Street fashion: New York Tattoo Convention

Ink aficionados and fashion daredevils show off their duds (and their tats).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Melissa Graves, 26; artist and tattoo model; New Brunswick, NJWith her neon...

    Melissa Graves, 26; artist and tattoo model; New Brunswick, NJ
    With her neon yellow hair and sky-high black strappy pumps, Graves was hard to miss. "I grew up in a very small town by myself, so I kind of formed my style alone as a child," says Graves of her eclectic mixture of punk, pinup and straight-up badass. She shows off her stuff in a full-skirted Sour Puss Clothing halter dress (sourpussclothing.com) she picked up at Trash and Vaudeville (4 St. Marks Pl between Second and Third Aves; 212-982-3590, trashandvaudeville.com). Graves complements her look with Dollhouse heels (dollhouse.com).

  • "I had a boyfriend in California, and I fired his .45 Magnum at a downtown L.A...

    "I had a boyfriend in California, and I fired his .45 Magnum at a downtown L.A. gun range," says Graves of the story behind her gun-in-holster thigh tattoo, by artist Gene Coffey of Tattoo Culture (129 Roebling St between North 5th and 6th Sts; Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-218-6532, tattooculture.net). "Shooting it was one of the most thrilling experiences of my entire life. I loved that gun enough that I got it tattooed on me, because my ex broke my heart. So every time someone breaks my heart, I can have my gun on my gun holster and pull it out and say, 'Don't break my heart, baby.'"

  • "I saw Gene [Coffey]'s artwork and thought that he had amazing talent," Graves...

    "I saw Gene [Coffey]'s artwork and thought that he had amazing talent," Graves says. "So I gave him my entire left leg and said, 'Here is your canvas---paint on me.'"

  • "I do a lot of DIY stuff, so I bought the skull from Obscura Antiques (280 E...

    "I do a lot of DIY stuff, so I bought the skull from Obscura Antiques (280 E 10th St between First Ave and Ave A; 212-505-9251, obscuraantiques.com) and made it myself," says the artist of her mini longhorn skull necklace.

  • "My friend Stella Zotis [stellazotis.wordpress.com] is independent leather...

    "My friend Stella Zotis [stellazotis.wordpress.com] is independent leather designer. She gave me this extra foxtail," Graves notes on the furry piece clipped to her fringe-covered hobo bag, a score from Hot Topic (hottopic.com). "I work at an art store near FIT and some FIT kids taught me how to make it into a key chain."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    David Cappella, 20; FIT student and artist; Midtown WestLooking like a...

    David Cappella, 20; FIT student and artist; Midtown West
    Looking like a modern-day Montgomery Clift in a slim-fitting dark gray suit, Cappella explains, "I go for classic style, like Elvis in his good years." The clean-cut artist built a gentleman's wardrobe on a student's budget. His crisp white button-down was a steal at H&M (hm.com), and his Gazzarrini jacket and pants (gazzarrini.eu) were a deal at Daffy's (daffys.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "I have a friend who is an optician," Cappella says when describing his...

    "I have a friend who is an optician," Cappella says when describing his statement Jil Sander specs (jilsander.com). "They were originally sunglasses, but I liked the frames a lot, so we switched out the lenses and turned them into eyeglasses."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Cappella pulls down his white tee to reveal a vibrant blue rose tattoo by...

    Cappella pulls down his white tee to reveal a vibrant blue rose tattoo by artist Bob Pastore at Crystal Blue Tattoo (895 Montauk Hwy between Ormond and Versa Pl, Shirley, NY; 631-772-4110). "He did my aunt's tattoo and when she passed away, I wanted to get the exact same one," he says. "It has sick thorns down the back and sits right on my shoulder. I got it on Mother's Day."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The student sticks to thrift stores when it comes to accessorizing, including...

    The student sticks to thrift stores when it comes to accessorizing, including his knockoff Louis Vuitton messenger bag (louisvuitton.com) he picked up at a Long Island secondhand shop. "I have a real one, but I don't use it as much," claims Cappella. "It's too nice."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Cappella adds an unexpected touch of color to his dapper duds with a pair of...

    Cappella adds an unexpected touch of color to his dapper duds with a pair of orange slippers he picked up at a thrift store on 23rd Street. "They're like old-man shoes," Cappella says of his comfortable loafers.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Ni'ma Ford, 21; fashion assistant at Zink magazine; White Plains, NYFord may be...

