Tattoo redux: David Sena

Sena works on Kristofer Prepelica.

Obsessed with our Museums issue cover [TONY 722]? We are too, so we caught up with the creator of those kick-ass cherry blossoms, David Sena of North Star Tattoo, for even more inky goodness.

Time Out New York: How'd you get into tattooing?
David Sena: I've been professionally tattooing for over 12 years. While attending The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, I randomly got a job at Kaleidoscope Tattoo, which was then on Canal Street. I helped out around the studio and made drawings and stencils for the artists. After a year or so of working and watching the tattoo artists, I thought to myself, I could do that! I mentioned to my boss, Wes Wood, that I wanted to learn and he said, "Okay, just stick around." I haven't had a real job since.

Read more about the work in the pic above and Sena's thoughts on tramp stamps after the jump.

What was involved in the process of Kristofer's tattoo?
Kris comes to me with ideas, which I interpret and manifest into a tattoo on his body. He first came to me for his left arm/chest where we did a koi fish and ginkgo leaves. Then within a year, he came back with the idea of doing the other arm/chest with a bird and cherry flower composition. This piece was mostly done freehand on his arm instead of drawing on paper first.

What's your favorite job you've ever done?
I've done thousands and thousands of tattoos over the years. There have been many favorites, which then give way to new favorites; sometimes I finish a piece that makes me very happy and I think, Wow I really like this, I wish I had that on my body. When I become envious of a tattoo I created for someone, I know it's a good one.

What's your pet-peeve tattoo? A tramp stamp of a butterfly? Worse?!?
Another tricky question. These days I'm fortunate enough to tattoo only serious clientele who know my work and are usually coming to me specifically because of my style. I don't like dealing with people who don't take the art of tattooing seriously and instead treat it like the latest trendy accessory.

Got any advice for people who want to get ink done but can't take the pain?
The pain is the last factor that should come into the decision-making process. It hurts. Period. But if you are intent on getting tattooed for the right reasons, then you'll be satisfied no matter how much it hurts. When I get tattooed these days I think, This hurts! And I do this to people every day! One thing I've noticed about tattooing is that there is some kind of sublime energy that is released during and after the process that makes people sincerely happy. I think that's why they keep coming back no matter how much it hurts.