National Tattoo Association, Inc.
485 Business Park Lane
Allentown, PA 18109
National Tattoo Association originally started as the National Tattoo Club of the World . The owners of National Tattoo Supply started the club back in early 1976 as an unregistered organization. There were no dues to join because the National Tattoo Supply Company paid for everything. You did not have to be recommended to join; you did not have to send in photos of your work, etc. Whoever bought from National Tattoo Supply automatically became a member of the club.
April 1976 was the release of our first newsletter, and back then it was a 3 page stapled letter. The second issue had a few black and white photos of tattoos and stepped up to 8 pages. Our fourth issue (Oct. 1976) was the beginning of the Featured Artists sections of our newsletter. Our first featured artist was Jerry FLY Colewell from East Patchogue, NY. The Dec. 1976 issue started to list the nicknames of our members. August 1977, the 9th issue, was the newsletters’ debut in the form of a magazine. April/May 1978, the 13th issue, was the last free issue of the newsletter. This issue featured the Skuse Family and the Amsterdam I.T.A.A. (International Tattoo Artists Association) Convention.
The actual start of The National Tattoo Club of the World as a True Organization really began in 1978. When I.T.A.A. started to flounder Peter Tat2 Poulos and his wife Dianne called National Tattoo Supply to say they would help I.T.A.A. put on their conventions. Flo Makofske, one of the owners of National Tattoo Supply, called the president of I.T.A.A. with Peter and Dianne’s offer. The I.T.A.A. declined the offer. A few days later Peter and Diane called back and said why not make “The National Tattoo club of the World” a non-profit organization. It was talked over, and ground rules and regulations for joining were implemented. The owners of National Tattoo supply went to a lawyer and set it all up. The officers were then named: Philadelphia Eddie-President, Don Makofske – Vice President and Flo Makofske – Secretary/Treasurer. The by -laws were set up for a five (5) year term running from June 1978- May 1983 with no officers receiving any salaries. It was also set up that you would need to be recommended by two (2) Artist members to join and that we would cap the membership off at 1,000 members as we were looking for quality not quantity in our membership. Dues were set up to be $15.00 a year at that time. It was also set up that the Board of Directors, which just consisted of the officers, would form a quorum that would be able to change any of the by-laws at any time.
The first National Convention was set up for Denver, Colorado March 23rd – 25th, 1979 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. The officers of the N.T.A.(National Tattoo Association) sat down with Peter, Dianne, and Larry Romano, as they were going to be in charge of the security and negotiating with the hotel and such, and discussed the rules and regulations of the contests, the dinner, the welcome party, having suppliers there, etc. This was to be a Convention to promote tattooing and only Tattooing.
After the Convention in Denver it was discussed which, if any, rules and regulations should be put into the by-laws. Since we weren’t quite unanimous in some of the subjects we sent out a questionnaire for the entire membership to vote on. We asked if they wanted conventions to continue, Should the Press be invited, should there be tattooing, if yes 1 day, 2 days, the entire convention?, Should awards be given out, and for which catagories?, How should they be voted on and by whom?, If no convention would they like a vacation meeting, what type of resort, summer or winter?, What month?, etc. Should suppliers be allowed to pass out catalogs and or sell their equipment? What would you like included or eliminated from conventions?, Should clubs continue?, Should newsletters continue?, Should Fans be allowed to join?, what qualifications for fans to join? Same for Artists?, Any other comments you’d like to say, etc.
The outcome was that you wanted conventions, every year. You wanted contests and wanted them judged by all attending. You wanted the club to continue along with the newsletter. Fans could join only if they were already members. If new ones wanted to join they had to be recommended by 2 tattooists in the club and have at least 4 tattoos, send in photos of themselves and the name or names of their tattooists. Artists who were already members could remain members any new tattooists wishing to join had to send in photos of their work, their business card, photo of themselves in their studio or the studio they worked in and they needed to be recommended by 2 artist members.
