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Eli is a realism tattoo artist in Boulder, CO. He was born and raised in Houston, TX.
Growing up he was considered the troublemaker in the family and because of that his aunt didn’t want him to spend time with his cousins. These restrictions were what led to him drawing. His cousins would draw, and he figured out that if he went to their house with the interest of drawing, his aunt would let him stay.
While he loved drawing he attributes his goal of becoming a tattoo artist to his English 2A teacher. He would draw in class to avoid being noticed, and generally when he’d draw, he’d draw on himself. One day during a quiz his teacher approached him and said “Just put anything on the paper” followed by “You might as well tattoo on yourself so you don’t get ink poisoning. This is where the idea to tattoo was birthed.
From there he’d go to local kids and older people in the neighborhood who would teach him how to build his own tattoo machines.
From there he would work miscellaneous jobs and tattoo on the side.
While he began tattooing at the age of just 14, he didn’t land into a shop until the age of 26. After all that time he still loves the craft and developing it.
“Tattooing is my high.”
What’s your favorite holiday?
"Honestly I can’t say I really have a favorite holiday. My family didn’t really do traditional holidays and we couldn’t afford much. I do remember one year for Christmas my mom got me an art set. I knew that we couldn’t really afford it and didn’t want to make her feel bad (This was when Nintendo 64 was freshly on the shelves) so I made sure to smile and be grateful for that."
If you could tattoo any celebrity, who would it be and what would it be?
"I’m not big into celebrities, but if I had to pick it’d be Freddy Negrete. He’s always been an inspiration to me. The tattoo would have to be something black and grey, Chicano type because he’s the co-founder of that."
How many tattoos would you estimate you’ve done in your career?
"Man… My best guess, 5000+. It’s hard to factor because I didn’t start posting on IG until 2016, almost 11 years after I started tattooing. "
What’s your all time favorite food?
"A ribeye or filet mignon, medium rare."
What is your favorite bag of chips?
'The Doritos Munchies, cheese flavored."
What was your favorite cartoon growing up?
"Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Ren and Stimpy, Transformers, and Gundam, but if I had to pick one, definitely Gundam. "
You’re going to a movie, what snacks are you grabbing?
"Got to have my Snickers for sure, Twizzlers because I use them as straws, always a pickle, a pretzel, and a Barq’s Root Beer."
Eli’s work can be found below and on his Instagram page: @_velie_
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