Hot! Tattoo Journalists: Outsiders or Members of the Family?

Baxter 233x300 Tattoo Journalists: Outsiders or Members of the Family?COMMENTARY

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.

—Bob Baxter

3 Comments

  1. Here are the names of some of the talented people who have helped to promote, support and enhance the visibility of the tattoo community, on the pages of both the print and Internet magazines I have edited: Travelin’ Mick, Bernard Clark, Paul Sayce, Charles Gatewood, John Wyatt, Jan Seeger, Bobby Lynn Shehorn, Tim Coleman, Vicki Botnick, David Nestler and Maury Englander… and, of course, the art directors, who, through the years, provided a lion’s share of visual respect.

  2. I second your comment on Paul Sayce- total dude! I think that there are a few people who still assume that those of us who write are ‘parasites’, but if they saw our bank accounts they’d change their minds. I’m skint most of the time! I think that, as long as they have the best intentions, those who write about tattooing are mostly cool people. :)

  3. Bob, you have a heart for this unlike most. I proudly support ya!

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