Eagles, Two Maidens and a Tiger

This article is by Chuck Eldridge at the Tattoo Archives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Reprinted here by his kind permission. Mr. Eldridge is a tattooist, and an acknowledged historian on the subject of tattoo history. If there is anything you want to know about the Tattoo World, Mr. Eldridge is your man.

George Burchett George Burchett was probably the most famous tattooist of his era, which spanned from 1890 through 1953. Tattooing in London through two World Wars, Burchett catered to both the rich London society and the poor alike.

Born George Burchett Davis in 1872 in Brighton England, George did his first “scratching” (as he described it) on his schoolmates. One of his first customers was his younger brother Charles, who at the age of four or five was wiling to pay the large fee of a stick of liquorices for the pleasure of being scratched by George.

George Burchett joined the Royal Navy at the age of thirteen and found that his ability to “scratch” was welcome. Navy discipline proved too much for the young George, so he jumped ship in Tel Aviv and did not return to Great Britain for twelve years. In order to avoid the authorities George Burchett Davis dropped his last name and became George Burchett. During this part of his life, he worked as a tram conductor and a cobbler, but continued tattooing part time. In 1900 he became a full time tattooist. During the next half century and until his death in 1953, George Burchett created one of the largest tattoo practices in the world.

Charles Davis

Charles Davis followed in his older brother's footsteps into the tattoo world, but never received the acclaim that George did. The brothers worked together and operated shops separately for many years. George and Charles were just a few years apart in their ages. It's difficult to tell them apart in photographs today, with both of them dressed in white shirts, vests and ties, and sporting well-trimmed mustaches and matching shoes! They both even liked to work in white medical smocks. Their tattooing styles were so similar that it is difficult to tell their tattoo designs apart. In later years Charles stepped away from tattooing, and in the 1950s George wrote that Charles was active in the insurance business.




Pigtals no more when tattoos was tattoos: by Bob Crutch Crutchfield

Happy New Year , here are some pics from former crew members off my favorite Diesel Sub , these fellas sailed on her late 50s early 60s ,me late 60s early 70s....You can see Tats here in actual service at sea aboard,before Tats were considered K@@L haha, crewman with Swallows on chest another young crewman with name of boat/sub on his arm....and check out the Mohawk haircuts, the V8 one unique can`t do this stuff in modern Navy haha....even when I was in the Diesel Sub Force "Pigboat Navy " as they called us,45 yrs ago now, uniforms were lax at sea , some wore short pants,sandals and many of us sported beards...we were known as "Sewer Pipe" Sailors because we could take no baths aboard ,and we always smelled abit and alot like diesel (on leave once dancing slow with a gal she ask me what is that smell=it was the diesel you could not wash it out of your skin,it had to wear off ,..might add =she dealt with it haha).   I did one 40+ day patrol N.Atlantic no did that hot water feel good in Boston Navy Yard base when we finally got into Port......  the pictures of boat diving taken thru periscope is mine taken on that N Atlantic patrol, swim call off Jamaica (my crewtimes) down in Caribbean, last pic myself and some of my shipmates on dock by the Boat  ,and the newsclipping around 73 , the Amberjack was last of diesel boats to go down and our squadron SUBRON 12 was decommed = shutdown forever....  crutch

Sailor, Collector, Writer.

Bob Crutch Crutchfield

Yes Yes, And Furthermore...

Here's something we know. This sheet was done by Dusty Rhodes aka Professor Manley. 

It's signed. 

The dude's full name was Manley Raymond "Dusty" Rhodes (1890-1962.)  Our professional research team at LTP confirms: The hand that wrought this had nothing at all to do with the big framed panel that hung in his studio. 

Compare the knives and faces. 

But as a wise collector once said: Let's just sit back and dig these tattoo masters. They are the true and real artists of the last Century.


