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The Fork Bomb Tattoo

I thought about these two problems my entire life.

Graphical arts have a significant role in everything I do. I always expressed my feelings thorough graphical drawings. First on paper, so notebooks, then walls and others surfaces like the computer screen. But the possibility of transform my body, my own skin in a art canvas always fascinated me. This was a natural step.

But the tattoo is an art that raises a tricky philosophical question, it’s something that you can not undo it. Once you did it, it’s done. You can change or add the meaning with others tattoos but you can not remove meaning of a draw in a negative way by erasing it like other forms of arts. Of course there’s some kinds of treatments with different approaches and variant results but I see no point on think about tattoos looking on how remove them. It seems obvious that doesn’t matter how cool and incredible something could appear or how sure I am about it, I could always change my mind and repent. This puzzle was around my mind for a long time until finally I saw way out.

The key is that the life you live itself is also a tattoo. You say words that cannot be unsaid. You see things that you can not unseen.You feel such strong emotions that you can not heal your scars. Every moment it’s also a tattoo in the thin skin of the time and there’s nothing you can do about that because the time flows only in one direction. Of course you don’t paint all your life with ink in your own skin but at least, you can choose some parts of it to express as a beautiful tattoo.

The second problem is witch draw do. There are hundred of drawings that I love and besides I also enjoy old school tattoo drawings, I choose a piece of programming code. More specifically the Jaromil most elegant forkbomb code ever written:


This small piece of code fork itself twice in parallel creating more processes that will be forked again and again until stop the entire system. You can read a more detailed explanation on its operation, history and variations on Wikipedia’s Fork bomb article.

It has several meanings to me, from the aesthetics from the computer science field to the shape and possibilities the draw allow. The exponential grow of the number of forked process it’s also another beautiful aspect of this code. From the viewer perspective, even a casual one, it has a beautiful as a puzzle to be decipher or a totem pole of different emoticons.

Blood and ink.

I tried for months several different fonts and styles to use on it, from mono space to stylized draws. In the end I choose the Bitstream Vera Sans by Jim Lyles. A free (as in freedom) font very common on GNU/Linux systems. I also did small change in the draw by reducing almost entirely the spacing between the braces. This made it look better when looking it by side creating a stronger emoticon illusion.

Blood stain

Blood stain in the paper towel after dry the finished tattoo.

The process almost doesn’t involve pain and hurt, in contrast with what I thought. It’s like a little cat scratch in your arm for almost 2 hours of painting. I did in the Freedom of Tattoo studio, from the well-known here tattoo artist Dereka, with Thiago, a very skilled artist.

My thanks to the studio, to Dereka, to Thiago and to my friend Silvio who took the pictures and accompanied me. There’s a photo album with all tattoo photos. I’m very happy with the final work.

Published inenglish


  1. Patola Patola

    Portuguese: *INVEJA* de você ter tido a idéia primeiro.
    English: I’m *ENVIOUS* because you have that idea first.

    Congratulations for the tatto, it’s great. / Parabéns pela tatuagem, é linda.

  2. Obrigado pelo habilidoso! Foi um prazer tatuá-lo. Muito bom saber que está feliz com o trabalho que fiz em sua pele. Abraços

  3. Quem disse que eu não conheço LISP? >:(

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