Artists are born with passion, talent is earned

JOHN GARDNERGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley CoxPaul Roberts kicks back at his tattoo parlor, Tattmandu, on Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs Wednesday morning.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Tattoo artists are very passionate about their art. For Paul Roberts of Tattmandu in downtown Glenwood Springs, it’s the passion that keeps him in the business, but it’s his competitive nature that keeps him improving his craft. “I love competing,” Roberts said.Looking at his passion for tattoo artistry and his competitive nature, there must be a way to combine the two. That’s why after 15 years as a tattoo artist he decided to put his talent to the test and enter the 12th Annual High Altitude Tattoo Competition held in Winter Park on Aug. 17-19.”There was a bunch of people,” he said. “It was crazy.”Meeting people and talking over different techniques and ideas with other artists was the best part for him. That’s what Roberts likes the most about getting out of the office and attending competitions and festivals, the chance to grow as an artist.”The more you’re around it, the more it becomes you,” he said.Before the competition he knew he was a talented tattoo artist, but he’d never really been interested in tattoo competitions.

“I never really thought about it before, I just wanted to focus on my art,” he said. “I’m still not at my best, I want to raise my game and competitions are a good way to do it.”The competition was part of the 15th Annual Salute to American Veterans Rally and Festival. He did pretty well, considering it was his first competition.”I entered five pieces and won with three,” Roberts said humbly. “I just wanted to try my hand in a competition.”His three third-place awards came in the “Most realistic,” “most patriotic” and in the “Best of Color” categories. His piece in the “Best of Color” was his rendering of the Hanging Lake landscape.”That was a cover up (of an older tattoo),” Roberts said. “I did it all from memory.”The competition was steep with several talented artists from all over the country. Roberts admits he wasn’t filled with confidence he would walk away with any awards that weekend. But he proved doubters, including himself, wrong.”I knew that they wouldn’t kick me out,” he said. “I didn’t think that I was going to win, I didn’t even think I would place. I just wanted to see how I’d do.”

He admitted taking home third-place, considering the competition, was an accomplishment.”Yeah it was,” he said. “It was really cool.”Looking at his tattoo-covered arms and colorful art protruding from the neckline of his shirt, you’d never believe he didn’t even want a tattoo when he started out. But he had to start practicing on someone, and who better than himself.”My first was a little dragon,” he said outlining a pattern on his right thigh with his index finger.He did have some friends that were hospitable in letting him practice on them, too. According to Roberts, It’s not hard to find someone to work on.His passion for learning and always improving is evident in his detailed work exhibited on the walls throughout his office. But as he said before, he constantly has to improve and is always looking to up his game. He, too, is a work in progress. It’s that dedication that gives him the edge.”I don’t think anyone is born with talent,” he said. “You’re born with passion for something but you have to practice to become talented.”

And that’s what he does, practice.Roberts is gearing up for a Las Vegas Tattoo convention the end of September. So, until then, he’ll be practicing at his little studio in Glenwood Springs. But Las Vegas isn’t the end of his tattooing days. No, he’s sentenced himself to life as a tattoo artist.”I want my life to explode with art,” he said. “I’ll be doing this until I’m dead. Hopefully that’s not anytime soon.”Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.