See the tattoos inspired by the GWOT
October 1, 2021
A handful of Veteran artists banded together to give a proper pedestal to the tattoos wrought from their experiences during the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The group’s service-inspired artwork is compiled in a new book called For the Record: Tattoos of the GWOT Vol. 1.

For the Record: Tattoos of the GWOT Vol. 1 book cover. (Photo courtesy of For the Record publishing)

Making this book even more awesome than it already is, the group plans to donate 10 percent of each sale to the notable Veteran charity PB Abbate.
This book is the first volume of its kind and will be limited to just 500 copies. Even though this print is particularly limited, there are plans for additional volumes in the future.

Pop Smoke Media spoke with one of the contributing artists, Eddie Saldaña, who explained the purpose of the book and the artwork therein. You might remember Saldaña as the artists behind the logos for the Smoke Pit Podcast.

Tattoos as a “positive reflection on peculiar times”

It is an understatement to say that the GWOT’s impact is widespread. There have been good, bad, and absurd outcomes of this conflict throughout the world.

In order to pay homage to the fervor and uncertainty that characterizes the personal experiences of this war, this group of Veterans decided it would be best to encapsulate those characteristics in a book.

Saldaña informed Pop Smoke Media that two former 2/8 Marines, Ryan Geiser and Augustus Kirby, reached out to him and the other artists earlier this year to begin compiling artwork. He said, “They decided the best way to do this would be through the bespoke and personal nature of tattoo art.”

Not only do these tattoos exhibit a personal interpretation of military life for the person being tattooed, they also reflect the individual experiences of each artist.

Eddie Saldaña's tattoos/artwork

Preview of Eddie Saldaña’s (@decoyindustries) artwork in For the Record: Tattoos of the GWOT Vol. 1. (Artwork courtesy of Eddie Saldaña)

Indeed, as Saldaña clarified, “The principal aim is to celebrate our experience by presenting the contemporary evolution of the military tradition of the tattoo; an allegory to the commitment of becoming a Marine, Soldier, Airman, or Sailor. The skulls, snakes, eagles, and pin-ups have enjoyed a long tenure underneath the skin of our ranks that continues undeterred. Hopefully this book – like a tattoo – will serve as a positive reflection of a most peculiar time in each of our lives.”

Earlier military-inspired tattoos are recognizable for their pronounced lines and traditional styling. In this book though, the goal is to show how that inspiration has shifted over time.
attooed sailor aboard the USS New Jersey

An American sailor gets tattooed aboard the USS New Jersey, December 1944. (U.S. Navy Photo by Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, 1904-1975)

Slight differences

Commenting on the differences from one contributing artist to the next, Saldaña said, “Most of the disconnects, if any, come from the times we joined, which uniform we decided to wear, and what theater we served.”

This is to be expected, as all art hinges on the experiences of its creator.

Each of the contributing artists is given a chance to highlight their own memories, as well as the understanding that stems from those. “Hopefully all of these different perspectives can create a bigger picture of what this conflict meant to us and everyone else who took an oath.” said Saldaña.

Young American soldier gets a tattoo in Brisbane, Queensland, 1943. (Photo courtesy of State Library of Queensland)

As an example, Saldaña offered a personal interpretation of his own artistic aspirations.

He reflected that “For my part in the project, I wanted to pay homage to the classic motifs within the island-style tattoos that became popular before World War II. The playfulness that contrasts the rigidity of military life creates a tension that I thought best captured the chaos and absurdity of the GWOT.”

Collage of Eddie Saldaña tattoos/artwork previews

Collage of two previews of Eddie Saldaña’s (@decoyindustries) artwork in For the Record: Tattoos of the GWOT Vol. 1. (Artwork courtesy of Eddie Saldaña)

The Artists

The contributing artists (along with their Instagram handles) are: Ben Cantwell (@bencantwell_art), Coy Hair (@wet_bucket), Bradley Hoffman (@veterans_art_collective), Reaper Ink Design (, Far Metal Dark Arts (@dead_king_farmetal), Olive Drab Project (@olivedrab_project), and of course, Eddie Saldaña (@decoyindustries).

Each contributor is a Veteran of the GWOT who, in Saldaña’s words, “possesses a more creative bent.”

Donations with each sale

10 percent of every purchased copy of this book will be donated to PB Abbate.

PB Abbate is a non-profit aimed at offering a safe haven for Veterans to gather themselves when they need to, and is named in honor of Sergeant Matthew Abbate. Saldaña describes PB Abbate as, “a non-profit organization that is committed to helping veterans gain a rejuvenated sense of belonging and purpose in their post-service lives.”

The main PB Abbate post is in Big Sky Country, Montana, with many others located across the U.S. There are also posts in Australia, Hawaii, and Japan.

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