Driving home from work on the second night of the Philly Tattoo Convention, my friends and I got into a discussion on tattoo designs being sigils that accumulate power by repetition; that over time an image becomes stronger (in whatever context you’d like to pin on it) as it becomes shared and refined. That’s what I love about the amuletic power of Traditional Americana tattooing; that you have a connection to the designs. That the black panther head you get from Mike Wilson or Chad Koeplinger hasn’t changed much since the design originated despite them putting their spin on it.
It’s especially true when you’re getting a design off of vintage flash; something that literally hasn’t changed in a 100 years connecting you not only to the artist who painted the design but all of the clients who’ve worn it over the years.
The conversation was sparked by this tattoo by my friend Andy Perez.
Andy picked up an original stencil cut by Lee Roy Minugh- the Prince of the Pike- at this year’s Philly Tattoo Convention and knew right away that he had to use it. Luckily he got the chance. Think about it- Every time that Lee Roy tattooed that snake, he used THIS acetate stencil. Not something from the thermofax, sized and resized till it was just right and then tossed into the trash. Every person who wore this design from Lee Roy was touched by this stencil.
Andy had this to say about it:
“Bought the stencil from Eric Minugh, it was his Dad’s. I wanted to use it the second I got it, knew Pat was there and he was one of two people I would have put it on who I knew would appreciate it. (and I knew it wouldn’t take much convincing.) It took about three tries to get it on and once I did was still barely there. But we went for it. And like anything else worth doing in tattooing/life it was challenging, and nerve wracking but ultimately super fun and rewarding.”
Patrick- the fella lucky enough to get the tattoo, followed up with this:
“I feel extremely lucky to have gotten it and, like Andy mighta mentioned before it was weirdly magical. Still super stoked. I think Perez was one step away from giggling with delight through the whole thing.”
Having seen Andy immediately after the tattoo…. I can second the giggling with delight thing. Total tattoo geek stuff.