Tattoo Collector David Prieto

What made you want to get your first tattoo?
Just wanted to carry things I liked and that were a part of me at all times.

Do you still have your first tattoo?
Yes, I still have my first one.

What was it? My last name—Prieto— down my right tricep.

When did you start collecting seriously?
I was about 18.

Which artists have you been tattooed by?
The majority [of the work] was done by Mikey and Tommy Montoya, but I’ve had about 20 of my other friends tattoo little spots I had left.

With so many great artists in the world, what made you stick to just those two?
[After] spending so many hours getting tattooed by them, we all became more [like] family. I love the way they tattoo, and it’s always a fun time.

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You have a whole bodysuit, mostly made up of portraits. What drew you toward collecting this type of work?
I wanted to theme every section of my body with the different things I loved, and the portraits, I just felt, were the most real.

Did you plan your suit early, or was it something that developed with time?
I planned it.

Have you kept track of how many portraits you actually have?
Maybe 105.

What would you say is the difference between a collector and the everyday tattoo shop client?
Now [that] there are so many great artists, more people want to wear their artwork. Sometimes people want a little souvenir from a place they went or a memory of [a] loved one, may it be a name or date or a tiny thing.

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Now that your suit is pretty much complete and you’re out of blank space, where do you go from here?
Find the tiny little spots I have and just wear my art proud.

Are there any artists you would have liked to add to your collection?
There are a lot of great tattoo artists out there and it would be great to get a little piece from them all, but now I just get little things from all my friends.

Any advice for aspiring collectors?
My advice is that anybody you are able to get tattooed by whose artwork you like and who you have a chance to be tattooed by, do it.

Shout-outs?
Mikey Montoya, Tommy Montoya, everybody at Rubes Tattoo, and the Wooster Street Social Club.

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