East Boston Pier Is Getting Public Art ‘Tattoos’

The Dock Tattoo Project is a 1,000-foot string of tattoo-like designs on the floor of the main pier at HarborArts.


Photos/Mock via DockTattoo.com

Some very unique art has been taking shape on the cement ground of the main pier at HarborArts. Frequent visitors may have noticed lately the addition of large tattoo-like art popping up in the space.

Consider the pier a limb, and you could call the Dock Tattoo Project a 1,000-foot multicultural sleeve.

The various patterns of the dock tattoo, titled “Connected by Sea,” will be painted on the pier by local artist Liz LaManche and her team, who hope to complete the project in time for the HarborArts Festival on September 20. The concept of the project is based on Boston’s history in the global shipping trade.

“I can almost see the ships coming and going to places all over the world. This way, England, Europe. That way, the Pacific, China,” LaManche explains on the project website.


From left, the tattoos for Maori, Japan, and Ireland. / Images via DockTattoo.com

Each of the designs planned to line the pier will correlate to different places around the world. For example, a tattoo representing Japan has curly waves, a fan, and a crane. At the end of the pier, you’ll find tattoos for Maori, which look like ta moko tattoos, and Ireland, with Celtic knots of course. The tattoos will echo the cultures of Native Americans, Haiti, the Caribbean, India, West Africa, and more.

LaManche and her crew are “inking” the dock with dyes and stains that will gradually wear and fade, but won’t chip and off and pollute the ocean like thick paint.

“Part of the mission of the HarborArts space, and its founder Steve Israel, is to promote awareness of marine ecology,” she points out on the website.

Eventually, the space will have more than a dozen dock tattoos, which visitors can observe and enjoy along with the view. You can monitor the progress of the project on the website DockTattoo.com, where LaManche and team have been posting updates as more tattoos are completed, and where you can also read more about each tattoo motif.