Portland tattoo artist designs gate panels for Parks’ facility





Portland tattoo artist Joe Larralde recently completed the installation of impressive gate panels for two large vehicle gates that were part of an improvement project at the Flavel Maintenance Yard, a Portland Parks & Recreation facility adjacent to the Springwater Trail in East Portland’s Lents Neighborhood (SE 89th & Flavel). The gates span the width of the property, adding continuity and a framing effect for the new facility. The public art project was funded with 2% for Art and was completed in mid-September.

The selection panel sought a local artist who had completed no more than one public art commission. They selected Larralde based on his graphic Polynesian style tattoos and, serendipitously, his background in landscape design. Larralde’s inspiration for the gate designs stemmed from those very Polynesian tattoos that he has created for clients over the last nine years. Entitled, “Oregon Grape,” the gate panels are waterjet cut powder-coated aluminum with stainless steel backing. A red and black color scheme is inspired by the Pacific Northwest’s Native American art and culture. Complementing the tattoo inspired geometrics, silhouettes of Oregon Grape leaves and Swifts are incorporated into the design.

Artist Background
Joe Larralde studied landscape design and construction at Colorado State University. Following graduation, he lived in San Diego where he did design and consulting for a local nursery. After a few years, he packed up and moved to Maui where he fell into an opportunity to do an apprenticeship with a talented and respected local tattoo artist. He’s been studying traditional Polynesian tattooing for about 9 years and loves balancing the positive and negative spaces with the motifs.

“Even before my apprenticeship [I] have been drawn to the beauty and striking effect Polynesian tattoos have on both the people who wear them and the curious onlookers,” Larralde writes. Tattooing has given Larralde the opportunity to design and draw nonstop and opened up possibilities for him in other mediums – he has taught himself to paint in watercolor and oils. He currently works at Art Work Rebels in northwest Portland.

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