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Jasmine Rollason
Interview by: Jasmine Rollason Friday 30 March 2018
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Artist Interview - Carlos Torres

Carlos Torres has been tattooing for 18 years; mostly self taught, today he is renowned for his unique black and grey style. The London Tattoo Convention caught up with Carlos to talk tattoos, travelling and his connection to fine art...

How did you find tattooing and when did you begin your tattoo career?

I came into tattooing through my love of art. I grew up down the street from a comic book shop and I used to go and look at all the fantasy art. This was a style I enjoyed and it is one of my favourites to draw. I have been a dreamer my entire life and being a tattoo artist has allowed me to make a living dreaming up art... How cool is that?!

How would you describe your style?

I would say that my style is a mix of surrealism and realism. I like to take an existing image, such as a beautiful face, and change it because I like to be as creative as possible. I’ll add additional details and elements, like negative space. I think part of my style also comes from directing and shooting my own reference material. This allows me to create a unique image. Something I can control and something that cannot be found in an internet image search.

Which artists inspire you?

I am lucky to be part of a shop that is filled with talented artists. So each day that we come in to work, we are inspiring one another with new projects and ideas. In addition, I am inspired by some of the black and grey masters like Robert Hernandez, Victor Portugal and Paul Booth.

 
You are also known for your exquisite oil paintings. What sparked your interest in creating fine art and how does this process inform your tattooing?

I have always felt that pushing yourself to be a better fine artist will make you a better tattoo artist. By studying fine art and working on oil paintings, I have come to better understand some of the art fundamentals. My ability to execute light, shadow, contrast and dimension in oil paintings, has translated to a better informed approach for tattoos. I look at a tattoo differently than I did 10 years ago. I start pieces differently and I feel that this was influenced by oil painting.

Your career has taken you around the globe; how have your travel experiences influenced you?

I feel very lucky to have been able to travel the world. I am invited to some of the coolest places and there are tattooers there that are happy to show you around their home town. Traveling around the world has exposed me to more art and culture than I could have ever imagined. Growing up in an area of Los Angeles where people never move or travel, I always knew that there was more to be seen. As a professional artist, I feel that I should expose myself to as much as the art community has to offer. I make sure to take pictures everywhere I go and I use them all as inspiration and reference for tattoos and oil paintings.