Native son wears his heart on his sleeve | Wake County Finder | Indy Week

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Native son wears his heart on his sleeve

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When Jordan Flake decided that he wanted a tattoo inked across his broad upper arm, it didn't take him long to settle on the image. There would be no fire-breathing dragons for the Raleigh native, no pinup girl or crazy florid scene. It is, however, just a little bit nuts.

A cluster of acorns and the elegant script of "Oak City" anchors the artfully interpreted Raleigh skyline that Flake displays on his left arm, the one closest to his heart. It became a permanent feature in 2003, the year he turned 21.

"I was living in Wilmington when I got it," says Flake, who bartends at Firebirds at North Hills. "I just wanted to be able to take a little of home wherever I went."

Flake is a self-taught artist who is illustrating label designs for a new Smithfield-based brewery, Double Barley, which is expected to open this summer. Because of his own artistic bent, it was important to Flake that a Raleigh tattoo artist with vision and a solid reputation take responsibility for his ink. He chose Mark VanNess—formerly of Blue Flame and now with Oak City—and was immediately pleased with the result.

Flake never imagined the city skyline would change so dramatically in the subsequent decade. "There are a lot of buildings not on there, but it's fine," he says, adding that he ignores friends who suggest he get it updated. "I kind of like it old school."

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