Seattle Tattoo Emporium
Seattle Tattoo Emporium has a rich history that spans the art of American tattooing from the early 1940s to present. This history is embedded in Seattle WA. Our unique story includes some of the of the most talented, trailblazing Artists in the industry, and closely follows the boom times of the city we love: Seattle WA.
The following is a timeline of major milestones, events we’re proud of, and insight into what makes Seattle Tattoo Emporium a one of a kind tattoo parlor.
It All Started With Danny Danzl
Clarence J. Danny Danzl arrives in Seattle and sets up tattooing in a tavern on 1st Avenue- Seattle’s Skid Row. Danny calls his tattooing business- Seattle Tattoo. Danny was born in 1911, St. Paul, Minnesota. Danny moved to Detroit during the great depression to learn tattooing from Percy Waters. Waters is famous at that time for being one of the finest tattooists in America and also owning the largest tattoo supply company. Danny leaves Detroit to seek fame and fortune out west. He spends some time in Colorado and makes his way to Portland, Oregon where he tattoos out of brothels. His next stop is Seattle where he ultimately lives out his long career as tattooist and founder/owner of the Seattle Tattoo Emporium.
A Difficult Decade For Tattooing in America
This Really Happened
Tattooist, Zeke Owen, flees San Diego to avoid prosecution after beating up two cops in a drunken brawl. He arrives in Seattle and opens Trade Winds Tattoo. Trade Winds Tattoo is one of the first shops to implement sterilization practices. Zeke also keeps a pet monkey in the shop- his name is Bob. Ed Hardy makes his way to Seattle and works for Trade Winds. After a few years, Ed finds Seattle too ruff & tumble and heads to Hawaii to work for Sailor Jerry. Zeke and Danny become friends, and Danny introduces Zeke to Sailor Jerry. The 3 become friends and trade tattoo secrets, sterilization technics, and war stories. The Emporium is proud to showcase sheets of original flash from Ed Hardy and Sailor Jerry.
Madame Lazonga, A Talented Pioneer
Beverly Dean from Queen Anne, Seattle comes through the Emporium doors and asks Danny for an apprenticeship. She calls herself Madame Lazonga after a comic book villain. She is one of the very few women tattoo artists in a trade that requires a strong character and tough-as-nails attitude. Danny has the shop windows hand-painted with “World’s Youngest Female Tattoo Artist” and “World’s Most Beautifully Tattooed Woman” accolades Lazonga received at national tattoo conventions in the 1970s. Don Nolan, Rio De Janiero, Kevin Brady, Pete Stephens, and Tom Yeoman also work with Danny Danzl at the Emporium during the 70s.
A Big Impact From A Life & A Career Cut Short
Greg Irons tattoos at the Emporium. In 4 short years of tattooing, he revolutionizes tattooing with his dramatic use of negative space, and his style is imitated to this day. In 1984, just after getting a good luck tattoo by a Buddhist monk in Bangkok, Irons steps off a curb and gets hit and killed by a bus.
Seattle Tattoo Emporium moves up the hill to 1106 Pike Street due to the City of Seattle’s efforts to clean up downtown’s Skid Row.
A Dark Day
Danny dies on Christmas Eve of old age. He tattooed for over 40 years and is remembered for his epic persona and for preserving American tattooing traditions after many artists gave it up. Danny’s estate is contested, but tattooist Pete Stephens is able to work a deal to save the Emporium. Pete takes the helm to honor Danny and the Emporium keeps its doors open. Sailor Cam, Mike Malone AKA Rolo Banks, Terry Tweed, Dave Shore also works at the shop during these years.
“Grunge” Was A Golden Time In Seattle
Tattooing experiences massive popularity across the U.S and the world. Seattle becomes its own unique scene due to punk and grunge, and a construction boom and revitalization of Seattle also starts. The Seattle Tattoo Emporium also operates a screen printing t-shirt business out of the backroom, and bands like Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Pearl Jam get tattooed and t-shirts printed from the Emporium. Supersonics, Mariners, punk-rockers, military enlistees, plaid shirt wearers, hells angels, construction workers, college kids, Microsoft programmers all come through the Emporium doors to get tattooed.
A One of A Kind Tattoo Parlor
Jimmy the Saint, and ‘Boss Lady’ Romie de Hillary, acquire the Emporium with a renewed passion to continue the legacy of Seattle’s rich tattooing history. A second floor and a Tattoo Museum are added to the shop so that Seattleites and visitors can see original artwork from tattoo legends, unique one-of-a-kind tattoo machines, and other tattoo memorabilia. A solid crew of award-winning tattoo artists remains steadfast to the Emporium- collectively able to tattoo in traditional Americana, realism, lettering, watercolor, portraiture, new school, Japanese, fine line, black and gray- and anything in between and imagined.