Thursday, August 6, 2015

Vintage Tattoo Designs

Way back when, my grandfather, Jim Harmon, was a tattoo artist. I'm not entirely certain of the time period, but I think it must have been during the 1930s, when he was in his 20s and living on his own in D.C. The first tattoo he ever created was on his thigh--an easy spot to work on, but he did it right-side-up when he was looking at it--which meant it was upside down for everyone else. He was so embarrassed, he never wore a swimsuit at the beach; instead, he always wore long pants so no one could see his mistake. I never saw the upside down tattoo on his leg, but it's one of the many stories I heard over the years.

One of the coolest things we found in my grandparents' things last year was a small three-ring notebook with 31 pages of tattoo designs drawn my by grandfather. My grandmother had kept it in a trunk full of family memorabilia. Some of the designs are classic naval tattoos, while others hint at my grandfather's interest in Surrealism.