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Planets & Constellations of the Heart


I remember being at a gas station at an early age and seeing a man with an eagle tattooed on his face underneath his eye near his cheek. I was frightened, and fixated at the same time. I had always been drawing and I had known about tattoos, but that was the first tattoo that I really remember.


Kimono © Shay Bredimus

A few years later I had a near death experience where i was stuck by a car while walking my bike through my school crosswalk. This accident was the catalyst that solidified my life as an artist. I was only ten years old and had essentially hit the reset button. Visual art from that point on was my primary mode of expression.


Study for Indelible © Shay Bredimus

A few years later I began to tattoo, and take whatever art classes I could. Life drawing, and more specifically quick pose gesture drawing, is what i gravitated towards. I used wax crayon on newsprint, but the newsprint wasn’t archival so I had to try and find an alternative surface with the same attributes . This is what led me to start drawing on plastic drafting film. The surface was smooth like newsprint, but it was even better. This plastic, unlike canvas or paper, is semi-translucent, which means I can draw on both sides and achieve atmospheric perspectives.

Constellation of Ships

Constellation of Ships © Shay Bredimus

I had tattoo ink available in the studio, so one day I decided to add it to my wax crayon drawings – the combination of wet and dry mediums is the reason why I call my artwork “Brush Drawings”.


Ebbing Tide © Shay Bredimus

The aesthetic qualities of these brush drawings show my influences of gesture drawing , tattooing and my love of academic portraiture.


Planet Juno (Mirror) © Shay Bredimus

In my most recent body of work “cartomancy”, I attempt to personify constellations and celestial bodies with the female form, much like Alphonse Mucha’s personifications of the seasons.


These cards are part a playable deck that I have re-imagined and interpreted with my own pictographs and portraits.

Image Credits

All Images Are © Shay Bredimus

Shay Bredimus Artist Bio

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA figurative painter and renowned tattoo artist, Bredimus employs languid and gestural marks using tattoo ink on drafting film to portray spontaneous and personal moments of his models. His classical training in portraiture is evident, to which he has added aesthetic influences from Japanese tattoo and Ukiyo-e prints.

A survivor of a traumatic brain injury that occurred at age ten Bredimus relates, “After the accident visual language became my first language and primary mode of expression, solidifying my life in the visual arts”.

Shay Bredimus earned an MFA in 2008 from the Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna, California and a BFA in painting from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Canada in 2004. He has studied under mentors F. Scott Hess and Wes Christensen, among others. His work was featured in two solo exhibitions at Koplin Del Rio, in Culver City California where he is represented. Shay has earned critical praise from Artweek and Inked magazine.

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Tremendous Truth

Shay Bredimus’ “Cartomancy” explores the art of divination through tattoo ink

By Evan Senn

Walking in to a bright white room, reminiscent of a contemporary cathedral, you feel compelled to bow before your altar, pray to the gods and beg for good fortune. Surrounded by peering eyes and thirsty mouths, you feel the larger energy of the souls stuck behind glass, aching to shatter the ghostly glass cage and penetrate your very being. Unaware of what the fortunes have in store for you, a wave of unease sweeps across you as you contemplate your fate in front of the many destined fortunes. The power is relentless and the haunting energy is boundless, even behind glass.

“Cartomancy” at Koplin Del Rio Gallery is an exhibition of re-imagined fortune-telling cards, suspended in shining black altar-like frames, built into fortitude of energy and life. Images of young women bound by their one omen hang all around this cathedral-like exhibition space. Each piece represents a fortune-created in tattoo ink and wax crayon, these works on drafting film create atmospheric personifications of the fortunistic ideas. The exhibition is only a part of the larger series, 30 works of the total 72. The artist, Shay Bredimus is a well known tattoo artist in Los Angeles, and is constantly capturing people’s attention with his gorgeously rendered brush drawings made in ink. He exhibits all over the Southern California art scene, and tattoos out of Kari Barba’s Outer Limits Tattoo studio which lives in the oldest tattoo parlor in the United States.

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Bredimus spent his youth studying the great masters of art, and you can see his adoration for art history and traditional techniques in all his work, but especially in this new series. He began tattooing at the young age of 14, but began drawing and painting way before that. A troubled youth, Bredimus found himself through his art practice, and though his severe brain trauma from his childhood hindered his progress in communication and in schooling early on, his artistic talents never ceased to amaze. A natural genius in rendering and artistic expression, his tattoo art resembles his paintings almost identically. Though sometimes he must act as a hired gun, giving clients their dream come true, much of his work is cohesive with his larger brand as an artist, and can be spotted a mile away.

“Cartomancy” is Bredimus’ third solo exhibition at Koplin Del Rio, and proves to be the largest single body of work he has attempted to date. The body of work clearly references his strong influence in tattoo culture and imagery, calling upon iconic symbolism, historical images and popular cultural tattoo imagery as well. Dark and realistic, they float in black, begging for love and inquiry in every frame. The works range in feeling and concept, but all contain a similar thematic style. The faces stuck inside each fortune are photorealistic, as if snapshots of real people caught in purgatory perfection. Some seem powerful and enraged, some seem on the brink of suicide or heartbreak, some even seem to be dripping wet with deep, dark sorrow.

While working on the Cartomancy series Bredimus’ tattoo artwork started to take a similar style, often resembling the deeply connected fortune series he poured himself into every night.

Human beings are inevitably addicted to this search, this journey-the voyage to truth. Whether in our own personal relationships, our own path in life, our uncertain future or our demise, it is our strongest desire, truths. The hunt for truth is in all of us, deeply rooted and tightly bound. Battista Seni, a 16th century oracle, created the original Seni Horoscope fortune-telling cards. Bredimus studied these cards for months before he began to research and repurpose these ideas through his own creative lens.  Using models he recreated every card, every fortune completely unique to their energy and source of power.

He uses tattoo ink to paint the atmosphere in each piece, along with wax crayon to aid his rendering, combining wet and dry materials in one work of art on his opaque plastic layers. He spends nearly 30 hours per piece, no matter how small or large. With a Masters of Fine Arts degree from one of the most prestigious figurative institutions, Laguna College of Art and Design, Bredimus imbues exquisite precision in his figurative and portrait rendering. He plays with extreme contrast in his work, creating vast depth in each piece in such a way that it seems as if a melting glimpse of a dark and eerie alternate reality.

In preparing for this exhibit, Bredimus became a hermit of sorts-working days at the tattoo shop and nights in his studio, the body of grew steadily for over a year and half, and will eventually debut the full series at the Long Beach Museum of Art. This work is monumental for realistic contemporary fine art, bridging the tattoo world with that of the fine art realm, this work exists as a respected and gallant body of work in both-very rare.

Finding solace and resolution in the melancholy, Bredimus’ work is known for its ghostly qualities and dark exploration of gestural and emotive humanity. This series is unlike his normal work-soft, ethereal and evocative-it is tightly rendered, nearly stamp-like in its iconography yet almost photographic in its rendered portraiture. Though the style of his human figures and faces remains cohesive with his larger portfolio of work, the Cartomancy series reflects a kind of darker emotional edge and inferred spirituality that was unexpected. The installation alone resembles a religious space, utilizing ancient-style pediments and columns built into his frames to further perpetuate the veneration of the fortunes.

Shrouded in history and romantic mysticism, the Cartomancy series takes a contemporary glance at an ancient system of divination, regaled and respected by all, desired and worshipped by kings and queens. This fortune-telling system has been awakened after centuries of dusted rest and forgotten value. Bredimus’ re-imaginations of this truth-seeking art form are just as tremendous and unforgettable as the original system created by the Italian oracle ages ago. With timeless iconography and haunting imagery, Bredimus is able to bridge worlds and bring reverence and truth to the exhibition space in “Cartomancy.”


shay press telegram 2

By Richard Guzman, Press-Telegram


Cartomancy: Recent Drawings by Shay Bredimus

When: June 28-July 26. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Koplin Del Rio, 6031 Washington Blvd., Culver City.

