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Lyle Tuttle

Lyle Tuttle is a very well-known, and very old, tattoo artist, and he is a history student of the tattoo art medium, and he has been tattooing for over 60 years.

He grew up in California. He bought his first tattoo at age fourteen. He started being a professional tattoo artist in 1949. He opened a shop of his own five years later in San Francisco. His initial shop stayed opened for almost three decades. He tattooed several prominent people, including Paul Stanely, Henry Fonda, Cher, and Janis Joplin. He’s also tattooed several different notable celebrities and musicians.

He’s gotten tattoos on all the continents, and he’s never tattooed a child knowingly. He’s become a teacher and a legend in the industry, in all the years he’s been a tattoo artist. He retired officially in 1990, but he will still tattoo occasionally, like his signature on an acquaintance or friend. He had some controversial aspects to his fame, and there were many tattooists that disliked his self-promotion and statements to media. For instance, when Tuttle was on the Rolling Stone cover one year, Sailor Jerry tossed the cover into the toilet. Sailor Jerry was an extremely prominent tattoo artist at the time.

Tuttle is currently a teacher at tattoo seminars in tattoo machine building and machine maintenance, and he goes to different conventions for tattoos around the U.S.

When he was asked what the reason for tattooing gaining in popularity in the early part of his career, he responded that it was because of women’s liberation, and he said that it was 100% women’s liberation. Since women had a new freedom, they were able to get tattooed if they wanted to. It opened up the market and increased it by half of the population. He said that he tattooed almost all women, exclusively, for three years. He said that most women were tattooed because of the value of the entertainment, like as a sideshow circus act. He described them as sort of self-made freaks. The women made tattooing a kinder and softer art form.

Lyle Tuttle has stated that the servicemen returning from the war, specifically Pearl Harbor and all, were a great inspiration to him as a youth, and that the tattoos represented a sense of adventure and romanticism. Tattoos are special things to him. He says that they’re travel marks, luggage stickers, and landmarks along the road that you map on yourself as an indicator of some important event, mark of progress in life, or person you’ve met. He says that it’s not like a diamond ring that you can go into a story and buy, slip on your finger, and walk out with it. Once you get a tattoo, you have to stick with it, and there’s no going back. Tattoos hold a special magic for Lyle Tuttle, and that’s part of the reason why he’s been such a legend in the industry for so many years. He knows what he’s doing, first and foremost, but he also understands the deeper meaning and importance of the tattoos, and this has grown from his childhood wonder that’s been attached to them.

There is even a Lyle Tuttle Tattoo Museum that is an organization of groups and individuals working towards the advancement and preservation of tattoo education and history. If you want a short synopsis of the history, you can check it out on his website under the different years of history, 1949-1969, 1970-1990, and 1991-2012. Mr. Tuttle has been a very prolific tattoo artist, and he’s probably done more tattoos in his years than other prominent tattoo artists combined.