Tattoo Chronicles << 101 Most Influential People in Tattooing << #80-#71

Top 101 Most Influential People in Tattooing

Bob Baxter

We’re rolling now! The 101 list is developing, and several of the recipients have even emailed to say “thank you” for being included. Did I just say what I thought I said? Thank you? Tattoo folks are funny that way. Somehow, over the years, there seems to be three distinct groups of artists (and maybe people in general) in the way they respond to our doing something for or about them. One group, my favorite, actually picks up the phone and calls to say, “Hey, thanks.” The second group doesn’t call, email or, heaven forbid, put pen to paper to write an actual letter, but, when they bump into me at a convention a party or on the street, there’s a hearty “I saw your article about me. Very cool. Much appreciated.” The third group doesn’t get it at all. Obviously their mothers never told them the basic rules of give and take. And, quite often, this was after lobbying me for months to feature them in a magazine or on my website. Once I remember an artist telling me that tattoo people don’t respond because, “without us, you wouldn’t have anything to write about.” Isn’t that nice? In fact, isn’t that nice and humble? Well, as they say, “the only people that rock ’n’ rollers look up to are tattoo artists.” And we all know what good role models they are.

—Bob Baxter

TOP 80-71 People in tattooing by Bob Baxter

80. Shop Girls

80. Shop Girls or, as they are too frequently referred to, “Shop Bitches,” are the dedicated, hardworking men AND women who act as pivotal liaisons between the outside world and the “way too busy to do anything but tattoo” tattoo artists. That’s the quick description. The long description includes: greeting customers, setting appointments; assisting with choosing an appropriate tattoo and the artist to apply it; cleaning up the tattoo stations after they have been infected and covered in Vaseline, ink and blood; ordering supplies; mopping floors; cleaning restrooms; listening to artists’ sob stories about spouses or last night’s date (maybe both); turning on the lights in the morning and off at night; and, lest we forget, Windexing windows. You get the idea. And what do these right-hand men and women receive for their tireless devotion? Mostly bad wages (a measly $10 an hour is all too common) and, sometimes, tips. Or just tips, depending on the shop. And why do they do it? Sometimes it’s to get a foot in the door to becoming a tattoo artist in their own right, but that scenario is all too often forgotten, the promised apprenticeship disappears and even the “free tattoos for working here” never quite materialize. In short, being a Shop Person is a relatively thankless job and, unless these stalwarts get their kicks hanging around bad attitudes, inane conversations, loud music, long hours and the smell of green soap, it’s a job only for the (you fill in the word). Just to set the record straight, Tattoo Artists of the World, without these wonderful and necessary people, your business would be totally mashuganaand your fabulous careers would be headed to hell in a hand basket.

79. The Enigma

79. The Enigma (theenigma@showdevils.com) is the guy whose entire skin is covered in blue puzzle pieces. Born Paul Lawrence, he is a sideshow performer, actor and musician who, besides have more than two hundred tattoo artist work on him, has undergone extensive body modification, ear reshaping, multiple body piercings and, the most troublesome, horn implants. Yikes! His tattooing process began on December 20, 1992, when he got tattooed by his former wife Katzen the Tiger Lady, who is heavily tattooed herself. Enigma was raised in Seattle, Washington, began studying music when he was six years old. In 1991, he was a founding member of the Jim Rose Circus, with which he toured until 1998. The Enigma then toured with Katzen, playing music and doing sideshow performances under the moniker “The Human Marvels. He has also appeared in a number of television programs including The X-Files. He currently performs with Serana Rose in a freak show act called Show Devils. The thing I like about Enigma, beside his humility and joy in perpetuating the sideshows aspects of the tattoo trade, is doing practically anything to entertain a crowd. The crowning glory (he already juggles chainsaws) being his goal of clenching an apple in his teeth, tilting his head back and tossing a dart into the air and having it land in the waiting piece of fruit. Holy Poke Yourself in the Eye, Batman! That’s crazy!

