Tattoo artist Steve Soto was born and raised in Orange County California. He is the oldest son of Mexican immigrant parents who, like so many others, settled in Southern California and began the brutal struggle of laboring in order to give their children a chance to live a prosperous life. His parents worked very hard not only to provide the necessaries of life, but also to instill in him a strong work ethic and values. Above all, his parents sought tirelessly to keep him away from the negative influences, which surrounded them. Steve is the oldest of four children and with that came tremendous responsibility at a young age. Like all challenges in Steve’s life, he stepped up to the plate and grew up always looking after his siblings. Although many children of immigrants share the same struggles, Steve’s life is far from ordinary. Due his parent’s social-economic status, Steve understood early on that he would have to write his own ticket, as they say, or better said, draw his way down the path called the American Dream.
Steve started drawing at a very young age- as soon as he could hold a pencil in his hand. His love for art and drawing was as evident as his talent. As a child he excelled in sports and academically, but his forte was art, in particular, graphite pencil drawings and portraitures. In grade school and high school, Steve won several art contests and this motivated him to become a professional artist. Staying on the right path was not always easy for him. In high school, he struggled in avoiding the negative influences that were pervasive in his environment. Staying on the right path meant more than staying out of jail for Steve. Staying out of trouble meant that he could cease his parent’s struggle to make ends meet. It meant finding a platform, an avenue, to showcase his artistic abilities. With pencil in hand and admirable talent on his side, Steve searched for just the right canvas.
After graduating high school, he attended community college where he took as many art classes as were available to him. While in college, Steve became interested in tattooing, he knew he found his canvas. After many failed attempts to secure an apprenticeship, he apprenticed under tattoo artist Billy Dyson. After many ups and downs, Steve opened his own studio, Goodfellas Tattoo Art and Design Studio, in Orange County California. The success of Steve’s studio is due in part to his philosophy, “Hard work pays off, but also not forcing anything and putting positive energy into the world will allow the pieces to fall into place.”
Since 2001 Steve has traveled nationwide attending tattoo shows and competitions. His tattoo art has won hundreds of national awards at some of the most prestigious American Tattoo shows. Among some of the most notable awards are: First place for “Portrait Black and Gray” (Ink ‘N’ Iron, Long Beach, CA, 2006), multiple first place awards, and two “Best of Show” awards (Hell City Tattoo Festival, 2007-2011)
Steve’s distinct art talent has been recognized internationally. He has attended some of Europe’s most prestigious tattoo festivals. There too, he has won numerous awards such as “Best Black and Gray” tattoo (Barcelona Tattoo Festival, 2007; Tattoo Week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2012; Reutlingen Tattoo Festival in Germany, 2012), “Best Tattoo of the Day” (Sydney Tattoo Show, 2010), and second place for “Best Black and Gray” in London- the highest regarded tattoo show in the world. Steve has also been featured in many local and international art and tattoo magazines.
Steve has launched his own products such as Bishop Rotary tattoo machines and tattoo sketchbooks, which are distributed internationally. You can also find Steve’s art designs on apparel lines such as Sullen and Tribal Gear. His apparel designs are among the companies’ best sellers. Steve and Tribal Gear will launch a new apparel line due for release in late 2014. Steve has worked with video game company EA Sports on two video games- MMA and Army of 2 Devils Cartel. He has also worked with Rockstar energy and currently has going the team of ColdCock Whiskey.
Steve has ambitions in continuing to spread his art to many parts of the world including Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. “Black and Gray” and Chicano culture from the West coast is a movement embraced in the tattoo industry worldwide. Steve is one of the artists on the forefront of this movement by exhibiting his art during his travels and through his following. Upon hearing his work is well respected, Steve says, “Give respect, earn respect.” By any standards Steve is respected in the industry and has achieved success, but Steve feels he has so much more to offer- he is yet to hit his prime.
Today, Steve helps support his parents and their sacrifices and hard work are a driving force behind his ambitions. Steve is the proud father of a son and three beautiful daughters whom inspire him to elevate his artistic abilities without limits for the son of immigrants is an Artist.