Tattoo Artist Spotlight: Dave Paulo

Dave Paulo Tattoo
@davepaulotattooartist

If there’s ever a career change you wouldn’t expect it’s from architect to tattoo artist. Dave made that jump after finishing college. Born in 1976, he’s a Philadelphia native with Portuguese parents. When he was 8 he moved back to Portugal and studied through college there. His interest in art started young and he was always painting something or drawing. School vacations were spent drawing or painting in the basement and reading tattoo magazines. In fact, he even tried to convince his parents at that age he wanted to be a tattoo artist though they obviously didn’t agree with his choice.

First Tattoo

Dave came late into the tattoo world at least after he got his first tattoo at 35. From watching his artist work he immediate thought about how he could do the same thing. Within a week he had taken a hygiene course and bought equipment. During the next two years he spent his free time tattooing himself and friends while keeping up his regular job. Dave is self taught and has never had a true apprenticeship, something that many big name artists would hold against him.
In June 2013 he took a leap and chose to dedicate himself to tattooing as a professional. He credits his success from this point to drive and focus because he spent so much time asking questions and watching tutorials. There was a lot of trial and error for him in his early years and he’s thankful that there’s so much information within easy reach these days since it wasn’t always that way.

Personal Style

It only took a year and a half of shop experience before Dave knew what he wanted to pursue as his niche. He loves realism because it’s what comes naturally to him and has never really thought about doing anything else. Even as an artist before he started tattooing he loved figuration and dramatic lighting. His favorite artists include Caravaggio, Schiele, and Klimt as well as the work of H.R Geiger. While he enjoys working in black and gray the majority of his work is color and, in fact, he finds color more challenging which is why he loves to do it.


That isn’t to say he doesn’t do other work. His portfolio is also littered with a variety of graphics inspired pieces and trash polka. Many of his newer work has bold lines and geometric shapes intersecting the realistic pieces giving them a truly surreal look.

Next Step?

Dave’s rise in the tattoo scene has been amazingly swift, similar to that of Timmy B. He admits his work is still evolving but can’t say where he’ll end up next, though it will have some connection between realism and graphics. As most artists say, he’s limited a little by what his clients ask him for but he’s perfectly happy to continue to evolve and learn as he goes.

Find Him

These days Dave still calls Portugal home, but you can catch him all over the world as he does conventions from Brazil to Scandinavia. His work is extremely popular so you’ll have to book him months in advance if you expect to get work done.

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