Jay Brown: 25 Years of Tattoo Business Cards
By Jay Brown
In tattooing a good business card can be as important as a tattoo machine. Business cards for tattoo artists represent who they are and the work they do. It’s a two-by-three inch advertising wonder, as in any professional trade, our business cards can say a lot about the shop or artist…
In my 25 years in tattooing one of my obsessions has been to collect business cards. It all started with the first shops I worked at, extending to every tattoo convention I attended. Whenever I travel and stop by a tattoo studio I make it a point to pick up business cards, stickers, whatever advertising they have.
I have amassed a large collection over the years, consisting of thousands of cards, but also including stickers, matchbooks, pens and key rings.
Over the years these mini-advertisements have changed just as much as tattooing. The early cards were simple and professional looking, (just like other business cards from various professions) over time they have developed into everything from impressive hand drawn pieces, to digitally enhanced artwork, and still some feature photos of the artists’ work.
After looking over my collection I found that each of these cards are as individual as the artists. I noticed the style and look of the cards have changed too… Some show everything from fine-line to “old school” artwork.
In the 1980s and 1990s the most impressive cards were those by Jack Rudy, Brian Everett, Sailor Moses and his California Tattoo Studio in Biloxi. R.J. Rosini was another one who always went out of his way to make an impression through the medium of the business card. As the 90s progressed Paul Booth, Guy Aitchinson, Bob Montagna, Paul Massaro and many others came out with really impressive cards.
As the year 2000 approached, a new generation of tattooers emerged, and business cards evolved by becoming more elaborate. Cards were no longer just black and white standard cards, they changed into impressive two-sided cards with full-color and even photographs of the artists’ tattoo work. With the new millennium computers became more capable and the possibilities became limitless.
Cards nowadays have extravagant fonts and overlaid imagery, as well as examples of the artists’ capabilities. The days of the simple basic business card has become a thing of the past. As I look back, business cards have changed as the generations of tattooers themselves have changed. When handed a card today you get far more than just a shop name, address, phone number and artists name… You get a miniature piece of artwork.
Take a look, and you will see how a business card is an important tool, expressing who you are as an artist and the quality of the studio you work at. A good business card can make or break an artist.
I am including some great examples from my collection of some of the best business cards of the last 25 years. Well, until next time I hope you enjoy a walk through tattoo history, at least the last quarter-century…