Juan Leon was classically trained at the Chicago Art institute and Otis Art institute in Los Angeles. He was a Mexican tattoo artist who worked in the movies, drawing “authentic” tattoos on actors in sketchy character roles.
Juan Leon worked alongside the great Ben Corday (an actual giant) on S. Main Street in Los Angeles inside of an arcade tattoo parlor housed within the Roselin Hotel. Leon was occasionally called by movie studios to draw authentic looking tattoos on actors for films. The influence of Ben Corday can be seen in images like the babe in a leaf graphic. His work is well drawn and reads from across the room.
A horse head design brought good luck to the bearer, exotic women in turbans and scarves in tattooed green plants became souvenirs from an LA shore leave. Luckily, many tattoo artists had experience with cover up designs also. Remember, these fun loving folk did become our grandparents and parents.
Charles “ Red” Gibbons worked in also creating these fanciful boards of imps, elves and flowers alongside the money shots-the traditional patriotic flags and eagles. Tattoo artists often worked alongside sideshow circus attractions. On leave, seamen would hop on the Red Car – as memorialized in the film “Whatever Happened to Roger Rabbit?”. Once in town, they’d party up and down the city streets throwing their dough around like, well.. you know, drunken sailors.