Born on the Fourth of July, Javier Rivera


I&D Americana Specialist Javier Rivera

Javier Rivera is a man of few words, but those are words you can hang your hat on.  Brief in speech  and deep in integrity, Rivera makes tattoos as honest and simple as his personality—and they are built to last. Rivera is known for his bold and dark neo traditional designs, has a sublime sense of taste and flow with script lettering, and is beloved in Atlanta and across the country for his very straightforward, very distinctive style.

Rivera is of Puerto Rican descent, born and mostly raised in Delaware with a ton of moving around in between. He spent a lot of time drawing with family members as a child, and hardly remembers a time where art wasn’t a big part of his life.  Tattoos, however, were a different story.  We got him to open up a bit for our readers and share a bit of his journey and artistic philosophy.

First things first, what was your first exposure to art?
I can’t even tell you my first exposure to art. I’ve been surrounded by it, in some fashion, since I was born. One of my aunts was very artistic, always drawing, and my older brother used to always draw too. He would always duplicate comic book covers and posters that he would like. I remember stealing some of his drawings just to show them off to my elementary school friends.

What attracted you to tattoo?
I suppose the first time I actually thought about tattooing was when I got my first tattoo at the age of 18. My family consists of traditional Puerto Ricans, so none of them really had tattoos. I don’t really have that ‘My grandpa had old Navy tattoos’ story. To be honest, I don’t really know why I started getting tattooed in the first place myself. I guess I just thought they were cool.  I went to art school for a year or two in Delaware and was big into graffiti in high school, but getting my first tattoo is what really made me think that I might be able to do it–and that it just might be the creative outlet for me–not to mention a really fun job.”

It is said that if you do what you enjoy, you never work a day in your life.  How did you to actually learn to tattoo?
“I was in automotive school I would help out with anything that required an artful hand –banner and flyers for events and such. One day I was drawing on my desk, a huge mural kind of thing, and it just so happened that the daughter of my instructor was working at this tattoo shop as a piercer. Unbeknownst to me, she took photos of my desk and took them to the guy who owned the shop she was working at–before I knew it he had me in the shop cleaning tubes.”

I heard you had a pretty lightweight apprenticeship, as far as actual guidance, and that your dissatisfaction with your skill level led you to seek information elsewhere.  What was that like?
“I have a lot of pride in the fact that everything I have and know about tattooing has been built with my own two hands and obsession. I remembering scouring magazines and books and even photos to see if I could find any labels or names on bottles of ink or boxes of needles from tattooers I admired just for a little hint. Learning on my own has also kept me extremely humble and open to new techniques, which I definitely appreciate.”

Who has influenced you the most along your way?
Oh man. The list is huge. First and for most, my brothers in arms Sean Rhodes of Honor and Iron in Lewes, DE, and Kris Dilworth of Tough Luck in Rehoboth/Dover, DE. Without them I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. They’ve really taught me a lot. I really like Seth Wood’s  work a lot, as well as Xam and Valarie Vargas–their designs are so thought out–relatively simple yet dynamic. I’ve been a follower of Mike Giant since high school; Ryan mason, Wendy Pham, Scott Silvia, Eckel, Matty Mooney, Nate Kostechko  Tim Hoyer, Tim Hendricks, everyone from Skull and Sword, Bart Bingham, Jasmine Wright, Jim Sylvia…I can go on forever…and I’m sure I’d still miss some. There’s always someone out there doing cool shit. Outside of tattooing, Mucha’s work influences me a lot, as well as old 1800s engravings and scientific illustrations.

How would you describe your style?
I guess it would be considered “Neo-Traditional” in the aspect that it’s traditionally based, but not traditionally ruled. I’m definitely more on the traditional side of things, but I don’t adhere to any strict rules. I use bold lines in conjunction with fine lines and a limited pallet, though wider than red, green and yellow. Coming from a illustration/animation background, there’s definitely some illustrative qualities and exaggerations. Kelly Doty once decried my style as being “occultish/alchemic”– I like that… and I think it’s pretty accurate. So…occultish-illustrative-traditional. I also do a lot of lettering, and line work “pen and ink” style tattooing.

