Campbell loves the “romance” of the now-gone two-fisted clamor of the Honolulu Chinatown district where Sailor Jerry made his name, when a tattoo was a mark of something quite the opposite of hip fashion.
The Tattoo Aesthetic
It has been several years since even Ozzy Osbourne could see that tattoos were overexposed: “To be unique, don’t get a tattoo. Because everybody else has got tattoos!” Yet despite the fact that tattoo imagery is everywhere — serving as the basis for reality shows, as a de facto part of N.B.A. uniforms and, increasingly, as an element in marketing — it retains its appeal as “an authentic and real part of culture,” one advertising executive recently informed The Chicago Tribune. What’s surprising about the popularity of tattooing is that it won’t seem to go away — that some tattoo imagery still seems authentic, even when it’s mainstream.
Scott Campbell learned the tattoo trade in San Francisco, starting at a “scratcher” shop there before spending several years in Europe and, eventually, New York. He studied the history and lore of tattooing, learning the classic, old-school styles of Norman (Sailor Jerry) Collins and others, and adding his own twists. In 2004 he opened his own shop, Saved Tattoo, in Brooklyn. Set up like a boutique, it has clients that include ad-agency art directors and people like Marc Jacobs and Heath Ledger. Still, Campbell loves the “romance” of the now-gone two-fisted clamor of the Honolulu Chinatown district where Sailor Jerry made his name, when a tattoo was a mark of something quite the opposite of hip fashion. “The stories are amazing,” he says. “You wish it was 1950 again — and you were that tough.”( Collapse )