Today we’d like to introduce you to Diana DeAugustine and Cari Coleman.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Diana and Cari. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Ever since I apprenticed (2006), I knew that one day I would open a space of my own. With the help of my tattoo mentor, undergrad and grad school mentors, my previous bosses, best friends, family and clients, that day happened in November of 2012. Named after my 10lb fuzzy, long-haired Chihuahua best friend, Diego, Diego Tattoo Gallery was born with love and passion. Based on the wonderful experience of working for Cheryle Beltran (Happenstance Salon) and Briana Sargent (Buju Tattoo), I organized a space for dedicated tattoo artists to flourish.
Then I met and hired (the soon to be love of my life) Cari Coleman. It wasn’t long before we fell in love and said our vows inside the quaint 540 square foot studio in South Park (2014). Our ideals and goals as artists and mentors couldn’t have been aligned better. We encourage growth among our artists while branding Diego Tattoo by it’s relationship with clients. It is our goal to make sure our clients begin a trusting and collaborative relationship with our artists the minute they walk in. Everyone is welcome. Everyone’s ideas are welcome. We help guide our clients with knowledge and tact to give them the best tattoo we can. We all specialize in different styles and match our prospective client to the artist who can do the best job.
Four years after I opened Diego Tattoo and two years after I married Cari, we partnered and expanded the shop. In December of 2016, Diego Tattoo relocated into an 1800 square foot gallery in City Heights. After 5 years of owning a tattoo studio, our mission remains the same: setting ourselves apart by building a trusting relationship with our clients, producing the best work we can and maintaining an active roll in giving back to the community.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road. With growth comes growing pains. After expanding we have been experiencing (for the first time) losing artists. We have always encouraged artists to grow and pursue their dreams. Sometimes that means becoming a traveling artist or opening up your own space. Even though we don’t like to say goodbye to the artists who have been our family, we understand, encourage and support their dreams. We want the next artist(s) to have the same compassion and support.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Diego Tattoo Gallery – what should we know?
Diego Tattoo Gallery is a tattoo shop and art gallery. We specialize in creating a welcoming environment for our clients and classy, professional tattoos.
Diego Tattoo Gallery is set apart by our ability to build a trusting relationship with our clients, producing the best work we can and maintaining an active roll in giving back to the community.
Cari and I are most proud of the relationships amongst the artists. We are a wonderful and drama free team built on compassion and encouragement, not competition and ego. This humble foundation carries over into our relationships with our clients.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Bob Nguyen (Bad Influence Tattoo, Fountain Valley, CA) is my tattoo mentor and gave me the tools and guidance to learn an art medium that gave me a career and a means to subsidize my painting.
Raul Guerrero (UCSD professor) Ernie Silva (UCSD professor), Ruben Ortiz Torres (UCSD professor), Barbara Kruger (UCSD professor 2003-2004) were instrumental in guiding me in undergrad while at UCSD. They helped me into graduate school and encouraged me to tattoo. Raul continues to mentor and support my career in the arts.
Karen Atkinson (California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA). Karen still gives me the best advice about business and art. She was the reason I went to CalArts and I value our friendship and her support.
My parents have supported my endeavors always and still show up to my art shows and openings.
Glenn Prickett (Rooted Kava Bar in Hillcrest) helped me open the first location. This man believed in me so much that he not only gave me a personal loan but physically helped me build a beautiful shop.
Cheryle Beltran (2010-2011) She rented me a booth to tattoo and build a clientele while creating a space for different types of artists (hair, piercing, tattooing, printing, photography, Reiki, etc) to coexist and grow businesses together.
Briana Sargent (2011-2012). Briana owns Buju Tattoo and pushed me to open my own space. Her Shop is gorgeous and her energy matches. Her encouragement sealed the deal. I still ask her for advice, admire her business and appreciate her friendship.
Cari Coleman, my partner of almost 5 years. She is my rock, my biggest fan and just straight understands me. She inspires me to make the best art I can and to love and work with passion.
- Shop minimum: $80
- Artist Hourly rates: $150-180
- Consultations are free, appointments require a $50-200 deposit
- Address: 3434 University Avenue Ste. A San Diego, CA 92104
- Website: www.diegotattoos.com
- Phone: 619-246-5226
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @diana_deaug @carebeartattoos @diego_tattoo_gallery
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/DiegoTattoiGallery
Trevor Dean @thafingdean, Lauren Marie @elle_em_be