Artists: Gian Karle
San Juan, Puerto Rico
When did you start tattooing? How?
I started tattooing five years ago. I went to my first tattoo convention and fell in love with tattoos I said, “I got to learn how to do that” so I bought I cheap tattoo kit and started tattooing my crazy friends at my studio apartment for free. I never knew it would become a career.
Your work is very well rounded. You do great color as well as black & grey. Which do you prefer?
It depends, I love to do black and gray. There was a time when it was most of what I did, but lately I’ve been enjoying doing color pieces. I guess it’s a little bit more challenging for me, and color palates are so endless it kind of intrigues me, but I love both.
What type of tattoos were you doing back when you started? How did you start to work in other styles?
Like many new artists nowadays I was trying to do realism work when I started, and it really wasn’t working out for me, so I decided to go back to the basics doing more traditional work. I guess somehow I mixed some of the styles of the different people I’ve worked with along the way too.
If you had the freedom to do any tattoo, what would it be? Any subject, body placement, or style.
I guess if I had the freedom to do any tattoo, the design would depend on the person, body type, skin color, etc. but I really love to do flowers. I think they look good on everybody.
Your work is mostly custom, how do you approach a new tattoo idea? Does it start as a sketch, do you just go freehand, or both? What would the difference be when working from a stencil vs freehand? What would your process be like?
Most of the time I get an idea of what the client wants by asking them a couple of questions like, where is the tattoo going to be placed? How big do you want to go? Color or black and grey? etc. Then I do a quick sketch on tracing paper and I polish it as I go. I don’t do a lot of freehand, but I do enjoy it once in a while.
What do you think is the most difficult part of creating a tattoo? Composition, flow, elements/characters or choosing the color palette?
I think the most challenging part of creating a tattoo for me is the composition and choosing the right color palette for the color of the skin I’m working on. I like to do a lot of contrast in my tattoos, using a lot of black and showing lots of skin in my designs.
Where do you usually find inspiration? What or who inspired you in and out of the tattoo world back when you started tattooing? What or who inspires you today?
When I started I used to get a lot of inspiration from Google images of tattoos and images that I liked. Even to this day I use it, but nowadays I usually find inspiration in my friends artwork, and stuff that I see and like from all sorts of media of art. I learned a lot from fellow coworkers along the years, especially Juan Lopez and Angel Villanueva.
Do you practice any other art medium? Drawing, painting, oils?
I practice drawing every night and love to paint with watercolors and oils, but my true passion is painting with ink on Arches paper. I sometimes wish I had more time to paint since it’s one of my favorite things to do in the world.