If you only knew Javier DeLuna through Instagram, you might think he’s been tattooing for decades.
The OC native’s American traditional style is timeless, and his fundamentals are solid enough to show years devoted to the craft. Add in his knowledge and ability to rattle off a century’s worth of wisdom, and you’d expect DeLuna to drop in tales of tattooing with Bert Grimm at the Pike back when the Pike was the Pike.
Except DeLuna’s only been tattooing for a few years, and he wasn’t even born when many of those old-schoolers were working their craft. After beginning his career in some unremarkable LA street shops while living off Top Ramen and PB&J sandwiches, DeLuna found a new home that could feed his hunger for all things tattooing. While his peers are turning to YouTube and Instagram to learn how to practice their art, DeLuna is opening books and watching the generations before him work in the flesh. It’s what happens when you’re the young buck at Classic Tattoo in Fullerton.
DeLuna’s interest in the industry began with seeing the biker and gangster tattoos of the ‘90s while he was splitting time between various areas of OC — from Laguna to Anaheim. With role models such as Classic’s owner Tim Hendricks and Chuco Moreno (of Norco’s Zombie Tattoo), DeLuna has been learning from some of the best.
“It’s unreal to learn under the guys here,” DeLuna says. “I started tattooing at this little shop in Venice Beach, and I’d be looking at Tim’s tats all the time. Tim and Chuco are the guys I looked up to back then because Chuco had that Chicano style, but you could tell it had the real tattoo influence behind it. Seeing that stuff and being here now is crazy to me.”
But it’s not just about learning the best ways to put ink into skin, as tattooing is as much a customer-service industry as any these days. Unlike guys such as Hendricks and Moreno, DeLuna’s at the point in his career that he can’t yet pick and choose what (or who) he tattoos. Thankfully, his love for the artform helps him handle even the pickiest of clientele—such as those who literally compare his work to others on the Internet while receiving one of DeLuna’s designs.
“I got my first tat when I was 18, and I just became obsessed with it,” DeLuna says. “I tried to hide it from my mom, but I was always saving up money for my next tat. I’ve always been drawn to how they look, but ever since then, I’ve just always been obsessed with it. It’s crazy that this is what I get to do for a living because it’s always been like a dream for me.”
Classic Tattoo, 521 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 870-0805. Follow him on Instagram: @javierdeluna_.