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Bob Baxter’s Tattoo Talk #26

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Sailor Jerry Swallow photo by Bernard Clark


That tattoo family is, I suppose, like any other family; some are like Ozzie and Harriet and David and Ricky, and others are dysfunctional and antisocial. Case in point: my initial relationships, or rather, my initial run-ins with certain members of the tattoo tribe.

Let’s start with Sailor Jerry Swallow, the legendary old-school tattooist from Nova Scotia. Several years ago, maybe six or seven, Mike McCabe wrote a story for me about his visit to Jerry’s shop in New Glascow. It was an excellent exposé, extolling the many virtues of this time-honored artist and his graphic accomplishments over the last four-and-a-half decades.

After it was published in my magazine, I received several letters. One of them stood out from the rest. It, in a very disrespectful and accusatory way, stated that Sailor Jerry’s artwork was second-rate at best, couldn’t compete with the current crop of young artists and should be dumped, unceremoniously, in a pile, along with all the other old-timers and has-beens of the tattoo world.

Since I loved to print outlandish and often vitriolic letters in my Letters to the Editor, I earmarked this one for the very next issue. I should point out that, besides publishing colorful, often hysterical letters from readers, one feature that the readers liked most was when I answered these very letters in the magazine and didn’t pull any punches in my responses. Hey, it was my magazine and I could do bloody well what I wanted. But, because the letter criticizing Sailor Jerry’s work was so over the line and without basis, I let it get go without comment. My mistake. … read more

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Written by Baxter

April 13th, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Posted in Columns

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