Tattoo Journalists: Outsiders or Members of the Family?
When I became editor of Skin&Ink magazine, some seventeen years or so ago, tattoo magazines had a terrible reputation. Most of the tattoo community considered them as vehicles for selling starter kits—to people who shouldn’t be allowed to buy them—and visual showcases for bad artwork. A few broke the mold, like Don Ed Hardy and Henk Schiffmacher, who put out first-rate publications, but they were, mostly due to lack of funding, short-lived and sorely missed. Hardy used his pages to acquaint the world with Japanese tattoo art and singular geniuses like Leo Zulueta, Schiffmacher captured, in text and pictures, the outrageous energy and gusto of an esoteric art form about to flower.
Thanks to some excellent guides like C.W. Eldridge, Jack Rudy and Zeke Owen, we fought against the starter kit ads (they, subsequently, disappeared off the back covers of the major rags) and, with an enthusiastic crew of participants writing columns, taking pictures and keeping the faith, these reporters, photographers and editors introduced a whole new cast of characters to the world of body art: names like Deano Cook, Bob Tyrrell and Jeff Gogué, plus established pioneers like Sailor Jerry Swallow, Vyvyn Lazonga and Spider Webb. And we continue on, speaking to readers from Los Angeles to Leningrad, Tokyo to Tasmania. We do it because we love the art. We do it because we are fascinated with the artists. We do it because we love to write, photograph and tell tales. We snatch the essence from the air and document it for the voyeurs and collectors who have come to recognize tattooing as fine art. True, we may not be tattoo artists, but we bring to life the people who are.