Weekly Ink: S.F. Tribute

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Eva Dancel-Jensen
Vital Statistics: My name is Travis Jensen. I'm a 30-year-old writer, photographer and skateboarder living in San Francisco's Miraloma Park district, a neighborhood that many locals refer to as "The Mountains." Ever taken the 36 Teresita? It's a rare bird.    

Tattoo: I have a large, intricately detailed black and gray tattoo of the Ferry Building on the outside of my left forearm. The piece is complete with flocking seagulls and a sun with rays of light peeking through patches of dense fog.  I've seen plenty of different San Francisco skyline tattoos over the years, but none of them ever include the Ferry Building.
ferry building tat.jpg
Eva Dancel-Jensen

Why/When: I got the tattoo about two years ago to celebrate my ten year anniversary of living in The City. The tattoo has a couple of different meanings:

The first has to do with skateboarding, my first true love. Like many shredders before me, I moved to San Francisco by way of Milwaukee in the summer of 1997 to be a part of The city's then-bustling skateboarding scene. During the early- to mid-'90s, Embarcadero's Justin Herman Plaza, known amongst skateboarders as "EMB," was without question the most famous skate spot in the world.  One could find an upward of 200 individuals skating the plaza, which served as a proving ground for any newcomers trying to make a name in skateboarding.  (The original Justin Herman plaza was demolished and rebuilt in 1999.) I grew up studying skate mags and videos that were filled with EMB footage, and although somewhat dilapidated at the time, the Ferry Building was almost always visible in the background. The building added a nice ambiance to the spot, especially when lit up at night. 

The second meaning relates directly to the Ferry Building's four-sided clock and signifies withstanding the test of time. As I said, I moved to the city from Milwaukee in the summer of '97, fresh out of high school. It wasn't easy. I had $500, my skateboard and a duffel bag containing nothing but the essentials: two weeks worth of clothing, toiletries, a walkman and some cassette tapes. That's it. The city had less than 1 percent vacancy at the time, so finding an affordable place to live was literally next to impossible. I stayed in a couple of sketchy weekly hotels in the Tenderloin and couch- and floor-surfed for almost a year before securing a sectioned off hallway space in a ramshackle flat in Lower Haight, just down the hill from a then-war zone. The hallway was nicknamed "The Taco," because the walls were so narrow that my hand-me-down futon mattress folded up on both sides resembling a taco shell. 

I have been living and progressing in San Francisco ever since. I feel like I've truly paid some dues to live here.  I actually just celebrated my 12-year anniversary a few weeks back.

Any Regrets?: No regrets, I love the tattoo. Marco Casado at Picture Machine hooked it up proper.
Strangest/Funniest Comment: Some random drunk guy came up to me at a party out-of-state the summer before last and said, "You must be a Jesus fanatic."

"Huh?" I replied, "Why you say that?"

"Because of that blaring cathedral and apocalyptic scene you have tatted on your arm forearm, bro," he said.

I then proceeded to tell the man what the tattoo really was and the meaning behind it, but he didn't get it, not that I thought he would.

Do you have any other tattoos?:
I have the Czech lion with the numbers 222 underneath it tattooed on the inside of my left forearm.  I got the tattoo in Prague back in 2007 when my wife and I were married. The numbers represent something special between me and my wife.  I should also mention that I have the time on the clock of my Ferry Building tattoo set to 2:22.

As far as future tattoos go, I plan to get a large piece done on my left shoulder here in the next couple of months. That'll pretty much finish my entire left arm. The artwork is by artist Kevin Ancel and depicts a young boy standing in the middle of a lush field with his arms stretched -- simulating flying and the sky looks all crazy, like a major storm is brewing on the horizon.  The artwork was used for former professional skateboarder James "Big Dirt" Kelch's first pro model graphic for Real Skateboards back in 1992. I always loved the graphic.  According to Kelch, an old Delta billboard he saw out by the airport -- although I'm unable to find the original anywhere online -- inspired the piece.

Travis shared his story with us via the internets. Thanks, Travis! You can, too. Send your photos and stories to tattoos@sfweekly.com
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