Owned by: Jason Martin
Address: 467 N. Tustin St., Orange, CA 92867
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Artists on staff: Jason Martin, Myke Rivera, JayDawg, Josh, Jeremy, Ryan, Nhan and Chris
Shop hourly rate: $150 per hour
Since I had heard about Lefty’s from so many different friends in Orange County, I just had to check it out. Lefty’s Tattoo is a small, modest tattoo shop located close to the beach on the south end of Orange County. Owned by tattoo artist Jason Martin, the shop opened in 1998 at a location just across from where they are now, but with heavy overhead threatening to take Jason out of the game, he moved the shop to the 467 Tustin St. address.
Lefty’s tattoo got it’s name literally from Jason’s and Myke’s left hands, as most of their clients would say, “Oh look at that, you’re both leftys.” Although left handed tattoo artists are far and few between, Jason insists being left handed has had no affect on his learning curve and his work proves this fact.
All the artists who work at Lefty’s are not necessarily left handed, but they have pretty much started their careers there and even Lefty’s most fledging artist is a four-year tattooing veteran. Jason isn’t the type to be showy and unlike others who’d turn themselves into a brand to get as big as possible, he just wants the shop to remain small so he can spend time with his family and so his clients can continue to enjoy a cozy, familiar environment.
Not too many celebrities frequent Lefty’s tattoo, but make no mistake, the people who return are more than willing to spend the dimes it takes to get quality work done by all artists in the shop. The artists at Lefty’s all are capable of doing different types of tattoos, but Jason specializes in realistic artwork such as portraits of people and animals. Although Jason has been determined to remain as humble as possible, his work and artist JayDawg’s work have been featured in magazines such as Tattoo and Skin Art.
Jason and his artists are currently booked solid for pretty much the rest of the year, but they do hold promotions in the mean time and you never know, there could be a cancelation. Don’t be afraid to stop by and check out this amazingly clean and inviting shop. Based on what I saw and Lefty’s five-star Yelp rating, I’d say the work is well worth the wait.
Visit Lefty’s Facebook page to see examples of their work.
Jason’s body is roughly 75 percent covered in tattoos and he gleaned his first tattoo at the tender yet unlimited age of 13 years old. An army brat living in Germany, Jason would hike up his T-shirt sleeves so everyone could see the tattoo of the Iron Cross, which is still visible on his arm. Jason says at least ten friends and artists have touched needles to his skin since then, making him pretty much a living, walking collage of history. His favorite tattoo is one of his pit bull on his neck and his second favorite is that of a 1941 Ford classic car on his inner, right arm, that he got when he was 20. “It was my dream car,” he laughs. “I ended up getting it, and then I had to build it because I had the tattoo.”
Both Jason and JayDawg are motorcycle lovers, with Jason owning a Harley Deluxe and JayDawg being a fan of street bikes. Since Jason’s hit-and-run accident last year though, his family is pressing him to sell the bike and he might have to acquiesce for the sake of his obligations to the shop. Still, he happily regales his trips to Laughlin as if it were yesterday and I’m not quite sure the two wheeling gene will completely dissipate from his system any time soon.
Text and Photos by Rachael Maltbie