Art is real, but pain is only skin deep

Whether it's a hobby or interest, everyone has a talent. But imagine if something you absolutely loved to do started to garner attention from a broader spectrum of followers.  This is more or less what life has been like for Lorenzo Martinez, a self-taught tattoo artist. While it might have sounded like a piece of cake, Martinez has spent countless hours improving his work to become the artist he is today.  This past year, his clientele base blossomed upwards to over 25 people.  When inking, Martinez does not stick to the traditional flower here and skull there, Martinez quickly escalated his work to extremely detailed full tattoo sleeves.

"My first tattoo was the first one I ever received, and the first one I attempted", says Martinez.  While it seems as a pretty courageous way to start off, Martinez has the talent to pull it off.  His work is selling itself well, with most of his business coming by word of mouth.

Lately tattooing has been a constantly growing art form; being more accepted everywhere you go.  Martinez is just trying to find his own in a sea of "artists" more concerned about making a profit than the art they are permanently inking onto a human body.  He emphasizes the importance of treating tattoo art as a creative outlet instead of a business.

Because of this frustration, and his appreciation for his craft, he doesn't allow tattooing to be his main source of income.  Martinez works at Hot Topic, an apparel store, while working on his fine arts major here at Santa Monica College.  He hopes to transfer to the Academy of Art in San Francisco next fall. He's all about his art, planning on being a freelance artist once he gets his Masters from the Academy of Art.

His tattoo beginnings were humble. He remembers being five, sitting in the bumpy backseat of a school bus, drawing a picture of Batman and receiving praise from a slightly jealous classmate.  It's memories like this that remind Martinez just how long he's known that art was important to him.

But once Martinez realized how alluring tattoo art was to him, he put his other artistic past-times aside to really get good with the needle and ink.  He could see a future in his tattoo work, and was determined to make himself good enough to legitimately pursue it.  Still, school comes first for Martinez.  He plans on building his career as a tattoo artist, but not limiting himself to it.  He cares more about securing a degree than delving head first into tattooing full time.

Martinez also hopes to visit Europe sometime soon and see the things he's read about in his art textbooks.  For any artist, the birthplace of the renaissance is definitely high up on the list for places to visit.  A painter at heart, Martinez believes that he can only make himself a better tattoo artist by becoming well versed in traditional art.  He enjoys other media as well, like drawing and watercolor, and works with realism, surreal landscapes and illustration.   To improve, Martinez focuses on the basics: concept, composition, color theory and chiaroscuro.

Lorenzo Martinez is the kind of guy that you would let tattoo you when you didn't even know you wanted one.  Not a Harley-riding, leather-wearing tough guy but a true artist, who deserves to wield a needle.