Artists: Daniel Acosta Leon
Daniel Acosta Leon
La Duquesa Collectivo
What year did you start tattooing?
I became interested in learning how to tattoo in late 2002. I was an apprentice for a year, cleaning, serving, selling, drawing, learning, and asking everything I could. I think that should be the order for all the tattoo artists—it creates a great strength and great knowledge of the profession.
How did you get into tattooing?
I got my first tattoo at the age of 14. The truth: As with any teenager, the influence of my social circle was very evident, and that is why I got my first tattoo. later, while I was in university, I became interested in learning how to do tattoos. I was studying visual arts at that time and I found tattooing could be a very good way to apply what I had learned in a different technique. Human skin turned out to be a great canvas.
Where did you apprentice?
I owe my learning to many great local artists: Julio Di?az of Store tattoo, Miguel Dark and Joakin Forero of Acid ink, Cesar Gomez of Violent Tattoo, and Sergio Cobra of Cobra Tattoo. Thanks to all of them—they were a great inspiration and gave me their friendship. Every day I learn something new.
Do you have any special training?
I love painting and commercial illustration. I try to generate a mix between both; therefore, I paint and draw constantly as an exploration exercise.
What conventions have you worked? Have you won any awards? What are some of your best convention memories?
I’m not much of a convention person, but i have good memories of Lima, Peru. A few years ago, Victor Portugal and another important group of artists opened my eyes to the tattoo world and helped me to further my way of thinking about it.
How do you describe your style?
I really like European neoclassical paintings, illustrations, the French comic, urban art, and the ritual iconographic concept of India and Thailand. I try to combine all of them to generate a single visual product.
What inspires you as an artist?
Well, within the tattoo world, I admire Jee Sayalero, Adrian Lee, Peter Aurisch, Joakin Forero, and Tim Biedron. In urban art, I really like El Mac, Retna, Kofie, Ariz, Nychos, and Reyes. In painting—that is now my stronger source of inspiration—Odd Nerdrum, Jorge Mantilla Caballero, John Asaro, Natalia Fabia, Shawn Barber, Shepard Fairey, and Ron English.
What other mediums do you work in?
Well, obviously, drawing is very important. I work a lot with watercolor, but my favorite medium is acrylic, and at this point I’m starting to explore oil.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I live in a small city—the mentality of my clientele is different from what you’d find in a larger city. They look for tribal styles, and Arab or Chinese letters. In big cities like Bogota? and Medelli?n, and in California, the clientele has a more global vision of tattoos, and they understand styles and trends. The question is not what kind of tattoo I like to do, but how to do it.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
It is really important that the customer thinks about the future—the decision they make now will affect them in some way for the rest of their lives. “Think before you act.” A good tattoo artist is probably more important than the right design; he will make sure you get the perfect design in the end.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
I have several designs and flash that I’d love to do.