Artists: Andrés Acosta
What year did you start tattooing?
I had a really rough start in late 2009 back in Venezuela.
How did you get into tattooing?
One of my best friends, Marco Luzzagni, had this little shop called Inkdustry in Barquisimeto [Venezuela]. I went there to get my second tattoo, a black-and-gray portrait of my mom. After that, I started hanging out at the shop and really getting into the idea that tattoos were awesome! Since I was a kid I have always been interested in art, and all I did was draw. One day my brother said to me, “Why you don’t ask Marco and see if he can teach you how to tattoo?” and I thought that I had nothing to lose— so I went for it!
What was your first shop experience like?
It was pretty rough. Every day was something new for me. I didn’t speak any English and it was really awkward. I was learning by mistakes and I was nervous all the time, thinking I was going to get fired sooner or later. Sure thing, I got fired after a couple of months—but the cool thing about it was that I had built my shitty portfolio, and that was my ticket to getting my next job.
What brought you to Red Dagger Tattoo Studio in Houston?
I’d always looked up to Shawn Will’s work. So I got tattooed by him and at the same time he asked me to cover his booth for a week in the shop he was working at before Red Dagger. There I met Abel Sanchez, Steven Compton, and Remo Grilli. They are all amazing artists and supercool dudes, and luckily for me we became friends. They opened this badass studio, and one day my buddy Aaron Springs and I were asked if we wanted to join the family.
Your work features a lot of roses in a very unique style. What led you to do roses in this way?
I’ve always been interested in surrealism; this has been a real big influence on the rose morph ideas. Since the early stages of my career I’ve loved realism, but I wanted to be more creative with it, have a little bit more artistic freedom. So I was doing a lot of roses, and one day I was reading about a surrealism technique that works by mixing two or more random ideas, making a single concept. That’s when I thought it could be cool if I mixed random stuff with roses.
What inspires you as an artist?
I guess what inspires me the most is nature. Also my wife is a huge influence in my work; she is like the other half of my brain.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Nikko Hurtado, Mike DeVries, Phil Garcia, Nate Beavers, Shawn Will, Rich Pineda, Nick Baxter, Jeff Ensminger, Jesus Sayalero, and Russ Abbott.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
I try to do something different with every tattoo that I do, but I would like to do an arepa rose morph for my country. If you don’t know what an arepa is, look it up; they are delicious.
What has been one of the strangest pieces you’ve tattooed?
I’ve tattooed strange stuff, from a monkey with a revolver to a lip with a zipper morphing into a rose, but I think the weirdest one was a unicorn fetus inside Jell-O with a rainbow around it.