The man behind Diamond Jacks
DARRYL GATES was born in London in 1969. Growing up around American comic books in the ‘70s forged a love affair for the medium and especially the sequential graphic style of Howard Chaykin, Will Eisner, Jim Steranko and Steve Ditko and a desire to become a comic book artist. That changed when in his early teens he discovered visual musical artists such as David Bowie, Kiss, Hanoi Rocks and the Ramones. He received his first tattoo from Ken Rivers in 1989 whilst he was playing guitar in various rock ’n’ roll bands and taking his influence from Johnny Thunders of the NY Dolls he ended up playing shows in London including performing at the Camden Palace, ULU and Marquee club! By day working in various capacities in the music industry.
Fast forward to late ’90s and getting tattooed regularly by Ian Kaye the owner of the legendary Diamond Jacks in Walkers Court, deep in Soho (previously Dennis Cockells’ studio), he broke into the tattoo world and landed a tattoo apprenticeship there, then a full-time position, which led to him taking over Diamond Jacks in 2003.
A passion for classic lowbrow Americana tattooing and the Traditional styles of Japan and working with artists from around the world fuelled two decades of tattooing in that iconic location including many celebrities in the film and music industries, clothing brands, tattoo design work for films and magazines, music videos, radio and press interviews and more.
In 2019 the legendary tattoo artist Dennis Cockell celebrated 50 years of tattooing by coming back to his original shop to work with Darryl. This partnership proved successful but both felt it was the right time to set up a new private appointment studio and close the Walkers Court location due to the gentrification of Walkers Court. A new studio based in Fitzrovia, near Oxford Circus, London W1, which was called Undercover Tattoo opened in the Summer of 2022, but Dennis sadly passed away the end of 2022.
Darryl decided to keep the studio but re-named it back to Diamond Jacks, which he is known for and the start of a new era began.