Ink by the Backfull: Boston Tattoos

A week after learning his friends escaped harm in the Boston Marathon bomb attack, Adam Myerson was squirming with pain in a tattoo-parlor chair, fulfilling an urge that had been building for days.

“Anyone who has tattoos, when you have something important you want to mark it,” said Myerson, a professional cyclist and coach who lives in Dorchester. The neighborhood was home to an 8-year-old boy killed in the attack that took the lives of two others and wounded more than 260.

Since the bombings at the finish line of the city’s celebrated marathon, Boston tattoo artists have received a surge of business from people looking to move past the violence of April 15 by putting permanent mementos on their bodies. Some chose the skyline inside a heart, others the outline of Massachusetts. Myerson went with the B logo of the Boston Red Sox baseball team in yellow and blue: marathon colors.

Watching the way the city reacted — shutting itself down to apprehend the suspects — “the rest of the country finally understood,” Myerson said. “This is who we are.”

He wanted that local pride on his body, he said, and now it shows just above his elbow on the back of his arm.

Tattoo artist Bill Byers said a friend was near enough to the blasts to be engulfed in their smoke and others he knew had nearby businesses or were running. His sister had lost a leg to disease, he said, and he felt for those maimed in the bombing. “I’ve seen what it’s like to have to learn to walk again,” he said.

He plans to donate the $900 he’s collected in tattooing Boston commemorations to a victims’ charity.

“A lot of people feel helpless and want to do more, and it is our town,” he said. “It’s not like just giving $100 bucks. It’s making a statement.”

Chameleon Tattoo & Body Piercing in Cambridge had about 20 people come in April 20, five days after the bombings, to get  Boston-themed ink as part of a fundraiser. The shop raised $5,000 for One Fund Boston, a charity for victims’ medical care, said tattoo artist Reuben Kayden, 40, of Somerville.

“Getting tattooed is a way to never, ever forget. It’s embedded in you,” Kayden said.

Julie Clifford, 33, is a hairdresser whose salon is a few blocks from the second explosion. Many of her tattoos, she said, are a way to commemorate a part of her life.

“I’ve lived in Boston for 15 years and it feels like home,” she said. “It wasn’t fun to have your home rattled.”

She got her newest tattoo, an abstract outline of city landmarks with a small heart overlooking them, from Byers. Her friend and her husband are also getting tattoos, she said.

Other parlors are planning fundraising ink sessions in the days to come, including Regeneration Tattoo in Allston. The shop’s manager, Edwin Marquez, is from Watertown, the suburb where bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was caught by police.

“Birth, death, disaster — whatever it is, people want to get tattooed,” he said.

 

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