Interview with Dillon Forte | Secret Geometry Style | USA 15/08/2021

  Hello Dillon Forte! Thank you so much for taking some time to answer some questions for our readers. We really appreciate the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with you, so maybe our audience will learn something from our conversation and get inspired to start their own journey in the world of tattooing.

Q: What inspired you to start tattooing? How long have you been tattooing?
A: I’ve been tattooing for over 10 years now professionally, and I got my start up in Northern California at a pretty young age. I used to hang out around town and next to this skate shop I liked was a tattoo spot. I was already into art and drawing, and it sparked my interest in exploring the profession.

- Did you have any help or you figured out all by yourself?
I started out by having an apprenticeship at a local tattoo shop. From there I ventured out on my own and eventually opened my own studio in Oakland. I think it’s really important to find a mentor and I do that for other up and coming artists now as well.

Q: Tattooing seems like an easy job, especially for people who have drawing skills but skin and paper are two different worlds heh. How long did it take you to gain confidence in your work?
A: I think it just takes time, the risk and nervousness comes with the job but as with anything the more you do it the more confident you get. When you’re training early on there are ways to build up hours and experience without risking messing up someone’s dream tattoo haha. I think for the people who are passionate about tattooing you know what you’re getting yourself into and figure out how to not screw up. It takes time, ultimately.

- Do you remember some of your first tattoos? Who gave you the trust to tattoo them as a beginner? :)
Yeah it was actually a lot of fun right out the gate. Some of my friends and early customers during my apprenticeship knew they were working with someone newer so the expectations were managed. Thankfully I’ve had years of practice with drawing, so I was confident I could do some pretty cool work with them.

Q: Would you correct some of those beginner tattoos if given a chance today?
A: Well, thankfully some of the earlier tattoos were a bit different than the type of work I do now. I didn’t have any complaints or major mistakes, so I think those first customers aren’t really thinking of fixing what they have. Perhaps over time some of the color may fade, so I guess that could be touched up by another artist at some point.

- How important is to be self aware but at the same time humble?
As an artist, I always stay mindful of learning new tricks of the trade, technology advancements and staying humble regarding my skill and success. It’s always a work in progress. Each day is practice and I’m thankful to have some awesome clients who trust me to tattoo them.

Q: Would you say you are proud of your progress today? What do you cherish the most about this job?
A: Absolutely, I’m thankful to be where I am and I think it’s a bit of luck and a lot of hard work. I focus on manifesting a great life with a fun lifestyle around my tattooing and who I get to work with. Thankfully, the job allows me to block out when I tattoo clients and then carve out time for travel, family and doing cool life stuff.

Q: How did you "find" your style? Or... it found you? Tell me more about your style.
A: I became fascinated with sacred geometry and blackwork/dotwork type design in my early 20’s and went down the rabbit hole with books, history and everything associated with the style. I see sacred geometry as part of the building blocks of the universe and it has a special connection with all the clients that appreciate my work. Much of my art has certain geometric shapes and proportions, and while all the designs are unique, they are all connected by universal principles. I like to believe the style found me, and I think it is part of my purpose to share this art with others.

Q: I bet it requires a lot of patience to create all those interesting shapes. I really like it. Are you the main creator or your clients help you a little bit by bringing some reference images?
A: Yeah it’s a bit of a collaboration, the client comes to me with a general idea of what they want and then I come up with the design before we approve the final art. They may send me images of other work I’ve done, or other pieces of imagery they find online or in books. Ultimately I work up the final design for all my clients and we take things from there.

-Do you plan to experiment with some color ink in the feature or you will stick to black ink?
Black ink is my thing, at the moment I’m not really interested in venturing too far into other color variants. With my canvas art though, I do use many colors and I'm open to many different styles.

Q: It's seriously really cool. Very simple but yet complex. Is there any symbolic meaning behind the designs?
A: Absolutely, especially with sacred geometry the shapes and proportions are all related to universal principles that govern our entire creation and existence. It can get pretty deep, but I do recommend the readers learning more about it online or even reading the defining book The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life by Drunvalo Melchizedek. There are also many blogs and articles online that take you further into the deep meanings of sacred geometry design. For my blackwork and dotwork, a lot of that is just going to vary design to design, and is obviously personal to the individual getting the work done.

Q: To be talented is a special gift. I hope anyone who has it won't be lazy & stupid so they will use it and give this world more beauty at least! Hehe What are some of the other creative projects you're working on outside tattooing?
A: Haha, well hard work beats talent when talent doesn't’ work hard right? I’ve known plenty of both types, but they always figure it out somehow. Outside of tattooing I’ve been working on canvas art, sculpture collabs and I have a line of eco-friendly tattoo products under the name Forte Tattoo Tech. It’s essentially shop products for other artists that go a bit easier on the planet and landfills.

