Darren Brass made the decision to go into tattooing 25 years ago, and he’s never looked back. Although it wasn’t an immediate decision, Darren has been interested in art from the get go. “I was the kid in school who was constantly drawing on my desk, notebooks and anything that I could leave a mark on. As a kid, I loved comics, the funnies in the Sunday paper and I was glued to the TV watching cartoons for hours.” The obsession with mark making first brought graffiti into his life which was extremely fulfilling, but the future brought him new ways of expression through friends and music. “With the music scenes, like the New York Hardcore music scene, there were tattoos everywhere, on everyone. Bands like the Cro Mags and Agnostic Front really made an impression on me. That’s when I realized that I wanted to get tattooed. All my friends were getting tattooed and with that everyone was asking when I was going to start tattooing. At first I fought the idea of tattooing, but one day I just decided that it was the next move that I had to make with my art and the evolution of.” In hindsight this turn of events seems simple, but it led Darren to become one of the most successful tattooers in the industry.
Although inking skin is his main art form of choice, Darren has a vast amount of interest in a diverse array of techniques, materials, and forms of expression. His personal style is based on creating designs that are clean and bold, with foundations in Traditional and Japanese tattooing. He paints, sketches, and even has a clothing brand, Brassed Off, that he’s working on but Darren makes sure to always keep that high quality standard he’s known for. But fine art isn’t the only thing he spends his time on; Darren is also interested in cooking. “When I’m not tattooing or working on apparel designs you’ll find me in the kitchen cooking it up. Again, it’s about the reward, the feeling you get when the people that you love are smiling because of the food that you put in front of them. Cooking is an art, food is your medium and the choices that you have are almost infinite.”
In Episode 5 of 'The Tattoo Shop', Darren opens up his home and heart, sharing what he loves most with the audience: his son, Cassius. “Well, anyone reading this that has kids knows that it’s a game changer. You suddenly have more to worry about than just you. You’re the role model, the protector, the knight in shining armor and a teacher. It’s a lot of responsibility and more rewarding than I could’ve ever imagined. Being a Dad has pushed me to work even harder at everything that I do and show my son that the hard work pays off.” Seeing the connection Darren and Cassius share is inspiring and touching.
Darren lives artfully; he make sure to notice the things that will embolden his work. It’s the attention to detail, and varied passions that creates strength within his work, but he’s quick to describe that which pushes him to be the best he can be. “Joe Vegas and Chris Garver were huge influences early on in my career. Bob Roberts work has always been a huge influence.” From every aspect of life, he’s constantly gleaning what he can from the environment around him. “Art is everywhere you look...from a crack in the sidewalk, the veins in a leaf or a beautiful mural on a wall, there’s so much visual stimuli around us. You just have to take the time to notice it.” And looking at Darren’s work, he’s skillfully wielding what he notices, and what he’s capable of while also continually challenging himself as an artist.
With a multitude of interests and talents as well as a strong work ethic that has served him incredibly well, it’s clear that Darren’s life, and the lives of his loved ones, will continue to be fruitful. As for the future of tattooing, he says, “I honestly can’t imagine what the future holds for tattooing. I’ve seen so much change; all the fads come and go. I really don’t know what to expect anymore. I know that I’m going to keep pushing what I do and keep evolving everyday.”