Greg Irons (1947-1984) was a poster artist, cartoonist, animator and great tattooist. He is a legend in the tattoo world and we’re glad to tell our readers his fascinating history.
Born in Philadelphia he moved to San Francisco during the winter of 1967, where he soon start doing posters for Bill Graham at The Fillmore Auditorium.
Graham commissioned Irons for a series of posters for great bands like Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby-Stills-Nash & Young, Albert King and Santana, among others.
After working on the Beatles animated film “Yellow Submarine” in 1968, he returned to work for Graham Productions and began designing album covers.
Irons’ collaborations with writer Tom Veitch in the early 1970s included such titles as “Deviant Slice Funnies”, “Legion of Charlies”, and contributions to many other underground comix. His solo comic “Light Comitragies” was published in 1971.
In the mid 70s he started doing book illustrations. It was also around this time he began tattooing. He had been tattooed many years earlier and the tattoo art always fascinated him: his first tattoo (done in the 1960s) was the word “tattoo” on his left forearm.
After buying a proper tattoo equipment in 1975 he did his first tattoo on himself: crows and a skull on his ankle. He started his professional tattoo career in 1980 at Dean Dennis’s shop in San Francisco. It was during this time at Dean’s that Greg drew up his first flash set to be produced for sale.
Greg worked at Dean’s for a year about a year and then moved north to work at the Tattoo Emporium in Seattle with C.J. Danzl and Pete Stephens.
In 1982 Irons went back to San Francisco tattooing for Henry Goldfield and by that time he was having a big influence on the tattoo world: his flash designs were showed everywhere.
After traveling around Europe he attended a tattoo convention in Houston (Texas) in September 1984 where his artworks was in great demand. In this occasion he was able to earn enough money to take his dream vacation to Thailand.
Just before leaving he was offered a position at Don Ed Hardy’s world famous Realistic Studio, in San Francisco.
On November 14, 1984 Greg was hit and killed by a city bus in Bangkok.
Greg had just received a magic tattoo from a Buddhist monk. In a postcard written at that time he said:
The tattoo came complete with religious ceremony at a monastery in the out-back, took three days to negotiate, but worth it. The 100 year old monk blessed it and gave me a secret mantra to go with it.
Gregory Rodman Irons was laid to rest with a Buddhist ceremony at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple on November 24, 1984.