Exclusive Juan is a rock solid black and grey realism tattooer working out of Salinas, California. He specializes in religious work as well as portraiture pieces, and delivers quality work with every piece he creates. I got the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with him when I visited the Inked Hearts Tattoo Convention in Humboldt, California back in February. I had the honor of doing an extensive interview with him, and hope you guys enjoy the read.
So just looking through your work I know you’re doing top level tattoos that probably look even much better in real life. What three things would you say have been most beneficial to your growth as a tattooer?
The great friends I met along the way that encouraged me to keep on moving forward, the countless of hours I spent drawing and painting as a child, and the support of my family, have been beneficial to my growth as a tattoo artist.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered along the way?
The time away from family and the back pain that comes with long hours of tattoo sessions, has been the biggest challenge for me.
Was there ever a particular tattoo where things started to make sense or has it always just been slow and steady consistent growth?
I don’t feel like it’s been one tattoo in particular that made everything make sense. It’s been a slow and steady process and a plethora of work.
Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? People places books etc?
I feel my inspiration has come from other artists I admired early on. Such as Chuey Quintanar, Alan Padilla, Pint. And specially from the support of family and friends.
Ideal client? Three things you wish they all understood?
Patience, Freedom, and Respect.
Most of my bigger pieces are completed in sessions. Some tattoos may require multiple sessions; therefore, it’s ideal for the client to be patient and understand the process.
Freedom is also essential because I am able to suggest ideas that I know from personal experiences what will translate best on skin according to their concept.
And I hope clients value my time and process and treat me with the same respect as I value theirs.
Favorite/most rewarding part of being a tattooer?
The best part of being a tattoo artist for me is being able to do something I love every day. And I got to travel the world and meet a bunch of great artists along the way, who have become my good friends.
Most valuable lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Value your time, it’s your greatest fortune and the one thing you can’t get back.
Any other main passions in life?
On my free time I enjoy spending it with my two boys and family.
How many days do you prefer to tattoo per week? I know you make great money already, but how many would you tattoo per week if you made $50,000 per full day session?
At the moment I tattoo 6 days a week. If I could I would tattoo 3 days a week, of nothing but custom pieces. This way on days off I can focus on creating designs and spending the rest of my time off with my family.
Biggest changes you’ve seen happen in the industry so far?
I’ve seen more and more artist coming in with fine arts background which are pushing the limit of the craft and bringing new ideas to the industry. At the same time I’ve seen a plethora of niggardly artists who are only in it for the funds and social media likes.
Changes you hope/predict to see?
I would like to see tattoos recognized as a fine art and artists get the recognition they deserve throughout main stream society.
I would like to see some sort of tattoo artists hall of fame. Where future generations can see the greatest tattoo artists of current and past times.
And these artists names never get forgotten with the passing of time.
Thanks so much for you time Juan! Check out more of his work @exclusivejuan.