During the early 1980’s the punk rock and gang scenes were overlapping in Los Angeles. As a teenager Lucky Bastard was heavily influenced by both of these cultures. Having mainly older friends, Lucky was exposed at an early age to tattoos because all of his friends already had them. He tattooed his own hands while he was in the juvenile justice system, but soon after, he got his first professional tattoo. The whole deal changed for him at a dirty shop on Hollywood Boulevard when he got a skull and dagger on his upper right arm. “I was too stupid to realize it hurt,” he recalls. Right away he knew that tattoos were for him, but at this time did not know to what extent.
It wasn’t until Lucky’s second tattoo, from Joe Vegas, that he had really got into the whole idea of tattooing. It was not only something he wanted on himself, but something that he could do for a living. Vegas got Lucky an apprenticeship with a tattooer named Snickers at Long Beach Tattoo.
After working in Los Angeles, Lucky moved to San Francisco and worked at The Picture Machine for about five years. He then worked on Haight Street, before going on the road. In October 1999, Lucky went to Tokyo, Japan to work at the first Tokyo Convention. After this first trip to Japan, he continued to travel for four years without setting foot in America. Jumping from continent to continent, Lucky learned from the greats and worked for many people he respected and admired. His only agenda was to work and make enough money to get to the next country.
After spending many years abroad, Lucky came across a variety of tattooers and cultures. His travels allowed him to look at America from outside the country. The more he traveled the more American he realized he was. This realization lead him to pursue traditional Americana tattooing.
Traveling also opened Lucky’s eyes to other styles of tattooing such as Maori, Thai, and Japanese. Both Japanese and Americana tattooing have a deep bold style that Lucky is drawn to. For close to 20 years, he has been going to Japan at least once a year. In addition to tattooing in Japan, he is receiving a backpiece from Horiyoshi III. Working with traditional Japanese tattooers, it was natural for Lucky to want to study this style.
When he came back to America he noticed that the Japanese tattoos that Americans were receiving were not true to the style that he saw in Japan. As a result, Lucky decided to study it more and ask more questions every time he went back to Japan. He began adapting a vocabulary of Japanese techniques into his bold Americana style. “This is not a new concept,” Lucky admits. “It was an epiphany Bob Roberts had years ago.” When it comes to Japanese style tattoos, “I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I’m just trying to approach it in a respectful manner.”
When asked to classify his style of tattooing, he calls it “tradition with progress.” He credits Chris Garver for coming up with this phrase, but decided to steal it and make it his own. The late 80’s and early 90’s were an experimental time in tattooing. “People were trying to do this new school stuff,” Lucky says. He wanted to stick to the traditions of tattooing instead, and make real solid tattoos like Mike Malone or Bob Roberts. “That real roots traditional stuff where the artists were involved in the tattoo world, rather than just having tattooers biting each other’s flash over and over. Artists like Terry Tweed brought a certain sensibility to tattooing which can be seen in his eagle and panther drawings.” This is the kind of craftsmanship that initially attracted Lucky to tattooing.
The years Lucky spent hanging around The Pike in Long Beach, and working at The Picture Machine, really shaped his art to be what it is today. By studying Pat Martynuik’s flash and Terry Tweed’s line drawings, he learned how tattoos should look. He hopes to find his style somewhere between Pat’s stuff “which was pretty raw, and Terry’s meticulously refined drawings.” When asked to name the top ten people who inspired him, Lucky listed way more than ten. After convincing him to narrow it down, he sited Bob and Charlie Roberts, Joe Vegas, Chris Garver, Horiyoshi III, The Leu Family, Henry Goldfield, Chris Trevino, Hanky Panky, Terry Tweed, Mike Malone, and Sabado. That’s still over ten, but we’ll let him get away with that.
Lucky never really planned to open his own studio. “There were already so many shops that another tattoo shop seemed unnecessary,” he says, “but I primarily wanted to lend a helping hand to my clients.” In the spring of 2004, Lucky decided to settle down in the city of Orange, California. On Memorial Day of that year he opened Fine Tattoo Work. The shop was structured after Sabado’s Super Eccentric Tattoo in Nagoya, Japan.
Fine Tattoo Work is located at 745 W Chapman Ave, in the city of Orange, California.