Meet the Artist: Charles Berger

As an artist, Charles Berger is known to wear many hats. In addition to owning Two Pillars Tattoos in Richmond, he’s a sign painter, muralist, and of course, a tattoo artist. His tattooing style leans into the neo-traditional world with nods to American and Japanese traditional tattooing. To Berger, pulling the elements of strong black lines and vibrant color from these styles are the keys to a long lasting tattoo. 

But tattooing isn’t what drew Berger to Richmond more than 15 years ago. He came to the city to study art at Virginia Commonwealth University and has dabbled a variety of visual arts, including painting, drawing, illustrations and graffiti. 

Though tattooing has become one of his preferred mediums, Berger notes the importance of practicing art in all forms.

“Taking it back to the basics is often lost in tattooing,” Berger said. “But things like composition, color theory and other elements are applicable of all art forms… It’s important for artists to remember that and practice when they can.” 

As tattooers, it’s easy to get swept up in the technical aspects of tattooing and forget to revisit the fundamentals of the art. With the Tattoo & Arts Academy, artists like Berger will get to refresh their core skills and learn new ones.  For example, on Thursday, September 12, Frank Lanatra will lead one of four courses for tattoo artists. He’ll discuss The Fundamentals of Character Design. Monday’s classes will focus on the broader artistic concepts with classes taught by artists like muralists Esao Andrews and Sterling Hundley. 

Berger has been tattooing at the Richmond festival  for more than 10 years. He said the city is the most saturated it’s ever been in tattoo artists since moving here. That checks out, considering Richmond averages about 14.5 tattoo shops per 100,000 people – and that’s just within the city itself. While the over popularity of Richmond tattooists bothers some, Berger sees it as a chance to learn and grow in his art. 

“It can be a learning experience,” Berger said. “We’re always a student, picking up wisdom and knowledge from other people.”

Berger will be tattooing at the festival from Sept. 13 to 15.

Visit the Richmond Tattoo, Art & Music Festival website to book an appointment