Inspiration is Everywhere, says Sara Ray

Sara Ray (left) with a friend.

As soon as I met Sara Ray I knew she was a “no nonsense” type of woman. The kind you can’t get much bull shit past. And if you try, she’s likely to call you on it. I’ve always admired strong women like her and I knew I liked her immediately.

From the moment she said she believed women should ride, just not in their underwear, Sara made it obvious she has something to say. It seems the old school values of the rip roaring ride ‘or’ die ladies of past might be clashing with the selfie-obsessed, instantly gratifying Instagrammers of late. The ironic thing is, when it comes to tattoos and promoting art, you really can’t have one without the other.

Is she juggling? Or reaching?

Is she juggling? Or reaching?

Sara Ray has managed to find a balance between the two through her art. Her work reminds me of what would happen if zombies, vampires and Elvira clashed with the 70’s tide of easy rider culture. Throw in some guitars and paint brushes and that about sums up Sara’s style. Mind you, she will probably disagree with me, but that’s the beauty of art. The onlooker can draw the conclusion after the artist has drawn the picture. In fact, Sara’s work has made such a statement, it was featured in 2014 at the exclusive Art of the Motorcycle exhibition at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale, where the history of motorcycle and the cultures it inspired was on display.

Sara showcased many of her paintings at the Ink and Iron show in Long Beach this year. One in particular got my attention. The painting depicted a woman in an old-school bomber-type helmet with arms fluttering around her, as if she were reaching for or possibly tossing aside motorcycle parts while balancing on a fender in black, spiked boots. Ironically, this painting almost seems a perfect portrayal how a woman who rides struggles between beauty and badassery, a battle that is challenging but fun.

Motorcycle gas tank painted by Sara Ray, also featured in the Art of the Motorcycle display in Glendale.

Motorcycle gas tank painted by Sara Ray, also featured in the Art of the Motorcycle display in Glendale.

After meeting Sara and catching a glimpse of her art, I began perusing the inter webs for her work. I found she does much more than just paint. She’s been tattooing for at least 18 years and doing art for even longer. She also paints motorcycles, the likes of which, have seen the glossy pages of magazines.

She told me she finds “inspiration everywhere,” as she has been coast to coast promoting tattooed motorcycling culture. Originally from Hermosa Beach, CA, she’s now set up roots in Chicago, IL where she tattoos at Maximum Tattoo studio.

What I love most about Sara, however, is she is not just an artist, but a rider. She owns a Honda CB350 that she doesn’t get to ride much anymore but by the tone of her voice, this is regrettable.

If you’re ever in Chicago, stop by and see Sara Ray. She might beat you to the punch (possibly literally if you’re not polite) by participating in a tattoo convention near you, but if you’re in the windy city, her wit and talent are well worth the visit.

You can also find Sara on Instagram and Facebook. Buy her art on Etsy or visit her website here.


Curtis Northcutt’s Dirtbike Sleeve Tattoo

Curtis's dirtbike-inspried sleeve by Mike McMahon.

Curtis’s dirtbike-inspried sleeve by Mike McMahon.

Curtis Northcutt is a former AMA motocross racer who grew up racing dirt bikes. Riding has been his whole life for as long as he can remember. “That’s pretty much all I know,” he says. He loves motorcycles so much, he went to All or Nothing tattoo in Atlanta, Georgia, and had artist Mike McMahon create a dirtbike-inspired tattoo sleeve that would take Curtis back “to the good ole’ days.” If you look closely, you can see all kinds of dirtbike parts in the tattoo. The lining is near perfect and the color really pops.

Curtis back in his racing days. Photo by Bhenson Photos.

Curtis back in his racing days. Photo by Bhenson Photos.

Immortalized in the AMA Hall of Fame: A tattooed artist flaunts her moto art

Alicia doing some painting

Alicia doing some painting

Alicia Jean Vanderelli is an artist living in Columbus, Ohio. Some might know her as A.J. but either way, her art work is freaking awesome. She’s been painting for more than twenty years and is covered in tattoos. So of course we had to find out more about her.