The NTA originally started as the “National Tattoo Club of the World” back in early 1976 (which is why Snake adds on 2 years to his membership as he was one of our very first customers). I said customer because back then that is how it started out. When the National Tattoo Supply Company started it, it was not a registered organization. There were no dues to join as the NTS paid for it all. Whoever bought from us automatically became a member of the club and we sent you a certificate to hang on your wall. You did not have to be recommended to join, and you did not have to send in photos of your work, etc, etc.
Our first newsletter was dated April 1976 and it was just three pages stapled together. The second issue had a few black and white photos of tattoos in them and had 8 pages to it. These were back to back whereas the first issue was 3 pages with nothing on the back side of each page.
The first time we had a photo of a car in the issue was in June 1976. It was Jack Armstrong’s 1966 Ford. We showed it as he had it decorated with dragons on the front fenders and the words, “Jack’s house of Tattoo” painted on each of the front doors of the car.
In our fourth issue (Oct. 1976) we tried something new. This was the beginning of the Featured Artists. Our first feature was on Jerry “FLY” Colwell from East Patchogue, NY. (I am happy to add here that Fly’s son, Greg, is carrying on with the tradition and is tattooing on Long Island, NY and is a member of the NTA.)
In the Dec. 1976 issue we started to list the nicknames of our members. Example: Jerry “FLY” Colwell, Good Time Charley Cartwright, King Arthur Bishop, Painless Jeff Baker and our Featured Artist was Frank “Diamond Tooth” Smith from North Carolina – he got that nickname because he had a diamond implanted in his front tooth.
In our April 1977 issue our Featured Artist was Peter Tat 2 Poulos from Denver, Colorado and Long Island, NY.
The June 1977 issue Featured both Bob Shaw and his partner Col. Todd both of Long Beach, California.
The August 1977 (9th issue) was the first issue to be in the form of a magazine. However, it only had 16 pages and our Featured Artist was Cliff Raven of Chicago, Illinois and then later on California.
October 1977’s Featured Artist was Terry Wrigley of Glasgow, Scotland.
Then with our 11th issue (Dec. 1977) we got a bit fancier as our front cover, inside front cover, inside back cover and outside back cover was on light blue colored paper. Each issue after this was a different color. The first was light blue, followed by pink, yellow and light green. In this issue we featured Husband and Wife Team – Ann & Tex Peace of Augusta, Georgia
Philadelphia Eddie of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was our Featured Artist in the Feb. 1978 issue.
The last free issue was our 13th issue. April/May 1978 and it featured the Skuse Family of England and the Amsterdam I.T.A.A. (International Tattoo Artists Association) Convention.
However, the actual start of the National Tattoo Club of the World as a TRUE Organization really began in 1978. Read on….
When I.T.A.A. started to flounder Peter Tat2 Poulos and his wife, Dianne called to say they would help I.T.A.A. put on their conventions if they’d like them too. I called the president of I.T.A.A. with Peter and Dianne’s offer. They declined it. When I told Peter and Dianne this they said OK. But… in a few days they called me back and said. “Why not make the National Tattoo club of the World a non-profit organization and they would be more than happy to help run the conventions for us since they had quite a lot of people in their shops that could help out with the security and such. We talked it over, sat down and set up the ground rules and regulations for joining. We went to a lawyer and set it all up. The officers then were: Philadelphia Eddie President, Don Makofske Vice President and Flo Makofske Secretary/Treasurer. The by-laws were set up for a five (5) year term running from June 1978-May 1983 with no officers receiving any salaries. It was also set up that you would need to be recommended by two (2) Artist Members to join and that we would cap the membership off at 1,000 members as we were looking for quality not quantity in our membership. Dues were set at $15.00 a year at that time. It was also set up that the Board of Directors (which just consisted of the officers) would form a quorum and would be able to change any of the by-laws at any time.
And so the first issue as The National Tattoo Club of the World, Inc. was the June/July 1978 issue and it Featured Bert Grimm of Portland, Oregon.
