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These Latina Tattoo Artists Know How To Give The Best Ink In The Business

The decision to receive a tattoo can be deeply personal, particularly because the art of ink is a decision with lifelong effects. Tattoos on our skin are so woven into the skin that they ultimately end up making up such a major part of a person’s identity. That’s why when picking out a tattoo, people usually go to great lengths to find the perfect artist. Not just someone who has talent, but someone who can be precise and understanding of the depiction they are attempting to create. For so many Latinas who decide to get a tattoo, this is especially true. Often times, our tattoos tell stories of our Latinidad, our family and our written in our native languages. As such, seeking out a fellow Latina who can do the work on us can be just as equally as important as finding the perfect design.

As the tattoo industry grows, the once-male dominated world of tattooing is seeing more women tattoo artists than ever. So, of course, we have to shout out our Latina hermanas who are repping the Latinidad in the world of ink. Here are some of the most talented Latina tattoo artists in the game.

1. Jéssica Coqueiro

Instagram / @jercoquerio.tattoo

From São Paulo, Brazil, Jessica Coqueiro produces beautiful works of art in shades of black. Specializing in gorgeous and elegant floral designs, Coquerio also expertly inks animal imagery. She also has a few surreal pieces that will blow your mind. Her soft line work and attention to detail are impressive qualities that all of her pieces share.

2. Julia Bicudo

Instagram / @juliabicudo

Tattooing from Brazil’s Arte Misia Ink, Julia Bicudo tattoos both in color and shades of black. Her portfolio is very eclectic too. You’ll find America traditional pieces alongside geometrical designs as well as traditional floral and animal motifs. From these designs, it’s easy to see how versatile and talented Bicudo is.

3. Amanda Rodriguez

Instagram / @amandatattoos

Floral work like this has to be done in bright vivid color and Latina tattooist Amanda Rodriguez knows how to deliver. Working out of Brooklyn as well as across the pond in London, Rodriguez comes from a fine arts background. She brings that level of detail into her traditional and realism tattoos but isn’t afraid to spice it up with thick line work and abstract elements.

4. Noemi Barajas

Instagram / @noemitattoos

Orange County tattoo artist and painter, Noemi Barajas uses striking pops of color to bring her pieces to life. She also works as a traditional artist and her painting techniques are obvious in her compositions. Her black and white pieces are also stunning works of art in their own respect.

5. Esther Garcia

Instagram / @butterstinker

The use of solid black in a tattoo makes the whole piece pop and artist Esther Garcia isn’t afraid to prove it. Her use of elegant, full-color florals against black backgrounds is simply breathtaking. The Chicago artist is in her element when she is drawing and inking nature but her pieces are far from traditional. Sometimes Garcia likes to get surreal and she creates amazing tats like this one.

6. Roxi Satni

Instagram / @roxitattoo

Hailing from L.A. by way of Mexico City, Roxi Satni excels at laying down smooth black and white ink. Using points of black to apply shading, she gives her art shape and dimension in a very tangible way. Inspired by flowers and nature, Satni has developed her own style reminiscent of old school American traditional.

7. Olga Marques

Instagram / @olgart.tattoo

Located in São Paulo, Brazil, Olga Marques uses fine lines to give her artwork a sketchy feel. Specializing in figure drawing and stylized portraits, her work is very dynamic. She also happens to have the power of anime on her side. Check out her tats of anime heroes like Goku and Naruto to see the full scope of her talent.

8. Rocio Tattoos

Instagram / @rocio.tattoos

Tattooing for 23 years, Rocio works in Oakland and has been creating in the Bay area since 1996. She practices in many styles; doing everything from portrait art to cover-ups. Nature and botanicals are mainstays in her artwork and she delivers them with precision and skill.

9. Tamara Santibañez

Instagram / @tamarasantibanez

Specializing in Chicano-style tattooing, Tamara Santibañez operates out of New York City. Traditional Chicano imagery appears in her work as does the looping, clean cursive that is associated with that style. She is also an artist with a residency at MAD — The Museum of Arts and Design . Santibañez has even show her own public installation to rave reviews.

