Justin Tauch Took His Tattooing From Chicago to Costa Mesa

Justin Tauch is still a new name in OC’s tattooing scene, but he’s an established veteran on a national level. The artist moved from Chicago to Long Beach about nine months ago and immediately took his illustrative take on tattooing up to LA, where he quickly built a clientele ranging from Pasadena down to Carson. But for much of his time in Los Angeles, Tauch still thought about the conversations and email exchanges that almost landed him a job with tattooing legend Kari Barba of Outer Limits in Long Beach.

“I didn’t really know much about Kari when I went into her shop a couple of years ago, but I figured I should talk to the manager since I was getting ready to move out here and didn’t have a job lined up yet,” Tauch says. “It wasn’t until other people started telling me about her that I was like ‘Wow, she took the time to talk to me.’”

By the time Tauch and his wife managed to move west, Barba had already filled the spots she needed at her Outer Limits Tattoo locations. But – as often happens in the ever-changing world of tattooing – an opening arose at Barba’s Costa Mesa shop, allowing Tauch to move his business south (and avoid the traffic between Long Beach and LA) at the beginning of May.

In less than two months, Tauch has already begun to earn a reputation as one of Costa Mesa’s top choices for illustrative tattoos, particularly of animals, nautical themes, and other nature-based custom tattoo designs. Although it’ll likely be a little while before he’s booked quite as solidly as he was after over six years of tattooing in Chicago, the artist is hopeful that his intricate style will take off here just as well as it did in the Midwest.

“I didn’t take any new appointments for the last year I was in Chicago because I was already booked out so much,” Tauch says. “Coming out here and starting over was different, but already I have some clients who drive down from Pasadena to see me. That’s a long drive.”

But beyond the shop he calls home and the clients he tattoos, Tauch is already loving life in Southern California. Like many people who move to the area, the weather was a major factor for the young couple’s move. Tauch and his wife – who’s also an artist and will be featured at San Diego’s Comic-Con this year – had consecutively endured the four worst Chicago winters of their lives before deciding to ditch the snow. Combine that with Tauch’s love for California cultural staples like skateboarding – in which Tauch was sponsored as a teenager before tearing his ACL twice – and punk, and SoCal just became the obvious choice for them.

“I’d been wanting to move out here since I was 14 or 15,” Tauch says. “I’ve always been in love with punk music, and it seemed like all the bands were coming from out here. Skateboarding in Chicago, you can’t go outside for half of the year. It seemed like kids out here always had one up on us because they could skateboard year-round. It was always a dream to come out here, but my wife is the person who makes shit real.”

Of course, Tauch knows that he’ll have his detractors moving from the tight-knit Chicago tattooing community to the enormous California tattoo scene. Illustrative tattoo artists often draw criticism from more traditional tattooers due to their frequent bending of the “rules of tattooing,” and OC certainly has more than its fair share of old school traditional guys. But that tattooing history – in both OC and Long Beach – is also something that Tauch embraces, and one of the many highlights he sees in becoming a part of the Outer Limits family.

“I love going over [to the Long Beach location of Outer Limits] and all of the history there,” Tauch says. “I’ll go over on my days off sometimes. I didn’t know much about it before, but there are so many stories there.”

As for the future of OC tattooing, Tauch is poised to become one of the more in-demand names sooner than later. Consider this your warning to book a session with him soon if you like his work, as his waiting list will only be getting longer from here.

Outer Limits Tattoo, 2981 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 241-8287, @justintauchtattoos

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