We kick off Home Truths in 2016, by chatting with Joe Larralde, tattooer and artist, who along with his wife Alex and son Travis, moved into their new home just north of Mt Tabor last spring.
Tell me how you became a tattoo artist?
I went to school for landscape design at Colorado State University. After graduation I moved to San Diego California to work as a designer for a local nursery. While in San Diego I decided to travel to Hawaii for vacation, I ended up loving it so much I returned to San Diego to sell whatever I didn’t need and moved to Maui. Once on Maui I started getting a lot of tattoos, which lead me to an opportunity for an apprenticeship. I never saw myself as becoming a Tattooer but I’ve never looked back. It has given me a chance to travel, pursue painting and public art.
What’s the most challenging commission and the enjoyable commission that you have done?
In addition to tattooing I also do public arts projects. One of the more challenging and rewarding commissions I’ve done was for the city of Portland. I was commissioned in 2011 to design and build 3 security gates with metal murals on each. The artwork was over 40 feet long and 8 feet high. I used a water jet contractor to cut my artwork out of aluminum and stainless steel. After powder coating, the material I installed the commission at Parks and Recreations Flavel Maintenance yard in southeast Portland. Working with the various contractors, architects, and the RACC was very educational.
You once told me that people collect tattoos in the same way that people collect paintings, which makes a lot of sense as they are both art mediums. It had just never dawned on me before. Do you have any stories of collectors you know and have worked with?
Unfortunately no one person in particular stands out. I am always impressed when I do meet someone who is coming to Portland just to get tattooed at our shop. It is neat that there are a lot of people out there vacationing with the purpose of getting tattooed.
You’ve been in your house nearly a year now, what’s your favorite part of the home and why?
I love the 9′ ceilings and the wood work from our 1907 bungalow. It has so much more character than a new construction and you can feel the craftsmanship.
It’s a new year, any plans for your home this coming year?
With the new baby coming this year and the family growing, we are planning to renovate the existing laundry room into a second bath. We plan to move the laundry to the basement and potentially add a half bath along with it.
Joe Larralde works at Art Work Rebels in NW Portland