Documenting Tattoo History Before it’s Gone

Tattooing has changed a lot in the 14 years that I have been doing it.  I once quoted, “that you can’t move forward in your future, if you don’t understand or appreciate your past. The Legends are either dead or growing old.  Their legacy continues with ever stroke of a needle, their artwork or the machines they’ve left behind.  Wether you are a new skool or traditional artist, these pioneers set the stage for you to shine.

For those legends that passed.  We appreciate what you left behind.  Every time people see a green faded tattoo, I see living history.  We need to capture these before it’s long gone.  Every time I’m out of the shop, I’m on the look out as well as my fellow artist at the shop.  Here is one instance of finding  living historical art.

This is Ed.  Brendan met him at a local convenience store and invited him to 12 oz Studios to talk about his classic tattoo work.  Ed is one of those old navy guy that everyone equated to the “type” that got tattooed.   He first got tattooed in 1955 in Philadelphia by a man named “Pop Huff”.  Ed was 15 and he used a friend’s ID that apparently looked nothing like him.  Pop Huff put the swallow on his upper shoulder.  Ed was also tattooed by the local legend Sailor Eddie.  He was also lucky enough to be tattooed by Paul Rogers when he was working with Eddie in Camden, New Jersey.  Ed referred to Rogers as “the old guy”.  On Ed’s left shoulder is the classic image of the “gypsy head” and below that a panther head.  Both of these were done in Japan by hand.  They weren’t applied in the traditional Japanese tebori style where a group of needles are attatched to a stick. Ed described the artist using some bamboo and some other object to tap the ink in. “How long would this take nowadays?  Half an hour maybe?  This took 5 hours.  Hurt like hell!” Ed is one of the few people still around that has collected some fantastic permanent pieces of history.  Any time we come across these aging living canvases like our friend Ed, its really in our best interest to take the time to ask their story and show some respect to the original artists who decorated these colorful characters.

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