Tattoo Culture > View Culturama
The Youngest Old Timer
March 18, 2012
C.W. Eldridge, or Chuck, as his friends know him, is the owner of The Tattoo Archive in Berkeley, California. Chuck is keeper of the secrets; the guard of the juicy bits of tattooing's past. Chuck is a tattoo artist who look backs and archives the past of tattooing so that generations of tattoo artists that come long after him can see that people actually tattooed before them.
The Tattoo Archive is half tattoo studio half museum. Chuck tattoos 6 days a week and spends the rest of his time cataloging the past and the present of tattooing, writing a tattoo history newsletter and is an acting member on the board of directors of the Paul Rogers Tattoo Research Center (PRTRC). Chuck also attends numerous tattoo conventions every year selling items of tattooing's past and holding history seminars which are all free. He has worked with such artists as Ed Hardy, Bob Roberts and Greg Irons, but despite his notoriety, he is possibly one of the most humble people in tattooing. He often shies away from the limelight and spends his time doing what he loves most, tattooing, collecting historical artifacts and bicycling. Chuck was gracious enough to sit down and shed some light on his life, his humble beginning as a tattooist and what he is up to now.
Jason Sweet: Could you please give me a brief history of yourself, where you come from and how you ended up tattooing.
Chuck Eldridge: I was born in North Carolina in 1947 and spent the first 18 years of my life there and then joined the United States Navy. I spent four years in the Navy and visited Texas, California, Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines. I got out of the Navy and started bicycling and building custom bicycles for a man named Albert Eisentraut in Oakland, California. I was getting tattooed by Ed Hardy in the mid seventies. He was opening the original Tattoo City at the time and I got a job there as an apprentice.
What year was this?
'78 or something like that.
How did you end up getting a job as an apprentice for Ed Hardy?!?!?
He offered to teach me.
He just said, "You want to be a tattoo artist?"
Yes. I had been getting tattooed by him for three or four years and we had spent quite a bit of time together. He was opening his new shop and he needed some warm bodies to fill the shop.
Who was working at Tattoo City at that time?
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