Dusty Rhodes

The old tea china gently rattled as he walked down hand hewn wood stairs, fire cold dead now but for smoky remains. As he latched the door and walked the cobbled streets to work early morning sunlight streamed over mermaid shaped clouds. Shades of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Prof. Manley slowly became Dusty the Tattooist. Consumed with his near to waking dreams from the night before of Indian chiefs and red mesas, the most un-Brit women clad scantily whirling around with exotic snakes, fans and feathers, the ground littered with heads of evil marauders impaled with a Scotsman's Sgian Dubh knife. The fantasies ran another beautiful day in Grimsby, which, once fueled by fishing and maritime, was now headed into steep decline.

The town was not yet fully awake as Dusty lit his first cigarette outside the neat as a pin shop.  A retired sea captain allowed a greeting as he stumped by. Neptune, God & Country and the Girl at port-side home were all a-waiting to be memorialized in tattoos.  Children peering in the tattooists window were scooted down the road by overburdened mums. 

Manley "Dusty Rhodes" (1860-1962) was listed as a tattooist in Chatham, England 1911 although he spent most of his career in Grimsby. The designs above found in Dusty's shop, are most certainly by Joseph Hartley who sold flash samples and materials from his famous Bristol tattoo shop. This anonymous sheet below was found on the back of the Ladies Cheeks Tinted sign seen in window.

Tales of the Sea by Crutch

This is the first in a series of recollections and stories by a gentleman named Crutch. He was kind enough to sell us an illustrated man.

It looks like it might have been used in the window of a tattoo shop in the 1920's. It's a circus carving though.

"I am an older fellow. I bought it from a Circus fellow who had it from another circus fellow who had passed away. It's a powerful figure...I use to collect real tribal oceanic items and the real ones just had that same sort of aura about them."

He told us old stories about diving and living in the South Pacific and Malaysia for years. Knew all about the hand poke tattoo method from the old days.Told us about "drown-proofing" tattoos of a pig and rooster as they are the only animals that can't swim. On sailors feet they bring reverse good luck like the theater greeting of  "Break a leg."

"....there was an old merchant marine engineer i knew as a kid around the docks here he was too old then to sail deepsea ,but he was handy and the dock owner kept him around, he always still wore khaki shirt and trousers like his seagoing officer days but saturated with so much oil on them you could hardly tell the color..his wife an elderly immaculatey clean lady would in the evenings walk down to dock with her spotless little miniature white poodle ..she was opposite ends of the poles in that respect...i use to always wonder about that match....well he was known alot to talk too HIMSELF    ...the dock owner one day caught him doing this as he was working on some piece of equip. and he said "Hey, why do you talk to yourself"  ,  he looked up and replied " Mr. T, sometimes I just have to have an intelligent conversation " then he went back to his conversation and what he was working on...    on those cellphones...i grew up in the days ,when we had, where i lived,= no tv ,no ac, and my house no hot water inside grandmother would heat water in winter on her woodburning stove and put water in a big zinc washtub to bathe in...1st real running hotwater i got was the usn ...i though that pretty darn see how she goes= i am rambling off on another tangent ...i stop for now....."

Here's some of Crutch's other wonderful items we admired.

"i like old sailor carved coconuts and scrimmed seashells ,the 1 small nuts were part of the sailing ship Peruvians cargo that went aground 1880s in a storm off England beach...the nuts were to make buttons from, well to try and lighten ship to refloat they tossed this cargo overside and a local artist gathered and did ship silhoettes of the event...the coco is dated 1878 i think it is cant remember ether 1876 or 8."



Sailor Jerry Master Draughtsman

These old tattoo guys were good. Try this at home. Copy freehand (no cheating by tracing) a Sailor Jerry dragon. Or anything else by one of the great masters like him. Not so easy.

Now, try to get it down on somebody's back at midnight in tight quarters with a large group of servicemen watching on a Saturday night in Honolulu's Chinatown. Rubber gloves on, buzzing tattoo machine, trying to get the right ink balance, light touch but the right touch. Ouch, the victim sez.   

