Considered to be one of the best portrait and realism artists around he’s had his own line of inks, DVD instructables, and more awards than you could count. He was born in 1979 and he started tattooing in 2003. His first tattoo was at 16 and he was hooked instantly. Born and raised in San Fernando Valley Southern California it didn’t take long for him to realize that color and realism was his niche. A quick look at his portfolio will show you as much, and while he will admit to doing other styles this is his favorite. He took his apprenticeship from Jim Hayek in the 90s and it wasn’t long before he was recognized for his skills.
He owns MD Tattoo Studio in Northridge California and Memento Publishing. His publishing company specializes in artistic books and those relating to tattoos. Another business venture of his covers part ownership of the tattoo product Stencil Stuff which helps artists work better and are used by thousands daily. His instruction books, such as Let’s Be Realistic, and videos are some of the most widely purchased of any artist.
He admits if it wasn’t for his family he’d be guilty of being a workaholic and even now still works a lot.
Mike is married and has one son as well as several dogs. He’s an avid Dodgers fan and has done several tattoos including portraits of the team. He admits if it wasn’t for his family he’d be guilty of being a workaholic and even now still works a lot.
His most famous clients include the tattoo collector Yallzee. The first tattoo he did for him was a girlish skull with splashes of red to fit with other tattoos he already had. Being asked to tattoo a collector is something he actually felt nervous about because the client had so much impressive work from other big artists.
One of the things Mike emphasizes in his work is having the right reference. A good photo, especially one that clearly shows the eyes, makes it easier to show emotion in the tattoo. He goes and takes his own photos of animals at the zoo so that he has his own reference rather than relying on the same over used images in Google. He jokes a lot about why you shouldn’t get tattooed since it can be hard to get a job.
In an effort to always keep his work fresh he continues to work on his skills as an artist and step outside his comfort zone.
In an effort to always keep his work fresh he continues to work on his skills as an artist and step outside his comfort zone. Admittedly, there’s a lot of trial and error but he also uses others in the industry for inspiration as well as doing a lot of painting. He has previously taken art in college and continues to take classes even though he’s not really interested in formal education because it helps him expand as an artist.
Mike is a pretty relaxed and mellow type of guy overall and if you can’t make it out to California there’s a good chance you can catch him at one of the tattoo conventions he visits all over the world.