Alexis Vaatete was in love with art as far back as his memory can take him. Born with an imagination that is limitless, and an artistic talent to match, art was and is the way he has come to be. As a youth living between Los Angeles and Orange County, Alexis found a passion for art flourishing inside him and never found himself without inspiration. It was the unceasing source of the dreams of night and day that fed his artistic outlet. With the creative power that was flowing through his veins, he was able to expel that energy into drawings to bring those images to life on anything he can find. With the comic book cards he had collected as a kid, he started to reference the art in an effort to enhance his skills. In strengthening his skills as a child, Alexis had only just begun his journey down the path of art.
Though he grew up in Southern California, there was a huge influence of the Polynesian lifestyle due to his father. Being the son of a Marquesan, Alexis was deeply connected to the culture that his ancestors were a part of. From the stories that were told by him from his father, their form of tattooing were some of the earliest forms ever known. The first experience he had of being exposed to tattoos was because of his father’s stories and books about the Islands. As time went on, Alexis had a stronger understanding of life and appreciation of his heritage as well as the Polynesian tattoo art form, which would forever be a part of his life. Being a part of the Southern California lifestyle throughout his youth, he was also introduced to a more urban style of tattooing. With the intense passion he has for art, having the American and Polynesian art forms coalesce and the past and the future of tattooing collide, was a vision he had to embark on.
As Alexis’ imagination and creativity soared, so did the medium he used. He envisioned his art coming to life through paint. With this new medium, he was able to broaden his imagination and create an endless amount of visions through his paintings. He was always able to reflect the beauties and tragedies of life through his creations. Being very passionate about his art, and being in Humboldt County for a few years, Alexis started to show his creations at small galleries for the local art nights. His passion for art had taken him on a journey through his youth, but it wasn’t until the age of 24 that he was given the opportunity to have his artistic passion coalesce with one of the greatest mediums ever…tattoo.
A mutual friend up in Tahoe, had informed Alexis that he needed to meet with someone in Southern California, who could further his career in art. Moving his family down, without any knowledge of his art career flourishing, he embarked on the journey of a lifetime. With a car full of paintings to show and his portfolio of sketches in hand, he met with Franco Vescovi at his shop in Lake Forest, CA. Franco took one look at the art that Alexis brought and was astonished by what he had seen. Franco offered him a position as an apprentice at his shop, Orange County Inkhouse, where Alexis took a journey of a 3 year apprenticeship under Franco. It was Franco Vescovi who had taught him the fundamentals of tattooing and who introduced him into the tattoo industry. His apprenticeship was so meticulous and informative, that the skills needed for tattooing came very naturally. Alexis, having realized the value of the opportunity he was given, worked harder than he ever had before. Almost 10 years later, professionally tattooing for 7, he continues to work alongside his friend and mentor, Franco Vescovi, as the manager of Franco’s shop “Vatican Studios”.
Within the years of his tattooing, Alexis considers himself fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most talented artists that he has ever known. The tattoo industry has introduced him to so many influential and inspirational artists who inspire him daily. In the world outside of tattooing, Alexis finds inspiration in a variety of styles from Michael Parks to Leonardo Da Vinci, Frida Kahlo to Caravaggio, and Alex Grey to Salvador Dali. It is because of tattooing and all the outlets that the industry has provided, that has made Alexis a stronger and a more diverse artist. He works anywhere from 8-16 hours a day whether he’s painting, drawing or tattooing, he never lets his creative energy cease.
Always seeking to further his abilities, Alexis has a high appreciation and taste for doing portraiture, realism and surrealism. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he delves into as many styles as possible, to become well rounded in each. While art will always be his passion, he maintains that the greatest piece of art he has ever created is his son, who makes him strive to be the best he can be in all aspects of life.