Admission: Free.

Information: 310-836-9055,


He spends his work days at Outer Limits Tattoo and Body Piercing, where he is a sought-after tattoo artist with a three-month-long waiting list.

But at home, Long Beach resident Shay Bredimus spends the rest of his time pretty much alone in his one-bedroom apartment, where besides a bed, a chair, a drafting table and a vintage painting easel, he has no other furniture — not even a TV. His constant companion is his old cat, Barkley, whose face Bredimus has tattooed on his right leg.

It’s here the long-haired and bearded Bredimus isolates himself to continue working on his art; but instead of needling images on human skin he transitions into a figurative painter who uses tattoo ink, wax crayon and photography on opaque drafting film to create ghostly and spiritual images.

“I think of myself more as an artist that tattoos than a tattooer that paints,” said Bredimus, in a soft voice as he sat on a stool inside his second-floor home on his 35th birthday last week.

He had no plans to celebrate his birthday that day, instead he was going to stay in to work on his art as he prepares for his upcoming show at the Koplin Del Rio gallery in Culver City titled “Cartomancy: Recent Drawings by Shay Bredimus.”

The exhibition opens June 28 and runs through July 26. It’s the third solo show at the gallery for Bredimus, who holds two fine arts degrees. It will feature 24 pieces that are part of a larger 72-piece series called “Cartomancy: The Seni Horoscope Re-imagined in Tattoo Ink.”

“If you walked into my museum, this is what you would see: monochromatic, strong visual stuff,” he said as he looked around his apartment walls that were covered with the dark pieces that will be featured in the show. Some were completed and hung with dark wood frames that resemble cathedral pediments, others were scattered on his drafting table or in boxes as he continued to work on the final touches.

“This is based on tattoo graphic art, realist or naturalist portraiture and the layers, the combination of the two,” he said of the artwork, which is inspired by the 17th century fortune-telling system created by Italian oracle Giovanni Battista Seni — a tarot deck of cards with 72 images — like hearts, moon, sun — that represent predictions for life.

Bredimus imagines these cards as a combination of familiar images like ships, anchors, planets or even a Pegasus created using black tattoo ink on both sides of the translucent drafting film.

The images are adorned with illuminating rays that emerge from behind, another element inspired by his tattoo background. Portraits of women that Bredimus photographs in his home studio emerge as ghostly apparitions from the middle of the images.

“With this grouping there is a definite sense of something that is historic and nostalgic,” said Eleana Del Rio, gallery director at Koplin Del Rio.

“They have an aura about them, almost as iconic images; as if you’re going to a cathedral to see these historic relics. I think that’s compelling in this body of work, you’re naturally drawn into these pieces,” she added.

The Omaha, Neb.,-born Bredimus was raised by a single mother along with his older brother in Phoenix, Ariz. His mother, who was a cartographer, was an early influence on Bredimus’ artistic career.

“She’s a great photographer as well; she has a clean minimal aesthetic, which I think I got from her, and beautiful architectural handwriting, which I try to emulate too,” he said.

Another great influence on his art was a more tragic event that nearly took his life when he was 10 years old. Bredimus was walking his bicycle across a sidewalk when a car hit him. The handlebars of the bike went through his head and caused a traumatic brain injury. He recalled the event as he pointed to about a quarter-size scar by his right temple, where the handlebars entered his head.

“I had 45 percent right frontal lobe brain damage. I should have died instantly,” he said. “I made a full recovery and I feel like it turned on the art. You have your event, your catalyst that turns you into who you are and I feel like that was mine. At that moment, visual language became my primary language.”

His love of fine art led to him to study life drawing classes at a community college and eventually to a bachelor’s of fine art in painting from Emily Carr University and a master’s of fine arts in painting from Laguna College of Art and Design in 2009.

Besides his exhibitions in Culver City, Bredimus had solo shows at the San Luis Obispo Art Center and Fresno City College, as well as several group shows in Hong Kong, Seattle and Las Vegas. He was also a featured speaker at the Long Beach Museum of Art in February as part of the venue’s Artist Talk series. Bredimus spoke about how his tattoo skills influence his fine art.

Ron Nelson, executive director of the museum, said they are now working with Bredimus on a solo show there that would feature the bulk of his current series, including some of the pieces that will be on display and for sale in Culver City.

“I would love to show his work,” Nelson said. “We’re really excited to see these 17th century cards he’s re-created with his own special touch. I’m excited about the show at Koplin Del Rio but I’m really excited to work with him in the future and really showcase all of the talents he has.”

Meanwhile, back at his apartment, a friend stopped by and left a gift bag on his front door without knocking. Later, Bredimus ended up going out to a movie with another friend that night.

He got home late and went right back to his artwork, since there are still pieces to finish for the upcoming show.

“I’ve been working on this show pretty hard for the past nine months,” he said. “I’ve pretty much been drawing every day with tattoo appointments and then coming home and doing this for three to four more hours a night.”





The art and life of Shay Bredimus

 By Evan Senn

Shay Bredimus is a talented painter who creates boundary-pushing artworks, bridging the gaps between tattoo art and traditional fine art. He works full-time as a tattoo artist at the nation’s oldest tattoo parlor, and is also a full time fine artist. His tattoo work and innovative fine art are often influenced by one another—both imbued with struggle. His art transcends time and culture, genuinely connecting with the human experience and the intimacies and struggles we all face in our lives. Bredimus has received great praise over the last few years for his fine art and tattoo work. He has been featured in many publications and has been exhibited internationally since finishing his MFA. Bredimus is preparing for his third solo exhibition called “The Seni Horoscopes” at Koplin Del Rio in Culver City, and sat down with CULTURE to talk about his inspiration, his current series and his love of cannabis.

When did you know you had an artistic and creative drive?

I think it was grade school. I was always drawing in school, instead of taking notes. I would draw comic book characters, doodles, sketches, that kind of thing. I knew what I wanted to do when I was a kid—some people know they want to be an astronaut or a fireman; I knew I wanted to be an artist.

When did you first start tattooing?

I started tattooing with a homemade machine on my friends when I was 14, but I started a traditional two-year tattoo apprenticeship when I was 18. I’ve been tattooing ever since.

What was the main contributing factor to you pursuing a career as an artist?

Honestly, I don’t think there was ever any other career path for me—it’s not even a choice. It’s almost a compulsion—it’s everything, it’s all I know, it’s my life. Working a regular job has never appealed to me. Especially once I got into tattoos. Art is not something you get into for money, it’s a vocation. It’s more than a job, it’s like a legacy.

Do your tattoos and fine art ever overlap, resemble or inspire one another?

My fine art is conceptually and physically layered, I use tattoo ink on plastic (a metaphor for skin in my opinion). I choose tattoo ink to reference my influence of tattoo culture on my life and practice. My fine art is often influenced by my surgically meticulous tattoo work, and I approach my tattoos like a painting. Stylistically they often have similarities as well.

Tell us the personal significance of this current series of work, for you?

The current series I’m working on is for my third solo show, The Seni Horoscopes. It’s based on a re-interpretation of a 16th century German fortune-telling card system. When I was formulating this idea, my life felt uncertain, with an unclear kind of future, so to be making re-imagined cards to predict the outcome of your life is kind of interesting to me. I am drawn to the precision of the fortunes, the clarity it symbolizes, when everything else feels unclear. It’s ended up being a very rewarding experience, creating all of these—and the finished products are really great.

What are your thoughts on cannabis legalization?

