Derick Montez, a tattoo artist working in a tattoo shop wearing a black and white Death Wish Coffee tee.

The Tattoo Series: Meet Derick Montez

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The Tattoo Series 

At Death Wish Coffee Company, tattoos are a huge part of our culture and our community. Whether you’re tattooed or not, I think we can all agree that the talent and creativity of tattoo artists far and wide is something we all look up to. After all, putting something permanent on someone's body is no easy feat! We decided to take this curiosity and our love for ink to the next level by collaborating with a wide range of tattoo artists from around the country—all hailing from different backgrounds, different styles and different coffee preferences to bring you the tattoo series. 

Tattoo artist, Derick Montez pouring a mug of Death Wish Coffee in his kitchen.

What is the Tattoo Series?   

This highly caffeinated collaboration shows our undying love of tattoos and the culture that surrounds them. Nine supremely talented tattoo artists from across the country share their flashes of genius—all inspired by coffee—the bold and ever-bountiful elixir of life. The art-inspired merch directly supported the local artists who designed them. 

Meet the Artist: Derick Montez 

Hailing from San Francisco, one of the most iconic tattoo scenes in the world, Derick Montez shares his flashes of genius with us—always fueled by strong coffee. His design was inspired by the traditional sacred heart with a caffeinated twist. A true symbol of our undying love for coffee. 

Are you a coffee drinker? If so, what is your favorite roast, and how do you take your coffee? 

I am very much a coffee drinker. I drink it every morning with a splash of cream and usually have an espresso or two in the afternoon. I enjoy a very bold coffee—the stronger, the better! 

Do you have a favorite coffee shop in your town?  

Trouble Coffee Co. is my favorite (and is conveniently right around the corner from my house)! It’s a little hole-in-the-wall shop packed with big personalities. I’ve been lucky enough to tattoo a lot of the people who work there and have built some cool friendships along the way. If you’re looking for decaf—don’t bother; they don’t sell it.  

How long have you been tattooing?

15 years.

How would you describe your tattoo style and how you got to it?  

I am definitely grounded in the techniques and style of traditional tattooing. Over the years I have also added a bit more complexity to what is typically a more simplistic aesthetic. My style is a mix between illustrated and traditional, and I think I have been able to find a nice, balanced combination between the two.

What does the process behind your tattoos entail? 

It all starts with the space a person has to get tattooed because this dictates how much movement and complexity the tattoo will need. Once I have these details, I play around with different sketches until I can find the perfect balance. I like to draw my tattoos the day of the appointment because it helps me to avoid overthinking or being too critical of the design process.

Tattoo artist, Derick Montez getting ready to tattoo.

What inspires your work?

My biggest inspiration comes from my coworkers at Idle Hand Tattoo. I can bounce ideas off them and get some honest feedback. I think this collaborative process is important for artists! Aesthetically, I am most inspired by southwestern images, Catholicism and traditional tattoo flash. I find I tend to attract clients who are also drawn to this type of imagery, which keeps me constantly inspired and makes for some really cool tattoos.

What does a typical day at the tattoo shop look like for you? 

I roll in around 11 a.m. and spend a little time chatting with my coworkers and grabbing my second or third cup of coffee. Then I settle into my workstation and look at what I am tattooing that day. I typically tattoo just two people each day. I like to draw and tattoo at a comfortable pace, and I really value devoting enough time and energy to each client. If I finish early, I will always try to squeeze in a walk or two! If I am lucky, I also get a chance to eat a SF classic like a mission-style burrito.

What do you like to do outside of the shop? 

I like to stay busy…I never feel settled just lounging. I love working on classic cars; if I don’t have an old car to tinker with, I am scouring the internet to buy a new one! Same with antiques—I enjoy finding estate sales and cool, old shops. If the weather is nice, I like to go on motorcycle rides along the coast. I live in the Outer Sunset, so to decompress, I take lots of ocean and park walks with my dog and my girlfriend. Before the pandemic, a lot of my time was spent traveling for work, and I loved that. Right now, I am also appreciating taking the time to find enjoyment in my own city. 

What is your favorite thing about being a tattoo artist?  

My favorite part about tattooing is getting to meet so many wonderful people, from artists to clients. Tattooing gives me the ability to meet people from all walks of life who I might not ever normally meet! Every conversation I have with someone is a little window into their life, and because tattooing is so intimate and unique, I get to have these special conversations that you might not get the space to have in another industry or profession.  

What is the tattoo scene like in your area? 

In my opinion, San Francisco has one of the best tattoo scenes in the world. There is a long-standing history of traditional tattoo culture here that spans decades and decades. To be a part of a city that has such a rich history definitely inspires tattoo artists to keep creating, growing and pushing themselves to be their best. I think that is why so many great artists have come here and stayed here over the years, and it is why SF produces so many quality tattoos.  

A man with tattoo sleeves wearing a black and white tee with a heart tattoo design on the front.

Drink of Choice: Strong Coffee—the stronger, the better. Espresso in the afternoon. 

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