Artists: Poch Best
Artistic Element Tattoo
34247 Yucaipa Blvd. #D
When did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing in 1996, but I’ve been involved since 1994.
How did you get into tattooing?
I got into tattooing at a real young age. I was born and raised in New York City in the Patterson projects located in the Bronx. To keep me out of trouble and the streets my mother took notice of my artistic talent and tried her best to keep me occupied with any and everything that had to do with art. I tapped into oil painting, acrylic, charcoals—even spray paint—but there was one art form that I had never tried but sparked my interest. Tattooing.
What was your first shop experience like?
My first shop experience was not too pleasant. When I started there was no such thing as black young men tattooing due to it being more of a biker scene. I used to run down to the Manhattan on St Mark’s and 6th Avenue just to be on the scene and see what all of the local tattoo artists were doing but I wasn’t allowed due to me being young and black. I got slapped, drawings ripped up, spit on, laughed at and I also was told “niggas wasn’t allowed.” It wasn’t until the manager named Jason at Andromeda Tattoos saw my drawings and allowed me to sit outside and draw and observe how the shop was ran. I spent about a year there and knew if I wanted to be good and be a part of this industry I needed to push myself, learn as much as I can from every one and just travel.
How do you describe your style?
I think I really don’t have a style. I love tattooing and drawing realism or anything that catches my eye.
How did you decide to focus on realism?
Realism was something that always fascinates me. Being able to look at an object or a photograph and being able to mimic what I see or being able to capture the essence of someone’s emotion is priceless.
What is it about color work that appeals to you more than black and grey?
Doing color work is awesome and challenging but I love color and black and grey just the same. The way I tattoo my black and grey is just like color except I use true grays instead of washes to create what I do.
When doing a pop culture tattoo how do you choose a reference?
I try to stay off of Google and use more of my own images. I usually buy a movie and freeze frame different positions and scenes to capture what I am looking for.
What tattoo artists do you admire?
My big bro Roman Abrego and working at Artistic Element has been a big influence on my career and someone I have admired for so many years. There are so many artists I admire and look up to for more than just their artwork. I think you can tell a lot about a person’s artwork by knowing who they are and were they have been.
What sort of tattoos do you look forward to?
I look forward to tattooing more creative realistic images and seeing where this next year’s taking me.
What advice to you give before someone gets a tattoo?
Before getting a tattooed I would advise a client to do their research about aftercare, the process, how long it takes, and find an artist who better fits your style that you are looking to do.
How do you see your art evolving in the future?
I have evolved so much in the past few years and I’m still learning as we speak. You are only as good as you allow yourself to be and I plan on being so much more. I am thankful and blessed on all my accomplishments and who I have become and I plan on taking my art to the next level.
Are there any downsides to working so diligently to perfect your art?
One of my biggest regrets is sacrificing time away from my daughter and the love of my life. She has been one of my biggest supporters and has grown with me through the years and is one of the reasons I am where I am today.