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River Tats: Stephen Carbollo & LA River Tattoo Co.

Nestled in the charming grime of downtown LA is a real gem. L.A. River Tattoo is a beautifully-crafted tattoo/surf shop hybrid. The Arts District location also includes a coffee shop and proper barber. A product of LA native, Stephen Carbollo, the shops are a brilliant showcase of LA’s creative ability and enthusiasm.

Madre poured a couple mezcals with Stephen and asked a few questions.

Read on, and check out more @TheLosAngelesRiver

Photos by Christopher Morley @morleyrobert

What’s up with L.A. River Tattoo?

L.A. River Tattoo is my brain child. It’s just a mix of all my favorite things. My downtown location has a surf shop / traditional tattoo shop vibe. The walls are plastered with flash-art, and we got custom surfboards hanging from the high ceilings. My arts district location is a bit more high-end, it is a private studio and we have an attached coffee shop and barber shop

How did you get started with tattooing?

I started by tattooing all my skater homies when I was 17. I bought an eBay kit for $50 bucks and the rest is history

What’s the best tattoo you’ve ever seen?

I have a Tupac portrait on my arm that my buddy, Rob, did on me. It’s super lifelike. I’m hyped on it!

The worst?

Haha! I don’t know. I’m not a hater! It’s to each man’s own when it comes to tattoos.

How do you feel about Los Angeles?

LA is the best. I lived overseas for 7 years, and worked all over the world, and LA has the most opportunity for creatives. So many resources and so many young people just crushing it at life. It’s pretty inspirational.

How long have you been shaping surfboards?

I have been shaping boards for about 2 years now! It’s a labor of love for sure! So much fun!

Has surfing always been a part of your life?

Growing up in the valley I’ve always been a quick hop away from the beach, so I have surfed my whole life on and off. I didn’t really go all in until I moved to Bali. That’s where I started enjoying it a lot more and started surfing everyday.

If you could share a glass of mezcal with anybody, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Definitely Benjamin Franklin.  I am a creative, and like to delve into so many different fields. Benjamin Franklin is definitely America’s renaissance man, and was so influential in so many different ways. I’d love to share a glass with him and chop it up about business, science, and politics.

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