Tattooing A To Z #15: Chuck Eldridge

C.W. Eldridge, or Chuck, as his friends know him, is the owner of the “Tattoo Archiv”” in Berkeley, California. Chuck is the keeper of the secrets, the guard of the juicy bits of tattooing’s past. He is a tattoo artist who looks back and archives the past of tattooing so that generations of tattoo artists that come long after him can see what people actually tattooed before them.

Eldridge began his interest in tattooing as a collector. During his childhood in North Carolina he had his first approach to the tattoo world trough his family members: his father, his uncles and his brother, were tattooed in the military. He joined the navy in 1965 and, after graduating from boot camp in San Diego, got his first four tattoos. He was stationed in South Texas after the boot camp and he continued to collect tattoos over the years in the main ports of the United States and Asia. After leaving the navy in 1969, he did a lot of different jobs and began to get tattooed by Don Ed Hardy. Eldridge began his apprenticeship with Hardy at the original “Tattoo City” in 1978. He later moved to Canada to work with Paul Jeffries and then Jerry Swallow. He later moved back to San Francisco to work with Henry Goldfield and Dean Dennis, while he started to collect tattoo memorabilia and writing articles related to the tattoo history.

Chuck Eldridge, watercolor by Pepe
Chuck Eldridge, watercolor by Pepe

In 1980, “Chuck” Eldridge founded the “Tattoo Archive” in Berkeley, California. He knows all too well that most major tattoo collections have not been accessible to the public, and those that are available are in the hands of individuals. The fate of those collections are usually left to blow in the wind. When the entire Paul Rogers collection was donated to the Tattoo Archive upon Paul’s passing in 1990, the Paul Rogers Tattoo Research Center was founded. It is a nonprofit organization established so that the collection would be controlled by a board of directors interested in the preservation of tattoo history.

The PRTRC board consists of C.W. Eldridge, Alan Govenar, D.E. Hardy and Henk Schiffmacher. Advisors from inside and outside the tattoo community help the corporation achieve its established goals. The organization collaborates with groups worldwide to document and preserve contemporary and historical tattoo information and artifacts.
Eldridge collaborated with numerous tattoo magazines as Skin and Ink, Tattoo Artist Magazine, the newsletter of the “National Tattoo Association”, and keeps producing his own newsletter for the Tattoo Archive.

He now lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, continuing to operate the Tattoo Archive out of his tattoo studio.