Just trying to copy the original drawing's enough for me. And doing a mediocre job at that, thank you very much.  Really doesn't look that bad. That is, until you look at the original.

Sailor Jerry, soft pencil on tracing paper, 11 by 14 inches, date unknown.  From the esteemed Sailor Jerry Swallow collection by way of Mike Malone from the original China Seas, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Here There Be Dragons.

Like an inscription written in the turbulent sea-ed corner of an antique map of the old world these dragons speak of horrors in unchartered seas. Rolling in and out of waves. Think of these guys and you'll be sure to crush your collarbone body surfing the Wedge in Newport. Not to be trifled with matey, watch for these two coming up through a swell.

Born Yoshihito Nakano, Horiyoshi III (b. 1946) received his current title from the late tebori master Yoshitsugu Muramatsu, also known as Shodai Horiyoshi of Yokohama. Beginning at age sixteen, Horiyoshi III served as Shodai Horiyoshi’s apprentice for ten years. By age twenty-eight Horiyoshi III’s bodysuit was complete, hand-tattooed by Shodai Horiyoshi.

Though ukiyo-e officially ended in 1868, Horiyoshi III carries on the spirit of Edo’s “pictures of the floating world” in his work, all the while incorporating his own style and a contemporary perspective. This sensitivity to tradition extends beyond his tebori. In recent years, Horiyoshi has concentrated on traditional kakejiku (scroll paintings). Rendering Japanese folktales, calligraphy and religious subjects in sumi (black ink) and traditional mineral pigments, Horiyoshi III interweaves past, present and future.  

In addition to painting and drawing, Horiyoshi III tattoos full time, publishes books of his drawings and is the founder of Japan’s only tattoo museum with his wife, Mayumi, in Yokohama. With over forty years of experience, Horiyoshi III is the foremost authority on traditional Japanese tattooing.

Swinging on a Star

Irene Woodward, born 1862, signed and incsribed  "Age 20..."  on this carte de viste. Probably for sale to adoring fans at the circus. That’s if we can believe she was 20 when she signed the the back of the card.  My other job is working in a liquor store so I’ve gotten pretty good at guessing people’s ages.  All women lie about their age, usually shaving off a few years but still, I would not card her. This young lady, as radiant as she is, probably is not under 21.

But she could have been tattooed around 1880, considering she was born in 1862. Eighteen might have been the legal age (if there was one) for this kind of enterprise. 

She almost went down in history as the first tattooed lady in the circus game, short by only a few weeks.

The inking was most certainly done by Samuel F. O’Reilly. Although she claimed abduction by tribesmen in the South Seas, Mr. O'Reilly's signature swirls and embellishments can be seen adorning her legs. We love the hand tinted pink carnation on her shoulder. Nice touch Mr. 1880's Photographer guy!

Looks like somebody from " An Artist Formally Known as Prince" music video traveled back in time and got Shanghaied by a tattoo artist. Which just might have been the best thing that happened to Ms Woodward, because let’s be frank, the 1890’s must have been dreadful.

Cover page from an O'Reilly sketchbook. Note the swirls and action line dash's, all signatures of his splendid work.


We salute you, La Belle Irene!

And a tip of the cap to the master tattooist Samuel F. O'Reilly.

Thanks to


"Irene Woodward, also known as La Belle Irene, was a tattooed lady who performed during the 1880s. She made her New York debut just weeks after Nora Hildebrandt to great fanfare, including a report in the New York Times. She worked at Bunnell's museum and successfully toured Europe. Onstage, she claimed to have been tattooed by her father, and, in a break from the usual tales of forcible tattooing, claimed she actually wanted the work done. Woodward was actually tattooed by Samuel O'Reilly and his then-apprentice Charles Wagner. At times, she claimed to have been inspired by having seen Constantine. In 1883, she married a showbiz man named George E Sterling with whom she had a son, also named George, and spent 15 years in the circus.

