I first heard about Eli Falconette at a party as I was bullshitting with some friends. the subject of tattoos came up as it often can when large amounts of alcohol are consumed and everyone wants to share a good or bad tattoo experience, or basically just show off their work. The consensus that night seemed to be that Eli is one of the top tattoo artists in Portland, known for his quality work and traditional style, not to mention the fact he’s impressively fast. That night I saw quite a few pieces that were done by Eli, and while I may have seen too much of my friends skin, I had to admit that I was awestruck by Eli’s work. With that thought in mind, I looked him up on Facebook and toyed with the idea of doing an interview. I wasn’t sure if he’d be interested and to be honest, he looks a little intimidating.
Finally saying fuck it, I emailed him and we worked our shit out and decided to meet at a local bar for a night of drunken bullshitting and good tattoo stories. Eli showed up after my third drink and while he settled down with his Jameson, I turned on the tape recorder and we began our three hour chain-smoking session with the words just flowing.
Always interested in drawing as a kid, Eli was just fourteen years old when he went to a friend’s house and watched as his friend’s brother tattooed someone. From that moment on he knew what he wanted to do with his life and began tattooing friends as a teenager. Eli eventually moved to Vegas where he had his first apprenticeship that lasted seven months and eventually moved on to another Vegas shop where he worked for three years, in an environment he simply, yet eloquently described as hell.
Finally fed up, Eli decided to try his hand at running his own shop, which lasted a year before he closed it. Leaving Vegas behind, Eli tattooed in New Orleans for a year before he began traveling around between Portland, Vegas and LA until finally settling down in Portland where he’s been for the last nine years.
Eli is currently working at Blacklist Tattoo over in NE. Portland where he takes pride in the fact that he and his fellow tattoo artists produce quality work in an environment that’s bullshit and ego free. It’s apparent he has a genuine love for his work and his clients who he describes as loyal, good people. Judging from the time spent during the interview, it’s easy to see that he’s a pretty likable guy, who’s passionate about his work and even more passionate about how much he hates doing color portraits, which he refuses to do.
It’s true that many people out there these days seem to be in a hurry to get tattooed; not focusing so much on the quality of the work but on how much of their body can be covered in one session for next to nothing. A tattoo artist has bills to pay, just like everyone else and for those that take pride in their work, a little respect from clients mixed with appreciation shouldn’t be too hard to come by. I think Eli put it best when he said “If you get a tattoo, pay to get one that’s quality, there’s nothing else you can take to the grave with you besides a cheap suit or a nice dress.”
Eli is happy with where his career is at and where it’s headed, still tattooing all over the world when he feels the need to travel. You can find him at Blacklist Gallery Tattoo Wednesday through Saturday 12-8.
Filed under: Featured Artists