Miguel Valentin is a 19-year veteran tattoo artist who started tattooing in 1998 on the east side of Harlem, NYC. After 4 years of specializing in dark skin art, Miguel ventured to the mecca of street shop tattooing of NYC, the west village. Ranging from back pieces to butterflies, he concentrated on being a versatile tattooer.
Capable of big bold color pieces, as well as realistic black and grey rendering, Miguel’s clientele grew, and his reputation for specializing in tattoo virgins became widely known.
In his words…
I love first timers. It gives me a chance to introduce a great and memorable experience of tattooing to people getting their first tattoo.
Even though it may be a small tattoo, the experience should be one they remember fondly forever. I keep a humble attitude and appreciate that they chose to share their first tattoo experience with me. You never forget who popped your tattoo cherry! Most of my bigger conceptual pieces have been done on clients who had me do their first tattoo.
After about 6 years tattooing in the “VILL” Miguel and his brother, Anthony (Saint Anthony), opened Immortal Ink in Queens, New York. With a strong clientele and the freedom to expand and experiment, they began taking on bigger projects and re-learning the art of tattooing.
Being an owner gave me a chance to go to more conventions and take seminars and art classes. Conventions allowed me to see what was out there, and once I saw what was out there I realized I needed to kick it up a notch. Being self-taught, I realized how much I needed to learn.
Anthony and I would work at the shop all day, and then take figure drawing/portrait classes at the college at night. Then we’d go home and draw, draw, draw. We set up easels in the shop, and whenever we had down time, we would draw, draw, draw.
Being able to collaborate with another artist opened my eyes to things I’d never seen. After a successful run of 4 years, in which time Miguel met his wife Alicia and subsequently had his daughter Evalise, the winds of change brought him and his family to Florida, where he joined the Cool Cat Tattoo Family.
Meeting Dan King through a mutual friend, we hit it off right from the start and I must say that I will always be grateful for the opportunity Danny gave me to tattoo next to him and chew his ear off with all my questions. As fate would have it, I found my way back north, this time New Jersey to work at Mario Barth’s Starlight Tattoo.
Being at Starlight and working with so many great artists, like SerVicious, Tut Massad, and Icee Lopez, my color palate just exploded. Again, it was the collaborating with other artists that really helped and humbled me as a tattooer. At the same time this experience gave me confidence to try new styles.
Like most New Yorkers, I found my way back to Florida. I searched around a lot of shops, looking for the right “Vibe”. I knew I had to be in an environment where the Art is first and foremost. I needed a more experienced artist than myself to push me and my art.
Of course, I had heard of Stevie Moon, who hadn’t? After researching this artist who was taught by the great Julie Moon, who was doing full Japanese body suit, as well as portraiture and delicate, detailed floral color work, I went to interview
From the moment I walked in to his studio, I knew the “Vibe” was right. He scrutinized my portfolio with a watchmaker’s eye, gave a few constructive critiques, then offered me a three-day trial period so he could get to know me. Looking around the studio and getting a confirming smile from the Ganesh statue above his head, I said “hell yes!”
I spent that day and the following two days watching his interaction with his clients and learning techniques of tattooing that explained why this man has a four month waiting list. It’s now been a year that I have been privileged to work alongside this man I now call brother.
Each day at the studio is a growing experience in the art and spirituality of the craft of tattooing. Never in all my experience have I met someone who honors this way of life like Stevie. It is a joy to work with someone who constantly pushes the envelope, never settling for mediocre, and someone who is as crazy as me! I look forward to a lifelong friendship and successful career as a family member of the Stevie Moon Tattoo studio.