Earlier this year, tattoo artist Daniel Meyer relocated to Los Angeles from Germany with no local history and no local clients, planning to open his own studio without ties to an established shop. He set up an invitation-only space in Pasadena where antlers, taxidermy, and his monochromatic artwork create a feeling that is clean and modern with a splash of vintage ornamentation. Within days of accepting appointment requests he was booked up for three months, usually seven days a week.
When tattooing out of his home in Germany, people from around the world would request an appointment. If their idea was accepted they would wait several months to see Meyer, then travel to the sleepy German city of Kassel by way of plane and train. When all was said and done, clients would spend into the thousands just to get to his door, then spend the same on their tattoo.
What creates such a powerful draw? What is it about Meyer's work that people are willing to wait and spend so excessively for? Even Meyer isn't completely sure. He says he just does pieces that he really loves and is grateful others enjoy his work.
Meyer isn't the first artist to work in black and gray, nor is he the first artist to incorporate clean geometric shapes into tattoo design. It's his incredible balance of the natural and geometric that seems to freeze people in awe. Images of moths, skulls, and celestial bodies are paired with geometric shapes, each existing independently of the other while providing the perfect counterbalance and compliment.
“Since my earliest drawings, I've always been attached to natural objects and textures,” he claims. But it wasn't until college when he took a class on technical drawing that his now signature style came about. “It all came together, the high contrast between natural structures and the static appearance of geometric figures.”
A rabbit's fur and the petals of a rose seem to be a clean, yet natural style, but if you study the image you'll find an order and balance that has been meticulously orchestrated. Geometric figures aren't just thrown in for the sake of style. A flawless series of shapes like pentagons and curvilinear triangles are carefully placed in order to create harmony in the piece. Since early Greek times we have been documenting the patterns we find around us, sometimes to the point of obsession. Perhaps it is our natural attraction to patterns in nature that draws people to Meyer.
Prior to tattooing, Meyer worked in design. About five years ago he decided to leave his lucrative advertising career to pursue his dream. “It happened just like that,” he claims. “I switched my career overnight and began learning. You can probably imagine the look on the faces of my design clients when I told them I was quitting everything to start a new career from scratch.”
By the time Meyer announced to his clients that he was no longer going to be working with them, he had tattoos covering every part of his body a well tailored suit could cover. Nobody he worked with had any clue. “It was the right decision to make, and I've never regretted it,” he says.
While working in design, Meyer was also one half of the high energy DJ duo S.A.M., which had tracks land in several international charts. (You can get a taste of their live show here.) It was on a U.S. tour with S.A.M. around five years ago that Meyer first visited Los Angeles. “It was my first time here and [I] totally fell in love with the city,” he says. “The vibe is refreshing, and of course, I love the weather.”
When he decided to leave Germany, there was no contest as to where he'd go. “Fortunately, I had begun to build an international reputation,” he says. He figured that if clients were willing to trek to Kassel, they would be willing to come to Los Angeles. Based on the waiting list he accumulated just days after accepting appointment requests, it would seem he was right.
Getting his visas squared away was complicated, especially because he refused to leave without his beloved Great Dane. However, getting a U.S. business set up proved even more difficult. “On paper I'm just a foreign stranger so it's hard sorting out things like contracts and insurance,” he says. “I think my German charm helped me earn some trust.”
Follow Meyer on Instagram to see more of his work or learn more about booking an appointment with him here.
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