He’s created masterful inkworks for famous flesh belonging to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Amber Rose and other notables. We spend a little time getting under the tattoo virtuoso’s skin to find out what makes him tick.
In the 15 years since Miami Ink blasted tattooing into suburban homes across America, no one can deny that both the popularity and the level of artistry taking place on people’s skin has skyrocketed to new heights. Fine art creations of all styles now grace the bodies of collectors and celebrities alike, with their arms, legs and torsos becoming canvases for artwork that would’ve typically been relegated to the walls of an art gallery in the past.
Among the biggest names in the current generation of talented tattoo artists, Nikko Hurtado has seen himself—as well as many of his Southern California peers—go from tattooing walk-ins at a regular street shop to being one of the most sought-after artists on the planet. These days, the color realism expert’s noteworthy clientele includes everyone from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to Jersey Shore star Jenni “JWoww” Farley to musicians like The Game and Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd to models ranging from Amber Rose to Tess Holliday, as well as NBA standouts including Carlos Boozer.
It’s quite the impressive client roster. But it’s not just Hurtado’s star-studded Rolodex that’s made the Black Anchor Collective founder such a highly regarded tattoo artist.
His realistic take on full-color portraits brings tattoos to life as if they’re museum-quality oil paintings—a skill not frequently seen, considering the difficulties that come with using a tattoo machine on living skin rather than a paintbrush on a still canvas. (That said, Hurtado is quite the accomplished painter as well—see his works in that medium below.)