Chicago was still a wilderness roamed by Native Americans at a time when many American cities were great centers of trade and industry. In less than 100 years after it was founded, Chicago joined the ranks as one of the largest cities in the world. The city gets it name from the Indian word Checagou loosely translated as skunk, wild onion, mighty, and powerful. Mighty and powerful are words I would use to best describe this remarkable city with its rich and varied history. The 1990 World Almanac lists Chicago as the third largest city in the United States after New York City and Los Angeles, and the twenty-second largest city in the world. This was remarkable for a city that was not incorporated until 1833. In 1840 the population of Chicago was 4,417 and by 1850 it had grown to 29,936! After this growth spurt, the city never looked back.
Professional tattooing first came to the United States by way of New York City in the 1840s and a few years later came to Chicago. The Archive has no record of who can lay claim to the honor of being Chicago's first professional tattooist. During the ensuing years, many artists have called Chicago home.
Bielman, Joe: 752 North Dearborn Street
Cholley, Chuck: 500 South State Street
Collins, Jerry: 434 South State Street (This was Jerry's shop just before his move to Hawaii) Deal, Square: 626 South State Street (at Joe's Barber Shop)
Farrell, Red: 442 South State Street
Hansen, Paul: 620 and 669 South State Street
Hicks, Prof.: 288 South State Street (Hicks was also in the supply business)
Jacobs, Kenneth: Location unknown, Jacobs later moved to the west coast and became known as "Oakland Jake."
Johnstone, Ralph: 430 South State Street in the Hollywood Arcade, 414 and 600 South State Street and 13 West Harrison Sreet. Johnstone worked with Tatts Thomas at all of these shops
Kasper, Jake: 462 South State Street
Kellet, Mickey: 434 and 638 South State Street
Killingsworth, Bill: 500 South State Street
Loulet, Michael: 500 South State Street
McFall, Buddy: 900 West Belmont.
Moore, Bill: 430-436-653 and 651 South State Street The Chicago Tattoo Supply House was at these locations
O'Conner, Mike: 430 South State Street
Pope, Jerry: 500 South State Street
Raven, Cliff: 900 West Belmont, later located in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Twenty-nine Palms, California. Photograph of Raven tattooing shown below.
Resinol, Ned: 414 South State Street
Schultz, Shorty: 434 South State Street
Smith, Mose: 534 South State Street
Soville, Earl: 508 South State Street
Sparrow, Phil: 655 South State Street and 1953 North Larrabee, later located in Oakland CA. Sparrow's book, Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos is a remarkable account of the Chicago tattoo scene in the 1950s
Sutton, Ernie: 426 and 404 South State Street
Thomas, Tatts: 414-340-430-600-South State Street and 13 West Harrison Street. Photograph of Tatts at work shown above.
Webb, Randy: Sportland Arcade, South State Street
Chicago has a rich history of tattooing that dates back to before the turn of the century. That same tradition is being carried on today as evidenced by the1993 Tattoo Tour. Tattooing is alive and well in the "Windy City."
Tattoo Archive © 1993