Legalize it! Everywhere across the world—it should be legal. I think it’s hypocritical to push all these pills and chemical medications that destroy your organs and your mind; alcohol and tobacco is legal, there’s no reason marijuana should be illegal. It’s just a plant; plants should be legal.


Do you see things progressing for American cannabis reform?

Honestly, I think the “war on drugs” is just a perpetual money-making machine, so that’s not going to dry up any time soon. So, I don’t think federal legalization will happen for a while. They’re content with making money this way. The government will just give a little and then take a little, and then give a little and take even more.

How does cannabis help you?

Medically, I get intense migraines—residual pain from a traumatic brain injury I suffered when I was young. It helps relieve the pressure I feel in my brain. I also have terrible vision, so it helps ease the pain from my over-stimulated eyes. It also helps my blood circulation. I use cannabis regularly, and feel grateful to live in a place that medical cannabis is available.


Giving some ink to local painter-tattooist Shay Bredimus

March 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Imitating Life


Shay Bredimus

Shay Bredimus
Cory Bilicko
Managing Editor

Thirty-four-year-old Shay Bredimus is known locally for his work as a tattoo artist, having inked skin since 1998, but his training is rooted in formal education; this tattooist has a master’s degree in fine arts.
The now Long Beach resident hails from Omaha, Nebraska, was raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and “bounced around the West Coast after that.” Bredimus, who has been living in Long Beach for five years, currently creates skin art at Outer Limits, 22 S. Chestnut Pl., which is, according to its website, the oldest tattoo shop in the country.
Last month, Bredimus was the featured speaker for the Long Beach Museum of Art’s Artist Talk event entitled “Tattoo Influence,” during which he explained how the technical skill he has learned from tattooing has influenced his fine art and how the aesthetics of fine art has affected his tattoo work.

Tattoo work by Shay Bredimus

Tattoo work by Shay Bredimus
What drew you into the tattoo world?
When I was 10 years old, I saw a guy that had an eagle tattoo on his face, just under his eye. He embodied everything I was attracted to and frightened by, all in one. I liked the fringe and the danger of this marginalized art form. It was also the only kind of artistic expression that was available to me at the time, in my neighborhood. We didn’t have ateliers and private art schools. We had tattoos and graffiti.

What would you say is your “point of view” as a tattoo artist?
Before I am a tattoo artist, I am an artist. So, the way I see or approach tattoo art is from a painter’s point of view. The light, the shadow, the concept and the composition… I approach it like I approach a painting– not just as a tattoo.

Your tattoo work includes a lot of very realistic portraits. What training as an artist have you had?
I had a two-year apprenticeship as a tattooer early on. But, I also have a bachelor’s of fine art in painting from Emily Carr University and a master’s of fine arts in painting from Laguna College of Art and Design. I have been doing art since the first grade– I knew early on that I was going to be an artist.

Do you work full-time as a tattoo artist?
Yes, I work 40 hours a week as a tattoo artist. It’s been my main job for as long as I can remember.

What’s the strangest experience you’ve ever had while giving someone a tattoo?
Since I work at the oldest shop in America, Outer Limits Tattoo, they don’t have air conditioning, and during the Long Beach summer, it gets so hot in this old shop that people drop like flies. People pass out more often from heat stroke than pain– and it’s pretty startling to have your client go limp in the chair while you’re tattooing them. In the five years I’ve worked at Outer Limits, I‘ve probably seen 20 people pass out while I’ve been tattooing them.

Tattoo work by Shay Bredimus

Tattoo work by Shay Bredimus


How did you get involved with the presentation you gave at the Long Beach Museum of Art? 
Last year, the Long Beach Museum of Art asked me to submit a piece of art for their annual art auction. They knew of my work through my gallery representation, Koplin Del Rio in Culver City. Then again, this year, in preparation for my upcoming third solo show, they decided to have me back to discuss my work– both tattoo art and fine art– and the overlapping areas, influences and techniques of both.

How would you characterize your non-tattoo artwork?
My fine art is a blend of flat graphic device, compositional depth and realistic rendering.

What would you say is the number-one thing, besides artistic talent, that one needs to be a successful tattoo artist? 
Talent and mileage are the most important. But, I think you also have to be courageous and confident as well. Mistakes can happen, and if they do, they’re huge. But if you are trained, skilled and confident, you can will yourself through the most intense and ultimate alla prima art form.

To view more of Bredimus’s work, visit




LADN logo

Line blurs between tattoos and fine art

By Sandra Barrera, Los Angeles Daily News

POSTED:  | PUBLISHED in print 01/21/2014

Shay LADN 6.2

For years, Nemecio “Nemo” Lopez approached portrait drawing the way any tattoo artist would: line for line.

And then his teacher showed the 25-year-old Sylmar man how a real artist breaks it down into stages.

“It’s like he was sculpting a face, giving it dimension and life; all that good stuff,” said Lopez, who put the lesson to his realistic black-and-gray tattoo work at Needle Pushers in Van Nuys and got surprising results.

“Now I’m knocking down a portrait faster than before, and it doesn’t look flat,” he said.

Call it a lesson learned.

A growing number of established tattoo artists like Lopez are sharpening their skills and increasing their marketability at fine art schools, and for good reason. The tattoo, once relegated to the gritty side of the street, has transcended its clichéd past in recent years much in the way like graffiti has.

“It’s no longer fringe and ghetto,” said Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia, a professor at Otis College of Art and Design, where a number of his students are tattoo artists and former street taggers pursuing fine art careers. “It’s made the leap to becoming mainstream and fashion.”

Consider Ed Hardy’s colorful tattoo imagery of skulls, tigers and geishas on everything from T-shirts to blow dryers and lunch boxes. Kat Von D, star of TLC’s “LA Ink,” has launched a line of cosmetics at Sephora and written three New York Times best sellers — “High Voltage Tattoos,” “The Tattoo Chronicles” and “Go Big or Go Home.” More recently, Oxygen’s popular tattoo competition series “Best Ink” returned for a third season with colorful characters all vying for $100,000 and a cover story in Tattoo magazine.

What’s more, PTA moms to doctors are paying top dollar to go under the needle.

“The money is there in an incredible way,” said Sergio Sanchez, a tattoo artist and fine art painter who teaches at different art schools around town. “People will let go of $3,000 or $4,000 no problem, but if you try to get the same individual to buy an original oil painting for the same amount, it isn’t happening.”

The challenge is standing out from the crowd.

To step it up a notch, tattoo artists are taking the money they earn on clients and applying it to learning the fundamentals of shape, value, edge and color.

“The fundamentals are the only things that you can control to re-create an image no matter what style you work in,” said Sanchez, who has seen an influx of tattoo artists pass through his classes on any given day at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art in Van Nuys, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach.

Some tattoo artists enroll in single-session classes to become better at drawing, while others like Camila Rocha set out to make the transition to fine art.

Rocha, 31, got her start in Sao Paolo, Brazil, 13 years ago as the first female tattoo artist there. But she always dreamed of becoming an artist.

When she got to Los Angeles, she enrolled in an arts program through LAAFA and studied with different artists on the side while working for Kat Von D’s High Voltage Tattoo shop in West Hollywood (where “LA Ink” is filmed). She’s now at the New York Academy of Art pursuing her master’s in painting and drawing with the goal of teaching and leaving tattoo art behind.

“Tattooing is a giving experience as an artist, but I always felt there was a part of me that wanted to be more expressive, and tattooing was not fulfilling that professionally,” said Rocha, whose tattoo style has gone from old school imagery to Japanese mythology. “As soon as I went to become a fine artist and I was in that environment, and I was expressing myself and I was finding myself, I knew it was the right choice.”

The irony is some of her classmates are following the opposite trajectory and entering the world of tattoos after art school.

