Artist Spotlight: The Boldness of Howlin’ Wolf


Karlos sitting in his creative space


As the rhythmic beat of Johnny Cash’s “Home of the Blues” plays loudly in the background, Karlos Aguilar -better known as Howlin’ Wolf– sits in his shop that is decorated by his paintings and discusses his love for art, family, and vintage things.

One of his favorites


Billie was 5 years old when she tattooed her father

From his rough hands to his neck, countless tattoos decorate the skin of Aguilar’s body and has confessed that his favorite designs are those that were tattooed by his two younger daughters, Valerie and Billie… Already, these two girls will always be cooler than me.

Aguilar has established himself as renowned fine and tattoo artist. Going by the name of Howlin’ Wolf, Aguilar has about 28 thousand followers on Instagram and even more fans around the globe. At first glance of Aguilar’s artwork, many would mistake his style for traditional American tattoo designs.“I really don’t call it traditional work. I don’t think it is, you know? But it’s full on inspired by traditional work, paintings from the 30’s and 40s.” In fact, Aguilar has noted that Sailor Jerry and Bert Grimm are some of his main influences. Unlike traditional designs, Aguilar claims that his work needs to be proportional.

Smells like coffee


To get more of an aged look, Aguilar stains his paintings with coffee

“I can do an actual traditional piece but I just can’t get myself to make it crooked and off. It’s just not in me to do that. . . With traditional it doesn’t matter, it is what it is.” Thus, Aguilar creates semi-realistic paintings decorated with bold lines and vibrant colors.

When asked about why he loves vintage things, Aguilar was at a loss of words.
“I don’t know what it is about that old stuff . . . clothes, everything, it has character,”.
Besides living in a Craftsman home and driving around an old ford’s van and a Triumph motorcycle, Aguilar has mentioned that his wife Marina and daughter Valerie share the same obsession- the youngest Billie, not so much. When Valerie isn’t studying to become an aerospace engineer at Cal Poly Pomona, she and her father work on her triumph motorcycle. Aguilar glows with pride when talking about Valerie’s grand fascination with motorcycles, especially about her bike.“She painted it, sanded it, grinded it, I’m just giving her pointers. Took her months to settle on a color that she likes”-a lovely metallic ocean blue.

Recently, Aguilar teamed up with his friend Yuri, from @mischief_made_me to create shirts. Howlin’ Wolf’s designs are bold and colorful, just like his personality- you can see what other vintage designs are available on Mischief_made_me website.

Boldness and honesty are admirable traits that come second nature to Aguilar. Whether it is critiquing artwork or making masterpieces for himself, Aguilar is unapologetic in what he does. You can follow Howlin’ Wolf on Instagram to stay updated with his artwork and other projects.

More about Howlin’ Wolf

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All images author’s own



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