Speaking to body artist Darwin Enriquez on the top floor of his stylish InkNation Penthouse studio which overlooks downtown Manhattan, one could be forgiven for thinking rapid overseas success would have him feeling among the elite. But the laidback Enriquez – from Valencia, the Carabobo district of Venezuela, intends on using his achievements in the tattoo world to provide a cultural footprint for talented Latin Americans looking to showcase their talents internationally.
An expert with realism art, Enriquez utilizes 3D technology to attain a style rarely attempted, and even less-so achieved. The story behind his success is simple – he is devoted to learning. From his early days spent designing images in his hometown – to having residency at the legendary Last Rites Tattoo Theatre, Enriquez’ desire to continually develop is matched only by his passion for discovering the latest trends. “I learned a lot (at Last Rites), the composition, the flow on a sleeve, and also simply appreciating the art.” Not only did Enriquez hone his body art skills, but at times – and on short notice, he’d collaborate with the other artists with fine art painting fusions. “It was a very exciting time for me,” Enriquez says.
It’s Enriquez’ style to be in an Advice Column’ and to admit that he’s always looking to improve. “I’ve always been drawing, painting. I’m self-taught – aside from a few workshops, I taught myself how to design.”
Nonetheless, the man whose 3D style was the culmination of a 10-year journey honing his craft with residencies in Belgium and Denmark, shares his expertise with future body artists.
- STICK TO WHAT YOU KNOW AND IMPROVE AT IT
“For me, it’s important to try and focus on one style, and then grow at it,” he says. “If you have a certain style, then try to find inspiration to improve it. For example, I have my darker style of art (blend of black and grey), so I seek inspiration from concept artists and photographers.” Enriquez’ 3D surrealism and double exposure techniques are very different from what other body artists are doing. “It’s important to be special,” he says.
- TIME IS ESSENTIAL
Such is his attention to detail, Enriquez believes that body artists should focus less on the tattoo itself, and more on how they’re dedicating their time for the client. “With unique art, the most important aspect is the creation. Instead of just designing placement over paper, I ensure that each 3D composition can be implemented differently. A tattoo is forever, so it needs time.”
- COMFORT FOR THE ARTIST AND THE CLIENT
Having recently expanded the luxurious InkNation studio – situated in the centre of New York City between Times Square, and Fifth Avenue, Enriquez emphasizes comfort and space. With specialized artists coming from all over the globe to learn and assist from the award-winning Venezuelan, each client is given a first-class service that is distinctive and becomes an area of inspiration. Most of the time clients – and the artists, are in one place for seven hours, so taking a professional approach is something Enriquez says “is special.” Guests are treated to food and drink and are provided with entertainment, while the artists themselves are treated to body art seminars to assure them that InkNation is an environment where they can learn, and progress in their careers.
- ALWAYS LEARN
When Enriquez won his Best Realism Artist Award, he was thinking less about celebrating, and more about how to get to the next level. He soon became the judge of the awards, then mentor to the other artists. “I was always evolving,” he says. Soon after, the exposure he’d gained from his rapid rise attracted MLB players, and Hollywood entertainers to InkNation. Despite his own celebrity status, Enriquez remains humble and insists he’s too busy creating his art to respond to all of the requests from elite figures. “I never respond,” he jokes. “In my eyes, everyone that comes into the studio is a celebrity, and I work for each person.”
- GIVING BACK:
With the plethora of talented artists in Enriquez’ Latin America not exposed to opportunity or underprivileged due to economic and political sanctions, the support that Ink Nation provides is the foundation for many expats to nurture their genius. Enriquez’ growth model is the basis for each artist to not only be given a chance to work at the classy studio, but to climb to the top of the U.S. body art industry. “We want every artist that comes here to be able to project themselves and go to the next level, so that in two years they’ll be able to open their own studio.”
Darwin Enriquez is a specialized body artist, currently residing in New York City. His stylish InkNation studio is much-revered internationally, and his art can be seen on his Instagram account, and also on his website https://darwinenriquez.com/
By Sarshar Hosseinnia