Artists: Arlo DiCristina
The Raw Canvas
507 Main St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
What year did you start tattooing?
What was your first shop experience like?
I tried to get an apprenticeship at quite a few shops; the first shop I got accepted at I had to quit after a day. It was a good shop but they were extremely arrogant and went out of their way to be dicks, mainly to the other apprentice that they had there, so I knew it wouldn’t be long until they directed that kind of attitude towards me. The guy at the shop I did end up apprenticing for was really nice at first, then developed that same type of attitude towards me, but I stuck it out until I was forced back home. I understand that that type of character developed because that is what they where exposed to while they where being introduced into the tattoo industry, but I feel it is completely unnecessary and no one is going to want to stay and work at a shop if you are constantly trying to belittle them. My first shop experiences did not give me the best outlook on tattooing but with everything there is going to be bad mixed in with the good and I did learn how not to treat people who are trying to come into the industry. Everyone has to start somewhere and if I am making an impact I would like it to be a positive one.
We saw on your Instagram that you were a fighter, was this a hobby or something that you were pursuing professionally?
Before I started tattooing I was fighting professionally. I had always been very passionate about boxing and wrestling and I dedicated a huge portion of my life to it. During my senior year of high school some of the boxers started doing MMA, and that is how I got involved in it. We had a few fighters make it into the UFC and I planned on trying to go that same direction as well. At 18 I had my first pro fight. Then I moved and started my apprenticeship. I still continued to train on the side but I wasn’t fighting. After about 8 months I moved back to my hometown of Grand Forks, ND, and started fighting again, while tattooing on the side. I started to realize that I might have to choose just one to pursue. MMA takes a huge toll on your body and years of wrestling and boxing caught up. Not too long in I had to have shoulder surgery, that mixed in with the concussions and a high possibility of breaking your hands steered me in the direction of focusing more energy into tattooing, something that could be a long term source of income and wouldn’t have possible permanent damage to my health. It was definitely the hardest decision I have been faced with. I was extremely passionate about both and felt just as confident with my potential in MMA as I did with art. It’s a horrible feeling when you have to give up on a dream but I am very happy with my decision and do not regret it.
You’ve progressed rather quickly, how did you hone your skill as an artist?
As with anything the only way to improve is practice, practice, practice and trying to soak in all the information that you can from the artists you look up to and have the experience.
What inspires you as an artist?
I am inspired by many artists, photographers, and sculptors. I love to see the new amazing things people are coming up with. The biggest fulfillment I get is creating something new, but I know how much of an impact the inspiration of other artists work has effected my own. I am so thankful for all the inspiration I have been exposed to and hope my own work inspires others as much as others have inspired my own.
What other mediums do you work in?
I have dabbled in many mediums; oil paint, airbrush, and wood burning. But when I am not tattooing I mainly work with pencil and paper.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
There are so many artists I admire, but the main ones would have to be Jeff Gouge, Tony Mancia, and Justin Nordine who I have the pleasure of working with. They all have contributed so much to the tattoo industry and I absolutely love their work.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Lately I have been loving face morphs! I have so much fun with them and feel it is something that I will never completely master.