Albert Reyes was in the midst of a right bicep tattoo at Colt’s Timeless Tattoos when I asked to interview him last Tuesday evening. Albert initially struck me as intimidating, but after a few moments of conversation, I came to realize he was a welcoming and veteran artist. Between the buzzing of his gun and the calm, yet pained breathing of his client, we discussed everything from his journey as an artist to a ink session summing up to 20 hours.
Reyes grew up around tattoos. His older brother did them in their home and when the opportunity arose, he took his brother’s mantle and began tattooing himself.
“My brother had to go away for some time, and people kept coming around looking for him,” he said. Reyes explained it was this cliental that pushed him to take over where his brother had left off. At 14, he figured out how to make a tattoo gun and began his craft. He never undertook a formal apprenticeship, but after years of personal practice it was evident he knew what he was doing.
His workspace is a clear reflection of his artistic inspiration and his own joyful personality. A shelf full of colorful, never-opened Dragon Ball figurines sit organized next to several paintings, ranging from a Day of the Dead skeleton to a playful child’s drawing. When I asked Reyes about his personal style, he responded without a moment's pause, “black and grey.” This style was what he spent most of his youth doing and, from what I could see, was also the style with which he donned himself. From his exposed sleeves and neck, Albert had decorated himself with large black and grey pieces that added to his character and gave off the notion that each one tells a different story.
While discussing favorite art styles, I discovered a new style that I had never heard of previously. He called it “Southern West Coast” style, or “Low Rider” style. He explained that he unfortunately does not get to do as much of it as he likes since most people come in looking for classic American style pieces.
This led to a brief tangent of Reyes explaining how the midwest is infamous for lacking much variation, namely Madison, in pieces that are not American traditional.
I then asked about the number of floral pieces and words like “serendipity” he has done. The question made him burst into laughter. I unfortunately forgot that one of those standard pieces was exactly what he was doing at the time, resulting in a funny interjection by the client. Between the buzzes of Reyes’ gun, the client hesitantly asked if her’s “was basic,” to which he chuckled and said “not very.”
Albert went on to explain that he used to have his own shop and, though being your own boss is awesome, the stress of maintaining a professional crew became too much for him to handle. He noted, he was too naive and did not realize how much it would take to run a successful parlor. I asked him what some of his wildest stories were.
The first one was about a client who was going to jail in three days and wanted an entire back piece done before he had to leave. After two days and twenty hours in the chair, Reyes completed the piece, and the client was pleased.
The second story was of an ink session that was interrupted and grew into a full-on brawl, but not with Reyes. A peer of the client was verbally harassing his client and the client took the altercation outside, resulting in a large fight in the middle of road. Unfortunately, Albert never finished the tattoo since the client ended up getting arrested. We both joked about the idea that it was probably finished in prison.
An impressive portfolio of Reyes’ work can be found on Colt’s website. If you are looking for a black and grey piece, I would recommend a sit down with this Madison local. His professional manner and years of experience will undoubtedly leave you with a positive experience and a piece of art you can be proud of.