30 October 2017

Revisiting 10 iconic vintage tattoo designs

Spanning 75 years of the art form.

[T]he art of contemporary Western tattooing as we know it was born in New York City. Tracing its roots to the Haudenosaunee Native American tribe who lived on the land now known as Manhattan, tattoos were thought to have healing powers and offer protection from evil.

While sailors started to ink their own initials on their arms from the 1700s, Victorian women had to be covert about their love of tattoos – with subtle designs that could be easily hidden underneath clothing or jewellery. It wasn’t until the early twentieth century that the electric tattoo revolutionised the practice, taking it from an outsider art into the mainstream.

Exploring how the visual language of the tattoo has evolved from those early days – Vintage Tattoo Flash: Volume 2 is a rich archive of previously unseen traditional American tattoo designs collected by legendary tattoo master and artist, Jonathan Shaw.

From 1900s Bowery, to 1950s Texas and 1960s LA – it’s a record of an ephemeral art form. Hearts, skulls, roses, panthers – it’s proof that though the technology may have evolved, certain motifs and aesthetics will remain timeless.

Take a look at some of the tattoo flash below, and buy the book now from powerHouse books.

Signed copies with a personal dedication and a piece of original artwork can be ordered directly from Jonathan Shaw at jsfuncity@gmail.com