A few years after a wonderful interview in Tattoo Life magazine, we got back to Arlo Dicristina, to find out if and how things have changed since then.
We found an artist who has grown, always up for new challenges, but also a mature person who is satisfied with what he has achieved, and with lots of important new projects to tell us about.
It was a real pleasure to talk with him about tattoo, technique and inks, about his shop, but also – and above all – about life. If you want to find out more, keep on reading!
Hi Arlo, it’s a pleasure to talk to you again two years after that interview we did for Tattoo Life. Could you introduce yourself to any of our readers (if there are any!) who don’t know you, and also tell us what’s new since we last spoke: how has your style evolved and what important changes have you made in the meantime?
Hey! My name is Arlo Dicristina, or better known on as @ArloTattoos social media. I’m the owner of Elysium Studios in Grand Junction, Colorado and specialize in surrealism and face morphs.
Let’s get down to your tattoos straight away: how would you describe them and what in your opinion are the parameters that define a good tattoo?
As an artist, I am always trying to evolve my style and try new things, since my last interview with Tattoo Life Magazine, I have switched up my style a bit. My most recent artistic venture has been creating my own references by playing around with 3D sculpting in the program ZBrush. Once I learned how to digitally sculpt, I would bring my model into KeyShot for rendering, lighting, and then finally bring it into Photoshop to add some final components. It has been a whole new process and challenge.
On the personal front, I recently married my dream girl Ryan Ashley, a fellow respected tattoo artist in the industry, and am stoked to announce we have a little boy on the way. I have also recently perused more business ventures and bought my dream building in Grand Junction – a historical church with beautiful architecture where I plan on hosting art based seminars and other events for the community.
Ideally, I would love to eventually shift our tattoo studio into the facility, but we have to go through hoops with the city first, so taking a swing at politics as well!
Your realistic work is utterly faultless: what artistic training have you had?
Thank you I really appreciate that! I wouldn’t say my work is utterly flawless. There are always a ton of areas where I feel I can improve on. When you stare at a piece for 20 hours you are always going to be your biggest critic. All of my artistic training has come from hours and hours of practice and simply trial and error. I’m learning constantly, whether it’s from artists that I work with at Elysium or scrolling through Instagram. I am always trying to acquire new knowledge and techniques.
From a technical point of view what are the tools you prefer to use and how did you come to choose World Famous inks?
The tools and equipment you use as an artist are very important. Everyone has their own tools they prefer, but what I have found works best for me is the FK Irons Xion Tattoo Machine and for ink I use World Famous Ink.
Would you say that the choice of ink can change the final outcome of a piece?
Yes, I would 100% say the ink you use affects the final outcome of the piece and overall longevity. Never go with just the cheapest or most convenient ink! Do your research and find what pigments and brand works best for you and heals up the best!
How do you manage to find the right balance between the power of black and the touches of colour which characterise your work?
Again, I would have to chalk that one up as trial and error. It is very difficult to find balance and it is something that I still have to work on today – although it has became a lot easier through time.
Let’s talk about the subjects you choose: would you like to explain the concept of face-morph and tell us how you plan the pieces you do together with your clients?
Usually my clients will throw me a few rough general ideas for subject matter and then they just let me do my thing! I am always appreciative of how much trust they put in me and allow me to really make the piece my own. I do face morphs because it is just something I have always innately been drawn to. A face really derives so much emotion, so then when you add another piece of subject matter to it symbiotically I feel it creates an entire story, which is subjective to every person.
Would you like to tell us a little about Elysium tattoo studio and the city you live in?
Elysium was originally just going to be a little private studio, but slowly over the years it has attracted more and more amazing artists from around the country. Our artists fall in love with this little mountain town in the middle of nowhere Colorado, and the shop has developed a family atmosphere. I’m sure I’m biased, but I feel we have one of the coolest social dynamics of any studio I have ever been to and really love where everything is going! We recently bought an old historic church, which is one of the coolest architectural buildings on one of the nicest streets in town.
Eventually, planning on moving the studio over to that location and doing much more with it, but like many things it’s going to take a little bit of work with the city to make that happen given its location. The town of Grand Junction is great location that is close to so many cool mountain towns and is within two hours of Moab Arches National Park, and four hours to Denver or Salt Lake City. On one side of the town there is high-desert Grand Canyon-style mountains and on the other side is the exact opposite terrain – The Grand Mesa, which is the largest flat top mountain in the world, full of lush green forests and over 1,000 lakes. The Colorado and Gunnison River also flow right through town and you can go tubing, paddle boarding, kayaking, or fishing. We really do have everything here besides an ocean LOL. It’s a really special place to be at a really awesome moment in time.
Who inspires you in life and your job?
That is a tough question. There are a lot of people I am inspired by in both life and career. It is very difficult to narrow it down to just a few because I am constantly being inspired by different people for new and different reasons.
But, I suppose there is one person I could put down that would be an inspiration to me for both those categories, Ryan Ashley.
I thought I was an extremely driven individual and considered myself pretty well rounded, but she is 7 months pregnant and is still tattooing 12-hour days, cooking, and even makes it to the gym. I am fortunate enough to have this person around me all of the time, which continuously pushes me harder in both my tattooing career with her honest critiques of my work and in life from her optimistic outlook and drive. I also can’t leave out Elon Musk who through my eyes is one of the greatest humans that has ever existed, through his contributions to society and technological advancements.
What kind of music do you listen to? What do you read? What do you do in your spare time?
I listen to all sorts of music, like anyone in this day and age typically does, but if I had to pick one genre of music I would have to say 90s alternative. As far as reading goes, I have never been much of a reader and have always had a tough time comprehending the words I read. So, I typically watch documentaries, TED Talks, or listen to audio books. I love hearing about new innovations, discoveries, or advancements in anything science-related. In my spare time outside of anything art related, which has been scarce lately, I enjoy going to the gym whether its jiu jitsu, lifting weight or MMA, I love anything outdoors, and smoking weed, chilling on the couch with my wife and big cuddly dog, Sikes.
What is your biggest dream and what are your projects for the future?
I could go on about this question for hours. I have so many ambitions and dreams for the future! Although, at this moment in my life I feel that I have obtained my biggest hope and dream which is companionship. I’m sure to some extent that is what most people’s ambitions are driven towards, someone to share this magical journey with, whether its friends, family, or a significant other. My focuses are currently on creating a home and enjoying the people around me.
But I suppose the next biggest hope and dream that I would like to achieve during my time here would be to contribute something positive to the human species.
I would like to leave this place feeling I contributed to propelling us in a direction where the upcoming generations will be able to unlock more of the mysteries of this reality. As far as projects go, I have the Church of Elysium, which is a cool old church I brought here in Grand Junction. I am planning on converting it into an education center, a place to host art events, and hopefully after working with the city on it, I will be able to move Elysium Studios into that facility as well.