Bored from doing 12 years of routine tile setting jobs, Devin Perry of Ceres decided to challenge his skills by creating a tile art project that now adorns the floor of a Ceres tattoo parlor. He spent approximately six months figuring out how to create a design that tile experts said could not be done and crafted a mosaic modeled after Hocus Ink's business card that is tiled into the center of the parlor's floor.
"Everybody loves it," said tattoo artist Ray Marquez at Hocus. "They come in and they're like, ‘Man.' Ain't nobody else doing this, as far as an entryway to their shop. It's something that grabs people's attention."
It turned out so nicely that Perry, 37, is setting out to turn the experimental tile art into a new business venture, Epic Tile Designs. He is now concentrating on creating hanging wall tile art that has a decidedly Aztecan flavor and plans to see how the public responds to his products at the Inking in the Valley tattoo convention at the Modesto Centre Plaza June 1-2.
The intricacies of his Aztecan god wall art is reflected in the 93 pieces of detailed tile work.
"The Mexican restaurants are kind of interested in it," said Perry.
The Hocus floor tile project was the result of a friendship Perry has forged with shop owner and tattoo artist Jose "Hocus" Manriquez that dates back to the fifth grade in Ceres. They remained friends after graduating Ceres High School in 1993. Once when Perry was getting tattooed, Manriquez asked his friend to tile the floor but he came up with a more creative project.
"There's nobody who does this," said Perry. "I was on the internet three weeks straight trying to figure it out, how to get the cuts, the curves and everything. I've bought probably ever tool inside of Home Depot."
Perry went through four prototypes before deciding on the ceramics and designs for the five-and-half foot wide by the same art.
The trick, Perry found, is cutting pieces into inconceivably narrow straits without breaking them, something he thought would be impossible to attempt until now.
"I never would have thought I could do it."
He's found unlikely tools to help get the right cut with breaking tile. Perry said a wood framing saw blade on a table saw can give him the chipping that he wants without seeing it break like a standard tile saw would do.
He found it difficult shaping each piece to where the grout gaps were consistent.
Perry said what he lacks in artistic talent is made up for by the advice given him by Hocus whose spray art is legendary in Stanislaus County. Perry also likes to watch the tattoo artists at work to see how artists do shading on tattoo artwork.
The results were so impressive that he took a photo of the work in progress and took it to his supplier at Bedrosian Tile in Salida. The rep there thought it was painted due to the precision.
"They're still in awe up there," said Perry of the tile outfitters. "They can't believe that I've actually come up with a concept to be able to get this small but be able to get the detail into my designs."
Perry has created art - it took two days to make -- for the owner of Tribal Clothing Company in San Diego and did a free floor mosaic for Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reese's Bay Area pitbull kennel. For that art Perry used the helmeted Raiders emblem with a pitbull face.
Epic Tile Designs has a facebook page for those interested in contacting Perry, or they may call him at 622-3036.