San Diego Tattoo Artist Directory | Artists Behind the Ink


Forces of Nature Art Show at Thumbprint Gallery 2


Last Saturday, April 2nd had the privilege of attending and photographing the “Forces of Nature” Art Show at Thumbprint Gallery 2. Hosted by Brady Willmott of 454 Tattoo and Sierra Colt of Bearcat Tattoo Gallery. Both artists came up with the idea of doing their own solo show after participating in a number of large group shows. Both artists were motivated to paint and pushed themselves to create an entire collection worthy of a solo show. Needless to say that both artists hit it out of the park.

Sierra’s collection focused on hands and the people they are attached to. Telling the story and emotion of the subject while only focusing on the hands. Hard to do, but Sierra composed each oil painting in a way that shows you don’t need to see an entire subject to create a story and feeling. His pieces range from a self portrait to his son’s hand telling the story of moments in time.

Brady’s collection features surreal images of morphed human and animal creatures. Combined to tell the story of social issues or just to get a questioning head tilt to figure out exactly what the collaboration of species is. Using his talent for oil painting Brady combines his subjects that is entirely his own, from skulls to surf to hot rods, Brady twists and turns his pieces into incredible works of art.

Originals and prints of most the pieces from the show are available for sale. Contact the artists directly if you are interested in purchasing something new for your collection.

Brady Willmott – Facebook –

Sierra Colt – Facebook –

Great job guys. Can’t wait to see what the next show holds!

All photos courtesy of Veronica Eisert – Photos are not to be reprinted without permission of the photographer and

Ink Fusion Event at Bearcat Tattoo Galley


Tuesday night Bearcat Tattoo Galley hosted their annual Ink Fusion event. Ink Fusion is a concept taken from art collaborations and adapted for tattooing by Sierra Colt and his talented group of artists. The event inspires ideas from classic tattoo imagery to create a single collaborative tattoo piece. All artists select three tattoo elements at random a week before the show and are then tasked with fusing those elements together to sketch out a rough idea, which will be refined by the other artists throughout the night. This years combinations included: 1) skeleton key, rope and moon 2) centipede, cathedral and filigree 3) raven, nebula and fox glove, 4) hourglass, carnivorous plant and fire 5) wing, snake and gears. All of which you can see were combined beautifully in the photos we took at the event.

Ink Fusion started three years ago with three artists and has added an artist each year since. This years artists included Bearcat artists Sierra Colt, Chad Whitson, Nate Anderson, Alonzo Villa and Hoss Cruz. All of the client participants in the event knew that they would be getting tattooed for five hours but had no idea of the subject matter. They put their trust in the five artists as they rotated stations every hour until all five artists had the chance to put their creative spin on the piece. The final outcome of each tattoo represents the collaborative design and execution of five artists working outside their comfort zones, all working together to create something amazing.

All of the clients left the event with smiles, great tattoos and a cool story to share, while the artists had a new sense of combined accomplishment. All together the event was another artistic success. In case you missed the event there is a live video of the event on Periscope. Search @cbuckwild and you will find the video. Also enjoy the photos from the event below. Looking forward to next years Ink Fusion event and more great events and art shows put on by Bearcat Tattoo Gallery.

Common Sense and Style


I usually keep my opinions to myself while keeping an open mind to whatever comes my way. This is not one of those times. I’ve been working a lot lately, long hours and when I get home the television has been a source of stimulation when I have been to exhausted to do anything else. Normally I stay away from the “reality” shows and other scripted competition shows but I found myself drawn into the most recent season of Ink Master. I have not had TV for the last 3 years, I have not seen any of the previous seasons. But having seen the posts from others in the tattoo industry and the availability of cable television again I thought I’d give it a try.

Well, that was a mistake. My gripe is not with any of the artists. I feel that each of the artists featured in the show are there for a reason. They each specialize in their own unique style of tattooing. They have crafted a style that is their art. My gripe is with the format of the show and the way they try to compartmentalize the true art of tattooing. Yes, I agree some with the show, there are basic techniques and procedures that should be followed. Solid lines, composition, bright bold colors, etc… Most of which any talented tattoo artist learns from day one if they went through a proper apprenticeship. But boxing in an artist to a set amount of time and into an environment that purposely sets them up for failure is a terrible way to showcase the artists talents.

There is a misconception in the public eye that any tattoo artist can do any style of tattoo, the mythical television defined “Ink Master”. Here’s a little insight – They don’t exist. This is a good thing. There are hundreds of extremely talented tattoo artists in the world. The best spend thousands of hours crafting their own unique style that sets them apart from the rest. This is where the show rubs me the most. There is no focus on the artist’s unique style. Here is your canvas, you have 6 hours to tattoo something that should take 2-3 times that amount of time and you have to do it is a style that we (the judges) choose and if we don’t like it you go home. Really? That is what determines an Ink Master? What happened to creativity, and spending the time necessary to complete a proper tattoo. Who does this to artists in real life? Any good artists works within his or her parameters. If something is going to take 6 hours or 40 hours to look good the artists makes his client aware of this.

