Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Washington state man creates tattoos for prosthetics

From KING5-TV in Seattle:

BELLEVUE, Wash. - Tim Harrison lost his leg to cancer 10 years ago. Since then he's been outfitted with what he calls his "robo leg," which inevitably draws stares, especially from curious kids.

But rather than be embarrassed by his disability, Harrison embraces it and emblazons his robo leg with a "tattoo."

"A lot of people are a little bit insecure about it because they're afraid to approach you, but if you've got a flame that's an automatic icebreaker," he said.

The idea of tattooing artificial limbs comes from Dan Horkey, (pictured) who is an amputee himself.

"We're painting them like a car finish, like souped up cars," he said.

Horkey's start-up company, "Global Tattoo Orthotic Prosthetic Innovations," creates customized tats and brings a new vitality to otherwise lifeless limbs.

"It's a different feeling. It's bringing color out. It's bringing those feelings out of an individual and letting them express themselves," said Horkey.

Mark Dalton is the artist behind the airbrush. For years he has worked on Harleys and hot rods. This is his first assignment with body parts.

Dalton says he can reproduce anything from digital photos to individualized artwork. He expects a lot of requests from Iraq war veterans.

"And for me to come in and do something they appreciate that much, that they can show off and feel good about something that's been very difficult in their life -- it's going to be a lot of fun," he said.

Nancy Andrist loves her pain-free tattoo. Her son, a tattoo aficionado himself, designed one for her.

She hopes that many more will follow in her footsteps - replacing the pain of the past with a picture of promise.

"I get up in the morning and go to put my leg on and I think about my son and it makes me smile. The pride I feel in just who I am is represented in this leg," she said.
The tattoos start at about $550. Dan Horkey says he is working with the VA to have them cover at least some of the costs.