By Kali Ah Yuen
Local shop founder Allen Falkner has a very different approach to the practice of tattoo removal. His laser tattoo removal shop Fade Fast looks less like a doctor’s office and more like a gallery, it’s creative and colorful. Focused on serving clients who embrace the fact that tattoos they get in their teens or early adult life may not appeal to them in the future, but merely want to remove certain parts of their artwork or open up space for a brand new tattoo, Fade Fast recently relocated to its Main Street location in Deep Ellum and loves the neighborhood vibe. Prior to entertaining the field of tattoo removal in 2007, Falkner had worked side by side with talented tattoo artists for years, learning everything from technique to ink composition.
A tattoo and piercing enthusiast himself for nearly 30 years, his experience enabled him to open Fade Fast with an expansive knowledge of skin, biology and physiology beyond what is normally taught to laser technicians. Falkner had been brainstorming ideas that could bring the community together and came up with a pop-up gallery concept celebrating the artwork of local tattoo artists in the area. On view during this weekend’s Deep Ellum Arts Festival from April 1-3 during Festival hours, the pop-up gallery will spotlight artwork by numerous local tattoo artists such as Dru Bias, Caleb Barnard and Ejay Bernal.
“With the 22nd annual Deep Ellum Arts Festival at our front door, we thought this weekend would be a perfect opportunity to spotlight local artistic talent in the Deep Ellum area,” stated Falkner of the initial idea. “Fade Fast was founded on the idea that there are people out there who seek tattoo removal and don’t necessarily hate tattoos, but are unhappy with what they currently have. We have very strong ties to local tattoo shops because of this. Most people don’t realize that tattooist’s artistic abilities go well beyond the canvas of skin.”
About Dru Bias
Artist Dru Bias has been tattooing for over 15 years and got his start in Long Island, New York after attending the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and working as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. Now a tattoo shop owner himself at Allegiance Tattoo in The Colony, Bias’ art can be described as Japanese and Tibetan with a mix of American Traditional. Inspired by Japanese artists such as Kuniyosh, Kyosai, Hokusai, Ed Hardy, and Mike Malone, he works primarily in watercolor and liquid acrylic. Bias has shown his art at Kettle Art and other galleries around the Big D over the years and looks forward to seeing his creative passion on canvas.
“The art in the gallery is for me,” states Bias. “I paint what I want. When I tattoo, I am bound to the client’s ideas.”
About Caleb Barnard
Also from New York, artist Caleb Barnard has been tattooing for 17 years and drawing all his life. Barnard and his partner Marie Sena now own Oak Cliff-based tattoo shop Electric Eye. Working in watercolor, along with liquid and standard acrylics, Barnard’s influences include Richard Stell, Ernst Fuchs, and Fred Stonehouse. Working inside his studio Electric Eye is similar to working in an art gallery to the artist, who has also shown his work at Kettle Art, Grey Matters and various group art shows.
About Ejay Bernal
With deep roots in Dallas, local tattooist Ejay Bernal has seven years of experience under his belt. Currently an apprentice under Nick Ley at Saints and Sinners Dallas, Bernal works mostly in black and grey with an emphasis on stippling and pattern work and looks up to artists such as painter Caravaggio, Chris Garver, Thomas Hooper and, of course, his mentor Nick Ley. As his first gallery showing, this unique tattooist specializes in “stippling,” a technique simulating varying degrees of shading using small dots to create a bigger image.
A natural choice for the “tattoo positive company,” the gallery is usually decorated with tattoo art outside the hours of the pop-up gallery. It’s a unique space and Falkner wanted to use the fact that it’s along the Festival route as an opportunity to give back to the local tattoo community and expose attendees visiting the festival over the weekend to the artistic passions of these tattooists.
“When I first started exploring tattoo removal I found laser clinics to be cold, clinical, and technicians were often very anti-tattoo. From day one I wanted this business to celebrate the art of tattooing. Of all things in this world that you ‘own’ the only thing that really belongs to you is your body,” said Falkner. “If people want to modify their bodies, they should have the freedoms and options to do so. My journey and my passion is just that; to help people have the exterior of their body the way they feel it should be, with or without tattoos.”
While you’re out enjoying music, art and food at the Festival this weekend, make sure to stop by Fade Fast and say hello! All of the tattoo artists’ work on display will be available for purchase. For more info, visit their Facebook event page here.