Great Lakes Tattoo
Cleanliness & Civility


History & Happenings, the Great Lakes Tattoo Blog. Sharing news, events and fascinating tidbits on Chicago Tattoo History.  



Travel & Happenings




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Sheila Marcello 

Electric Tattoo, NJ
AUG 10-11
"Marcello's take on the traditional style is both classic and nuanced at the same time. One can see the vestiges of earlier tattoo artists, especially Sailor Jerry and August “Cap” Coleman, in her pinups. However, she has stylistically distanced her work from that of her predecessors through the radical sense of character with which she imbues each of her attractive female figures as well as the way she vibrantly colors them. Also, because she works in fine lines, she is able to pack a considerable amount of detail into these relatively small pieces of body art. In short, each one of her pinups has a pronounced, peppy personality."


Looking forward to having Chad Koeplinger, Mikey Holmes, and Glennie Whittall back at GLT next month! Contact them directly to book in. 



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These tattoo machines and business card are part of Great Lakes Tattoo's permanent collection. They are personal machines of Tatts Thomas and Ralph Johnstone. Tatts and Ralph both tattooed on State Street in downtown Chicago in the South loop neighborhood. The Tatts machines are the machines on either side. The left machine was manufactured by Owen Jensen and the right was made by Bill Moore at the Chicago Tattoo Supply house, which he owned. The center machine is Ralph Johnstone's personal machine and is a "Jonesy" style.  The business card is their shared business card from the "Hollywood Arcade" where they both tattooed on State Street in Downtown Chicago. 

Come by the shop any day of the week between 12-8 to get a closer look at these as well as the extensive collection of Chicago Tattoo History artifacts that Great Lakes Tattoo is home to.

Everyday is Chicago Tattoo History Day @greatlakestatoo  Stop in to see the displays of the tattooers who worked the early days in South State Street. 

Great Lakes Tattoo Coin

NEW at GLT!! Chicagorilla/ Municipal coins! Solid brass, 1.25" in diameter (same size as a US half- dollar) and 3mm thick. One side has the GLT Chicagorilla and on the reverse is a nod to Chicago's CTA transit system.

Available in the shop or from our web store .

Cliff Raven Archives Front Panther Tattoo

The "Cliff Raven Archives" show remains on display in our gallery, Great State Gallery, as part of our permanent collection.

This exhibit consists of a selection of photos and ephemera from the Cliff Raven archives. The photos in this collection are taken from scans of negatives from the collection of tattoo history at Great Lakes Tattoo. The photos span from his early career in Chicago through larger scale work done one the Sunset Strip and in 29 palms. 

Cliff Raven was a tattooer in Chicago in the 60’s and 70’s. He worked with both Phil Sparrow and Tatts Thomas in the 60’s on State Street in downtown Chicago. 

Stop by and check it out anytime during shop hours, everyday from 12-8. 

Great Lakes Tattoo 5 year group photo

THANK YOU for for your support! We celebrated 5 years last month and wanted to thank our customers, the tattoo community and everyone else who has supported Great Lakes Tattoo. You have helped make GLT what it is today and we couldn't have done it without you. Here's to many more!