    Ni'ma Ford, 21; fashion assistant at Zink magazine; White Plains, NY
    Ford may be style-obsessed, but that doesn't mean she likes shelling out the big bucks for her favorite fashions. "I'm a bargain shopper. I love stretching a dollar," she says. "Especially as a fashionista, if you know you can get great looks at a cheap price, it's like, why not?" Well said. Her acid-washed denim button-down from H&M (hm.com), vintage leopard tank top and gifted black shredded jeans keep her outfit wallet-friendly.

  • "I always look for statement pieces," Ford says. "I do a lot of...

    "I always look for statement pieces," Ford says. "I do a lot of wholesale-district shopping for jewelry. Right now, I'm really into knuckle rings and armor rings." Her two-finger rhinestone bauble was scored on one such shopping trip, and perfectly matches her Sally Hansen metallic nail appliqus (sallyhansen.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "I love hearts, and I just wanted a really small tattoo," Ford says of the...

    "I love hearts, and I just wanted a really small tattoo," Ford says of the innocent ink behind her Marc by Marc Jacobs studded earrings (marcjacobs.com). "Honestly, I was just flipping through a book and thought it was cute." Her tat was done at Addicted to Ink (8 Westchester Ave, White Plains, NY; 914-231-6670, addictedtoinktattoos.com), and matches her ring, which was a gift.

  • A studded AllStar Converse bag (converse.com) jibes with her downtown-chic look

    A studded AllStar Converse bag (converse.com) jibes with her downtown-chic look.

  • Ford scored these Steve Madden combat boots (stevemadden.com) on sale at...

    Ford scored these Steve Madden combat boots (stevemadden.com) on sale at Loehmann's (loehmanns.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Luna Trinidad, 21; elevator operator; Spanish Harlem"My style is just me,"...

    Luna Trinidad, 21; elevator operator; Spanish Harlem
    "My style is just me," Trinidad says. "I'm always changing it up. I'm from Spanish Harlem, where everyone is still wearing the baggy look. But I'm trying to bring my style up there so people can start rocking it." Wearing his slim-fit Levi's (levi.com) and graphic skull tee from Urban Outfitters (urbanoutfitters.com) is a great way to start the antibaggy trend.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Trinidad sports rectangular framed glasses scored at Costco (costco.com) and a...

    Trinidad sports rectangular framed glasses scored at Costco (costco.com) and a dark-gray fedora from Supreme (274 Lafayette St between E Houston and Prince Sts; 212-966-7799, supremenewyork.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "My dad passed it down to me," Trinidad says of his stainless steel silver...

    "My dad passed it down to me," Trinidad says of his stainless steel silver Citizen watch (citizenwatch.com). "Well...I took it from him."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "This is my daughter, Valerie," says the proud dad of the portrait done by a...

    "This is my daughter, Valerie," says the proud dad of the portrait done by a tattoo-artist friend. "All of my tattoos really mean something, they're not just out of nowhere."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Gray herringbone lace-up sneakers from Urban Outfitters (urbanoutfitters.com)...

    Gray herringbone lace-up sneakers from Urban Outfitters (urbanoutfitters.com) peek out from underneath his jeans.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Minnie d'Moocha, 29; burlesque performer and model; Cliffside Park, NJD'Moocha...

    Minnie d'Moocha, 29; burlesque performer and model; Cliffside Park, NJ
    D'Moocha is the perfect mix of vintage glamour goddess and rock & roll vixen. "My style is gothabilly, which is a mixture of rockabilly and goth," says D'Moocha of her polished Bettie Page look. "Dita Von Teese and Kat Von D---if they had a baby, it would be me." She looks the part in a cleavage-baring cami from Victoria's Secret (victoriassecret.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The burlesque performer's silver skull necklace is by Baltimore tattoo artist...

    The burlesque performer's silver skull necklace is by Baltimore tattoo artist and jewelry designer Martha Rotten (martharotten.com). "I love skulls, I love tattoos, and I love supporting small, especially female, company owners," D'Moocha says. "It's all about girl power and supporting local artists."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "I love to shop vintage and secondhand stores," says D'Moocha. She snagged this...

    "I love to shop vintage and secondhand stores," says D'Moocha. She snagged this high-waisted leopard print wonder by Stop Staring! (stopstaringclothing.com) at a vintage store in L.A., but here in New York she has a thrift store secret of her own. "The Metropolitan Opera has a secondhand store (City Opera Thrift Shop, 222 E 23rd St between Second and Third Aves; 212-684-5344, nycopera.com), where you can get some great pieces that were actually used in the shows," she dishes.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "I was a teacher in China for six months," D'Moocha says, explaining her...

