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Chris Pfouts R.I.P.

June 17, 2013

I don’t know how this got by me, but somehow it did.

Long-time writer/editor of International Tattoo Art magazine Chris Pfouts passed away last week. If you don’t know who he is, you should.

When he took over ITA in the early 90’s, he re-shaped the way a tattoo magazine should look.

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Chris Pfouts

The focus of the magazine was not only on good tattooing, but the art surrounding it and more importantly the history of the trade. Which is a far far cry to what the glut of tattoo magazines clogging the newsstand shelves are doing these days. ITA pretty much was a 2 man operation; with Chris handling the writing, editing, interviewing and photographic aspects and a bubbly young lady named Debbie Ullman handling the layout. Each issue had a history lesson, interviews with famous artists that related to the art of tattooing, and lastly showcasing the best work being put out by the tattoo industry at the time.

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The 2 tattoos I did on Chris

Chris was extremely influential in my career in the mid 90’s, as he was with a lot of up and coming artists at the time. ITA was sort of a bible to us back in the day, and Chris was the preacher giving the sermons. I owe a great debt of gratitude to him for many things: he did one of my first “big” interviews, he constantly published my artwork for many years to come, and he practically got me started as a writer and interviewer. Since it was a simple operation, he would occasionally call me to contribute to the mag for extra filler material, and I made sure I always presented him with something good.

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Some of the non-tattooing related books Chris wrote.

Chris Pfouts helped me out tremendously in my formative years in the tattoo business, and if it wasn’t for his help I surely wouldn’t be where I am today. And for this important news of his passing to be overlooked in general by today’s tattoo community, is a fucking sad state of affairs. I don’t know if this is a community I can respect anymore.

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My ITA issue, 1995

If we don’t pay the proper
respect to those who have come before us, we’re never gonna move forward. So keep watching your tattoo TV shows, I’m going to go look through some old tattoo magazines and do it the right way.

From Bob Baxter’s blog:

To paraphrase Chris Pfouts, editor of International Tattoo Art magazine, “Too much respectability will never be a good thing for tattooing.”

“Dana Brunson wrote to say that Chris Pfouts passed away last night. Always outspoken, always dedicated to the art of tattooing, Pfouts may have left the pain and pleasures of this planet, but he’s left an important legacy. It’s because of editors like Chris that tattoo magazines gained a new respect as a legitimate and trusted reflection of the art he worked so hard to honor. Chris never minced his words or held back his often audacious, always inspiring commentary on the “real” people, not the scripted megastars manufactured by TV producers. He stirred the pot and always had something intriguing to say. His voice will be missed. We wish him and his family peace and marvelous memories of a job well done.”

Addendum- from George Keeler of Keeler Tattoo West in Ohio:
My good friend Of mine was super close to Chris and spent the last weeks with him. He is there packing Chris’s house up. He stayed with him until his mom and sister showed up from California . Chris passed quietly with his family there.
He was always an inspiration to me and a great guy. I’m sorry to hear of this.

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7 Comments
  1. Thank you for this informative blog. It is always a shame when someone that has done so much for the community passes. His legacy will hopefully always live on. ITA was the first truly decent tattoo magazine that no one has been able to duplicate in quality since. Thank you

    • Robert Skaggs permalink

      Chris was a neighbor of mine and a good friend sure going to miss him and so are my grandkids RIP Chris your friend Robert Skaggs

  2. Thank you for writing this about my late brother. Chris took writing and tattooing seriously, but always seemed to have a good time. Thank you for your friendship with Chris and for honoring his memory

  3. Nick permalink

    I cant beleave it took so long for me to find out about this. Chris was me neighbor when he had the NJ Beach house .I will always consider Chris one of my mentors and a Extreamly Generous Guy. I still have quiet a few gifts he gave me from when he was on travel and one of his hand painted Clams w tattoo.. He Hooked me up w Mike Siderio from Rebel Image for my 1st Tattoo . Then did a article on him and put my tattoo in ITA. He will be missed R.I P..

  4. Thomas Higgins permalink

    I’m such an asshole. Chris came to work at our shop in Belfast N.Ireland in the 90s had a big impact on the beginning of my career and outlook on life. Visited him in ohio a few years later. I say asshole cause I had the chance in 2011 to see him again and missed it cause of my fu**ING satnav! And just today I’m telling my girlfriend about his books and Googled them, to find this. I’m so shocked and sorry. loved the big man and feel honored to have known him….shot my first gun with him smoke my first j with him, the first real tattoo artist I met were through him..And I never kept in touch.

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