Results tagged “Lyle Tuttle”
It started off as something whispered at tattoo convention. Lyle Tuttle had something big to cross off his "bucket list": to tattoo in Antarctica, the only continent on this earth left where he hadn't plied his craft. When tattoo historian Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman learned of this, she cornered Lyle in the hotel bar of the convention one night and told him that it was her dream as well to visit Antarctica. After she "casually mentioned" that she could make this trip happen, Lyle took her up on her offer to organize the trip and be his personal assistant on that journey.
On January 21, 2014, the 82-year-old legend, who has been tattooing since 1949, became the first person to tattoo on all 7 continents. Anna offers more on that trip here, an excerpt of which is below:
After a long trip to the tip of South America, [Lyle Tuttle] and project assistant/tattoo historian Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman, flew across the Drake Passage on a 6-seat charter flight. Still plagued by after-effects from a bout of frostbite acquired while serving in the Marines in the Korean War, the trip posed a particular challenge for Mr. Tuttle. The two travelers spent a full day touring, seeing--among the many wonders of the icy southern world--glaciers, icebergs, penguins, seals, and whales--and experiencing what life is like for those who live in Antarctica for extended periods of time. Then, late at night, Mr. Tuttle set up his tattoo station in a scientist's guesthouse at the Russian Bellingshausen Station and tattooed his signature tattoo--his autograph--on Dr. Friedman's leg, later adding "ANTARCTICA 2014" when back in Punta Arenas, Chile.During the trip, Lyle also got two new tattoos himself, and as Anna writes, he delighted local tattooists with his unexpected visits to their studios.
When I asked Anna about the amazing stories she must have heard from Lyle on that trip, she said, "Stories....man, I'm still processing it all. 10 days of the two of us pretty much constantly together, combined with his loquaciousness, is A LOT of stories. To be honest, the stories I particularly loved were the non-tattoo ones--of his family and growing up, fighting in Korea, sailing on his Chinese junk."
She also said that the most memorable part of the trip was "traveling to these storied places that I have read about so often in the pages of explorer's narratives and journals. Staying in a hotel room overlooking the freaking Strait of Magellan, touring Tierra del Fuego, flying over Cape Horn and recognizing the shapes of the islands at the ends of South America from so many years as a map geek, and, of course, landing on Antarctica. The hike down a cliff face on the Drake Passage side of King George Island through permafrost, fields of weird lichens and mosses, and crazy awesome ice and craggy rocks to see elephant seals also ranks among the top three hikes I've ever taken and lingers in my memory."
Read more of Lyle and Anna's historic journey on her blog, where she'll also be posting more photos and video soon.
I had the true pleasure of interviewing American tattoo icon Lyle Tuttle for the September issue of Inked magazine, on newsstands now and available as a digital download.
Tattooing since 1949, Lyle rose to fame in the late sixties tattooing a predominantly female clientele and celebrities like Janice Joplin, Peter Fonda and Cher at his San Francisco studio. Despite criticism for being the tattooed media darling of his time, he is credited with presenting tattooing as an art form to the mainstream and promoting safe and hygienic industry practices. Lyle officially retired around 1990, but continues to travel the tattoo convention circuit, often teaching seminars on machine building and lecturing on tattoo history. In the interview, he offers some history lessons, discusses fame, and muses on tattoo artists as contemporary witch doctors. Here's a clip from our talk:
With your long and exciting history in tattooing, what do you consider one of the most significant landmarks in the art during your long career?
Women's liberation. With more freedom, more women got tattooed. Back in the day, I was in more panties than a gynecologist-because women were getting their tattoos inside the bikini line, little rosebuds and butterflies.
What about female tattooists? In the documentary "Covered" on women in tattoo, you said that when women would come into your studio wanting to be tattooers, you'd say: "Look honey, you got the world's oldest profession tied up, now you want the second. Do me a favor and buzz off." How have your thoughts on women in tattooing changed since then?
Tattoo shops today are a lot kinder and gentler places than they used to be. In the past, tattoo artists worked in arcades, and it wasn't a good environment. Sometimes it was hard enough to protect yourself, let alone be the front man for some woman. Women who were involved in tattooing at that time were generally married to a tattoo artist, so they worked together-there were a few man and wife teams. There was a woman who tattooed before WWII in the 1930s (she died in 1946 by her own hand). Her name was Mildred Hull. She was on the Bowery in NYC and had a sign displaying that she was the only woman tattooist on the Bowery. She was very proud.
So you're saying that you were talking more about the environment of tattooing at the time?
Yes, the environment has changed. It's eco-friendly to women now! It's a pink world! And I think women in tattooing have been good for the industry.
[Final question:]In your 80 years on this earth, what personal doctrine or ideology have you developed?
"No sweat." Don't ever sweat over anything and don't let anyone make you sweat. I have it tattooed on the back of my leg in Kanji, but they couldn't translate "No Sweat" exactly so it reads "Perspiration No." I've been at Chinese places and pulled my pant leg up and they stare at it, beyond their comprehension. I'm actually just seeking to find one truth. If I find one, then maybe I will find the second one. Man is always looking for the secret. I'd like to know one goddamned truth before I die.
Read the full article in Inked magazine
Starting off this year's gift guide are my picks for tattoo-themed greeting cards should you be the type of person who puts me to shame by mailing holiday cheer before the actual holiday to be celebrated (and not two weeks later).
Of course, nothing compares in my mind to Rolling Stone magazine's Christmas card of a naked Lyle Tuttle (photographed by Annie Lebowitz in the 70s). But here are some of today's options from Etsy:
* "Tattooed Lady" holiday card set of 10 by Sugar Beet Press (shown above) where the backpiece proclaims "Peace on Earth, Good Will To Men." The original artwork by Sugar Beet owner Joy Kolitsky is printed on heavyweight watercolor paper and the cards are blank inside. A set of ten with envelopes goes for $22.50. Individual cards can be purchased as well.
* Painted Ladies postcards, without the holiday theme, designed by Amanda Atkins. A set of six postcards goes for $10. Prints and individual cards with the artwork are also on sale.
* Sideshow Tattooed Men note cards, stamped and embossed on a set of five colorful cards (with envelopes) by Emma Mount of England go for $8 for a set of five. I'm also digging her skull gift tags.
There's always the e-Card option. I'm thinking of sending this Santa tattooed with my face on his back. You may want to go with other personalized options however.