Results tagged “Cliff White”

Aug201230
02:04 PM
Flash from the bowery.jpg
I finally got my hands on "Flash from the Bowery: Classic American Tattoos, 1900-1950" by Cliff White, and I can't recommend it enough to anyone who loves tattooing and classic Americana.

Published by Schiffer Books, "Flash from the Bowery" is filled with nine hundred sheets of tattoo art from over the past hundred years that still attract collectors today. Here's more on the collection:
 
Between these pages are images of the original acetate rubbings from Charlie Wagner's turn of the 20th century tattoo shop, The Black Eye Barbershop, in the Bowery at Chatham Square in New York. This is the only known art that has survived from this shop, where Samuel J. O'Reilley's modern-day electric tattoo machine was born and patented. The imagery of this classic flash preserves the origins of American tattoos, when tattoo art was transferred to the client from these templates via an acetate stencil. Everything was done by hand until O'Reilley's electrified tattoo machine changed history. This rich heritage of folk art has more than 900 individual pieces of flash that provide commentary on the shop's clientele and reveal some of the social, economic, and political ideas of the time.
In the Introduction, Cliff offers some history on the sheets. This is to be expected of course. Every time I've had a conversation with Cliff, I've always enjoyed a history lesson. It's one of his missions to inform and carry on the great traditions of the craft.

Read more on Cliff here.

The book is just a small part of the tattoo gems Cliff has collected. His studio in Long Island, NY and his Victorian home (which was passed down from his great great grandfather) house artifacts that include photos and calling cards of the industry's godfathers and godmothers -- like the card of Mildred Hull, one of the few female tattooers on the Bowery in the forties. He also has sideshow memorabilia like a hand-carved wooden mermaid from Coney Island and Victorian spindled arch from Barnum & Bailey. And of course, he has vintage tattoo machines. [Cliff created the Oldtimer tattoo machine in 1989 as a nod to the forerunners of the craft.]

And so it's no surprise that Cliff's book is a rare and wonderful assemblage of old school tattoo. A must have. You can purchase it online at Schiffer Books.
Jan201107
04:00 PM
Cliff White Tattoo.jpg
On New York's Long Island, there's a treasure trove of tattoo history: flash that dates back to the Civil War era, vintage machines, sideshow memorabilia, a file cabinet filled with acetate stencils from the 1930s and so much more. The real treasure is the collector himself, Cliff White of Cliff's Tattoo in Centereach, LI.

When Skin & Ink Magazine asked me to interview Cliff, I jumped at the chance to hear his stories of a time when tattooing was raw and rough but a respect for the craft prevailed. I also spoke with Cliff's son Rob White who carries on the tattoo traditional and is a collector himself. [He's also a comedian.] Part 1 of the article in the February issue is on newsstands now. Here's a taste:

When Cliff began to tattoo in the early eighties, he had to learn to make his own needles, mix his own pigment from powder, tune his own machines, and search to find the right supplies. As an apprentice to William Averso, he scrubbed toilets and mopped floors. He spent hours cutting acetate stencils, a time-honored tradition that built up the muscle in artists' hands. Cliff's apprenticeship also included throwing out unruly clients--of which there were many. He says that guys who walked into the shop would puff out their chests and felt they had to be the toughest guy on the block. "If you worked in a shop back then, no matter how big and bad this guy was--and the biggest and the baddest were your clients--you couldn't let anyone get over on you in your shop," he explains. "That is your territory. If one person gets over on you, then everyone gets over on you. Nowadays, it's like dealing with the boy scouts."

What he didn't get much of in his apprenticeship were history lessons, so he had to seek them out. He began by visiting long-time tattooists. "I made it my point to go out there, shake their hands, sit and talk with them," he says. "I have done this up and down the East Coast." He's also heard a few good tales from his friend Lyle Tuttle, some so good, he won't share them in print.
Read more in the article, which includes gorgeous shots by Steve Prue.

paul rogers flash.jpgWith almost thirty-years of tattooing behind him, Cliff just recently traded in his tattoo machines for paintbrushes, and has been creating sought-after signage, furniture and decoration--all with an old school tattoo flavor much like his needled portfolio. See more of his work, like the one below, on his Facebook page, or go to Cliff's Tattoo in person, like many do, for an immersion in Americana.

cliff white armoir.jpgAs an added bonus: 

Check this video of how Rob White handles crack heads when they come to Cliff's. 
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