Interview with Vince Villalvazo | Mystic Owl Tattoo 23/4/2012 


Q: When did you start doing tattoos? What made you to become a tattoo artist?
A: I was always intrigued by art in general and I was exposed to tattoo art early on. I got my first tattoo when I was 15 years old, I collected tattoo magazines and was blown away by the tattoos I saw there, over the years I kept collecting magazines. Finally one of my good friends in Detroit introduced me to his tattoo artist, and that changed everything. As my friend was getting worked on his artist and I discussed art and tattoos and he told me I had potential to tattoo as he looked at my sketches. At that point I began researching more in depth about tattooing and different possibilities of obtaining an apprenticeship. After lots of work I started my apprenticeship in late December 2005 in Highland, Michigan at Fat Brothers Tattoo, owned by Mark Madigan and studied under John Madigan of Gypsy Kings Tattoo.


Q: What kind of art interested you at the time?
A: In general I like all kinds of different art, and I can appreciate every form of art out there. When it comes to my tattoo art, I try to be as well rounded as I can, doing anything from portraits to illustrative and neo-traditional. When left to my own devices I'll will push myself to do something completely of my own creation with a more illustrative feel while fusing elements of realism and neo traditional tattooing. However, my art is ever changing and evolving.

 Q: Some people say that it is possible to be self taught artist. What are your thoughts about this?
A: I think that it is possible to be a self taught artist, however, there are very few artists that will just pick up a tattoo machine and make it look like that they have been tattooing for many years, I guess that is raw talent. For some of us it means lots of hard work, dedication and focus. I believe that working with other artists makes a significant difference as far as the learning process goes. Obviously doing a formal apprenticeship under a good artist will save you form acquiring many bad habits when you have no guidance or direction. In my case I had the great opportunity of finding an apprenticeship at a good studio and later on moving to Georgia where I met and worked with amazing artists that I learned tons from, and I continue to learn every day.

Q: Would you connect your tattoo art with your personality? If so, in which style your find yourself the most?
A: I do think that when we love what we do what ever that may be, we are connected with it. I do feel connected with that art I produce, I'd probably say that what represents me the most is the fact that I'm pretty laid back. I like to cruise when I drive and when I design tattoos I do it the night before or the day of the appointment. I will use sharpie makers right on the skin a lot. I don't like to stress about it and I take it a day at a time, I feel that I have more fun that way. The most prominent characteristic in my tattooing it is that I like to have fun.

 Q: There are a lot of custom tattoos in your portfolio. Colorful bright designs, fantasy mix with some realistic note in almost every tattoo. Do you collaborate with your clients on the designs?
A: I am very fortunate that my clients allow me to do my own interpretation of their ideas. I definitely like to draw my own stuff, we are at a point now where all my clients are open to my ideas and they just give some general direction and I'll take it from there. A lot of the time even when I do a portrait they allow me to put illustrative elements which allows me to enjoy the whole process even more.

Q: Any strange requests, you would like to share with us? Or there is no a strange request for a tattoo?
A: Honestly nothing is too weird for me, the only thing that stops me from doing something is if there is no artistic value in it. I did get a request to tattoo hair on a guys head that had random bold spots on his head. I could never match his real hair so I declined, plus it seemed to me as if he needed more of medical procedure.

Q: Artists are constantly making some changes in their style, technically and artistically. How has your work developed over the years?
A: There has always been different points of interest for me. When I started tattooing all I wanted to do was black and grey tattoos and somehow that evolved into doing realistic color which then evolved into illustrative and neo-traditional. Now it is a mix of everything. I do enjoy putting big fat lines in my tattoos so I have come full circle, I guess that is what keeps it interesting for me, I try not to get too comfortable doing one thing so I don't get stuck there.

Q:  In the past few years, there are many tattoo artists trying to develop a unique style that will describe their art, ideas etc. What people should expect from you?
A: People can expect that even though I'm laid back and I don't draw a month ahead of time or even two days before hand because I also tattoo pretty much everyday so I like to focus on one client at the time until its time for my next appointment. I pour myself into everything I do so they can expect a unique piece of art and a great tattoo experience.

Q: You got many tattoo awards in the past few years. Is that a great motivation to become even better?
A: It is nice to get awards and articles for exposure as a form of recognition for the hard work you put into a tattoo, but it should never be a reason for taking anything for granted. Overall I think the biggest reward is when you see the excitement in the face of your client after the tattoo is done, and they take a look in the mirror and they say that all the pain money, and in many cases long hours traveling to come and get tattooed, were all worth it. They will go home and tell all their friends and family how happy they are with their tattoo. In my opinion that is the biggest award and motivation to improve everyday.

Q: Art could be a great influence on some one's personality. What is the best lesson that you've learned from your tattoo journey?
A: The biggest lesson has been dedication and patience. It is also a constant reminder to stay humble and realizing that we have the coolest job and we should be grateful for it. Some of the best artists I know are also the most humble; they worry about things like producing better art and offering a great service and that is very inspiring to me so I try to keep the good karma going.

 Q: In a few words, what are the most important things that every single artist should know in order to become a successful and respected?
A: Stay true to your goals and don't confuse the fact tattooing is a labor of love, if you think that you are going to make lots of money right off the bat you will be disappointed because you will find out real quick that those are the wrong reasons. To me, success is to be able to do what you love doing, and success has nothing to do with money as ambition has nothing to do with greed. If you are driven, patient and are not afraid to put in as many hours as it takes to improve you will become successful. If you keep yourself humble, learn and listen as well as give others respect then you become respected. Obviously when you work hard and offer a good experience to your clients you will earn some money, it comes with it but it shouldn't be the driving force. Remember no matter how awesome you think you are there is always someone better. Even if you were the best artist in the world if you are a cocky douche bag people most likely won't come back to you. I like building relationships with people and I have actually made really good friends from tattooing, not just artists but clients too.

Q:  What are you feature plans? Please feel free to share your work info.
A: I will definitely be pushing my art as much as I can, I'm excited to hold my first seminar at the Tattoolapalooza Tattoo Convention in Miami from June 22-24th 2012, I have been getting lots of questions about what it is that I do, so I decided to put together this little semminar with a focus on Neo Traditional tattooing. There more other awesome things happening, we are currently building an amazing artist here at Mystic Owl Tattoo , we have amazing artists such as Jace Masula Mike Bugenhagen Tim Orth and piercings by Tara Villalvazo

Also if you are interested in making an appointment with me please visit my website to have an online consultation

Thank you so much for this interview Iva,
Vince Villalvazo - Mystic Owl Tattoo
44 N. Fairground St NE Marietta, GA. 30060678-594-0533