Baxter's Tattoo Blog's Daily Blog

Editor-In-Chief Bob Baxter: 1939-2015


With Baxter

Monday morning, April 6th 2015, Bob Baxter, my dear husband and business partner of eleven years succumbed to cancer. He spent his last few weeks under the expert care of the staff of Calvary Hospital. During that time, the outpouring of well wishes, visits and phone calls did much to raise his spirits and mine.

We at intend, with the help of so many talented writers and contributors, to continue reporting on this tattoo art movement, representing the larger group of collaborative and lone artists who make up this fine art consortium, as Baxter sought to accomplish for the past eighteen plus years.


Participate in the healing process by leaving remembrances, raucous or reverent, of encounters you shared with Bob in the comment section.

If you’d like to make a memorial gift in Bob’s memory, you may send a donation to Calvary Hospital or Friends In Deed.

I’ve shared some of the comforting letters just in from friends, below. Thank you for all of your continuing support.

Little Mary

From Mike Bellamy:

“I am truly sorry to hear of the passing of your friend and mine. He was an asset to our community, loved by most, hated by some so he must have been doing things right. Hopefully he was comfortable and surrounded by family at the end. I know he will be missed. ”

From Vince Hemingson:

“The world and the tattoo community lost a little illumination yesterday. My dear friend, Bob Baxter finally succumbed to his battle with cancer. Friend doesn’t nearly do justice to describe the place Bob has carved out in my heart. For the past two decades he has been a friend, colleague, confidant and occasional mentor. He wrote the Forewords for all three of my books pertaining to and about tattoos.


Photo by Vince Hemingson

Our paths first crossed when Bob picked up the reins as Editor-in-Chief of Skin & Ink magazine. It didn’t take him long to make it the standout magazine on the rack about all things tattoo-related. I was doing research for The Vanishing Tattoo documentary film about indigenous tattooing around the world, and Bob not only supported us through many hundreds of hours of conversation, but with several stories in the magazine, a couple of interviews of myself and Thomas Lockhart, and even a cover when the documentary was finished.

Bob and I bonded not only because we shared a deep affection and enormous curiosity about everything about tattoos, and tattoo culture, but also in part I think because we were both something of outsiders to the tattoo community. We were not tattoo artists or tattoo luminaries, or even tattoo fan boys. We were observers, aficionados, reporters, enthusiasts, chroniclers, occasional collectors, documenters and, especially in Bob’s case through his editorials, occasional critics. I have lost track of all of the telephone conversations over the years, as Bob, just about to print something juicy, would call me up, read me a few sentences and ask, “Whadya think, Hemi?” Hemi or Vinnie, that was nearly always how he addressed me. Which always made me feel like I was taking a trip back East, or playing a bit part in a film about New York. We didn’t always agree, but Bob always had a point and it was always interesting. More importantly he always had the best interests of the tattooed community at heart, trying to balance the interests of both artists and enthusiasts, which was not always as easy as it sounds.

Over the years we hung out in Samoa, which is where we first met face-to-face, in Los Angeles and at various tattoo conventions around North America. I loved it when Bob agreed to come up to Vancouver, not once but twice, and hang out with me and cover The Tattoo Project (his tattoo portrait remains one of my favourites). We even got Lyle Tuttle signature tattoos together at Tom’s West Coast Tattoos. No matter where we were, the stories were always good, his wit and intelligence always charming and his generosity and warmth always unfailing.

Bob shared both his Tattoo Road Trip Blog and his many stories on the Vanishing Tattoo website here and here.

Marisa Kakoulas over at Needles & Sins wrote some lovely words about Bob here.

In a world peopled with far more than its fair share of larger than life characters, Bob stood out for his perceptiveness, his easy-going kindness and his tolerance and understanding. I could go on and on, but I think you get the drift. Bob Baxter was good people and one of the most decent men I have ever known. When we spoke on the phone a few weeks ago, it was both funny and poignant. We both shed some tears. And without saying it, knew we were saying good-bye.

Goddamn it, Bob but I am going to miss you.”


