David’s Portrait Bodysuit

With a lineup like the one here at at Tattoo Hollywood, there has been no shortage of tremendous tattoo work walking through the doors. One of the most impressive projects we’ve seen, however, belongs to David up there, who’s been steadily covering his entire body in portraiture over the last few years. Having been worked on exclusively by brothers Mikey (at Rubes Tattoo in Arcadia) and Tommy Montoya (at Inkslingers in Alhambra), the suit is as cohesive as one could hope for, even though the subject matter varies wildly from musicians to horror movie characters to comedians to inventors. When we were photographing him, some of his friends were making light fun of him for being a bit on the heavier side (“Make sure you get his nipples in there!”), but to hear David tell it, if he were smaller, he wouldn’t have room for all this excellent work. Hard to argue with that. Lots more, after the jump.

Photos by Phil Barbosa.

Tattoo Hollywood, BME’s first tattoo convention, is going on right now in Los Angeles from August 21-23, featuring contests, prizes and some of the best artists from around the world! Click here for more information.

74 thoughts on “David’s Portrait Bodysuit

  1. thats y i think portraits are awesome but tbh how can that even be made into a body suit

    bio mecha-japanese even shity tribel can be made into a body suit or large peices of work portairts are indivual thigns that should stay on paper plus its just copied from photo graphahs etc

  2. body suit, here, = one theme, majority of body. and your view on portraits is flawed… puting a ‘copy of a photograph’ on someone’s skin takes TREMENDOUS skill if you expect it to be recognizeable, or, in this case, very pleasing to look at. to do it on paper is one thing… to do it on skin (no eraser) is quite another. this is good.

  3. @ 5- I agree completely. I work almost exclusively with 2d materials- pencils, pens, and the like. I am very good at realism, and portraits are the most difficult work to do. I challenge myself fairly frequently by just using pen when doing portrait work, and it is incredible challenge. To just denounce it by saying just copied from photos is completely misunderstanding the complexity of the human face and form.

    And I think that being this committed with subject matter is impressive. No matter what it is, it will look cohesive

  4. I absolutely love the work, it’s well done. It takes a talented artist to create a recognizable portrait, and this guy is working with some brilliant people. Seriously, does anyone else think the poker playing dogs just make perfect sense?

  5. iam not saying how hard it is 2 put it on skin

    bio mecha-create from ur own mind -japanese-create from ur own mind

    portraits just copied from photos etc etc etc

    if i went to a guy who does portraits and i said iwant a white kid with freckles and glasses could he create a RANDOM person out of his mind?

  6. there is so much amazing work in this, i can barely focus on any one thing, though i do adore the Hannibal portrait.

    this is just such an impressive collection of work, so beautiful and well-executed – i can’t stop staring!

  7. Anyone who says portraits are just copying from photograph has obviously never tried it themselves. Give it a whirl and see if you can keep your Aunt Tilly from looking like Jabba the Hut.

  8. cheech on a cheek. hahaha

    i love the man boob. it would be remiss if i didn’t point it out. about a b cup maybe?

  9. His work is just phenomenal in person. There’s so much to look at and try to take in. There will definitely be more photos of David once I upload my convention shots and Phil posts them to BME.

  10. #13: Japanese especially is usually just about playing with old used forms, symbols etc. like lotus flowers and dragons. And also most artist who do japanese or even bio-mech use flash/reference models when designing the tattoo, so how does that differ from using a photo for a portrait tattoo? So I wouldn’t call a japanese tattoo a completely new piece of imagination. But then again can anyone ever thing of anything entirely new that isn’t influenced by something they have seen or experienced?
    And if you went to a tattoo artist and said that you wanted a white kid with glasses and freckles, depending on the skill of the artist, he would maybe try to find a reference photo, or just draw the kid. The kid obviously might have something like the nose of a friend of his, or a similar face structure to the client or something, but the overall mixture would create a random freckled kid with glasses.

    I love this project. There are some quality differences between some of the portraits (maybe because of the two tattoo artists?), but overall it all looks good. He must have some really good ones saved for his arms, as it looks like he’s going to continue with them next.

  11. body suit is considered covering the body and why is this guy not in guiness world record for have the most portraits tattooed on his body , plus its a awesome hes going with one paticular all black and grey , all portriats , it soon will be a complete body cover i didnt see madonna or micheal jackson or elvis

  12. yeah dude, gynecomastia is hysterical and in no way an unavoidable genetic/ hormonal issue!

  13. 35 – Seconded.

    Its amusing and sad that this community can accept radical surgical procedures and off the wall fetishes and sex acts, but a guy gets mocked because he’s got “man boobs”. I’ve got ‘em, and I’m not ashamed of them. They’re something i’d like to not have, but they’re hardly hilarious and I don’t see how they could or should make one queasy, lol.

    Really interesting array of portrait work. Keep us posted with what goes on the arms!


  14. I’ve always wanted to know what a body suit of portaits would look like, and now I know, badass!

  15. @ dean- if you’re going to dissent, and not have a valid point, (an entire body of congruent theme IS a bodysuit, tattoo portraiture is 100% unforgiving, and even amazing artists use an astounding amount of reference for tattoos) at the very least make your invalid point clear by using complete words…

  16. as an art student who regularly gets graded on portraits, I have to say that I think tattooers have a few good advantages, first off, they get a stencil! secondly, they do the portrait from a photograph, not from a living person who is moving (and if your model isn’t moving, they’re probably dead).

