If we're talking about classic, old-school tattoo artists, there is one man that stands above the rest - Tattoo Lou, a.k.a. Lou Rubino.
Raised in Brooklyn in the early 1950s, by age fourteen, Lou knew that his career would be in tattooing. Lou would hang around Coney Island, watching One-Eyed Max Peltz tattoo in his sidewalk booth, and it was here that he got his first tattoo by Max - the infamous heart with "MOM" written inside. At the booth, Lou would sit and draw flash, cut stencils, build needles, and make machines for Max in return for his knowledge and his tattoos.
Later, Lou met Eddie Funk - a.k.a. Crazy Eddie. During a huge bar fight, of course Lou and Eddie were there and on opposing sides. But soon, they started talking tattoos and from then on became the best of friends. Ed's dad, who is responsible for getting both guys started professionally, helped Lou and Eddie open up a shop in Rockaway, Queens, where the two spent their days "inkin' and fightin'". Boy, was it a rough crowd back then! After the season was over, Tattoo Lou returned to Coney Island and worked for Brooklyn Blackie - the one one open all year round. Lou also moved to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, working with Jack Red Cloud. Lou was inkin' and knocking out sailors two or three at a time! "I could ink and hit all day," says Lou.
A few years later, Lou took up with Professor Dominic Chance at his Garden Tattoo Shop in Manhattan, located on 48th Street and 8th Avenue, right near the old Madison Square Garden. "By the way, don't let the name 'Professor' fool you," says Lou. "Dominic was no joke - he was a five-foot terror! He introduced me to my new companion - 'the Ball Peen Hammer'. Dominic once said, "You need your hands to ink, Lou. When they get out of hand, just calmly walk over, lock the door, grab the hammer, and go to work.' Instead of two or three men, you could now do five or six easily.
Tattoo Lou soon found a permanent home, moving to Long Island's Suffolk county. At the time, there was only one other shop - who else but the Bowery Boys, Stanley and Walter! Lou opened 35 miles from them, in Selden, so the duel of Stanley and his razor didn't meet the infamous Tattoo Lou Ball Peen Hammer! "Respect" was what it was all about in those days. It didn't grow on trees - you had to earn your own. "There were no wimps tattooing in those days. You had to be tough or you just wouldn't make it," says Tattoo Lou.
Lou is very proud to be named among the old time greats like One-Eyed Max Peltz, Professor Chance, Mikey Colantonio, Tony the Pirate, Brooklyn Blackie, and, of course, Crazy Philadelphia Eddie. Today, Lou hosts a staff of internationally known and award winning artists, and he is proud of each and every one of them. He is especially overjoyed by his creation of Tattoo Lou, Jr., a well-respected and award winning tattoo artist in his own right. When asked for autographs, Lou Sr. signs "Tattoo Lou 1958 to infinity", the infinity standing for Lou Jr., who will uphold their great name.