Born in sunny San Fernando Valley, California, tattoo master Mike Devries has made a name for himself as the undisputed king of the color portrait. Having been in the business only 8 years he has already taken the tattoo world by storm and created some of the most stunning realism work ever seen.
His dedication and thirst for knowledge has seen him catapult himself to the top of the business in a relatively short amount of time, and he has published many books and DVDs in an effort to help other aspiring artists. A quick glance through his portfolio shows his incredible talent for fine line and high contrast color work, and he has inked a number of Hollywood’s A-list celebrities such as Rambo star, Sylvester Stallone.
Although interested in art from a very young age, Mike originally believed his future lay in a career as a construction worker. Working alongside his father he continued in this career for many years after graduating from high school. He received his first tattoo at the age of 16 and his personal collection of body art steadily grew as he spent a large amount of time hanging out at the local tattoo studio.
It was during a tattoo session in 2003 with artist Jim Hayek, that he was offered an apprenticeship in exchange for remodeling work on Jim’s studio. His background in construction also came in handy when he built his own studio behind his house and spent the first four years of his career performing tattoos from there. In 2007 he joined ‘Art Junkies’ studio in Hesperia, California, and a year later opened his own shop ‘MD Tattoo Studio’ in his hometown where he remains to this day.
Mike's work is known for its fantastic use of color and light which creates portraits that seem capable of speaking and moving. The black widow spider on a client’s neck could easily be mistaken for the real thing and has no doubt caused many people to jump back in fear.
Specializing in animal portraits, Mike is capable of creating designs that have the same color saturation and depth as an actual photograph. One of his most spectacular designs is the portrait of a gorilla on the upper arm and the piece is so beautifully shaded it’s almost impossible to believe it is an actual tattoo. The intense blue of the gorilla’s skin is highlighted with green and yellow tones to create depth and texture, and the small, almost undetectable pink color on the lips and eyes show Mike’s incredible attention to detail.
Many tattoo artists struggle when creating realistic portraiture work, and those that can perform the act prefer to do so in black and gray as it allows for a more realistic overall effect. Mike’s color portraits are so striking due to their use of high contrast colors that are so intricately shaded, and he can create on the skin portraits which many artists would struggle to create on canvas. The portrait of a female vampire mouth on a client’s leg has perfectly captured the complicated structure of the human mouth, teeth and the texture of the lips looks almost touchable.
As well as performing tattoos Mike owns his own publishing company ‘Memento Publishing’ which specializes in books promoting artistic lifestyle. He is part owner of ‘Reflected Art’ a company which produces books and art materials, and also ‘Stencil Stuff’ which sells tattoo stencils and other aids. Through Memento he has published two popular books and even released a DVD which seeks to educate other artists on the techniques and tricks he employs. He regularly attends art classes at the Art Institute to further develop his skill and is inspired by artists such as Salvador Dali and Escher. A self-confessed workaholic, he has stated that he would spend every minute of his life working and improving his craft, if it were not for the influence of his wife and young son.
Mike's talent is so impressive due to the fact that he has only been in the business 8 short years (as of 2011). His strong work ethic has enabled him to develop his skills and he will continue to advance in the years to come. Many artists will never achieve in an entire career what Mike has managed in just his early years and it remains to be seen just what he will create in the future. His growing list of celebrity clients has seen his waiting list expand to over 2 years, and anyone wishing to own a piece of Mike’s work had better be prepared for a long wait for this gifted young artist.