She died in December of 1915 at the age of 53 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania."

Dainty Dotty and Owen Jensen

Owen Jensen and Dainty Dotty: Owen Jensen was born in 1891 in Pleasant Grove, Utah. As a young man he worked in the railroad shop in Ogden, Utah. Jensen has said that in 1911 he walked 12 miles to Provo to see the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show and that was where he saw his first tattooed man. Owen Jensen got his first tattoo in 1913 from Bob Hodge on the Lucky Bill Show. Because he had skills as a machinist, Jensen was offered a part time job working in a machine shop making tattooing machines. He was interested in how the tattoo machines worked, and soon he became a tattooist. Jensen enlisted in World War 1 serving overseas. Jensen tattooed while in the service, but he learned how to draw flash later. When he returned to Pleasant Grove, Jensen built himself a trunk tattoo outfit and hit the road. In the following years, Jensen tattooed at several shows and in cities in Colorado and Wyoming. In 1923 Jensen headed for Los Angeles and when he first arrived the fleet was out so he took a foundry job. Owen Jensen married Dainty Dotty, a famous circus fat lady. It is said he also tattooed her. Weighing in at 600 pounds, Dotty was not considered the largest woman on record, but she was perhaps the largest female tattooist. Dotty died from a heart ailment in December 1952.

On July 5, 1976, some young punks attacked Jensen, sticking a knife in his back and badly beating then robbing him. Owen Jensen never recovered from that beating. He died shortly afterward.

We get questions...

Q. What does the term "flash" mean again?  

A.  Comes from the carnival world. It means an attraction, a dazzler, an eyeful designed to catch the "marks" attention as he walks through the state fair, seaport, circus, rodeo or strolls down the carnival midway.  

Flash is the bright design, the purple dog on the top shelf, the gleaming bakelight radio in orange, yellow and green, the zip, zap and pop that makes you reach in your wallet, suspend belief and throw as much dough as possible at the booth. In this case, you want the beautiful pin up girl, the brave tiger or the sailing ship memorialized on your person.

Flash is the top shelf. As opposed to "slum" which is the crap in boxes sitting in the dirt by the carneys feet. Slum is comprised of rubber snakes, frog clacker noise makers and those woven Chinese finger traps where the more you pull, the tighter they got. Slum is the red cellophane fish that would curl in your hand. Or not, telling everyone something about your personality.  

The term transferred over to the tattoo world. A good and bold sheet of tattoo flash would turn heads and stop 'em in their tracks. 

Captain Jack Howard

Just in to Lift Trucks:

A tattooists interpretation of the Italian Renaissance. Note Christ tempted by the babe in the rose (bottom right.)

Captain Jack Howard, Barbary Coast, San Francisco, ink and watercolor in heavy paper, 22" by 29", c 1920's.

And just for fun, the sheet as a blueprint.

The Barbary Coast was a red-light district in old San Francisco, California. Geographically it constituted nine blocks bounded by Montgomery Street, Washington Street, Stockton Street, and Broadway. Particularly notorious was Pacific Avenue, one of the earliest streets to be cut through the hills, which led directly from the wharf to the center of town, near Portsmouth Square. The neighborhood quickly took on its seedy tone.

True or False

This is from the book  "Pierced hearts and True Love.  A Century of Drawing for Tattoos" The Drawing Center, 1995. They label it as "Unidentified tattooer, c. 1950" A most excellent book.

There are lots of 3d tattooed arms supposed to be old and supposed to have been employed in tattoo shops.

Here's a pair that sold on eBay. 

We have seen these pop up at local swap meets for about $200. That's okey as maybe a decoration for those stupid "man caves." Rooms which, like a New Year's Eve party, reek of false promise.  

Here's an arm sign currently on eBay. The lady looks sceptical but the listing swears it is genuine.

