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    Louisville is a city that has it all. A huge sports fanbase, an endless variety of restaurants, plenty activities, beautiful Universities, and an ink-covered population. Our beautiful city is surrounded by and filled with tattoo shops, big and small, old and new.  Each tattoo parlor in Louisville is unique, full of artists with different specialties. Each shop has a different environment that may suit one person more than another. If you haven't had the opportunity to explore these shops in Louisville, then let us help you! We will be featuring a variety of tattoo artists around Louisville over the next few months: and who better to start with than Buddy Wheeler, owner of Tattoo Charlie's and Tattoo Charlie's son. 


    (Buddy Wheeler and Zeke Owens)

    Q: How long have you been tattooing?

    A:  I started tattooing in 1997 after a one year apprenticeship here at Tattoo Charlie's.


    Q: What got you started in tattooing? How did you become a tattoo artist?

    A: I learned tattooing from my dad, Tattoo Charlie. He started in 1973 and learned from a Cave Ciry artist named Sailor Bill Rogers. Growing up in the business I was always happy to be in the studio. After a few years of living away from Louisville I came back and started working here at Charlie's.


    Q: What shop do you work at and why did you choose to work there? What sets your shop apart?

    A: I am the owner at Tattoo Charlie's, I inherited it after my father pased away in 2007. I work hard to maintain the quality standards he established for us and to continue building customer trust.


    Q: What is your specialty/favorite type of tattoo to create?

    A: I don't tattoo as much a I'd like, when I get to though I love tattooing flowers, butterflies, and similar things. I like doing bright and pretty tattoos.


    Q: What was your favorite/most unique piece you've done?

    A: One of my favorite tattoos I've done is a set of butterflies and fairy dust going all the way up a spine. One of the most unusual tattoos I've done was a frothy beer mug on a guys butt - he lost a bet :)


    Q: What does your typical day look like?

    A: Running two studios with 18 artists and piercers takes a lot of my time. A typical day is filled with supply runs, supply ordering, repair and maintenance of anything that needs it, and answering customer phone calls and emails between all of that. I also run all of the social media accounts for the studios which takes a good amount of time too.


    Q: Who influenced your work the most?

    A: My dad was my biggest influence for sure. He was not a great natural artist, he as an amazing technician though. He knew more about how machines work, pigment viscosity, and safety than most people have ever known. He was also a brilliant business man and I work hard to model a lot of his business practices.


    (Tattoo Charlie and Buddy Wheeler 1991)


    Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

    A: My favorite part is seeing happy clients every day. Whether it is in person in the studio, a good review somewhere, or a personal email telling me how well someone felt they were treated in my studios, those are all amazing.


    Q: Tell us about your first tattoo (either one you tattooed or one you got).

    A: My first tattoo was a lost soul on my forearm that my dad did in the winter of 1996. He had the same tattoo, I grew up always fascinated by it. When I finally decided to get a tattoo that seemed like the perfect choice. I still love it to this day.


    Q: Why Louisville? What is your favorite part of Louisville?

    A: I grew up in Louisville and have lived here most of my life. Louisville is an amazing city full of truly wonderful people and other local businesses. I love being a part of Louisville's small business community and do my best to support other small businesses too.


    Tattoo Charlie's is a familiar name to the Louisville community with two different Louisville locations. Tattoo Charlie's hosted their Tattoos Against Cancer event earlier this year to raise money for Meghan's Mountain, a local charity. For more information, check out their website. If you'd like to see more of their work, check out their Instagram @tattoocharlies. 


    Photos provided by Buddy Wheeler and Tattoo Charlie's Website.

    Taylor Ichinose's picture

    About Taylor Ichinose

    I am an incoming senior (finally!) at the University of Louisville. I will be graduating with three degrees: English, Spanish, and Humanities. I intend to continue my education and get my masters in English next year. I have had the pleasure of working at both Louisville Magazine and over the last year.

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