Getting a tattoo is a lifelong dedication to a single piece of art.
You turn yourself into a relatively permanent canvas showing off the collaboration between your ideas ad a tattoo artist's skills. It takes a lot of determination to cover yourself with tattoos, let alone cover yourself with tattoos of a city you've never even been to.
That's exactly what one North Carolinian did.
Before Gavin Steffen even stepped foot in one of the five boroughs of New York City, he fell so deeply in love with it that he made it his lifelong goal to move to New York.
Gavin's love for NYC spans far beyond the tangible, and enters into the realm that only the small and silver screens can emulate: movies.
After watching 80's comedy movies, Gavin fell in love with the sights and sounds of New York.
Most people would simply save some money, pack up their bags, and hop on a bus to the city.
But not Gavin. Instead, he decided to get images of iconic NYC scenes permanently tattooed onto his body.
"I got this one three years before I moved up here," he told us as he showed us the chest piece depicting scenes directly from the streets of the Big Apple.
Now, with an unquenchable desire to experience life in the big city in the flesh, rather than merely portrayed on it, Gavin saved every penny to save up enough to make his dream a reality.
It took 2-3 years to save every dime and nickel to finally make his dream a reality. His family was completely supportive of his move, though many thought he was insane to trade a beautiful, spacious home for a shoebox NYC apartment.
Even with his grandfather offered to give the money so he could get up here faster, Gavin was determined to achieve his goal of moving to NYC on his own.
Looking back, he doesn't regret turning down his grandfather's financial assistance.
"I'm glad now that I did it by myself."
So what would an NYC movie buff do once they finally reach the Big Apple?
"I went to all of the Ghostbusters locations; the fire station, Columbia University, of course, the Seinfeld location I went to, Lincoln center. Every scene that was there in the movie I found out the location, did a little research, and went to it."
gavin_steffen Jerry&George☕️Jason&Gavin #seinfeld #seinfeldtattoo #jerryseinfeld #jasonalexander #julialouisdreyfus #michaelrichards #georgecostanza #cosmokramer #elainebenes #tomsrestaurant #monkscafe #hulu #diner #nyc #tattoos #tattoo #comediansincarsgettingcoffee #larrydavid #curbyourenthusiasm #newyork #bigapple
Gavin's combined love for Seinfeld and NYC led him to make his most remarkable tattoo collection to date: a full sleeve with lifelike portraits of Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Michael Richards, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus... but he was far from finished.
After attending Larry David's Broadway show, Fish in the Dark, Gavin was able to meet one of his idols, and get an autograph to complete Larry David's tattooed portrait.
"[Larry] was on [the other] side and people were screaming for him to sign, and I'm like screw it, all I had on was a wife beater, I threw my coat down, it was 14˚. It was February 2nd, 2014, and I was freezing my but off, I brought my own sharpie and I'm screaming, 'Hey Larry Mr. David, I have a tattoo of you!' and he finally heard."
gavin_steffen My Seinfeld sleeve done by @stefanoalcantara #seinfeld #seinfeldsubway #seinfeldtattoo #cosmokramer #curbyourenthusiasm #comediansincarsgettingcoffee #larrydavid #larrydavidtattoo #jerryseinfeld #jasonalexander #julialouisdreyfus #michaelrichards #elainebenes #georgecostanza #tomsrestaurant #1seinfeldfan #seinfeldsleeve #tattoo #tattoos
"A lot of people thought I was doing it just to get him to come over, and people were like 'oh no he does.' And the coolest part about it is that after he signed it, I was starstruck he signed one more lady's playbill next to me, got in the Lincoln or SUV and the driver took off."
He continues, smiling, "I'm standing there freezing my butt off thinking 'Oh my god, I just met Larry David... Dammit, Larry kept my damn sharpie.'"
"I was gonna frame it, and I was thinking, that son of a bitch kept my sharpie."
Instead of thinking his portraits were complete, Gavin called up his tattoo artist, Stefano Alcantara, in a frenzy to tattoo Larry David's signature onto the portrait itself.
gavin_steffen I met Larry David. He literally signed my arm with a sharpie and @stefanoalcantara tattooed his autograph, right off of my arm. Larry David kept my damn sharpie 😂😂😂 I ❤️ LD 👴 #larrydavid #curbyourenthusiasm #larrydavidautograph# #fishinthedark #corttheater #broadway #sharpie #seinfeld #seinfeldtattoo #seinfeldsleeve #jerryseinfeld #georgecostanza #cosmokramer #elainebenes #larrydavidtattoo
Stefano was only in town for 24 hours, but he made time for Gavin to complete the autograph.
"Four months later, I decided to go back to see [Larry David] again, but i kind of new the ins and outs. He saw it after the tattoo was there. He remembered, he couldn't believe it. he thought that was so cool."
gavin_steffen Jason Alexander!!! aka George Costanza!!! Jason signed my arm with a sharpie and @stefanoalcantara tattooed his autograph. #seinfeld #seinfeldonhulu #seinfeldtattoo #hulu #seinfeldapartment #jerryseinfeld #jasonalexander #julialouisdreyfus #michaelrichards #georgecostanza #cosmokramer #elainebenes #fishinthedark #larrydavid #curbyourenthusiasm #comediansincarsgettingcoffee #comedian #comedy
After Larry David, Gavin moved onto the cast of Seinfeld, keeping an ear out as to when the Seinfeld alum would be in NYC. He even kept a sharpie at the ready while walking the streets of NYC. Next on the docket was Jason Alexander.
"I'm standing there freezing my butt off thinking 'Oh my god, I just met Larry David... Dammit, Larry kept my damn sharpie.'"
"The coolest thing he said to me after he signed it is he says, 'You know. Larry David had a conversation about you with me....'"
Gavin joked that "Larry must have told Jason that there was some creepy guy who wants to get his arm signed, just sign it, don't look him in the eye, and then get in the SUV."
Apart from Larry and Jason, Gavin still needs autographs from Jerry, Julia, and Michael, though he has been unsuccessful in his efforts to meet them in the flesh (no pun intended).
However, Gavin has received the seal of approval from Seinfeld himself, as Gavin's tattoos are one of only three photos Jerry Seinfeld has favorited on his personal twitter.
gavin_steffen #seinfeld #elainebenes #tattoo #curbyourenthusiasm #veep#hbo
Since each portrait took "about 4-5 hours" to complete in multiple sessions, we think Gavin has earned the right to meet his NYC idols, and hopefully acquire their signature to complete his sleeve.
But Gavin isn't done... he's already started his next project:
gavin_steffen The start of my classic comedy leg sleeve. 1st portrait is Michael J Fox from the movie The Secret Of My Success 7 more portraits left done by @stefanoalcantara #michaeljfox #michaeljfoxfoundation #thesecretofmysuccess #forloveormoney #spincity #back2thefuture #backtothefutureday #backtothefuture #legsleeve #legtattoo #tattoo #ink #inklife #tattoos #classiccomedy #comedy #comedymovie #80smovies #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #curbyourenthusiasm #bigapple #bigappled #concretejungle #greedy #thehardway #brantleyfoster #carltonwhitfield
It uses the remainder of his real estate (aka, his legs) for his favorite 80's comedy New York-based movies: For Love and Money, Weekend at Bernies, Ghostbusters, and The Secret of My Success.
"I have seven portraits to go."[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]