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Marisa Kakoulas is a lawyer and a writer. She has been writing about tattoos and US laws that impact the tattoo industry for more than a decade. Marisa is also half Greek and heavily tattooed. I remember when I was very young, looking at my mother’s National Geographic magazines and coming across tattooed tribal women, and I was instantly thinking that this lakoulas really beautiful, mysterious and bad-ass.

Of course, this is an ideal way of looking at it really. If I would be honest with myself, it is because I liked tattooed boys when I was teenager laughs. I was a nerdy teenager, did good in school, and my parents were very conservative. I didn’t run around a lot. So when I found myself at tattoo txttoo at a young age, it held a kind of magic for atr. You had to know where to go and ring the right buzzer.

It was like tqttoo clandestine operation. At least in my experience, when I was first exposed to it, I was seeing really beautiful custom tattooing.

There were art books rather than trendy flash for inspiration. So, I didn’t get tattooed until I was in my early twenties. Actually, I got my first tattoo during the early weeks of law school. I felt I didn’t fit it, and was afraid that I’d become something that I wasn’t. I love the study of law, but I’ve never been super competitive and I’ve never felt that I had to be above somebody else to be better.

A Conversation with Marisa Kakoulas, author of “Black Tattoo Art, Vol. 2”, November 21, 2013

It was really at that time that I started thinking about art and tattooing a lot in terms of individuation. I kakoullas a very mature kid laughs. I’m like a thirteen-year-old boy laughs. Back then, I was like a forty year old woman laughs. I drew it and I don’t have any artistic abilities, so thank God the tattooist, Anil Gupta, fixed it laughs! So I attributed to it this great meaning of culture and values that this symbol represented to me.

No, I have more! The village is called Pyrgi, where the houses are literally tattooed; they’re white-washed and they have special designs — patterns. They look like blackwork tattoos actually. My tattooist, Dan DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo in Belgium, has been able to really do beautiful things with these design influences.

Dan and I work very well together. Matisa were married and we are still very good friends.

We are currently working on a bodysuit, although, because I am still a lawyer in a conservative environment, everything has to be covered with a pants suit or a skirt and boots – at least until I retire. I love hand tattoos, but it will be a long time before I reward myself with that. I think they’re beautiful, especially on women. Now that I am forty, I think about how women look as we age and how tattoos can enhance our beauty.


A lot att my desire in terms of pursuing tattooing, at this stage in my life, is not only because it is an art form; I want to feel more beautiful in my skin as I get older. It’s like the way some people pursue plastic surgery. I have no problem with plastic surgery. I think it’s funny how a lot of people from the tattoo community are very much against it, which I understand because it seems like conforming to an unnatural societal dictate of beauty.

But, in essence, I think there’s commonality between those who chose tattoos and those who chose surgery: So I am not getting a boob job, but I am getting tattooed. Both tattoo and plastic surgery blwck types of body modification, so why this negative point of view?

Black Tattoo Art Illustrated by Marisa Kakoulas – Hardcover | eBay

It’s almost hypocritical in a way to shun it. It’s the same way people generalize tattooing by saying that we do it to be “rebellious. Everybody has got their own reasons for getting tattooed and for all types of body modification.

Who am I to judge? My family is conservative. My father is very strict and by the book Greek. It took him a very long time to get used to When it came to tattooed women, they were most likely prostitutes. He didn’t see it as an art form. Then, one day, in order to understand why I was getting tattooed, he goes to a newsstand in New York and picks up a tattoo magazine.

And like the world was conspiring against me, out of all the magazines, he picks up the one that, for that month, had a spread on me with my full name in big letters across two pages! He nearly had a heart-attack. The name Kakoulas in a tattoo magazine!

But my family has come around to see tattoos as an art form and not a rebellion. Now they’re very popular at mmarisa book parties. I believe that a heavily tattooed woman still gets a lot of attention wherever she is.

There is either a hyper-sexualisation of tattooed women, where tattoos are very fetishized, or there’s the reaction like, “that’s disgusting”.

Things are changing, naturally, with more and more tattooed women, but there is still a little creepiness. Oh, and then there’s the touching! Some people think that tattoo is a tactile art and that it is ok to come and touch your tattoos.

Because of my blog, writing about tattoos, and writing about the law in tattoos I have to be very careful because my credibility as an attorney has been called into question in the past. I always loved to write. AroundI started contributing articles for BMEzine about what it was like to be a tattooed lawyer: I was also writing about the intersection of law and tattooing, which no one was really talking about back then. As the former wife of a tattooist and tattoo shop owner, I got to see all those issues and problems that tattooists and clients were facing first hand.

So I started exploring and writing about them. He mentioned that he wanted to do something on tattoos, and soon after meeting, we did a blog together called Needled.

We later sold it to River Media and I stayed as an editor until that company folded. InI created NeedlesAndSins. All this sounds very boring and technical laughs. I guess the point is that I’ve been writing about tattoos online, and offline, for a while. I don’t get rich on them. They have brought me great friendships, great opportunities, my books and my speaking gigs.

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My blogging was and still is a labour of love. When did you get your first book published? How many tattoo books of yours are out there? I have done four books with Edition Reuss. It did really well because there wasn’t really any massive exploration of blackwork tattooing at the time.

These books require a lot of work; I begin by researching artists and then, once I find them, I have to convince them to be in the book. Because we don’t pay artists – although they do get copies of the book – I have to explain why this would be good thing for the artists and the tattoo community, particularly because their work will inspire others and vice versa.

And these books are also presented in a way that tattoos should be presented: I think it is amazing! I’m not saying this just because you’re a Greek tattoo magazine.

Marisa Kakoulas

I love the avant-garde work that is coming out of the country. I think there are a lot of abstractions – a lot of Greek tattooists are pushing further what makes a good and solid tattoo by adding their own flavor. There’s a really interesting kind of power and energy to it, like taking portraiture and mixing it with a graffiti style, a modernist approach, and then of course you have the sacred geometry and the mandalas. For example, I love what Hellenic Stixis is doing by taking very ancient motifs and bringing new life to them.

What is also amazing in Greece is that the tattoo scene is not limited to one genre; a lot of different genres of tattooing are being explored by different tattoo shops across the country. I think that some of the best new artists are coming from Greece. That is actually the question! It hasn’t been litigated in the United States.

Cases have been filed about it, but all these cases have settled. I would say that, for custom tattoo work, unless there is a contract that says the rights have been singed over to the client or the artist, it could be the tattoo artist who owns the rights to the design, or the tattoo artist and client jointly own it.

But this is all hypothetical at the moment. That’s when it became an issue. The court took the tattoo copyright issue seriously and suggested to Warner Brothers, in a preliminary injunction hearing, that the parties really should talk settlement because tattoos do have copyright protection. I think people understand that tattoos can be copyrighted, but the issue is who owns it and whether you can assert those rights.

Copyright protects an original work of art; however, it doesn’t have to be super original. It could be even a common theme.