The Shaw family is America’s oldest tattoo dynasty. The Patriarch, Bob Shaw, began tattooing in 1940 for one of the world’s most famous tattoo artists, Bert Grimm. Bob always referred to Bert as his Uncle, and eventually took over control of Bert’s shop at Nu Pike, in Long Beach, CA. The shop at the pike was the oldest continuously operated tattoo shop in the United States until it was closed after Bob Shaw’s death in 1993, and now stands as a tattoo museum. Bob Shaw was one of the most influential tattoo artists in history, not only because of his innovative designs and impeccable skills, but also for his passion for tattoo safety. He recognized that tattooing needed to be safer for people, and spent decades in California working directly with the Board of Health to adopt safety standards for sterilization and after care of tattoos to prevent spread of disease. He also created a new style of tattoo machine that had removable components that allowed easy sterilization of the parts. This machine is still what is used today by most artists in the industry. Bob Shaw was also inducted into the Tattoo Hall of Fame and was President of the National Tattoo Association when he died in 1993.
All three of Bob Shaw’s sons were tattoo artists, but the most famous and successful of them was Larry Shaw. Larry started tattooing at Bert Grimm’s shop under his Dad’s tutelage in 1972, and worked at that shop until 1979 when the Shaw family moved to Houston. Larry opened Shaw’s Tattoo Studio in the same year, and it became the first licensed tattoo shop in Houston. The shop remains in place at its original location on Westheimer and Dunlavy.
Larry’s son, Larry Shaw II has been working professionally at Shaw’s Tattoo Studio in Houston since 1993, and apprenticed for many years before that under his Grandfather and Father. Larry has long been considered one of the most talented artists in Houston and has an extremely loyal following of “collectors.” Throughout his career as an employee of his Father, Larry has become an expert in the art of production tattooing, and multiple different styles of tattooing, including Japanese, Traditional, and New School styles as well as his penchant for “miracle” cover ups. His art is world renowned, and his family history is extremely important to him. Due to creative differences with his Dad, Larry recently made the difficult decision to move out on his own to open a boutique style shop, 3rd Generation Ink.