One of the most common issues plaguing tattoo artists from every generation is the serious lack of medical coverage and retirement options available to independent, blue collar craftsmen & women in the profession. From basic medical coverage to disability, these are real-world concerns for tens of thousands of professional tattoo artists, all across the nation and the world. There aren’t many 401K plans for the self-employed.
Recently, the tattoo community was made aware of living legend Zeke Owen’s medical situation, and came together to help raise more than $19,000 (0f $20K needed) to help pay for this amazing man’s Alzheimer’s treatment and his nursing home.
Amazingly, Zeke Owen started tattooing on the Pike in 1957! The Pike is considered one of the west coast’s historical tattoo sites thanks to Bert Grimm & Bob Shaw, two legends of tattooing (before there were legends in tattooing). Zeke was part of that crew till, a few years later, he opened his own shop. In time, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone both worked for Zeke early in their careers, and a slew of others. Zeke was on one of the forerunners of early Japanese Style tattooing in America. Zeke has spent decades on the road doing guest spots at tattoo shops from Georgia to Alaska, tattooing collectors, spinning yarns, and selling antique tattoo art & stencils.
Zeke is also the featured artist biography in the newly released Tattoo Artist Magazine #39. While doing promotions for the upcoming issue, project manager Nicki Kasper was contacted by Zeke’s son, Douglas, and made aware of Zeke’s medical situation. She was alerted to the www.gofundme.com campaign started by Zeke’s family 7 months ago and asked for help raising awareness about Doug’s father and Zeke’s condition. Once the news went public via TAM’s social media network of tattoo artists, fans and friends, an amazing pouring of support and well-wishes began pouring in. It took only a few short days for the tattoo world to raise over $19,000 (of the needed $20k) to pay for Zeke’s ongoing care and treatment. Some could give only a few dollars along with their words of encouragement, some gave thousands- all of it has been helpful and appreciated. The story isn’t over. They still need help.
To donate, go to http://www.gofundme.com/awq8eo
To learn more about Zeke Owen and WHY so many people revere his legendary work and career, pick up a copy of Tattoo Artist Magazine #39 HERE– TAM will continue donating 30% of the issue’s sales to Zeke’s ongoing health needs. For more info go to www.getTAM.com and use the special code: ZEKE at checkout.