Lyle Tuttle

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Revision as of 20:20, 1 April 2019

Lyle Tuttle
Birth Date 7 October 1931
Birth Place Ukiah, California
Death Date March 25, 2019
Occupation tattoo artist

Lyle Tuttle started tattooing in 1949, at 17 years of age. He is commonly credited with introducing the art to the mainstream and helping legitimize it as an art form.


Tuttle got his first tattoo when he was 14, a heart with the word "Mother".

Lyle Tuttle Tattoos, the shop he ran in San Francisco for 30 years, welcomed thousands of clients over the course of its existence. His two most famous clients, singers Janis Joplin and Cher, are two women who are celebrated for being strong and tattooed. By going public in the late 1960s as Joplin's artist, Tuttle helped make it acceptable for tattooed women to be powerful role models today. In 1972, Life magazine published a feature article on him that mentioned, among other things, the "Lyle Tuttle Body Shirt", a long sleeved tee that reproduced his own tattoos from the waist up. He also appeared in Rolling Stone magazine and on the Late Show with Johnny Carson.

It's important to mention that in that era of deregulated, unsanitary tattooing, Tuttle worked on developing strong relationships with city officials. He played a pivotal role in establishing health regulations in San Francisco’s studios, a step that would eventually trickle down nationwide.

Like Ed Hardy, Tuttle endured his fair share of criticism. His efforts to bring tattooing into the mainstream were perceived by his peers as the betrayal of a closely-guarded secret tradition. In their eyes, he was selling out the tattoo business. It's difficult to imagine the growing popularity and appreciation of tattoos being what it is today, though, without his contributions.

Tuttle effectively retired from tattooing 15 years ago, but he can still be found at tattoo conventions around the world, giving seminars and telling his fantastic stories wherever he goes. Lyle Tuttle Tattoos [1] is now owned by Tanja Nixx. The Lyle Tuttle Tattoo Museum, the largest collection of tattoo memorabilia in the world, was first opened to the public in January 2, 1974 and is worth visiting if you're ever in San Francisco.

Lyle Tuttle passed away on March 25, 2019 at the age of 87.



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