Lea has been a professional painter and tattoo artist for the past 15 year and in 2011 appeared on Spike TV as a tattoo artist for the reality TV series, Ink Master.
Alyice: You’re a tattoo artist / Ink Master who also creates stunning paintings. . . what’s it like to transition from someone’s body part to a canvas?
Lea: I was drawing and painting long before I began to tattoo so the transition for me was from canvas to skin, and basically, the finished canvas became what was going to be transferred on skin so It just added one more step. . . a big one.
Skin is extremely hard to master. I’ve been tattooing since 1996. I am a professional and I am really good at what I do but I am still learning every day.
Even though painting was my original passion, tattooing became my trade as in the times we live now, a lot of people enjoy wearing their art on their skin more than on their walls and it seems that nowadays tattooing is becoming a trade where artists can finally get back to work in society the same way they used to be. . . before the invention of photography came and ruined the artist’s important place in society.
Alyice: When creating art on canvas or panels, you often switch between watercolors, acrylics, and oils. What’s it like creating in so many different mediums?
Lea: I have been learning, drawing and paintings since I was a little kid so even though I always need a little readjustment to remember techniques for each medium, they come back to me pretty quick.
It’s all about knowing the basis about how to use different products and what results you want to achieve.
I personally prefer using oil but when time is a factor, I opt for a water-based medium that dries faster like watercolor or acrylic. . . but with my style of painting I have to be disciplined no matter what medium I use.
Alyice: Which is your favorite medium to create with?
Lea: Oil painting is my favorite because I can work it and use layers of glaze that produce such beautiful results of rich color layers that I absolutely love.
Alyice: A lot of beginning artists start out with acrylics. What’s your favorite part about working with acrylics?
Lea: Acrylics dry fast therefore you can work at them without stopping for hours and it’s great, a lot of work can be done fast this way, plus nowadays a lot of medium, drying retarder, glosses, glazes are available with acrylics so you can get some results pretty close to oil painting. But for me oil is still my favorite.
Alyice: What do you wish you knew about becoming an artist before you got started?
Lea: I wished I would have learned the real classic techniques of oil paintings. . . I learned here and there and I feel like I still have to learn so much. I would also have loved to know more about the business side of being an artist; it would probably help me understand how and where to sell my paintings.
Alyice: What is your creative process like?
Lea: It depends on my project, but more often than others, I have a vision and I draw it directly on the canvas.
I do practice every day, as with tattooing, I have to draw every day all kinds of different themed designs. And yes, practice is important. It doesn’t make it perfect but it’s the only way to learn and succeed.
Also, sometimes, I like to do what I call “automatic painting” which is the painting version of the “surrealist” automatic writing, I just allow my pen to draw, without any thought or judgments, on the canvas and I just go from there. It’s really therapeutic.
Alyice: How has your style changed over the years?
Lea: I like to think that it evolved just as I did over the years, but I still have two main subject matters and style that stick with me: I like to paint classic dancers that represents fundamental life symbolisms, and I have another line of paintings that are more visionary or lowbrow.
Alyice: What do you believe is a key element in creating a good composition?
Lea: I love when my paintings, especially the ones of my dancers, look like they’re moving.