“Tattooing is about grabbing an image, tracing it to the best of your ability and putting it on skin,” said Edgar Marquez, the 35-year-old co-owner of Long Beach Ink Assassins and tattoo artist. “There are some hard-core tattoo artists who want to stick with it, but then there are other tattooers who are pushing it to another level because they know what fine art is.”

Although he doesn’t have a lot of free time on his hands, Marquez, who tattoos to support his family of six — including his two children, ages 4 and 9, and his wife’s twin 13-year-old brothers — has been picking up art classes here and there for several years.

More recently he studied with figurative artist Sean Cheetham at 3Kicks Art Studio in Pasadena and creates classical-style paintings of luchadores and other cultural references to his Mexican-American upbringing. His paintings are a separate expression from his colorful tattoo work, which ranges from realistic to cartoon-y.

But that’s not the way Shay Bredimus sees it.

The 34-year-old consciously lets them influence one another.

“Some people come in to see me specifically because I have an art background and they want a painterly style of tattoo,” said Bredimus, who is a tattoo artist at the influential Outer Limits in Long Beach (formerly Bert Grimm’s World Famous Tattoo Shop now owned by Kari Barba) and classically trained fine art painter with a master’s in fine arts represented by the Koplin Del Rio gallery in Culver City.

Tattoo artists usually transfer the design to skin and fill in the lines dark to light. With the painterly style, Bredimus starts at the bottom left corner of his design and works his way to the top, “brushing in” color with the needle and tightening up the composition as he goes along.

He adds pattern and layers pigment on pigment over the course of several sessions, allowing the skin to heal between ink saturations.

“Everything gets deeper and darker and smoother,” he said. “You can really see the difference.”

The surgical precision of tattooing is likewise translated in his studio work.

Bredimus is currently putting together a show called “The Seni Horoscopes,” a re-creation of 17th century astrology cards created by Giovanni Battista Seni — an Italian oracle who served Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein, a major figure in the Thirty Years’ War.

In creating the cards, he uses tattoo ink and wax crayon on drafting film.

Jewelry maker Diana Ishimizu Erskin of Long Beach recently hired Bredimus to design a mythological “mermaid princess,” wrapped in octopus tentacle hair. It’s her first tattoo by the artist whom she sought out because of his technical precision combined with a fine arts background, though it’s her fifth overall inspired by ocean and nature.

“His pieces are intricate and well thought out and highly designed, which I find somebody with a degree would have more ability to achieve than somebody who hasn’t gone to art school,” says Erskin, 30, who has spent upwards of $2,000 total on skin art by different tattoo artists in the last six years.

They include a “mom”-style heart tattoo with the name of her 3-year-old daughter, Amelia, emblazoned on a banner filling the upper half of her right arm. Also for her daughter: a small dreamcatcher to ward off evil spirits. Her maiden surname, Ishimuzu, is tattooed on her back for her grandmother — “She was my favorite person in the world,” Erskin says — accompanied by a sea turtle and birds. They share her back with a starfish, her first tattoo.

“I would pay more for a tattoo than I would for something for my wall just because it’s on my body,” Erskin says. “It’s something that you have to look at every day so you better sure it’s what you want.”



evolved feature

January 3, 2014

Shay Bredimus Artist Feature

{E} Features Fine Artist: Shay Bredimus

Medium: Tattoo ink and wax crayon on drafting film
Interview by Christina Diaz for {E-VOLVED}

Meet fine artist Shay Bredimus. Born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1979, and raised in Phoenix, AZ. Phoenix is where Shay cultivated his tastes and tendencies for his fine art and tattoos. The most immediate form of expression at that time for Shay was graffiti and tattoo culture. With artists like GRIME and EL-MAC also in Phoenix at that time; he had inspiration literally on the walls to study. These customs and cultures influenced his earliest interest in art.Shay also adds, “the Phoenix Art Museum has the painting Pollice Verso (1872), by Jean Leon Gerome. This painting set the standard for greatness in my mind, and began an obsession for nineteenth century painting that still evokes me to this day. My fine art influences my tattoo work and my tattoo work influences my fine art. My fine art draws from tattoo iconography, and my tattoos are applied in a painterly style.”

Shay works full time as a tattoo artist at Kari Barba’s Outer Limits in Long Beach, CA, and paints non-stop on his days off.

{E}: Who got you interested in art?

SB: Technically, I am a descendant of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon-a big influence early on. My family is also related to French muralists that immigrated to America in the 1800s.

{E}: Were you artistic as a child?

SB: After I was involved in a near death car accident at the age of ten, visual language became my primary mode of expression and cemented my passion and future as an artist.

{E}: Are you self-taught or did you attend a trade school?

SB: My first real academic experience in the arts was at community college in Mesa, AZ, with Jim Garrison. In his amazing class I learned atelier style training with a small group of students who have also flourished in the arts, including Frank Gonzalez, painter Matt Dickson and tattoo artist Modo Rascon. After receiving my Associates Degree in Art from MCC I went to Art Academy in SF, then on to Emily Carr University in Vancouver, British Columbia for my BFA in Painting, where I painted alongside young painters like Charlie Roberts and Jesse Garbe. I also learned great lessons from teachers like Peter Schuyff. I later relocated to Laguna Beach where I earned my Master’s Degree from Laguna College of Art and Design, again, with amazing mentors like Scott Hess, Stephen Douglas and so many great guest artists like Jerome Witkin and Alex Kanevsky, who helped me become well rounded.

{E}: Describe your artwork.

SB: My fine art is conceptually and physically layered, I use tattoo ink on plastic (a metaphor for skin in my opinion). I choose tattoo ink to reference my influence of tattoo culture from an early age (14) when I started tattooing. I choose monochromatic format for its immediate visceral impact and dramatic evocation. I have coined the term “brush drawings” to describe my wet and dry process influenced from my training in traditional painting and life drawing as well as the surgically meticulous tattoo work. My work also gives subtle reference to x-rays and hospitalization. My traumatic brain injury sustained at age ten is probably my greatest influence; by this I mean the symptoms of traumatic brain injury like spontaneity and impulsive mark-making are a direct result of my accident, and are probably the reasons for the overall dark quality of my work. My older brother always said pressure makes diamonds-I think it is adversity that leads to the greatest works of art or music; Caravaggio made his greatest work while on the run for murder, and many great composers’ most breathtaking concertos were created after tragic loss.

{E}: What would you say sets you apart from others in the industry?

SB: What separates me from other tattoo artists in the industry-besides my education-would be my personal aesthetic. My tattoo style is approached more like a painting than a tattoo. I feel like tattooing is a rite of passage for modern people who have lost touch with primal and tribal rituals that link us to the past. A good tattooer is a kind of shaman who gives you symbols or talismans to help you receive the power from the image applied to your body.

{E}: Tell us about your personal tattoo collection.

SB: My arm and back have been tattooed by Mike Roper, an enigmatic tattoo artist that does very good japanese work. I have also been getting a bunch of laser tattoo removal to make room for new work…

{E}: What inspires you?

SB: Inspiration comes from life experience, tragedy, pain, beauty, art and other artists alike, more specifically, masterful figurative allegorical painters. What I’m drawn to when I visit a museum is portraiture, the human form; past lives, the stories told are like a time machine into the past.

{E}: While growing up, what cartoons or stories had an influence on you?

SB: Marvel comics, Thunder Cats, early anime like Ninja Scroll or Fist of the North Star; I am drawn to post-apocalyptic art for some reason-drawn to the flame like a moth.

