Let's Build an American Tattoo History Museum in Long Beach, CA!

The Tattoo Heritage Project a 501(c)(3), founded by legendary tattoo artist, Good Time Charlie (GTC), is dedicated to preserving and documenting American Tattoo History and to honor and support the art of Tattooing, through museum partnerships, archival assistance, and exhibition support.



Tattoo History Museum, Long Beach, CA. 

One of GTC's first projects is to bring a Tattoo History Museum to Long Beach, CA. 


Many tattoo artifacts are in the hands of private collectors and currently there is not a space in the US solely dedicated for these items to be shared (in a large space) with the general public. 


Create a destination Tattoo Museum in Long Beach, CA., which will attract Tattoo enthusiasts from all over the world. 

Long Beach is a prime location given that from the early 1900's to mid 80's the area referred to as "The Pike" housed the many of the world's greatest Tattoo Artists in the world. 

 For more about The Pike's History, visit: https://www.ocweekly.com/from-bert-grimm-to-outer-limits-this-long-beach-tattoo-shop-remains-the-oldest-in-the-world-7012957/

GTC's History at The Pike

Born in Pasadena, Texas in 1940, son of a Pentecostal preacher, Charlie Cartwright began tattooing at the age of 15 after his family moved to Wichita, Kansas. From age 15 to 20, Charlie tattooed out of the back seat of his car, practicing and mastering the hand poke method.

Enlisting in the Navy brought Charlie to San Diego, where he would often visit tattoo parlors, and receive his first professional tattoo done by Tahiti Felix Lynch. Shortly after, Charlie headed north to Long Beach, where he discovered The Pike. Civilians, merchant marines and Navy, tourists, and families alike all frequented The Pike, an amusement park/vacation center located in Long Beach, CA.

Good Time Charlie worked at The Pike from 1973-1975, but had been frequenting the area since the late 50's. The Pike was where he first discovered tattooing could be a profitable profession, and where his interest turned to serious thought about making tattooing his life long profession.  

Tattooing at the Pike was competitive, and most shops kept to themselves. Business was thriving in this military port in the late 60's, early 70's and Charlie spent time and effort in getting to know the artists. "I was tattooed by the best of them, Lou Lewis, Burt Grimm, Owen Jensen. Bob Hayman, The profession of tattooing was a mystery, I was pumping them for information, but received the cold shoulder."

Charlie recalls, "The Pike was heaven for the observer, side shows with the human oddities, games, roller coaster and fun rides, it had something for everyone. The greatest parade of humanity that one could ever hope for."

In Feb of 2020, Charlie decided to close up his tattoo shop, officially retiring after 65 years of tattooing. One of his main concerns was what to do with all his artwork and memorabilia he had collected. While he started to sell some things, there were items he thought should be kept aside for public interest. 

After talking to many of his friends and colleagues about this problem of what to do with some of his most treasured items, he discovered many others had a similar want, which was to share their bits of tattoo history with the general public. 

Now Charlie and his board of directors including Kari Barba, JD Crowe, Corey Miller, Jack Rudy and Chuey Quintanar lead the effort it making this dream a reality. 

In the event he does not raise enough to start a museum, the funds collected will be distributed to other nonprofit tattoo history museums. 



  • Got
    My first tattoo @ the Pike 1963 by Lou Lewis. From what I remember he learned the art in China in the 30’s? My Dad was a ‘China Sea Sailor in the 30’s and probably why I remember talking with Lou about his past?
    Being under age had first tried Capt Jim down on Main St in LA but for some reason even in those days, tat shops were very cautious about tattooing under 18 years of age?? So headed to the Pike and found Lou at the staircase shop, gave him a cock & bull story about no ID and he accepted. $6 later I had my ‘devil’ …

  • Hi Kimiko, how are you and the project coming along? Any way I can help?

    Maria Zelaya
  • Great idea we have a local artist shop owner that has a section of his shop dedicated to memorabilia should check him out if you haven’t cliff white of cliffs tattoo centereach ny

    Tiki Steve
  • What is meant to be will be but I am defiantly on board to help


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