Bryan Vigil sits at his workstation.

Coloring Cats & Dogs: The Tattoo Artistry of Bryan Vigil


The relationship between tattoo artist and client is one of mutual trust, and it’s a more personal one than most give it credit for. Bryan Vigil at Misery & Company Tattoo Collective asks those who spend time in his chair to give him that trust so he can create something unique. It’s no wonder that Vigil has become particularly known for his pet tattoos. His ability to add such striking elements to each piece lends itself to a unique creation with a warm personal touch, which is exactly what those who are seeking to honor their animal companions are looking for.

Bryan Vigil sits in front of a wall where his watercolor paints are hung.
“Everyone that comes to me already knows my style.” Photo: John Taylor.

“I started painting when I was little, trying to replicate cartoons,” says Vigil. “When I was a teenager, my mom took me to some oil painting classes, so I started doing more realistic paintings. I wanted to make a living as an artist when I was 20 living in Mexico, and it was difficult.” Vigil moved to New York, thinking it would be easier there, but he got frustrated with the process of trying to get into galleries in the big city. “I had a friend who was a tattoo artist and I thought that would be a way for me to make money while I’m still doing my art,” he says.

“I started painting when I was little, trying to replicate cartoons.”

After Vigil’s aunt bought him his first tattoo gun, he began slowly tattooing people he knew, trying to find a way to subsidize his own art. Always his own worst critic, Vigil gives each of his projects meticulous attention and he’s constantly working to meet the high expectations he sets for himself—ultimately, it’s all to exceed the expectations of his clients.

“Everyone that comes to me already knows my style,” says Vigil, “so they know what to expect and I appreciate the freedom that gives me. I still listen to the specifics that they are looking for and I try my best to incorporate those.” Vigil takes weeks to create an original design, starting by painting a full watercolor piece that the client can then take home and display if they choose.

“Everyone that comes to me already knows my style, so they know what to expect and I appreciate the freedom that gives me.”

Bryan Vigil sketches potential tattoos in a notebook.
“I started painting when I was little, trying to replicate cartoons.” Photo: John Taylor

This may not work for every tattoo or every client, but Vigil says this process is one that works best for him. “If I don’t like the idea they have for the tattoo, I don’t do it,” says Vigil. “I’ll recommend someone else to do it and I feel like that’s better for everyone.” The way Vigil works with colors evokes so much emotion that his style is a natural fit for pet portraits. He prefers to work from multiple reference photos to capture the animal’s personality as well as their likeness.

“I have to respect how important a pet tattoo is for [the client],” says Vigil. “This is a family member to them, so I always do my best to capture their essence and personality as best I can,” Vigil says. “I love doing animal paintings … I did a few [fox designs] and I started getting asked to do cats and dogs. That all started about five years ago. I really take it seriously because there’s so much powerful emotion behind it. For me it is about creating my own style, and a big part of that is how I can incorporate how I paint and bring my background in other art forms to my tattooing. I’m always trying to evolve and do something new.”

Vigil may work somewhat outside of most people’s idea of a traditional tattoo artist, but he has found a way to connect on a deep level with each piece and person he tattoos, as well as their furry friend. Check out his incredible work on Instagram at @patrick_cat_tattoo.

Read articles from our past Pet Issues here:
Mike Brown: Princess Ramona Update
Feline Fine: Get Your Cat-fiene Fix at Tinker’s Cat Cafe