Today is the 116th birthday of Franklin Paul Rogers, better known as Paul Rogers, one of the forefathers of American tattooing and pioneer who helped revolutionize the industry. He took it from traditional to modern day – drawing from decades of experience working with masters in the industry to build some of the best tattoo machines in the business.
Born on September 9, 1905, Paul Rogers spent his early years working in cotton mills. He discovered the art of tattooing at 21 years old, when he first got inked by Chet Cain who worked with a traveling circus. Cain had given Rogers advice on the art, and two years later, Rogers bought his first tattoo kit, beginning his lifelong career.
While honing his craft, Rogers, who always wanted to travel with a circus and work in sideshows, also trained in acrobatics. In 1932, he got his first sideshow gig, working the carnival circuits as a tattooist in the summers and the cotton mills in the winters. In 1942, Rogers pursued his tattooing dream fulltime.
In 1945, he partnered with fellow legend, Cap Coleman, whom he went on to work with for the next few years. Rogers then collaborated with Lathan Connelly and they opened tattoo studios in Petersburg, Virginia, and Jacksonville, North Carolina. After years of traveling and opening several shops along the way, Rogers shifted focus to a mail-order supply business, Spaulding & Rogers. By the 1970s, he changed gears again and opened the “Iron Factory”, devoting his time to improving tattoo machines and building new ones, used by some of the world’s best tattooists.
Over his decades-long career, Rogers helped mentor apprentices, guide other artists – even becoming one of the first advocates for female tattooists. His contributions to the industry live on – when he passed, he donated his tattoo collection to the Tattoo Archives, and The Paul Rogers Tattoo Research Center is a nonprofit formed to preserve tattoo history and promote the art worldwide. Today, World Famous Tattoo Ink celebrates Roger’s legacy and the indelible mark he left on the industry. Check out our 6-piece Paul Rogers Ink Set here, inspired by his career and vibrant life.