The Story Of Inksmith & Rogers

Inksmith & Rogers began with honor. It was 1984 and Eric “Inksmith” Pearlman opened his freshly painted doors to a world that had previously eclipsed tattooing from the light of legitimacy. Eric had moved to Florida in order to be nearer to Paul Rogers who is widely considered to be the father of American Tattooing, yet in Florida tattooing was anything but legal.

Then, septegenarian Rogers held court in his garage workshop, teaching artists from around the world the points of everything tattoo: from machine-making to hand-holding. He was in his retirement and wasn’t actively tattooing any longer, but his philosophy and knowledge of tattoo machines earned him an enthusiastic following among those few with enough connections to find him. It was Paul that gave him the “Inksmith” name and Eric was entranced by the master craftsman and his stories. He endeavored to find a way to keep Paul Rogers important and alive for tattooers and collectors who love American tattoo history and technique. He decided to open a shop and with Paul’s blessing, he found a beautiful location near the Jacksonville coast.

Jacksonville is the largest city in the United States and at the time, hosted no less than three naval bases and a Marine Corps outpost. With a large port on the St. Johns River, Jacksonville is a diverse and thriving community filled with tattoo collectors and enthusiasts. However, Florida law required a doctor to be present at each tattoo performed. As a result of this expensive and over-the-top legislation, shops were systematically shut down and the artists driven out.

Eric was frustrated by the baseless prejudice until he was befriended by a sympathetic surgeon who loved art and respected Paul and the powerful emotional role that tattoos serve collectors. He agreed to come onboard the Inksmith & Rogers team and the shop opened immediately, much to the shock and glee of the police compelled to enforce a law they themselves found nannysome. As more artists followed the example set by Inksmith & Rogers of steadfast integrity in the face of dehumanizing regulation, tattooing was soon fully legalized in Florida.

Today Eric continues to tattoo at his Third Street location with the tradition of craftsmanship and community that Paul created. Eric also visits shops around the country on his famous “Inksmith Road Trips” and is friend and advisor to countless artists and craftspeople around the world. The team at Inksmith & Rogers are a band of hand-selected brothers who create bold, authentic works for their clients that are designed to carry on the powerful legacy of Eric and Paul.

Read more about the legend of Inksmith & Rogers and check out the article in #36 of Tattoo Artist Magazine and the wonderful blog by Alaskan tattoo artist and fellow Roger’s devotee Debra Yarian.