It is with a heavy heart we say goodbye to tattooer Alex "Reese" Grail Pursell. Reese passed away in October 24th due to a bacterial infection that spread to his heart.
Reese Pursell owned Timeless Tattoos in Kansas City, and spent something like 200 days a year traveling and tattooing. He traveled D.J.'d, and tattooed many years of his life. He owned and/or operated shops from New Orleans , NYC, to San Francisco, finally resting in the legendary tattoo town of Kansas City, MO. He loved to talk about history and food and was always quick to give the heads up if I was in need of advice on either subject. He was especially knowledgeable about the pretty tattooed girls in any given town.
He was an intelligent man, and had a heart that held fast to traditional values. He preferred hand painted signs and classic designs to the internet specials and computer generated "deals" that he felt had infested the tattoo industry. He wouldn't sell out the tattoo community, or himself. He preferred doing solid work and word of mouth clientele to internet promotion and detested the cheapening of the craft of tattooing to the "lowest common denominator". In a letter with his long time friend Mollie he said "I am very serious when it comes to the craft, history and securing the legacy of tattooing. I FIRMLY BELIEVE IN HONESTY and HARD WORK."
He was first on board to give generously to any in the tattoo family that needed help, and even very recently paid to bury his friend. He personally donated items to an art show I had for my own local humane society, and actually cared that it was for "the critters" (as he called them). Reese was not afraid of any tattoo made it his mission to treat every tattoo and customer with equal importance. Reese's name and life was full of adventure, music, and friends.
"We (as tattooers) are only as good as our last tattoo," he told me in a 2008 interview."As far as rock stars and TV celebrities, we as artists are only as famous as the mortal canvas lasts. Eventually our art dies, and our name is all that remains."
"Reese would always put other people in front of him, it was an honor knowing him." said longtime friend and fellow traveler Myke Chambers.
"It's comforting to hear how much he was loved in the tattoo community. We'd like to thank everyone for the great stories and fond memories." Said his sister J.J. Pursell.
When I talked to him about the preservation of tattoo history, and his place in it, Reese said "I don't want to fill the pages of tattoo history, but I would like a mention."
Reese is survived by a whole world of tattoo family who will sorely miss him, his shop family at Timeless, mother Jo Reese-Pursell and two sisters Amanda Pursell-Genk and J.J.Pursell. His family held a memorial service for him with tattoo family in Kansas City and they plan on spreading his ashes in some of his favorite ports including NYC, Portland Oregon, and Hawaii.