Tuttle was born in 1931 and grew up in Ukiah, California. At the age of fourteen he purchased his first tattoo for $3.50. In 1949, he began tattooing professionally. In 1954 he opened his own studio in San Francisco. This first shop was open for nearly 30 years. Tuttle tattooed Janis Joplin, Cher, Henry Fonda and several other notable musicians and celebrities of the time.
He has been tattooed on six continents, and has never knowingly tattooed a minor. He has become a legend and a teacher within the industry in the years he has been tattooing. He officially retired in 1990 but will still occasionally tattoo his signature on a friend or acquaintance. His fame within tattooing was somewhat controversial, as many tattooists of his day disliked his statements to the press and "shameless self-promotion". When Tuttle was on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in October 1970, Sailor Jerry put the picture inside his toilet.
Tuttle currently teaches accredited seminars in "Tattoo machine maintenance and machine building" at tattoo conventions around the United States.
When asked what made tattooing gain in popularity during his early career, he responded:
"Women's liberation! One hundred percent women's liberation! That put tattooing back on the map. With women getting a new found freedom, they could get tattooed if they so desired. It increased and opened the market by 50% of the population - hell of the human race! For three years, I tattooed almost nothing but women. Most women got tattooed for the entertainment value ... circus side show attractions and so forth. Self-made freaks, that sort of stuff. The women made tattooing a softer and kinder art form."