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

SB: My art is directly influenced by events in my life. I have had two solo shows in LA since being signed to Koplin Del Rio in 2009, and I am currently working on the 3rd. The concept for my first show “Indelible” was a direct reference to the permanence of tattooing in our fleeting and ephemeral world we live in. The second show was inspired by a trip to Japan. While in Osaka, I saw a traveling art show from Chicago, it turns out that Chicago and Osaka are sister cities. I wanted to explore this concept. I had seen female personifications of the seasons by Alphonse Mucha, and I was inspired to make these same personifications, but instead of season I thought I would do cities, and more specifically sister cities, and even more specifically Los Angeles-the dream center of culture for the entire world. Hence my second show, “Kotomi: The Female Personifications of the Sister Cities of Los Angeles.” My 3rd and current project is “The Seni Horoscopes,” based on a card system derived from 16th century Italian oracle Giovanni Baptiste Seni, this card system is an accurate way to answer questions based on math and astronomy.

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

SB: It is probably easier for me to name movements or periods because I love so many painters. From the Renaissance to Baroque, Pre-Raphaelites to the Naturalists, Impressionists, Expressionists and Japanese woodblock prints; but if I had to make a list of top 3 old masters it would have to be John Singer Sargent, Alphonse Mucha, and Jean Leon Gerome. As far as contemporary painters, probably Jerome Witkin, Justin Mortimer and Alex Kanevsky.

{E}: What do you enjoy most about this profession? Least?

SB: My favorite thing about the profession of tattooing or of fine art is the same-creating. Creation is the highest form of intelligence; art defines what it means to be human, it is what we look too to understand the past. We make a mark to describe the condition of our time; art records this mark, it is a time machine of sorts. The worst and best thing about tattooing is its fleeting nature, your art will age and pass, like a sand painting. It’s more about the ritual of getting it, then it is about keeping it forever, I think.

{E}: Favorite art tool?

SB: One tool I can’t live without in my practice is my surface, the giving and haunting support that I paint on. The plastic has become a staple in my work and I feel it parallels my art on skin.

{E}: First tattoo experience.

SB: My first tattoo was my mom’s name on my chest when I was 14. My friend did it. He was neither an artist nor a tattoo artist; it was a brutal experience with a homemade setup guitar string and walkman parts; two cover ups later and now I’m getting laser to start over on that area.

{E}: What does your family think about your career choice?

SB: My family is very supportive of my life in the arts, they all commend me on having the courage to follow my dreams, as difficult as they may be to achieve.

{E}: Do you have any words of advice for an up-and-coming artist?

SB: My advice for up and coming artists would be mileage: 10,000 hours to mastery, 40 hours a week for 5 years.


Check out more of Shay’s work here:



Featured Rogue Artist: Shay Bredimus

Oct. 7, 2013
After stumbling upon the art of Shay Bredimus in a tiny co-op gallery in Long Beach, we couldn’t help but look a little closer at this fascinating artist. His work is dark and brooding, not unlike the artist, himself. But, with classical techniques, and an innovative use of traditional style, Bredimus is one of few burgeoning artists right now, to approach the figure in a new and interesting way.The unique and protective artist wouldn’t give up all the secrets to his process, but watching him work is amazingly inspirational, and gives us an insightful glance into how he creates all that he does. A tattoo artist by day, and a traditional figurative painter by night, this guy lives and breathes art. With every perforated piece of skin and every brush he touches, he makes figures, feeling and intensity flow as if it has a life of its own. Fluid and moving, real and ethereal, Bredimus’ work will haunt you in the best possible way.He uses tattoo ink to paint with–along with wax crayon, combining wet and dry materials in one work of art–often on slightly opaque plastic. He spends nearly 30 hours per piece, no matter how small, and works solitary, quiet and dark; around the clock–at all hours of day and night. His work is often known for its eerie, ghostly imagery, but the content of his masterful figures and still lifes are so intense and complex they carry on a life of their own after they’re created.  Intimate moments of intense self reflection or doubt, captured in his fluid–yet realistic, painterly style. Now, in his third major series since gaining national exposure, his fans are anticipating the best of the best from this Long Beach artistic staple.

Shay one

With an MFA from one of the most notorious figurative institutions, Laguna College of Art and Design, Bredimus imbues exquisite precision in his rendering. He plays with extreme contrast in his work, in such a way that it seems as if a melting snapshot of a dark and eerie alternate universe.

In his newer Seni Horoscope series, he is creating over 70 medium-sized pieces, each representing a horoscope tarot card fortune. Still imploring the devastating details and realism his larger pieces are known for, each one of these Seni pieces embodies the fate the card is meant for, with haunting connection and accuracy. These Seni works definitely show his tattoo design and influence more than some of his past work, but the human portrayals are still mind-bogglingly spot on, eerie and uncanny.

Take a intimate peek at his process in real time here:






On September 5, 2013 by Evan Senn



In this day and age, competition is everything. My generation is a generation of hustlers and competitors. It can be a battle for success and a battle for life. In fine art, it has always been a battle to try and get to the top, but, with the terrors of war, crime and poverty around every corner, up and coming fine artists are battling for more than just their success in the fine art world. Grief- and poverty-stricken artists are doing whatever it takes to stay alive and in practice. With the thousands of expectations weighing heavily on their shoulders with every breath, the daily struggle to be an artist is monumental, now. This is not our parents’ journey to find art. This journey is treacherous and many give up trying to succeed at all and sell out for a corporate cubicle and dead end job. But the few who stay on the path have a more difficult journey ahead of them.

This is where “I DON”T WANT TO GO TO PRISON,” a group exhibition in Long Beach comes into play.

Visiting a city like Long Beach, you rarely expect to find high-brow contemporary art, let alone a haven for workaholic, restless and creative geniuses. Long Beach is a city of forgotten souls and shattered dreams for the mariners of Southern California, perched in the shadows of high end So Cal life. But nestled in this dirty, smelly and magnetic place there is a handful of astonishing artists that may not be household names yet, but given a couple of years, they will fight their way to the top of the art-food-chain. You can see their hunger, ambition, and talent in every brush stroke.

I stumbled upon the Artists Co-Op Gallery on an off chance. Tucked away behind the coolest of punk bars in all of California, Alex’s Bar, this sterile cement structure pulses with life and energy, though you wouldn’t know it upon approaching the space. This space serves as a collective studio for 11 artists, and it also has a front exhibition space that is minimal and expansive. The front gallery space was the room I got attached to, with the new exhibition by Shay Bredimus, Hely Gonzalez and Preston Daniels, I was mesmerized.

“I DON’T WANT TO GO TO PRISON” is an exhibition that centers itself around the abstract mental space of young artists today, as they fight for their lives and freedom as individuals, and as artists. With crushing responsibilities like student loans, rent, studio fees, art materials, cars, bikes, time and space, it is an uphill climb for most—without an end in sight. This struggle can be a catalyst for friendship and support, but, it is a huge driving force in these artists’ lives and art practice.

As I walked through the glass doors of the exhibition space, my eyes locked onto the exquisite work of Shay Bredimus, at the end of the corridor. Two dark and ominous framed portrayals of what look like mythological beings or ancient spiritual entities engage all my senses. With a shared dark tympanum, the two framed compositions touch each other in a delicate graze from their respective corners. The piece as a whole emits an energy of mysticism. This piece is a mere portion of a larger series of Bredimus’ Seni Horoscope pieces that will be exhibited in an upcoming exhibition.


The work feels as though it is leaving a painful scar on the wall that it gently hangs on. It bleeds sweet, black blood and stains the wall as it trickles down to the floor of the exhibition space, beckoning for attention and interaction. Both images housed in this dark relic shrine look like ghosts, with extreme contrasts and intense emotion emanating from the female gaze inside each of the compositions.

