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Ryan Cooper

Barred For Life - Recognizing the faithful followers of the Flag

By April 6, 2009

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The old crusty punk next to you at the next hardcore show may be getting some page space in an upcoming book.

Right now, four guys are getting ready to drive around the country, photographing people bearing tattoos of what is arguably punk’s most distinctive logo - the four bars depicting Black Flag – for an upcoming book.

Four old school friends have started the Barred For Life project, and are compiling photos and interviews with people sporting the bars across North America.

While I’ve not done a formal poll, I think it would be an safe bet that the four black bars – designed by original Black Flag bassist Raymond Pettibon, and representing an anarchist flag - are one of the more common tattoos, especially band-related, in the punk scene.

There’s a ton of reasons for that. For one, Black Flag is one of the most innovative and influential American hardcore bands ever. For two, the design of the logo is distinctive and as memorable as the band itself. And three, for all of its distinctive nature, it’s a relatively simple design within the ability of even the most inexperienced tattoo artists (which also explains why many old school Black Flag tattoos look really, really bad).

The Barred For Life project is currently requesting that anyone sporting the bars get in touch with them. A tour of the U.S. and Canada is in the works, wherein they’ll be hitting tattoo shops and anywhere else they can for photo shoots. So if you rock the bars, know anyone who does, or even see the bars on a crusty old punk next to you at a show, have them drop a line with Barred For Life via their MySpace site.


May 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm
(1) Tim Dykema says:

Ive had the Black Flag bars tatted on my right calf for prob a decade, its actually a black n grey tatt. I also just recently met Greg Ginn an Mike Valleys at Mulligans in Grand Rapids,MI and have sum great pics with them both. I also know many other friends with the bars tattooed, get ahold of me, later

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