By Marisa Kakoulas
The discussion of NYC’s gentrification is nothing new, but it still stings every time I learn of another institution of art, music & grit close its door to make way for mega-store or “luxury” anything. One living institution, who has had a profound effect on NYC’s tattoo scene, is documentarian, fine artist and tattoo artist Clayton Patterson. And, as the NY Times reported this weekend, Clayton will be shutting his Outlaw Art Museum and leaving NY’s Lower East Side with his wife Elsa Rensaa, explaining, “There’s nothing left for me here.”
In a time where our own tattoo community feels gentrified — complete with “celebrity” tattooers working in glass cages — it’s understandable why Clayton and Elsa are leaving town and heading for Bad Ischl, in Austria, where, for almost 15 years, he has collaborated with the Wildstyle Tattoo Convention.
Wildstyle is one of the many projects Clayton has worked on for tattoo artists and collectors. In 1986, Clayton and Ari Roussimoff started the Tattoo Society of New York (TSNY), with the assistance of Elsa, and the group was instrumental in working to overturn the NYC tattoo ban in 1997. When asked by Vice, what about the role of TSNY, he explained:
“It was difficult to learn to tattoo in the city, but the TSNY changed much of that. Those interested in art and tattooing gathered at the Society meetings. The whole 1990s New York City new wave came out of the TSNY. The magazines came to the Society meetings. It is through the Society that Debby Ullman, who had worked at Outlaw Biker and Tattoo Review, moved over to Pat Rusians of Pink Coyote Designs, who was looking for an editor to start a new magazine. I introduced her to Jonathan Shaw, and they started, International Tattoo Magazine. At that time there were not that many photographers on the tattoo scene. Early on, there was Charles Gatewood. Then Steve Bonge started taking photos in the mid 70s. He was instrumental in getting photos of tattoos into Biker magazine. He became the lead photographer for International Tattoo.”
To read the rest of this article, visit: http://www.needlesandsins.com/2014/04/clayton-patterson-leaves-nyc.html
Story by Jasper Craven. Photos by Stacey Rupolo. (Story originally appears at www.VICE.com.)
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[More info on expanded page]
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