- Andrew, thank you for joining us for this brief interview. For the sake of our readers, please tell us a bit about yourself before you became involved with your profession.
Thank you for having me. I was born and raised in Santa Ana, California, and I’ve always had a passion for art since I was little. Creativity has flowed from my mind for as long as I can remember, and I’m very passionate about all forms of art, whether it’s music or physical pieces. I would say I had a pretty difficult youth, and I always seemed to be surrounded by negative influences. Many of my friends and family members had fallen victim to drug use, and I often times had to worry about how I was going to get my next meal. I believe I used my passion for art as an escape, and over time I substantially improved my drawing ability. My passion for music sparked my drive to create physical art, and during middle school and high school I entered and won a variety of drawing competitions. My family saw that I took art very seriously, but they always told me I should spend less time working on art because it couldn’t translate into a “real” career. I have to admit, I felt pretty discouraged at times. I became involved with some of the negative influences around me, and got into a bit of legal trouble. Ultimately, I was sentenced to two years in jail. That’s where my story took a turn for the best.
2. How did you use your negative experiences to motivate yourself into becoming the successful entrepreneur you are today?
That’s a great question. Over the span of my two-year sentence, I found myself getting back in touch with my artistic side. I had my first tattoo done shortly after arriving in the facility, and after it was completed I became fascinated in the art of tattooing. I started to do a lot of research- asking questions and observing other people tattooing to soak up as much knowledge as I could. Once I felt that I had an in-depth understanding of the craft, I began practicing as an active tattoo artist on many of my peers. I continued to practice and learned as much as I could for the remainder of my sentence.
When I was released at the end of two years, I actually did not continue to pursue tattooing as a career. I had it in my mind that I was going to return to school, and I did; however, I still created art in all of my spare time. To my surprise, my step-dad at the time heard how passionate I was about tattooing and gifted me with my first tattoo kit. As someone who had not received any prior support from my family when it came to my passion of art, the gesture and support from my step-dad was priceless to me, and it definitely helped to re-spark my artistic aspirations. Sometimes it just takes one person to believe in you to get you going. When I returned to school, I made a close friend who encouraged me to continue tattooing. He asked me to practice on him, so I gained countless hours of experience practicing on him and in return he gained a lot of free tattoos. We are still really good friends to this day. At this point, I had committed myself to becoming great at something, and I was not going to look back until I had become the person I wanted to be.
“Dedication and consistency come hand in hand. No matter what your circumstances are, or where you come from, there’s always a way out of a bad situation. To do this successfully you must separate yourself from the life you currently have to elevate to the life that you aspire to live.” -Andrew Arteaga
3. At what point in your career did you realize you had become one of the most elite tattoo artists in the world?
Well, I continued working on my craft as a tattoo artist for about eight years after being released from jail, and it was in my eighth year that I really earned my big opportunity to elevate my career to that level. At the time, I was serving as an apprentice under famous tattoo artist Romeo Lacoste at his shop located in Los Angeles. While I was working at Lacoste’s shop, I met and tattoo’d a well-known rapper on many occasions, and we became good friends through the hours spent together. This produced a snowball effect, as he introduced me to a lot of celebrities and helped me network and build connections with many prominent people in Los Angeles. A lot of people saw my work that I did for him and asked about me, and he gave them my information. It happened really fast, but I went on to work with celebrity clients such as Trippie Red, Smoke Purp, Jake Paul, and members of the Hype House, just to name a few. Since then, I’ve worked with numerous athletes, artists, actors, and so on, and I have become close with many of them. I’m typically always booked, and I am really grateful that I am able wake up each day and do what I’m passionate about all while meeting and connecting with amazing people.
4. Andrew, thank you so much for joining us today. Where can readers keep up with you online?
Thank you for having me! You can keep up with me on my Instagram. I regularly post my work on there.