We had the good fortune of connecting with Dave Regan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dave, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I have spent many years in my industry and through it, have worked across the world. I have identified the factors that I see commonly shared by businesses throughout all of my experiences, and wanted to distill my sense of business acumen in a way that would enable me to step up to the plate on a global stage. I realize that owning one’s own business requires a great deal of flexibility, and even now I am in the process of restructuring in order to expand for the future. I am not a person who respects leadership that does not lead, or puts the employee last. I do not respect treating clients poorly. I respect punctuality. I realized that the only way I can present myself that best defines my values and my morals was to start my own business. In order to get in front of a lot of the common problems I see in my industry, incorporation made the most sense.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a multi-disciplinary artist. Tattooing is my main source of income, but certainly not my only artistic endeavor. What I believe sets me apart from others is that I have applied my creativity to many different arenas, and have found success even though I’ve been constantly told diversity is not an admirable trait, particularly in the art world. I have shown galleries bodies of work of mine, and they ask how many people made the work… I am capable of handling many different mediums and styles, and while my tattooing is relatively simple illustrations, my fine art is completely separate from tattooing. I spent a few months teaching figure drawing and would love to get back to it! I am involved in commercial design, as well as logos/identity branding. I am a writer, and have work published in a number of industry publications, and have a good chunk of my first book written, although its taken a back seat for the time being. My industry writing is often op-ed, whereby I identify common problems and do my best to offer serious solutions, while maintaining my sense of humor when and where I can. I am also a multi-instrumentalist, and have been making some progress in music as well. I have a number of projects online, and this past year was offered representation for sync licensing, which will help me to find placement in television and film. My most recent project involved the Holocaust Museum LA, where I was given the honor of scoring a piece of music for their identity rebranding. I certainly hope to continue this work as much as possible. In the last few years, the arts of both bonsai and niwaki have taken up much of my free time. I am an avid bonsai enthusiast, and accordingly, sit on the board of directors for the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society. Through bonsai, I now volunteer at the Botanic Gardens, and spend many weekends at folks houses taking rough trees in their yards, and styling them in the manner of the japanese character pines that one sees populating the temples of Kyoto or Nara. My love for nature has been made even greater thanks to this practice, and it has undoubtedly changed the entirety of my life for the better. It has also influenced how I compose art and music, as it is all about reduction, importance and impermanence. Ultimately, I am not a person nor a business who is easily defined. There is not one step of my journey that I would call easy. in fact, most of the people with whom I am closest would tell you that it’s usually much harder for me to catch a break or get recognition for the time and effort. My struggles always feel very heavy and very insurmountable, but I am never daunted by a challenge.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I moved to Colorado 11 years ago, and my number one reason for choosing this place was the mountains. My first and favorite front range hike is Flagstaff, at the top of Baseline in Boulder. I am a happy boy doing anything outdoors. While I do not find the Denver Art Museum to be impressive, I am blown away by the Vance Kirkland museum and would recommend that to any visitor I meet. The MCA is also a great stop, also defined by whatever artist they’re showcasing. Food wise, I crave all things not American. For Indian, Little India, Spice Room and Yak and Yeti are my favorites. For Japanese, Domo, Sakana and Tokyo Premium Bakery are my favorites. I love Guadalajara, Dos Gallitos and Tarascos for regional Mexican. Marrakech, Babajoons, Shish Kabob, and Jerusalem are my favorites for Middle Eastern and Persian influences. Vinh Xuong and Pho 95 are great Vietnamese, and Jaya is incredible Indonesian. I am not a big drinker when I’m out and about, so I usually stick to places close to my shop. Fausto (now Gold Coast) and Phils (now the embassy tavern) were my regular spots.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My biggest supporters as far as my career in tattooing are Joel Long and Guy Arnold. Guy was the first person to really take me under his wing, and helped me through a very challenging first couple of years into tattooing, some 20 years ago. 11 years ago, I took a job at Bolder Ink, in Boulder, CO namely to work with Joel Long, whose work in the style of Japanese tattooing was deeply influential to me. While there, both Joel and Chris Levi made it a point to support me in ways I had not then experienced in my industry. Although I am 20 years into my career, I still speak with all of these gentlemen very regularly.