On the right, a human-serpent creature lightly shines through the opaque foggy material, as if three-dimensional inside this tiny flat surface. On the left, an angry looking woman’s face peers through the seemingly deep haze with two solid daggers in the foreground. Both images have a clear reference to classical figurative rendering, while parts of the compositions seem to touch on ancient religious symbols and traditional tattoo design. Bredimus’ work is often on an opaque plastic and intricately painted with fine lines, shading and exquisite detail in painted inks. The overall feeling of much of his work is haunting—this piece lingered in my daydreams for weeks. The juxtaposition in the imagery lightly caresses the abstract theme inferred by the exhibition title, but leaves the interpretation open-ended, only strengthening the haunting qualities of the work.

To the left of Bredimus’ work hangs a more passive representation of that mental space of strife and struggle; an abstract minimalist painting by Hely Gonzalez entitled Slave Ship. Predominantly black, with one major obtuse block of warm color toward the top of the composition, it seems to be hovering directly above an area of subtle faded color and emotion, barely seen and soft on all edges. That strange block of color seems as if an unattainable window or trap door, in a bottomless pit of darkness and doubt. Casting a very small amount of light into the space below the open and unreachable window, the space suddenly feels whole. The composition evokes a sense of space in the emptiness.


Though Gonzalez’s painting is seemingly simple and abstract, the power of the colors and energy of the composition naturally reference the master painter, Rothko and his intense and spiritual paintings. It is interesting to witness an object so simple creating such a full body of emotion; it’s almost as if the absence of lines or images forces your imagination to fill in the conceptual motives more easily.

The third piece in the exhibition is by Preston Daniels, across from the Hely Gonzalez painting. It is a magnetic and sharp invocation of light and space and darkness. Looking like it belongs in the Matrix, visually referencing Robert Irwin and Alberto Giacometti at the same time. It’s title is Campfire Barricade. Daniel’s work often resembles a melted version of reality, picking and choosing which parts of the real world as worth saving for his own. Playing god in a way, Daniels found a light to guide him through the darkness. His sculpture hangs on the wall, looking as though it could pounce on an unsuspecting visitor at any time. Where Gonzalez brought curiosity, and Bredimus brought passion, Daniels’ work brings fear and honesty.


I felt as though I was peering into the soul of this object and that it would devour me whole at any moment. The sculpture has such sharp edges that seemed as if they reached for me, such thick black goo dripping down the wall. The texture, alone, gave the feeling of movement; the sense that this was what the world was like after an apocalyptic incident. The shining bright light shoved into place on this monster of worry and darkness.

“I DON’T WANT TO GO TO PRISON: A Group Exhibition” is up thru September 30. Appointment only. Artists Co-Op Gallery, 1330 Gladys Ave. Long Beach, 90802.





London Reese   /  September 9, 2013

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Artist Feature: Shay Bredimus

A figurative painter and renowned tattoo artist, Bredimus employs languid and gestural marks using tattoo ink on drafting film to portray spontaneous and personal moments of his models. His classical training in portraiture is evident, to which he has added aesthetic influences from Japanese tattoo and Ukiyo-e prints.

A survivor of a traumatic brain injury that occurred at age ten Bredimus relates, “After the accident visual language became my first language and primary mode of expression, solidifying my life in the visual arts”.

Shay Bredimus earned an MFA in 2008 from the Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna, California and a BFA in painting from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Canada in 2004. He has studied under mentors F. Scott Hess and Wes Christensen, among others. His work was featured in two solo exhibitions at Koplin Del Rio, in Culver City California where he is represented. Shay has earned critical praise from Artweek and Inked Magazine.
Instagram: @Shaybredimus


By London Reese
Hailing from Orange County, California, London grew up with a pencil in hand and an unrelenting passion for the arts. Brittan London Reese has been making art, in some form or another, since early childhood. Taking a hand at illustration, painting, and writing music all furthered his love of creating. He began tattooing in 2006 and in the summer of 2011, he won the title of the reality television show, “Best Ink”, a tattoo competition which aired nationally. Much of his art and tattoo work has been published in several magazines and books and has earned several awards and accolades. In 2010, London established a modern art patronage, Prophets & Poets, to help promote the arts to the world.









A figurative painter and renowned tattoo artist, Bredimus employs languid and gestural marks using tattoo ink on drafting film to portray spontaneous and personal moments of his models. His classical training in portraiture is evident, to which he has added aesthetic influences from Japanese tattoo and Ukiyo-e prints.

A survivor of a traumatic brain injury that occurred at age ten Bredimus relates, “After the accident visual language became my first language and primary mode of expression, solidifying my life in the visual arts”.

Shay Bredimus earned an MFA in 2008 from the Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna, California and a BFA in painting from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Canada in 2004. He has studied under mentors F. Scott Hess and Wes Christensen, among others. His work was featured in two solo exhibitions at Koplin Del Rio, in Culver City California  where he is represented. Shay has earned critical praise from Artweek and Inked magazine.

“Black Island: Ischia, Italy”, 2011, tattoo ink and wax crayon on drafting film, 8″ diam.



lost at e minor


Didu Losso

by Didu Losso in New Art on Tuesday 18 December 2012


A figurative painter and renowned tattoo artist, Shay Bredimus employs languid and gestural marks using tattoo ink on drafting film to portray spontaneous and personal moments of his models. His classical training in portraiture is evident, to which he has added aesthetic influences of Japanese tattoo and Ukiyo-e prints. Shay lives and works in Long Beach, California, and is represented by Koplin Del Rio gallery in Culver City, California.


Didu is a fine art painter, curator and musician, born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, but who has also lived a long time in Los Angeles, where he’s back and forth all the time. His own work reflects his personality: simple, clear and direct, from Japanese traditional paintings with acrylic ink and sand, to pointillism and airbrush.

See more from Didu Losso


Haiku Reviews: SHAY BREDIMUS

by Peter Frank

Posted: 06/01/2012

HuffPost Arts’ Haiku Reviews is a monthly feature where invited critics review exhibitions and performances in short form. Some will be in the traditional Haiku form of 5x7x5 syllables, others might be a sonnet and others might be more free-form. This month, George Heymont, Laurence Vittes and Peter Frank give their quick takes on performing and visual arts.

Shay Bredimus brings together several traditions, high and low, new and time-honored, corny and cool, in “Kotomi,” a series of depictions based on Los Angeles and its sister cities. The “sister city” network, an upbeat, cold war-era initiative of the United States to link its major cities with their equivalents abroad, still exists, and is the frequent platform for point-to-point cultural exchanges. Bredimus takes the diplomacy-laced symbolism of the network a step further, harking back to the tropes of classical allegory by depicting each city in LA’s constellation as an ethnically appropriate young woman clothed and surrounded by synecdoches pertinent to the city assigned her. Some of Bredimus’ renditions are large panels, others small, almost locket-like circles, but all are rendered with tattoo ink and wax crayon on drafting film. As such media would attest, Bredimus makes a living not just painting people but painting on them, and his blend of flat graphic device with naturalistic portrayal embodies (if you will) a conceptual merging of two artistic practices that couldn’t be more socially divergent. Academic realism and tattoo art have indeed converged, however, under the rubrics of “lowbrow” (or, if you would, “newbrow”), “pop surrealism,” and “urban art;” Bredimus not only exploits but champions such post-class mingling, adding in the almost-pop clichés of mid-century foreign-policy propaganda as another layer of ironic -or not-so-ironic – nostalgia.
(Koplin Del Rio, 6031 Washington Blvd., Culver City CA. Credit: Shay Bredimus, Graveyard Hill: Lusaka, Zambia, 2011, Tattoo ink and mixed media on drafting film, 72 x 40 inches








984323_Inked Magazine Logo


04/23/12 / Author: Stephanie Collazo

Figurative painter and tattoo artist, Shay Bredimus uses tattoo ink on drafting film to portray spontaneous and personal moments of his models. In his recent series, currently on exhibit atKoplin Del Rio, entitled Kotomi, Bredimus casts female personifications of the Sister Cities of Los Angeles as the subject of his portrait paintings. The gallery also features a sampling of drawings by the tattoo artists of Outer Limits in Long Beach, the oldest operating tattoo shop in the United State. In addition Bredimus will be hosting an indepth artist talk at the gallery where he will highlight his tattoo and fine art works through slides and live examples.