- The sculptures... Oh, I love it. Simple and beautiful. I also like your photographs, really representative. Tell me a bit about the making process. Do you sell some of them? They will be such an interesting decoration in a modern living room:)
Thank you, I appreciate that. I do sell some of my canvas art and the info/pricing is on my website at DillonForte.com. People can see them in my gallery in Venice but it’s a private location and seen by appointment. My photographs are done when I’m usually traveling and I don’t really plan anything out. I just make sure to keep my camera on me and capture as many moments as possible. I also use it to take photos of client tattoos when finished to post on socials and to promote my work.

Q: I really like how do you replicate your creativity in many different ways. Tattoos, sculpture art... oh what else would you try? I think you will be a good graffiti painter or oh maybe anything! Just being honest! Please don't stop wandering and trying:)
A: Honestly, I have so many ideas and wish I had the time to try it all. My goal is to have multiple businesses and products under my ‘Forte’ name that provide excitement for people without having to be in the shop all the time. I love tattooing, but it’s cool to branch out and try different things as well.

Q: Now tell me a little bit about your Tattoo Brand "Forte" what it represents and what are your goals as an entrepreneur?
A: A couple years back I wanted to start switching all things “Dillon Forte” under the umbrella of that single name to keep it simple. My gallery in Venice is simply called “Forte” and any ventures I take on will be an extension of that name. Example being Forte Tattoo Tech for those tattoo supplies, and I’m also working on projects that venture further into canvas art, sculptures, NFTs and more. It’s all exciting stuff that’s deeply personal, but will be exciting to those who appreciate the specific niches they dive into. My goal with the Forte brand is to express myself however I see fitting at the moment, and since I have so many ideas this is the best way to do it.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of this job, despite the constant busy schedule and the pressure that comes with that?
A: I’m thankful for the flexibility of my job and lifestyle. My studio and other artists book by appointment only, and we have a long line of clients waiting to get work done. This allows me and the others to time block their work, so we can work on other projects, travel and do other family focused things without the pressure of being in a public studio 5 days a week (walk ins etc, we don’t do that). There’s always pressure to do my best work and attract great clients, but I think by focusing on making my clients stoked and doing amazing work, they in turn refer and leave great feedback on socials etc.

Q: If you can turn back the time, would you still choose to be a tattoo artist? Would you do something differently "next" time?
A: If I had a time machine like in Back To the Future, I’d totally pull a Biff Tannen and become today’s Anthony Bourdain. Travel the world, make a killing, make great friends, amazing food and do wild stuff. Being on TV all the time wouldn’t hurt.

Q: What is your opinion about the local tattoo scene and in general? Should we work more on representing this art as a collective? What we should concentrate on?
A: I think we’re in a good place as tattoo artists. There’s a high respect for the different types of artists/styles, pricing and how we contribute to people’s expression of themselves as a whole. In 2021 it’s awesome to have tattoos, be an artist and contribute to the world with our unique style. I think other artists support each other pretty well, and the more quality artists that are out there the better. It contributes to tattoos being seen worldwide as something to strive for and save up to get haha.

Q: We live in very unpredictable times... After the pandemic, I guess all of us had a little "reset" moment with ourselves about our lives, goals and what we want... Did you change something about yourself, maybe realized what you wanna do like in the next five years or so?
A: I was thankful to have other business ventures going to keep me busy while the studio was closed for a while. Everyone was affected in their own way, but it totally kept me mindful of having different streams of revenue and businesses that perhaps aren’t affected by these types of world events. Over the next five years, I want to expand my eco-friendly business ventures (Forte Tattoo Tech) and get into other technology businesses that can be explored via mobile and laptops.

- Are you available for bookings? If so, please write down your email address.
Please reach out to my team at this email for booking inquiries - contact@dillonforte.com

Q: As a professional tattoo artist what would you recommend to all the new artists who want to develop a style or just simply try their way in the world of tattooing?
A: Keep drawing and designing every single day. Research how other tattoo artists market themselves, what tools they use and other strategies for attracting clients. The best route to success and being self-sustaining though is to get an apprenticeship at a shop you respect. I think your style will evolve over time and you’ll have “ah-hah” moments in your career, but for now, just go for it and learn as you go.

Thank You for the interview,
instagram.com/dillonforte

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