Uncover Santa Barbara’s First Tattoo Convention: A Feast for the Senses.

Scent the Roses: Behind Santa Barbara’s First Tattoo Conference

The excitement of tattoo machines offers a continuing hum contained in the Golden Eagle Tattoo parlor on decrease State Road in Santa Barbara, the place the partitions are lined with limitless collections of hand-drawn flash and pictures of previous designs — from the normal American skulls and sailor imagery to Chicano black-and-gray portraits and complicated Japanese-inspired full-back items — every representing one other nook of tattoo tradition. Close to the doorway underneath bright-red letters studying “TATTOO,” a statuette of the Virgin Mary, strung with rosary beads and surrounded by a body of multicolored roses, sits above a pale golden statue of an eagle, the store’s mascot, whose wings are filled with folded greenback payments and Polaroids of visitor artists who’ve come and gone through the years.

It’s a peek contained in the world of proprietor JJ Ortiz, a Goleta native who took over Golden Eagle as his second store after opening up the extremely profitable 805 Ink contemporary out of school in 2008. Now in his forties — the youth of his outdated age, as he says — he’s juggling the duties of two tattoo retailers, two college-aged daughters, and recovering from a latest battle with most cancers that gave him a complete new lease on life.

If that weren’t sufficient, he’s additionally bringing the largest assortment of tattoo artists ever to be in a single place within the historical past of Santa Barbara with the inaugural Rose Backyard Tattoo Conference on the Group Arts Workshop on Backyard Road, the place greater than 65 artists from internationally will convene for a weekend of tattoos, meals, artwork, and music this Friday-Sunday, April 5-7.

Tattoo Recollections

Ortiz remembers the primary time he ever noticed a tattoo being accomplished on a home made rig at a pal’s home. He was only a child, however he was hypnotized by the whole course of, intently watching and memorizing each step — sharpening the needle, placing collectively the rig from spare components — till he discovered how you can do it himself.

In junior excessive, he started tattooing his pals and even his youthful half-brother, a reminiscence that brings a smile to his face as he recollects it now whereas sitting within the store window. “I obtained in hassle for that one,” he says with amusing. “I tattooed ‘Goleta Tasks’ on his thigh.”

Even now, with greater than 20 years of tattooing underneath his belt and a fame as one in all Santa Barbara’s most well-known ink-slingers, Ortiz can’t assist however get excited to speak about tattooing. At any time when he brings up one other story a few particular tattoo, his eyes gentle up and his voice rises. Tattooing has been part of his life, and his escape from life’s struggles, ever since he MacGyvered his first home made rig greater than 20 years in the past.

After getting caught up in gang life, bouncing round juvenile detention facilities, and being expelled from faculty in eighth grade, Ortiz turned his life round, transferring from Santa Barbara Metropolis Faculty to Cal State Northridge and incomes his BA earlier than coming again residence to Santa Barbara and opening up his first store, 805 Ink, with the rest of his life financial savings in 2008. Since then, he has develop into one of many metropolis’s leaders in fine-line single-needle tattoos.

Studying from the Masters

Whereas Ortiz discovered how you can tattoo within the streets and juvenile amenities, he says his true schooling into wider tattoo tradition started with an apprenticeship on the former Santa Barbara store Iron Cross, the place he was immersed in not solely the black-and-gray prison-style tattoos however the basic Americana ink with its vibrant colours, daring strains, and always-present punk-rock music.

Through the years, he has gotten to work alongside and be taught from among the most revered artists on the earth, however the man he considers as his mentor in each his profession and life is tattoo legend Freddy Negrete, usually thought to be the godfather of black-and-gray tattooing.

“To me, studying from him is like having LeBron educate you how you can dribble,” Ortiz stated. “Freddy’s one way or the other managed to get higher over time, and that’s uncommon. Hopefully I can observe his footsteps and get higher with time.”

Negrete is a Los Angeles–primarily based “OG” within the sport who’s credited with creating and popularizing the real looking portraits, Outdated English lettering, and Catholic and Chicano imagery which have come to outline West Coast tattoo tradition. Amongst his many creations is the ever-present “Smile Now, Cry Later” script with the picture of the comedy and tragedy masks, which he first drew whereas in juvenile lockup.

A Scary Analysis

When Negrete’s son handed away, Ortiz was there to assist his older mentor. Negrete was the one who inspired him to take the leap to open 805 Ink, and he had been there alongside each step of his profession.

