L.A. Skin & Ink

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L.A. Skin & Ink
Courtesy of Dale Grande/The Chicago Tattooing Co., Inc.
Pin-ups tattoo flash, Cliff Raven, India ink and watercolor on illustration board, c. 1970-75.

Ever wonder how tattoos went from outlaw culture to accepted art form? Come visit the Craft & Folk Art Museum and view the evolution of tattooing from its early days, in the 1950s, as a form of military distinction to its prominence today on everyone from sorority girls to celebrities. The extensive exhibit offers drawings, photographs, equipment and tattoo-related art and ephemera as a visual explanation for the evolution of the medium. Los Angeles provides an especially appropriate setting for the exhibit, as the city's proximity to Asia and the Pacific Rim made it easier for other techniques and styles to spread to the U.S. Specifically, local Don Ed Hardy was among the first Westerners to study traditional Japanese tattooing techniques and bring them to the U.S., which helped spread the Japanese tattoo aesthetic, as well as later styles of tribal tattooing of the South Pacific that were promoted by his protégés. And you thought you only had Hardy to thank for thermals and trucker hats.

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