Jinxi - Boo Caddel

Published: 01 September, 2008 - Featured in Skin Deep 164, September, 2008

Since I was born and raised in sunny Southern California, it is fitting that my first epiphany into the tattoo fascination began at Disneyland. As a young teenager, I spied another Magic Kingdom visitor with a purple and pink Cheshire Cat inked onto her shoulder blade. I thought it was the dreamiest thing I had ever seen and knew that one day, I too would sport some colourful body art on my own skin.

Though I consistently dreamed up tattoo ideas and projects in my head for many years after that Disneyland encounter, it wasn't until I had already given birth to all three of my children and was about to turn thirty years old that I finally took the plunge into beginning my tattoo collection. I headed into Animated Canvas Tattoo Studio (now called Ground Zero Tattoo) in Riverside, California, and had a cute cherry tattooed onto my ankle by the artist Craig Tidwell. That little piece of inked fruit was all it took for me to catch the "tattoo fever" and from that point on, my obsession and love for the art form began.

I continued to visit Craig for many years, acquiring several pieces from him on my back, legs and stomach. He also began working on my right arm sleeve, which consists of a colourful, cartoonish collection of underwater creatures, including mermaids, fish, seahorses, oysters, crabs, jellyfish, ocean vegetation, an underwater diver girl and her scuba diving cat, and even Spongebob Squarepants.

When I began my left arm sleeve, I went to my good friend, artist Nate McManus (now tattooing at Ground Zero Tattoo) to help me design a Japanese pin-up girl style sleeve. We collaborated on finding many of the images from various Japanese adult magazines and web sites. These tattoos include many nude girls, sprinkled with sweet, fun, girly background images like sugary candy hearts, caramel apples, taffy, lollipops and various kanji text sprinkled between the risqué and flirtatious women.

Nate also tattooed the sides of my neck, designing an anime girl on the left side and a Maneki Neko (Japanese lucky cat) on the right, as well as inking several fun designs on my shoulders and back, which include a panda bear, a pink cupcake (designed after my art project the Cupcake Continuum, which I will explain more about), a penguin holding a heart balloon, Bloo from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, ChocoCat, Eric Cartman from South Park, my kids’ names, an Alice "Malice" in Wonderland (patterned after the computer game "American McGee's Alice"), Indiana Jones secret decoder text, two lyric tattoos from songs by Screeching Weasel and The Murmurs, two finger tattoos, an atheist atom logo, two Twiddlebugs (from Sesame Street) and a Freethinker text tattoo, which Nate tattooed for me as a symbolic gesture after my appearance with my family on the television show, "Wife Swap." This Freethinker piece was important to me, because while I was on the show, the father/husband from the family that we "swapped" with was constantly ridiculing me for being an open-minded person that taught my children to do the same. He was a strict fundamentalist Christian who lived by a rigid set of rules and his method of getting me to believe as he did was to try to mock the way that I lived, so to show him that this did NOT work during my stay at his house, as soon as filming for the show ended, I went RIGHT into the tattoo shop to have "Freethinker" added to my left shoulder so that when we filmed for the "follow-up" of the program, I could tell him that now my open-mindedness was permanently inked onto my skin.

My back piece is a work-in-progress and is being tattooed by Paula Higgins-Clark from Haledon, NJ. This festive project is a montage of many Alice in Wonderland characters all set around a banner that reads "Curiouser and Curiouser," a saying that certainly does encompass me. The Alice critters include Alice herself, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the Walrus & Carpenter, little oyster babies, the Dormouse and the Caterpillar.

About three years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet the amazing realism artist, Mike DeVries, at a tattoo convention in Pomona, California. Mike hadn't been tattooing for long at this time, but his portfolio was mind-blowing and I immediately knew that I wanted him to tattoo my throat/chest piece. He designed a beautiful octopus for me that fit perfectly onto this area. The project was an incredible progression to watch as it came to life. He worked 26 hours (6 sessions) total on the octopus tattoo before giving it the final stamp of approval. After spending time with Mike and walking away with such a beautiful piece, I knew that I wanted him to continue to tattoo me, so we next planned a portrait of Gwen Stefani for my left leg.

The Gwen portrait was fantastic as well and this gave us the idea to plan an entire leg sleeve of my favorite female musicians. So for the last two years, DeVries has been adding his beautiful portraiture work onto my leg project. Since that first Gwen Stefani tattoo, we have added Cyndi Lauper, Bjork, Sinead O'Connor, Madonna, Avril Lavigne, Meg White, and my favorite female rocker of all, my guitar-playing daughter, Brynn. In addition to the portraits, Mike designed pink and fuschia musical notes that swirl around and between the girls. We are almost finished with the background work on this sleeve and have just a few more sittings to go before completion.

Mike DeVries recently started tattooing my right leg sleeve as well, beginning with portraits of my twin sons, Shea and Aidan. They will be followed next with a portrait of my husband, Steve. In addition to this new leg sleeve, DeVries is also collaborating with Mike DeMasi on my head tattoo project, which has been an enjoyable and unique experience, so far. Both "Mikes" tattoo me at the same time (one Mike on each side of my head) and we currently are about fifteen hours into the project and approximately 1/3 of the way finished at this point. The head design includes an array of creatures, including a butterfly, ladybug, caterpillar, bumble bee, grasshopper, pretty roses, flowers and more.

While tattoo collecting is one of my favorites pastimes, my greatest love is that of being a mom and wife. I have been married for almost 17 years to my best friend, Steve, and we have three amazing children (Brynn, Shea and Aidan) that totally support and encourage my ink addiction. In addition to the fun I have with my family, I have owned and operated my own online business since 1997, (www.MermaidInk.com) and also sell clothing that I design through my website (www.JinxiBoo.com). In addition, I am a freelance writer and have been published many times in magazines; and have just finished my first book, collaborating and editing for Mike DeVries on his book project, "Let's Be Realistic."

Because I am not your "typical" mom and I sometimes notice when I am out with my kids, that onlookers can be a bit judgmental and give "disapproving" looks from time-to-time, I felt it was important to turn that idea of "judging a book by its cover" into a positive lesson. So a few years ago, I started a project called the Cupcake Continuum (www.CupcakeContinuum.com). The goal for me with this project was to teach my kids that being true to oneself and expressing yourself in your own unique way is a GOOD thing and not something that others should judge you for. I think it’s really important to be proud of the little idiosyncratic and special characteristics that make us all different and I wanted to find a way to celebrate that uniqueness. I love cupcakes, so the idea for using cupcakes as the form in which to express oneself was fun! The Cupcake Continuum Project is a compilation of each participant’s unique “SPECIAL SOMETHING,” displayed through their interpretation of themselves through their cupcake design. I have gathered hundreds of these "works of cupcake art" from participants all over the world and eventually plan to compile them all into a book to showcase the idea and spirit of the project. You can read more about it on my website (www.JinxiBoo.com) or on MySpace (www.myspace.com/jinxiboo) and also keep up with my never-ending tattoo collection and progression, as I continue adding ink to my skin canvas while there is still space left to design upon.


Text & Photographs: Jinxi