    "I was a teacher in China for six months," D'Moocha says, explaining her vibrant dragon arm ink, by reality-show artist Ami James, who has taken up shop at Wooster Street Social Club (43 Wooster St between Broome and Grand Sts, woostersocial.com), in anticipation of the premiere of New York Ink in June. "My students gave me two Buddhas for good luck before I left, so I wanted a way to carry those and my students with me at all times."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Her other arm is adorned with a cowgirl motif created at Starlight Tattoo (215...

    Her other arm is adorned with a cowgirl motif created at Starlight Tattoo (215 State Rte 17 South, Rochelle Park, NJ; 201-556-1478, starlighttattoo.com). "My best friend moved to Austin in December," says D'Moocha. "So we both got each other tattooed on ourselves to remember that no matter where we're going to be, we'll still be close."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "When I get dressed in the morning, I try to preserve that '40s heritage: the...

    "When I get dressed in the morning, I try to preserve that '40s heritage: the hair, the makeup, everything is a little more vintage looking," D'Moocha explains. Her Pleaser platform pumps certainly fit the bill (pleaserusa.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    John Twomey, 25; energy auditor and musician; Bedford-Stuyvesant,...

    John Twomey, 25; energy auditor and musician; Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
    Twomey's style is dictated by his craft. "I've been in a band touring for the last three years, so my style is my music," says the tatted-up musician. "Right now I'm really into rap so I'm into that type of style, like Mac Miller's style. Basically, anyone that is covered in tattoos and wears awesome clothes." He sports a pair of slim-fit Calvin Klein jeans (calvinklein.com) and a striped tank from Forever 21 (forever21.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Twomey nabbed his fitted flat-bill from a West 4th Street vendor, while his...

    Twomey nabbed his fitted flat-bill from a West 4th Street vendor, while his glasses came from Zenni Optical (zennioptical.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "I like Day of the Dead kind of stuff," Twomey says of the work his friend Matt...

    "I like Day of the Dead kind of stuff," Twomey says of the work his friend Matt Demers did for him at Full Effect Tattoo (235 N Greenbush Rd, Rte 4, Troy, NY; 518-328-0077, fulleffecttattoo.com). "The face is like a skeleton, and I was really into that stuff for a while. He drew me out something four or five times before---finally, I just went in and did it."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "A lot of my arm sleeve is the ocean," says Twomey. "There's a shark and ship,...

    "A lot of my arm sleeve is the ocean," says Twomey. "There's a shark and ship, and of course I had to put a zombie in there."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Brown Nike kicks (nike.com) complete the look

    Brown Nike kicks (nike.com) complete the look.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Marilyn Mansfield, 22; plus-size model; Staten IslandMansfield's girly platinum...

    Marilyn Mansfield, 22; plus-size model; Staten Island
    Mansfield's girly platinum locks made her an instant standout in a crowd of mohawks and all-black ensembles. "I'm a modern-day pinup, but I put my own twist on things and just make it fun," she says of her feminine-grunge style. Mansfield stays sultry in a black pencil skirt by Torrid (torrid.com) and a cap-sleeve top with a skull brooch by Deadly Dames (available at pinupgirlclothing.com). "I get dressed for myself," she says. "I don't go with trends, I just go with what I'm feeling that day."

  • Mansfield's pendant necklace was an instant conversation starter. "I'm a member...

    Mansfield's pendant necklace was an instant conversation starter. "I'm a member of the Church of Satan," says Mansfield in a surprisingly bubbly tone. "It's the Church's symbol and was a gift from a friend."

  • "I love skulls, I always have," says the model of her crystal Betsey Johnson...

    "I love skulls, I always have," says the model of her crystal Betsey Johnson skull ring (betseyjohnson.com). "And if they have a pink bow on them, it's even better."

  • The model admits that she made up her name. "I love actresses of the '50s like...

    The model admits that she made up her name. "I love actresses of the '50s like Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe," she says. "And of course Anna Nicole Smith, she was one of my favorite icons. I got this tattoo on the anniversary of her death." Her ink was done by portrait tattoo artist Logan Aguilar at Venus Body Art (199 E 9th St between Aves A and B; 212-473-1954, venusbymariatash.com).

  • Mansfield's simple black pumps from Aerosoles (aersoles.com) don't divert...

    Mansfield's simple black pumps from Aerosoles (aersoles.com) don't divert attention from her tats.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Johnothan Smith, 23; human-resources intern; Bronx"My style goal is to not look...

    Johnothan Smith, 23; human-resources intern; Bronx
    "My style goal is to not look like everybody else," Smith says of his laid-back urban aesthetic. "If I see a lot of people get one pair of sneakers, I get the opposite pair or the opposite color." He stays comfortable in a True Religion tee and distressed jeans (truereligionbrandjeans.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "This watch spoke to me," says Smith of the bold timepiece he picked up in East...

