In a sea of artists, Danny Elliott’s goal is to give each piece that “signature” that makes it uniquely his. His colorful and realistic pop culture tattoos definitely stand out from the rest. From lighting dynamics to intricate graphic elements for emphasis, his style and technique shine through. According to Danny, that is the best way to control the creative process: by keeping it in his style of expertise. But that doesn't mean he stays inside the proverbial box either, the artist recently worked on a video project tattooing outdoors at Red Rocks that will be released this summer. We caught up with Danny to talk about tattoos, time travel, and the most rewarding part of his process.
Interstellar, no contest. The story, acting, directing, visuals, actual scientific backing – it’s a masterpiece start to finish – I think Christopher Nolan just gets me.
What would superpower be?
Time Travel, but not in some all powerful sense. More like I can go back to various points in my own life to try things differently, relive days to get more done, read more of the books I’d like to, or you know something simple like avoid a bad food choice every now and then haha. I’d be a responsible time traveler. See “Out of time” for reference and you won’t be disappointed.
What is the last thing you ate?
Chicken Shawarma At Mazevo, it’s a Mediterranean spot on Tennyson.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
Life is a marathon not a sprint, and no amount of money ever buys a second of time. It’s really important to balance success and ambition with enjoying the process of getting there.
How did you get into tattooing?
I was living in Dallas and actually had no luck finding an apprenticeship for over a year. I was looking at going back to school while teaching myself the basics and thankfully a good friend connected me to a shop owner who was willing to give me a shot. It took working 3 jobs and 100+ hour weeks to get going back then, but I’ve been all in ever since.
How do you describe your style of tattooing?
Color Realism with Illustrative influences that also incorporates graphic elements for emphasis. It can take the form of Neon, Graffiti, dynamic lighting, visual distortions, etc. but in an ocean of talented artists my goal is to give each piece that “signature” that makes it uniquely mine.
What are some of your favorite subjects to tattoo?
Still life’s like skulls, floral, and food are always up there – it’s so fun to be able to fully control the creative process and that’s the best way with my style. Outside of that, anything pop culture is up my alley. I’m always drawn to movie and comic characters, lately I’ve been getting back into Anime.
What is the strangest tattoo request you’ve ever received?
Deadpool riding a unicorn over the rainbow on a friend’s butt cheek. There are definitely some off the wall ones I’ve taken on, but that one is my favorite for the category haha.
If you weren’t a tattooer, what do you think you would be doing?
I’d be a mountain guide showing people the best powder lines in the winter and chasing hiking views in the summer. Photography throughout and painting with my free time.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of your job?
Most days It would have to be time management. Owning the studio tends to mean that I’m being pulled in different directions throughout the day, and while most issues aren’t a big factor alone they do start to add up. I want my clients to be taken care of so sometimes that means staying later than expected, which leads to being up later designing or doing emails, in turn developing poor eating habits to save myself time, etc. Here I am answering this interview at 2a.m. Like I said before, time travel would be great, but for now I’ll make a note to grab a book on the subject.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Honestly the most rewarding part is the “A-HA” moment, and there are two parts. The first is when I finalize the design and I can picture the finished piece on their skin – contrary to what someone else may think, that’s the actual moment of creation. The second is when the client sees the tattoo finished, realizes how their body has been forever changed, and now they feel like a more perfect depiction of themselves. This process for me can sometimes be ambitious, sometimes it’s simply meditative, but it’s all a version of seeking something internally and that doesn’t quite complete the picture. The thing that makes tattooing unique among art forms is that the actual reward has to be shared. Its energy can only be seen and felt though connecting with another for this moment in time, and bringing something new into the world together.
Do you do any other forms of art besides tattooing?
Throughout my artistic journey I’ve become very well versed in drawing and Oil Paints, though I don’t dedicate nearly as much time as I should these days. More recently I’ve been interested In Photography, Videography and Digital Painting. Last summer I worked on a video project at Red Rocks tattooing outdoors called “Artist Unknown” that’s currently entered in film festivals worldwide – it’ll be released to the public this summer. I’ll also be releasing prints again soon for the first time in years. So keep an eye out for things outside of tattooing in 2023!