Tattoo Artist Dillon Forte Opens Wimberley Tattoo Retreat Center
The globally recognized creative has tattooed prominent celebrities like Chris Hemsworth, Usher and Kat Von D
By Meher Qazilbash
Photos courtesy of Dillon Forte
Dillon Forte, a tattoo artist specializing in symbolic patterns in nature, is an electrifying force in his industry. A master of intricate and stunning designs that explore the fundamental structure of the environment, Forte’s work is recognized worldwide.
Born in Santa Monica, California, Forte’s interest in drawing began during childhood. By his teenage years, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in the arts and started working as a tattoo apprentice at age 18. For nearly 15 years, Forte continued mastering his craft in the Bay Area.
“My style is really just the pursuit of sacred geometry,” says Forte. “One of my biggest passions is trying to unravel what the world means and what the fundamental core structure of all of that is, how it all comes to be. The art was sort of subsidiary. I was just trying to answer the question of the typical traditional existential crisis of the meaning of all things.”
Enamored by the concepts of nature and shapes, Forte solidified his signature design style, leading more and more people to seek him out for it. His ink job on well-known tattoo artist Kat Von D catapulted his career forward and increased his visibility, leading him to working with high-profile clients like Chris Hemsworth, Usher and Kehlani. An adventurous and enthusiastic character, Forte’s talents have taken him all over the globe with jobs in stunning locales like Mount Everest and Morocco.
In 2021, the California native moved to Wimberley, Texas with his wife and 4-year-old child. The couple chose Texas because they thought it to be a wholesome place to raise a kid, and they proceeded to open a studio in Austin. After a few months, Forte’s ambitions propelled him to shut the shop down and give life to another vision — one that was a little more out-of-the-box.
His aim was to create the first ever tattoo retreat center, an original idea that defies the typical walk-in tattoo experience.
“The concept of having a tattoo retreat center was really to just cultivate the most beneficial experience for the client,” says Forte. “I wanted to create an environment where people can fly in, stay for a couple days and make the process a more relaxed and more calming, grounded experience. It’s not so much of a rush, like walking into a tattoo shop.”
He found a property that spoke to him, bought it and started building in September 2022.
“The biggest thing that led me to pulling the trigger on getting the property was that it’s located at the latitude of the pyramids of Giza and the longitudes of the pyramids of Teotihuacan,” explains Forte. “There’s only one place essentially in the world where those two massive lay lines coincide and it’s Wimberley of all places.”
The long-term plan came to fruition sooner than expected, and Forte began seeing customers at the center by winter.
Another one of Forte’s missions with the retreat center is to cultivate an entirely ecologically responsible environment. Forte’s company Forte Tattoo Tech sells biodegradable tattoo products and is committed to ensuring that the process is zero-waste. The founder also has plans to incorporate regenerative farming, permaculture and the raising of their own livestock so all food on the premises is eventually produced onsite.
According to Forte, possibilities for the future are endless. The artist offered up a never-ending stream of objectives during our conversation, including goals for building glass pyramids that clients stay in, a wedding venue and more retreat concepts in other parts of the world.
“There’s a lot of ideas,” adds Forte. “Ideas are in no shortage.”
The Wimberley studio is now offering tattoo appointments, workshops and lodging. Booking is available via Forte’s website or via email at email@example.com. To see more of Forte’s work, check out his Instagram.