Tattoo artist’s work leaps from people onto places

Tattoo artist’s work leaps from people onto places

Tattoo artist’s work leaps from people onto places
June 02
01:28 2016

Austin Cox | Staff Writer

@austincox_

The pervasive sound of buzzing and soft folk music greet you as you enter. You see a tall man with long hair covered by a wide-brimmed hat and a face outlined by thick-rimmed tortoise shell glasses. He extends his arm out and welcomes you with a warm and friendly tone, a far cry from the surly nature many come to expect from a tattoo artist.

Tristan Bradshaw’s style, defined by bold lines and even bolder colors, has made him one of the premier tattoo artists of Denton. His work can be seen on the skins of anyone: college students getting their first piece and die-hard ink-enthusiasts. His homestead, Ace’s Tattoo, has come to be defined by its team of artists who mostly specialize in traditional American tattooing.

Besides creating a portfolio of tattoos and clientele, Bradshaw has had his artwork featured in West Oak Coffee Bar as part of their local artist showcase series. Most recently, he completed work on a mural on the newly extended rooftop bar of LSA Burger.

Tattoo artist, Tristan Bradshaw, painted his first mural at LSA Burger Co., that represents his tattooing style; folk art, Americana and traditional. The mural is displayed on the second floor of LSA across the patio.

Tattoo artist, Tristan Bradshaw, painted his first mural at LSA Burger Co., that represents his tattooing style; folk art, Americana and traditional. The mural is displayed on the second floor of LSA across the patio. Tomas Gonzalez | Visuals Editor

This project was a new artistic horizon for Bradshaw. Having no prior experience painting a large-scale mural, he saw it as an opportunity to showcase his distinct style.

“I have honestly never painted a mural before, so I attempted it and I tried to do something really simple,” Bradshaw said about giving LSA a touch of his style. “It was fun.”

Drawing from a rich knowledge of Americana imagery, Bradshaw has a penchant for juxtaposing melancholia with energetic colors in order to stay well-rounded as an artist.

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Aces Tattoos – Tristan Bradshaw. Tomas Gonzalez | Visuals Editor

“I just wanted to do something folksy and weird-looking. I like folk art a lot, but that term is kind of rocky – honestly because people who aren’t necessarily talented will tag their stuff as folk art as kind of a cop out,” Bradshaw said. “But I just do what I love and hopefully people like it.”

Tattooing as an industry is subject to fluid trends, new styles or commonly tattooed pieces that become more and more demanded. The rise of social media and tattoo-centric reality TV shows have both been a boon and a hindrance on the industry, as many have preconceived notions about certain artists or have unrealistic expectations.

“When people get tattooed, they want it to be a mystifying and life-changing experience,” Bradshaw said. “People bring their family, and everyone is snapping pictures and wanting it to be this special thing, so that definitely brings an additional pressure. Not only do I have to do a good piece that meets my standards, but I also need to provide what the customer wants.”

As far as the future is concerned, however, Bradshaw isn’t ready to abandon tattooing in lieu of becoming a full-time mural or large-piece artist. His bread and butter still lies in providing people with memorable tattoos.

Tattoo artist, Tristan Bradshaw, tattoos a traditional butterfly with the word, "all things new" on his client Angie Manglaris Friday at Aces Tattoos. Bradshaw specializes in Americana, folk-art and traditional.

Tattoo artist, Tristan Bradshaw, tattoos a traditional butterfly with the words, “all things new” on his client Angie Manglaris Friday at Aces Tattoos. Bradshaw specializes in Americana, folk-art and traditional. Tomas Gonzalez | Visuals Editor

“LSA gave us complete freedom. I honestly feel kind of spoiled with this being my first mural because, artistically, it was very liberating to not be confined whatsoever,” he said. “Tattooing already has a lot of restrictions, so If I’m going to do something besides that, I would like more creative freedom, not less.”

LSA has been in operation for over two years, and in that time they have supported and showcased several local music acts. But with the mural, it gives LSA a chance to display the work of great artists who encapsulate the artistic spirit that lies in the heart of Denton’s culture.

Bree Cunningham, a manager at LSA, has noticed a significant positive reaction to the mural since its unveiling to the public.

“We have been wanting to be more involved with local artists. We had six different artists and gave them free range to do what they wanted creatively as long as it stayed appropriate for a family restaurant,” Cunningham said. “We celebrate Texas music and Texas artists, and what better way to show that than letting six artists decorate our patio’s wall?”

As with any profession in service, building a strong clientele is key to getting more exposure for your work and ensures people will return again for pieces that adhere to a personal aesthetic. Bradshaw has cultivated this from years of studying American tattooing, and Ashely Prather, a returning client of Bradshaw’s, was initially drawn to his work for its clean and distinct look.

“A lot of my friends had been to Tristan before, and I saw how clean and professional his work was… he does a lot of traditional work, so I wanted something that would be timeless and not just trendy,” Prather said as she looked at the dagger tattoo on her arm. “Tristan does his own thing with his tattoos and really gives it a personal touch which, in my opinion, really differentiates him from other artists. His attention to detail is impeccable.”

Longevity is key to an artistic career, and Bradshaw is very much aware of this. Eventually it’ll be time for him retire from tattooing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean retiring from art.

“There’s going to be a time when my hands go bad and they start to cramp up, and there’s no retirement in tattooing; it’s pretty much dictated upon how long your hand can stay steady,” Bradshaw said. “Tattooing comes and goes with various cultural trends, I just try to really just keep persevering with my various artistic endeavors, and try not to be too dependent on one avenue to express myself creatively and artistically.”

Featured Image: Tattoo artist, Tristan Bradshaw, smiles as he trades shop stories with his coworker. Bradshaw has been a tattoo artist for about 11 years and has been drawing since he was five-years-old.  Tomas Gonzalez | Visuals Editor

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