DJ Tambe of Bad Apple Tattoo in Las Vegas, NV
This weeks Artist Spotlight is on DJ Tambe of Bad Apple Tattoo located in Las Vegas, NV. You may remember DJ from Season 2 of Best Ink where he was runner up after Teresa Sharpe took the title of Best Ink. You can see DJ tattooing in NV or at one of the numerous tattoo conventions and expos around the country. We caught up with DJ between clients and traveling for a one on one interview.
AnoTat2: When did you start tattooing? How did you get started?
DJ: I started tattooing at the age of 14 unprofessionally, doing hand poked tattoos on myself and friends for extra money or whatever they wanted to trade for tattoos. At that point I didn’t care I just wanted to tattoo. I stole a bottle of Indian ink from art class, a needle from a sewing kit and started poking away.
DJ: Since a young age I was always interested in body art. I’ve been drawing since I can remember and always wanted to pursue an artistic career. I’ve experimented in pretty much every medium of art. From painting to sculpting, cartoons to photo realism. Now days I paint a lot with acrylic.
AnoTat2: How old were you when you got your first tattoo? What was it? Any story behind it?
DJ: I think I was about 15 when I got my first professional tattoo. Well, first tattoo with a professional machine. I traded a guy some flash art I drew for the tattoo. It was done in some house in the hood of Rochester, New York. I can’t remember if I was scared to get the tattoo, or scared of the boa constrictor wrapped around his neck while he tattooed me.
AnoTat2: Did you have a formal apprenticeship? If yes who with?
DJ: I definitely didn’t have a formal apprenticeship. I was taught to do everything wrong by the owner of the first shop that I worked at. There was one point that he had me reaching into the bio bin to unsauder all the used needles, so he could reuse the needle bars. I was taught never to use the autoclave with needles, machines didn’t need a capacitor and all sorts of other silly shit. So I call it a reverse apprenticeship. Plus my first day of tattooing, I had more skills than the owner.
AnoTat2: How would you classify your style of tattooing?
DJ: I guess my style you could say is an illustrated form of realism. I’ll pretty much do any style but if I has a choice I’d say illustrated, cartoony, realism.
DJ: I was stoked when I got picked for Best Ink, because I knew it would do more good than bad for my career. I just wanted to gain huge exposure and figured this would be the fastest way to get it.
AnoTat2: From the very first episode my money was on you or Teresa to win. You both always had great work and stayed very consistent throughout the competition. Did you ever have any doubts in your mind that you would make it to the end? Anytime during the season you thought your time on Best Ink was up?
DJ: I was very confident throughout the season, and knew I would make it to the end. It was me and Theresa battling it out the whole time. I really thought I had the win, once Theresa has a mispelling in her tattoo, was in the bottom and I never was. I’ll admit I didn’t do my best work, but did do everything the judges asked for. Maybe they should have used a point system to choose the winner.
AnoTat2: A few times during the show you talked about your past addiction, which we applaud you on overcoming it and becoming an amazing artist. Do you feel that art help drive you to beat your addiction?
DJ: My family played the biggest part in me beating my addiction, but the art did as well. It has been crazy seeing what I’m capable of doing with a clear head.
AnoTat2: What artists have influenced you in your work?
DJ: I’m influenced by so many artist, a lot of whom are my friends.
DJ: I’m not into doing cover ups or tribal. I’ve done so many over the years that I’m just over doing any of that anymore.
AnoTat2: How has appearing on TV helped you career? If asked to do another show would you?
DJ: Appearing on TV has greatly helped my career. After tattooing for so many years, I just wanted that instant gratification. I wanted the world to see my abilities in both tattooing and art. I was asked to do another show but turned it down, because being away from my family that long was really hard to do. A lot of TV shows are frowned upon in my industry. I think we need good tattooers to be on these shows to educate the public as much as possible. These television shows are getting more and more popular, and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
DJ: I attend a lot of conventions and there’s always something I love about each one. Excited to do both of the Hell City shows this year. My favorite so far was probably the Virginia beach show. I won a bunch of awards and got to hang out with a lot of friends that I don’t get to see that often.
AnoTat2: With tattoo shops popping up on every corner in America, how do you keep up with the competition?
DJ: Its hard now a days to keep up with the competition. So many young artists that haven’t been tattooing very long are killing it. I just try to stay consistent. Keeping my art and tattoos constantly changing on social media. I just do me and hope to keep growing as an artist.
AnoTat2: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
DJ: I think the future looks pretty bright. I have lots of traveling lined up in the state and overseas. Working with some clothing companies and there’s always the thoughts of starting my own. I’m just staying positive because for me that’s where it all began.
Make sure to see more of DJ’s work on the photo gallery below.~ ☠ AnoTat2 ∴