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