Local Tattooers: Troy Trujillo
Salt Lake City has fostered a steadfast tattooing scene for a couple decades now. It seems like no matter where you go within the city limits or beyond, there is an established shop to be found with committed, knowledgable, skilled and wise people on the tattoo machine. So you may have time to plan your next custom piece or esoteric flash once the heat dies down, SLUG has compiled images of tattooers’ work and their thoughts on their craft. Since it’s impossible to include everyone involved in local tattooing in one issue of SLUG, we’re mixing it up with a range of tattooers from different shops with a range of professional backgrounds, experience, etc. to depict a segment of the current local-tattooing mosaic of SLC/Utah.
Shop: Lonely Hearts Club Tattoo • 11 E. 400 South • 801.906.0192 • @lonelyheartsclubtattoo
Years tattooing: 20
Where you apprenticed and for how long: I started my apprenticeship in 1998/99. I apprenticed in Salt Lake City at Lost Art Tattoo under Nate Drew.
What styles of tattooing you favor/specialize in: Although I can do other styles, I 100-percent prefer to do single-point traditional tattoos! Black outlines, heavy black shading and solid color. The only tattoos I will turn away for me personally are realistic portraits. There are people in town that would do a far better job and I feel comfortable enough in my work to recognize them and appreciate that! I do tattoos because I love tattooing, not just to make money.
Favorite subject matter: Girl heads/pinups, panthers and reapers. Oh, and hands! I love doing hands holding random objects. Real tattoos that look like tattoos!
Favorite flash: Same as above!
Favorite custom piece you’ve done: I don’t know if I have a specific favorite because I try to take something away from every tattoo that I do, and apply what I’ve learned to the next one. The people and their experiences are what make some tattoos more memorable than others! I’ve recently been doing more coverups of old white power/racist tattoos, and since I abhor racism, I really enjoy covering tattoos that people got when they were in a dark place and have since emerged for the better and have taken the steps to erase that part of their history!
Tattooer you admire: Too many to just name one—I could go on for hours about this! And there are a bunch of amazingly talented tattooers in SLC, but, of course, top of the list always for me is Nate Drew from Lost Art Tattoo, not just because he gave me the opportunity to do what I love for a living, but he really changed tattooing in SLC! He really opened the gates for good solid tattooing here, and this was all pre-Instagram and –social media, so we had to physically walk into his little upstairs shop on 400 South and State after being buzzed in to experience real tattooing.
Other visual art you make: With kids at home I don’t paint as much as I used to, but when I do other art, it’s painting flash for the shop.
Tattooing guilty pleasure: A true tattooing guilty pleasure that I haven’t actually done for a while because there is no room for it in our tiny 400 South shop is making needles! I didn’t enjoy it as much when we pretty much had to make them, and now that buying pre-made needles is such an integral part of tattooing, there’s something about knowing that you can build your own needle (and mix your own pigment) that is admittedly kind of shitty to do when it’s your only option but truly satisfying.
Nerdiest thing you know about tattooing: This isn’t exactly about tattooing, but it’s connected: One thing I’ve kinda geeked out on about tattooing is the fact that people think—and you hear this all the time—they think that tattoos last forever, but they only really last as long as you do! I love the juxtaposition of permanence and temporality in relation to our own existence.
Best tattooing tunes to play in the shop: This is a tricky one. The “go-to’s” would be punk/hardcore, hip-hop/reggae and post-punk. It always differs from day to day. At LHCT, you’ll hear anything from Bauhaus to Iceburn to Chelsea Wolfe to The Oppressed to Dead Prez with a little Morbid Angel and Peter Tosh thrown in every once in a while! I like listening to music that allows me to zone out on the tattoo. If it’s too obnoxious, I can’t get past it. If it makes me feel like we are hanging out at Forever 21—or any mall store, for that matter—then I can’t get into it!
Shoutouts: First and foremost ,Nate Drew and the rest of the Lost Art family, past and present. Without you guys I wouldn’t be as stoked on tattooing as I am! Keet D’arms and Dean Bodily are other huge influences, and I consider them my other teachers. Much love to CJ Starkey for all his work that goes into making tattooing better in SLC. And to my clientele that make it all possible, of course—y’all are the most solid! Thank you SLUG Mag for including me, and RIP to Schmoe Dog and to another huge influence that did a lot for me and helped me out: Mike Fite forever.
Find selections of Trujillo’s work below:
All photos courtesy of Troy Trujillo