I am also amazed at these “human canvases” they get to sign up for this show. They have no idea what they want, where they want it or what is involved in getting the piece. Let alone who will be doing the piece. (By the way, always a great idea to get your first tattoo on your ribs). Come on people, do a little homework. I wonder what the application form looks like. “Hey, do you want to be on TV and get a free tattoo? Cool, here is an artist you’ve never met that may not specialize in the tattoo style you want and they can’t spend the time they need to make it look good because they are in a contest judged by the guy who once played guitar in Jane’s Addiction.” Are you kidding me? I’d be running for the door.

What ever happened to doing a little research? The hunt, the adventure of seeking out an artist that fits your style. Creating a relationship with an artist and collaborating on something that is uniquely yours. I get it, TV is for selling advertising and creating drama to get you to stay tuned in through the commercials. That is a well known fact. But when it comes to the human canvas and the exploration of creativity this is not the correct medium to showcase it. If you are really in search of a true “Ink Master”, get out and visit a tattoo shop, they are covered wall to wall in art. Get plugged into the local art scene and really see what these artists are doing. Most of the great tattoo artists create some of the best studio quality paintings and artwork you will ever see. You just have to put forth the effort to find it.

Let’s stop judging art and start appreciating it. There is a standard for quality art especially when tattooing, but after that all rules go out the window. There is no definition of good art, it is subjective and that is the way it should be. If there were rules, then it wouldn’t be art. I will be the first to admit that I’m guilty of it. I have seen art at shows that makes me want to hate it. But then I step back and really look at it, ask questions, try to figure it out. I still may not like the piece but I can appreciate it for what it is. It made me think, it made me question the purpose. The artist who made it had a message or idea and I’m engaged enough to try to figure out what it is.

Common sense is lacking these days. Reality is out there. It is local. It is worldwide. But it does not exist on television. Tattooing is an ancient art form that should be appreciated, not showcased to sell advertising. Let TV be your outlet for your favorite fictional dramas and viral video shows. I do love me some Game of Thrones. Leave it at that. Leave art and tattooing where it belongs.

See you at an art show!

Finding a Quality San Diego Traditional Tattoo Artist

San Diego is rich with tradition when it comes to the art of traditional tattooing. Being a port and military town, San Diego tattoo shops started popping up in the early 1930’s and grew into a booming business. Most of the first clientele of the shops were the young sailors and merchants either stationed in San Diego or on leave between deployments. They would get tattoos that symbolized the places they had traveled to, military ranks or dedications to the people they loved in their lives.

Traditional tattoos are commonly defined as patriotic influenced or classic Americana icons such as eagles, American flags, snakes, daggers, women, swallows, skulls and roses. Properly done with very bold lines, blue-black outlines and primary colors to fill in the piece with black shading. Also commonly referred to as Sailor Jerry style, nautical elements are popular in the traditional style, knots, anchors, ships, and battle scenes are common imagery.

San Diego has several artists that specialize in the style of traditional tattooing. As with getting any tattoo you should view an artists portfolio and be comfortable with both their style and experience. Below is a list of local San Diego tattoo artists who specialize in traditional tattooing and would be a good place to start if you are looking to get a tattoo in the traditional style.

Phil Hatchet-Yau – Tahiti Felix’s Master Tattoo

I enjoy American traditional as a common language amongst those who tattoo that way. It is a style that was really developed out of necessity in the early 20th century that we now carry on as a tradition while injecting our own style and ideas. The category really runs the full gambit, from the bare bones 3 color guys to those who bring in influences from other genres and I think that is what keeps it interesting as a whole. I personally enjoy taking non traditional themes and subject matter and executing them in a traditional way (bold lines, black shading, bright color). My favorite traditional tattooers all have very different styles and approaches to their work, but that is the point. You can pick out any one of their tattoos from the crowd and still understand that they all originate from a common point.

I tattoo mostly by appointment at Tahiti Felix’s Master Tattoo Fridays-Tuesdays 12:30-7:30.

Chris Cockrill – Avalon 2 Tattoo

I started tattooing in 1998, and have always enjoyed doing traditional tattoos. The subject matter is usually timeless aging well with the client. The bold lines and strong shading make a nice readable design from a distance that look great on guys a girls. San Diego is a great town to draw inspiration from this with all its military heritage and long history in American style tattooing.

