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Homeward Bound: The life and Times of Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry

Tuesday 16 August 2011

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Sailor Jerry – the name has had more exposure than Jordan’s tits. Having been appropriated by just about every industry, Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collin’s designs have posthumously become a brand to be reckoned with. From clothes, to shoes, to alcohol, to homeware, to the stereotypical indie scenester whose emaciated body is laden with generic tattoos of swallows and anchors – we know the name to call if in need of nautical kitsch.

However, what is now a mainstream phenomenon was once a subversive subculture and Sailor Jerry was at the centre of this zeitgeist – revolutionising tattooing with his blend of Americana and Asiatic designs and creating the legacy we know today. Homeward Bound: The life and Times of Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry celebrates the 100th birthday of the legendary tattooist and is a print accompaniment to the critically acclaimed cult film Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry which is set for UK DVD release later this year.

This limited edition coffee table book includes a collection of previously unseen photographs, ephemera and essays, and recalls the era and artistic legacy of Norman Collins, the godfather of old school tattooing whose shop at 1033 street was a point of call for many sailors. Miles from home and ready for war, fuelled by devil-may-care attitudes and a lust for life these men went on shore leave with a single purpose in mind: “To get stewed, screwed and tattooed” – taking in their first taste of liberty.

Permanently etched on the bodies of the thousands of men who passed through his Honolulu parlour, Sailor Jerry’s tattoo designs tell of war and heartache with a dedication to style, craft and detail that would make this master one of the most influential, if little recognised, American folk artists of the 20th Century.

This book not only charts the life of this tough old sea dog but also acts as a conduit to deliver a visual ethnography of American tattooing; including ‘a history of’, biographies of infamous American tattooists, facts, a glossary of Sailor Jerry tatt’s, turn-of-the-century newspaper clippings, vintage flash sheets, circus sideshow promos, snapshots of WWII sailors on shore leave and “hula girls”.