Bobby Wood

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Tattooist Bobby Wood, or Il-Bobby, as he was known to his many customers, died at 58 years. He was one of the first to make tattoos “big in Malta”. He is seen here with his daughter-in-law Allison and his son Isaac, who will be keeping the business going.

Bobby Wood, one of Malta’s first tattooists – known by both those who love and hate the art – passed away suddenly on Sunday, literally leaving his mark on many.

Among his clients in over 49 years of tattooing bodies were those who wanted to immortalise in ink the memory of someone, and that is what his son Isaac, who followed in his footsteps, intends to do to pay tribute to his dad. Bobby’s connection to tattoos dated back to when he was nine and had Woody Woodpecker imprinted on his body, the cartoon character being the child’s mascot due to his surname. His next tattoo was a cross on his chest when his own father, who hated tattoos, died at 36.

Soon after, he started tattooing others at the swings in Paola, where he was from, and it fast turned into his source of income at a time when it was still taboo.

Bobby, who spent his life tattooing others, was not covered in any enormous ones himself. He had planned to have the names of his six grandchildren tattooed but time was always an issue.

The idea was to incorporate hairstyling, massage, nail treatments and an internet café – and now it was up to the boys to continue his dream.

The tattoo parlours were closed yesterday and Isaac was not sure when they would be reopened, both out of respect for Il-Bobby, as he was known, and because he did not yet feel fit to run the show in his shoes.

He passed away on 7 November, 2010 at the age of 58