Dave Koenig {E} Tattoo & Fine Artist Feature

Dave Koenig  {E} Tattoo & Fine Artist Feature

by Christina Diaz

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, tattooer and fine artist Dave Koenig owes his artistic talents to his mother, well his mama and comic books. Dave can remember drawing pictures of horses for girls he had crushes on in grade school. “Many failed attempts I might add. Eventually it paid off. I painted something for my wonderful wife’s birthday when we first met,” Dave says.

He attended a fine arts program at the University of Nebraska Omaha for a few years. But owes his aesthetic skills to the years he has spent tattooing. In the 90’s, before Dave got up close and personal with skin as a canvas, he was spray-painting concrete walls with the help of his friend Roland White. Luckily his painting opened the door to tattooing. He was commissioned by his mentor Devin Fergusen to paint all the doors in a shop he was opening. A year later in 2001, he took Dave in for an apprenticeship and so began his journey into the world of tattooing…

{E}: Tell us how you got into the tattoo industry.

DK: I wanted to tattoo for years and years. I could have worked at a few scratch shops but I felt I wanted to learn the proper way. It is kind of like a martial arts. You can only learn so much from videos and halfwits. You have to seek real mentors and a proper environment. If not then you will be obligated to unlearn all the nonsense and bad habits you obtained taking the “shortcut.”

{E}: How would you describe your artwork?

DK: As far as my art, I’m fearless. I might not be the best technical artist or the worst. I think of art as a living entity that I have complete freedom of expression.  Expression that varies through subject matter, lines, shape, colors, medium or whatever. I love lines. I love movement. It has to be sensual. It has to appeal to me.

{E}: What inspires you?

DK: Anything and everything I suppose. I tend to be drawn to animals, women, flowers, imagery of strength, culture, mystery and antiquity.

{E}: Where do you get ideas for your artwork?

DK: I am a fan of antique U.S. currency. I love art nouveau and art deco. I am also highly influenced by any tattoo related imagery.

{E}: Whom are some of your favorite artists and why?

DK: Alphonse Mucha, Bernini, Da Vinci, Beth Cavener Stitcher, Simple Simon and many more.  As far as tattooist/artists I would have to say Cap Coleman, Horiyoshi iii, Mike Dorsey, Phillip Lue, Timothy Hoyer, Jeff Gouge, Jeremy Cruz, Jason Vaughn, Tyson Schaffert and Frank La Natra.

{E}: Favorite mediums and why? Is there a medium you enjoy over the other? 

DKE: I love watercolor. I love acrylic. And I love tattooing. I believe each fulfills me in diverse ways. With watercolors I can really work my compositions and pay more attention to detail. Now if I am painting for a Tattoo I won’t get as crazy with that detail. As far as Acrylic I can loosen up and more or less just experience the canvas. And for tattooing it is an honorable experience to have someone wear your artwork on their body for life.

{E}: What are some of your favorite art tools and why?

DK: Just give me pencils, paintbrushes, a Kevin Chasek liner and a Neotat and I’m happy. They are all my current tools of the trade.

{E}: Discuss the process you go through to create a piece. Mediums you decide to use and why?

DK: Well that depends. Certain images I come up with are premeditated and many are not. I often paint large scale pieces much faster than smaller watercolor pieces. I have a couple videos on my website where I am painting large scale paintings. With that you can see my process. With Watercolor pieces I will have my central image and then build from that. I like to incorporate somewhat of an untold story in the illustrations that house the leading image.

{E}: How do you title a piece?

DK: Well I am pretty bad at titling my art. I would like to say that I am spending all my creativity in producing the piece and that I am tapped out by the end. Hmm. I suppose I should start naming the piece prior.

{E}: Where and when did you get your first tattoo? Who did it?

DK: Well not a grand experience I must say. I was 15 and I decided to tattoo myself. Huge mistake. I tattooed a little bird on my wrist with a needle thread and india ink. Man that was stupid. When my mother noticed it a week later she told me that it had better be gone by the time my father came home. So my little dumbass decided to put an electric hand held sander to it. Needless to say as soon as I broke skin I tapped out. I decided that I would just receive the well-deserved ass beating coming to me.

{E}: Tell us about your Dead Devil Project. 

DK: Well the Dead Devil Project is something that I am organizing with the help of my sister Stacie Gumm.  We will be selecting several charities to donate all proceeds of print sales.  I would eventually like to host several art events, also donating all proceeds to charity. I believe in the Golden Rule. I am grateful for life’s blessings and the Dead Devil Project is a way for me to give back.  My first charity to help support is Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge btnwildlife.org. They are a wildlife refuge that rescues, raises, rehabilitates and releases orphaned Florida native species. They provide education about respecting and preserving the environment.


{E}: Advice to a young, new artist?

DK: Well as an artist only compete with yourself. Be confident but humble. Procrastination is the worst thing you can do.

And as for those wanting to tattoo… If you are looking to master a craft first you must respect it. Seek the education before buying the tools.

Catch up with Dave on Instagram @davekoenigart or by visiting dkoenigart.com or tenthsanctum.com

Dave Koenig {E} Tattoo & Fine Artist Feature