Tribute Tattoo

9:31 PM Anis Widayanti 0 Comments

One of the amazing things about tattoos is that you can meet a perfect stranger, and because of their life story in body art, you find out intimate and special details about their life that might have otherwise taken years to even talk about among close friends.

We recently shared one of those special moments with Chia Snyder (known by some as Jason) who shared the story of how he got his first tattoo, and eventually an entire sleeve, here in Reno as a very special tribute to his first daughter Mollie Kai, who was still born on May 1,  2011. 


Growing up on the east coast in State College, Pennsylvania, Snyder had several close knit friends who were fully suited in tattoos. As an avid skateboarder and snowboarder, Snyder is surprised he never got into it back then as it was definitely part of the culture. It wasn't until he chose to remember his first daughter Mollie in a significant way that Snyder had his first tattoo work done by artist Jake at  Aces Tattoo  in Reno in late 2011.

Every detail on his sleeve is related in some way to his wife Joanie and their first daughter Mollie.  It starts with Mollie's name, beautifully woven around his right shoulder, blending in piano keys around a blue rose and Hawaiian hibiscus flowers near her middle name. This top part of the tribute details the intimate story of Mollie's conception in Hawaii and her naturally long piano fingers that Snyder instantly noticed at birth. He said she would have been a fantastic piano player, like her mom, with fingers like that.  


"My favorite is the hourglass floating in the water. I wanted to use water as fill because it goes with her middle name Kai which is Hawaiian for ocean and is where she was conceived." Snyder said.


From the compass that points to Hawaii,  to the hourglass that signifies her time of delivery, to her delicate handprint etched in near the center, to the wedding vows around his wrist, you can quickly see Snyder's love for his family and this sweet little one that is no longer with us here, but lives on in this special piece...


Snyder never intended to do a full sleeve, but the ideas kept coming, and Synder admits that this tattoo thing has definitely become an addiction. Done in several pieces with each of the 12 to 13 sessions fairly planned out and averaging one to four hours, it was definitely a labor of love.

"It was something I wanted to do regardless of the pain level. I've had surgeries from snowboarding injuries. It hurts, it may not necessarily be fun but in comparison to knee surgery, this was worth it." Snyder said.

Being a bit of an artist himself, with a small business in photography, Snyder added to the details of this piece, making it that much more special to him. The colors used tell a story as well.   Bold and colorful emerald green represents Mollie Kai's birthstone.  As the piece continued to evolve, Snyder wanted to include a bird and was recommended by a co-worker to see tattoo artist Mike at Nightmare Studios who specializes in detailing birds.  

In the tattoo industry,  birds can signify a variety of things. From swallows to eagles, the meanings are all different but one thing all birds signify is a sense of freedom and flying away. The crystal clear coloring in the Nevada Bluebird/Sparrow was part of the overall bird design with the bird near his shoulder being the underbelly of the same bird, a compilation of ideas and meanings that tattoo artist Mike added his own flare to these as well.

This was one of the reasons Snyder found Mike's work a right fit for this part of the piece. "I wanted someone who had a lot of suggestions and looked forward to doing it." Snyder said.



 One of the things Snyder really appreciates about the top bird is how it comes from the angle of looking up under the same bird's belly, inspiring hope for the future. Both angles of the bird were created as a last addition to this sleeve piece but are now an integral part of the overall tribute. 


When asked if Chia plans to have more tattoo work done, he described a future piece he already has in mind that will feature snowboarding artist Mike Parillo's work who is popular with professional snowboarders. The piece is inspired by a photo that Parillo did for Burton Snowboards in 2000 that Snyder has always liked. For Snyder, who has been snowboarding as far back as when resorts weren't even allowing it, the piece reminds him of his long snowboarding background. 

You can find Mike Parillo's work here

Outside of Snyder's tattoo appreciation, and love for his family,  snowboarding and photography continue to take up a lot of his time.  You can find some of his photography work here: 

If you would like your tattoos featured here at Reno Tattoo Mecca we would love to hear from you, please leave your contact info below in the comment section.

No dot dot el and Jen <3

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