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Meet Dustin Yip

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dustin Yip.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Hmm… where do I begin? Well, art has always been a part of me since I was a kid. Typical story right? But my story to where I’m at now as a tattoo artist and a tattoo shop owner has been a wild ride. I got my first tattoo at 16. I did my first tattoo ever out of my mom and dad’s garage when I was 20 years old (I’m 34 now) as my friend Tony kept pushing me to give him his first tattoo. Pushed me so much he offered to buy me my first tattoo kit he found off the internet. I did a few on him and some other daring friends and family members, got nervous and stopped for a while. A little under a year later, I started doing them again just here and there, whenever my buddies and I got bored. Working two jobs at the time, my night job allowed me to doodle a lot as I worked at a call center and had a lot of downtimes. From there, my manager would see me draw and said “what the hell are you doing here? Why aren’t you in art school or doing art as a job?“ I then started to ask myself the same thing. I enrolled at an art school to major in graphic design, thinking it was the answer to landing my dream job at some type of company like Nike or Adidas.

During the years I attended that school, I would tattoo occasionally to make some money for school supplies and what not. I came across a shop that was down the street a few miles away from school and fell in love with the type of tattoos they were pushing out of there, black and grey realism. It was at that moment I had to find a way to learn from them. So, I decided to get tattooed there and slowly but surely I found a way to get in as a shop help position all while attending art school full time. I’d like to say apprenticeship but it wasn’t a formal one as I never had a direct mentor.

Fast forward eight months, I then became a full-time artist while wrapping up my last year of school… and my fiancé was pregnant as well! Being the new guy at the shop, I had to take on whatever I was able to get in my chair and it wasn’t much. The shop had a reputation for housing some of the most prominent names in the black and grey tattoo world, so I can understand why no one wanted to get work by me. After weeks and weeks of inconsistent income, my dad (who had been battling cancer for about 10 years at the time) told me “look man I know your dream was to become a tattoo artist but you need to man up and get a stable job with benefits to provide for your little family”. So, I listened. I quit tattooing to get a 9-5 thinking it’s what I had to do. I haven’t tattooed in a little over a year since the day I left the shop and I hated every morning I woke up for work. But what drove me to get up was looking at my family knowing I had to provide. So, I asked my parents if I could still tattoo in the garage after my day job. They said yeah. I started to get busier and busier as I got better and word spread about me through friends of friends. To the point where my dad said I had to tattoo somewhere else. I then opened up a little studio in a business complex with one goal in mind, to open up my own shop one day.

After working my office job, then heading to the studio, the grind was non stop. One morning, I got a call that a good friend of mine, since middle school, had died in a car accident after leaving a gathering our friends had for his birthday. Prior to that, I only spoke to him via text and saw him at my sons baby shower. I came home from work early, crying my eyes out. I never had a friend die before. My dad, who was getting more sick as months passed, had asked me what happened. After I told him, he had this eerie blank stare on his face, then laid in his recliner and looked up at the ceiling for the longest time. Two weeks later, as I’m getting ready for bed and laying my clothes out for my friends funeral, my dad passed away losing his battle with cancer. My emotions were all over the place, I had no time to grieve. After attending my friends funeral and then preparing for my fathers, I then truly realized life is so damn short and we’ll never know when we’re going to die. So, I told my wife I need to pull the trigger and do what it takes to get this going. I opened up Skanvas Tattoo in the city of Artesia in 2011. We are now located in the city of Cypress and are still going strong. I’m finally a homeowner, married with three kids and have two pit-bulls. I’d have to say the journey has been tiring, stressful and joyful, but I have no complaints! Whoops! Sorry, if this wasn’t brief.

Please tell us about your art.
I’m a black and grey artist. Whether it’s my drawings or tattoos, it’s in black and grey. I primarily focus on black and grey realism as it’s something I’ve been pursuing since the first day I picked up a tattoo machine. I want people to walk away satisfied with my work and can proudly wear it to til the day they die. As long as myself and my clients are 100% happy with it, that’s all that matters. To have someone literally take your art with them to the grave, no words can be found for that. Out here in California, let alone the entire U.S., there are so many amazing black and grey tattoo artists. So, when a client chooses me to mark their skin permanently, it is truly humbling.

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
The best way to connect is to TALK, face to face. I feel social media is definitely a boosting platform but there needs to be some sort of connection there. We can all DM, email or text each other, but if we can’t connect personally with genuine conversation and there’s just pure awkwardness, it won’t work. Not all artists are extroverts as most are introverts so I feel there’s a group out there for everyone. Just choose wisely as some individuals are always out there for the wrong reasons.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
You can see my up to date works on my Instagram @dustin_yip or my shops Instagram @skanvastattoo. I’m hoping to travel more in the future and possibly do more conventions. So, you may see me coming to a city or country near you!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Evan Chan

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