Baxter small

Crop Baxter Guitar


Written by Baxter

April 8th, 2015 at 11:53 am

Whole Foods Opening Tattoo Parlors?!

vegetable-fairyDear Reader,

Even though I knew this was an April Fool’s prank before I read the article, by the time I was done reading I was reaching for my car keys ready to race to Whole Paycheck to get myself an organic kale ink tattoo… yeah. I guess my new tattoo ought to read ‘GULLIBLE’. I can’t be the only one who’s so easily persuaded to get new ink, can I?

Let me know your thoughts below, fools!


ox, Little Mary

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Written by Baxter

April 1st, 2015 at 10:18 am

Posted in Humor

Sea Tramp, Portland’s Oldest Tattoo Shop Arises From The Ashes!

Sea Tramp Crew

Don Deaton and Crew


In early 1978 Don Deaton arrived in Portland, Oregon, to continue the legacy of Bert Grimm.  Through the decades, Sea Tramp has changed with the city’s evolving landscape, moving from its gritty Old Town studio to the more industrial Eastside area on Grand Avenue.  Its most recent relocation was as the result of a fire in their building in August 2014. It is a miracle that any of the legendary flash and art survived the smoke and water damage, but survive it did.  After the devastating fire scattered the crew to shops throughout the city, the latest incarnation of Portland’s oldest tattoo studio hosted a Grand Opening party February 23rd.

Sea Tramp InteriorThe Old School vibe remains intact at their second floor location at 523 S.E. Stark Street. As I entered the entrance and walked up the wide stairway, I remembered Lyle Tuttle saying his famous 2nd floor location across the street from the Greyhound Bus Depot in San Francisco, “weeded out the drunks the Miracle Theater,” Sea Tramp’s expansive space blends its traditional roots with the modern aesthetic of new floors, lighting, bathroom and separate clean room. An additional lounge/media area filled with couches provides a laid back ambience. The reassembled crew, ranging in age from 20 to 80, has all the experience and enthusiasm to keep Sea Tramp humming for many years to come.

—Mary Jane Haake, Dermigraphics, Portland, Oregon

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Written by Baxter

March 19th, 2015 at 7:09 am

Posted in Announcements

Help Wanted Tattoo Artist—Westbury, New York


Always know that any Directory Member may post (free-of-charge, announcements, photos, etc., by sending to or We often post next day.

Lark Tattoo is now reviewing portfolios for a full time position at our Westbury, Long Island, New York location. We are looking for a highly skilled, professional, full-time tattooer. Applicant must possess at least 5 years shop experience with a strong portfolio, excellent customer service skills, and the ability to be on time. We are a very busy, custom shop with an excellent reputation and atmosphere that is artist owned and operated. You must be able to draw and tattoo in all styles. If you think you have what it takes please email me ( a link to your portfolio and a description of your experience and contact information.

—Bruce Kaplan (Owner, Lark Tattoo

Feel free to check out our shop and the artists you would possibly be working with via our website:

Thank you and best wishes.

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Written by Baxter

March 18th, 2015 at 7:02 am

Friday the 13th —Your Lucky Day In Gotham City


I have no idea who started it all and I am sure there are several shops that will claim the title, but love ‘em or hate ‘em, the fact is that Friday the 13th Tattoos have become a staple in the tattoo world. The format is pretty much the same: you pick a design off a specially drawn sheet, you drop $13 plus a $7 tip and 15 minutes or so later you are out the door with your newest bit of ink. There are rarely variations on the designs. They are limited to arms or legs, and there is only one to a customer.


 On this Friday the 13th, I dropped in on a couple of my favorite shops*, Daredevil at their new digs downtown on Division Street and Fineline on First Avenue. They also have the appeal of being two subway stops apart and very convenient to the subway entrances. On an evening when the mercury dropped to the teens , this was a major consideration.  There was no doubt that the lure of the low priced pieces got people out despite the weather. Both shops had waiting lists of up to a couple of hours.




For some, this was going to be their first tattoo and face it, even for us seasoned collectors, this is  a cool event to share. There were others who had a sleeve of “13s” done over the years. There were  some folks waiting who sported bandages from pieces done that evening at other shops. These quirky little designs have an appeal all their own.

