Dennis Duran is a tattooer based in Philadelphia who has a true "bold will hold" style. Whether depicting Japanese iconography or Traditional classics, Dennis is a dedicated artist who constantly strives to evolve as an artist. In this interview, he talks about why he was drawn to the art form, his greatest heroes, and how he defines success as a tattoo artist.
How did you get into tattooing and why was it something you were drawn to?
I have always been fascinated about tattoos since I was young. The fact that people would connect them to subcultures and outcasts just made me more interested and wanting to have them myself. I always wanted to have a career in which I could use my artistic abilities. After my best friend became a tattoo artist, he helped me sharpen my drawing skill which ultimately led to me getting an apprenticeship at the shop he worked at.
Can you talk about your inspirations, and how your style has evolved since you began?
I get a lot of inspiration from artists that I look up to, however, I'm constantly trying to dig deeper and find the source of designs and influences. I also like to use older art books and try to find inspiration in things outside of tattooing. I'm constantly trying to be versatile with what I tattoo in order to learn as much as I can and build an arsenal of techniques that I can select from and bring into developing my style.
Who are the tattooers, or fine artists/movements, that have inspired you over the years?
It's hard to name all the tattooers who influenced me since there are so many amazing tattooers that I look up to. But I would say, Ed Hardy, Tom DeVita, Filip Leu and Eddy Deustche hold a special place because they influenced me with more than their tattoos.
Many artists have a philosophy or motivation behind their work...what would you say is yours? How do you define success?
I try to constantly remind myself to strive to be a better tattooer and never stop learning and improving everyday. To always get better at everything that goes into the tattoo and to treat every tattoo, big or small, as if it's the most important tattoo I've done. Success is doing something you love doing as a career, appreciating everything it gives you and being able to see the positive effect it has on people.
What advice do you have for young artists trying to get into tattooing? What was the best advice you received when you first started?
Don't get caught up on how tattooing is portrayed through the lenses of social media and TV. There's a lot more to tattooing than what you see and ten thousand times more work that goes into becoming a tattooer. Understand that you will have to sacrifice certain things to succeed in this industry. Do your research, learn about the past, who came before and about the craft. Get tattooed by experienced tattooers and learn anything you can from them. On my first day of apprenticeship one of my now coworkers gave me the best advice "keep your head down, your mouth shut and your ear open".
How do you feel about the future of the tattoo industry? What things need to change, and what needs to stay the same?
I like to think that the future of tattooing is promising. People tend to say that the industry is overcrowded, but I also think that the demand is growing. The negative side is that it might be a more competitive field and some really good artists might go unnoticed and fall through the cracks. However, I think all that will highlight people who will help push tattooing to a new level and I think that's exciting. The world is constantly changing and any industry that stays successful must change with it, and tattooing will do the same. I've been seeing a growth of people pointing out the importance of knowing the history of tattooing and I'd like that to stay the same and don't go away.
Beyond tattooing, what are you passionate about? How do you spend your free time, and what do you do on your vacations?
I'm passionate about music and soccer. I like to spend my free time playing my guitar, watching/playing soccer, reading and learning something new. I also try to dedicate a good portion of my free time to having fun with my close friends. When I take a vacation I try to go somewhere I have never been or spend some time back home (Brazil) with the family.
Any future goals, plans, collabs, etc. that you’d like to share?
I'm planning to do more guest spots/conventions inside the US in states I haven't been to once traveling has normalized a bit more. I'm also planning with a few coworkers to do a South America and tattoo trip in a few years. And one of my goals is to tattoo in Europe someday.