10. Michelle Santana

Instagram / @mnsantanatattoo

Don’t let the minimalist designs fool you. It takes a lot of talent to be this precise. Working out of Bang Bang Tattoo in New York City, Michelle Santana specializes in clean lines and small designs that make a big impression. She has even been featured in Forbes Magazine for her talent as an enterprising tattoo artist.

11. Arlene Salinas

Instagram / @arlenesalinas_m

California tattoo artist Arlene Salinas likes to do America tradition art while drawing from Latinx imagery. Working in both color and black and white, she finds inspiration for her own art in the work of her friends and peers in the tattoo community. Clean lines and a soft touch is what you’ll see in her portfolio.

12. Christina Ramos

Instagram / @tiger_ramos

Is that a photograph or a tattoo? Christina Ramos’s photo-realistic tattoos are masterpieces. She also creates amazing paintings using the same hyper-realistic style. Based in California, the tattooist works predominantly is smooth gray-scale and rich blacks to create her pieces.

13. Vivian Turini

Instagram / @vivatattoo

São Paulo-based artist Vivian Turini builds masterpieces from points of ink. The pointillism she uses could put any neo-impressionist painter to shame. Her use of negative space makes as much of an impact as her ink does. Turini’s subject matter varies but her floral pieces are especially impressive.

14. Magdalena Lobo

Born in Uruguay and working in Quebec, Magdalena Lobo tattoos in the American traditional style; focusing in bold lines, pops of color, and simpler designs. She is also heavily influenced by her Latinx culture as well as yoga and spirituality. Of all her pieces, her figure drawings are exceptionally charming.

15. Nazareth Garcia

Instagram / @nazgarciaart

Located in Chicago, Nazareth Garcia is a tattoo artist with a BFA in Fine Arts at the American Academy of Art. Drawing inspiration from her roots, you’ll find Indigenous and Aztec imagery in her work. She creates in black with occasional uses of color and is an amazing painter.

16. Rebecca Rodela

Instagram / @rebeccaarte

Operating out of Oregon and Washington, Rebecca Rodela is a Chicana tattoo artist. Classically trained, she is talented with a pen or brush but her real love is tattooing. She works in both color and black and white and covers all kinds of themes in her pieces. Rodela’s use of color is delicate and her line work varies from bold to incredibly thin depending on the tattoo.

17. Makitta Boom

Instagram / @makittaboom

Freelance tattoo artist Makita Boom tattoos out of Los Angeles, California. She has applied her neo-traditional style to all sorts of designs ranging from pop culture to stylized botanicals. Her portfolio is full of boldly colored, minimalist designs that you will fall in love with.

18. Galie Casillas

Instagram / @ta2galie

Los Angeles tattoo artist Galie Casillas focuses on using smooth grays and bold blacks to create her Chicano-style tattoos. Skeletons, angles, religious icons and Aztec imagery star in many of her pieces. Casillas specializes in photo-realistic portraits that are brought to life with her precise shading, detail work, and figure drawing.

Artwork Created By Detained Teenagers Are On Display In El Paso In An Exhibit Called ‘Uncaged Art’

Things That Matter

Artwork Created By Detained Teenagers Are On Display In El Paso In An Exhibit Called ‘Uncaged Art’

UTEP

Between June 2018 and January 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services detained more than 6,000 teenagers from Central and South America in a tent city 40 miles south of El Paso. It was called the Tornillo Children’s Detention camp and was the largest detention center for children in the United States. While detained there, the teenagers, aged 13-17, were asked to participate in a social studies project to create art that reminded them of their home. Their art was on display around the tent city until a story by The New York Times shined a light on the teens’ paltry living conditions, and the government shut the facility down in January 2019.

As Tornillo Children’s Detention Camp was being shut down, workers trashed nearly all of the 400 pieces of art. However, one priest and several community organizations came together and were able to save 29 of the pieces.

Father Rafael Garcia, a Jesuit Priest, was one of the few outside visitors allowed into the camp.

