Monday, July 31, 2006

Duty Honor Courage

Original Posting: July 31, 2006

This is a freshly done arm band tattoo shown in BMEzine’s gallery (July 31, 2006) by James “Devilboy” Robinson of F.I.S.T. Ink in North Carolina (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK). The six-character set supposedly to be “Duty Honor Courage”.

The first two characters are not even close to “duty”, unless the client is a dedicated gardener.

means “enlighten, advance; progress” and is “peduncle or stem of plants”.

Perhaps, they were some kind of “wicked” phonetic translation from English to Chinese or Japanese? But, why?

do mean “honor”, except is missing a stroke.

The last two are “courage” or “bravery” and they are correct.

A quick browse of James “Devilboy” Robinson’s MySpace page (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK), from metal fabrication to graphix (his spelling) design, it seems he is a very talented person. Although, no where it was mentioned on his page if he has ever studied Chinese or Japanese.

Oh right, tattooists are “artists”, and they are not linguists.

Update: August 1, 2006 - James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) has sent me the following angry comment and instant messages:

(larger view)

(larger view)

Update: Aug. 2, 2006 – I have forwarded my experience with James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) to my good friends Shannon Larratt and Marisa DiMattia, hoping not all tattooists are like him and it was an isolated incident.

Shannon Larratt is the man behind the largest body modification website in the world called Body Modification Ezine (, where some of James Robinson’s (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) pieces were originally posted.

Shannon, Marisa, and I regularly exchange tips and emails regarding the tattoo trend. Some of our postings have cross-linked in each other’s websites.

Shannon says:
“That email is hilarious. But it's a pretty typical response. Tattoo artists can be a little like Klingons. :) PS. Marisa will love that you forwarded this to her too -- I was just about to when I saw you had included her. She just had a very similar run-in...”
Marisa replied to me with:
“It's true that tattoo artists should not be responsible for characters that are not native to them. That said, if he really cared about reputation, he would not have Chinese flash representing his work. I don't want to see what the rest of his portfolio looks like.”
Marisa DiMattia is a New York attorney by occupation. In her spare time, she manages and writes a legal column for Recently, Marisa had a run-in with Joseph Smith of Big Brains Productions in Omaha, Nebraska, after she confronted him about theft of work done by someone else.

Referring to James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) as a “tattoo artist” is giving a bad name to all other respectable tattooists in the profession. In my opinion (after his email and instant messages), he is nothing but a man who can hold up a mechanical needle, dipping in ink, and trace color lines on gullible clients’ skin. That is no different from developmentally challenged students to trace color lines in special education classes.

And I am sure those students would have more humanity in them than James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) ever would.

Update: Oct. 21, 2009

from: Nine
date: Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 5:35 AM
subject: Duty Honour Courage - Hanzi Smatter


I'm writing to you in good faith in reference to:

One of my tattooist colleagues is also called James Robinson and we are concerned that the general public may link the individual to whom you are referring, to James Robinson of Nine, Brighton, UK. I myself did a google search and fell upon this page and was quite taken aback as what you were describing fitted in no way with the James Robinson I know and work with. It was only upon reading right down the page that I found the information to which James Robinson you were referring to.

If anyone does a Google search on his name, the following is on the first page of the search:

Hanzi Smatter 一知半解: Duty Honor Courage
Referring to James Robinson as a “tattoo artist” is giving a bad name to all other respectable tattooists in the profession. In my opinion (after his email ...

I am sure you can agree that this is defamatory to James Robinson of Nine and request you specify which James Robinson you are referring to to make it clear.

I trust you can update your page changing all the James Robinson's you list as James "Devilboy' Robinson of F.I.S.T. Ink in North Carolina to make it clear to anyone perusing your page that this James Robinson has nothing whatsoever to do with James Robinson of Nine, Brighton, UK.

I run an incredibly well respected and tight ship here and do not wish any damage upon the reputation of my studio or any of the tattooists working within it.

I look forward to hearing from you about this matter.

Kind Regards,

9 Boyces Street
+44(0)1273 208844


  1. After reading that comment and the IM messages, I think I can safely say "goodness, what an asshole".

  2. He didn't even spell his own name correctly in the beginning of the GMail message! He wrote "This is Jame..." at the beginning and then signed it as "James". WOW! What an I-D-10-T!