Exhibition Dates: April 14 – May 12, 2012

Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 10:00 am – 5:30 pm; Saturday: 11:00 am – 5:30 pm






April 9, 2012Featured ArticlesPreviews

Shay Bredimus

Tue, Apr 10, 2012


Renowned tattoo artist Bredimus employs languid and gestural marks using tattoo ink on drafting film to portray spontaneous and personal moments of his models. Opens April 14 at Koplin del Rio.

Shay Bredimus

Bredimus’ classical training in portraiture is evident, to which he has added aesthetic influences from Japanese tattoo and Ukiyo-e prints. In his recent series, Kotomi, Bredimus casts female personifications of the Sister Cities of Los Angeles as his subjects in a series of large and small portrait paintings. The tradition of allegorical female representations in art popularized in Ancient Rome with depictions of The Cardinal Virtues has remained a classically recognized and often referenced mode of expression through today. Aware of that tradition, Bredimus was particularly moved by the French baroque painting by Noel Coypel the Elder, La Rosée (Dew) or The Female Personification of Rain to create a series adopting the long honored conceptual convention of female allegory. Kotomi, a Japanese word meaning “the beauty of cities”, is Bredimus’ homage to Los Angeles’ participation in the global Sister Cities organization established in 1956 by President Eisenhower. Still going strong, the program promotes “international relations, trade, cultural exchange and peace” between cities around the world. Los Angeles alone actively builds ‘people to people’ relationships with 25 Sister Cities.

In addition, the gallery will feature a sampling of preparatory drawings by the tattoo artists of Outer Limits in Long Beach. The oldest operating tattoo shop in the United States, Outer Limits employs some of the most talented artists in the business. We are delighted to exhibit drawings by Billy Sarno, Brian Ragusin, c.classico, Jeremiah Barba, Kari Barba, Laura Bullets, punk, and Shay Bredimus. Including a special presentation of assemblages by Los Angeles artist and model Chantal Menard. A public tattoo demonstration given by Shay Bredimus will be held at the gallery on Saturday, April 28th at 4pm.

Shay Bredimus earned an MFA in 2008 from the Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna, California and a BFA in painting from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Canada in 2004. He has studied under mentors F. Scott Hess and Wes Christensen, among others. His work was featured in a solo exhibition at the San Luis Obispo Art Center in 2008 and in a solo exhibition at Fresno City College Art Space Gallery in 2011. Bredimus has earned critical praise from Artweek and the New Times San Luis Obispo.







The Beehive Interview: Shay Bredimus

FRESNOBEEHIVE.COM | Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno


I knew I wanted to write a piece about Shay Bredimus, who has a buzzworthy show continuing through Dec. 8 at the Fresno City College Art Space Gallery. (My story in Thursday’s Life sectionfeatures Bredimus as my lead ArtHop pick for the month.) But when it came to weaving the tale of an artist, there are so many tantalizing threads to his story that it was hard for me to know where to begin.

First there’s his terrible childhood accident. At age 10, Bredimus was struck by a car while in a crosswalk. His bicycle handlebar punctured his skull and was embedded in the frontal lobe of his brain. He had to learn to communicate all over again, and through years of recovery, he discovered that art was a way that he could connect with the world.

Then there’s the tattoo angle. Bredimus became a tattoo artist and wound up working at one of the nation’s most storied tattoo shops in Long Beach. At the same time, he pursued a classical arts education, in which he found that the spontaneity and energy of gestural figure drawing appealed to him. Along the way, he decided to find a way to bridge his talents in tattooing and fine-arts painting. He introduced tattoo ink into his palette, mixing it with other materials. His works are an intriguing blend of his two worlds.

And, finally, the perseverance angle — and perhaps “the next big thing” angle as well. From special education classes, he progressed over the years to community college and then to a bachelor’s degree in painting and drawing. Now, at 32, Bredimus just earned his MFA degree from Laguna College of Art and Design. He’s represented by a prestigious Southern California art gallery, the Koplin Del Rio Gallery in Culver City. And his work was noticed by Gordon Fuglie, director of the Central California Museum of Art, who offered him a show in San Luis Obispo — and now one in Fresno at City College. From here Bredimus will be showing the new work in his show in the Los Angeles region. And from there, who knows?


From my story:

A spontaneous and fluid sensibility marks Bredimus’ works, which depict human figures. The subjects seem to shimmer in the present tense, as if we’ve caught each of them in a fleeting moment. Light and shadow offer a moody, contemplative feel.

Bredimus describes gesture drawing as the “keystone” of his art. His works in the show are painted on Duralar drafting film, a medium inspired by traditional Japanese brush painting that appeals to him because of its translucence and the effortless way he can move the brush. He makes quick and deliberate marks, letting the ink drip where it may.

I caught up with Bredimus by phone and email to talk a little more about his work and technique.

Question: In reading about your attitude and technique, I keep seeing words like “aggressive” and “spontaneous.” Do you get a burst of adrenaline when you’re making a work? Or is it a more contemplative process?

Answer: My brush drawings display aggressive application to enhance the spontaneous aspects of the drawing process. The reason for this approach is to portray the gesture or emotive movement that is created with active mark making. Gesture to me represents the spontaneous improvisation, or unconscious thought process. This creative unconscious
thought process is the most important influence on my art.

Do you still work as a tattoo artist?

Yes. I work at the oldest tattoo shop in America, formerly known as Bert Grimm’s at the Pike in downtown Long Beach, it is now “Outer Limits Tattoo,” owned and operated by world renowned female tattoo artist Kari Barba.

When your bio describes “visual language has now become Shay’s first language” because of your accident, what does that mean?

Visual language has become my first language due to the effects of the traumatic brain Injury that occurred in my youth. My art, or “visual language,” has come from my need to express myself as every human does. When I find it hard to write down or verbalize, I find it feels natural to draw or paint.

How did you develop your technique of mixing tattoo ink and wax or Contè crayons and applying it to film? Did it require a lot of experimenting on your part?

Drawing and more specifically gesture drawing is the keystone of my art practice. The use of Conte Crayon with tattoo ink on drafting film was the natural progression from the basic materials I started using while figure drawing in community college. The sharpened contè on the smooth newsprint was my favorite combination for gesture drawing. I was looking for a more archival paper than newsprint, something with a smooth surface, but also a durable paper that could be used wet and dry simultaneously. The addition of tattoo ink was introduced not only for its unique traits when applied to the drafting film, but also conceptually to combine my life as a tattooer with my life as a fine artist. The drafting film is a metaphorical skin and the ink represents not only tattooing but the spontaneous and fluid gestural quality of figure drawing.

Do you think younger people connect to your work because of the tattoo influences?

I’m sure they do. When I was growing up in the Phoenix area in the 1990s the most immediate and available means of expression were tattoos and graffiti, these two mediums of art were considered fringe or socially unacceptable at that time. These days the negative connotations or social stigmas have become more accepted and mainstream, so I could see how the current generation would be attracted to it.

How do you think art has changed your life?

I have found that the practice of art provides a modality for expression. Art for me is a form of communication, it gives me a purpose in life, and helps me to understand myself. Art gives me a sense of accomplishment.




November 19, 2011


Shay Bredimus

Shay Bredimus is an accomplished realist figure painter and tattooist originally from Phoenix, Arizona. He received a BFA from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, BC and his MFA in painting from Laguna College of Art and Design in 2008. He is represented by Koplin Del Rio Gallery in Culver City. As a figurative painter, Shay employs languid and gestural marks using tattoo ink on drafting film to portray spontaneous and personal moments of his models. His classical training in portraiture is evident, to which he has added aesthetic influences from Japanese tattoo and Ukiyo-e prints.

