Bob’s Back


The 1982 publication of Ed Hardy’s Tattoo Time: New Tribalism 1 is generally considered to be the nodal point for the popularization of (predominantly) solid black pre-technological ‘tribal’ tattooing; featuring articles on indigenous tattooing from Borneo, Samoa and the Pacific Islands it’s fair to say that it was the book that launched 1000 rosettes.

But there were tattooists who made use of the black graphic aesthetic before Hardy and Zulueta made it famous; artists like Cliff Raven, Thom DeVita and Davey Jones (who was responsible for Fakir Musafar’s iconic back tattoo) also saw the potential in solid black non-representational tattooing.

This back piece- dated early 1980s- is on a gentleman named Bob H who also sported a full torso ‘tribal’ design influenced by Pacific Northwest Native Haida designs and geometric black designs.


  1. New Tribalism: Tattoo Time No 1.
    Hardy Marks Publications

Shawn Porter has spent the majority of his life in the modification world. As a body modification archivist and documentarian, he has one of the most extensive collections of documents relating to the early American body modification community outside of academia. He edited the SPC website from 1995 to 2005, co-founded ModCon, was the host of ModCons 3.5 and 4, and created and hosted The Scarwars Project from 2004-2007. In 2011 Shawn launched Occult Vibrations, a blog devoted to traditional American tattoos with a focus on the occult and esoteric. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife Julia and their creepy pets Mr. Bailey Papers and L. RonBenet Ramsey.


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