Tattoo artist furthers love of art in painting

Wings Gallery houses biggest piece yet


Kelly Wynne, News Editor

As Daniel Ponce, former College of DuPage student, stood atop his roof, looking down upon his 20-foot painting lying on the driveway below, he knew something else needed to be done. He moved all of the furniture out of his living room and propped it up in his backyard, anything to get the angles right and the details perfect. Two and a half months later, Ponce had successfully finished his first large-canvas painting.

Ponce created this piece specifically to be the centerpiece for his Wings Student Art Gallery exhibit “HOMENAJE/HOMAGE.” The exhibit embraces Ponce’s Mexican culture as well as pays respects to the art of Frida Kahlo, an inspiration of Ponce’s. The 20-foot painting, Ponce’s abstract interpretation of Kahlo herself, is the largest piece to ever be housed in Wings.

The painting was created completely freehand, without stencils or sketches used to guide. Ponce’s former COD painting professor, Jennifer Hereth, amounts this ability to Ponce’s career as a tattoo artist.

Ponce has been tattooing for 10 years total, six years professionally at Inktown Tattoo in Lombard. He credits this art form for the development of his painting skills and need for a creative outlet.

“Painting was the next step. I had never had any formal training in anything. The next step is painting for me, as far as the artist life goes.”

This newfound talent has been a benefit not only to Ponce’s creative development, but to his career.

“Each helps with the other,” said Ponce. “Tattoos are a lot of drawing. They’re traditional and realistic. I get to incorporate more non-traditional things into painting. I can render a painting into a tattoo; it helps me be more creative that way.”

tattoo !

Ponce specializes in black and grey tattoos as well as portraits. His Wings exhibit differs heavily, incorporating a wide spectrum of colors and a variety of painting styles.

Smaller pieces around the room include a second, more realistic, portrait of Frida Kahlo, an Aztec sacrificing, and day of the dead inspired pieces. Each piece is dedicated to Ponce’s culture.

Ponce also conveys his love of Mexican culture in his tattoos, yet feels that they are very different than his paintings. “I do a lot of Aztec designs, but they are all black and white. It throws out color completely. It’s nice, when I paint, to try to go the opposite way.”

Ponce spoke of the creative freedom painting gives him. Out of his love for tattooing and his love of painting, he prefers to paint.

“I like painting better. I have 100 percent control of what I want to do.Tattooing really depends on how well the other person can sit, and we have to agree on what kind of art I am going to do on them. With tattooing, time and money is a factor. Everything is a factor. Painting is whatever I want to do, however long, whatever style.”

HOMENAJE/HOMAGE will be on display until Nov. 6 in the Wings Gallery. The Gallery is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.