Col. W.L. Todd was a world renowned Tattoo Artist for over 40 years. One of his many accomplishments in life, besides tattooing, was to design and manufacture his own tattoo machine. These machines are used all over the world by famous tattoo artists such as Good Time Charlie, Ed Hardy, Dave Gibson, Paul Jeffries, Brian Everett just to name a few.
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One thing I promised my Dad is I would carry on the tradition and now I am. Don't be fooled! There are copies out there but only one original design which I have continued to manufacture.
World Renowned Col. W.L. Todd's Tattoo Machine
What Others Are Saying About Col. W.L. Todd's Tattoo Machine"I have probably put thousands of tattoos on with these machines. I have worked daily with one in particular on a regular basis since 1985. The liner is perfect for a fine or heavy line.
This machine's performance is wonderful! One of my employees purchased a few from Col. Todd and he uses them on a daily basis to."
The End of the Trail Tattoo
"I think this is a terrific machine that does the job great! It is a good testament to the quality of person Col. Todd was and the kind of work he did. I purchased mine originally from the Colonel and it works great!"
Ed Hardy's Tattoo City
San Francisco, CA
"I swear by Col. W.L. Todd's Tattoo Machine, and I have been using them daily for over 17 years. In May of 1997, I mailed one of my machines to Larry for a tune up and it now runs great again!"
Lucky's Tattoo Parlor
Downtown San Diego, CA
"I do a lot of Japanese Style Body Work and the "Col. Todd" machine is the only thing I can use for 6 hours straight without heating up. For a light weight, long-stroke shader I haven't found anything to compare."
Smilin' Buddha Tattoo
Calgary, Alberta Canada
Remembering The Colonel
Colonel William Todd, September 30, 1929 - June 12, 1994
Article from February 1995 issue of TattooThe Early Years
For those of you who haven't heard, I am sorry to inform you of the passing of yet another of the old greats in the business. Last summer Colonel William Todd finally lost his long battle with cancer.
As time goes on there is a changing of the guard. We have lost many of the seniors who paved the way in the world of tattooing. The loss of the Colonel hit hard for those of us who were close to him.
The Colonel was a man that was always glad to help others improve their tattooing. Although he came from an era of "mums the word," he felt that if someone did a better tattoo, it was a better look for tattooing.
I know this first hand. Over the early years of my career the Colonel dropped by Albuquerque from time to time to visit family. When he was in town, he would come by and talk shop. Being a green horn in those years, his visits were invaluable to me. That was 17 years ago.
Things were different then. Information was rarely offered, but if the Colonel thought you were worth your weight, he would help you all he could. If not, he wouldn't give you the time of day. The Colonel was a man of principle and a straight shooter. If he told you a story, you knew it was the straight poop. And the Colonel knew plenty of stories.
The Colonel tattooed for 45 years. He went into the Army at age 16. While in the service, the Colonel experienced his first tattoo raid and had his equipment confiscated. So much for moonlighting in the military. After finishing his hitch he opened his first shop in Denver, Colorado. The Colonel later moved on to Kentucky to separate the military from its money.
Although the Colonel had found success in Kentucky, an artist from California (Bob Shaw) told him to "go west, young man." So he did, and the duo of Col. Todd and Bob Shaw proved to be the most enduring in tattoo history. Their business partnership remained intact till the very end of their industrious careers.
Of the shops they shared Bert Grimm's in Long Beach is the one that most comes to mind. The shop has been a spring board for the careers of some of the most notable artists in the business.
The Colonel felt the secret to success was hard work and giving the best you had. When single needle work first came out, all the old-timers were saying, "No way that stuff can stay in the skin." They made no attempt to credit its worth.
The Colonel on the other hand said, "Hey, I better find out more about this." He wasn't afraid or too proud to ask the young bucks for a few tips of their own.
The Colonel never claimed to be a Rembrandt, but if you wanted a good, clean tattoo in just about any style for a fair price, he was your man. He took pride in every tattoo and it showed.
The Colonel tattooed in Twentynine Palms, California, for the remainder of his years. His high standard of tattooing remains in the shop there as the Colonel's sons Larry and Tony Mora carry on the family tradition.
The Colonel retired just three years ago. After a year of retirement, he was kind enough to do what was the last tattoo of his 45-year career on me. He did a Lady Luck on my leg that is by far my favorite and most treasured tattoo. He knew how badly I wanted one of his tattoos, but to have his last tattoo is an honor I hold close to my heart.
Services were held at Weiffes and Sons mortuary in Yucca Valley, CA where friends and family said their last good byes. The Colonel's ashes rest at National Monument Memorial Park in Joshua Tree California. The Colonel died with the same dignity he lived.
We will all miss him, but I am certain he is in a better place, perhaps talking shop with an old friend. Rest in peace Colonel William Todd and may God bless.