'Tattoos are OK for boys – not girls…’
The above declaration was just one of many quaint news-clippings to be found in Bugsy and Adam Lockman’s anthology of Ricky Luder’s ample and beguiling collection of Australian tattoo history. In their eponymous book, Ricky Luder, Bugsy and Adam ‘start at the start’ of a 9 year-old boy’s enthusiastic desire to become a tattooist while the nation was engaged in war with Vietnam. That boy, Ricky Luder, went on, as Bugsy states, to ‘play such an important role in shaping the Australian tattoo industry [that] we should count ourselves lucky to have a gentleman of his calibre still among our ranks.’
This pioneering spirit of Luder is presented through extensive interviews infused with the same unextinguished passion that drew Ricky to tattooing in the first place. The incomparable wealth of the book, however, lies in the accompanying imagery, tattoos, news-clippings, and various handwritten correspondences between peers that reveal a bygone era so rich, perverse, and important, one feels inclined to bow their head in reverence to Australian’s such as Ricky Luder, Johnny Dollar and Cindy Ray, who paved the way to our modern tattoo culture.
This is Adam and Bugsy’s second book on tattooing. The first, Done With Electricity, was a compilation of works from sixty-four of the best artists from Australia and New Zealand. Rick’s story, however, along with his incredible collection of photos and oddities, inspired Bugsy and Adam to produce a book that preserved for posterity a little piece of the Australian tattoo industry.
As Adam noted, ‘I think it was a lot harder [during the 60s] to become or be a tattooist. Tattooing was definitely seen in a completely different way than it is today and was most certainly not socially accepted. Combine that with the lack of internet access along with the lack of respect from the general public as legitimate artists, and you can start to get an idea of the challenges they must have faced. I think it’s a true testament to people like Ricky’s love for tattooing that they put up with the hassles and shit from people to keep plying their trade.’
Ricky Luder reminds the reader of the vast chasm between past and contemporary styles, technology, and social perceptions, and brings to the fore an all-too-often overlooked history of how far tattooing in Australia has come.
The book is available for purchase from Bugsy and Adam Lockman’s website at http://www.donewithelectricity.com.au/