Artists: Dave Barton
FRESHLY INKED: What year did you start tattooing?
BARTON: I started tattooing in 2007.
FRESHLY INKED: How did you get into tattooing?
BARTON: It was a compilation of things that put a tattoo machine in my hand. I started taking art seriously in high school, doing well in art classes, and then got heavy into graffiti. Graffiti then got me interested in art school, which opened my eyes to all sorts of artistic mediums. One of them being tattooing, which has a gnarly scene in L.A., where I was going to school. Then I got a crappy job at this head shop that was next to a biker tattoo shop. I started paying attention to what these guys were doing and it looked really interesting so I thought I would try it.
FRESHLY INKED: Where did you apprentice?
BARTON: I never actually apprenticed. I taught myself by watching people and getting tattooed, asking a grip of annoying questions and soaking everything in. I wanted to apprentice. I begged for one, but no one in my area would take me on. So I took it upon myself to learn. After about six months of making tattoos out of my pad I put together a little portfolio and went to the shop I worked next to again and asked them for an apprenticeship again. They just kind of threw me in a booth in the back and said I could just start working now. I never recommend to people doing what I did.
FRESHLY INKED: Do you have any special training?
BARTON: I have a bachelor of science in graphic design, which really helped me out. I’ve taken some painting and tattooing seminars too, which are always really helpful.
FRESHLY INKED: What conventions have you worked at? What are some of your best convention memories?
BARTON: I haven’t done too many conventions, but they are something I would like to get into more. I really enjoy the Hell City Conventions, Paradise Tattoo Gathering, and Ink-n-Iron shows. I always have a great time. Kelly Doty and I swapped “bro” tats one year at Hell City—that was super fun. I had a broken leg too, good times.
FRESHLY INKED: How do you describe your style?
BARTON: I like to say my work is unique, in subject matter for the most part. I try to flip up ideas as much as possible and create illustrations that make people look twice. It’s hard to do, especially since so many tattooers are really pushing the limits further and further. I enjoy tattooing all kinds of different styles, bio mech/organic, illustrative stuff and traditional, all kinds of stuff.
FRESHLY INKED: What inspires you as an artist?
BARTON: I’m pretty inspired by everything the universe has to offer. We are pretty lucky to be living on planet Earth. Nature and space inspire me the most, I think, along with other artists and creators.
FRESHLY INKED: What sets you apart from other artists?
BARTON: The way I see it, no two artists are the same. If you give a group of artists the same object to paint, each painting will come out different. I just try to be myself and give people good tattoos without ripping them off or riding a high horse. I hate the idea of “tattitudes,” and the more tattooers that are popping up, more seem to adopt that way of thinking.
FRESHLY INKED: What other mediums do you work in?
BARTON: I paint with oils and acrylics, and also do digital graphic design.
FRESHLY INKED: How have you branched out from tattooing?
BARTON: Since I started tattooing I can’t say I’ve even thought about it. I’m taking it on full force, putting everything I have into it. I do random graphic and painting commissions here and there but I feel like in some way it enhances my tattooing a little more each time.
FRESHLY INKED: What tattoo artists do you admire most?
BARTON: I admire so many, and so many are good friends of mine. I think the people who stand out most in my mind are the ones who have helped me get to where I am now, like Josh Duffy, [Nathan] Kostechko, Carson Hill, Adrian Dominic, Kelly Doty. I owe these guys a lot. Beyond that, tattooers like Filip Leu, Guy Aitchison, Michele Wortman, Sean Sullivan, Jeff Ensminger, Jim Sylvia, Mike Cole, Dan Hazelton, Markus Lenhard, Durb Morrison, and other guys that really push the limits inspire me like hell. There’s really too many to list. I like ’em all.
FRESHLY INKED: What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
BARTON: I love when people let me do what I want with their idea, whether it’s organic biomech or sweet little characters and illustrations. Anything that I have full creative freedom for I jump on.
FRESHLY INKED: Is there anyone that you would like to tattoo?
BARTON: I would like to tattoo my mom and dad and sister one day. They are all tattooless. Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them? Make sure it’s what you want, research who does the style of tattoo you want, and pay the money for it. Don’t settle for a shitty tattoo because you wanted to save a couple bucks. You’ll end up paying more money to get it lasered or covered up in the future.
FRESHLY INKED: Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
BARTON: I love the opportunity to do really humorous tattoos, and anything phallic, of course. I’m usually just more excited to see what people bring to the plate—there are some crazy ideas floating around out there.