If you ever find yourself in Corona and needing a cool tattoo, just stop into Trusted Tattoo Company and ask for Trevor Bonkers. It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for as far as style or content; the Fresno native can lay down a solid tattoo of nearly anything—as long as it follows his one rule.
“I just like doing cool tattoos,” Trevor says. “A cool tattoo is a cool tattoo. I don’t know how to describe it any other way. It just has something about it that makes it cool. It could be anything, but it’s either cool or it’s not.”
But the sun doesn’t rise and set on cool tattoos for Bonkers, as he’s always had a deeper artistic passion. After a bogus apprenticeship delayed the start of his tattooing careers, Trevor was selling paintings for a living – or for as much of a living as he could, at least. From watercolor to acrylic and everything in between, Bonkers spent years bouncing around the country trying to make it as either a painter or a tattooer.
Eventually, that passion landed him at a tattoo shop in Palm Desert in 2002. His first couple of experiences working at tattoo shops were short-lived stints due to a combination of tweakers and owners who didn’t know what they were doing, but Bonkers knew he’d found a home once he landed in Palm Desert. With grants from the College of the Desert for his paintings, Bonkers was finally in a financial situation where he could afford to actually learn the art of tattooing for little to no money.
To this day, Bonkers still loves to draw and paint when he’s not tattooing—his art-covered station on the second floor of Trusted Tattoo is a testament to that. But he finds it’s a lot easier to keep food on the table as a tattooer than it was as a painter.
“When you start failing at everything else, it was kind of easy to cling on to tattooing,” Trevor says. “With having to buy all of the supplies and everything, painting just wasn’t working out. I was sleeping on my girlfriend’s couch, so I brought my painting portfolio into a shop when she was getting pierced to try to sell them a painting. They asked me if I wanted a job, and I was like ‘Fuck yeah!’”
What started as cleaning the shop and creating stencils quickly turned into an opportunity to tattoo for the artistic Bonkers. After 14 years and stops in Redlands and Fontana, his tattooing skills and techniques can be seen on clientele from all over the world, whether it’s in the form of lettering, black and gray, illustrative work, or American traditional. Now that Bonkers has found a seemingly permanent home after a handful of years in Corona, he’s built a name for himself throughout the area.
“I like the privacy here,” Trevor says. “It’s a little easier to control the person and your surroundings because it’s upstairs. I used to work downstairs by the door, and people would come in and ask me about piercings or try to figure out what they want to do. It was hard to get that Jedi focus.”
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Now that Bonkers has his tattooing career set up just as he likes it, his reputation is primed to grow exponentially over the next few years. As long as he keeps getting to do cool tattoos, Bonkers is perfectly fine with keeping to himself. He always has painting to occupy his hands when he’s not holding a tattoo machine, even if he still prefers to do styles that don’t translate too well into tattoos.
“If I was smart, I’d do watercolor because it’s actually like tattooing,” Trevor says. “But no, I like to do acrylic and oil painting where it’s the complete opposite of tattooing. I know people say you should have a hobby that’s different than tattooing, but that shit doesn’t transfer at all. We’re not on the east coast where everybody’s got super white skin and it’s like painting on white canvas.”
Trusted Tattoo Company, 430 River Rd., Corona, (951) 280-4465, @trevortattoos