Darnell Waine is a good friend of mine. I met him when he was working at Hollywood Stars Tattoo (HST) & we immediately clicked; we started hanging & I took photos of him..& his work was seriously on some next level. He had some amazing portrait paintings up in his station, they were so realistic, naturalistic… I was impressed to learn that he painted them himself… & that he was also a photographer. So, I asked him if he would tattoo me. He did a portrait art work by one of my favorite artists Erik Siador on my arm of a Mayan Priestess. Then, I helped him with his website. Recently, when he came to visit me in my North Hills home, I acknowledged his growth as an all around artist & I told him how he needed to be showcased in my new magazine project. I asked him to tell me about his origins & his journey as an artist. So here it is… this is his story:
I grew up in Los Angeles, CA. Most of my time, outside of school, was spent drawing and watching Nickelodeon. I played sports, and entertained other interests here and there but drawing was always something I could do, and do well. As a kid it made me feel exceptional.
At age 15 I got my first tattoo. Around that time a lot of my friends were getting their firsts, too. I was even drawing up some of the designs they were taking to the shops. Eventually they suggested I learn to do tattoos myself, but I wasn’t really open to the idea.
After graduating high school I was faced with two choices, either get a job or go to college. I wasn’t really interested in either but the idea of an art college seemed better than a regular college, and was heaven compared to getting a job. By this time the idea of becoming a tattoo artist had really grown on me and that was on my radar as well. I enrolled in California Design College and at the same time started my first apprenticeship learning to tattoo. Not long after starting art school I dropped out to focus solely on tattooing.
My first apprenticeship didn’t last long either. I soon found myself out of school, out of a shop, and tattooing out of my parent’s house. This was one of the more turbulent times for my folks and I, for they initially saw no direction in my pursuit to be a tattoo artist. Then I soon realized that while tattooing my friends out my mom’s garage gave me a little freedom and kept some money in my pocket, I still wasn’t becoming a better tattooer. I knew I needed to get another apprenticeship.
I got the second apprenticeship at Hollywood Stars Tattoo. I consider this shop the launch pad for my tattoo career. Here I was taught the in’s and out’s of working in an actual studio. I learned lessons in art, business, customer service, and all around life situations. It was home away from home. My time at HST fueled many of my ambitions, one of which was to travel.
Not long after I turned 21 I ended up living in Oklahoma City. It was a complete night and day comparison to Los Angeles, and that’s what I was looking for at the time, change. This change opened me up to a lot of new experiences. These experiences challenged me as an artist and a person, and some were even life changing. One of those challenges was participating in the 3rd season of Best Ink. After the show aired my career took off I soon found myself traveling more in two years time than I had done in my entire life.
All the traveling and all the clientele kept me very busy. Sometimes more than I wanted to be. Since, things have settled down and I find myself with more time to think, and consider what’s really important. High up on that list is my art, and my life as an artist. As I go thru so many changes in life, art continues to be the one constant. This becomes clearer to me everyday, and so I go thru the motions of eliminating distractions so that I may put all of myself into it. I do this in hopes that one I can leave this place contently, knowing that I honestly left it all on the canvas.