Lyle Tuttle

Lyle Tuttle is a well-known American tattoo artist and historian of the medium, who has been tattooing since 1949. Called the father of modern tattooing by many, Lyle has been at the forefront of bringing tattooing to the mainstream. Tuttle was born in 1931 and grew up in Ukiah, California. At the age of fourteen he purchased his first tattoo for $3.50. He opened his first tattoo-shop on 7th street in San Francisco near the Greyhound Bus station in 1954. This first shop was open for nearly 30 years. Tuttle tattooed Janis Joplin, Cher, Henry Fonda, Paul Stanley, and several other notable musicians and celebrities of the time. Lyle was the subject of numerous documentaries on tattooing, appeared on the Johnny Carson show, and was photographed by world-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz for Rolling Stone magazine. He has been tattooed on six continents, and has never knowingly tattooed a minor. He has become a legend and a teacher within the industry in the years he has been tattooing. He officially retired in 1990 but will still occasionally tattoo his signature on a friend or acquaintance. His fame within tattooing was somewhat controversial, as many tattooists of his day disliked his statements to the press. As tattooing emerged from an underground art form to the mainstream, Lyle worked with the San Francisco Department of Health to come up with modern and standardized techniques for the sterilization of tattooing equipment. In 1989 Lyle moved his tattoo shop to the tourist hotspot of North Beach right on the Cable car line. Lyle became more and more busy traveling the world giving talks and seminars at tattoo conventions. He sold his shop to Tanya Nixx in 2001. Lyle is still extremely involved in tattooing, speaking on the history, machinery, and folklore of tattooing.