Gabriel Cece’s interest in tattoos began at a young age. He started drawing his first designs when he was just 13. A few years later, at the age of 16, Gabriel got his first tattoo and that’s when he knew tattooing was what he was going to do.
In 1995, shortly after turning 18, he had a short-lived apprenticeship in Gary, Indiana where he began picking up the basics of tattooing. From there, Gabriel’s father bought him a kit and and autoclave. After 6 months he’d taught himself enough to get a job at another shop, and he’s been tattooing professionally since.
After 15 years of working in the industry, Gabriel decided to open his own shop. Studio Evolve - in Virginia Beach, Virginia - has been open about for about 5 years now. When he opened his shop, Gabriel wanted to create the perfect environment environment for the artists; he wanted to create a shop that could give them everything he’d ever wanted as a tattooer and feels they’ve done well at achieving that. They are a custom-only shop and work primarily by appointment. There are 8 other talented artists working there, in addition to Gabriel himself, and they can cover just about any style of tattoo a client asks for.
Gabriel’s own style leans toward painterly, surrealistic tattoos and he describes himself as a “subjective and interpretive tattooer.” One of his pieces can be loose, sloppy, sketchy, detail oriented, and technically proficient all at the same time.
“I like tattooing the way I do mainly because I haven’t seen anyone out there who works like I do, which may be good or bad, but either way, my style gives me the freedoms to kinda do what I wanna do.”
Gabriel's advice for someone getting their first tattoo:
“Do your research and find an artist that you connect with, in a quality studio and sterile environment. Know what it is that you are looking for, and find the tattooer that suits the style and subject matter. Allow for the artist to have some freedoms, but don’t get pushed into getting something you don’t want… Get the tattoo you want, by the tattooer you want it done by, and be prepared to invest your time and money for a great piece.”
Gabriel's advice for tattoo artists are who are just getting started:
“If your heart isn’t in it, if you don’t have a undeniable burning passion to tattoo, if you’re not willing to suffer some along your path, then quit now… If you think you have what it takes, you’re an exceptional artist, with the drive and determination to reach your goal, then go for it, with every ounce of your being, until you realize your dream.”