And you’re loyal to the coil, correct? Why? What’s your daily driver? What’s the most unique machine you own?
I am loyal to the coil…not to say I don’t own a rotary or too. I have a couple tricks that only a rotary can accomplish. It’s always good to have an arsenal at your disposal. My daily drivers right now would be a Scott Sylvia set I have, as well as a Chris Quidgeon and definitely Seth Ciferri liners…But my Scott Sylvia’s are by far my favorite right now. They are super solid machines built to last. Highly recommended.  As far as uniqueness goes…I guess my most unique would be a Seth Ciferri shader. It’s from one of his “Easter basket” runs.
What influences your art the most?
Everything. From old advertisements to the natural patterns of wood–everything influences me. I find myself studying everything I look at to some degree, whether it is the application and brush strokes of a hand painted sign or the way smoke rolls off a lit cigarette on a still morning.”

What types of tattoos would you love to do more of?
I would definitely like to do more tattoos on a larger scale. I’m pretty fortunate to have some open clients as far as designing goes…but I would really like more of that. I really enjoy when people come in, and give me one or two ideas as far as subject matter and then let me do my thing. I think they get a better tattoo that way. I’m also in the process of composing a sketch book of sorts. Full of line drawings that I’m titling “Illustrations for the Epicurious”, so I’d like to do more of those once I get that ball rolling a little more.

How do you stay inspired? What makes you want to pursue art every morning when you wake up?
I stay inspired by seeing all the good work constantly being pumped out, by my co-workers at Ink & Dagger and otherwise. I don’t want to half-ass anything. I want to constantly try to be the best I can. There’s no point in watering down our craft with tattoos I’m not proud of. I love tattooing. So I gotta treat her right in any way I can.

That’s just beautiful Javi, how do people make an appointment for your delicious skin ornaments?
People can get a hold of me for appointments by emailing me directly at Jrivera.Inkanddagger@gmail.comor by calling Ink&Dagger directly at (404) 373-6655. Or they can go to the Ink&Dagger website and fill out a client form.

Tattooed Hearts–Janelle and Chris

“Something old, something new; something borrowed, something tattooed.”
Oct 14th, 2013 – Ink & Dagger friends and longtime clients Janelle Edison and Christopher Schmidt tied the tattooed knot last October at the Vinewood Plantation in Georgia.  A feeling of romance and timelessness breezed through the cool autumn air as the lovebirds made their commitments to each other under an old pecan tree in a casual (but chic) ceremony, surrounded by the love and support of their closest friends and family. 
We love them and their tattoos so much, we wanted to share a bit of their tattooed hearts with our readers.

How did you two meet?
We met in college in Denver, Colorado about 7 years ago. He had just gotten back from doing his culinary internship at Per Se in New York City and I had just started my freshman year of culinary school. One night, we both ended up a birthday party for someone neither of us knew. His tattoo was actually the conversation starter between us – Chris has a memorial piece for his father on his upper arm. It was a sweet story and I thought he was a total bad assAfter a few beers and a party trick gone horribly wrong (2nd degree burns, wrong), we exchanged numbers and the rest is history! 

How did family and friends react to your visible tattoos during the ceremony?
Covering them up never even crossed my mind. I actually chose my wedding dress based on how it accented my sleeve and back piece! As far as the family goes, we are lucky to have friends and family that are so non- judgmental and loving that the topic never even came up. I am the only one in my family with tattoos, so it was a little nerve racking being so exposed at first, but then I realized that they were all there to celebrate us on that day – which they did. Hard.  

What are your future plans?

Right after the wedding we packed our bags and headed home to sunny Denver, Colorado. We are so happy to have the mountains in our backyard again – so many activities! As for the future, we are working on our dream of opening our own restaurant here in Colorado and owning a home and raising a family in the mountains!
How are tattoos a part of your life?
Every tattoo has a story. They are daily reminders of important points in life, things we love and things that inspire us. I couldn’t imagine not having any work done; I am always thinking about my next piece!

What initially prompted you to get heavily tattooed? 
It was all about what Russ wanted to do with my idea. Size was never a concern of mine, so I just let him roll with it! I never actually thought about the size of my tattoos until Russ started my sleeve. He was like, “How does it feel to now be heavily tattooed female?” “Normal” was what I was thinking, not actually the fact that from now on, yes, sometimes you are going to get funny looks while at Target and no, not everyone is going to understand why you would do such a thing. But I find so much beauty in being comfortable in your own skin, that those things haven’t really affected me!

Do you and your husband share matching tattoos or tattooed stories?

Russ offered to do a ball and chain with our wedding date around Chris’ ankle  that one is still under discussionWe don’t have any matching tattoos…yet. We tend to like the same style though, so we stick to the same artists, like Russ, whose talent continues to amaze us!