The first motorcycle to be shown was in our Aug. /Sept. 1978 issue. It belonged to J Ray Smith of Radcliffe, Kentucky. Ray used to wear a bright blue suit with sequined Eagles, Dragons, Stars, etc. all over it. He really looked sharp at the conventions in that suit. Our Featured Artist in this issue was “Cindy Ray” Robinson, Nichols of Melbourne, Australia and we Featured Peter De Haan of Amsterdam, Holland – the Netherlands in the Oct. /Nov. 1978 issue.
The Dec.’78/Jan 1979 issue Doc Webb of San Diego, California was our Featured artist. And, since the first of our conventions was coming up we featured our Hostess with the Mostess – Dianne Poulos in the Feb/March 1979 issue.
The First National Convention was set up for Denver, Colorado on March 23rd-25th, 1979 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. We sat down with Peter, Dianne and Larry Romano as they were going to be in charge of the security and negotiating with the hotel and such. We discussed the rules and regulations of the contests, the awards banquet dinner, the Welcome Party, having suppliers there, etc. Since Don Ed Hardy had brought the subject of piercings up at the I.T.A.A. Reno convention in 1977 (he felt, as did the overwhelming majority of artists there that piercing did not belong at a tattoo convention and should not be linked to tattooing. I.T.A.A. Members voted there and then not to have piercing at future conventions.) It was decided on (by the suggestion of Bob Shaw) not to allow facial tattoos or piercings at the National Tattoo conventions. This was to be a Convention to promote Tattooing and only Tattooing. We did decide to allow suppliers there but they were to be in separate rooms from the tattooing room and were supposed to only allow those with Artist Badges on in their room. This really didn’t work. There were only two suppliers there Huck Spaulding and us. However, one supplier left his catalogs all over the hotel and we saw several people going into his room that were not tattooers and so it was decided not to have suppliers at any future conventions.
Now this is an interesting account of how we started doing the conventions too money wise that is….
We decided to charge $10.00 registration for members and non-members alike. However, this fee included the dinner for the members but we charged $15.00 for non-members for their dinner. This dinner fee from non-members helped to offset the fact that we lost $2.00 on every dinner per member since the dinners cost the club $12.00. Our Welcome Party was not as lavish as they are now but we did have hors d’oeuvres, cheeses, fruits and vegetable to snack on. We charged $100.00 for a booth – there were 9 of them – yes I said 9 of them, and tattooing was only done on Sunday. The suppliers were allowed to open on Friday and Saturday only.
On Friday at our first convention, we also had speakers. Not seminars like we have now, but speakers to talk about competition, suppliers, conventions, etc. This was done at our Artists Only Meeting. The speakers were: Terry Wrigley, Peter Tat 2 Poulos, Dianne Poulos, Don Ed Hardy, Bob Shaw (who even back then spoke about the importance of using autoclaves and keeping you and your studio clean), Big Walt Kilkucki, Painless Jeff Baker, Dave Yurkew, and Arnold Rubin & Jan Stussy from U.C.L.A. After the speakers were finished Tattoo Samy of Frankfurt, Germany did a slide presentation of tattooed people.
On Saturday we held the contests. Some were judged by a panel of judges who consisted of: Don Ed Hardy, Peter Tat 2 Poulos, Philadelphia Eddie, Bob Shaw, and the last judge was either Terry Wrigley or Dave Yurkew. They judged the design sheet and the Best Individual Tattoo contest. The other contests were voted on by everyone attending.
That evening we held our Awards Banquet. And, the winners were: Enthusiast of the Year – Elizabeth Weinzirl, Best Black & Grey Design Sheet – Bob Roberts, Golden Age Award Winner – Bert Grimm, Best Individual Tattoo – Kim Schaefer tattooed by Peter Tat 2, Best Tattooed Female – Theresa Hannong, tattooed by Peter Tat 2, Best Tattooed Male – Dan Cunningham – tattooed by several tattooers, Best Male Tattooist – Peter Tat 2 Poulos, Best Female Tattooist – Barbara Chapman, and Man of the Year Award – Philadelphia Eddie.
