Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekly Ink: S.F. Tribute

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2009 at 10:59 AM

  • 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.
  • 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


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

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , ,

About The Author

Andy Wright


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"