You’d be right to visit Lefty’s Tattoo

IMG_1462Tattoo Shop: Lefty’s Tattoo

Owned by: Jason Martin

Address: 467 N. Tustin St., Orange, CA 92867

Phone: 714/997-4882

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

All artwork on the walls has been done by artists who work at Lefty's Tattoo

All artwork on the walls has been done by artists who work at Lefty’s Tattoo

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.

Josh busy on a leg piece.

Josh busy on a leg piece.

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.

A plethora of books show the amount of work each artist has done during their tenure with Lefty's

A plethora of books show the amount of work each artist has done during their tenure with Lefty’s

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.

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Jason Martin, owner of Lefty's Tattoo

Jason Martin, owner of Lefty’s Tattoo

About Jason:

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

Neophyte Tattoos a.k.a. Sara Sabbah (Ohlin’s shock artist)

Ohlin's monoshock leg tattoo by Neophyte Tattoos of Vicious Tattoo Gallery in Montrel, Quebec, Canada.

Ohlin’s monoshock leg tattoo by Neophyte Tattoos of Vicious Tattoo Gallery in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

She’s a 21-year-old rider and tattoo artist from Montreal, Canada, who is the genius behind the Ohlin’s monoshock tattoo that has recently gone viral. Sara, a.k.a. Neo may not be the action hero from the Matrix, but she rides and that’s all that matters. She began her journey to the two wheeled realm on a cruiser, but now she owns a 2006 Suzuki SV650S. She’s been riding for roughly three years and loves to travel on her bike. “I just throw some saddlebags on and disappear for a day or two,” she says. We were able to get in touch with Neo and find out a little about her, her ink work and the Ohlin’s shock tattoo.

MI: How long have you been tattooing?

Neo: I became an apprentice at the age of 15, so I’ve been tattooing professionally for about four-five years. It’s the only job I’ve ever done.

MI: How did you get into tattooing?

Neo: Well, when I was in high school we had this special program where we would intern at our dream job for credits. I used it as an opportunity to get as much school in as I could while I pursued my apprenticeship. I went out and found it myself. I had this little sketchbook full of scratchy art work and…well, potential. I stuck my foot in all the doors until someone gave me a chance. It was a hell of a bumpy road but I was lucky and got in. 

MI: Where do you derive inspiration for your work?

Neo: I get inspired by my clients, always. I ask them to bring reference images so that I can get into their heads, see what they want to see. I research a lot and always try to get a step ahead of myself with each piece.

MI: What challenges do you face as a female in a tattoo shop?

Neo: I faced the same challenges anyone else would. Each place has its own set of issues, regardless of gender. In Montreal, the female artists are rare so they are totally rocking the industry! After working in a couple of shops, I decided to open my own private studio so I could serve my clients in a more relaxed environment. It’s the best decision I ever made even though it’s a ton of work. It also permits me to travel a little more, which is perfect because I want to do some guest spots outside of Canada.

MI: How hard is it to do 3-D tattoos?

Neo: Each artist has their strength. I wouldn’t be able to put it on a scale of difficulty. It just takes time and patience on the artist’s part and the client’s.

MI: Tell me the story behind the Ohlin’s shock tattoo.

Neo: The client is a biker acquaintance of mine. I’m not sure what his meaning behind it was, but he asked me to do it at a bike night and my face lit up. I know he has a Yamaha but I’m not sure what model. All I know is that it’s fast, lol.

MI: Tell me about some of your tattoos.

Neo: I’ve got an entire leg of comic book characters partially done by Melissa Valiquette of Sin City MTL and a few other geeky things here and there.

MI: Do you think motorcycle riders are more likely to get tattooed?

Neo: I don’t think riding and tattoos come hand-in-hand unless you’re in some sort of biker gang, but I believe what connects a person to their tattoo is something that they are passionate about or something they find beautiful. Riding can be one of those things 🙂

MI: Tell us about how you got into riding motorcycles.

Neo: When I was in my early teens, I wanted to accomplish two things in my life: become a tattoo artist and ride a Harley. And I did it…well not the Harley part. My first bike was a custom and then I decided to go for something a little more maneuverable like the SV.

MI: What do you like most about riding?

Neo: I just love the freedom! Every destination becomes an adventure and it is just a wonderful lifestyle.

MI: What’s something you hope to do on a motorcycle someday?

Neo: Interesting question…I would say stunts, but my common sense disagrees.

Six Questions with Tattoo Artist Carlos Montiel Jr.

Carlos Montiel of Pain4Pleasure Tattoos

Carlos Montiel of Pain4Pleasure Tattoos

Carlos Montiel runs a small tattoo studio called Pain4Pleasure Tattoos in Azusa, CA, where he’s been tattooing for about seven years.

Carlos has also been riding for about 25 years and he currently owns a 2008 Can Am Spyder. He is a member of Forbidden Kings M.C. and you can typically find him riding in the canyons, on the streets or going the distance to Vegas. “As long as I’m on the road,” he says. “I’m happy.”

Carlos got into tattooing because he has always been into drawing and had friends that tattooed. One day, he showed a friend his work and his friend suggested Carlos pick up a tattoo gun. At that point, Carlos got all his own tattoo equipment and apprenticed under his friend until he was able to tattoo on his own. Read on to find out more about Carlos and life as a tattoo artist.

Pain4Pleasure Tattoo shop flyer.

Pain4Pleasure Tattoo shop flyer.

What did it take for you to become a tattoo artist? 

I practiced a lot before I started tattooing. I was working as a graphic designer at the time, so I had to make time between family, work, riding and traveling. But I just knew i had to do it because it was something i had a passion for. It came easy to me and once I made the time to get started, I was unstoppable.

What do you love about tattooing? 

I love the freedom and the chance to meet new and interesting people. I get bored doing the same thing every day but with tattooing and body piercing, the routine is never the same. I travel around California from San Diego to the bay in Northern Cali. I do a lot of work in Las Vegas as well.

What are your favorite types of tattoos to do? 

I like to do color tattoos but I’ll do all kinds. All I care about is that the customer is happy with the finished tattoo.

Any crazy stories about a tattoo you’ve done? 

This guy wanted his last name down his back. It was going to be a big tattoo. I warned him that it was going to hurt and that he should think about it, but he insisted on moving forward. About half way through the tattoo, he tapped out and never came back to finish. Every time I see him, I ask him when he’s going to finish the tattoo and he just says ‘I should have listened to you. It hurt.’

Carlos on his Can Am Spyder.

Carlos on his Can Am Spyder.

How do you think your passion for riding and tattoos are related to each other?

Just like tattooing, I get out there and meet new people all the time. I don’t like to blend into the crowd. That’s why I have a Can Am that’s customized. It represents me and and my work.

If you could a spend a day riding or a day tattooing, which would it be and why? 

This is a hard question to answer, so I’ll just say this: I would take a ride out to Vegas early in the morning, which would be a good three to four hour ride. Then I’d go to work on some tattoos and piercings for the next six to seven hours then hit the night life to end my night!