Created in partnership with Bulleit Frontier Whiskey. Click to explore the board.
The entirety of the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey tattoo billboard. Photo by Elizabeth Dixon
You have to hand it to him, with Bulleit giving him full creative freedom for his contribution to the billboard, Belñavis found a subtle way of working his signature art into the piece that was both clever and indicative of a deep understanding of what makes Angelenos tick. Born and raised in LA and the San Gabriel Valley, Belñavis has been tattooing in the area for over 20 years. Now working at Shogun Tattoo in Pasadena, Belñavis has seen the culture of tattooing in Los Angeles, and the city as a whole, go through quite an evolution.
The artists posing outside of the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey tattoo billboard. Photo by Elizabeth Dixon
Part of what drew Belñavis to tattooing was the unique challenges that tattooing presents when compared to illustration and other artistic mediums. “The biggest difference between tattooing and other mediums is the canvas,” Belñavis says. “You're working on skin. It stretches, sweats, bleeds, moves and twitches, and on top of all that it has to heal and age well.” After 23 years mastering the art of putting ink into skin, tattooing a hunk of leather presented a completely different type of challenge for the tattooer.
When viewed as a whole, the Bulleit billboard is a fitting showcase for the rich culture of Los Angeles, but it is Belñavis’ section that truly transports you to the City of Angels. Looking at it you feel the warmth of the sun, hear the ghetto bird hovering above, and taste the fresh tacos de pescado. Mmmm. Who wants to jump on the next flight to LAX with us? But if you can’t make the journey do the next best thing and see the Bulleit billboard as it makes its way to the Marfa Film Fest this July.