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Sense of Purpose: Interview with Tattoo Artist Trevor Gavilan

Sense of Purpose: Interview with Tattoo Artist Trevor Gavilan

Tattoo Artists4 min Read

In this interview with tattooist Trevor Gavilan, he talks about how he got into the industry and where he finds inspiration.

In the graceful stylings of Art Nouveau and Neo-Traditional, Trevor Gavilan has found what he calls a deeps sense of purpose. Devoted to various expressive forms including painting, music, and even philosophy, beautifully curated photographs capture Trevor's lush works on skin and paper that hint at the abundance of poetic thought he puts into his cathartic creations. In this interview, Trevor Gavilan talks about the moments in his life that supported the artist he is today and the inspiration behind his artwork.

Trevor Gavilan at MexSynthCo - photography by Vera Park #TrevorGavilan

How did you get into tattooing and why was it something you were drawn to?

During a difficult period in my life I decided to pause working on my music career and focus on myself. During that time I decided to get back into painting and drawing which I had stopped doing 15 years ago. Everything kind of happened at the right time and one of my ex girlfriends who's also a tattoo artist got me into the possibility. She eventually became my mentor. So painting and visual art is something I was initially drawn to in life before considering Music a serious career and now doing it just feels natural, like going back to my basics.

Can you talk about your inspirations, and how your style has evolved over the years?

I think my style is barely just beginning to unravel and mainly because I have this tendency to feel really inspired by a very select list of artists and study them from top to bottom. I sometimes feel like I loose myself for a small amount of time during that process whether it is music, painting or tattooing. Eventually I always try to challenge myself to learn a lot in a short period of time and come up with a series of original ideas by the end of it. I guess I've thrived from various forms of inspiration, from painting, music or words to even a philosophical lifestyle.

Who are the tattooers, or fine artists/movements, that have inspired you over the years?

All my life I've been inspired by visual artists like Giger, Alex Grey, Beksinski, Francis Bacon, Andrew Wyeth, Peter Witkin, Doré and just generally dark artists. For the past three years I've gotten deep into baroque, renaissance and chiaroscuro and I just feel extremely inspired by the symbolism behind it. Caravaggio, Rubens, Wright, Rembrandt and Ferri are the painters that inspire me the most.

As far as tattoo artists, I'm very inspired of Lars Uwe's work and the whole movement he kind of unintentionally created. Conor Wearn, Sebastian Grebhardt, Eckel and Chriss Green are definitely favorites. I'm now getting into a lot of Japanese Art and Tattoo artists and it's opening up so many new possibilities.

Many artists have a philosophy or motivation behind their work...what would you say is yours? How do you define success?

What keeps me up at night and makes me wake up every morning is the sense of purpose. To me, success can only be measured in relationship to the amount of transcendence or purpose one can leave behind, because eventually, everyone will have it's day to die. I've taken a lot from the Japanese philosophy of tattooing and kinda gave it my little twist. I spend a lot of time getting to know my customers, sharing words, passages, tea and knowledge and then I eventually come up with a unique imagery I think would be appropriate for them to carry and wear as clothes. When they propose the subject for the design I also tend to complement it with something extra that will secretly represent them. I guess this work philosophy made sense to me because of the way I was brought up in life and art.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? What is the best advice you feel you can give?

I guess I have to say my Grandfather gave me the best piece of advise ever. He told me that everything in life has a reason to be and if something is meant for you, it will eventually happen. He told me to let go and let that happen. I like to pass on that advise and also tell people that it is okay to be emotional and vulnerable in life... to be real.

Beyond tattooing, what are you passionate about? How do you spend your free time, and what do you do on your vacations?

I spend a lot of time working on music, synthesizers and sounds because that's also part of my life and career, so usually when I'm not tattooing or drawing, I'm sitting on the other side of my studio working on music. I'm obsessed with fragrances and I'm currently studying how to elaborate my own set of perfumes. Aside from that I feel extremely passionate about Films, Books, Culinary Arts, Occult Arts, Fashion and Motorcycles. I tend to dedicate as much time as I can into those activities. I usually work on vacations but I like to travel while doing it.

Any future plans you’d like to share?

Just raising the bar even more, keep practicing and growing in the tattoo world. I'll probably begin working on new music and I've also been thinking of studying psychology/philosophy to complement both tattoos and music.


Justine Morrow
Written byJustine Morrow

Social Producer, Journalist, Editor, and Curator for Tattoodo I am here to support you 🌻 IG: @lathe.of.heaven

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