East Meets West Tattoo Stories
Will have a double tattoo news review for you Monday as I've been working through the proofs (all 500 pages) of my book on blackwork this week, but I wanted to highlight two news stories that I particularly enjoyed:
The GlobalPost's look at tattoo culture in South Korea today and a look back on the forefathers of American tattoo culture on The Selvedge Yard.
Jiyeon Lee's photos and story of underground tattooing in Seoul reminded me a lot of my own first tattoos when the art was still illegal in NYC (it was legalized in 1997). Lee paints a picture of studios with "dark tunnel-like entrance with graffiti covered walls" that are found only after the "proper" steps are taken, which are set out: "first you run a search on the web, then you hook up with a tattooist who will guide you to a nondescript space, and finally you sit down for the illegal procedure."
[No Internet searches and hook-ups back in my day. I also walked miles without shoes in the snow to get tattooed.]
In South Korea today, only those with a medical license, like Kwon Yong-hyun pictured above, can legally tattoo, but with the increasing popularity of tattooing -- in part thanks to tattooed soccer stars that played at Seoul's 2002 World Cup -- tattooists believe that regulation of the art is in the near future.
With tattoo culture budding in South Korea, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of The Selvedge Yard's
look back on the evolution of American tattooing with a tribute to "Cap" Coleman and Paul Rodgers in their "forefathers of tattooing" post. Thanks to Jake for that link.
The post is a fantastic collection of stories and archival photos of the tattoo parlors and the sailors and sideshow stars that frequented them. My favorite image is of a service woman getting tattooed in the 50s, surrounded by other female soldiers.
Many of the photos and other tattoo memorabilia were amassed by Paul Rodgers over the 60 years he tattooed; he had a stroke on that 60th tattoo anniversary and died two years later. In 1993, Chuck Eldridge, Ed Hardy, Alan Govenar and Henk Schiffmacher (Hanky Panky), created the Paul Rogers Tattoo Research Center to house the collection. That collection moved from Chuck's original Tattoo Archive home in San Francisco to where it is now in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Chuck said:
"If we can't find a building here,we'll take the collection back to North Carolina. It's where Paul came from and would be the right thing to do. It would be like taking Paul home."
They did just that. Learn more about the research center here.
The rest of the news will be up Monday. Have a great weekend!