Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Meet Adrian Lee!

July 26th, 2010 by

Many times on the Tattoo Blog I have spoken about the need to eliminate the barriers between tattoo artists and other more conventional artists within the art world.  While I continue to stick to this belief, it wasn’t until I discovered the work of Adrian Lee that I began to think about things just a little bit differently.

First off, I need to say this: Adrian Lee is a phenomenal tattoo artist.  He also paints, but for the time being, let’s just stick to his tattoo work – which is just like…it’s like…oh man, I don’t even think that any explanation or definition of Lee’s tattoos can do the work justice.  It just is what it is – and what it is knocks you directly on to your ass the second that you see it.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, I was talking about tattoo artists and other, more conventional artists.  Well, when Adrian Lee talks about understanding tattoo as its own medium first and foremost, I have to say that I am going to listen.

“You really have to start over again, you have to learn to draw completely again, you have to really humble yourself, which is really hard to do; but if you don’t, you’ll never cross the mediums.”     – Adrian Lee

Lee really seems to understand the skills that are inherent to being a great tattoo artist.  He’s humble enough to learn these skills and hone them despite growing up in a very artistic family.  His mother is an artist and his father is a musician, which meant that Adrian had a head start in so many ways in terms of being exposed to originality and the ongoing desire to create.  Yet rather than assume that tattooing is simply part of the greater sphere of artistic endeavour, Adrian Lee took the time to understand tattooing for what it truly is and to appreciate it in its own right.  And that, I can now see is so vital to being a great tattoo artist, much more so than simply being accepted as an artist by the entire artistic community.

In 1995 Adrian Lee opened NewSkool Tattoo Collective, along with his close friend Paco Excel, in San Jose California.  NewSkool Tattoo Collective is home to some of the greatest tattoo artists in the world, in my opinion – including Adrian, of course.  Have a look at Adrian’s work and believe me, you’ll be blown away.  My only complaint about Adrian Lee’s work is that there isn’t more of it on the NewSkool website.  Then again, I guess every great artists knows that you always leave ’em wanting more.

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