Can't tell from the photos but as one collector said " After looking  again, something about the paint doesn't look right.  It has that distressed painting technique look. That's a red flag." 

You be the judge. For us there is nothing more dispiriting than, down the road, realizing your item is a phony.  


Fake, We Cry!

A reader sent us this e-Bay listing,, asking our opinion. Just like on the popular tv shows!

It looks like an itinerant tattoo artist case. These are rare and quite beautiful. Let's look at this one.

The box is indeed quite old. The dry white paint is great, the wood, clasp and hinges are turn of century or older. Unfortunately we don't believe it was ever employed by a tattoo artist. 

The interior shot gives it away.  Where are the partitions to separate drawings from the tattoo machines? There would be partitions to separate the tattoo flash, notebooks and stencils from the business end of tattooing. The inside of the box is just way too clean. Where are all the spilled ink blobs, splatters, drips and circle spots where the bottles would sit, the smudges from black chalk or graphite? We don't see any of the scrapes or nicks from the assorted crap flying around as stuff would when riding the rails, jumping from tramp steamers to port or just traveling from town to town on the carnival circuit.  Working the small town county fairs would rattle the insides of a tattoo artists box. 

Now, let's look at the lettering.  The word "Electric" in script looks like it's borrowed from a 1950's Eletrolux vacuum cleaner. An era at least 50 years newer than the actual box. The eagle is horribly drawn with a fat mutant bird head. It has no relation at all to the way a tattooist would render this traditional symbol.  The wear and distress marks on the lettering are clearly bogus. For example why is it worn somewhat in the center of the lettering and not over the eagle? Why are the wing tips not showing any wear from handling?

Where there is money, fakes will follow and the folk art field is boiling over with reproductions.  Tattoo art is now in the forgers cross hairs especially with high dollar ($28k) auction records like Coleman's Battleship Kate at Skinner's. Which was clearly the real McCoy

Looking at other listings from this dealer it turns out he's the same guy who scissored up a full sheet of Oklahoma Bob's tattoo flash into 10 small sheets framed up in a heartless money grab. More items equal more profit goes the thinking here. 

In the spirit of equal time and fairness we tried reaching the "olegolfguy" (eBay moniker) for his view.  His eBay listings are blocked and do not allow any questions.  We'd probably want to lay low also.

Tattoo Show Opens September 18th

Saira Hunjan | Jef Palumbo | Duke Riley | Noon | Nazareno Tubaro | Amanda Wachob | Jacqueline Spoerle | Colin Dale | Scott Campbell | Peter Aurisch | Chuey Quintanar | Horiren First | Alex Binnie | Minka Sicklinger | David Hale | Stephanie Tamez | Virginia Elwood | Yann Black


Bound to a limited visual lexicon for over a century, tattooing has sprung free in the new millennium, liberated by artists who combine fresh concepts, holistic design, and masterful technique in thrillingly original styles. They draw inspiration from historical genres spanning Pointillism, Expressionism, Pop Art, and Photorealism; from an array of timeless ethnographic traditions; from illustration and graphic design, comics and street art; from regional folk arts; and from the Japanese style that has informed Western tattooing for the past century. The artists presented in “Body Electric” confirm that tattooing has turned a corner into an entirely new realm of artistic possibility. They are auteurs of body art. 

“Body Electric” introduces a new generation of conceptual trailblazers. The visual art featured here reflects their tattoo sensibility—the next best thing to showcasing the living canvases that bear their designs. They hail from around the globe: In Lucerne, for example, Jacqueline Spoerle uses Swiss folk motifs in lyrical silhouettes perfectly suited to tattoo’s inherently graphical nature. In Los Angeles, Chuey Quintanar takes fine line black and grey portraiture to a new level of grace and power. New Yorker Duke Riley’s maritime narratives betray a blush of nostalgia through strong line work and meticulous cross-hatching. In Argentina, Nazareno Tubaro blends tribal, Op Art, and geometric patterns in flowing compositions that embrace and complement human musculature. And in Athens, Georgia, David Hale, a relative newcomer, folds the curvilinear lines of Haida art into his folk-inflected nature drawings.   