Alicia went to school for art and graduated with a BFA in painting from Columbus College of Art and Design. Her work is so unique yet refined in nature, it caught the attention of Ric Stewart, the curator for the Two Wheel and Motor Fine Art Exhibition at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. He asked Alicia to paint for the exhibit and an article was published in the October 2013 issue of the AMA’s American Motorcyclist magazine that featured Alicia painting live for spectators outside the exhibit. “I was honored to have the opportunity to participate and show my art with so many talented artists,” she says.

Alicia may not be a rider, but her art definitely has a salient presence in the motorcycle industry. She does have a history with bikes, however, as her dad rides and her uncle collects bikes and raced back in the day. “Bikes have always had a presence in my life,” Alicia says. “Besides, motorcycles are sexy.”

Another cool thing about Alicia is she has so many tattoos, she lost count. “To say exactly how many tattoos I have is difficult,” she admits. “I have roughly 120 hours invested in my tattoos.”

Alicia, as featured in the October 2013 issue of American Motorcyclist magazine for her work at the AMA Hall of Fame.

Alicia, as featured in the October 2013 issue of American Motorcyclist magazine for her work at the AMA Hall of Fame.

Alicia did mention her favorite tattoos were done by Joey Knuckles at High Street Tattoo, Dan “Rev Dice” at Sweet Baby Octane, Fernando Diaz in Mexico City, Mexico, Jim Peticca in Greensburg, PA and Mikey Jenkins in Atlanta, GA. Despite Alicia’s artistic gifts, she prefers to give the tattoo artists autonomy over the work they do on her skin. “I did have a tattoo started in 2002 from a design I drew,” she remembers. “But I prefer to collect work from the tattoo artist’s hand, not my own.”

So why didn’t Alicia become a tattoo artist? Well, she did in 1998. She apprenticed under Tony Olivas from Sacred Heart Tattoo in Atlanta, Georgia, but quickly realized it wasn’t for her. Her paintings have such an elegant feel to them. They’re abstract yet simple, fluid and in depth. It’s obvious she made the right choice by sticking to what she loves.

Outside of the AMA Hall of Fame, Alicia’s work won’t be found in any galleries as of yet, but you can find one of her paintings hanging in the Strongwater Food and Spirits bar in Franklinton, Ohio, as well as another location in Ohio. “I do have a studio space at 400 West Rich in Columbus, Ohio,” Alicia says. “I have several paintings hanging on the walls throughout the building.” 

If you’d like to check out Alicia’s paintings at 400 West Rich at a time where there are no events in the building, you can contact Linda Dice at Otherwise, you can find out more about Alicia and her art at

Facebook photo reel

So there are a lot of photos of moto-inspired tattoo pictures I post to our Facebook page and not here. The main reason for that being it seems social media does more to drive a following these days than an individual website. If you look at the number of views to this page, I could be mistaken. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m a compulsive Google searcher with a taste for the savory sight of fresh ink on riders or models for that matter. Draw from that what you will. If you like the pics you see, I upload more daily to our Facebook page and they can also be seen on instagram @motoinked. So like us with the button to your right ===> if you’d be so kind. Thank you.

Video Footage from Sal’s Arc Angel


Sal wanted to get this tattoo as a reminder of his Dad who passed away when he was eight years old, to let him know that his Dad is always watching over him. He liked the look of the main character in the Assassin’s Creed video game, and he combined it with how he thought a bad ass arc angel should look. He’s hoping to add some background later, along with demons underneath to make it a complete chest piece. For now, the arc angel looks pretty awesome on it’s own. Tattoo by John Soto of Fontana Tattoo in Fontana, CA.


Motorcycle Brand Tattoos

So if you could have any motorcycle brand tattooed on your body, which would you get permanently etched into your skin? Don’t get me wrong, I love motorcycles, but tattooing a brand on your  body is a huge commitment. Let’s just hope that every motorcycle you buy from that manufacturer doesn’t give you any headaches. Although, we all remember the bike that left a soft spot in our hearts. If I had to choose mine, it’d be the 04 Suzuki GSX-R600 I had. So yes, I might get a gixxer-themed tattoo someday. Might…

Here are some moto brand tattoos I found online if you’re looking for ideas for that next freakin’ awesome moto-themed tattoo. Which one is your favorite?

BMW Motorrad

BMW Motorrad tattoo

BMW Motorrad tattoo

Harley Davidson






Moto Guzzi



Victory tattoo


Yamaha R1 tattoo

Yamaha Rossi