Artist Profile: Bill Canales of Full Circle Tattoo
Last month, I put out a call for skull and heart tattoos for a spread in my next tattoo book, and here's just a taste of what I received: These Tibetan skulls above tattooed by Bill Canales of Full Circle Tattoo in Ocean Beach, Ca.
I know. Amazing, right?!!
See full size images of the tattoos on Flickr here and here. As an added bonus, the backpiece was documented by Michael Flores, director and cinematographer for Mad Media. Check his video montage below or watch it on Vimeo here. [The Kings of Leon song is an inside joke.]
Naturally, I had to find out more about these two pieces created on Bill's clients David and Denny. The images were submitted by Full Circle shop manager and Bill's apprentice James Tran -- who has a kick-ass blog -- so I asked James to tell me more about the tattoos. Here's what he said:
"Both David and Denny are good friends of mine, and after these tattoos, they became close with Bill. The pieces had started in late March of 2009, and both guys wanted to get their pieces done as soon as possible. Because we had planned this venture out a few months ago, Bill was able to schedule David and Denny to be tattooed two weeks between each session with a few sessions only a week a part. David originally wanted a Tibetan skull, while Denny requested a dragon back piece. Yet they also wanted a different element to be included in their work. After some thought and consideration, they had decided to get both a dragon and a Tibetan skull -- of course done differently.
Everyone in this project understood this was going to be a grueling venture. David was already heavily tattooed with his back and arms finished, while Denny only had his first tattoo on his lower leg by Bill, not even an entire year earlier. I was there for every session for both guys. There were no easy days; every session was a test for both David and Denny, and Bill as well.
David's tattoo was finished earlier than Denny's -- his entire chest and stomach took only 25 painful hours to complete -- while Denny's back lasted 35 hours. Interestingly enough, Denny had almost every session professionally recorded by our talented friend Mike Flores, for what was originally a small side project that is becoming a short documentary about the entire tattoo process.
Denny's back tattoo was actually finished at the Ink-N-Iron Long Beach Convention in June of 2009, a little over 2 months after the tattoo started. This is also where both gentlemen won their first tattoo convention awards: Denny took home the Best Back Piece award and David claimed the Best Japanese Tattoo award.
For me, the best part about this story was that my close friends became close friends with each other. After so many hours of pain and laughter, blood and ink, a bond is often formed between tattooer and client. And this is true for both David and Denny, who are now great friends bonded by ink with my friend and mentor, Bill Canales. Things like this become a life long endeavor, and to me, the amazing people I meet through tattooing is what makes it all matter."
I'm grateful to James, Bill, David and Denny for sharing this work with us. More artist profiles from reader submissions to come.