“It doesn’t matter what, he’s all the time been there for me and for my son,” Negrete stated. “He’s developed as a person by way of enterprise, however as an artist, that’s the place I’ve actually seen this progress. I not solely have a look at him like a son, however he’s a sensible man, too.”

And in watching Ortiz push by way of each step of his analysis and remedy, Negrete earned a complete new respect for the youthful tattoo artist.

“JJ’s simply such a robust particular person, a robust man,” Negrete stated. “He’s robust and able to struggle, and I respect that. I simply tried to assist him together with the non secular facets, with understanding how fragile life will be.”

Going by way of chemo infusions, which lasted for as much as seven hours and left him feeling intense mind fog for 48 hours after — “You may’t even suppose,” he stated — was the toughest factor he has ever accomplished. However the course of gave him a brand new appreciation for the oldsters within the medical trade.

“The Ridley-Tree [Cancer Center] was superb,” he stated. “You’ve got millionaires sitting subsequent to a tattoo artist and a grandmother, and no person’s higher than the subsequent particular person — we’re all combating for our lives. The medicine are weighing us all down, which is humbling but additionally eye-opening.”

Since having his final remedy, Ortiz is feeling in significantly better well being, each bodily and spiritually. Now, he says he is ready to “give himself an opportunity to take pleasure in life” because it comes as an alternative of all the time making an attempt to maintain up with the hustle.

“On reflection, I feel most cancers has been a blessing,” he stated. “It makes you respect the tiniest little issues: being wholesome, waking up feeling good, ingesting chilly water. Each factor’s a superb factor; day by day’s a superb day. It’s loopy; you begin seeing individuals complain in regards to the smallest factor or arguing over one thing trivial, and I don’t actually have time for any of that anymore. I do know my time right here on this earth is restricted, only a sliver of time, and I gotta benefit from it.”

‘Able to Combat’

When Ortiz discovered that his most cancers had unfold to different components of his physique and he would want in depth remedy, remedy, and surgical procedure, he leaned on his assist system. 

Negrete, who has a level in theology, started to stroll Ortiz down a extra non secular path he by no means encountered earlier than. Their day by day texts grew to become deeper meditations on life, they prayed collectively, and Ortiz started to see his mentor in a complete new gentle.

“I assumed his function in my life was my profession, however he was actually in my life for this,” Ortiz stated. “He’s been superb my complete profession. Everyone has that one one that has accomplished one thing for you that would by no means actually be repaid, and Freddy’s that particular person for me.”

And in watching Ortiz push by way of each step of his analysis and remedy, Negrete earned a complete new respect for the youthful tattoo artist.

“JJ’s simply such a robust particular person, a robust man,” Negrete stated. “He’s robust and able to struggle, and I respect that. I simply tried to assist him together with the non secular facets, with understanding how fragile life will be.”

Going by way of chemo infusions, which lasted for as much as seven hours and left him feeling intense mind fog for 48 hours after — “You may’t even suppose,” he stated — was the toughest factor he has ever accomplished. However the course of gave him a brand new appreciation for the oldsters within the medical trade.

“The Ridley-Tree [Cancer Center] was superb,” he stated. “You’ve got millionaires sitting subsequent to a tattoo artist and a grandmother, and no person’s higher than the subsequent particular person — we’re all combating for our lives. The medicine are weighing us all down, which is humbling but additionally eye-opening.”

Since having his final remedy on March 4, Ortiz is feeling in significantly better well being, each bodily and spiritually. Now, he says he is ready to “give himself an opportunity to take pleasure in life” because it comes as an alternative of all the time making an attempt to maintain up with the hustle.

“On reflection, I feel most cancers has been a blessing,” he stated. “It makes you respect the tiniest little issues: being wholesome, waking up feeling good, ingesting chilly water. Each factor’s a superb factor; day by day’s a superb day. It’s loopy; you begin seeing individuals complain in regards to the smallest factor or arguing over one thing trivial, and I don’t actually have time for any of that anymore. I do know my time right here on this earth is restricted, only a sliver of time, and I gotta benefit from it.”

And his mentor can see it, too. “He’s beginning to notice the great thing about life,” Negrete stated. “Particularly in Santa Barbara, it’s simple to take it as a right.”

Holy Trinity of Tattooing

Ortiz had been planning on his imaginative and prescient for a Santa Barbra tattoo conference for years. Earlier than he was recognized with most cancers final summer season, he had already began organizing the inaugural occasion with the assistance of among the greatest within the enterprise. 

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