10 Questions with Dillon Forte, Artist, and Founder, Forte Tattoo Tech
World-renowned artist, Dillon Forte, is known for his contemporary style of Sacred Geometry in tattooing. Forte believes in viewing the body as a whole, creating harmonious designs to flow seamlessly with the skin. His other notable ventures include photography, painting, fashion/tech design, murals, gallery exhibitions and his product line Forte Tattoo Tech, which is his recently announced line of biodegradable tattoo supplies.
How did you get into tattoo as a form of artistic expression?
I was always drawing as a kid, and during my teenage years, got into skateboarding and hanging around downtown. A tattoo shop happened to be by the skate shop I hung around, and one thing led to another. As they say, you’re a product of your environment, right? My interest in tattoos as an art kept growing until I took an apprenticeship up in Berkley, CA. That opportunity led to me starting my own studio and business.
What inspired you to create eco-friendly tattoo supplies? What was the crystallizing moment when you decided to make a change?
For years I had this nagging feeling and growing guilt around throwing away certain products that tattoo artists like myself around the globe use during the process. From plastics to ink cups, some of this stuff ends up in landfills for years without decomposing quickly. Most of these items are terrible for the planet, and if I was to help make a difference, we could at least start with the tattoo industry. I think the decision to act on it happened when I was overseas a couple years back at a tattoo convention. I was in a beautiful place filled with nature, and then I step into this convention where all these tattoo products are sold that could eventually end up tainting the beauty of this planet.
How did your team react to these changes? Was it easy to get them on board? Did your customers/clients have any interesting reactions?
My team was super supportive. We all share similar world views and worked on it together. For any in-house artists or guests, they all have the option to use Forte Tattoo Tech product and always take me up on it. The industry and my clients have been really excited and supportive as well. It’s hard to not want to use this product as an option. It’s better for the environment and it’s at a comparable price point.
Is there a strong pull from the market? Do your customers express concern about the environmental impact of getting tattooed?
I think clients are excited about the tattoo process, but most aren’t thinking about the materials used while getting inked. It’s hard to compare to, say, when people bring their own bags to the grocery store. In the tattoo industry, it’s really up to the artists and those associated with the trade, to make those positive changes. Once clients hear about what Forte Tattoo Tech is up to, they get super excited on how we’re making a difference.
Your products are focused on waste reduction, and it is very commendable considering the amount of waste generated from tattooing – especially during Covid. We also see a lot of talk about vegan ink. Are you considering bringing sustainable or non-toxic ink to market?
There are plenty of vegan ink options on the market, and I do my best to only purchase and use ink that is the closest thing to pure. Especially for those clients that are vegan, I want to make sure we respect their requests and have that product on hand. Eventually I would like my own line of inks, which will be 100% natural and biodegradable.
How is your new line being received by the industry? Are people embracing it? Have you experienced any opposition to shifting the industry this direction?
It’s been all around support for the lineup of products. It’s really about creating awareness at this point and hopefully getting back to some of these in-person conventions later this year. I’m in it for the long haul with Forte Tattoo Tech, and am working on new products and ideas to make each item as eco-friendly and forward-thinking as possible.
Additionally, for someone who is focused on environmental health, are others in the tattoo industry interested in doing things differently and are they doing enough?
I think most tattoo artists are pumped about the idea of going eco-friendly, especially if it doesn’t impact their bottom line compared to using standard products. When I first started, I hooked a ton of artists up with samples, and every single one of them was blown away by what we had. I would probably assume most artists buy the products they are most familiar with, and it really takes that introduction process to a more eco-friendly product to push these artists to buy. Many aren’t out looking for it, but when they know it exists, they generally would rather buy the eco-friendly option.
You work with some very high profile, celebrity type customers. Do you find they are interested in the same ideals that drove you to bring eco-friendly tattoo products to market?
Many of the higher-profile clients I work with are seeking me out because of my style of art. Most who are into sacred geometry and black/dot work tattoos are a bit more in-touch with their spiritual side or hopefully at least care about the planet. So naturally, they tend to appreciate what Forte-Tattoo Tech is offering. On the values side of things, we definitely agree that the products are great to offer, and my clients of all types are stoked about the brand.
Are there any hidden aspects of the tattoo process that consumers should be aware of?
Not really. If anyone comes to me who hasn’t had a tattoo, they tend to ask a lot of questions about the healing process. Most understand it takes several hours per session to do the work, and many clients come in for multiple sessions. Besides that, and ideating the design or potential meaning they are trying to achieve with the art, it’s pretty straightforward.
You have a wide body of work, with experience in fashion design, formal art, and obviously pushing the limits with sacred geometric tattoo. What’s next for you, Dillon Forte? Do you have any more ideas for eco-friendly products in Forte Tattoo Tech?
Just you asking me about ideas made me come up with more. I’m always conjuring up my next exciting thing, and have one to two ideas brewing at a time. You’ll have to check back with me soon though, I don’t like to talk about next steps until they are ready to be made public.
How can the Happy Eco News audience find an artist that uses Forte Tattoo Tech products at their studio?
Great question! I would just ask the artist if they use eco-friendly products all-around with the tattoo process. If they aren’t sure or don’t know where to buy them, you can give them my store link at https://fortetattootechnology.com/
Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers of Happy Eco News?
Thanks for taking the time to interview me about the brand. I always appreciate it and like spreading the word. For those reading this, please give me a follow on Instagram if you want to keep up with the latest. My handle is @dillonforte.