Then the following special awards were given to: Our Hostess – Dianne Poulos, Dave Yurkew for holding the first tattoo convention in the USA, Bob Shaw for all he’s done to upgrade the profession, Terry Wrigley for all he’s done for the profession worldwide, and Lyle Tuttle for his contributions to the Tattoo World.
Sunday was our tattooing day and we opened the doors to the public at 10am. We only charged $5.00 for the walk-ins back then. The booths were supposed to close at 9pm but there were so many requests for tattoos that most of the 9 booths stayed open longer.
We also held our Farewell Party this evening and had chips, dips and nuts (and as I wrote back then – both human and mixed ha ha). This was the time when we got a few of us together to go over what we felt was good or bad about this one and to discuss whether we should do another one or not. Our free souvenirs were match books (most everyone smoked back then) and balloons.
The first NTC Convention issue April/May 1979 was next and covered the convention naturally. J It was 24 pages and our biggest issue as yet. Don was our photographer and Robin Donohoe acted as his assistant taking notes on each contestant so I could match them up afterwards for this special issue.
After the convention in Denver some of us sat down to discuss what, if any, rules & regulations should be put into the by-laws. Since we weren’t quite unanimous in some of the subjects we sent out a questionnaire for the entire membership to vote on. Questions asked were: Should we hold more conventions? If Yes – once a year, every other year, every 5 years or other? Should the press be invited? Should there be tattooing (if yes 1 day, 2 days, entire convention? Should awards be given out? If yes – what ones? How should they be voted on and by whom? If no convention would you like a vacation meeting? What type of resort, summer or winter? What month? What should be included at the convention – what should be left out? Should clubs continue? Should newsletters continue? What should the qualifications be to join? Any other comments and/or suggestions?
The outcome was that you wanted a convention once a year. You wanted the contests to be voted on by all attending. You wanted the club to continue along with the newsletter. Everyone who had been a member before it became a non-profit organization could remain a member – anyone new wanting to join now had to be recommended by 2 Artist members, send photos of tattoos they’ve done, their studio – or the studio they work in, their business card and a photo of themselves. Enthusiasts had to also be recommended by 2 member artists and they had to send in photos of their work and name of the artist who did them. Since we did not get these answers back in time to set up another convention in 1980 we did not hold one that year. But back to the 1979/1980 fiscal year.
We then switched up the months that the newsletters would come out so that our fiscal year would start in July and end in June as the IRS wanted it that way. So… the next issue became the July/Aug. 1979 issue and we Featured Ron Ackers of Hants, England.
Apache Jil Tong then of Arizona and now of Reno, Nevada was featured in the Sept. /Oct. 1979 issue. And Tattoo Samy Streckenbach of Frankfurt, Germany was featured in the Nov. /Dec. 1979 issue.
Jan/Feb.1980 (#23rd issue) was our first Colored Issue. It contained Dave Yurkew’s Sacramento convention and also Featured Gene Bernardo of Asbury Park, NJ. It was our first try at doing color instead of black & white photos.
The next issue #24 March/April 1980 issue we went back to black & white photos, as we didn’t have enough money in the kitty to continue doing color without first asking our members if they wanted to raise the dues so we could go to color from then on. So we sent out another questionnaire. You voted and said you liked the newsletter in color and so agreed to raise the dues to $25.00 a year. Roger Ingerton of Wellington, New Zealand was also featured in this issue, and our May/June issue of 1980 George Bone of London, England was our Featured Artist.
The start of our new fiscal year of July 1, 1980-June 30, 1981 began with issue # 26 (July/Aug.). I started putting little photos of the people being featured on the front cover. Bob Roberts and Enthusiast Kathryn Rabanne were featured in this issue. This is also, to my knowledge, the rarest issue of the NTA as when I asked who had the complete set besides me some years back – most who did not have a complete set said they were missing this one. This also marked the beginning of using colored photos in every issue. It also meant raising the dues to $25 a year now to cover the costs of doing them in color according to the outcome voted on by the membership on the questionnaire sent out at the end of the last fiscal year. We also started listing the birth dates of members in this issue wishing them a Happy Birthday and continued this in the following issues of this fiscal year. This issue also had a joke from Doc Webb…. “Doc wants to know if you heard about the fellow that had a car wreck. He went to the Good Hands People with his claims. They gave him the finger.”
