Adrian Sanchez – Hard Work – Work Hard

A Southern California Native, Adrian Sanchez began his art career with a can of spray paint and a skateboard. Inspired by classic comic illustration, fueled by metal, and craving a means of expression, he got his first tattoo at age17, beginning the obsession that would drive his career. The artist, Gary Kosmala, showed Adrian that outsider art is not only an artistic path, but also a way of life. At 19 Adrian moved to San Francisco to study Illustration at the Academy of Art, San Francisco. Here, he witnessed a community of artists, zinesters, street artists and tattooers all making art on their own terms.

While working as a shop helper at the Mission’s Sacred Rose, Adrian saw and was influenced by work from some bay area tattooists like Brian Randolph, Jeff Whitehed, Jill-Horiyuki-Bonny and Clifton Carter. It was at Sacred Rose that Adrian fell in love with tattooing as a lifestyle and career.

While exploring SF, he began to visit other shops to meet and get some early works from Chris Conn, Greg Rojas, Mike Giant and many others. In 2003 Adrian began a traditional apprenticeship at One Shot Tattoo with Dave Bobrick, a mentee of the world famous Henry Goldfield. During his two year apprenticeship Adrian participated in an artist collective of other tattooers who critiqued, taught, and helped each other with drawing, painting and tattooing assignments. Always dedicated to improving his art, Adrian strives to analyze and improve creativity, while staying true to his craft and personal style.

When it was time to move on, he worked briefly with Dave Moore in Berkeley at True Love tattoo, before returning to his native Southern California.

2007 found Adrian back in Los Angeles where he landed at a little street shop in Silverlake called American Electric Tattoo Co.  “I love the energy of a busy street shop.” Sanchez says while discussing his love for traditional flash, and the importance of defining ones own style. “Being with a good, fun crew gives me the creative juice I need to keep evolving,” he adds

In 2008 Adrian took the opportunity to work at Jason Schroder’s Incognito Tattoo in Pasadena, California. Here, he learned more about larger scale custom tattooing. He had the pleasure and privilege to work with the talents of Jason Schroder, Adam Foreman, Tyler Borich, Tim Forbus and Spencer Briggs along with guest artists including Deno, Jeff Zuck, Kore Flatmo and Henry Lewis. Additionally, Adrian’s love of machine building began when he started building his first two machines with Greg Rojas, and then at Jason’s Incognito. “Jason had a whole machine shop in the backroom, I loved being able to put machines together and tweak, tune and alter existing machines,” Adrian says.

A move north has landed Adrian at FTW Tattoo Parlor in Oakland, California. FTW is a small, intimate shop which is filled from floor to ceiling with handpainted flash and really has that old time walk-in shop vibe. When asked about the transition Adrian says,”It’s filled with positive energy and I’m the most productive I’ve been in many years”.

Adrian is also churning out original hand painted flash every week, with the hopes of some big book projects on the horizon.