Put it in ink

A U.S. president can serve a maximum of eight years in the White House, but a tattoo is forever. Despite that fact, or perhaps because of it, Oakley resident T.J. Thomasson had a portrait of presidential candidate Barack Obama emblazoned on his arm. Done in blue and red, the visage was designed by tattoo artist Taylor Cort, who owns Mutiny Tattoo & Piercing on Patton Avenue in West Asheville.

Stuck on You: T.J. Thomasson sports a Barack Obama tattoo designed by artist Taylor Cort of West Asheville’s Mutiny Tattoo & Piercing. Cort, who calls it his “democratic contribution,” did the tattoo for free. Photo by Jonathan Welch

“It’s kind of my Democratic contribution, to show my support,” Cort says about the design, which was heavily inspired by the iconic Shepard Fairey posters. “I took some from there, then did my own thing,” says Cort.

Despite the passion generated by this year’s presidential campaign, however, Cort says he hasn’t seen much demand for politically inspired tattoos. “That’s kind of why I did it,” he explains. “There should be more than we see.”

Once Cort had created the image, a mutual friend hooked him up with Thomasson, who—despite having done some volunteer work for the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign—hadn’t given any serious thought to immortalizing Obama on his flesh. But when Thomasson saw the image, he decided to take the leap.

“I jumped at the chance,” he says, and Cort did the tattoo for free.

But what, some have asked Thomasson, if Obama loses? Will he have any regrets?

Unfazed, Thomasson notes that his only other tattoo is a Miami Dolphins design on the other arm—“And they lose all the time.” But he also maintains that there’s a whole lot more riding on this election. “If [Obama] loses, we’ll have a lot bigger problems than a tattoo on my arm,” says Thomasson.

The prospect of a McCain win doesn’t dilute the tattoo’s weight in Cort’s mind either. “It’s just a representation of the time,” he says. “And a commitment toward our freedom to vote.”

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