Natalie Jacob, Dutch Kills, Queens
Can you tell us the story or stories behind your sleeves?
I've always really loved the history behind traditional Japanese tattooing and the stories that go along with the imagery. I knew that for my larger more curated pieces (like my arms and back) I wanted to focus on this style of tattooing. Mike Rubedall did them both about 10 years ago and I'm currently working on my back—that's not yet finished.
How long did they take to complete?
Each arm was 33 hours.
You have most of your upper back and shoulders inked too. Can you tell us about that work?
I have my whole back tattooed but it's only outlined and shaded currently. It's still a work in progress. It's a tiger and snake battling and it hurts a lot.
Do you have a favorite?
They're all special to me and remind me of certain times in my life so it's hard to pick. I do really love my cartoon portrait of Bruce Springsteen, though!
Which one has the best story behind it?
The one that makes me laugh the most is the Grim Reaper drinking a Piña Colada. Andy Perez did it for me right after PKNY [former Lower East Side tiki bar] closed. It is my RIP Tiki tattoo.
What makes a great tattoo artist?
A great tattoo artist is able to translate your ideas into art, make you feel comfortable, and hopefully allow you to leave happy and with a tattoo that you're going to love for the rest of your life.
What makes a great bartender?
A great bartender has the ability to adapt to certain situations, work well under pressure, be respectful to coworkers, be a great host, and make a guest feel welcomed enough to want to come back again and again.
What are the keys to a great bar?
A great bar starts with your staff. If the staff is happy, the guests are happy. Of course, atmosphere, a great menu, and delicious drinks don't hurt either—but the staff is responsible for delivering the whole experience to go along with those things.