Andalucia is a familiar land for me, because my mom was born and raised in Granada. Imagine my surprise when I discover the work of Mr Dave Ramirez, some classy Japanese style of tattooing happening in the south of Spain. Dave Ramirez works at Casa Ocho, the private studio of Unity Tattoo with a great crew of artists on his side. Dave pop out some amazing solid bodysuit tattoos and here are a few questions and answers to know him a little better.
When and how did you get started in tattooing?
I remember I saw hand pocked tattoos on my father and some other family members when I was a kid. I also used to paint “tribal” inspired desings on me and my sister. I get my first tattoo when I was 15 and also drew some tattoo desings for my girlfriend and classmates. But it was in 2002 when I started my aprenticeship with Monga. I was very lucky to have a mentor who not only transmitted me the roots of tattoing but also his brutal passion for it.
How long did it take to get the first proper results?
Well it’s crazy, but I still have very tricky feelings about the technique aspects of tattooing. Of course I keep trying to improve them, as well as my drawings skills. But at the same time I feel that there are some other aspects that I can’t really explain (and I’m really far from that), but it’s not a perfect technique or a perfect drawing that make me enjoy a tattoo.
Do you consider painting a part of your learning process? Tell me about your drawing and painting routine…
I’m not painting as much as I would like to. I know it’s very important to develope my tattooing, to study titles I never did before and to try new tricks. I enjoy doing it, but I really do love much more tattooing than painting. Luckily I’m busy drawing and doing color sudies for my customers.
Before you’ve started tattooing were you involved in any subculture, such as punk, dark, metal, rock and roll, rap?
I love music, almost every kind. I even play in a hardcore punk band called Violentos de Kelly, but I never had been deep in any scene or subculture before or after tattooing.
If you would have to pick three tattoo artists that inspire your work who would you mention and why?
I’m sorry but It’s imposible for me to mention only three. Doing it very short: in an indirect way I would say Horiyoshi III during my very first years of tattoing and Yokosuka Horihide since I visited Japan for the first time. And in a very close relationship, my friends Monga, who shows me his taste for traditional japanese tattooing since the beggining. Rico and Shion from Daruma Goya who has beeing very generous to me. David Sánchez because with him I share everything and learn everyday for the last 13 years.
Of course there is a lot more old school japanese tattooers I andmire and study, and great actual tattooers that I can’t avoid to keep an eye on.
From when you started, how has the business evolved?
I guess every generation feel that things has changed a lot and also many have the feeling that it was much better, real or authentic back in the days, and probably it was… but everything is constantly evolving and all of us, including tattoo legends we all admire, have contributed in some way to what tattooing is now, with all the good thigs and also the bad ones. I started just before the internet era, when there was still a bit of magic on it, but also internet gave great things to tattooing… not only bullshit.
Machines (rotary or coil), tebori (hand tools) or both? What’s your choice? Why?
I love coil machines in a romantic way, and sometimes I think about coming back to them for outlining. I have always loved the mechanics an tunning side of coil machines but I’ve been using rotary for shading for the last eight years and started to outline with them two years ago. I feel rotary very confortable and at some point a little bit closer to Tebori feelings than the coil machine. I never did tebori but is something that I would like to experiment with.
Can you list a top five of your favorite visual artists of all eras? What is attractive of their work in your opinion?
I will focus into japanese artist, due to the nature of the interview: Hokusai because of his aproach to nature. Kuniyoshi because of the human figure and direct impact into tattooing. Yoshitsuya because of his style in general and how I think he influenced japanese tattoo backgrounds as we know. Kano Sanraku because I like the elegance and dinamism of his paintings. Yoshitoshi, because of the way he understand violence and blood.
How do you feel about the “ban” of tattooing in Japan?
As far as I know this is something that has beeing always part of japanese tattoo, with some changes througth time. I believe that my opinión is not relevant but I feel sad if that affect to my friends in Japan, their work and their cutomers.
What’s the most challenging subject for you and why?
Everything is difficult for me, because everytime I draw the same subject I try to do it better. But human figure is harder to me.