When I first started getting tattooed by ‘Just Plain’ Bud Pierson, he’d often reverently talk about Zeke Owen, citing his lettering as the best in the business. His name kept coming up in conversations with the people I respected the most and through them I watched a copy of Michael O. Stearns’s Tattoo Zeke: His life and Times on VHS.
Zeke came off as a character; someone who could handle the marathon tattoo sessions he jokes about in the film; more tattoos completed in 48 hours than most tattooers do in a week. In a culture where custom work and planned out pieces dominated, Zeke happily tattooed single sitting flash pieces on scores of recruits from whatever military base he was tattooing near.
I haven’t had a copy of the film in years, thankfully a well meaning friend hooked me up with a digital copy.
This excerpt features Daniel Higgs; I knew it would be of immediate interest to most OV readers, but rest assured I’m going to comb through the whole film to get a nice distilled Zeke Owen experience.