Artists: Phil Garcia
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing April 2001.
How did you get into tattooing?
My buddy felt that I had the potential to be a tattoo artist so he kept badgering me to start tattooing. I was so reluctant to give in to tattooing since I didn’t even know where to start. So I did like any other scratcher would do back then and ordered a set of Kaplan machines off the back of a tattoo magazine and went at it. I was nervous as hell and never expected to reach the level of tattooing that I am at today.
What was your first shop experience like?
My first shop experience was seriously scary as hell. My first shop was The Ink House in Ventura, CA. Big Bob had hired me. I asked him what I was to do when I showed up for my first day of work. He said, “Set up your station and start tattooing.” I was confused and nervous as hell. I didn’t know anybody that worked there and wasn’t introduced to any of the other artists. I didn’t even know what station I was going to work at. So I arrived for my first day at the shop, set up in the first station that looked available, and grabbed the first walk-in. I tattooed this angel on some dude who eventually tapped out on me and I never finished. I was way out of my league. Big Bob later that day told me that he was glad I manned up and took the job.
Do you have any special training?
I really have no special training as far as art goes. I do have military training that has helped guide me through all this time. Motivation, discipline, honor, courage, and commitment have helped me achieve this level of tattooing.
How do you describe your style?
I guess I am in the realism category but I’m still not quite happy with how realistic my tattoos appear. Compared to the photo reference, it’s still missing something. I will always try to get it as close to real as I can but sometimes real is a bit boring. I don’t mind applying my artistic license to my tattoos. Every now and then I will dabble around with some new school tattooing.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I think the biggest thing that sets me apart from other artists is my subject matter. I love nature and really enjoy tattooing nature-related things. My attention to detail is also what separates me. I try my hardest to put every ounce of detail and texture into my tattoos. I think that the references that I choose to use are also different. I try my hardest to find the perfect reference every time. My criteria for choosing a reference are rather strict. My color palette is also very different. I always try to apply my artistic licensing to all my work.
You served your country for just under nine years. How has that helped you get where you are today?
I think my time in the service has helped me take my life seriously and give me the strength to overcome all the obstacles in my life. Tattooing is easy compared to some of the things I had encountered in the Navy. As stated previously, motivation, discipline, honor, courage, and commitment. It also taught me attention to detail.
What other media do you work in?
Prior to tattooing I liked to do graffiti art. As of late I’m trying to do more oil painting. Painting allows me much more flexibility. I have much more freedom with painting than I could ever have with tattooing.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Guy Aitchison, Tom Renshaw, Paul Booth, Filip Leu, Shige, Nikko Hurtado, Frank La Natra, Rich Pineda, Mike DeVries, Ty McEwen, Dmitriy Samohin, Boris, Domantas Parvainis, Timmy B., Emily Rose Murray, John Anderton, James Tex, James Kern, Cory Kruger, Paul Acker, Fernie Andrade, Chente Rios, Andrés Acosta, Paul Dobleman, Myke Chambers, Matt Jordan, Dongkyu Lee, Nicklas Westin, Tanane Whitfield, Dave Tevenal, and many more.