By Esther Sanchez
This weekend, July 10-12, Sullen Clothing and Art Collective, TG Tattoos and many other fantastic sponsors will kick off the second annual Palm Trees and Tattoos Convention at the Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs. Last year’s convention ended up becoming a respectable success on many levels, but considering the fact it was the first event of its kind thrown in the area, it actually ended up becoming a smash-hit with nowhere to go but up. Now attracting international attention, we have a handful of people to thank for the initial success of our valley’s first and only tattoo convention. One of those people is the auspiciously talented, yet humble, Rich Pineda.
When I use the word “humble” in my description of Pineda I am not merely blowing smoke to flatter. To be completely honest, during my conversations with Pineda, I had a hard time associating him with the guy who’s mind-blowingly phenomenal artwork I had previously researched online. With a penchant for realism, particularly portraits, Rich Pineda’s portfolio includes some of the most intricately beautiful and near-perfect tattoos that I have ever seen. Yet, he spent much of the time during our interview praising the talents of others. Despite the humility that seems to be his nature, Pineda’s work has earned him respect amongst tattoo artists and enthusiasts across the globe and he is consistently featured in many of today’s top tattoo magazines both nationally and internationally.
Although he is a native of Hermosa Beach who spent most of his adolescent years along the coast, Pineda’s family has history in the Coachella Valley and his frequent childhood visits eventually turned into a long-term relocation. Pineda: “We ended up moving out to Palm Springs and one day a friend of mine who was house-sitting for my parents invited me to a party in Yucca Valley which was a place I had never heard of. He said it was close to Palm Springs so I went out there and met a girl. I asked her to marry me two weeks after that and there began my life in the high-desert. That was almost 14 years ago. We just recently moved back to the beach.”
Perhaps the most surprising fact regarding Pineda’s skills and notoriety in the tattoo world is that he has only been tattooing for about five years. Although he did utilize his skills as an artist for various business ventures such as painting graphic designs on vehicles, he did not begin what was destined to become his now successful career until he had lived and worked in the high desert for nearly a decade. The very place where “tatting found” Pineda.
Pineda: “Everything I was doing previously, even when it involved art, was just something to supplement what I was trying to do in music. It was during that time that tattooing kind of found me through my buddy Jeff Cooper. He had seen some art projects I had been working on one night and I guess he saw potential in me. I don’t even remember exactly how the conversation went, but shortly thereafter I started learning under Cooper in what turned out to be an extremely unconventional apprenticeship that only lasted about two weeks before I was tattooing. That worked for me. Considering the facts that I had a family to support and the music thing was slow-going, I had no time for a typical apprenticeship. Also, I started a bit later in life and had developed a lot of skills with time. I had run businesses before and understood how that aspect of the industry worked. On top of that, I was learning under a man that I consider one of the best of the best. I think all that combined helped get me to my current place in this industry quicker than the norm.”
Fast-forward a few years, Pineda is now a featured artist at this week’s Palm Trees and Tattoos Convention. Despite the fact that he has definitely done the rounds both when it comes to tattoo conventions, he is particularly excited about this event. Pineda: “Last year, Sean from TG Tattoos in Cathedral City contacted me about this idea he had for a tattoo show downtown Palm Springs. I introduced him to my friends at Sullen and contacted a few friends in the industry. Together, everyone put on an event that was honestly one of the funnest and coolest of its kind that I have ever been a part of. The buzz went international and the success garnered so much attention that this year we have artists and attendees coming in from all over the world. This event will only become more and more successful and I am really proud to be a part of it.”
Check out Rich Pineda online! richpinedatattoos.com