Brad Loomis will always have his mother with him. Literally. She's right there on his left biceps, in permanent ink.

The Santa Rosa man has several tattoos, including "Golden State" in script on his right arm, an eagle on his chest and after Saturday's session at the 23rd annual Santa Rosa Tattoos & Blues event, his mother, Michele, on his left arm.

"The pain is addictive," he said, beginning a list of reasons he keeps adding to his collection of tattoos. "It's a collection of personal art. To be unique."

Tattoo artist Bryan Vargas of American Classic Tattoo of Petaluma worked from a framed childhood portrait of Loomis' mom that he brought to the Flamingo Hotel. But if Vargas needed any reference, mom was there in person, too.

"All of a sudden he called me up and wanted a copy of that picture," Michele Loomis of Windsor said. "It's exciting. I'm all for it."

As with the Loomises, tattooing is becoming more of a family affair.

Laura Holman-Trew of Santa Rosa pushed her son Travis, 14 months, in a stroller as she walked through the exhibits of tattoo artists, ink vendors and tarot card readers.

It was Travis' second visit to the event and his mom was going to sit for a new tattoo later Saturday.

She has at least 29 tattoos already, including leopard spots down her back.

"It depends on how you count them," Holman-Trew said, showing her off the ink on her arms.

Her first was a tiny cross on her left thumb web that she drew herself when she was 12.

She planned to a get "an anatomically correct Betty Boop skeleton" later Saturday.

"I think they're like Pringles," she said. "Once you pop, you can't stop. They're awesome art."

As skin art enthusiasts meandered through the hall, browsing artwork and getting touch-ups done, tattoo trailblazer "Good Time" Charlie Cartwright surveyed the scene.

Cartwright, 73, is a pioneer of single-needle tattooing and is known worldwide for his black-and-gray, fine-line artwork.

A 2013 documentary "Tattoo Nation: The True Story of the Ink Revolution," which follows the evolution of tattoos from outlaw art form to mainstream form of expression, centered on Cartwright's East Los Angeles shop, Good Time Charlie's Tattoo Parlor.

"Ghetto art became refined to an acceptable art form with professional equipment used by real artists," he said.

Cartwright, who now lives in Modesto, says he feels a bit out of step with some of the newer trends of cartoony tattoos or hastily scribbled lettering instead of the more realistic, fine-line tradition.

"Black and gray takes us back to our primal roots," he said. "That's the real deal."

(You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or