Caleb Brouk: Illuminati Tattoo

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Artist Spotlight

By Brittney Khorsandi, Active Media Contributing.

A rose is a rose is a rose, or is it? Triple shop owner, Caleb Brouk is an artist and entrepreneur. He is a painter, creates stunning pencil drawings, and is a novice woodburner, but above all else, he has professionally combined these skills into being a successful tattoo artist.

Located on Main Street in downtown Oregon City, Illuminati Tattoo is the second location of three that Brouk owns and runs (the other two are in Vancouver, WA and Redmond, OR). “People were driving up from down here to Vancouver all the time, and so we saw a need for an ‘artist shop.’ We’re not just tattoo artists because we do custom pieces.”

While Brouk tattoos at all three locations, one can find him at the Oregon City shop at least two to three days a week. “I absolutely love Oregon City. It’s that great small town that just kind of captures your heart. It’s postcard-esque, I like to say.” It’s not difficult to understand just what he means when one can merely glance out the numerous, large windows in the shop and see nothing but beautiful trees and old buildings. “I want people to look in, be curious, ask questions,” he says, also noting that the community has embraced him from the start. He has been very excited to give back, especially by working with students. “I just did an event where I went in and talked to a bunch of kids [at a local school] about what it is to be a tattoo artist. I love working with kids because I like to be able to give them more options.”

Having started out as a pencil artist, Brouk didn’t always know that tattoos would be his calling. As a child, as long as he had a napkin or anything else that could serve as a canvas, he and his pencil were a team. Life took a few turns, however, and Brouk soon enlisted in the service. Upon finishing his time there, he “started doing sketches for tattoo artists. One artist was like ‘dude, you need to be tattooing not just drawing this stuff.’ He kinda took me under his wing, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Brouk soon discovered that a paper and pen artist does not a tattooer make. “First off, you have an eraser when you’re drawing. There’s not much erasing you can do on the skin!” Though a canvas might be the more obedient surface, what Brouk loves most about what he does is the interaction he has with his clients. “That piece of paper isn’t going to talk back to me. I love hearing the stories and the journey of people as I’m tattooing them. It puts the emotion into that tattoo. It allows me to take that art to a whole new level. You kind of adapt the tattoo to the emotion as you go.”

While his day job finds him permanently painting skin, Brouk continues to work with artistic mediums even more outside of his shops “because as I’m tattooing, I get inspired.” While clients understandably want something specific when they undergo the process of being tattooed, oftentimes Brouk will find himself inspired in ways that he wants to explore further. “I may want to take an element to another level that they don’t want, but now I can go paint it. It’s a good release when you’re stuck within confines and then you can just explode.”

Though choosing a favorite tattoo he has done feels akin to picking a favorite child, he says that it is always “the one I’m doing at that moment, as cheesy as that sounds. It’s because the emotion you feel at that moment in time makes it the best. The best experience. The best tattoo. The best collaboration with a client. Each tattoo is the best one for that particular moment.”

To see more of Caleb’s art and other work at Illuminati, check out the following Instagram accounts: @cbroukztat and @tattooilluminatioregoncity. The Oregon City shop is located at 517 Main St., Suite A. 