Next time I just may pick up one!

—Maury Englande {}

* And just a personal aside about why these shops are favorite places for me. Fineline at 21 First Avenue was opened by Mike Bakaty as soon as tattooing became legal in New York City. Mike had been tattooing since forever before that and claimed that his shop was the oldest continually operating legal place in the City. Mike passed away last year, but he left behind a collection of his original tattoo art, several thousand pieces that are on display in the shop. Probably the largest single collection of hand drawn flash in the world, it is worth a trip to see it. Mike’s son Mehai, a fine artist in his own right, has taken over and continues to run the shop.

Michelle Myles’ shop, Daredevil at 141 Division Street, is brand new but is already a tattoo landmark. On display in the shop is a collection of some of the rarest tattoo art and memorabilia: hand drawn flash from legendary artists, antique machines, signs and banners from old time shops and lots more. And of course Michelle and a bunch of talented artists.


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Written by Baxter

March 14th, 2015 at 6:56 am

Spittin Image Tattoo—Fairbanks, Alaska


The newest member of our Tattoo Shop Directory is Mike Mayotte of Spittin Ink Tattoo in beautiful Fairbanks, Alaska. Currently a one-man shop, Mike has created the ultimate, one-stop resource for locals as well as big city dwellers. From pork chop flash to full-on single-needle portrait chest-pieces) have allowed Mike to combine longstanding ethics and technical know-how in creating a truly respected and popular meeting place for tattoo talk and lots of Mike’s time-honored body art.

 —Spittin’ Ink Tattoo Studio, Fairbanks, Alaska

Note: Click images to enlarge.

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Written by Baxter

March 13th, 2015 at 11:14 am

Commentary About Filip’s Ferocious Bali Neckpiece


There was lots of squabble when (I think) Guy Aitchison and Amil Gupta jumped on Filip Leu at a U.S.-based tattoo event to allow Filip to follow his dream and get throat-inked. Yikes! That ought to sting. So, on of our avid readers got involved and asked me for Loretta’s address, since she is the family leader. Keep in mind that, after 300 years in the tattoo business I may have got the tattoo artists confused as to who did Filip, but you can see the results.

Dear Loretta,

Thank you VERY much for your prompt and kind answer.
Yes, the thought of a tattoo as an entrance ticket to the right place in afterlife can be found in many religions like the coptic christians (a cross on the inside of your wrist) and among the Buddhists in Thailand practicing the Sak Yant traditions. But I am sure this is no news to you. And a tattoo makes sense as it can speak for us when we are dead – for at least six months, as the saying of Samuel Stewart goes!
About half a year ago I listened to an interview with your son Filip where he says that he sometimes regrets that as an art form he did not chose working in bronze.
He is soooo talented, I understand well what he means.
Once more thank you for taking time answering my questions.
Love and Peace to you, too.
Me ka aloha pumehana
–Agneta Sandelin
Stockholm, Sweden and Honolulu
27 feb 2015 kl. 23:28 skrev Loretta Leu <>:


On 28 Feb 2015, at 08:59, M. E. <> wrote:


Hi there,

I am writing you from Honolulu, where at this moment I am finishing a book about tattooing over time.
I wrote a master a couple of years ago about Polynesian tattoos with the title “With Pride or Prejudice” (with a cover picture taken at my last visit to Samoa of a guy with a pea) and then I realized I had enough interesting stuff about tattooing through history and cultures “left over” to write a book. I found a publisher who thinks so to.
images (1)And of course I write about you, the Leu family, and that is why I have a question. Loretta and Filip have a very interesting throat tattoo: what does it symbolize? Is there a history behind it? And are you the only family members wearing it?
I e-mailed Bob Baxter and just got an answer back where he suggested I ask you personally, telling that he advised me so…

You might try to contacting Loretta Filp’s mom at the Family Iron website . Tell her I told you to ask her. Give that a try a nd let me know what happens. Good luck.