The exhibition includes a selection of flash art spanning the late 19th to mid-20th century. These pieces, many by titans of the trade--George Burchett and Sailor Jerry Collins among them--represent the keystone style of Western tattoo tradition and the semiotic conventions that define it, from hearts and anchors to pinups and crucifixes. Conveying both the charms and limits of these pioneers, they offer a baseline for understanding the evolution of tattooing over the course of the past century. 

By bringing visual sophistication and art historical engagement to their work, the new auteurs have freed tattooing from the subcultural parameters that both sustained and restricted it for over a century. They’ve opened the door to an exhilarating new pluralism, reimagining this art for the 21st century.

*Excerpted from “Visionary Tattoo,” an essay by Margot Mifflin, Guest Curator

See more here

Alex BinnieBert Grimm

Amanda Wachob Avital

Virginia Elwood

Ed SmithDuke Riley SwinburnJacqueline SpoerleHoriren First

Ink and Skinner

Record setting price was set at auction for tattooed figure. Hammer price for this two and 1/2 foot tall composition figure was $23,000. Add the 25% buy in commission, tax and other official sounding crap and you're up around $30,000! 
One famous Folk art dealer went as high as $2,500. "Well I guess I did not get it." he said, adding that  "... very little sculpture exists in that area from the 19th century."
Battleship Kate probably stood well protected, set back on a countertop. Not a sunburned window display as the condition is pretty good.We still don't know if she is chalk or paper mache statue, the catalog description of the item was awful.
The bids came quick and furious.  24k was retracted at the last second as 23k drove it home. 
This record sale makes it clear it's smart to get the best pieces available. We were stunned at prices the Wm Grant & Sons distillery layed out on their Sailor Jerry buying spree a few years ago. Stunned to see a $18,000.00 price tag on a Darpel at the Outsider Art Fair. Great piece, but 18k? Kind of leaves a few of us out. Like the entire tattoo collecting community. 
Tatooists, collectors and historians are not concerned. Most of us buy when we can and sell when we have to. 
But in the end what does this tell us? Perhaps the deep pocket collectors, the Wm. Edmondson and Bill Traylor folk art crowd have finally arrived at the tattoo parlor. Making room on the folk art high pedestal for tattoo flash.
It will be interesting to watch the next auctions. Also to see what pieces come out when word circulates about the high dollar numbers.   We will probably start to see more doctored items. Caveat Emptor. Where there is money, bogus items will follow. 


Let Us Now Praise Dainty Dotty and All Circus Women



We love Dainty Dotty and we feel she loved us. Just look at that smile.

Through exhaustive research we believe that Dotty was indeed the Fat Lady sitting next to Major Mite in this famous story about the Rubber Man and Mae, the Tattooed Lady.

Herewith and paraphrasing Albert Parry's, 1933 " Tattoo, Secrets of a Strange Art as Practised among the Natives of the United States."

While on tour with a circus in the summer of 1927, the India Rubber Man fell in love. Professor Henri, in real life Clarence H. Alexander of Ypsilanti, Michigan could stretch his neck seven inches, his arms and legs twelve inches, He was fourty three years old, a professional freak since he was twenty three. His object of attention was Mae, a tattooed gal just twenty, a trooper less than two years. Their associates called them "Tattooed Mae and Rubber November," sadly noting that Mae lacked a trooper's psychology. She was a spectator, the Rubber Man was to her, not a fellow player and possible life mate, but a freak. While Henri Alexander was in love with her tattooings she was repelled by his deformity. She was frightened when he used his elastic magic to pass love notes to her over the heads of the fat lady (Dotty?) and the midget (Major Mite?) sitting between them on the platform.

