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Artist Feature: Nikko Hurtado

 
 
 

Nikko Hurtado has only been tattooing for a relatively short amount of years but has already become one of the forerunners in color portraiture work.

 

Nikko Hurtado has only been tattooing for a relatively short 9 years (as of 2012) but has already become one of the forerunners in color portraiture work. Inspired from a young age by the cartoons and comic books that all young children consume in their early years, Nikko began to draw and reproduce the characters he saw on screen.

This early inspiration has now seen him elevate himself into the upper echelons of the tattoo industry and earn himself a number of awards and admirers along the way. Specializing in color realism and portraiture work, Nikko is able to infuse his own personal style into each of his designs. His favorite subject matter consists of portraits of film and television characters and he has an extensive portfolio featuring some of the best color portraiture work seen anywhere.

Born in 1981 in San Fernando Valley, California, where he was raised by both his parents until the age of 12, when Nikko's parents divorced and then lived with his mother and siblings. Tattoo culture wasn't unfamilliar in Nikko's family, as his uncles and grandfather all sported their own homemade tattoos. Displaying his artistic talent from an early age, he would draw pictures of the television character Bart Simpson and give them to female classmates in an effort to get their attention. At junior high school he attended art classes where he learned to draw professionally and went on to take extra classes at ‘The Art Center of Pasadena’. Although his talent was just beginning to develop, Nikko then dropped out of high school and went to work in construction for over 2 years.

Fortunately for the tattoo industry, a friend of Nikko opened up his own studio and invited him to come and learn how to tattoo, giving him his start in the business. After a long stint working out of Ignition Tattoo in Apple Valley, Nikko began making plans to open his own studio ‘Black Anchor Collective’ in Hesperia, California, which opened its doors in early 2010. 

The studio feature its own art gallery holding photography and painting exhibitions. On its opening night, it held an art show entitled ‘Girls Girls Girls’ and featured work by Joe Capobianco, Carlos Rojas, and Alex Garcia to name a few. The studio houses a number of talented resident artists and a number of guest tattooists all handpicked by Nikko himself.


Nikko’s work is instantly recognizable as his own due to his ability to blend his own personal style into every stunningly realistic portrait. Working mainly with portraits of the stars of film and television, he is able to capture that magic we see on the silver screen and create images that seem able to move and speak. Using an incredible color palette he can create a perfectly realistic flesh tone for his designs and can change the texture of his designs at will. In his portrait of Michelle Pfeiffer as Cat Woman, he has managed to create light reflecting off the latex helmet in an amazingly accurate way and his shading creates shadows and depth which makes the tattoo seem lifelike.



Another impressive design is the portrait of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator. This incredible work has captured the piercing stare of Arnold’s character perfectly, and is a more realistic representation of the man than many portraits seen on canvas and paper. The tone, shading, and detail of this piece is jaw dropping and the wearer has no doubt been stopped on many occasions by passersby wishing to get a closer look.

Nikko’s softer side can be seen in a beautiful portrait of a baby girl with heart melting blue eyes. The tender representation of the girls smiling face and adorable hat is a wonderful memento which the client must have been more than thrilled with.

As well as regularly performing tattoos Nikko has released his own instructional DVDs, including "Tattooing Portraits with Nikko Hurtado" that offers an insight into his techniques and methods. The DVD features a step by step process to help aspiring artists to improve their skills in color portraiture work and is beneficial even to seasoned artists who wish to explore other techniques. Currently living in High Desert, California, with his wife Joanne, daughter Lucy and newborn son Nicolas, he continues to give popular seminars on color portraits and has had numerous appearances as a guest artist on reality shows LA Ink, and Tattoo Wars.


Nikko’s talent has seen him win many coveted awards and has led to his designs being published in a number of industry magazines. He is also a regular on the tattoo convention circuit and anyone who wishes to own their very own Nikko Hurtado portrait can request an appointment through his website or drop into his studio "Black Anchor Collective", which is currently located Hesperia, California. While many artists prefer to work in black and gray when doing portraits to preserve the realism, Nikko is able to create picture perfect designs in a wide variety of colors and hues. With the opening of his very own studio and gallery just around the corner, it remains to be seen just what the future holds for this incredible young artist and just how far he can push the boundaries of the tattoo industry.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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