We had the good fortune of connecting with Dustin Yip and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dustin, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
I think the main thing I learned about being a tattoo artist and shop owner and being in this industry is to embrace the support you receive. Whether it’s from family, friends, clients you’ve tattooed, or even people who have not gotten work by you but show nothing but love, those are things you can’t just ignore and brush off. Branching off of that support, I constantly remind myself to also show the same love back and to be a good person and to show that not all tattoo artists are intimidating and we too can hold genuine, intelligent conversations as well. Despite how many followers you may have, you can’t please each and every one of them and can’t make them happy all of the time. Just keep your circle of friends small, be true to yourself by being authentic and genuine… the rest will fall in place.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Being a tattoo artist in general is competitive. But doing black and grey tattoos here in California is a beast within its own. It’s super saturated with great tattoo artists out here, I still feel at times I’m a guppy in this ocean of black and grey artists. I’ve always felt the need to be an honest tattooer. Sometimes I’m too honest to where other artists see me throwing away money. But I’ve been screwed over before being a client in the chair long before I became a tattoo artist, so I know how it feels to just have an artist say yes to everything just so they can get paid. I told myself I would never do that. There are artists out there that will do anything and tell the client what they want to hear but not me. I’d rather be able to sleep at night knowing I gave 100% to the client all while being 100% honest. The journey of opening my shop wasn’t easy. It was in 2011, the time where the economy wasn’t great and technically we were still in a recession. I had no one tell me and show me what to do in regards to opening a business, so it was a stressful path. If I can start all over again, I’d definitely approach things differently but I would never take things back or regret anything. It tested me mentally and physically and it put my back against the wall and tested how I would fight through the adversity I had faced. I’ve learned that nothing comes easy when opening a business so I’ve came across a new found respect for any business owner. The name I created for my shop (Skanvas) came from a project I had when I attended an Art school majoring in Graphic Design. We had to take an existing magazine, completely rebrand it and present why we made the changes. I obviously did a tattoo magazine as during those times, tattoo magazines felt and looked like a clump of cheap newspaper print and looked so dated. The magazine was called Skanvas (Skin + Canvas) and the rest was history. Some thought it was cheesy, I felt it worked and didn’t give a damn about anyone else’s opinion. My professor, who held numerous creative director positions for well known magazines, told me after class “you have something here with this name. I don’t know what you plan to do after you graduate but hang on to it and do something with it. You’d be dumb not too”. So here we are on our 9th year in business and one day I’m aiming to take the brand name outside of tattooing.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Our shop is in a small city in Orange County. So we aren’t around a lot of crazy things to do. I personally am an old soul and have a wife, 3 kids and 2 dogs. So my lifestyle may not be as appealing to some individuals who are looking for a good time lol. But in all honesty, I’m a low key, chill type of person. I grew up going to the beach almost every weekend so I love hitting the coast. My ideal itinerary would really just involve the great weather we have and hitting all of my favorite food spots as well as venturing out and trying new ones. If that person had a family with kids, even better! But yeah I really love food so thats what it would consist of. A LOT of eating!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are quite a few individuals I can name but overall I just want to thank all of those who genuinely support my work and my thought process. I feel I’m a unique individual (like every other creative) and for those who can truly relate to me and understand my mindset, then those are the ones I feel keep me on my toes and continue to inspire me. But also those who doubt me are the ones who keep my fire lit to prove them wrong.