It is extremely difficult to ignore the presence of tattooing in popular culture, and it is as equally hard to ignore the influence of traditional American tattoos within this art form. The images of skulls, eagles, sailing ships, daggers, snakes, pin-up girls, and banners are no longer restricted to tattoos or the hand painted placards tattoo artists used to demonstrate their talents and advertise tattoos. Tattoo designs drawn by Ed Hardy (b.1945) and Sailor Jerry Collins (1911-1973) have been printed on products such as bottles of rum, cologne, clothing, glassware, and shot glasses. Due to the ubiquity of their designs, these two tattoo artists have become household names, which may be an unprecedented popularity among their peers.
One of these veteran tattoo artists is Mr. Eddie Funk (1936-2016), also known as Crazy Philadelphia Eddie, who began tattooing as a young teenager. After a prolific career as a tattoo artist, fighting the 1962 ban on tattooing in New York City Supreme Court, and owning many tattoo shops, he has become a prominent person in the international tattoo community. He and his cohorts are considered the cornerstone of America’s traditional tattoo culture. His presence in the tattoo industry has not gone unnoticed. Mr. Funk was featured in the exhibit Skin and Bones: Tattoos in the Life of the American Sailor at The Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2009. He is also invited as special guest to many tattoo conventions, and he occasionally serves as a judge in tattoo competitions.