Classic Tattoo Round-Up May 20 and 21, 2022
Houston Tattoo Artist, Gabriel Massey, is leading the charge to help raise funds to establish the first National Tattoo History Museum in the U.S.
Massey has done so by organizing the upcoming “Classic Tattoo Round-Up” fundraiser event, where he, along with 25 plus other Houston based Tattoo Artists, will spend a full day tattooing their own Traditional Art inspired (and original) designs, donating 50% of their income to the cause. The original flash artwork will also be raffled off, with 100% of the proceeds going to support the National Tattoo History Museum.
Tattoo Heritage Project 501(c)(3), founded by Legendary Tattoo Artist, Good Time Charlie Cartwright, is launching a series of nationwide fundraisers, in order to establish a National Tattoo History Museum, to be located near The Pike, in Long Beach, CA., a historically significant site that fostered many generations of American Tattoo Artists, as well as helped share the American Traditional Style globally, by way of it’s international port.
Charlie recalls, “The Pike was a naval port and tattoo parlors thrived in that area. A lot of notable tattooers got their start here, in the business. For that reason alone, The Pike or the area of Long Beach has played a great role in American tattooing. Working at the Pike was kind of a formative institution for Tattooers. People have grown to automatically associate Long Beach and the Pike with Tattooing. I worked there for three years in the early 70’s, and that’s where I started professionally tattooing, I would actually say publicly tattooing. I always did private stuff before that. But The Pike is where I got my chops too.”
“The Pike as we knew it, is nonexistent today. There is only one Tattoo shop that remains from The Pike days, that’s the original shop of Bert Grimm’s, which is the oldest, continually run shop today in the US (since 1927). It’s now named Outer Limits Tattoo and owned/operated by Kari Barba. It’s the only remnant that remains, it’s in the original spot, and I thank her for that, and most American Tattoo Artists and enthusiasts should thank her for that too. For preserving that piece of American History.”
Massey, owner of Battle Royale Tattoo in Houston, has been tattooing in the area for about 15 years, and supporting the art form’s history struck a chord with him. “One of my goals with this shop has always been to contribute and give back whenever possible,” says Massey. “We have organized tattoo fundraisers for the ACLU, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and other worthy causes.”
“I came across the Tattoo Heritage Project’s Instagram profile, I knew immediately that I wanted to contribute. I’ve organized and hosted a few tattoo-related gallery shows and have been interested in hosting a mini-convention for a few years. The idea just clicked to combine the two and have it all serve to contribute to the Project.”
When it comes to past artists that have inspired Massey’s work, he says, “If I had to narrow it down, I would say Ed Hardy continues to inspire me the most in tattooing and art. It’s impossible to overstate his relevance and contribution to the craft. My copy of “Tattooing the Invisible Man” is my go-to reference for anything related to American Traditional and Japanese tattooing.”
“Meeting Lyle Tuttle and attending his retrospective in 2018 was a real highlight.,” Massey recalls, “Lyle was such a character and so generous with his knowledge, I’m forever grateful for that experience.”
Participating Artists include Anna Finnerman, Antone Pham, Billy Ho, Brandon Madrid, Cambo, Catfish Perez, Dan Martin, Diego Trevino, Dustin Whelan, Ellen Hallam, Ericka Bates, Gabe Bayles, Gabriel Massey, Jared Green, Jesse Castillo, Kevin Poon, Lauren Boulden, Logan Perry, Matt Burgdorf, Miranda Quinn, Rick Murillo, Roze of Texas, Ryan Scroggins, Steven Kissinger, Tracy Lambright, Victoria Del Rio, and Waylon Hart.
When asked about what it took to find artists to support this cause, Massey replied, “What can I say - Houston has a big heart! The tattoo community has rallied behind this effort and everyone has been so supportive and excited to participate. I’m really lucky in that I have not had to do any coaxing.”
Massey talks about Tattooing’s growth he’s seen in his own time, “I think we are seeing a fundamental shift in tattooing from the perspective of demographics. The landscape of tattooing has never been this diverse and with new voices come different perspectives. Understandably, the public has embraced this shift, and why wouldn't they?”
His post pandemic view shows signs of consumers taking the art form more to heart, Massey says, “I think if anything, living through the pandemic has made some people who may have been sitting on the fence or ambivalent about getting their first tattoo perhaps more inclined to finally pull the trigger. I’ve certainly seen an uptick in first-time clients since we reopened.”
Massey’s closing thoughts, “I’m far enough along in my career to acknowledge that I will in the not too distant future be a part of tattoo history! Think about the role tattooing played during wartime, or how its reach crosses cultural and socioeconomic barriers. It’s profound and certainly deserving of its own space and museum.”