Ray Mandal - Crossover Slinger
This Jersey slinger comes to the tattoo world from the field of graphic design. In the six years before making the leap to skin art, Ray Mandal designed and built websites and worked on print layouts.
However, like so many creative spirits, Mandal became burned out and frustrated with being a "corporate artist."

Having earned a BFA in painting, he knew in his heart that he was put on earth to make art. Mandal began creating t-shirt designs and sneakers. From there he was commissioned to paint murals and put his originals creations on motorcycles.

Mandal credits an artist named Rey Contreras for getting him into the tattoo game.

"I helped Rey out with his own airbrush hustle and got him into the event business," says Mandal. "It would turn out to be one of the best chance meetings of my life. Years later he got me into the tattooing world. He helped me buy my first machines and showed me some basic stuff in the beginning."

Describing Contreras as a "clean, technical tattooer," Mandal told us that his mentor's critical eye pushed him to strive towards perfection in his tattooing, and kept him from resting on his laurels.

Contreras would later join the staff at the Lost Lies Tattoo studio in Haledon, NJ. Again Mandal's mentor would provide the burgeoning tattooist a career opportunity. Mandal was brought into the fold at Lost Lies, and though he was excited by the break, the job also forced Mandal to experience an artist's life at the bottom of the totem pole.
"I really had to check my ego at the door and start from square one. It was a truly humbling experience. Rey has got some crazy talent and I'm always peeking over his shoulder trying to pick up new tricks."

At Lost Lies Tattoo Mandal met another artist that he credits as influencing his development as a tattooer - shop owner, Tone Alvarez. Mandal spoke of his impression of the chief of the Lost Lies tribe.

"He is an amazing tattooer that bangs out realism, color, and portraits at a master level. He guided me through my first days of full-time tattooing. Always allowing me to pick his brain on how to approach different challenges in styles. He never held me back from making mistakes and learning through experience. He is my Splinter."

Traditional art training and time spent working under established artists has turned Mandal into a solid slinger in his own right. With a full understanding of how to match and play colors against one another, Mandal creates color work that is vibrant and pops off skin. Negative space and body contour are major considerations in his tattoo designs, and this helps allow for the flesh to truly become a living canvass for his ink work. Color and black ink portraiture and Dia de los Muertos are among his specialty styles, but Mandal is always open to any piece that will challenge him and push his limits as a skin artist.

"Lost Lies Tattoo is one of the best and most underrated shops in NJ," says Mandal about his home turf. "We got a great group of guys, all very different in style, but compliment each other in a way that makes us a strong, talented team. The shop has a great atmosphere with no gimmicks or BS. We are always looking to collaborate, have a laugh, crack on each other and sometimes kill each other. But in the end it's always love.

The best ways to contact Ray Mandal for session time is either through email, or by calling the shop directly. He is open to working on pre-designed works, and he is also available to collaborate on an original piece, designed for your satisfaction.

Lost Lies Tattoo
334 Belmont Ave Haledon NJ 07508
(973) 904-3030

Article by Aiden McManus

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