Tattoo Art and the Art of Survival with Dan Henk

Dan Henk is a multi-faceted artist, writer, and entrepreneur who has made his mark in the worlds of tattooing, illustration, and literature. With a life and career as unconventional as his art, Dan’s story is one of resilience and a relentless pursuit of artistic expression.

As a teenager, Dan found his footing in the underground punk scene, creating political cartoons for Madcap Magazine and illustrating for punk bands. A violent car crash and a harrowing encounter with a crackhead left lasting physical and emotional scars, but also fueled a determination to channel his experiences into art.

In 2000, Dan took the plunge into the world of tattooing. Initially working on friends in the music scene, his bold lines, dark themes, and meticulous shading quickly garnered attention.

In 2001 he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. And as the Twin Towers fell on September 11th, he learned his tumor was malignant. His defiant spirit saw him through brain surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. He continued tattooing several days a week during his treatment, a defiant statement of survival.

“So i feel like i’m not gonna let this kill me,” he recalls. “I’m like dude, you know, this is not the end of me, right?”

Three months later, he married fellow tattoo artist Monica Castillo, a Columbian immigrant. Six years into their marriage, Dan’s life took yet another tragic turn when Monica was killed in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident. Again, Dan carried on and founded The Abyss Art Studio in Long Beach, New York, a haven for tattooing and artistic expression. The studio became a hub for underground artists and musicians and has achieved legendary status among tattoo studios.

Dan’s artistic repertoire extends far beyond tattooing. He is a prolific painter, with his dark and surreal canvases often reflecting the visceral imagery of his tattoos. He is also a published author, having penned novels The Black Seas of Infinity and The End of the World, which explore themes of dystopia and the supernatural.

Dan is driven by the mantra that, in his words, “What’s really important, what really matters is what matters to you.” Listen to our converstion on the Type. Tune. Tint. podcast and watch the video.

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