THE LIFE OF A TWENTIETH CENTURY TATTOO ARTIST: CHARLES 'RED' GIBBONS
When I think of the beautiful tattooed ladies who inspired generations of heavily tattooed women, the elegant images of sideshow performer "Artoria" Gibbons immediately come to mind. Artoria married master tattoo artist Charles "Red" Gibbons in 1912, but it wasn't until 1918/1919 when Red began to tattoo Artoria and they traveled the carnival circuit together -- artist and tattooed lady.
Red and Artoria had a daughter, Charlene Anne Gibbons, who is in the process of writing a book on her parents, and correcting a lot of the myths that surround them. Last month, Charlene wrote an article on her father, entitled "The Life of a Twentieth Century Tattoo Artist: Charles "Red" Gibbons. Here's a bit from it:
Charles, "Red" Gibbons was a master tattoo artist for over 40 years. He lived from 1879 until1964. A brutal robbery resulted in the loss of one eye. An unfortunate construction accident resulted in the loss of his other eye leaving him totally blind. Nothing else but death could have ended his beloved career as a tattoo artist. He was devastated to the extent of no longer wanting to live. However, with the love and care of his wife and daughter he lived for nearly twenty more years. The ancient and revered craft of tattoo artistry is constantly evolving. Innovative equipment, techniques, applications and designs are constantly being discovered. Charles Gibbons would be utterly amazed if he could see all the changes in his profession today.Artoria died in 1985, and during her 91 years, she performed for more than 50 years for sideshows and carnivals, earning her the title of one of "the most renowned tattooed ladies of the twentieth century." Her memory continues to live on through us tattooed ladies of today.
Tattoo of Artoria by Dana Brunson on Dot Brunson.
Also, check the first issue of Things & Ink magazine with tattooist Claudia De Sabe on the front cover, recreating the iconic image of Artoria.