Playful tattoos of hula girls and pinups were the rage for servicemen stationed in Hawaii during World War II—and the passion and appreciation for South Seas ink continues today.
From the first voyage of Captain James Cook in 1769 to the brothels and bars of Hotel Street, the Hawaiian Islands have been synonymous with the art of tattooing. This ancient practice of tribal tradition and family heritage became the indelible mark of shore leave for thousands of servicemen in the hands of dozens of tattoo artists working during the 1920s to present day in the Hawaiian Islands.
The historic journey of tattoos will be explored during tattoo artist Paul Roe’s “Hawaii – Sailors, Sex and the Birth of Old School Tattoos” symposium at The Hukilau Tiki festival in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“When I was approached about this symposium, I knew it would be of interest to my attendees as this is a side of Hawaii that we rarely think or know about,” says The Hukilau Founder and Producer Christie J. White. “Tattoos are still considered taboo yet is such a part of everyday culture now—it’s a benefit to know more about their origin and influence on the world.”
Paul Roe is the owner and head artist of Britishink Tattoos in Washington, D.C. He has researched the vast field of tattooing for the past decade and written articles for the tattoo industry. Roe has been featured in the Washington Post, The Japan Times, Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and various tattoo-related publications. He has also appeared on National Public Radio and WIYY Radio Baltimore. Roe is the tattoo consultant of the District of Columbia of Cosmetology and an expert witness of the District of Columbia Public Defender’s Office. His work can be viewed at http://www.britishinkdc.com/.
Roe will be joined by Britishink Tattoos’ artist Cynthia Rudzis during his lighthearted but informative symposium, which covers the development of the “old-school” tattoo style through the words, photos and tattoo designs of some of the legendary names of tattooing, including Hawaii tattoo artist Norman Collins (aka Sailor Jerry), Thomas Riley, Sutherland MacDonald, George Burchett, Armund Dietzel and August “Cap” Coleman.
Tikiphiles and tattoo artists are invited to set sail during Roe’s urban archaeological adventure as he pays homage to the art of tattooing.
“Tattooing in the Hawaiian Islands has a deep history,” explains Roe. “I’ll be discussing traditional, pre-western influence tattooing and its various styles and symbols and the ritual of tattoos and its similarity to tattooing today.”
Experience an exotic escape during The Hukilau, June 9-12, 2011 at the Bahia Cabana, Bahia Mar and the Mai-Kai Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Paul Roe’s “Hawaii – Sailors, Sex and the Birth of Old School Tattoos” symposium is Saturday, June 11 at 11 a.m. at the Bahia Mar. Admission is $12. For more information, visit www.thehukilau.com.