by Saima Fariz
Walking into Johnny “2/3” Anderson’s tattoo shop is like taking a step back into time; the mind is immediately stimulated by numerous framed art pieces covering the walls, the sound of Johnny Cash playing in the background, and Johnny’s assistant Darla, dressed like vintage pin-up girl.
Despite the sterile smell that fills the room, there is a welcoming vibe that comes from the staff.
“Hi, welcome to Yer Cheat’n Heart! Can I help you with anything?” Darla beams.
There is a sort of ease that comes with a warm smile that can take the edge off of walking into a tattoo parlor with completely bare skin.
Johnny, 37, can often be found sitting at the wooden table in the middle of his shop, working on a stencil for a client. His typical day starts with him arriving to the shop around 10 a.m. His goal is to fulfill three large appointments a day.
“A large appointment usually involves a tattoo that will take me around two to three hours to complete,” he explained.
Then Johnny goes to his second shop in Gardena to complete various other appointments at that location.
Despite his hectic schedule, he tries his hardest to be home by eight or nine at night so he can spend time with his wife and tuck his four kids into bed.
When asked if he would want his children to become tattoo artists as well, he replied, God willing, no.
“My youngest daughter is already showing interest in drawing,” he laughed. “I just hope that no matter what my children do, they out-succeed me in it.”
Despite the success Johnny himself has experienced over the years, it wasn’t easy to open up Hermosa Beach’s first tattoo parlor. Before Johnny sued the City of Hermosa Beach in September 2010, there was a municipal ban on tattoo parlors in the area.
Considered a violation of the basic First Amendment, Anderson v. Hermosa Beach uplifted the ban and gave Johnny the okay to open up shop in the city.
“We’ve received a warm welcome from Hermosa; I was born and raised here so that means a lot,” said Johnny.
The Hermosa native has been a tattoo artist for the past eighteen years of his life and has earned himself the title as the fastest tattoo artist in his field.
However, he admits it’s not an easy field to get into. The tattoo culture of Southern California is so saturated that the best method of learning is very old-fashioned—through a mentor-apprentice relationship.
“My mentor was Jeff ‘Lefty’ Thielman and I learned from him for about ten years. He really influenced my style,” said Johnny.
Over his years as a tattoo artist, Johnny himself has mentored six people. His assistant, Darla, is soon to become one of them.
“I enjoyed drawing a lot as a kid; it’s one of those things you’re either born with or not,” Johnny said. “Then as a teenager, I just fell in love with tattoos and how they became a living part of the person.”
Johnny actually received his first tattoo at the age of fifteen on Monterey Beach.
“It was illegal of course,” he said.
He lifted up his sleeve to point out a naked girl on his arm with the popular 1970s rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd written underneath her body.
From a man who is currently working on a body suit, you wouldn’t expect any regrets about his tattoos.
“I genuinely love each and every one of my tattoos. But I have naked girls on my legs that I have to cover up with bandages when I am carrying out my pastoral duties; that’s the closest I have to regret,” he admitted.
Johnny is a part of the King’s Harbor Church in Redondo Beach that cares for the many homeless people in Hermosa.
Johnny said that he has a very deep spiritual connection and thanks God for all the blessings he’s been fortunate to come across in his life.
After a simple interview that turned into a two hour long conversation, Johnny spoke on how surprised people would be to learn the story of a tattoo artist.
“Older people have this misconception that we’re all bikers, drug addicts, or criminals. But we’re just people. With all of our flaws and struggles, we’re still just people.”ER