Judy's Affordable Vintage Digest Judy's Affordable Vintage Digest Issue 2 - Page 18

Tat’s All Folks Whilst still sometimes considered unsightly and vulgar, tattooing is becoming more widely acceptable in every day society, almost like a a fashion accessory. It’s a perfect way to complete your look and make a bold statement with something both creative and personal. While everyone’s motive for getting inked is different, tattooing has a long and fascinating history. Chris Lambert, a Fine Art graduate and tattooist at Black Crown studio in the city is avidly keen on the history of the art he participates in, making him an ideal person to talk to about the origins of traditional tattooing. Trends come and go, but one of the most popular styles at the moment is for “old school” ink. These tattoos link back to Post-War American culture with iconography of Pin Up girls and Cadillacs as well as nautical themes such as anchors and lighthouses. Although the style was highly popularized in America, Chris explains that traditional tattooing as we know it actually originated in Japan. ‘I think it was for 500 years that Japan was totally closed to trade, but it had a tattoo culture of its own which developed and they were doing large scale body suits, stuff that was far more advanced than any of the other Hawaiian Islands.’ It wasn’t until military intervention in the 19th Century which saw US Admiral, Matthew C Perry lead to the opening of Japans trading gates. This introduced the Western world to a new tattooing culture which sailors quickly tried to emulate. This military involvement has shaped tattooing history, with the association between the armed services and tattooing almost becoming synonymous. It’s culture in the United Kingdom however had very different connotations. ‘There was actually a tattooist that was on Jermyn Street which is a street down from Saville row and is really famous for shirt making and shoe making. It was like an invitation only shop, you had to know someone who knew someone to get in 18 there and tattooing was a really high end thing that was super expensive.’ ‘The association between the armed services and tattooing are almost synonymous’ After a mass emigration of tattooists to New York, tattoo culture started to spread around the world. The man who played arguably the largest part in defining the traditional tattoo style however was a man named Cap’ Coleman. ‘He was the first person that did heavy black under sh ading and the thick black outline because in the olden days a lot of the ink would fade, it would only stay in the body for maybe five years and it would disappear… and he knew this. He knew that if it had black under shading and a thick black outline it would always look good and you’d be able to tell what it is.’ Another name highly associated with traditional tattoos (and Whiskey) is Sailor Jerry. ‘He very much idolised Coleman when he was getting into tattooing but now when we think of traditional tattoos we think Sailor Jerry.’ While Sailor Jerry has become a key figure in traditional tattooing, it is Cap’ Coleman’s innovation that could largely be attributed to why they are still so popular today. “The best thing about them is because of the style and how it’s tattooed and executed, it lasts a lot longer than a lot of other tattoos; you could argue that it looks better with time and aging. The traditional style is kind of really bold and simple, with that heavy black under shading, that’s one thing that the old guys got right, they knew that that would hold and last.’ By Jack Zelenka See more of Chris’s work at chrislamberttattoo.com ad