Permanent Mark, a.k.a. Mark Walters

78. Permanent Mark, a.k.a. Mark Walters (livingcanvastattoos.com/artists/mark/), besides being one of the first people to step forward to help me visualize, plan and revise the seminal issues of the magazine that Larry Flynt had, in 1997, hired me to run, P.M. was also one of my first writers, blossoming forth with a whopper of an interview with Running Bear, Hanky Panky, Steve Bonge, Marco Leone, Little Vinnie, Spider Webb and Tin Tin. Not bad for a first issue. Next came my invitation to his first-ever Tokyo Tattoo Convention in 1999. Again, because of his brilliant leadership and entrepreneurial skills, so many of us got to, for the first time, check out downtown Tokyo and Scratch Addiction, the headquarters for P.M. and the convention crew. I saw Running Bear’s head above the crowd. Downstairs, Kawajiri, Hanky Panky, Annemarie Beers and Lisa Whittemore were handling convention details. Mr. Nice Guy, Freddy Corbin, was in the back, doin’ the deed on someone’s forearm. During the next few days, I got to hobnob at the local watering hole with Lal Hardy, George Bone and Pepe. Hanky Panky and Louise were holding court with Dave Shore, Charlie Roberts and Corey Miller. I gave the old cheek-to-cheek to Roonui and Linda from Moorea. Ericka Stanley waved from the veranda. Then the convention, pre-sale tickets only. Even the very best of the fabled Crowe & Dwyer events never had sushi. And then, if that wasn’t enough, we attended the grand opening of Horiyoshi’s new museum in Yokohama. All the participating artists headed there. Think for a moment; the wonderfulness of forty bare-limbed, pumped-up tattoo artists marching en masse through the subway station—Baby Ray with no shirt leading the way. Tattoo Molly, Bob Roberts, Chris Trevino, Mike Wilson, Clay Decker, Henning Jorgensen, Grime, Andrea Elston, Juan Puente, Hollywood Mark, Chimé, Mick Tattoo, Eric Maaske, Tin-Tin, Seth Ciferri, Chris Garver, Running Bear, Mr. Cartoon, Filip Leu, Lucky Bastard, George Bone, Dave Shore, Charlie Roberts, Luke Atkinson, Bernie Luther, Civ, Andrea Elston, Takahiro Kitamura, the Horihito family and the lads from Three Tides and Scratch—they all were there. What a way to start a new century! East meets West in spades! And all of it, every bit, every moment, every second was because of one man—the incomparable, the dream maker himself, the one, the only… Permanent Mark!

77. Deana Lippens

77. Deana Lippens (www.deanaskinart.com), a tattoo artist and shop owner of Deana’s Skin Art Studio in Christmas, Florida, is the originator and producer of the Marked for Life Female Tattoo Artist Expo in Orlando, which, in January of 2010, celebrated its fifteenth year. In an industry that has been dominated by men from the very outset (there are a few early examples—Painless Nell, Betty Broadbent—but very few), several modern-day lady artists have successfully broken the gender barrier (Vyvyn Lazonga, Susanne Fauser, Kate Hellenbrand), but no one had taken the lead by establishing an all-women tattoo event, until Lippens (a veteran of thirty years in the business) created Marked for Life. More than booth after booth of tattoo artists, Lippen’s events are highlighted by celebrity roasts, live bands on stage and belly dancer troops, but the emphasis of the yearly event is squarely on the role of women in the highly competitive and, sometimes, private men’s club called Tattoo. That, thankfully, has changed in recent years, and much of the turnaround can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of foresighted, equal-opportunity promoters like Deana Lippens.

76. Matty Jankowski

76. Matty Jankowski (Nuovaarte@aol.com) was drawing tattoos on his friends, back in the ’50s, in Brooklyn, New York. From then on, Matty was always intrigued by symbolism and cultural anthropology, as well as collecting art, artifacts and ephemera about tattooing, body art and decoration. Through The New York Body Archive Project, Jankowski has provided reference and research information to practically every key tattoo and body-modification magazine, The New York Times, HBO and The Learning Channel, USA Today. Jankowski’s cosmetic special effects makeup, temporary tattoos, Indian Henna and body painting have been seen on network advertisements for AT&T and in Vogue, on Christie Turlington, photographed by Irving Penn and featured in a Jean Paul Gautier worldwide print advertising campaign, not to mention Nickelodeon/Pete & Pete and a US magazine cover with Wynona Ryder and another for New York magazine. He has also provided research, reference and referral services and on screen narration for The Learning Channel, National Geographic, MSNBC, PBS and various international cable and broadcast  productions. For the past eight years, Jankowski has written a regular column, feature editorials, book and product revues for Skin&Ink magazine. His breadth of knowledge regarding tattooing and body art is unparalleled, as was his ability to provide, when I was editor of Skin&Ink, incredibly extensive, detailed astute, articulate and definitive articles every thirty days. In order to house and display his extensive collection of memorabilia and paraphernalia, Matty is currently building an extensive body art museum for the general pubic in Panama City, Florida. Amazing!

75. Lucky Diamond Rich

75. Lucky Diamond Rich (likablerogue@gmail.com) was born in New Zealand in 1971 and, along with being voted the United Kingdom’s Top Busker—he is a brilliant street performer, unicyclist, fire-eater, juggler, unicyclist and story teller—Lucky was named “The World’s Most tattooed Person” by the Guinness Book of World Records, in 2006. The fact is, it’s physically impossible to have more ink; his tattoos cover one hundred percent of his body, including places I cannot talk about with children in the room. But it’s not all about being totally inked, in fact, when I saw Lucky at a convention some years ago, he continued to get tattoos on top of his totally inked skin. The new additions were in white, and I was proud to personally add to the collection by doing one of a large cat on his shoulder. Not being accomplished in the art of tattoo myself, I dug so deep that, as he said, I almost killed him. A consummate performer, there is a recorded a video of Lucky on his unicycle at the Edmonton tattoo Expo available on my website. Juggling apples and taking bites as they fly through the air atop a fourteen-foot unicycle and goodheartedly squelching hecklers, Lucky energetically promotes the union of carney and tattoo. His worldwide appearances enthusiastically remind us that his outlandish, danger-filled, anti-establishment form of entertainment is at the very heart and soul of tattooing, now, then and in the future.

