RIP Herbert Hoffman
I just learned that a gem of the tattoo world, Herbert Hoffman, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 91. You can easily tell from the photo above (at the 2006 Milan Tattoo Convention) that Herbert was a warm, sweet man who was generally excited to meet people who shared his love of tattoo. In fact, he's been described as a "friendship collector."
On my bucket list was to travel to Switzerland to have him tattoo me with his iconic anchor design and signature. I regret I missed that chance.
Often, when I've mentioned a tattoo book that I love here, I say it is "one of my favorites." Herbert's Living Picture Books: Portraits of a Tattooing Passion 1878-1952 is the favorite. The book is a collection of photos and "the family stories" behind them of tattooed people--400 in total--born between 1878 and 1952. For thirty years, Herbert traveled around taking portraits of his favorite subject with his Rolleiflex camera. This collection of images is beautifully presented in a large format hardcover published by Memoria Pulp. While their site says the book is sold out, you can find it online at Book Mistress and on Amazon. You can also purchase his book of flash via Amazon.com as well.
To view photos from Herbert (and of Herbert) from 1955 on, check his online photo album.
Memoria Pulp also did a documentary featuring Herbert, as well as Albert Cornelisse and Karlmann Richter, called Flammend Herz or Blue Skin in 2004. It's a truly moving film about the passion these men had for tattooing and what they gave for it. It also delves into the complex relationship that they had with one another, a relationship that began when they met at Herbert's tattoo shop in Hamburg, "the oldest tattoo parlor in Germany." Eventually, that relationship soured when Herbert gave the shop to his cousin and not the others. The film brought them back together after all that time. Read more about this beautiful documentary on IMDB (particularly the reviews). The film is also available on Amazon.com.
For more on Herbert, including links to interviews and photos, go to his Facebook Fan Page.
I will miss Herbert dearly.