Credit: Sacred Heart Church, El Paso, TX / Facebook

“It is hard to describe the mood there; some kids were very glum and sad, others had no expression,” Father Garcia told NBC News. “Then there were others interacting like normal kids.” The artwork was on display until January 2019, when the U.S. government decided to close the camp. As officers were tossing the artwork, Garcia asked for permission to redistribute the art to others who may want it.

“If I hadn’t been there, and received permission to keep some of the pieces, it probably would have all been thrown in the dumpster,” Garcia said.

With the artwork in hand, Garcia called Yolanda Chávez Leyva, Ph.D., University of El Paso Texas Professor and co-founder of El Paso’s Museo Urbano.

Credit: Borderzine Reporting across fronteras / YouTube

Leyva would go to the Tornillo Children’s Detention Center on her days off to visit with the kids. Garcia knew that she co-founded El Paso’s community museum known for preserving borderland history. Garcia wanted the museum and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to protect the artwork. They did one better and put all the art on display at UTEP’s Centennial Museum. 

Father Garcia sees the final outcome–an exhibit featuring their work–as “a ray of light from a grim experience.”

Credit: UTEP

The Museum website describes the exhibit as reflective of “the resiliency, talent, and creativity of young men and women who trekked 2,000 miles from their homes in Central America to reach the United States.” The exhibit, titled ‘Uncaged Art,’ “provides us with a window into the personal world of migrant children whose visions and voices have often been left out of mainstream media accounts,” reads the website.

Still, the art is on display behind a chain-link fence, to remind visitors of the conditions the young artists were in at the time.

Credit: Borderzine Reporting across fronteras / YouTube

The social studies teachers allowed the students four days to create the art and allowed them to create individually or in groups. There were no other instructions other than to think of their home. Those instructions resulted in an array of mixed media art including dresses, sculptures and hundreds of drawings and sketches. Then, “camp officials” judged the art and selected their perceived best works to display around the camp.

Human rights attorney, Camilo Pérez-Bustillo thinks that the camp released the artwork as a PR stunt to look good.

Credit: UTEP

Pérez-Bustillo had interviewed about 30 children from the camp and believes the artwork was essentially curated by the facility. “I think they released it to look good,” Pérez-Bustillo told The Texas Observer. “They had so much negative publicity at the end from the national media, especially after news reports that their employees did not have to submit to FBI checks, they decided to shut it down and cut their losses.”  

For now, we don’t know the faces behind the artwork.

Credit: UTEP

In June 2018, Beto O’Rourke led hundreds of protesters to the tent city demanding humane conditions for the ever-expanding tent city. Temperatures were over 100 degrees while the children were living in tents. A DHS spokesperson told the public that the tents were air-conditioned. Some of the children told an attorney that the worst part of the facility was never knowing when they’d get out. Some kids would keep track of the days that passed by scribbling numbers on their forearms.

Still, the government’s response to the problem was to loosen the strict requirements for sponsorships. All of the children are now sponsored by people around the country.

Wherever they are, we hope that they see their artwork is cherished by our community.

Credit: “tornillo art” Digital Image. Texas Observer. 23 August 2019.

We know that the symbol of the quetzal bird created in this artwork is a symbol of freedom for Guatemala. In the words of one of the artists, as told by The Texas Observer, “The quetzal cannot be caged or it will die of sadness.”

READ: Texas Detention Officer Charged With Sexual Assault Of An Undocumented Mother’s Child

Meet Frederico Vigil, The Creator Of The Largest Concave Fresco in North America – Mundos De Mestizaje

Culture

Meet Frederico Vigil, The Creator Of The Largest Concave Fresco in North America – Mundos De Mestizaje

Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

When visiting the National Hispanic Cultural Center campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it’s easy to write-off the upside-down, bucket shape form rising from the ground. It stands alone with no distinguishing marks. There are no large crowds to hint at the remarkable secret hidden inside. Visitors will know they are in the right place when the gray asphalt and concrete beneath their feet morph into red—matching the building’s exterior.

