The , a tattoo studio located at 18424 Ventura Blvd, is home to five tattoo artists. Some of them go by distinctive nicknames like "Solgr," "Gordo," and "Nero," while others are fine just using their own names, like Johnny Vapotna and the owner, Gregory Cusick.
The studio is a standard boulevard storefront on a block full of one-story shops and niche boutiques, about a block-and-a-half east of Reseda Boulevard. It's easy to find and has a large sign hanging outside with large white lettering that reads "Clandestine Rabbit" on a deep red background. A red neon sign glows the word "tattoo" over the symbol of a lone eyeball with three teardrops underneath it. At the entrance, a painting of a tough-looking white rabbit, donning boxing gloves and dingy shorts and standing against a blood red background, greets visitors at the door.
Inside, the place has plenty of open space and orderly work areas. Framed artwork is neatly displayed on the olive-green walls, depicting the artistic skills of the "tattooers" based there. At the time of Patch's visit, Antonio "Solgr" Tovar, and "Gordo" were busy inking customers, while the others at the shop were working on sketches or were talking to clients on the phone.
Cusick told Patch he got his start in tattooing when he was still in high school. He had a friend who was apprenticing at a tattoo shop, and because Cusick was already growing a passion for the art, he was offered the chance to try out his skills at tattoing, and he immediately got hooked on the craft.
From that point, Cusick then learned the trade and established himself as a professional tattoo artist, eventually going into business for himself. Cusick has now been the owner of his own tattoo studio for six years. He said he grew up in nearby Reseda so "naturally finding a local area would be perfect, to give back to my community."
Asked where the name "Clandestine Rabbit" came from, Cusick said it came about because he believes there is a "mysteriousness" to the art of tatooing, and the name playfully depicts that idea. Also, Cusick's studio regularly incorporates illustrated animals in the studio's artistic reportoire, and the rabbit is a particular favorite.
Cusick said he and his staff strive to "keep our custom tattoo designs as original as possible to satisfy our customers as well as our own interests." And by doing so, Cusick said that maintaining this focus on originality keeps their work fresh on a day-to-day basis.
Cusick said that he and the staff are happy for now at this stage in the business, as getting their shop better known in the Valley and throughout Los Angeles is their main priority. He believes the San Fernando Valley is a "diverse melting pot" and it's good that the Encino-Tarzana area is filled with "many individuals from different creed and background."
Because of this great cultural diversity in the region, Cusick said he is excited by the "opportunities to give clients great work inspired from around the globe."
, 18400 1/2 Ventura Blvd Tarzana. 818-342-1975.