiroz sent a photo of his tattoo, a collage of Basque icons. He writes:
“Started with the lauburu. Then added the euskadi map, ikurrina background, and the bull to balance the whole thing out.
“PS: Need to add “Azpiroz” as a sur name.”
Seth Jordan and Dax Arguello have both sent photos of their new tattoos, both of which prominently feature the lauburu. Seth’s tattoo, of a big lauburu on his forearm, was done at Tattoo Revolution in Meridian, Idaho. Dax’s, features a lauburu centered in a bigger design, was done at Guru Tattoo in San Jose, California. Large versions of these photos can be found in the Tattoo Gallery. Thanks for sharing guys!
Molly Mendiguren sent this photo of her lauburu tattoo.
She writes “Taken right after I got it. Chose the basque red & green colors over the plain black.”
The full size photo can be found in the Tattoo Gallery.
Eskerrik asko Molly!
The tattoo photos keep coming in.
The latest tattoo belongs to Mikel Lataburu. On his arm, he has the phrase “Euskadi geurea,” which translates to “Euskadi is ours.” He had it done by a Kurdish friend of his in Istanbul, where Mikel currently resides. He says it is a beautiful Sunday day in Istanbul and that he hopes everyone has a relaxing day.
This, and all the other tattoos, can be seen in the Photo Album.
Eskerrik asko, Mikel!