While living in California, tattoo artist Roy “Loy Loy” Leyva left his mark on celebrities, rock stars and pro athletes. Now living in West Orange, he hopes to one day open his own shop.
HORIZON WEST When celebrities and professional athletes need some ink, many of them turn Roy “Loy Loy” Leyva.
Leyva’s list of celebrity tattoos include 15 NFL players, Seb Hines and Tally Hall from Orlando City Soccer Club, skateboarder Riley Hawk and Tom DeLonge from Blink-182.
Leyva became a tattoo artist almost by accident, having grown up in the surfing and skateboarding culture in California. He gave tattoos to his friends, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that he began working as a professional tattoo artist.
But art had always been a central part of his life ever since he was a child, Leyva said.
“I always drew,” he said. “From the time I was 7, I was drawing portraits and painting. So I’m kind of self-taught.”
Ten years ago, he opened his own tattoo shop in San Diego, which became his pride and joy. But last year, he and his family decided it was time for a change. So Leyva sold his shop and moved his family across the country to Central Florida.
“God was just pointing in this direction,” he said.
Although he’s now working at a shop in Clermont, Leyva said he’s already saving up to open his own shop in West Orange.
“I’d love to have my own studio out here, a family friendly shop,” he said.
Coming from California, Leyva said the tattooing style is much different in Florida.
“Florida is still doing color bomb graffiti,” he said. “(In California), we were doing that in the ‘90s. So I want to start a new movement out here.”
When it comes to tattooing, Leyva said he prefers to work with black and grey rather than color.
“Black and grey is a lot quicker,” he said. “With color, you have to have a huge pallet.”
One of Leyva’s favorite things to create are portraits.
“Anything realism - but portraits especially,” he said. “I’ve done everything, but I enjoy doing portraits.”
Often, portraits carry a deeper meaning for clients, because many are done in memory of a loved one.
“It’s an emotional experience,” Leyva said. “There’s a lot of consoling. There’s a lot of crying. I’m giving that person life. I want people to enjoy those memories.”
When these situations arise, Leyva said he always relies on his faith to help comfort his clients.
“I feel God has given me this platform to talk to people and help them,” he said. “I try to be a friend to every client.”
In fact, his faith plays a large role in his decision to continue working as a tattoo artist, Leyva said.
“The body is a temple, and temples have art in them,” he said. “So that’s what I’m doing.”
In addition to tattoos, Leyva also paints and previously created a Mary Poppins painting for Disney.
With Disney just down the street from where he lives in Summerlake, Leyva said he’s hoping to create more artwork for them. He’s currently working on an “Alice in Wonderland” series of oil paintings.
But for now, he’s focused on building his tattoo brand - the art of Loy Loy.
“I come from the mecca of tattooing, so I’m going to shake up this town,” he said.
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