The Sept./Oct. 1980 issue featured the World’s # 1 Enthusiast – Elizabeth Weinzirl and Jerry Swallow of Canada. We also announced that our second convention would be in Reno on March 27, 28 and 29, 1981 at the Sundowner Hotel & Casino – set up for us by Carolyn & Guy Martynuik.
Julie Moon, and Tom Beasley of Glen Burnie, MD and Enthusiast Krystyne The Kolorful of Canada were our features for the Nov./Dec. 1980 issue. We didn’t have any riddles or puzzles but the thought of that issue was: When a man is so wrapped up in himself he makes a pretty small package – John Ruskin.
Peter Davidson of Australia and Enthusiast Gene Houghton of California were featured in the Jan./Feb.1981 issue. Back then, Gene was a teacher and Head of the Industrial Education Dept. at the Hiram W Johnson SR High School. He had a display entitled “Tattoo, an Art Throughout the Ages” in the teachers lounge in May of 1980. It was a hit with both the faculty and the students and even made the school year book (perhaps a first in tattooing) with a ½ page layout of Gene and his tattoos.
The NTC (National Tattoo Club of the World, Inc) Reno Convention was the subject of the March/April 1981 issue. Sat. & Sun. we had 5 booths at this convention – they were: Ed Nolte from San Francisco had a T-Shirt Booth. The tattoo booths were: Mike & Deb Mendonsa of San Pablo, CA., Danny Danzl’s Seattle Tattoo Emporium and working was P.A. Stephens & Greg Irons, Henry Goldfield & Moses from San Francisco had another, Cliff Raven, Robert Benedetti & Dennis Dwyer of Hollywood & San Francisco had one and the last tattooing booth was Wild Bill Hill’s from (then) Sacramento and also working with him was Corky Pineau.
On Sat. evening we held the Awards banquet. We gave a special Official Photographers Medal to James Nicoll’s of England for taking all the photos of the contestants for us. Elizabeth Weinzirl presented the Elizabeth Weinzirl Award (Enthusiast of the Year) to Hildegard Wesch of San Antonio, TX. Apache Jil Tong of California (back then – now in Reno) won the Best Black/Grey Design Sheet and PJ English of California took the Best Colored Design sheet honors. We had a tie in the Best Tattooed Male category – Art Livermore of CA. (work by Pat Martynuik) and Tom Alley of CO. (work by Peter Tat 2 Poulos) were the recipients here. Susan James of England (tattoos by Cliff Raven & Don Ed Hardy) won the Best Tattooed Female. Best Overseas Tattooist was won by Doc Forest of Sweden and Best Tattooist (American or Canadian) was won by Dennis Dwyer of CA at that time – now in AZ. The Golden Age Award (40 years or more in tattooing – and voted on from the top 5 nominations) went to Danny Danzl of Seattle. The first collector type souvenir given at our conventions was at this convention. It was a tray, white with the then eagle logo printed in the middle of it with the words National Tattoo Convention Reno 1981 imprinted around the outer edge. The convention issue had 20 pages and was our second convention. Carolyn & Guy Martynuik actually booked this convention on their own but then Carolyn got pregnant and so Guy called and asked if the NTA would step in and make it an NTA convention since they couldn’t do it on their own since she was having a baby. We said we would and so this was the first NTA Reno convention but our second one.
The last issue for this fiscal year we featured J. Ray Smith of Kentucky. I am hoping that the photo of him in his bright blue suit with Sequined tattoo designs on them reprint well because he was a hit at every convention he attended wearing it….
We also featured Miss Roxy from Copenhagen, Denmark whom we met at the E.T.A.A. convention in Frankfurt, Germany.
…More to come.