Growing up in the streets of Lynwood California, Eric Gonzalez discovered his love for the arts at a very young age. A Los Angeles native of Mexican heritage, he was fortunate to have a multitude of talented artists in his family who instilled their culture and exposed him to art in all forms of media. Eric learned how to draw early in his childhood and began painting as a teenager; gravitating towards graffiti, murals and street art.
Music has played a huge role in Eric’s life and his eclectic influences range from Rancheras to Gangster Rap, and New Wave to Metal. At the age of 15 he began playing guitar. His love of music continued to evolve as he formed a band, wrote original music and started playing in the local music scene. Despite being encouraged by his friends and peers to start tattooing, Eric’s involvement with painting and music overshadowed any interest in becoming a tattoo artist.
It wasn’t until 1997, when he got his first tattoo by his now longtime friend Steve Schultz, that he became fascinated with the entire experience. “The very next day one of the homies from the neighborhood showed me how to make a homemade tattoo machine; a classic jailhouse standard.” recalls Eric. Equipped with his new machine and a desire to explore the medium, he tattooed seven friends that same day and embarked on his journey to learn the art of tattooing.
As Eric developed his craft, in 2002 he took up the moniker “Nspired1”. By teaching himself to be proficient with various computer programs, he expanded his creative boundaries and was catapulted into the realm of graphic design. This skill set ultimately paved the way for Eric to enter the fashion industry where he worked as a graphic designer for a screen printing company. In October 2004, Eric welcomed his daughter Jade into the world. He continued to work full time in graphic design to provide for his family and spent most of his weekends tattooing. He pursued his musical aspirations by recording albums and playing countless shows with his band Orkest.
By 2008 Gonzalez was ready for a change and took a major risk going into business for himself. “It was time to stop making other people tons of money and work towards accomplishing my own dreams” says Eric. The business model encompassed his diverse experience and skill set. He opened a private tattoo studio in Huntington Park, CA, launched a clothing company (Nspired One Clothing) and continued to complete design projects for a wide range of clients.
With relentless support of his family, friends and business partners, Eric’s vision flourished. After the first year, he outgrew the studio and relocated to a new facility in Santa Fe Springs, CA. Eric soon teamed up with longtime friend and tattoo artist Chuey Quintanar. The duo rebranded as “Deer’s Eye Studio” and extended invitations for exclusive residency to select artists.
With the new partnership solidified and a growing reputation, Gonzalez strived to reach his full potential. “It got to the point where I was tattooing right next to the very guy I looked up to and knew it was time to step up my tattooing skills.” In 2012, Eric’s dedication to his craft was focused like never before. A true student of the art, he continued to incorporate new techniques into each and every piece. He also began experimenting with the latest products available in the industry. Eric traveled the globe, establishing relationships and representing Deer’s Eye Studio at tattoo conventions worldwide.
Today, Eric Gonzalez’s body of work spans across a vast range of mediums as he explores and pursues every aspect of his creative passions. He continues to draw and paint on a daily basis; some pieces can be seen on display at art shows throughout Los Angeles. Nspired One Clothing is set to launch a new collection in the near future and his band Orkest is in the final stages of releasing a new album. Eric’s tattoo work and clientele is as diverse as his musical influences. Some of his most high profile canvases include Lady Gaga, Kevin Durant, Munky of Korn, Chino Moreno and Regulo Caro. Eric Gonzalez will be featured on Season 8 of Spike TV’s Ink Master scheduled to air on August 23, 2016.