As with every activity, there is always a club, association, or gathered group. It’s human nature—we like to share our passions, our hobbies, our like-minded ideas. We enjoy getting together over a similarly loved interest; bonding over the same pursuits. So, it should come as no surprise that there are a smattering of tattoo clubs, associations, and groups given that the practice is as old as written history itself.
One such well-known group is The National Tattoo Association. Started in early 1976, this organization came to light as an unregistered society operating under the name of The National Tattoo Club of the World. The association was launched by one of the prevalent tattoo supply companies of the time—National Tattoo Supply—and required absolutely no dues, recommendations, or proof of work quality. In fact, all you had to do to become a member of this early branch was to purchase your supplies from National Tattoo Supply and you were granted instant membership.
In April of its founding year, the organization—small as it was—kicked off its first newsletter. The three-page, stapled packet contained no images, and was fairly basic; paling in comparison to the stunning magazine editions of today. The newsletter continued to grow, boosting in size and adding pictures as the time went on. A Featured Artists and Artists Nicknames segments were added by their fourth issue which released in October of 1976; but the newsletter really gained its true footing in 1977 when it debuted in its current magazine format. The next year saw the end of their free newsletter, as they began producing quality publications with full imagery.
As for the organization itself, it really hit the ground running in 1978. Under the guidance of member Peter Tat2 Poulos and his wife Dianne, The National Tattoo Club of the World was brought into the world of non-profit organizations, becoming an official corporation. Board members, rules, and regulations were all decided upon, with an original five year term put into place. The first term of the elected board members would run from 1978-1983 and would provide no method or form of payment to any such member. Dues were to be kept low, coming in at $15.00 a year, and a member roster limit of 1,000 people was instituted, in order to keep the quality of artists accepted in check.
While it may not have felt like it at the time, the National Tattoo Club of the World made history when they hosted their first convention shortly after inception. In March of 1979, the first National Convention of Tattoo Artists and Fans was held in Denver, Colorado with the Cosmopolitan Hotel being utilized as the venue.
Today, the National Tattoo Association is one of the longest operating tattoo associations in the world. This year, they will host their 37th Annual Worldwide Family Tattoo Convention; which has skyrocketed in popularity since its first show back in 1979. As their website proudly states, they are “Living On and Strong,” much like the industry itself.