Dan Pryor – Seven Seas Tattoo

Todd Smithson – Nothing Sacred Tattoo

I started tattooing 11 years ago at Sacred Heart Tattoo in Little Five Points, Atlanta, Georgia. From there I worked in Florida, New York, and Los Angeles until 2007 when I decided to move to San Diego and open my own shop “Nothing Sacred”. I do fully custom tattoos and love traditional colorful tattoos. I like traditional because unlike so many styles in tattooing today, traditional will last forever. It’s also bold and legible from far away. My favorite tattoos are when people bring me an idea and I can to create something that they love and will be able to wear proudly forever. I have been very fortunate the past 7 years in San Diego to have such great clients that come to me with such great ideas and we are able to work together. It’s great because not only are they excited about their tattoo but I’m just as excited about drawing and tattooing it. Big thanks to everyone that I have had the pleasure of working with over the years I’m truly appreciative San Diego!

Tim Howell – Midway Tattoo

My name is Tim Howell, I’ve been tattooing in San Diego for 7 years I prefer to do a tattoo with a black outline and black shading because as we have seen over the years these are the components that keep a tattoo alive for the longest period of time. I don’t want to fool a customer with magic tricks, bells and whistles and then a month later it’s just another flat boring tattoo. I’m very fortunate to tattoo people that trust my judgment and they are usually just as happy with the results as I am. If you would like to contact me for appointments or consultations you can find me on instagram as tim_howell22 or just email me at

Kurt Deetjen – ACE Tattoo Co.

I love Tattooing and history… Traditional Tattoos are American folk art; they utilize rules of proportion and classic imagery; black carbon lines, shading and intact skin make for a design that’s built to last. What began as a working man’s tattoo became a classic style in itself. Preserving history within a style is what craftsmanship is about. I am available to serve you Tuesday through Saturday at San Diego’s oldest operating Tattoo parlor, The Ace Tattooing Company, opened in 1947.

Frank Chavez – Midway Tattoo

If you are a local San Diego Tattoo Artist that specializes in Traditional tattoos
and would like to be featured in this article, please contact us.

Remington Tattoo Winter Art Show & Anomaly Oddities Grand Opening


On December 7th, Remington Tattoo and Gallery hosted their winter art show and grand opening party for Anomaly Oddities. We stopped by and shot some photos of the festivities. Remington tattoo is located in the North Park community of San Diego. Opened just over 2 years ago by the talented Terry Ribera, it has quickly grown into one of the best tattoo shops in San Diego. Other artists showing work at the winter art show included Nathaniel Gann, Sarah Genereux, Shawn McClendon and Jasmine Worth. Jasmine has also opened Anomaly Oddities at Remington. It includes a collection of oddities from around the world, including skulls, potions and many other collectibles for the unique collector.

Enjoy the photos or better yet stop by the shop and check out the show, you won’t be disappointed.

Visit them online at

Hasta La Muerte Tattoo Fiesta brings artists together to educate and help local schools

This past weekend the Imperial Valley Mall in El Centro, California hosted the second annual Hasta La Muerte Tattoo Fiesta. This event was created and hosted by Rico Sandoval of the World Famous La Mancha Tattooz in San Diego, CA. The convention is put on buy artist for artists and takes the promotion companies out of the equation, giving the artists the freedom they need to express their true talents. The gathering brought together over 30 tattoo artists from around the US to not only showcase their artistic talents as tattoo artists but also to educate and inform people.

The Imperial Valley as well as other parts of the US has a problem with unprofessional and untrained tattooers who work out of their homes often times throwing tattoo parties or operating in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. One of the goals of the convention is to show the general public the dangers of unsafe tattooing and educate them as to who the good, professional, talented and great artists are in the Southern California area.

The convention also raised money for a local El Centro school by taking profits from the show and donating them towards purchasing art supplies for the classroom. A charitable way of giving back to the next generation of artists.

Through all of the headaches of putting on a convention, the people and artists involved in this show are dedicated to preserving their craft and hopefully the show will continue to grow and raise awareness for many years to come. Keep up the great work!

“NOGOODNIKS” – Art Show Review


Show Date – July 20, 2013

By: Veronica Eisert

If you were avoiding the Comic-Con crowds in San Diego, you missed this gem tucked away downtown at the Us Versus Them store.

Last Saturday, July 20th, was the opening night of Adam Hathorn’s (aka Honkey Kong) second solo show titled “NOGOODNIKS”. HK’s distinctly unique style drew in a steady crowd of art enthusiasts and supporters. The show included over 15 original art pieces, one of my favorites being “Hard as Snails”, and will hang at the Us Versus Them store for the next 30 days. So if you missed it you still have time to go scope his amazing work.

Besides getting your ass downtown, you can check out more of Adam’s work on his website where he has more of his artwork and goods for sale. And of course you can check out Guru Tattoo if you’re interested in getting more permanent work.