Artistic Element Tattoo
34185 Yucaipa Boulevard
Yucaipa, CA 92399
Artistic Element ll Tattoo & Art Gallery
7460 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
FRESHLY INKED: What year did you start tattooing?
ROMAN: I think I started tattooing around 2000, but my memory is shot.
How did you get into tattooing?
I was working road construction and I hated every minute of it. I hated being in the sun and I hated waking up early. Luckily for me, my uncle bought me a tattoo machine and I started tattooing my friends and coworkers on the road. Eventually I made a decision to make tattooing my career.
Where did you apprentice?
I never had a formal apprenticeship and pretty much was self-taught. I pretty much made every mistake you could ever think of because I never had an apprenticeship and had no idea what I was doing.
Do you have any special training?
Well, I was lucky enough to meet and work with Mike Cole and Carson Hill early on, and they both have had a huge influence on me. That counts for special training, right?
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards? What are some of your best convention memories?
Man, I have done a lot of shows. I pretty much will go wherever people want me to go if I can fit it in my schedule. I used to be on the road all the time, but now I have my own shop to run, and I have a family with two beautiful little girls, and it’s becoming harder to travel and be away for extended lengths of time. I have won a few awards, ha ha. I used to be all about it, winning trophies in competition, but nowadays I really just want to do good tattoos. Some of the most memorable ones I have won would have to be the two I received from Tattoo Society magazine. I also took home a tattoo championship belt, like the UFC belts, for tattoo of the show in Texas. The first award I won ever in San Francisco. My Hell City awards—Hell City is a awesome show that Durb puts on, and it has nothing but the best artists attending it, so any award you win there is special.
How do you describe your style?
I do bio-mechanical color realism shit … ha ha.
What inspires you as an artist?
I am inspired by all sorts of things. Anything I look at can give me inspiration—stuff I have seen before, from the different shapes, curves, and bends in metal to how water looks on chrome. A lot of it comes from right out of my head. I just start drawing on the skin with marker and it will start to take shape. Early on I was all about H.R. Giger. I was all into Giger and I was all into Boris Valejo, as well as guys like Guy Aitchison, Aaron Cain, and Ron Earhart.
What sets you apart from other artists?
My good looks and my awesome personality.
What other mediums do you work in?
I paint when I can, but it’s hard to find time with my crazy schedule. Lately I have been getting into digital art and painting with the computer or on my iPad.I am on the road a lot,so it’s real convenient to pull out my iPad and stylus and go crazy while I’m on a plane or in an airport.
Have you branched out from tattooing?
Not really. I have a t-shirt line I’m working on and a few other ideas. But first and foremost I tattoo. That’s what I do, and that’s what I want to be remembered for.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Mike Cole, Carson Hill, Guy Aitchison, Aaron Cain, Ron Earhart, Nick Baxter, Nikko Hurtado, Mike DeVries, Mike DeMasi, Randy Engelhard, and Timmy B. I’m sure I forgot a few, and if I did, I’m sorry.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I love doing bio and I love doing color realism, so anything along those lines I really look forward to doing.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Research your artist and find the right artist for what you want to get done.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
I am about to start a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sleeve that I am really excited to do. But ever since Nate Dogg passed away I have wanted to do a portrait of him. Any takers? Ha ha.