Brett Herman moved to Los Angeles to become a rock star. This is not a cautionary tale; It’s just what happened.
With little more than a seven-string guitar and a Marshall half stack, the Colorado native hopped in his car at the age of 19 and drove west to wrestle one of the few remaining slots of musical greatness from the tight fist of destiny.
Unfortunately, destiny typically reserves those slots for tortured souls who bleed their art from the wounds inflicted by a broken upbringing. Talented though he was, Herman just didn’t fit the profile.
“My parents are awesome,” he readily volunteers. “My whole family is amazing. I don’t want to boast . . . but I got so lucky . . . Growing up, I never had it tough.” Predictably, his visions of the OzzFest Main Stage never quite came to fruition, but his artistic aspirations had more than one outlet.
Herman’s earliest childhood memories consisted of almost nothing but doodling. It “started with pencils. Just sitting around doodling . . . first stuff that I’d do, I’d just draw animals out of magazines.” This passion always lingered in the background, shaping the adult life he had yet to live. But it was his passion for down-tuned riffs and guttural howls that led him back to it.
“I was like, ‘Well, if I want to be a rock n’ roll guy, you gotta have the tattoos and play the part.’ . . . I wasn’t planning on doing tattoos but ever since I started getting tattooed, I was like, ‘Man, I want to do that.’” His apprenticeship began in 2008. Nine years later, he’s not only tattooing full time, he’s the co-owner of Hidden Los Angeles Tattoo and Fine Art, a “bitchin” shop in West Hills with an 11-artist roster.
To this day, his childhood obsession with animals shines through his work, with a large portion of his portfolio dedicated to photorealist animal portraits. Lately, though, his focus has been on “darker art.”
“I like doing dark vanity style art . . . If I am doing color work now, I try to do a more limited palette as opposed to adding every color in the spectrum.”
Herman’s ongoing focus is “creating longevity,” learning to make his work stand the test of time on a living and ultimately, dying canvas. “The body changes,” he reminds us. “As time goes on, that stuff spreads out.”
“It’s very easy for an artist to get too detailed in the beginning of their careers to where they’re packing so much detail into one area,” he elaborates. “You can actually have more impactful work if you just make your tattoo bigger and simplify some things . . .”
There are multiple factors to consider, but for Herman, it mostly comes down to the right colors and heavy, black lines to them hold in. More than that, though, it comes down to the daily grind of self-perfection, education from every session.
“I’m still a sponge trying to just take it all in and keep applying all that knowledge.”