74. Eddy Deutsche

74. Eddy Deutsche (www.eddydeutsche.com) got his big break in tattooing, when the “Father of Modern-day Tattooing,” Ed Hardy, invited Deutsche to accompany him on a work trip to Tokyo, Japan. Eddy jumped at the chance and, six months later, in 1991, Hardy opened San Francisco’s Tattoo City with Eddy, Freddy Corbin and Dan Higgs. During this time, Deutsche became friends with Horitaku of the Horitoshi Family and made several trips to work with Horitaku at his studio in Sendagaya, Tokyo. In October 1996, Deutsche opened 222 Tattoo SF, one of the first modern-day power shops, with Jeff Rassier, Scott Sylvia and Gary Kosmala and, later, Jesse Tuesday and Juan Puente. From the beginning, Deutsche was a team player. Everyone in the shop had equal billing. “If a magazine prints ten pictures of my work,” said Deutsche, “they must include ten pictures of Kosmo’s work, Jeff Rassier’s work and Scott Sylvia’s work too.” Although Deutsche became disenchanted with running a tattoo shop (and the fact that an investor offered a good chunk of change to buy Deutsche’s building), Eddy closed 222 in 2000, but the memory of this trend-setting studio continues to influence tattoo shops around the world as they attempt (and mostly fail) to emulate the all-star roster equal to that of Deutsche’s legendary shop on Eighth Street, south of Market.

73. Jodi Barr

73. Jodi Barr had just left a highly-responsible position as Art Director of the Pasadena Weekly, a popular, local, politically-oriented newspaper in Pasadena, California, when Bob Baxter called. Baxter had been a columnist for the Weekly, so when he was recruited by publisher Larry Flynt to head Skin&Ink magazine, a floundering tattoo publication that was headed in a dubious direction, he called Barr for help. “I can’t talk to you now,” said Barr,” I just quit the Weekly and I need to catch my breath.” Little did she know that the timing was perfect and she would soon be redesigning and art directing what would soon become a world-famous, award-winning tattoo publication. Barr and Baxter started from scratch, throwing out all the previous templates and page designs. The inside front cover of the first issue (May 1997), for example, was completely blank, except for a drop-shadowed Post-it stating, “You are not Crazy! We have a new format and editorial philosophy.” The cover itself was a 1940’s, sepia-tone photo of a Mrs. Ted Hamilton. Many of the early responses were negative (tattoo artist aren't happy about change), but after such groundbreaking concepts as an article on a Japanese tattoo convention that was printed with the first page at the end and the last page first (right to left, like Japanese publications) and an article on blackwork tattoo with black typeface on a black background, Barr’s obvious creativity (she was with the magazine for four years) soon won the hearts of the tattoo community and her influence established a level of quality and innovation that continued for the following decade.

72. Pat Fish

72. Pat Fish (www.luckyfish.com) is the Queen of Celts (or, as Lyle Tuttle calls her, “The Queen of Knots”) for her love of the intricate interlace knotwork designs found in early Roman mosaics and most recently popularized by the Irish, Scottish and Welsh. With degrees in Studio Art and Film studies and a seventeen-year stint as a magazine writer, Pat started tattooing at thirty, under the tutelage of the legendary Cliff Raven. “I went to the person who I thought was the best,” says Pat. “I got my first tattoo from Cliff and then asked if he would teach me. He said yes, and that was all there was to it.” But that’s not all for this award-winning artist, who, since 1984, has owned and operated Tattoo Santa Barbara in the beautiful coastal community of Santa Barbara, California. Pat should also be congratulated for her well-orchestrated resource website for artists of all kinds who love Celtic design as much as she does. And a double pat on the back for telling ’em likes she sees ’em, which has not always met with unanimous approval by certain old-school segments of the tattoo community who consider the art form a secret society immune from modern constraints such as income taxes, fair wages and Workers’ Compensation.

71. Hannah Aitchison

71. Hannah Aitchison (www.hannahaitchison.com) had a tough act to follow (her brother, Guy) and, in many respects, has outdone her sibling in popularity and technique. While Guy Aitchison has long been associated with such stellar masters of the art form as Paul Booth and Filip Leu, his emphasis on swirling patterns of color and cornucopias of dimension is more impressionist than Hannah’s graphic style inspired by tattooists such as Joe Capobianco and Timothy Hoyer. Currently taking appointments at Deluxe Tattoo in Chicago, Hannah received a sudden burst of attention playing opposite Kat Von D on the television show L.A. Ink, a situation Hannah left after she realized that “the producers wanted tits and ass, and I was more of an ass and tits kind of girl.” In other words, Hannah didn’t want to put up with concept storylines that made the world of tattoo seem more like a soap opera than a celebration of body art. As a beautiful woman with a perpetually sunny disposition and sense of humor, Hannah, in spite of it all, has survived a brief foray into celebrity-hood and emerged unscathed, unbowed and unquestionably one of the most talented tattoo artists on the scene today. She remains an excellent role model for tattoo artists, men and women alike, who are tempted by the siren song of fame but have decided that making art is really the most important thing, after all.

See 70-61

Tattoo Chronicles << 101 Most Influential People in Tattooing << #80-#71

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