Visit Shay’s website at:

artist interviews

Click here to stream or download the November 19, 2011 interview.

“Black Island”
tattoo ink and wax crayons on drafting film
8″ diameter
“Graveyard Hill”
tattoo ink and wax crayon on drafting film
72″ x 40″
“The Emporer’s Daughter”
tattoo ink and wax crayons on drafting film
8″ diameter














“West Coast Drawings: Drawings VIII” at Davidson Galleries
by Matthew Kangas
Sep 2009





The Seattle component of the annual Koplin Del Rio Gallery drawing survey brought California artists to the Pacific Northwest for a refreshing, thought-provoking survey of the state of drawing. Like painting, drawing cannot be killed off by technology. Its appeal to artists transcends whatever computer or photographic skills they might have although several photo-based works were included. More significantly, one might ask, “Which artists are following stale traditions and which are using the mediums of pencil, charcoal, ink, watercolor, conté crayon and pastel to reflect contemporary issues or statements?” In the former category, well-executed work bordering on illustration (realism’s dirty little secret) is represented by D. J. Hall (Cake Time, 2008), Grant Hottle (Roses, 2009), and Fred Stonehouse (Marsh Monkey, 2008). In the latter, more interesting category, David Bailin creates enigmatic figures in landscapes; Kim Frohsin makes compelling figure studies that recall Francis Bacon; and Hilary Bruce presents small views of natural catastrophes like river eddies, ocean whirlpools and geysers.
Shay Bredimus made the largest work, Silent Treatment (2009), a mysterious and unsettling image of a reclining figure in a long dress. His 12 smaller ink portraits capture real psychological insights including several portraits of black gangstas in baseball caps or hooded sweatshirts. They have a social urgency much of the other work lacks. David Fertig’s piquant pastels echo Turner’s grandiose naval scenes but, at six-by-eleven inches each, take on an intimate, postcard art-reproduction feeling. Captain of Hussars 15th (2008) is an exception at 4-by-2 feet, but still too reminiscent of Old Masters. Similarly, David Ligare’s red-ink Italian country vistas are dangerously close to late British art forger Eric Hebborn, whose meticulous Roman and Venetian scenes got him in a lot of trouble.

Wes Christensen’s Last Chance (2006) shows a father scolding a son with a mother holding back the dad. In one image of family conflict, Christensen sums up the entire exhibit: traditional realists goading younger artists eager to somehow make drawing more relevant to their lives.





Under your skin

A Los Angeles based tattoo artist exhibits at the Art Center


April 9, 2009 


Shay Bredimus’ pieces are not paintings; in fact, no paint actually crosses the tip of his brush. And his canvases aren’t the traditional expanses of fabric stretched across a wood frame. The Los Angeles resident instead creates his brush drawings by applying the unlikely combination of tattoo ink and wax or conté crayons to drafting film. The resulting portraits are at once gritty, ethereal, poignant, and tender. His most recent works, all created within the last year, are on display at the SLO Art Center through May 31.

The drawings are grounded in seeming dichotomies—Bredimus’ classical artistic training at such institutions as Mesa Community College, San Francisco’s Academy of Art, Vancouver’s Emily Carr University, and Laguna College of Art and Design (where he acquired his MFA in painting last year) might seem incongruous with his profession as a tattoo artist at Black Wave in Los Angeles. While he admits that his personal art tends to be impulsive and less restrained than client-based work as a tattooist, his influences and inspiration remain the same.

“These are all heavily influenced by Japanese print and western portraiture—all my favorite things about art,” he explained, gesturing to his large-scale pieces ranging between 52 inches by 40 inches and 84 
inches by 40 inches. He draws from a live model, specifically friends and acquaint-ances, insisting that knowing his subject’s personal history lends greater empathy and emotional appeal to his work.

Despite having already achieved several career benchmarks, including represent-ation by the Koplin Del Rio Gallery in Culver City, Bredimus has only been working in his chosen medium for a few years. As an art student he enjoyed working with newsprint, but because it was non-archival he was forced to search for a different kind of canvas altogether. What he discovered was semi-translucent, frosted drafting paper, which is similar to newsprint but made from a plastic that’s slightly heavier and capable of enduring more abuse. The tattoo ink was specially chosen as well, for its warm quality, and the fact that it consistently dries matte.

Thus far, the artist hasn’t encountered anyone else working with the same combination of materials, but it’s just a matter of time. Bredimus acknowledges that he’s protective of the artistic voice that he has worked to cultivate, but he’s not naïve; “good artists borrow, great artists steal,” he quotes Picasso.

“Shay Bredimus: The rhetorical body” will be on display at the SLO Art Center April 10 through May 31. An opening reception will take place during Art After Dark on May 1 from 6 to 9 p.m. The Art Center is located at 1010 Broad Street. For more information visit or call 543-8562. For more information about Shay Bredimus visit or

The narrow vertical shape of the film lends itself to single-figure portraiture reminiscent of Japanese scroll art. For an artist who jokingly refers to himself as “a bit of a head hunter” and fills sketchbooks with friendly faces, the medium is a perfect match.

Trails of ink cross the length of each piece, somehow giving the impression of purpose and control, while hinting at chaos. In “East of Eden” ink paths seep mortality from the two subjects, engaged in violent struggle. The large, dripping brushstrokes suggest that it is the medium that directs the artist. The process isn’t contrived or labored, but rather a natural flow of honest emotion.

“It seems to do the work itself,” Bredimus said. “I just kind of direct it a little bit, kind of like a jazz musician improv-ising. I want my images to be evocative, compelling, and emotional. The most important thing is that it evokes something from me while I’m doing it. I think the more personal things are, the more universal they are.”

And Bredimus takes his art into astonishingly personal waters; the body of work he created for his thesis exhibit was directly based on an accident he survived as a 10-year-old. He was struck by a car while walking his bicycle through a school crosswalk, the bike’s handlebar lodging in his brain. He nearly died, and when he awoke he had to re-learn such basic functions as walking and talking. His thesis work was directly based on the incident, featuring an image of the young boy revealing a large, round wound on his forehead and his brother pulling him from the street. And though the accident is not the central subject of his more recent work, Bredimus acknowledges that the event shaped him as a person and will, therefore, always be present in his art. However horrific, Bredimus credits the incident with transforming visual expression into his primary language.


While preparing his thesis work, Bredimus had plenty of time to evaluate the meaning embedded within his method. Not surprisingly, much of it related to the accident that is now nearly two decades past. His pieces are monochromatic, shades of black and white, not because he doesn’t appreciate a more varied color palette but to heighten the immediacy and power of the drawing’s impact. The color scale is meant to function as a metaphor for life and death, the transparency of his plastic canvas references the hospital atmosphere and x-rays that dominated his recovery process. If this assessment sounds clinical, Bredimus’ brushstroke drawings are anything but.

It begins with a photograph of his subject, fleshing out the composition of his model. He doesn’t paint celebrities, but wouldn’t necessarily rule out the possibility if one took the time to sit down and talk with him. What Bredimus is looking to capture is the rich spectrum of human experience—loss, violence, passion, and fear—and in order to do that he must be familiar with the history that each model brings to the canvas. From this photo, he creates a thumbnail image, testing the composition. Then, usually, the figure emerges quickly in anywhere from one to three eight-hour painting sessions.

“I also like the pieces where I struggle and I have to dig deeper,” admitted Bredimus. “Either way I’m creating and I feel like that’s what I was meant to do.” ∆
Arts Editor Ashley Schwellenbach has hands that seem constantly to be stained with ink. Send Clorox to