Stanley "Bowery Stan" Moskowitz passed away from heart-related issues on April 11. Moskowitz, the last surviving tattoo artist to work in New York City's old time Bowery, was 87.
The Moskowitz family is legendary in the tattooing world. William Moskowitz, a Jewish immigrant from Russia, opened up a barber shop in the Bowery during the late 1920s. As the Great Depression hit, William learned that he could make more money by tattooing in the basement than he could by cutting hair upstairs. After learning the trade from Charlie Wagner he started tattooing, and the Moskowitz family tattooing legacy had begun.
William passed on the trade to his two sons, Stanley and Walter. The two brothers, along with their brother-in-law, were a fixture of the old neighborhood as they tattooed there until 1958 when they made the move to Long Island. It is here that they earned the moniker, "The Bowery Boys." Things were a lot different back in the day, as Stan recalls in the video below.
That ball-peen hammer became a bit of an icon for Stan from that point on. Stan incorporated it into a design with a fish, sending out the message that even the smallest fish in the sea is able to fight back ferociously. Stan tattooed the design hundreds of times throughout his career, even as recently as last year.
Stan was the last surviving artist who could draw his lineage back to the pre-ban days of tattooing in the Bowery. Stan's grandson Nicholas posted a beautiful tribute video on the Instagram account that he helped his grandfather manage.
Stan Moskowitz was a true original, the kind of character that makes tattooing such a rich and interesting culture. Bowery Stan will be missed by many, but his legacy and work will live on forever.