‘Til Death Denver, tucked along the River North Arts District in Denver, Colorado, prides itself on being a private studio and appointment-only shop. The shop mantra is a deep dedication to putting art on bodies, and resident tattooist Jacob Rivera is a testament to that ethos. Working in the American traditional style, and tossing some glam onto it with some dotwork, stippling, and blackwork winks, Rivera’s tattoos are sharp, clean, and stand-out. We got a chance to connect with Rivera about who inspires him and what his artistic process is like.
Who inspires you, in the art world and in the tattoo world?
My biggest inspiration in the art world would have to be my grandparents. My grandfather left his job as an engineer in Atlanta to pursue art by hand carving decoy ducks in the Northeast Georgia Mountains. My grandmother has always been into stained glass, jewelry making, and she painted all of the ducks my grandfather carved until he passed.
There are so many people I look up to in the tattooing community, so it is going to be hard to pick just a few. My buddy David Patterson was one of my first big tattooing influences. We used to read the book Forever The New Tattoo when I was just getting started in the industry. That book has a lot of heavy hitters in there such as Thomas Hooper, Guy Le Tattooer, Scott Campbell, Duncan X, Robert Ryan, Mike Giant, Jonas Nyberg, and the list goes on. He really opened my eyes to what was possible early on. Also I've been really fortunate to be able to work at such an amazing shop here at 'Til Death Denver with no shortage of inspiring folks on a daily basis. We have such a talented group of guys and a diverse group of guests that come through on a regular basis. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today if Josh Wrede hadn't taken a chance by hiring me here in Denver.
Talk more about your artistic process — idea to final.
I try to base most of my tattooing from a traditional standpoint. I'm constantly flipping through flash books and Instagram for inspiration. Since last year I have started using the iPad Pro for most of my designs. I still go through the same process as I were using pencil and paper though. Red pencil drawing and then I work out the kinks from there.
What album do you play the most to get into the groove of tattooing?Here lately Electric Wizard has been my go to on the way to work. But while I'm tattooing I really enjoy lyricless music such as Com Truise, DJ Shadow, and Tycho.