Could this be Dotty's first exposure to the magic allure of tattoos?  She soon after gave up the fat lady career path and took up electric tattooing. A seemingly more gentile profession. She started in Detroit where she met and subsequently married Owen Jensen. Together they moved west to Sunny California, famously establishing themselves as tattoo artists on the Pike in Long Beach.


Ed Smith Rocks


America's Tattoo Master, Mr. Samuel F. O'Reilly, trained Ed Smith along with Charles Wagner in the 20's and 30's on the Bowery in New York City. Bums, empty bottles and the elevated train ran the streets back then.

We have all seen photos of tattooed people but not too many self portraits of the tattoo artist sporting a tattoo. 

The imagery depicts a maiden in distress clinging to a cross shaped rock as the prow of a ship goes under, pummeled by crashing waves. 

The idea probably serves as a reminder for us to keep the faith, no matter what. Kind of the like that 'Hang in there Baby' cat poster you always see in dentists offices. A lot of us would rather have Rock of Ages tattooed on our backs than ever see that poster again.  

As a symbol    "...'Rock of Ages' which, as is well known, protects the tar from all general mishaps..." From Tattoo, Secrets of a Strange Art as Practiced Among the Natives of the United States, Albert Parry, 1933.

Looks like Ed had fun with this one.  His most cool version of the classic, almost pagan, symbol of non-drowning; a pig. Usually tattooed on a sailors instep of the left foot, because, as everyone knows, the rooster goes on the right. These are the two animals that can not swim. It's a form of reverse good luck, like Born to Lose for bikers or Break a Leg for the theater crowd. Wearing this symbol not only acknowledges the danger but controls the luck.

Ed Smith went into commercial production with designs of some of his most popular images. Many thanks to Cliff White's good eye as he spotted this correctly as an Ed Smith design even though it's signed "Millie." She may have colored and re-inked parts of it as they worked closely together on the Bowery. This sheet looks like it's been through the ringer but it's a survivor. Not many are still around actually signed by legendary Mildred Hull.

Smith Street Brooklyn Comes to Chelsea

If someone asked me, "What's your problem?"  I'd have to say "skin."  

Andy Warhol

Eighty Eight degrees inside on a sub zero-freezing night outside. Which was good. An abundance of arms necks legs with multicolored designs of dragons skulls clowns snakes pin up girls and geometric patterns floated around the space. Mostly old school classic images updated to the modern look. Even a Felix the Cat tattoo looks new on a young arm or leg.  Ghosts of Bert Grimm, Brooklyn Joe Leiber and Sailor Jerry whispered around the crowds. Friendly, sans-Chelsea attitude. Reminded us of Kustom Kulture openings in LA, big smiles and lots of laughs.

The works are screenprints and drawings for tattoos. One stuck out as a Skeleton reading or studying something like an Albrect Durer print, another was a sheet of crybabies. Ok. Maybe some were more successful than others.  Overall a cool exhibit and fun place to go, free beer and free tee's by Katsufumi Takihana.

These guys have the reputation for being the  best tattooers out there. We wish them good fortune in this transition to fine art.

Smith Street Tattoo Parlour at Art NowNY on 28th street. With Mullowney Printing and Raking Light Projects.

It's Always Rosie at Lift Trucks Project

More of Rosie and other artists here.

Rosie Camanga: His real name was Tino Camanga and he was born in the Philippines in 1910, though it's unknown where the nickname “Rosie” came from. A self-taught tattoo artist, Camanga lived in Honolulu and worked as a tattooist from the early 1930's-1991. There is an interesting legend about how Rosie began tattooing. According to the legend, he walked into a tattoo parlor and said he wanted to learn to tattoo. The shop owner gave him the tattoo machine and said if he could tattoo himself, he’d get the job. Camanga sat down and gave himself his first and only tattoo. Last known sighting of him was in Hawaii.