Name: Eddie Loven
Occupation: Artist/ Designer
Birthday: Oct. 25, 1972
Birthplace: Misawa, Japan
A brief history of my time in the tattoo industry.
In the beginning:
I began doing freelance artwork in junior high school for local businesses at the age of 13. After doing advertisements and merchandise design for local shops I fell in with the right crowd and started doing work for local bands. When I was 16 years old I was working one summer with my brother doing construction and one day on a whim (my brothers idea) we decided to go get tattooed. My brother already had a couple of tattoos so he took me to a nice studio and the rest is history. I was hooked immediately and since I had an art background I thought to myself “you could do this”.
I began my quest to become a tattoo artist. Of course, at the time it was not so easy to become at tattoo artist and there were literally only about 5 shops in all of Dallas/Fort Worth/ Arlington (now there are 5 in Deep Ellum alone). I spent my days going to school or working and my afternoons and evenings making contact with tattoo artists and trying to scrounge up supplies to get started. It took almost a year but I finally managed to acquire all the stuff I would need to start tattooing. Since I had already had many friends and contacts in the local music scene finding clients was not difficult. I became the official tattoo artist of many a local band at the time. I would go to gigs and set up a tattoo studio backstage. I would end up tattooing all night and having a blast.
I worked on anyone who would let me and I learned so much in my first year that I was rapidly building a good reputation. I had been going to local tattoo shops in my free time, still trying to gather any info I could and asking a lot of dumb questions. My persistence paid off eventually and thus my professional tattoo career began.
I started working in Deep Ellum when I was 17 years old. When I started in the industry it was primarily run by bikers and biker gangs and my generation of artists slowly took control of the industry by insisting on standards and taking responsibility for work we were doing. When I began in Deep Ellum there weren’t many young tattoo artists working in the area. In the beginning it was myself (a 100 pound, long-haired kid) and two bikers working a very busy studio. Within a year I was joined by Joby Cummings, who was to become one of the most influential “new school” artists in the state. A few other young artists joined our team shortly after that. Before long we had a team of very talented young artists that were beginning to push the Dallas tattoo culture to its limits.
As our styles evolved we began to make a name for our studio and ourselves. Many of the artists I worked with in the early years (some talented and some not so much) are now shop owners in the Dallas area. After working in deep Ellum for 6 years or so the shop dynamics had begun to change and the biker/owner was around less and less which was fine by us. Eventually, due to mismanagement by the shop owners and managers, our team of artists splintered. Some of the artists left the industry, some moved to new studios and some of the less talented ones began opening their own studios. Which started one of the biggest growth spurts in the Dallas area tattoo scene to date.
At one point in 2005 Dallas/Fort Worth was leading the nation in tattoo shops per capita. There was ,on average, 1 new tattoo shop opening every day in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area making it one of the biggest local growth industries of the time. It got kind of ridiculous for a while.
Luckily the growth slowed and studios that were turning out work that was below average in quality began to dwindle or go under. Just like in any business or industry, the quality of the work and the quality of customer service will ultimately decide who stays and who goes. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule.
The Piercing Industry
Like it or not (some people in the industry don’t) piercing and tattoos have always gone hand-in-hand. Piercing and tattoos have always been tied together and usually offered in one studio and some shops even have tattoo/piercers. I was never a piercer or even very interested in it, but working alongside piercers and answering customer questions for many years starts to make you somewhat of an authority on the subject. So after the original tattoo studio splintered I went to work for a body jewelry company for a short time. I designed jewelry, did all the marketing material, websites and advertising as well as catalogs and merchandising (as well as tattooing whenever I had the chance). Within a year or so we became the number 2 body jewelry company in the country. We offered unique, quality designs and had really pushed with our marketing techniques to become a frontrunner for design in the industry. Most of our innovative jewelry designs are considered standard items nowadays and you can buy them at Hot Topic or just about anywhere that sells body jewelry. It was really neat to take a start-up company from the dorm room to an industry leader in such a short time. I learned so much about design and merchandising in such a short time.
The Years of the Cat
After my stint working for the body jewelry industry I began working at Cat Tattoo in Addison for one of the guys that came to work in Deep Ellum towards the end. He had a studio that had been open for a couple of years and was starting to build a clientele. While working at Cat I was asked to revamp the shop image for marketing and merchandising. Slowly I began to forge a new image for the studio that would be different from the other studios. With renewed marketing the shop began to grow more every year.
The Design Days
While working at Cat I was also busy doing freelance artwork and accidentally ended up getting hired as a designer for a large company based in Arlington. I worked as an accessory designer for mens, young mens and boys. I designed and oversaw the creation of new product for several different brands including; Levi’s Signature, Mossimo, Tony Hawk, Tractor Supply, Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s, J.C. Penneys. I even had the opportunity to create new brands and new merchandise categories for the company. It was a great learning experience and I really enjoy seeing a project go from an idea all the way to production and sale in stores.
It was a great experience and I had to travel a lot, which could be pretty grueling but I’m glad I did it. It was really nice to be paid to travel around the world and shop but mostly I liked being able to use my talent and eye for design on a daily basis. I got to create everything from the product all the way down to the packaging for my brands. It’s nice to have your opinion mean something and ultimately that is why I left and went back to tattooing full-time.
After working as a designer for a while I returned to Cat Tattoo and resumed my marketing and merchandising campaign for the studio. I spent a few years keeping my head down and tattooing while simultaneously working to forge a strong new look and feel for the shop’s merchandise and image. Over the next few years we changed the look of the studio a few times and continued to grow. With the addition of new talent and new marketing strategies the shop started to become known for the artwork we produced both on skin and off. I get asked all the time about our signs, website and business cards etc… it makes me feel good to know that I have created a visual style that people seem to like so much to represent the studio. I don’t think most people who visit the shop or the website know how much of the work they are seeing is mine but I guess that is the life of the designer behind the scenes. There’s usually someone up front taking the credit for the hard work of others.
The Score So Far…
Did you know:
- I am left-handed (actually I am semi-ambidextrous) I do most things right-handed, however I draw and paint left-handed.
- I lived in Europe for about 8 years when I was younger.
- I have visited and traveled in 6 countries.
- My father was a police officer in the Air Force.
- I won my first art contest in kindergarten. ( I drew an elephant)