Carlos Torres: black & grey tattoo master

The owner of Timeline Gallery in San Pedro, CA, Carlos Torres, has been tattooing for about fifteen years and is considered one of the best tattooers in the entire world. He is well known for his realistic black and grey tattoos, as well as his oil paintings, and over the years he’s received many awards and recognition for his work. He’s even painted the banner for the Ink-N-Iron Tattoo Festival for the last several years. We were very happy to get to chat with him and find out what he’s been up to.

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B: We’re here with Carlos Torres from Timeline Gallery in California. Hi Carlos. What’s new?

C: Aw man, I’ve got a ton of different things going on. Always tattooing and always painting and that’s enough to keep me busy.

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B: Cool. So, you’re painting, you own your own place and you’re tattooing. Do you find that hard to juggle?

C: Yea. I like to balance stuff out, though. For me it’s important to, and I just started this about a year ago, but I’m taking like every other Saturday off and it’s good for me to just sit back and refresh ideas. I can sit at home and paint more, I can spend the day painting.

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B: Reintroduce yourself to your lady.

C: Yes, she’s great. I’m thankful I’ve got a good woman. She’s real patient and she’s always happy and proud. She helps me out a lot so, yea. It’s important to have that.

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B: What other things do you do to manage your time?

C: Man, you know what? Some people are going to be bummed at me but I’ve been kind of cutting back on any of the drinking and partying and I actually joined a CrossFit.

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B: Good man! That’s good!

C: Actually, because of Stefano I joined CrossFit and he was bragging about how awesome it is so I joined one of those and it’s been good. I wake up early, do the class, I feel good all day long and it’s positive. No more days nursing a hangover or anything like that. Leave that to the really young guys. After a while you just kind of get tired of that stuff. Everyone wants to think that you’re partying all the time but when you work that much you can’t have a hangover everyday. It’s just good though, too, it keeps me at home. I live right on top of bars and restaurants right here, and so it keeps me up here because I know if I go down there I’ll be eating and drinking and in the morning there will be hell to pay. So it’s been pretty cool. I actually cut out a little bit of traveling. Bought into the company, Inkeeze. A little self promotion. Sorry.

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B: Tell us a little bit about that.

C: Well, I’ve been been using the product for a couple of years and I asked about being sponsored and I just kind of asked like, “Well, what’s it take to buy a piece of the company?” But it’s a good product and I’ve been using it for years and I figure why not promote something that I truly believe in. –

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B: So, for those that don’t know, what exactly is the product?

C: Well, Inkeeze started off as a numbing agent, which we’re actually taking that back to the drawing board. We have a product called Green Glide, which is just like an everyday tattoo ointment that we tattoo with and it also can be used as a healing cream. We have a couple of healing creams, some sunblock and a lotion. And we also have some products that are for tattooers, which is what I really wanted to be behind. A lot of people know I travel a lot so we’re really working on a line of travel-friendly products. We have the Bio-gel that you pour in the water and it solidifies the water. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that.

B: I think I have seen something like it. I’ve seen it…they use it in rinse cups and you can dump it in and you don’t have to put a disgusting cup full of rinse in the trash. It turns into a solid, almost. 

C: Exactly, yea. When they first gave me that product I was just like oh that’s genius. Perfect for travelling tattoo artists and that’s one of the products that I really want to push. I still geek out on seeing the water turn to this solid. 

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B: So, you’ve got a seminar that you teach. Do you enjoy teaching?

C: Yea. I always said before the tattooing thing came along that I wanted to be an art teacher. So, I guess this is somewhere along that line.

B: You’re just a tattoo art teacher. That’s cool. 

C: I was told a long time ago by somebody that the worst thing you can do is not teach someone something you know. And I always kind of took that to heart and I always thought that that’s kind of my calling, to teach. And then the tattoo thing happened and now I can be teaching.Screen shot 2016-01-04 at 5.08.52 PM

B: That’s great. That’s really awesome. Who did you apprentice with? Or did you have a regular apprenticeship?

C: I didn’t have a regular apprenticeship. I worked at a couple different shops. I was like self taught. Then I got in with Terri Morgan and Tom Berg down at So Cal Tattoo, and this was probably about a year into tattooing, and so I did a lot of learning there. I guess it wouldn’t be a formal apprenticeship but it was a lot of learning, a working artist apprenticeship, I guess.

B: Do you think an apprenticeship is important? 

C: Yes, yes. I always say that I think tattooing-wise I would be way further in my career if I didn’t have to just go learn on my own. I think so.

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B:  Where did you learn to paint?

C: Um…the Shawn Barber dvd. I did the dvd and then once I did that and I started to get familiar with it then I took a seminar with him and then just took a few workshops with the guys out here, like Kevin Llewellyn, Shawn Cheetham, and Michael Hussar. I’m real fortunate to be here in L.A.

B: Yea, you’re really lucky to have those resources out there. You’ve got some major painters. Alright, man, I appreciate you talking with me. This has been great.

C: Yea, likewise, man. Anytime you guys want to say hello.

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Website HERE. Carlos Torres owns and works at Timeline Gallery in San Pedro, CA and travels to various tattoo conventions around the world, including the upcoming Venetian Tattoo Gathering in April 2016 and the Rome Tattoo Convention in May 2016.

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INTERVIEW by Ben Licata and transcribed byKellsey Mull, both from Off the Map Tattoo ! [divider]

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