Tobias Caballero

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I have been an artist all my life, I have been tattooing since 2006. I can honestly say that I have loved every bit of it. From the culture of the craft to the individual experiences with the client. I enjoy all styles of tattooing excelling at portraits ,traditional Japanese ,and illustrative tattoos. Aside from being an artist, I am a happy father of 3 wonderful children. They are the reason I do every thing I do.

We recently sat down with Tobias and asked him about his art and creative process. Read his Q&A below:


Curbside: How did you first become interested in art?
Tobias Caballero: As a kid I was always drawing. My mom was very encouraging at that time, and enjoyed making art herself. I got recognized for my ability throughout grade school and middle school, however it wasn't till I discovered comic books and comic art that I really ran down the rabbit hole. I fell in love with the artform and studied it like it was my religion. I was maybe 13 or 14 when I knew that I was going to be an artist. I remember actually telling my mother at that age my goal to have a career in art.

C: Where do you find inspiration and who are some of your influences?
TC: Inspiration is is truly everywhere, in my opinion. My lady and I have been doing a lot of traveling recently and going to places like Costa Rica and Jamaica. All of the various cultures, the people, personalities and landscapes are breathtaking. You never realize how vast our planet really is till you start traveling and that's been some of my most impactful recent inspiration. My influences are all over the place, from comic book artists to tattoo artists, illustrators, classic painters, and sculptors. I study it all. This list is just some of my favorite artists - I could go on for days here. Comic art: Greg Capullo, Travis Charest, Adam Hughes, Jim Lee, Chris Bachalo. Tattoo artists: Shige, James Tex, Chris Garver, Mike Rubendall, Grime, Henry Lewis. Illustrators: J. C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, Rockin Jelly Bean, Gil Elvgren. Other artists: Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Bernini, Dali ......

C: What is your preferred method for making art and why?
TC: I love doing mixed media. I live by the motto, "If it makes the painting better, why not do it?" I'll use acrylics, airbrush, pen and ink, spray cans, color pencils, and pastels. I like experimenting with different media - you never know what might end up working, and if it doesn't, at least I learned something. I keep an open mind for new methods.

C: How has your process changed since you first began making art?
TC: My knowledge of drawing, composition, color, perspective, and proportions have all improved but the heart and the fun I had laying on the floor drawing as a kid is still there. Obviously, I don't do anything the same as I use to, but I'm sure 10, 20 years from now I will do things differently than I do now.

C: What are some common themes you try to use or depict in your artwork?
TC: Animals are always fun, as are skulls, flowers, the human figure, and face. I have a mountain of sketchbooks full of your typical tattoo imagery. What I'm trying to do now, more than ever before, is get a handle on capturing emotion in my work, or a mood or tone that makes you feel something more than, “Hey, this guy can kinda draw.”

C: What do you do in your downtime when not creating?
TC: I'm a dad, so when I'm not working, I'm with my family. My lady and I are very busy people, so when I have the rare extra time anymore, I spend it with the people I love. I used to play the guitar but I have had to sacrifice even that for allowing time for other things. We have dogs and snakes and cats - my lady is an animal freak so we are always surrounded with creatures.

C: What is some advice you wish you had when you were first starting out?
TC: To become good at anything you must make a sacrifice of time. Whether it's time with friends, partying, or other hobbies that don't pertain to your goal, your path to improving will be slow. The only way to get better is to put in the time. Failure should never be viewed as a negative thing - it's just an opportunity to learn. When you figure out what doesn't work, it allows you to get closer to understanding what does. Focus.

C: In your vast catalog of art, is there any one piece that stands out to you from the rest? If so, why does it stand out?
TC: Most recently, I did a painting of the Joker holding Harley Quinn in his arms while he is firing a bullet through both of their heads. I had a lot of fun with it because the image itself has so many contrasting elements in it. Harley has a loving embrace, Joker has a crazed look in his eyes. I toyed with the technique of making certain things feel soft and others feel harsh and sharp. It was fun to make that image because it perfectly portrays those characters that everyone knows.

C: Are there any ways that the current social climate has changed the way that you approach art, whether it be your own or someone else’s?
TC: I'd say it hasn't affected my work at all. If I let someone's opinion affect what I will or won't do in my art, then why do it at all? I paint what looks visually appealing to me. When I do work that is just for me, not a tattoo, not a t-shirt design, not something I'm commissioned to do, I stay true to myself. I don't concern myself with who might be offended or find something disturbing or distasteful. The only person I absolutely have to make happy is me. I'm not going to worry about what I can't control. To be honest, I think people have become too sensitive, and the idea of removing everything that might hurt someone's precious feelings is ridiculous. If you sterilize everything on earth, you’re going to completely remove all of its great character. That's no fun.