The Story Behind Rockwell's "The Tattooist"
The fabulous Selvedge Yard blog has done it again with more archival goodness on tattoo culture: a look at the story behind Norman Rockwell's iconic painting The Tattooist.
With a little help from the equally wonderful Tattoo Archive, they provide interesting facts surrounding this painting and others by Rockwell. For example, the painter often worked from staged photographs as an aid, and for The Tattooist, positioned a fellow illustrator as the tattoo artist and a neighbor (in Arlington, Vermont) as the sailor. But Rockwell did consult with Bowery tattooist Al Neville and borrowed a tattoo machine from him to ensure accuracy in the painting.
A fun side note: Despite the long list of (crossed out) ex-lover's names on the sailor's arm above the new one he's adding ("Betty"), Rockwell's model-neighbor, Clarence Decker, was never tattooed at all. His great, great nephew told the Tattoo Archive:
"Clarence didn't have a single tattoo in real life. Also the last name on his arm is Betty-that's because my great, great aunt Belle told Norman that if he put her name in the painting, she wouldn't speak to him ever again. So Norman crossed the L's and added a Y."Read more on historic tattoo culture from the Selvedge Yard here and here.
Thanks, Matt, for looking out while we were on vacation!