Vintage Tattoo Flash is a one-of-a-kind visual explorationof the history and evolution of tattooing in America. Aluscious, offset-printed, hardcover tome-a beautiful andserious addition to the understanding of one of the world'soldest and most popular art forms.
Electric tattooing as we know it today was invented inNew York City at the turn of the 19th century. In the firstdays of American tattooing, tattoos were primarily wornby sailors and soldiers, outlaws and outsiders. The visuallanguage of what came to be known as "traditional tattooing"was developed in those early days on the Boweryand catered to the interests of the clientele. Commonimagery that soon became canon included sailing ships,women, hearts, roses, daggers, eagles, dragons, wolves,panthers, skulls, crosses, and popular cartoon charactersof the era. The first tattooists also figured out that usingbold outlines, complimented by solid color and smoothshading, was the proper technique for creating art on abody that would stand the test of time. In the over 100years since then, techniques and styles have evolved, andthe customer base has expanded, but the core subjectmatter and philosophy developed at the dawn of electrictattooing has persisted as perennial favorites through themodern era.
While most tattoos are inherently ephemeral, transportedon skin until the death of the collector, a visual recordexists in the form of tattoo flash: the hand-painted sheetsof designs posted in tattoo shops for customers to selectfrom. Painted and repainted, stolen, traded, bought andsold, these sheets are passed between artists through onechannel or another, often having multiple useful lives in avariety of shops scattered across time and geography. Theutility of these original pieces of painted art has made itso that original examples can still be found in use or up forgrabs if you know where to look.
Vintage Tattoo Flash draws from the personal collectionof Jonathan Shaw-renowned outlaw tattooist andauthor-and represents a selection of over 300 pieces offlash from one of the largest private collections in existence.Vintage Tattoo Flash spans the first roughly 75years of American tattooing from the 1900s Bowery, to50s Texas, through the Pike in the 60s and the developmentof the first black and grey, single-needle tattooingin LA in the 70s. The book lovingly reproduces entirelyunpublished sheets of original flash from the likes of BobShaw, Zeke Owen, Tex Rowe, Ted Inman, Ace Harlyn, EdSmith, Paul Rogers, the Moskowitz brothers, and many,many others relatively known and unknown.