DOUG DEATH

Art has been a big part of Doug’s life since first putting pen to paper. Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s he was heavily influenced by comic books, cartoons, video games and heavy metal album art of the time. Frank Frezzeta paintings were the proverbial nail which solidified his drive to make art a profession.

He was exposed to tattoos at an early age. Members of his family had the more traditional style of tattoos and for the time, it had its associations in movies and media as being a “bad ass”. He would often draw on himself to see how it would look and pretend that he had tattoos, this used to make his mom furious. He would try and hide them, so he didn’t have to wash them off, he thought they were so cool and wanted to keep them for as long as possible.

His art garnered attention in high school. He became known as the guy who could draw well, but it wasn’t until his art teacher took him under his wing did he realize he knew very little about art. He urged him to explore different mediums to expand on the skills he already had, to refine them. He helped him first with oil painting, an experience he says he will never forget because it forced him to change his approach in creating an art piece.  This is what drove him to receive his degree in art.

He received his first tattoo in his mid 20’s and loved everything about it. However, he never gave the craft a second thought, receiving them was good enough for him at the time. The business seemed out of line with his own goals and ambitions. As he received his next couple of tattoos, he began to think about the art aspect behind it. It requires a tremendous amount of skill to be able to tattoo a person properly, something he didn’t think he had or was even capable of having. It wasn’t until a trip to Canada that he began to seriously delve into the scene. He was attending a social art event, while he was sketching the owner of the shop asked him “why are you not a tattoo artist?” He was at a loss for words. His girlfriend at the time urged and motivated him to look for an apprenticeship and really go for it.

After going to many shops in search of an apprenticeship in his early thirties he was fortunate to find a  mentor in Sawooli Vargas out of Venice beach. He says that he couldn’t have asked for a better person to learn the craft from. He not only helped him gain knowledge on the craft but also respect and have love for the artists and the business. Everything about it fascinated him, even the sterilization procedures (something that he learned to take very seriously).

He took a gamble and quit his stable job to fully concentrate on tattooing, he claims that it was one of the most difficult challenges of his life. He became the starving artist, there were times when he was happy to get a McChicken from McDonalds. He barely had to coins to rub together which led to be at an all time emotional low. His sole motivation was to become a tattoo artist, he was blindly driven by this idea and no matter how bad things got, He knew this was his future. Now, 4 years later he continually falls in love with what he does even when times get tough. This is something that he says he is proud of, something that almost seems like an inevitability of all his experiences. He is now doing what he loves, doing something that also makes other people happy and in turn, makes him happy. He understands the phrase “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, well, He says he hasn’t worked a day in 4 years. Currently an artist in Glendale, California at a shop called Skin Deep Tattoo and Piercing. 

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