Tattooers from all Over the World Rally to Support Tattoo Heritage Project
In response to Sullen Clothing’s call to action (to raise funds and awareness for a National Tattoo Art Museum), the tattoo community across the United States is expressing their interest and generosity post haste. The supporters, working tattoo artists, from all walks of life, who care about the preservation and the legacy of their art.
Art donations for this fundraiser have come in from today's tattoo icons like Johnny Quintana, Joseph Haef, and Tokyo Hiro, multi-media artists Antonio Pelayo, Isaac Pelayo, and Permanent Mark, as well as from the legendary tattoo artists themselves, including Jack Rudy, Junii Junko Shimada, and Good Time Charlie.
But the majority of the contributors are up-and-comers and everyday art grinders, who make a real-time living from their art. Their artwork is diverse, showing the wide range of what this transitioning (and booming) art form has become.
Taking a look behind, today's tattooers are just now understanding their own art form’s journey, from folk art to craftsman, taken to a level that is now quickly become considered by the majority as bonafide fine art.
With over 20,000 tattoo parlors across the United States and hundreds of tattoo conventions now being held all over the world, it’s safe to say tattoos are more loved than ever. While the tattoo industry's net worth soars past $3 billion, the U.S. continues to be the leader in housing the most tattoo shops than anywhere else in the world. (reference: https://www.tattoopro.io/blog/tattoo-industry-statistics/ ).
It makes perfect sense for Long Beach to have the first-of-its-kind, United States First National Tattoo Art Museum. Long Beach in particular has its own unique claim to fame in tattooing's rich history, starting with The Pike, an “amusement zone” which opened in the early 1900’s.
The Pike in its longevity (1902-1979) has held a record for the best and largest population of well-respected tattoo artists. Long Beach continues to house world-renowned tattoo artists, and the last remaining piece of the city’s tattoo history, now named Outer Limits Tattoo shop and Museum, (a continuously open tattoo shop since 1927) is still in operation to this day.
Good Time Charlie, who cut his brick-and-mortar business teeth at The Pike 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.”
Tattoo artists from all over the US have rallied to support the creation of a National Tattoo Art Museum, to be housed in Long Beach, CA., and have shown their entrepreneurial spirit and creativity in different ways.
Gabe Massey, of Battle Royale Tattoo in Houston, TX, gathered 26 artists and held an all-day event, all artists tattooing traditionally inspired but original designs, with half of the artist's take going to the nonprofit.
Massey has been tattooing 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. “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. Also 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.”
The artwork presented at the Sullen Art Sale Fundraiser proves to be inspirational for all who value tattoo culture, from what it was to what it has become.
Most importantly, all can agree and are passionate about giving American Tattoo Art a National home, which will feature many private, never before seen collections, and finally, giving this once-misunderstood art form the respect it has always deserved.
About the Tattoo Heritage Project:
In 2021, legendary tattoo artist Good Time Charlie, along with his board of iconic tattooers JD Crowe, Jack Rudy, Kari Barba, Corey Miller, and Chuey Quintanar, formed the Tattoo Heritage Project, a 501(c)(3) which is the museum’s fundraising entity.
This (first of its kind) museum will create a space solely dedicated to archiving and displaying American tattoo art, and also plans to display international tattoo art as well. It is sure to be an international tourist destination for Long Beach, CA., attracting tattoo lovers from all over the world.
Charlie began his tattoo career in 1955 at the age of 15. Years later, the Navy brought Charlie to The Pike, in Long Beach, CA. He 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.”
The Pike is also where Charlie met his partner in ink, Jack Rudy, and helped form a lifelong partnership in an art form, which at the time, had an elusive support system. Today, Jack is the keeper of the original Good Time Charlie’s shop, an institution he and Charlie started together.
Good Time Charlie’s recently closed his shop, End of the Trail (in Feb 2020) after 32-plus years, and the 2019 release of his career history book, “Tattoo Man, The Story of Good Time Charlie’s” (co-penned with Rudy) provided inspiration for Charlie to really ponder preservation. That coupled with a visit and encouragement from the staff and curators of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles during his last week in business (who played a prominent role in the traveling exhibit Tattoo in 2017), provided motivation to begin the exploration of what it takes to build a dedicated tattoo art museum.
Tattoo Heritage Project board member Kari Barba is also invested in the cause, owning the longest operating tattoo shop in America (since 1927), Outer Limits Tattoo located in Long Beach, CA., is the last remaining piece of The Pike’s tattoo history. Her shop doubles as a small museum, paying homage to all those artists who built the foundation for this now thriving art.
About Sullen Clothing:
Established in Huntington Beach, Sullen Clothing got its start by being heavily influenced by tattoo-inspired art. With a strong focus on the ideals and practices of modern tattooers, Sullen evolved from a small group of art-driven tattooers and artists, into a world-renowned “Art Collective,” enjoying an international social media audience of over 1 million followers, tattoo artists, and tattoo enthusiasts combined.
Sullen owner Jeremy Hanna states, “With my business partner Ryan Smith being a tattoo artist for over 25 years, and myself almost having a complete body suit of tattoos, it is safe to say that we truly are fans of tattoo-inspired art and tattoo culture. It’s in Sullen’s DNA; it always has and always will drive all of our creative direction. Our only hope is that you are just as inspired by what we like to call “True Art.”
Sullen Clothing and Tattoo Heritage Project, see a real need and a unique opportunity for being pioneers of the National Tattoo History Museum, which aspires to be the first of its kind, large-scale tattoo museum in the world.