Step inside the colorful, creative, and innovative world of Dave Barton and you will find your eyes feasting on all sorts of delicious art in an assortment of genres. Dave is not only an incredible tattoo artist who weaves striking colors throughout his custom work; but he also paints up a storm, created the zany Space Eels project, and is an accomplished graphic artist with a degree in the field.
Barton's understanding of depth, texture, and composition manifests itself prominently in his tattoo work. With the skills of a true seasoned pro, it's hard to believe that he has been tattooing less than four years now. With such a bright future ahead of him, Dave's clients (and prospective clients) certainly have plenty to look forward to as he continues to concentrate on his ink career.
Finding a home and the new Coil Tattoo Gallery, Barton is soaking up all the shop has to offer. Working alongside Nathan Kostechko, the gallery eat, sleeps, and breathes art. Located in Chinatown (Los Angeles), California, Coil adds a breath of brilliance to the Southern California scene.
In addition to his tattoos, I am particularly fond of Dave's design work, and while he doesn't have much time for that area of focus nowadays, I still urge you to check out the print and motion work on his website, because it's really marvelous.
His refreshing positivity and enthusiasm for the tattoo art form bursts through in his work. I really had a fun time working with Dave on this story, and I'm thrilled to feature his work in this edition of Inkerviews.
How long have you been a tattoo artist? Did you have a formal apprenticeship?
I first picked up a tattoo machine in 2006, sometime after the new year. I remember I had bought a little "kit" off Technical. I spent some time scribbling on myself and random friends in my room and went around Ventura begging for apprenticeships. I had no idea what I was doing.
I finally got into some biker shop that put me to work right away. I never got a formal apprenticeship and basically learned by watching these guys and asking lots of questions. I wish I had received a formal apprenticeship somewhere, and I highly recommend doing so, instead of doing what I did. I missed out on a lot of valuable information right off the bat.
You are such an all-around talented artist. Your tattoo work, paintings and graphic work are outstanding. Which of these genres came first and how did your other artistic endeavors lead you to (or influence) your tattoo work?
Thanks! I was always into drawing since I was little. I started getting serious about art in high school, doing lots of graffiti with my friends. We started a crew called the "Rail Rats" and painted trains like crazy. From that spawned a graffiti magazine we put out, and that got me really interested in graphic design.
I ended up going to the Art Institute of LA and got my BS in Graphic Design. During college, I sort of "discovered" tattoos, got my first one, and couldn't stop thinking about how cool it was and that I wanted to try it. So I did. And I got hooked.
Now I tattoo full-time alongside Nathan Kostechko, who is a really big influence of mine and I'm more than honored to rock out here in LA with him. When I met Nathan in 2008, he saw my work and really began to push my painting skills and got me into oil painting. Oil painting has helped out my tattooing tremendously and that is why now you can find me painting oils just as much as tattooing.
Were you interested in art as a child? Did you envision yourself as an artist when you grew up?
As a child I was always drawing on anything I could find, including myself. Art always seemed fun to me, so it just stuck around and now it runs my life.
You are now working at the beautiful new Coil Tattoo Gallery in Chinatown (Los Angeles), California. Can you tell us more about the shop and what it's like working there?
Coil Tattoo Gallery makes me proud to be an artist. The building is epic. The location is perfect, and it's super clean. Nate and I are there regularly seven days a week. It's pretty laid back.
When we aren't tattooing, we are drawing and painting. It's like home away from home. It's a lot nicer to work with people who want to push their tattooing to the max and want the shop to look rad and reflect who we are. Something is always a little different every time you walk in the door. I like that.
Your Space Eels project is fantastic and it seems as though it grew into more than you planned for it to. Can you tell us about it and how it all come about?
I had a dream about Space Eels one night and kind of took the idea and ran with it. I also was learning how to paint with acrylics and needed subject matter, so I thought of incorporating the Space Eels into all my paintings.
Then I developed this weird story for them and people started to respond. I did a few commissions and sold a handful at some random art shows. Now that it has been going on a few years, I'm sort of getting tired of painting these little eel tails, so I'm now thinking of new ideas, mainly bio-organic influenced. I consider 2006-2009 my "Space Eel Years" (ha ha). Who can say that?
What is your favorite style of work to tattoo? What would your dream piece be to work on?
I respect all forms of tattooing. Lately, I have been on the whole bio-mech trip, especially working with Nathan. I really dig traditional and Japanese styles too, and this "neo-traditional" stuff people are calling it, like hybrid designs using traditional motif and realistic subject matter.
My dream piece right now would be a full color bio-organic space alien body suit.
What one word best describes you?
What one word best describes your work?
My Work? BLOP!
What is your favorite sweet treat? =)
It has to be these Red Velvet cupcakes with the gnar frosting and berries from The Bread Basket in Camarillo, CA. So good!
**Be sure to visit Dave's website, myspace page or Facebook page to see more of his amazing work.
*All Inkerviews will be cataloged in the Inkerviews section of the site. Just click on the link at the top of the site.