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Leonardo Popp aka Puppet of Primal Instinct Tattoo


Leonardo Popp aka Puppet of Primal Instinct Tattoo

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Photo Credit: Danny Vivian Photography | http://www.dvivianphoto.com/

This week’s Artist Spotlight is with Leonardo “Puppet” Popp of Primal Instinct Tattoo in Victoria, TX. We first met Puppet at the Asheville Tattoo Fest due to a recommendation of our friend and tattoo collector Jesse “Mule” Hembree.  After spending just a few minutes talking with Puppet you knew Jesse was right. Puppet’s work is amazing on and off the skin. He has about 31 awards to his name to date.

“The biggest reward is seeing my clients happy with their artwork.There isn’t an award at any show that can top that.” ~ Puppet

We had the pleasure of catching up with Puppet between conventions and client appointments.

We know you have been tattooing for a little over 2 decades; did you always want to be a tattoo artist?

I was introduced to tattooing early on, my mother’s side of the family were tattooed and well I was drawn to it fast, and I always saw myself doing something with art or within tattooing.

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Being around what we like to call the “tattoo family” for so long have you ever thought tattoos would be so popular as a form of art and self expression?

That is a tough question… with TV rocketing tattooing to the foreground it’s impossible for it not to be popular, but some take the time to make it a memory or a meaningful part of life for them, but let’s remember there is nothing wrong with getting a goofy tattoo just to get a goofy tattoo…. it’s all a life experience.

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How old were you when you got your first tattoo? What was it? Any story behind it?

My 1st tattoo I believe I was 13 years old… it was a little dragon I tattooed on myself with a homemade rig on my ankle… which my dad kicked my ass for… the tattoo meant nothing to me other than me just giving tattooing a go.

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You did a formal apprenticeship at Flash’s Tattoo Studio and Body Piercing; How do you feel apprenticeships have changed over the years? For the better or worse?

Yes… Flash’s Tattoo is where I got my start…. I worked my ass to the bone. As far as today’s apprenticeships go I am on the fence about this… I think it is way too easy for someone to get into the tattoo world and they don’t or I should say don’t respect the process it takes or the work all those who came before them did to get where they are.

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What artist(s) have influenced you and your work over the years?

Artist that I love and draw from… this is going to be a long list.. Well Richard Steel, Mike Malone, Sailor Jerry, Bob Shaw, Chris Garver, Guy Aitchison, Nikko Hurtatdo, Aaron O’donnell, Tye Harris, Marshall Bennet, Zac Colbert, Bob Tyrrell, Scotty Munster, Timmy B., and so many more… the list could be never ending.


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You have an impressive tattoo portfolio, ranging in multiple styles. I personally enjoy your Star Wars tattoos; which style is your favorite? Any style(s) you try to stay away from?

I must say the style I enjoy the most is my personal blend of neo traditional meets realistic… it’s a form I use often when a client allows me to create their artwork for them, and they give me free reign on the piece. It really shows thru when I do Star Wars pieces or anything in that range. I would have to say I try and stay away from tribal pieces… it’s just not for me… I can do it, but I feel I don’t do it to 100% and that is not the way I want my tattoos to be presented…

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What was one the craziest tattoo or idea a client brought you?

I would say one of the most outrageous tattoos I have encountered in my years of tattooing has been the Butterfly… let me explain… the butterfly’s body was a woman’s outer lips of her vagina, and the wings were built on the sides of each with them wrapping upward towards her inner thighs, and the small lower curve of the bottom part of the wings wrapped inside of her vagina itself. Totally not what you see everyday.

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If you could be tattooed by any artist who would it be and what would you get?

Again…. another hard question… Bob Tyrrell… anything he wanted… Timmy B… anything he wanted… Nikko… again his choice…. haha too many to list.

Do you attend any tattoo shows or conventions? If so which are you planning to attend?

I attend about 10 to 14 shows a year…. to wrap up this year I have Steel City in September, Oklahoma in October, and a few more that I still have to route for, or I guess I should say put in stone.

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What is your best or craziest convention story?

Hahahah…. well let’s just say “Painted Horses”

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Pushing my art… in not just tattooing but in all aspects… I will be showing new art at all upcoming shows as well as pushing myself to take on new clients who allow me to express myself even further in tattooing.

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Best way for someone to book an appointment with you?

Email me directly at tattooistpuppet@gmail.com for both conventions and studio time… also give me a follow on Instagram: tattooist_puppet or Facebook: tattooistpuppet.popp

Make sure to keep Leonardo “Puppet” Popp on your short list when planning your next tattoo and make sure to stop by his booth to see his one of a kind artwork.

~ ☠  AnoTat2 
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