    So when I look at a tattoo portrait, I think “were this on paper, what grade would I get?”
    some of the stuff on his body is A+ work, but I would flunk out college for that mona lisa.

  17. The Munsters are done beautifully!
    The oldschool gangsters near CRIME PAYS I’m not sure. Is that Meyer Lansky in the middle? The rest have me wondering as well…the top right…Frank Costello? Dutch Schultz? Under him…please tell me that isn’t Charlie Luciano. Can someone tell me who’s who in there?

  18. Lee, Uhm tattoo artists don’t have, uh, oh what are they called? Erasers! That’s right, erasers. I’m sure you are a fantastic artist and sure many artists that don’t tattoo can very well be better artists than a “tattooist”, HOWEVER, you’re not a tattoo artist. We know what it’s like to use pencils AND our machines. Don’t judge something you can’t fully grasp, that makes you ignorant.

  19. Who’s the woman next to Benjamin Franklin?
    Portrait tattoos are usually terrible and this guy has a collection of great ones, well done.

  20. @42 Have you ever tried using a tattoo machine? Just getting the right amount of ink into the skin is a skill in itself. Not quite comparible to using a brush, pencil, charcoal, whatever. I have seen some amazing work done on paper and canvass then when replicated onto the skin by the same artist, has become a right dogs dinner.

    Good portrait tattooists are hard to come by. Most of the work on this guy is stunning.

  21. Alright, first of all, drawing a SPECIFIC person is 8 hundred million thousand times harder than drawing an IMAGINED person. Anyone who thinks differently has not been honest with themselves about the previous portraits they’ve rendered. Why? Because if you draw someone who doesn’t exist, there’s very little you can get ‘wrong’, most of which would be basic shading and rendering. You wouldn’t have to worry about the angle of eyes, deviations from standard proportions, facial asymmetry that makes the person look like themselves.

    Secondly, as another art school graduate, I’m going to politely disagree with some of those ‘advantages’, Lee mentioned. Yeah, tattoo artists get to use stencils and have reference material. But I still maintain that it is way, way harder to create an undistorted, realistic image on an imperfect, moving surface. Plus, not only do they not have the benefit of erasers or do overs, but they also have limitations to how much they can ‘work’ an area.

    And I think some of the distortion in the Mona Lisa is due to the curve of his skin, not the actual rendering. I don’t think its bad – particularly because every person here could name that it was, in fact, Mona Lisa.

    Overall, I think they’re wonderful. Some of the better portraits I’ve come across. And I love that know most of them :)

  22. The Hannibal portrait is immaculate.
    That kind of detailing?

    And the Mona Lisa is just as perfect as all the other portraits.
    It’s just the angle.
    In the second picture it looks fine.

  23. This art would be alot more enjoyable if this guy worked out every once in a while. A bad body can ruin a good tattoo.

  24. how about you post a picture of yourself so we can scrutinize your body, sphincter boy?

  25. These pics are great but his work really needs to be seen in person – as impressive as it looks here in these photos it is really so much better in reality

  26. as a tattooed fatty, I gotta say mad props to my guy up there for doing his thing and having awesome artists as friends.

    And to all you haters, he may be fat, but you’re ugly on the inside. And he could still lose weight.

  27. That is pretty damn awesome.

    More skin = more art – seems like a good deal to me. Some people obviously have more interesting things to worry about than a little bit of extra body fat, and good on him! Who says it makes a body ‘bad’, just because it doesn’t conform to your particular idea of beauty…?

    Hannibal. <3

  28. some of them are amazing, and some of them are just good… and “just good” is no small feat! i hated doing portraits in art class, because it was so hard to capture the person, even if you do all the proportions and everything right.

    and let him alone about his body – he might come after you, and he looks like he could level a football player…

  29. &46 and others:
    It’s true, I”m not a tattooer (not counting the times my friend had me tattoo him), but, I do have tattoos (including portraits), I have had a few tattooers in my art classes, and I’ve seen many tattoo portraits that is way above my skill level.

    I was just saying that, even though tattoo artists don’t have erasers, they have stencils and pictures to draw from. And I know that a tattoo machine is not as easy to use as charcoal, paint, graphite, ect.
    But I have also worked with mediums that you can’t erase (non water soluble india ink was our medium in life drawing yesterday, on a sketch pad you can’t erase that shit!)

    and like I said, the majority of his portraits are good, and it could just be the camera angle/lighting that makes the mona lisa look not-so-great.

  30. actually, i’m not sure if non water soluble Higgins ink is technically india ink, forgive my ignorance.

  31. I totally understand what you’re saying, Lee. I look at it this way – most of the good tattoo artists I know are also great traditional media artists whereas most traditional artists are not, without years and years of practice, even passable tattoo artists. I’m sure there are exception. And it seems weird to call tattoo artists ‘nontraditional’ when the art form is much older than some things I would consider ‘traditional’, but I’m sure you get my meaning.

  32. wow. i thought it would be just a bunch of crappy random pictures, but DAMN that looks amazing. (and i hate portraits, usually) great work!

  33. The difference between ink on paper and ink on skin is that you can throw the paper out if it’s no good. If it’s in skin, you can’t just start over on a new piece of paper (or canvas).

  34. gorgeous work on such a handsome man;)
    iv stared at these pictures for the past half hour. just beautiful, talented, skill. :)
    i would love to meet the man that will sit and do my whole bodysuit…

  35. Oh no. There is another Lilly on here, lol. This body suit is amazing. The way things flow together is outstanding.

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