In spring of 2016 we were drinking cheap gas station beer in Lake Elsinore and tracking in a second story loft studio with our friend-engineer Matt Rubik and his brother Austin.  

Castle Pines had said goodbye to Nick Barrientos, as he embarked on a missionary trip with his wife and kids, and our dear friend and guitarist Ricky Garvey came on board. We were tracking Hollow Cause, a frenetic and overdriven, woozy rock song we wrote in response to the civil unrest, mass shootings and genuine disconcerting sentiment rearing its head in the US at the time.  Ricky spoke about his first time in the studio with Castle Pines and his first offering as the 4th man in CP through song.  Check out his blog HERE

This isn't about that song.  This is about the hand drawn picture we received from Aya, a then 17 year old artist from Southern California that reached out to us and sent us this picture.  

Hollow Cause by Aya

   Aya, blew us away with her story.  She had suffered through a debilitating disorder and in her response with coping, she started down a path as a visual creator that has become a career as a tattoo artist in Riverside CA.  We were more than touched by her story, we were moved and in awe of how she used art to transcend the daily struggle to attain a higher sense of understanding of herself and the world around her.  What moved us the most was the fact that she would listen to our music while she drew.  For that we knew that we had to feature her as an artist on our next album, so Aya this one is for you. Her work will be featured and published alongside our single release of the song “Scenester” off our upcoming album “Por Vida”.  

                    Art is in “cathartic”.


We interviewed Aya, and as any good representation of a person can possibly be, we learned from her own words... 


Whats your name and what do you do?

My name is Aya and I am a tattoo artist at Rock Me Tattoo, in Riverside CA

Aya, how long have you been an artist?

I have been drawing all of my life, but Ive only, became a professional tattooist in August 2017.

Can you tell us a little bit about your past, what lead you to where you are now?

I am diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as multi-personality disorder, and this illness has definitely given be a different perspective in life. 

At this moment, I'm typing this out at Back to the Grind thinking about everything that brought me to this point. And honestly, its hard to pick a specific event that made me go into the tattoo industry.  I feel like what truly brought me here was the passion I carried with me for art, no matter my situation. Whether it be sleeping in my car to back in High school, art has always been something that helped me stay focused and relaxed.  In fact, a-lot of times, it was my only source of happiness.


Where do you work? Tell us about the shop, where you work and how we can send people there?

I work at Rock Me Tattoo in Riverside, CA. We are the little red shop on the corner of Harrison and Magnolia.

Do you have any words of wisdom or guidance for artists that are dealing with heartache or loss and what would you tell them to inspire them?  (like what drives you and how would you help an artist in a despairing position)?

The hardship you experience will only help you out artistically. Each break will boost your self esteem, which is important if you choose to follow a path thats out of the norm. 

As an artist, you are asking for a life of uncertainty.  Sometimes you'll only make a couple bucks and other times you'll be able to afford that extra t-shirt. 

But no matter where you go, who you are with, you have to learn to love and care for yourself. 

Anything else you would like to tell or share with the public?

I'm only 19 but I'm starting to realize how great of an impact people have on one another. And you have to appreciate the people you are surrounded by, the good and the bad ones, they're as important to your story as much as anything else. However, no matter where you go, who you are with, you have to learn to love and care for yourself. If you can't be happy on your own, you can't be happy at all. And it's going to be hard, and you're going to experience more hardship working as an artist of any form, but you just push through. I mean, I'm on my way.


We would like to thank Aya for her bravery and willingness to share her story and her art with us.  Give here a follow on Instagram: