Tattoo You

Tattoo artists and motorcycles collide at Deep Ellum festival contest

Tattoo artists and motorcycles collide at Deep Ellum festival contest

Anthony Bohlinger, Ashley Marsh, Harley Davidson
Anthony Bohlinger and Ashley Marsh mount a contest-winning Harley. Photo by Sailor Jerry

Deep Ellum was the setting for a big reveal in a national design competition that combined two timeless categories: motorcycles and tattoos.

At the Elm Street Tattoo & Music Festival, which took place on May 19 at Trees, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and Harley-Davidson unveiled six new 2018 Softail motorcycles. The motorcycles were custom-designed with artwork that had the beautiful aesthetics and colors of a tattoo.

This was all part of a competition to honor Harley Davidson and Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins, an avid motorcycle rider, Navy vet, and father of American old-school tattooing.

Six winners were chosen from a national pool of entries. The celebrity panel of judges included tattoo artist Megan Massacre; Oliver Peck, star of Paramount Network TV show Ink Master; and Ashley Marsh, of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum.

The winning designs were painted on the motorcycles, then ridden into the heart of the festival with much fanfare and engine revving, to be displayed in the parking lot of Trees. Festival attendees entered a chance to win the bikes by signing up online at

Riders included Peck, founder of the Elm Street Tattoo & Music Festival, who led the charge; Anthony Bohlinger of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum; contest winner and tattoo artist Luke Wessman; Ben Nichols singer of the rock band Lucero; Leslie Porterfield, Guinness Book of World Records' Fastest Woman in The World on a Conventional Motorcycle, set at the Bonneville Salt Flats; and motorcycle journalist Raine Devries.

Harley-Davidson's Softail has been around since the '70s, but the 2018 model year features a new frame that Harley describes as lighter and stiffer, with the look of a hardtail from a bygone era. Understanding this would require that you know both what a softail is and what a hardtail is. A story perhaps for another day.