I think for every tattooed person there is a moment where we come to the understanding that we’re going to end up heavily tattooed. A personal big-bang of understanding that we can get whatever we’d like tattooed on us as long as there’s someone skilled enough to translate the idea; for me one of the main nodal points in my own tattoo history was discovering Guy Aitchison in the pages of Outlaw Biker’s Tattoo Revue magazine some time in early 1990. I had gotten tattooed before finding Guy- A biker named Darnelle Hoen, Bill Hannong from Ancient Art in Florida and Bill Liberty at Liberty Tattoo in Sacremento had all worked on me but I was directionless. I wanted to be tattooed but the kind of imagery I wanted wasn’t really available. Even my first tattoo (by Darnelle) was a custom tattoo- a near line for line tracing of the terribly drawn (embarrassingly enough Rollins inspired) Sun that I brought in and in all of it’s blown out glory it was a reminder to me that sometimes you just have to get what you get.
When Chicago poet Lori Jackson submitted the first of two articles- defining articles that without a doubt propelled Guy into the spotlight- I finally found someone who was close to my age who was doing tattoos; someone who read the same comics I read and watched the same movies and who took those influences and created tattoos that were previously unthinkable. The first article- No Tasmanian Devils Allowed– was a game changer. The second- a punkasfuck travelogue chronicling Lori & Guy’s 1990 roadtrip that found them traveling the US gave me a list of people to learn more about- Fred Corbin, Eddie Deutsche, Dave Lum… the list when on and on. Inspired by his work I began a correspondence with Guy who was always more than generous with answering my geeky fanboy letters and even offered to fit me into his appointment book when visiting Florida for Daytona Beach’s infamous BIKE WEEK.
Guy was an unlikely artist to be working the event; his whole appeal was how different he was than the standard biker tattooist archetype of the time but even that turned out fortuitous. In 1992 I would finally get tattooed by him- and through that appointment went on to meet quite a few characters who’re still very much part of my life; John Himmelstein (who sleeved my left arm and a big chunk of my left leg) Mike Wilson (who was still an apprentice but went on to tattoo my back piece, right foot, right shin, fingers and sides of my hand) and Annette LaRue all worked at the shop in one capacity or another (artist, apprentice and guest) and have remained people that I’m very thankful to call friends.
Over the years Guy’s work has evolved from the more Giger influenced biomech to his own fractal/organic and as I’ve evolved as a tattoo collector my personal aesthetic has moved away from the imagery that appealed to me in my younger days, but without Guy I wouldn’t have had that portal into truly personal tattooing and will always count him as a major influence.
These photos were taken from 1991 to about 1994, 35mm scans from my collection. If there is an interest I could probably have my arm twisted to transcribe Lori’s Tattoo Revue articles and post them here for you folks- let me know in the comments.