Tattoo artist always wants to push himself when creating pieces - Albuquerque Journal

Tattoo artist always wants to push himself when creating pieces

Albuquerque-based tattoo artist Chris Partain is marking 30 years as a tattoo artist. (Courtesy of Chris Partain)

March 14, 1992.

That was the first time Chris Partain picked up a tattoo kit and had his first customer.

Three decades have passed and Partain is still creating art.

After a few years away from Albuquerque, Partain has a space at Shadow of Comfort Tattoo in the Northeast Heights.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” he says. “I’ve been able to see tattoo culture become more mainstream. When I first started, there were literally two tattoo shops in Albuquerque.”

Over the course of his career, he’s done thousands of tattoos – most of which are original designs.

What’s interesting about Partain’s journey is that he didn’t start sketching until after he started to tattoo.

A tattoo design created by Chris Partain. (Courtesy of Chris Partain)

“When I first started, there were designs that were already in play,” he says. “If you could replicate the design it was a good thing.”

At that time, Partain’s interest leaned more towards music and not into the tattoo culture.

“When I got hired at the front desk, I didn’t want any tattoos,” he says. “All my friends were getting them and I didn’t want them. It was about a decade into my career before I began to get tattoos for myself.”

Partain says the art of tattooing is very intimate. He will meet with strangers who then trust in him to create a beautiful piece of art.

“We are together for hours talking,” he says. “It’s almost like a therapy session for both of us. The best part about my job is that I’m able to create something beautiful and see the joy in the customer’s face. Then they become a billboard to showcase my work. It’s a good vibe.”

Partain is starting to lean towards working on art in his personal time and creating items he can sell.

“I still haven’t sat down with a brush and oils,” he says. “I’m usually sketching and I keep all of those around for reference. Art and tattooing is important to me because it’s given me the outlet all my life.”

To this day, Partain is always blown away when someone will show him a tattoo he created.

“I’ve been in Vegas at a blackjack table and someone tapped me on the shoulder and showed me their tattoo,” he says. “I never know who they are until they show me. I remember the pieces of work. Then all of the feelings come back.”

An original art piece by Chris Partain. (Courtesy of Chris Partain)

Partain always wants to push himself when creating pieces of art. He doesn’t want to fall into one genre.

“I just consider myself a street shop artist,” he says. “I really lean heavily on the street shop artists because that’s the environment I’ve been working in. I like that I don’t know what I’m going to work on next.”

As Partain continues to work on his next chapter in art, here are a few things you didn’t know about him:

1 “I have a tattoo where 99.9% of the population doesn’t have one.”

2 “When drumming for my band, we have shared the stage with some of my favorite bands.”

3 “I was on the TV show, ‘Ink Master: Angels.’ ”

4 “I choose red chile over green.”

5 “I also choose fall over winter.”

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