Every artist at The Raven and The Wolves has their own style of tattooing, but no one differentiates themselves from the pack quite like Eric Machado.
In addition to being the shop’s lone Brazilian artist, Machado is also the only one who focuses on full color realism rather than black and gray. From animals to portraits and much more, his art provides a colorful and accurate representation of the actual subject matter, delving into textures and details that can’t always be shown in black and gray.
But just because Machado is an expert in color realism doesn’t mean it comes easy.
“I like doing color because of the challenge,” Machado says. “It’s harder. It takes longer. You can work for several hours just to do a small part of the full tattoo, and the goal is always to make it look like the real picture.”
After a handful of years shifting his life back and forth between Brazil and the U.S., Machado was finally able to formally join The Raven and The Wolves family in 2021. While some artists may have given up and simply chosen to launch a career in their native land, Machado was dedicated to becoming the best artist he could be — which he felt would only be possible in the States.
“My work gets better here,” he says. “I can learn more because there are a lot of good artists here. Also, the clients here are different in that everything for them has meaning in every design and every detail. It means something to them, and it's not just for aesthetics. It's not superficial, it's deeper.”
Of course, along with the improvements to his working life in America, starting at The Raven and The Wolves has been quite the learning experience for Machado. Not only has he picked up all sorts of tips and tricks about painting and tattooing both from his colleagues and several of the guest artists and seminars that take place, but perhaps the biggest (and most impactful) lessons have come in transitioning to the English-speaking world.
“The hardest part was the language, but it was also one of the reasons I moved here,” Machado says. “I went to school for a year or so before I started working here because I wanted to learn English, and I wanted to grow and get better. I'm from a small city in Brazil, so it wasn’t like it is in a big city like São Paulo. Even now, I always ask the guys a lot of questions, because I’m still learning from them about even the smallest things — like how to use the printer.”
From an artistic standpoint, Machado focuses on keeping a high-contrast style with heavy blacks that allow the assortment of colors to pop off the skin while also remaining vibrant for years to come — an issue many other color realism artists struggle with. And while nearly everyone in the industry has someone in their corner cheering them on (whether it’s a mom, a significant other, or some friends back home), Machado knows that he in particular has to make sure every tattoo he does is on point. After all, he’s got an entire nation’s worth of tattooers watching him and hoping his success brings more attention to the region’s artists as a whole.
“In Brazil, we have a lot of tattooers, but people don’t know most of them in other countries,” Machado says. “It's hard for us because of visas and stuff to come to the U.S. or other countries, so most of them are stuck in Brazil. It's cool to be able to be one of the artists here to represent them.”