    "This watch spoke to me," says Smith of the bold timepiece he picked up in East Tremont, Brooklyn. "I liked the colors and it looks like the globe a little bit. It's striking and eye-catching, so I liked it."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Smith's style is more than just looks. "I'm very religious," says Smith of the...

    Smith's style is more than just looks. "I'm very religious," says Smith of the two rosaries around his neck. "Plus it's a bit of a statement---the black and red. I thought they'd complement the shirt I'm wearing."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Smith is a proud New Yorker---he got the Twin Towers tattooed on his forearm so...

    Smith is a proud New Yorker---he got the Twin Towers tattooed on his forearm so he could always rep his city. "Whenever somebody sees it, they automatically know where I'm from," he says. "I feel tattoos should mean something. So when you get them and look at them 10 or 15 years from now, you'll still like it. I'll always like New York."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Adidas sneakers (adidas.com) go along with Smith's casual vibe

    Adidas sneakers (adidas.com) go along with Smith's casual vibe.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Desiree Gonzalez, 31; bartender at Terminal 5; Rego Park, QueensYou won't see...

    Desiree Gonzalez, 31; bartender at Terminal 5; Rego Park, Queens
    You won't see four-months-pregnant Gonzalez in the average prebaby wardrobe of leggings and oversize T-shirts anytime soon. "I was telling my fianc that even though I'm pregnant, I still want to keep my style," she says. "I don't want to wear your typical maternity clothes." She opted for slim-fit jeans from Motherhood Maternity (motherhood.com) and an H&M gray jersey blazer and plain white tee (hm.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "Sometimes I can dress boyish and other times very feminine," Gonzalez says...

    "Sometimes I can dress boyish and other times very feminine," Gonzalez says. "Most of all, I'm pretty funky. My style is eclectic." Her signature half-mohawk 'do is a tribute to her style icons Rihanna, Gwen Stefani and Eve.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Gonzalez won't get a tattoo until postpregnancy, but it doesn't stop her from...

    Gonzalez won't get a tattoo until postpregnancy, but it doesn't stop her from getting pierced. "I got these hoops from the Brooklyn Flea (various locations, visit brooklynflea.com) and all my studs are from random street vendors in the city," she says.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "I'm a big bargain shopper," Gonzalez admits. "I don't care how cheap it is---I...

    "I'm a big bargain shopper," Gonzalez admits. "I don't care how cheap it is---I always make it look good." She rocks a gold tribal ring she found at T.J.Maxx (tjmaxx.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Her fringe bag was a deal at H&M (hm.com)

    Her fringe bag was a deal at H&M (hm.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Scuffed-up black Zigi combat boots (ziginy.com) complete her ensemble

    Scuffed-up black Zigi combat boots (ziginy.com) complete her ensemble.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Joey Tekelch, 26; entrepreneur; Bensonhurst, BrooklynTekelch channels his two...

    Joey Tekelch, 26; entrepreneur; Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
    Tekelch channels his two style icons, Justin Timberlake and Brett Favre, by simply merging the two looks together. "I'm classic, clean-cut American with a little edge," he says. Tekelch tops off a Hanes ribbed undershirt (hanes.com) with a steel-gray button-down from American Eagle (ae.com) and a pair of distressed jeans.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    There was no convincing Tekelch to take off his shades inside the Roseland...

    There was no convincing Tekelch to take off his shades inside the Roseland Ballroom. He kept it cool in a pair of Roberto Cavalli glasses (robertocavalli.com).

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    "I have, like, five jobs, but I'd say my sixth is poker," says the entrepreneur...

    "I have, like, five jobs, but I'd say my sixth is poker," says the entrepreneur of his shoulder ink by artist Tselita Zaicher. "Aces always end up getting burned, so it's a flaming ace."

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    His brand-new Puma sneakers don't stand a chance of staying clean on the city...

    His brand-new Puma sneakers don't stand a chance of staying clean on the city streets (puma.com).

Photograph: Alex Strada

Melissa Graves, 26; artist and tattoo model; New Brunswick, NJWith her neon...

Melissa Graves, 26; artist and tattoo model; New Brunswick, NJ
With her neon yellow hair and sky-high black strappy pumps, Graves was hard to miss. "I grew up in a very small town by myself, so I kind of formed my style alone as a child," says Graves of her eclectic mixture of punk, pinup and straight-up badass. She shows off her stuff in a full-skirted Sour Puss Clothing halter dress (sourpussclothing.com) she picked up at Trash and Vaudeville (4 St. Marks Pl between Second and Third Aves; 212-982-3590, trashandvaudeville.com). Graves complements her look with Dollhouse heels (dollhouse.com).