Two, towering wood doors mark the entry into the nondescript building.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

When the doors swing open, it’s impossible to avoid looking up because the vibrant colors of the ceiling act as a magnet, drawing eyes upwards. Step into the 45-foot dome-shaped structure to get a better look, and there, in the small Southwest town of less than 1 million, the largest fresco painting in North America wraps around the ceiling.

El Torreón is the name of the structure which houses Mundos de Mestizaje.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

The larger-than-the-Sistine-Chapel fresco made by Frederico Vigil. It took the Santa Fe native almost three years to have it approved and 10 years to complete it. The aerial artwork depicts thousands of years of Hispanic and pre-Hispanic history. Depending on your cultural background, some iconography is easy to spot and place in history. If you’re Mexican, La Virgen de Guadalupe, a portrait of the beloved civil rights leader Benito Juárez and the eagle, serpent, and nopal from Mexico’s coat of arms will stand out. But walk around the room, or sit in one of the lounging chairs that allow visitors to tip back and view the work at 180 degrees, and soon you’ll realize there are hidden figures among the more popular markers of Mexican and Indigenous identity.

“I’m a mixed man with many different bloodlines,” Vigil says on a phone call. “I’m mestizo. I wanted to show the history of what that means.”

For the project, Vigil consulted with seven scholars on Mesoamerican and Spanish historical culture in order to create an accurate depiction of the past.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

He says that just by looking at the Iberian Peninsula, there’s a mix of Romans, Celts, Muslims, and Phoenicians which is all tied into Spanish identity. Then, with the Americas, there’s Maya, Aztec and Toltec. The history of these lines iS not linear. They overlap, intertwine and blend together in a dizzying ride that Vigil worked to bring to life in Mundos de Mestizaje. 

The purpose is to show the viewer how interconnected and far-reaching culture is. Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd is depicted sitting next to Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, a Medieval Torah scholar, and physician. Chacmool, the pre-Columbian sculpture found throughout Mesoamerica shares space with George Washington and an African slave. 

“There are no purebloods, we are all mixed—or perhaps the only people who can say they are of pure blood are the Amazons or indigenous tribes that have lived in isolation,” Vigil says. “When people begin to study the past, they realize we, as a society, are not genetically one thing.”

Vigil learned the art of fresco painting from Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Pope Dimitroff. The couple might not be household names outside of the art community, but their bosses were. Bloch and Dimitroff were assistants to the world-renowned Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. 

Vigil connected with the couple thanks to the Santa Fe Council for The Arts.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

The organization reached out to Vigil to gauge his interest in a scholarship learning from the pair. Now in their 70s, the two aging artists were making strides to ensure their knowledge was passed down to a new generation of creators. Art lessons were accompanied by tales of the past that included Kahlo, Rivera, and friends such as Leon Trotsky. There, he learned the complicated and time-consuming process of fresco painting.

A surface is rough plastered with a mix of lime, sand, and cement. On average, a layer takes 10-12 hours to dry. A painter can go to work an hour into the drying process and usually has between seven to nine hours of time to complete their design. The art then needs 7-10 days between coats. If the painter messes up, they have to scrape off the layers and begin again.

“I’m a procrastinator but when the wall is wet, you have to paint,” says Vigil. “Each painting is a new experience. It doesn’t get old.”

Vigil is currently working on a new 2,500-plus square foot monumental fresco at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

His new work tells the tale of New Mexico’s history as the oldest state in the U.S. to produce wine. He says the piece could take four to six years to complete. He’s currently in his second year.

The hours for the Torreón (where the fresco is housed) are Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 p.m., plus it is open by appointment, which can be scheduled with Juanita Ramírez at Juanita.ramirez@state.nm.us or 505-383-4774. The NHCC presents concerts in the Torreón in partnership with the Pimentel & Sons Guitar Makers. The Torreón is available for rentals under certain circumstances and with some restrictions. 

READ: 20 Bizarre Nail Art Ideas That I Just Will Never Understand

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