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Alexis Vaatete was born with a huge imagination, and an artistic talent to match. As a youth in Orange County, California, Alexis found a passion for art growing inside him. While his mother worked hard to provide for her family, he tapped into his endless imagination to create scenes and worlds for his artwork. The dreams of night and day were always there, a constant source to feed his artistic outlet. With his imagination getting the best of him, he was able to draw to bring those images to life on anything he can find. In an effort to improve his skills, he started to reference the art from the comic book cards he collected. Alexis’ amazing journey with art had only just begun. Being the son of a Marquesan, Alexis was strongly influenced by his Polynesian background and from some of the books in his father’s collection which covered the history and lifestyle of the Polynesian Islands. The pictures and stories depicted a culture that was deeply connected with its tattoo heritage. These stories and books would prove to be the first exposure to tattooing for Alexis, and would leave a lifelong impact on him. Growing up in Southern California, he was also exposed to a more urban style of tattooing. Soon after his older brother got a tattoo, he started buying tattoo magazines and became mesmerized by the images and the idea of art on skin. With this new outlet before him, Alexis started to draw out tattoo designs for hours on end. The tattoos of the past and the future had collided and the history of both the American and the Polynesian art form had fused. As his art matured, so did the medium Alexis used. He saw his art begin to transform and take life in paint. With his paintings, he was able to expand his imagination and to express himself freely. He was very passionate about his art, so after moving to Humboldt County and living there for a few years, Alexis began to show his work at small galleries for the local art nights. But it wasn’t until age 24 that he received the opportunity to fuse that artistic passion with one of the greatest mediums ever…tattoo. Through a mutual friend, he was given the opportunity to come back to Orange County, to meet with someone he was told could further his career in art. Portfolio (and a car full of paintings) in hand, he met with Franco Vescovi at his shop in Lake Forest, CA. He took one look at Alexis’s art and was blown away by what he had seen. Franco immediately offered him a position as an apprentice at his shop, Orange County Inkhouse, where Alexis embarked upon a 3 year apprenticeship under Franco. The lessons and teachings he learned were so thorough and informative that the skills needed for tattooing came very naturally. Realizing the value of the opportunity he was given, Alexis worked harder than he ever had before. 9 1/2 years later, Alexis continues to work alongside his friend and mentor as manager of Franco’s new shop “Vatican Studios”.

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