Adam Vu Noir was born and raised in Southern California. With thousands of miles accumulated to his name, living out of a backpack for the better part of 5 years, he now resides comfortably in his own home, in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park. It’s here where he spends as little time reflecting on his last decade breaking into tattooing with the obstacles that came with it, and instead looks ahead to the future.

Known for his surreal approach and nod to fineline tattooing, Adam is at the forefront of modern tattooing. Speaking to him within a few minutes, he is everything his art is, the highest highs and the lowest lows.

Adam Vu Noir, STRANGELOVE, Los Angeles
Adam Vu Noir, STRANGELOVE, Los Angeles

A look at his designs of obscured visions of facial beauty, mortality, lust, and longing, it’s no secret that all his artwork offers no answers but only outlook. At times sympathetic, tragic, and other times comedic. He was raised on the very 1960s TV show that he watched in syndication at his Grandmother’s house as a young child, the Twilight Zone. It feels almost at times when looking at his tattoos, we are viewing a still from one of the shows infamous episodes.

Receiving his initial start in the tattoo world in Rome, Italy, Adam travelled his first time across an ocean during the summer of 2008 which began his first mentorship learning the basics of tattooing under the guidance of Samez of Cherry Tattoo. Upon returning to California and beginning his official apprenticeship under the black and grey master, Jose Lopez of the world famous Lowrider Tattoo. Several years later, planting his roots in Los Angeles, Adam worked with the late graffiti legend and lettering tattoo specialist NORM for the next 4 years. It was then that he began the journey that would change his life.

In 2016, Adam had achieved the astounding goal of tattooing on all 7 continents (yes, Antarctica). For one long year, living from country to country for 1-3 months at a time, armed with a backpack, 3 tattoo machines, he put it all on the line. Tattooing to survive for a hot meal, warm bed, and the next plane ticket, the knowledge Adam accumulated along the way became priceless. Guest spotting at world-renowned studios that year such as Seven Doors Tattoo in London, LTW in Barcelona, Cotton’ Pickin’ in Akita, Japan. After giving his last dime to a travel agency specializing in last minute tickets from Ushuaia, Argentina to Antarctica, he boarded an expedition ship and within 3 days was walking on the 7th continent that so little people on this earth would ever see. Tattooing 7 dashes on his own hand and crew members of the vessel he had joined, it seemed like there was nowhere to go from here.

Adam Vu Noir, STRANGELOVE, Los Angeles
Adam Vu Noir, STRANGELOVE, Los Angeles

Returning to Los Angeles, Adam began his next venture, STRANGELOVE LA. STRANGELOVE began in the early 2017, first as a pop-up studio in Los Angeles, existing for only the duration of one month. Artists from around the world had travelled to the city to join together in a collective effort. In so many ways, it signaled a new area of tattooing. Young and hungry artists hailing from all corners of the world, bringing their visions and artwork to also a new generation of collectors and admirers to a city rich in tattoo history.This first incarnation was the joint effort of a core group of artists that Adam had met and worked with during his travels. For many, it was their first time coming to the USA. Some artists included but not limited to were Han Shinko, Luxiano Calderon, Johnny Gloom, Justin Olivier, Moisés Jimenéz, and Ignacio TTD. Customers had travelled from all parts of the country to come collect and meet the names they had only seen from behind a mobile screen.

Adam then abruptly left the USA again after the event, falling in love with the artistic life and freedom of Berlin, Germany. It was here that he let his mind run wild, developing such innovative tattoo concepts, such as the “Threesomes” tattoo machine. A refurbished slot machine allowing a client to pull its lever, spinning 3 designs. The unique combination then being illustrated and tattooed by Adam himself.

Living in Berlin from the summer of 2017 to early 2019, he returned home to Los Angeles in October 2018 for the second pop-up of STRANGELOVE. Again for the duration of one month, joined by many of the same artists from the previous year and a countless number also joining in, the reality of the success of each event was beginning to take form. It was then that he decided it was time to come home to Los Angeles permanently. Before once again making the jump home, he made the last minute decision to again hold a 3rd pop-up, this time in Berlin during the final days of his residency. STRANGELOVE BERLIN, a 4 day event that took place inside the walls of the famous contemporary Berlin tattoo studio, AKA. This event brought some of the familiar faces from the first two events, while now being joined by Europe’s finest. Teide, Rafa Decraneo, Marcelina Urbanska, Dirt Merchant, Ant the Elder, and the legendary Chris Conn to name a few. On display, a collection of artwork Adam created during his stay in Berlin.

Earlier this year, Adam returned home to Los Angeles. Joining forces with longtime friend and artist Nathan Kostechko, the two began the joint effort of building a new collaborative compound in the center of Echo Park, housing the undeniable talent of Los Angeles’ finest artists, the duo dubbed their new home, HEAVENS. The innovative space primed with stunning paintings married to striking murals of the classic, surreal, and abstract. Inside the walls of HEAVENS, the now permanent home of STRANGELOVE lives along with numerous specialty brands developed by each artist.

Adam Vu Noir, STRANGELOVE, Los Angeles
Adam Vu Noir, STRANGELOVE, Los Angeles

The resident artists and crew of STRANGELOVE consists of Thomas Eckeard, Han Shinko, Tanner Ramsey, Chris Conn and Adam himself. HEAVENS houses the whole STRANGELOVE team, along with independent working artists Justin Klegka, Frank Ball Jr., Ed Brescia, Marlon Toney, and Nathan Kostechko. The unique collective marries the common love of the past, present, and future of tattooing into one point of interest.

STRANGELOVE / HEAVENS October 2019, from left to right: Han Shinko, Dillon (Manager), Justin Klegka, Chris Conn, Adam Vu Noir, Nathan Kostechko, Rina (assistant), Thomas Eckeard, Frank Ball Jr
STRANGELOVE / HEAVENS October 2019, from left to right: Han Shinko, Dillon (Manager), Justin Klegka, Chris Conn, Adam Vu Noir, Nathan Kostechko, Rina (assistant), Thomas Eckeard, Frank Ball Jr.

As for what Adam has planned for the future, his undeniable ambition has given him the ability to build, destroy, and create. It will be a joy to see what comes next.

Follow Adam on Instagram: @adamvunoir
Text and photos by Marco Annunziata
Instagram: @marcoannunziatadotcom