  3. This man is allowed to tattoo people? Maturity seems to be lacking.

  4. From the e-mail: "This is Jame Mother Fucker!"

    He can't even spell his own name right. Perhaps he should give up on foreign languages and focus on learning English for a while.

    He does seem to have "mother fucker" down pretty well, except for the time he replaces it with "finking."

  5. Ok, he didn't do the research, but why to flip out like that? Just say it was client's own wish to get just those "letters".

    I have suggestion to the guy msg'ing you Tian: Go see your doctor and tell the prescription isn't ok, more happy pills.. What a freak.

  6. Wow. That sure makes *me* want to go get a tattoo by him...

  7. are you kidding? if this guy was trying to intimidate/prove his point, he failed miserably on both counts, only making himself look more like an idiot than we all originally assumed.

  8. Wow - I just looked at his site and he features an animated cartoon of a stick figure repeatedly stabbing another (dead) stick figure, while saying "Here, I'll help you to shut the fuck up!"

    His soundtrack is "Fuel the Hate."

    In short, this guy seriously needs some professional help. Watch your back! Of course you could probably just puff up like a cat and scare him away. :)

    PS - I loved Lady in the Water!

  9. Let me get this straight. He is the one who posted the pictures of his tattoo work on his web site in order to promote his business, but he is angry at Tian for mentioning him by name. Something is wrong with this picture.

  10. wat a douche bag....he must have a small cock or sumthin....

  11. looking at his spelling, i wouldn't trust the guy to tattoo you in english let alone in chinese

  12. So, if I were that guy— and I'm really glad I'm not, because I'd just have dicked myself over royally— I'd realize at this point that I've made myself look like an asshole twice over. Salvaging the situation calls for something like the following, which might be beyond this guy's capacity to come up with:


    Alright, the tattooing community has a lot of concern for reputation, and having a hard reputation is really important to me and to my business. Sorry I let that out on you. Anyway, what I meant to say is I consider it the client's responsibility to research the design they've chosen for their tattoo; I only interpret the design in ink. I hope the client appreciates your post. Next time maybe he'll research his design more carefully.


    If you receive an e-mail substantively similar to this one, let me know and I'll contact the artist to negotiate a modest consulting fee. ;)

  13. I'm sure I'll get shit from your fans for saying it (even though I'm a fan as well), but attacking the tattoo artist is out of line.

    Tattoo artists generally trust you, the client, to know wtf you're getting tattooed on your ass. If YOU spell it wrong, that's your problem. (Granted, when I become a tattoo artist I will most likely refuse to do foreign languages on people without signed affadavits absolving me of any responsibility for screwing it up).

    A particular episode of Miami Ink comes to mind, when Ami was asked to tattoo a highly stylized Italian word on the client - which the guy realized AFTER the tattoo was done, had been spelled wrong. Ami asked him repeatedly to just print it out in simple letters, but the guy wouldn't. It's not the tattoo artist's fault if someone's too stupid to get things straight before getting inked.

    OF course he didn't have to reply in such a juvenile manner, but he shouldn't have been the butt of the joke in the first place. So, you're both wrong.

  14. What an insecure butthole! Hilarious! James has a big ego and a big mouth, (what's he gonna do, get on a plane and carry out his lame threats?) but not enough integrity to own up when he permanently marks someone up with nonsense characters. He lists 'some college' on his teenspace profile. Could that be the College of Angry Illiterate Clowns, perhaps?

  15. Lordy lordy!

    I understand that tattoo artists cannot be experts in Chinese culture and languages, plus Japanese, Hindi, and Arabic (those seem to be the common ones), not to mention have a detailed knowledge of cultural, religious and spiritual symbolism from around the world, as well as being a skilled inker.
    And it's impractical for the tattooist to put in lengthy research each time a client makes a request.
    Plus, it's probably unworkable to put a blanket ban on anything that might have a significance unknown to the artist - and it's not going to do anyone's reputation any good to refuse a client who has put their own research into theit tattoo, only to have them go elsewhere, and then have them badmouth your business every time anyone asks about their new tat.

    However, surely if the client must put in research before displaying a design upon their body, a tattooist should put in some research before proudly putting their name to it and using it as an advert. And when someone points out the mistakes, they should be thankful that it was someone who was willing to discuss it in a calm manner, and mention their name only by referring to them as 'very talented' - after all, he may not realise, but there are many people out their on the interent who would just jump in there with abuse! Oh, wait...

