Artists: Big Gus
Art Junkies Tattoo
14757 Bear Valley Road
Hesperia, CA 92345
What year did you start tattooing?
Year? Um, professionally it was 1997, at Distinctive Ink Tattoo.
How did you get into tattooing?
I got into tattooing through some of my friends that already had tattoos and saw that I was able to draw well, so they put me to work. My first tattoo I did on myself—it was a gecko on my leg. Yeah, yeah, I know. And it was tribal, to top it off!
Where did you apprentice?
Well, I did not have an apprenticeship—I was hired and pretty much learned as I worked. Back then tattooing was still a lot of old-school guys who didn’t want to show you anything. But I learned by watching, and also by this guy, Drew, teaching me the basics when I first got started tattooing.
Do you have any special training?
No, but now that I am older I do art classes and paint with great artists like Shawn Barber, Alan Padilla, Carlos Torres, and Michael Hussar. I feel blessed that these artists let me paint with them.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
Damn! Conventions—which ones haven’t I done is more like it. I travel a lot. I have won over 300 awards so far
in my career.
How do you describe your style?
Fine-line black-and-gray photorealism.
What inspires you as an artist?
My daughter, my friends—everything in life inspires me. You just never know what person or thing will
spark my imagination.
What other media do you work in?
Oils, watercolors, acrylics, spray paint, airbrush—shit, if I can use it, I will draw with it.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Bob Tyrrell, Shawn Barber, Carlos Torres, Alan Padilla, Mike Demasi, Chet Zar—so many I can fill up a whole page.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
More color tattoos, hopefully.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
To be sure that it is something that they can feel good wearing forever.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
One of my paintings on a full back would be cool.