Roman Abrego is a young artist who owns the shop Artistic Element in Yucaipa, California, specializing in color portraits and biomechanical designs. His work—especially his flair for color—has been described as exceptional and even genius by shop reviewers, and Abrego himself has a reputation as one of the nicest guys in the business.
Like so many other gifted artists, Abrego is a man with a story and a history of struggles, and he’s come out on the other side better for it. He explains:
“Ever since I was young I was interested in art. My maternal grandfather, Art Escamilla, was a painter. He would have all of his grandchildren paint at a very young age. I was really into art when I was young, but as I got older I started to get into trouble, eventually ending up in jail. I consider jail one of the major elements that got me back into art. I had a lot of free time to work on my artistic ability and that experience made me want to shape up my life and do something right.”
When you know what it is to lose your freedom, being able to do what you love every day seems that much more valuable, and perhaps it’s this sentiment that lends Abrego his positivity and creative energy. Rumors surfaced last year of the possibility of yet another tattoo reality TV show, with Abrego as one of the stars. The show, entitled “Tattoo Manor”, has not materialized yet, but we’ll be on the lookout.
Abrego’s portraits, while highly realistic, often have slightly exaggerated qualities about them or use potentially unrealistic colors to accentuate the character of the portrait.
His work really shines in portraits that he gets to run wild with color with, including this piece of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.
Abrego has also done a number of original portraits of figures inspired by the elaborate masks used in the Mexican Day of the Dead, creating striking figures of women with these faces. This is again playing to Abrego’s strengths, both in terms of incorporating vivid colors and in calling upon his Mexican heritage.
When Abrego uses unconventional colors to create a more impressionistic portrait, the color choices are consistently complimentary, cereating a palpable mood, as opposed to throwing in clashing colors on a whim. The result is a portrait that brings out a certain side of the subject, whethr it’s sultry, mysterious, or energetic.
Abrego’s ambitious use of color is evident in his biomechanical work, too, and he often uses colors outside of the fairly typical silvers and reds that adorn many designs. In essence, they’re not all simply metallic, instead taking a bit more artistic license.
In another example, Abrego melds biomechanical aspects with waves and splashing water, an unexpected juxtaposition given that electronics and water typically don’t mix. All bets are off in art, of course—but all the same, many artists don’t think outside the box.
Fans of color tattoos worldwide spread Abrego’s buzz on the Internet and in magazines, so it’s a sure bet that his profile is only going to continue rising. Look for him to continue working his own unique angle on tattoo designs in general, but especially in portraits and biomechanical designs.