Inked: Braydon Szafranski
There's not enough room on the world wide web to catalog professional skateboarder Braydon Szafranski's numerous tattoos. He's hung out with rockers like Mick Jagger and Ozzy Osbourne, as well as skate legends like Andrew Reynolds and Kenny Anderson. He has friendship tattoos with his dad and his bros. The only two women drilled into his skin are his mother and his dream girl, the character Kelly Bundy from the TV show "Married With Children." With his epic adventures, huge smile, and enthusiasm for life, Szafranski has plenty of good times to commemorate in ink.
It's not surprising that most of his tattoos are skate related. On his neck it reads "100% Skateboarder" and with complete sincerity he reflected, "I did that one because I love skateboarding. It's my life. It's my passion. It's my everything."
The lanky skateboarder always knew he'd get tattoos, but out of respect for his mom, he heeded her warnings, "My mom always said she would kill me if I got a tattoo and she'd get laser removal if I got one before I was 18. My dad kept saying that was bull, so on my eighteenth birthday he took me in Newport Beach, Calif.," where the young ripper got his first tattoo -- a silhouette of himself shot by skate photographer Atiba Jefferson. Laughing he asked, "Who else was I going to put on me?"
Tattoos can be addicting and Szafranski immediately wanted another, ending up in the chair to get inked by an artist who tattooed the local Las Vegas chapter of the Hell's Angels.
Unfortunately, it's not always good times that get remembered through ink, Szafranski explained. "Then there was 'Destined for Destruction.' That was when I tore my ACL when I was eighteen, four months after I got on Baker. I thought my life was finally coming together and then something stupid like that happened."
His hands are littered with tattoos, including a Piss Drunks 'PD,' which he shared is no small feat, "You can't just be on Baker and have a PD tattoo. You've got to actually be part of the family. I was probably with the crew for like five years before I got it."
In addition to the PD, Szafranski has OZZY etched across his knuckles, which is a touching family reference, as much as it is about his love of heavy music. Smiling he explained, "I got that because when I was born, my dad got Black Sabbath 'Volume 4' to take me home from the hospital because he wanted it to be the first music I ever heard. So I've always been a huge fan, since the day I was born."
Moving to his other arm, he showed off the logo of his board sponsor, Baker and underneath it, the first ever tattoo of artwork by his friend Neckface. Szafranski explained, "He drew this picture and I asked him if he could draw it on my arm and I went and got a tattoo."
Another friend who's artwork made it onto his arm is Baker Skateboards teammate Kevin "Spanky" Long. Twisting his arm around, Szafranski smiled as he recalled being challenged to land a hard trick in exchange for a piece of art. "He said, 'I'll make a painting of anything in the world that you want.' I said, 'Alright I want a snake's body with a laughing hyena's head.'" Pointing at the tattoo, he continued, "So he remembered it and drew it on a napkin real fast and I was like, 'Never mind, don't even have to do the painting. That's perfect.' So I went and got it tattooed."
A tattoo shared within his tight knit click is "To all my friends." Szafranski's is a butchered mix of light, choppy and chunky letters. He explained, "This is my favorite tattoo because it's done by my friends, for my friends. Eric Hamamoto, Jeremy, Ragdoll, Lee, I think maybe Richie Belton got in there, and everyone did different letters."
Szafranski rolled his arm around and showed off another friendship tattoo of a small rat on the inside of his wrist, which his little brother Tyler and fellow skateboarder Bryan Herman also share. He said, "Since we're all from the desert, we always used to say, 'Alright we're desert rats', because that's what other people called us."
Although the rat's a funny inside joke, the tattoo that Szafranski shocked his friends and family with is the bat on his face. He got it in Australia and although many have attributed it to his friendship with Neckface, there's a much more homespun explanation. "The bat represents Las Vegas to me, because when we were kids it was our bird. I always wanted a face tattoo, ever since I was a kid. When I got the bat on my face, my mom was like, 'This is really weird. Check this out,' and there are three different photos of when I was a kid and I would draw bats on my face or when I'd go to the carnival I'd ask them to draw bats on my face."
As a little kid growing up in the desert he loved bats, because of how they looked. Getting older, he came up with another reason, explaining, "I thought they were cool because they hunted and stayed up all night and then chilled during the day. Skating in Vegas it would be so hot that you'd skate all night and then during the day you'd sleep. So we were bats."
Szafranski cracked up as he shared some recent confusion about the bat, "The funny part is they both think that the bat tattoo on my face is because of Ozzy, but it has nothing to do with him. So I had dinner one night with him and his family and they put me in between him and his wife and Ozzy was holding my hand and rubbing it and Sharon [Osbourne] was like, 'You're so cute', just rubbing my bat on my face. I was sitting there like, 'This is really awesome, but really weird.' Kelly [Osbourne] was sitting across from me laughing because she could see the awkwardness on my face."
Rolling up his pant leg, he showed off Long's first ever stick and poke tattoo, which reads "BROS" and a very faint portrait of skateboarder Ali Boulala, whom Szafranski reveres, saying, ""I still haven't finished it. I got that one right after the accident, when he was going to jail. It was just my tribute to him for being one of the coolest dudes in the world. So he deserved to be on my leg, on my kickflip leg, so he could help my flick."
Interesting stuff was bound to happen to this unique character, but add on a conversation starter like a face tattoo, hanging with Ozzy and more recently fielding calls from Lil' Wayne, Szafranski is a walking skate gallery. Even in the midst of all the attention the tattoos garner, he loves how they act as a reminder. "Every tattoo has a cool story of what time in my life I was doing something and what it means to me." True to himself, Szafranski happily explained, "I don't care if people say they're ugly or whatever, to me they're perfect because they're exactly what I shared with my friends."