  16. I don't see why he got upset. If a tattoo was done in english and the customer wanted it spelled all screwed up and the words out of order I think I would try to correct it or refuse to do something so stupid. I thought even artists had standards.

  17. aw, tian, did you hurt someone's feelings? :D

    (i've been reading your blog for awhile, I LOVE IT! as a habit i don't generally comment a lot on blogs.)

    re: anonymous' comment (4 comments above this one -- covenient that they're anonymous). this post doesn't attack the tattoo artist. it just points out in which ways the characters are incorrect. you even go so far to conclude that after looking at jame(s)' myspace, that he's a very talented person.

    people will believe what they want to read/see.

  18. Or in James' words:

    "me english no tgood either!

  19. This guy's comment brings to mind a bit from Mind of Mencia on hanzi/kanji tattoos. I'm paraphrasing a bit.

    You're getting a tattoo from a guy who can barely speak English! The twenty-six letters of the alphabet escape him; what makes you think he can handle the thousands of symbols of Chinese???

  20. Tian, how dare you personally invent the entire Chinese language for the sole purpose of confounding and embarassing tattoo artists like 'Jame'?

    Talk about shooting the messenger!

  21. that was spectacular. He spelled faggot wrong.

  22. Cut James a break, he's probably been up for weeks on a crystal meth binge. But seriously, that guy is a douchebag.

  23. hahahaha! Watch out Tian Jame is going to come "bust your grill" What is he going to do break your BBQ? Hey Jame learn English first ya dumbass.

  24. actually, if you look carefully, he spells it 'gaphix' on his MySpace page.

    Mencia was SOOOO right. 26 letters kicks his a**, now he's an expert in Chinese....

  25. it hard for that guy to walk around with that giant stick up his ass?
    No one was even blaming him for not understanding the tattoo (that's the client's job) and he still throws a tantrum like a five year old girl. What a credit to his profession.
    At least now people who get tattoos will know to avoid douches with anger management issues.


  26. It's true that tattoo artists should not be responsible for characters that are not native to them.

    That said, if he really cared about reputation, he wouldn't have Chinese flash representing his work. I don't wanna see what the rest of his portfolio looks like.

  27. Given the nature of this blog, I'm honestly suprised that Tian doesn't get more emails like this.

  28. Perhaps it is because people like James Robinson are not educated enough to know how to type and spell words correctly, and most of their incoming emails have been blocked by gmail as spams.

  29. "Jame" should learn to tattoo'ing the contents of a dictionary to himself before tattoo'ing others... that idiot face may be good at what he does, but that email response was quite indeed childish and something that a 5 yr old kid would do. Definately does not do much for his futuristic "business".

  30. It seems that James has studied both grill busting and multiple punctuation. If I see one exclamation point, I think "this guy's just kidding around", three or more and I think "he's really making a point", but a dozen exclamation points and I think: "this guy's serious!".

  31. James (the tattooist) should really think twice before sending threats of criminal violence across the internet; such as saying he'll "bust your grill", i.e., slang for "knock your teeth out", and threatening to break your jaw and fingers, i.e., "see if you can talk or type" after meeting him...this is outrageous.

    It's also a (third-degree) felony, punishable by serious jail time, to commit criminal threatening, as James has done.

    Although, reading James' comments, it seems that he learned to read and write in jail; what an illiterate jackass. His language skills are even worse than those of our embarrassing President Bush.

  32. I think that your original post was clean, and not even a little insulting. While the client is responsible for the work they request, I feel it is very shaky to use that work as a promotional tool without double-checking the accuracy. This James is obviously off his meds and needs a nice lie down. Just don't use stuff like that in your portolio, and you won't get the 'wrong' attention. As a German speaker, it reminds me of the awful liberties Americans take with German when naming their 'authentic' German eateries - improper articles, etc. Gawd, check your facts. Libraries and the internet are wonderful resources - and not just for boobie shots!

  33. this james fellow is a very mature, and respectable individual. I would gladly let him jab me in the flesh with a sharp, moterized needle. because i am a friggin' moron.

  34. Wow...

    Good going "Jame". Way to confirm the already existing steriotype of jerkwad metalheads.

    *sighs* *bangs head against table* Betcha Dimebag knew how to take criticism with some damn class.

  35. wow, I'm glad that he has a fine command of the English language as well...

  36. Oh this is too funny (but rather sad at the same time ...). Some people have no clue and just keep on digging when they get themselves stuck ...
    Thanks for the giggles!