Girls with Tatts, they’re just…babes!

I don’t know what it is with girls who have tattoos. If done right, I find them to be incredibly sexy. I wish I had the balls to get a sleeve. I know I shouldn’t think about the future, but I do when it comes to tattoos that are large and more importantly…permanent! Yes, I have 7 of them, but they are relatively small and scattered. I applaud those who think about now and just go for it! Maybe one day soon I will work up the courage to start building a sleeve. Until then, I can just admire the girls who have them. Check out these ladies and tell me they’re not babes!

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Seeing that this is my first post on tattoos, I thought it would be fitting to write about the artist who I turn to.  I’m not sure when my love for tattoos began, but I do know it started as a young adolescent.  I remember recieving my first tattoo at the age of 15 from my boyfriend on the beach using a hollow needle and Indian Ink….it hurt like a betch! Now at the age of 32, I have 7. For some, that’s a lot, and for most it’s not enough… but for now, its suits me.

Meet my dude…Hector Edward Valdez, a.k.a. HEK. I was introduced to him through a good friend of mine, Jazzy. We went in together to get a tattoo. Ever since then, I have not gone to anyone else. He’s one of the coolest people I met since I’ve moved here to California two years ago. He’s an amazing  artist who always puts up with my difficult requests. Visiting his shop is a good time. There’s always some old school hip hop playing in the background, artists talking smack to one another,and apprentices doing push ups, all in an old time barber shop/saloon setting. But most importantly, you always leave with a tattoo your proud of.  If your in the area, or even not in the area…you should definitely set up an appointment with HEK at The Tattoo Gallery in Huntington Beach.

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1. First off, please introduce yourself to us. 
Hello. My name is Hector Edward Valdez. My friends call me HEK. I’m a tattooer, painter, picture taker, Father, and Husband.
2. What inspired you to become a tattoo artist? At what age was this?
The funny thing is growing up I never aspired to be a “tattooer”. I had dreams of becoming an architect. Once I realized how much schooling was involved I got over.  To be honest I feel like tattooing chose me. I walked into a tattoo shop in Huntington Beach in 1996 and never left. I went from customer to apprentice to tattooer.
3. How long have been tattooing for?
I finished my apprenticeship in July of 2001 and have been tattooing professionally since then. So 13 years.
4. What ‘style’ would you say your tattoos are?
As far as “style” of tattooing goes I don’t think I really have one. I enjoy doing all tattoos. To be honest I just try to do  the best tattoo I can every single time.

5. What influences you in your life as well as in your tattooing? I am influenced by almost everything. Everyday. Artistically speaking. But I would have to say I am mostly influenced by music and movies.

6. Do you see yourself doing anything else?
As far as doing things outside of tattooing I want to do so many things. I’d love to own an Art Gallery to be honest. I’d like to Curate more shows. Paint more. Make jewelry. Promote other artists. My list is a mile long.
7. Who is your favorite tattoo artist?….why?
I have too many “favorite tattooers” to list BUT my favorite Artist in general  has to be my father: Edmundo Carlos Valdez. He has been my biggest inspiration in regards to art and life. His oil paintings are hella weird. Weird but cool.
8. How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
I got a late start getting my first tattoo in comparison to my friends and co workers. I think i was 19 or 20 when I got “Valdez” in cursive on my forearm. My buddy Sammy got his last name on his arm and i was like ” that’s cool. I want one.” So we went later that day. Funny thing is I never had an interest in tattoos growing up. Getting or Giving. Kind of trippy.

9. Did you ever tattoo yourself when you were first starting out? The very first tattoo I did was on my leg. It’s the Japanese Kanji for “determination”. I thinks it’s still healing. OUCH.

10. Are there any ‘shop rules’ people should know about?
Shop rules go like this: * Don’t be an ass. * The customer is never right. * Don’t forget to tip.

11. I hear you have a bit of an obsession with coffee…. I don’t believe i have an obsession with coffee per se’ . I just really really really really love the fuck out of coffee. Good coffee. And espressos. So much so I order 2 at a time…. a few times per day. 8 days a week. Is that a lot? If you want to talk about obsessions we can talk about socks! Next time.

12. Anything you want to add?
Eat more tacos. Try your coffee black. Support the arts.
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