Tat2x: How long have you been involved in the tattoo business?
Sierra Colt: I did my first tattoo back in 1993 during college. I just started dabbling with the tattoo idea and learning what I could from friends. I tattooed at a shop during the summer and focused on school during the winter.
Tat2X: What made you decide to become a tattoo artist?
Sierra Colt: I think it’s one of the classic old stories. I was the artist in our group of friends. Someone said that if I ever learned to tattoo that they would be my Guinea pig. So of course I had to try it out on them. I realized right away that it was an interesting and fun art. I think I was attracted to the personal connection between artist and client. You get a real sense of trust and faith in you. And of course you get the pressure to make it look good and the reward of accomplishment when it’s finished.
Tat2x: How did you learn the art of tattooing? Did you apprentice?
Sierra Colt: I had some old family friends in the business. They had a shop out in Buffalo, NY. I flew out to live there in the summers and work as an “apprentice.” I knew the basics already but not much. I basically showed up expecting to watch and learn and totally got thrown right in it. They showed me a booth to work in and told me to unpack quick because I was up next. So they pretty much made me tattoo within the first hour I was there. This shop had a crazy work flow. I think i did 4 tattoos the first day and it just kept going. “Fake it till I make it” they said.
Tat2x: Are there any artists tattoos or otherwise that you admire?
Sierra Colt: In this industry I admire so many people I would be painful to start listing names. With all the social media you can really get influenced and inspired immediately. Artists that strictly paint or sculpt are great inspirations as well.
Tat2x: Has any individual in particular influenced your career?
Sierra Colt: I feel like taking knowledge from as many people as I can has caused the most influence. Paying attention and absorbing work practices and artistic ideas has been a great knowledge base. Keeping open to innovative ideas and ways to do things is important. You can learn from master tattoo artists as well as apprentices.
Tat2x: What would you say is your favorite part of the job?
Sierra Colt: I enjoy coming in every day and creating. I’m surrounded by amazing artists and good friends. This environment is perfect for inspiration. Every studio has its own set of ideas and values. Almost a shop culture. We have a thought process towards art and comedic situations that only our personal shop can understand. An artist clubhouse of sorts.
Tat2x: How would you describe your style?
Sierra Colt: I’m heavily influenced by Japanese art as well as ornamental patterns and designs. I love the old Japanese stories as well as the Buddhist deities. I enjoy recreating old folk lore and tales into full coverage body art. I tend to tattoo in a neo-traditional style. Heavy black and good contrast but some elements of photo realism. My goal is to create depth and flow within each design with thoughts towards longevity. Large format such as sleeves and back pieces is my main focus. But I do some one single session pieces here and there.
Tat2x: What’s the most unusual request for a tattoo design you have ever had?
Sierra Colt: I think nothing is unusual or shocking these days. The crazier requests these days always get sent to the apprentice. I think shock value is gone “old news” for this industry.
Tat2x: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists tattoo or otherwise?
Sierra Colt: Pay attention to the art that is out there. Practice the things you like to see. Always use references for everything. If you’re trying to get with a tattoo shop then start hanging around and help out. See if you can sweep or clean up. That always goes a long way.
Tat2x: What kind of music do you like to listen to?
Sierra Colt: I’m all across the board. I can’t tattoo anything with screaming and such but on any given day you will hear anything from bluegrass to Baroness.
Tat2x: What are your favorite foods?
Sierra Colt: Interesting question. I guess if I’m away from San Diego all I crave is a California burrito. But when I’m here I’m definitely a foodie. We’re always trying all the new restaurants. My wife is a home chef of sorts so I definitely get spoiled with top off the line meals. I do have a taste for the finer flavors though.
Tat2x: What do you do to relax when you’re not at the studio?
Sierra Colt: I’m an oil painter but I seem to do that more at the studio then and home lately. Most of my spare time is spent with my family. I’m pretty much chasing my 3 year old. I may not be able to relax but it’s always fun.
Tat2x: Is there anything else we should know about you or your studio?
Sierra Colt: I built Bearcat Tattoo Gallery to create a comfortable and inspiring workspace. Each of my crew all paint as well as tattoo. We are all fine artists who love to tattoo. Our door is always open for new clients as well as art connoisseurs.
About San Diego Tattoo Artist Sierra Colt:
To see more of San Diego tattoo artist Sierra Colt’s incredible work you can visit BearCatTattoo.com or SierraColt.com. You can also follow him on Instagram @sierracolt or on Facebook.