Dustin Cameron loves all kinds of art. He is a human copy machine specializing in both color and black and gray realism. Dustin excels at fine tiny little details that seem almost humanly impossible. He’s a quiet one, but once you get him talking he’s an open book and likes that tattooing connects him to people from all walks of life. When he’s not quietly sketching up your tattoo in the corner of the studio, he likes to paint, take pictures, and follows Die Antwoord.
We recently sat down with Dustin to talk about his history and his approach to tattooing. Read his artist interview below and learn more about Dustin.
I’d say art in general. Growing up I knew I wanted to do something for a living that involved art. My dad actually suggested that I look into tattooing, and once I knew what it was all about I was really interested in doing it full-time. I liked the challenge of putting art on people’s bodies, and I still do. I also liked the idea of building a relationship with clients.
I started out like most artists—I apprenticed. My apprenticeship was two years of incredibly hard work. I was working full-time in addition to being in the shop five or six days a week. That’s normal for tattoo apprentices, but a lot of aspiring artists fail because of how much work it is. But I was determined to be successful at it, and because once I set my mind to something, it’s going to happen. And it did. I’ve been tattooing full-time ever since.
I like doing quite a bit of different styles, but I’d say the things that naturally come to me are more on the realism side. I’m also super focused and enjoy doing really highly-detailed tattoos that other artists might not do. I actually have a reputation in the shop for being the detail-oriented guy. It’s just the way I see things, I guess, and the fact that I always want to do more work to a tattoo. I have trouble just wanting to keep things simple, but if that’s what the client wants, I’m happy to make it.
Besides the highly-detailed stuff, I really like working on large pieces. I recently did a full Chronicles of Narnia sleeve, and I’ve done some other really cool, really big movie and book related pieces. I love getting to work with a client over a long period of time and see this big project slowly come together. But the end result is bittersweet, you know? It’s awesome to see the final product and the look on the client’s face when it’s all done, but it also kind of sucks that it has to end. I just have way too much fun.
Most of the time, if someone comes in and wants a tattoo on their face or hands, I might ask another artist in the shop to accommodate them. Of course, there are always ways to make something look better, so I might not say no to an idea but I might suggest we go in a different direction or take a different approach if I think the client will be happier with their tattoo in the end. That’s part of my job, turning someone’s idea into a beautiful piece of body art.
What I do with a lot of people, especially clients who come wanting a big or complicated piece, is an initial consultation. We’ll talk about the idea, I’ll take notes and look at reference pictures, and then I’ll have the client come in for a “draw check” to see some of the sketches that I’ve done. We’ll then sit down together and make adjustments and tweaks to figure out exactly what we’re going to do.
It can be difficult to work with someone who doesn’t know what they want at all, but it can also be difficult to work with clients who are extremely controlling. The middle ground, that’s where the best relationships are. Someone who’s ready for a tattoo and knows what they want but gives me the artistic freedom to do what I do best, those are usually the clients who are happiest with their tattoos.
Do your research, and look at an artist’s portfolio before you sit in their chair. Different artists have different styles, so make sure you find an artist who you feel can best bring your idea to life. It’s also helpful to look up pictures of similar tattoos to see where other people get them and see how they look on different parts of the body. Shop reviews can also be helpful. And if you see someone with a good looking tattoo, ask them where they got it.
We’ve been around for a long time, and the shop is full of friendly artists who know what they’re doing and know how to make great tattoos. We’re also at such a great location.
Have an idea for your first or next tattoo? Contact Adorn East to schedule a consultation with Dustin. He’ll work with you to come up with a design you’ll love. You can also stop by the shop to talk with Dustin or any of the other skilled tattoo artists here at Adorn. In the meantime, you can also check out our FAQ page for answers to all of your tattoo-related questions.