June Guest Artists!

Pat Bennett

June is a wonderful time to visit Ink&Dagger Tattoo Parlour.  In addition to our amazing line up of all-star tattooists, we are honored to present to the greater Atlanta area some of the finest artists we know from around the country.

Travis Litke

Contact the shop to get information to book with the fabulous artists joining us this month 404.373.6655 (unless otherwise noted).

Tattoo by Pat Bennett
Tattoo by Pat Bennett
Tattoo by Pat Bennett
Tattoo by Travis Litke
Tattoo by Travis Litke
Tattoo by Travis Litke

If you’re visiting Ink&Dagger in the month of June and want to find some thing fun while you’re in the Atlanta area we suggest you check out The Creative Loafer website–or just ask ol’ Uncle Russ for a live banjo performance (We’re sure he’d be happy to oblige).

Ink & Dagger Does Hell City–Proper.

  “Qui si convien lasciare ogne sospetto;ogne viltà convien che qui sia morta.”Dante’s Inferno, Canto III, lines 14-15Loosely translated as
“Here one must leave behind all hesitation;here every cowardice must meet its death.”

Tattoo by Javier Rivera 
The Ink & Dagger crew faced their fears of leaving Atlanta to journey into the unknown(kind of, they do it every year).  They found themselves in a dark wood (Columbus, Ohio) (not nearly as dark as it was a gorgeous weekend and a tidy town) and entered the gates of Hell City.  While not nearly as dark or as hellishly warm as the name would suggest, and by invitation only, the place kind of looked cool (especially with all of the Suicide Girlsdecorating the halls and stage).  And they were not at all alone– they found that all of their friends were already there. It was in fact, not very bad at all–it was quite the opposite.  It was a devilishly good time.
Ink&Dagger was pleased, as always, to be a guest last weekend at The Hell City Tattoo Festival , and a first-class time was had by all.  Russ Abbott, Javier Rivera, Kelly Doty, and shop manager Keith Laguna drove up to “Killumbus” Ohio  to represent the Ink&Dagger booth at one of the greatest tattoo shows in the country run by longtime friend Durb Morrison.  The weekend was chock full of jaw dropping tattoos, good times with friends, learning, and teaching — sometimes consecutively, sometimes concurrent, most times a dash of each ingredient shaken and stirred.  
I&D Client Adam Petrillo–winning with the Suicide Girls
TimmyB and Kelly Doty sitting in a tree
Tattoo by Kelly Doty
The Ink & Dagger booth was a rockin’ all weekend long  with death defying acts of tattoo, blood, and friendship. Javier Rivera stayed neck deep in tattoos with his traditionally inspired flash he had available on a first come, first tattooed biases. They were joined by “Best Ink” contender and Kelly’s road trip buddy Teresa Sharpe who made a very spooky broken doll on her client’s neck.   Timmy B came by to collaborate with Kelly Doty on a goat head rising out of a bloody book booth-side on Saturday .   Russ Abbott was joined with long time friend Gunnar Gaylord to teach the ground-breaking Seminar “A Match Made In Hell” (complete details of this in the next blog), and even had client Adam Petrillo show up to take home the coveted 2nd Place Large Color trophy.   In a celebration of friendship and the macabre, there was plenty of blood.
Ink&Dagger was brave in the face of it all and even took a moment to party down with friends after hours There was a REALLY wine-laden discussion with Joe Capobianco (holy fuck what a nice conversation) and an afterhours, in room gathering  (sorry, to preserve the innocence that debauchery will be picture free).
Tattoo by Russ Abbott
The  team continued to party the Hell out of Columbus by doing a guest spot at Durb Morison’s Red Tree Gallery the days after the event.  
Javier Rivera
Don’t worry, they all made it home safe and while they were unscathed, they were definitely affected and recharged. 

Tattoo by Javier Rivera

Tattoo by Javier Rivera

Tattoo by Javier Rivera
Tattoo by Teresa Sharpe
Teresa Sharpe tattooing 
Joe Capobianco taking a moment withI&D booth buddy Teresa Sharpe

Timmy B collaboration with Kelly Doty
Kelly Doty’s party pics! xoxo

Collaborative tattoo by Kelly Doty and Timmy B
Rob Petillo’s award winning Russ Abbott Tattoo
Tattoo by Russ Abbott