Artist Chris Arredondo

1:32 PM Anis Widayanti 0 Comments

Last Friday we were given the distinct pleasure of meeting local artist Chris Arredondo, tattooer for 13 years, who works out of 
 a bright blue and yellow trimmed older home on Wells at Absolute Tattoo.

The gypsy style atmosphere of the shop is not only one of an old school, traditional tattoo shop, but has a professional, artistic environment, where the guys enjoy working together to bring you great tattoos.

Driving up for the interview, we quickly realize the camaraderie that’s already alive on this very busy tattoo street.  Owner Mike Bolado greets us at the door and a fellow artist Danny Galecki, from Evolution Tattoo on Wells, rides up on his bike to let us know Chris should be inside.

When we sat down to talk with Chris,  our conversation began by a comment about the bright and whimsical atmosphere inside and out. 

”Stylistically, that’s how tattoo shops used to be,” Arredondo said, “We wanted a more traditional shop. Tattoo venues used to be found in old arcades with lots of bright lights, or near bright flashing colors in carnivals or in the back of circus tents.”

They have absolutely accomplished the style they were after in the decor, and in their fun vibe. From top to bottom the walls are covered with their artwork and sarcastic signs that draw you in. There's no mistaking you are in a colorful place to get some ink. 

Arredondo told us what drew him into the business of tattoos.

Not wanting to get stuck in the small mining town of Globe, Arizona where he grew up, Arredondo joined the military. When he came back from Germany, he realized he’d rather do anything than a traditional 9-5 job.

“They just don’t teach you how to get out of a small town when you’re a kid,” Arredondo said.

In 2001, Arredondo started as a professional tattooer. “I was inspired as a kid, seeing Punk Rock dudes in bands having tattoos. It made me want to get tattoos and I was into drawing and shit. So for me it was either Punk Rock or Art and I realized quickly that rock and roll was never going to pay my bills.”

Arredondo got his first tattoo when he was 16 years old.

“My friends and I made a homemade tattoo machine before we knew what we were doing and gave ourselves tattoos." Arredondo said. "And then of course we all got busted for having tattoos.” 

Although his first tattoo is now covered, he does have some significant tats including his wife’s name and a tribute to his daughter.

Drawn to the wild west culture of Reno, NV Arredondo was originally invited by a friend to tattoo at Dixie Rose where he quickly enjoyed the culture in Reno and it eventually convinced him to stay.

“ I liked that Reno was still the wild west, you could get out of control.” Arredondo said.

His favorite thing about being a tattoo artist is the freedom of not having to work a crummy job, with a shitty boss, or dressing up in a tux just to go to work. Waking up and doing something he loves is the best part of the job but tattooing is not as easy as people think.

 When asked which tattoo has been his favorite to do,

“They all are my favorite pieces and especially when they walk out of here happy,” Arredondo said, “I’m not really doing it for me. I’ll do paintings for me, but tattoos are for others. I want you to get a tattoo and be happy with it.”

 The practice of tattooing has changed, by the fact that many people aren't satisfied with the simplicity of a traditional tattoo, says Arredondo, and that can make his job tough.

“I don’t feel like you have to have something that’s so obscure,” Arredondo said. “It’s ok to be simple. You don’t have to have everything on it. It’s like people need instructions  now to describe the tattoo or a road map. People have lost track of tattoos and that tattoos can just be tattoos.”

While most people think that any idea they bring to the tattoo table is going to work well as a tattoo, this may not always be the case, says Arredondo.

 “There are times when I can tell it’s not going to turn out cool but I try and steer people toward the coolest version of what they want.” Arredondo said. “If I can’t figure out a way to take your idea and make it awesome, then there are other artists here in Reno that I know might do the job.  It’s the worst feeling when you don’t come to a solution with someone and you have to let them go. It’s kind of like a mini-break up…. Sorry it’s not you, it’s me.”

Arredondo has noticed business has changed since Reality TV shows like LA Ink where Kat drives up in a Bentley and people think anyone can do this and it’s easy money.

“The general public doesn’t understand that there are good and bad tattooers out there.” Arredondo said. “That’s what’s scary for people. You come into a business and you expect a certain level of quality and expertise.”

 Not every shop is going to provide that kind of quality and expertise, says Arredondo, so doing your research before getting something permanent is important.

Arredondo has been awarded Best Traditional and Best Color at a few conventions and in magazines. His niche is Americana, traditional American and Japanese tattoos, anything skull, eagle, panther, roses, knife, wolf. 

Inspired by Sailor Jerry, Mike Malone, Ed Hardy and Keith Underwood, there’s a long lineage of artists who have influenced  Arredondo.  He is also inspired daily by social media,  Instagram spots like “All Spit” and co-workers Joe Zeigler, Lucasz Zyntzer, and George Quick, where he’s worked the longest with Joe. 

 In his spare time, Arredondo likes to do anything outdoors, especially fishing and hunting. For Father’s Day, he just got a fly rig and is learning how to fly fish.

If you’re looking for an artist that has loads of street cred, flows in the traditional tattoos like it’s nobody’s business, with a great personality and one of the best beards in town, this is your guy.

Upcoming tattoo events that Chris and Absolute Tattoo will be participating in 
The Lady Luck Tattoo Convention at Circus Circus in March 
and of course you can find him at

Absolute Tattoo
M-Sat 12-9p
Sunday 12-7p
707 S. Wells Ave.

Reno, NV 89502
Tel: (775)324-2223

 No (dot dot) el and Jen <3