Justin Cota rocks. No, really.

If you’re into the San Diego music scene, you’ve probably heard of at least one of the many bands he’s started or played in over the past decade, including Bosswitch, Dream Burglar, Deep Sea Thunder Beast and Gloomsday.

From doom-pop hard rock to post-wave pop punk, Justin’s musical stylings are as diverse as his artistic interests. He focuses on traditional/Neo-traditional tattoos with both heavy and soft black work, but he also enjoys working outside of his personal style. Stippling, fine lines, lots of color — whatever you have in mind, Justin wants to hear about it.

Don’t live in San Diego? No problem! Justin is happy to talk about your design via email and over the phone. Reach out anytime to set up a consultation with Justin and talk about your tattoo. Submit a request for consult below, call the shop to schedule an appointment.

You can follow Justin on Facebook or Instagram.

Talk about your Tattoo Ideas with Justin

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Get to Know Justin:

What made you want to be a tattoo artist?

As a teenager I was fascinated with tattoos. I’ve always gravitated towards subcultures, and the tattooing culture has always been one that captured my interest. I’ve been a visual artist for as long as I can remember and after experimenting with an array of mediums, tattooing became my passion as I got closer to the opportunity of becoming a tattoo artist. I’ve been tattooing professionally now for over 15 years and I never stop learning.

What’s your background?

After my apprenticeship in 2002, I got my first job at a high-production tattoo shop in Milwaukee. I was there for about a year and a half, building my portfolio and refining my craft before relocating to San Diego.

What styles do you specialize in or prefer to work on?

I’m primarily focused on traditional/Neo-traditional tattoos with both heavy and soft black work. Stippling, fine lines and texturing are my specialty. I also like working a lot with color. Over my career, I’ve continued to grow and tweak my aesthetic, and I enjoy working outside of my personal style for the sake of growth and amusement. Pretty much anything that gives me a chance to utilize my skills and challenges me as an artist.

Are there any requests that you turn down?

I rarely turn down a request. The only tattoos I turn down are unfinished pieces by other artists (depending on the circumstances, of course) and any bigoted or offensive requests.

How do you work with your clients?

I appreciate having an in-depth consultation with clients before the actual appointment. I do have several clients outside of San Diego so I’m happy to accommodate requests over email and by phone.

Who is your ideal client?

I appreciate courtesy. As long as the client is open minded and understanding on what goes into a good tattoo and the cost of great work, it will be a good fit.

Do you have advice for first timers?

Times are funny. With social media and instant gratification consumer culture, it’s frustrating when some first timers approach a tattoo as if they’re buying a cheeseburger or a souvenir t-shirt. Do your research, respect the artist and the time it takes to make a great tattoo. And don’t low-ball. Good artists know their worth, and you should too.

What makes Diego Tattoo Studio the best tattoo shop in San Diego?

Diego Tattoo is clean and mellow. We have a smart, fun, and creative group of artists. For artists like myself, it’s incredibly motivating to be surrounded by so many other talented tattooists.

How do we find you on social media?

IG – @justincotapop

FB – @justincota