While hoping to hear from you I send you all lots of

Hi, Agneta,

Our throat tattoos are designs from the Iban people in Borneo. The one I wear was tattooed by machine by my husband Felix Leu in 1982. Filip’s was tattooed by the traditional hand-tapping method by Ernest of “Borneo Headhunters Tattoo” in 2000.
The designs represent stylized frogs.
I’ve read that in Iban mythology tattoos are essential for our passage to the next world. They believed that when we die the tattoos burst into flames and show us the way across the narrow log that crosses the river to the other world. No tattoos ….. you might fall in the river and never make it.
In the early 80’s I saw a photo of an Iban wearing the tattoo and thought it a most powerful image. I decided then and there I wanted it on myself.
No one else in the family wears one.
images (2)Good luck with your book.
Love ’n’ peace,



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Written by Baxter

March 13th, 2015 at 9:31 am

Posted in Guest Bloggers

Tanya Magdelena—Above the Pearl, Portland Oregon


studiopanocopy_wTanya Magdalena is a well-rounded artist, working within many mediums and disciplines. Award winning tattoos, drawing, painting, graphic, web and publication design, sewing, bellydancing, stained glass, and stained glass pattern-making, jewelry, leather working and Zen-Art of motorcycle maintenance. Tanya earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications/Graphic & Publication Design, from California State University, Chico in 1994. In 1997, she moved to Portland, Oregon, and make quick work of the corporate ladder, rapidly earning herself a position as a Senior Designer at Xerox. In 2003 Tanya “lost her taste” for the corporate culture, and has since devoted her passion and talent, to operating a successful tattoo business, other artistic pursuits, and strives to bring happiness to herself, and those her art touches.

Tanya’s love affair with tattoos began in 1986, at the age of 14. Tanya got her first tattoo in 1988. After going to college, and spending 15 years in the graphic design field, she was ready to pursue her childhood dream. In 2005 Tanya got her tattoo education/apprenticeship from her teacher and mentor, the infamous Rio DeGennaro, learning the art and craft of tattoo, along with the strictest tattooing and sanitation regulations in the world. Rio has been tattooing since 1962. Like his father before him, he worked down on the Pike in Long Beach, California with Bert Grimm, among others. After a year in a street shop, Tanya opened Above the Pearl Tattoo, LLC in NW Portland in September 2007. After 7 years in downtown Portland, Tanya moved the studio to a new light, bright, private location, in charming Historic Milwaukie, just 10 minutes south of the old location. Above the Pearl Tattoo, LLC was awarded Best of Citysearch: Tattoo Portland 2009 and 2011, was published in Bob Baxter’s and Mary Gardener’s Tattoo Road Trip : The Best of Oregon, National Tattoo Association’s Friends, Family and Faith – a tribute to Tony Edwards, and various online publications. Tanya continues to gather rave reviews from her clients.

Note: Click images to enlarge.


Written by Baxter

January 23rd, 2015 at 2:19 pm

American Eagle Tattoo—Tulsa, Oklahoma


With over twenty years in the business, American Eagle‘s Maj Mathhews  is updating her Tulsa, Oklahoma, tattoo shop, including the wallpaper and the staff. If you are looking to work alongside Maj, click HERE for her contact information.


Note: Click images to enlarge

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Written by Baxter

January 8th, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Tattoos that Protect You from Harm!


IMG_1004_oBy Kimberly Bryant

Here’s an informative and well-written guest post about a subject we are fairly familiar with. But Kimberly adds some insights and facts that make her posting worth the time to read.

Do you believe in magic? The folks that tough it through the pain of getting a bamboo tattoo just might. Or, here’s another question for you: would you let another person — a stranger, no less — pick out a tattoo design for you without even speaking to them? Again, the brave people who opt to be marked forever with a magic Sak Yant tattoo do.

I was first introduced to Sak Yant tattoos when I saw Angelina Jolie’s hah taew magic tattoo. I thought it looked quite beautiful, but I was curious what it meant: I’ve heard so many horror stories of people getting tattoos in foreign languages that mean something completely different than what the person wanted. (One of the many reasons for scouting out a reputable tattoo artist before taking the plunge!) …More

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Written by Baxter

January 8th, 2015 at 10:27 am

Posted in Guest Bloggers