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Body Art: Tattoo Artists Ink With Creativity And Passion

The taboo against tattoos has eased in Mexico. No longer associated with crime, the art form promotes originality.

A tattoo is permanent, so it’s critical to trust the artist who inks your body.

In past decades, Mexican society stigmatized tattoos. But there has been a relaxation of social taboos. Tattoos are no longer associated with crime. Also, it is illegal in Mexico to discriminate against employees who have them.

Tattoos are not a new trend. They have been around for at least 5,000 years. Several cultures use them for different purposes, from aesthetic reasons to social or religious markers.

Whereas in traditional societies, cultural bearers are often in charge of tattooing members of their communities, urban settings have a profitable tattoo industry. More than 12 million people got tattoos in Mexico in 2019, according to the country’s National Anti-Discrimination Council.

The number of tattoo artists has multiplied considerably in Mexico during the last decade, reaching more than 6,000.

As with any other art form, skill and experience matter. Good tattoo artists should have appealing designs and the ability to transfer clients’ ideas to their skin.

Opening a tattoo studio is not cheap. One must rent a place, pay for certifications and health permits, water, electricity, and most importantly, purchase all the equipment — machines and supplies, such as ink, needles and materials to disinfect areas.

“I started about six years ago,” said Juan Muñoz Crisanto, a professional tattoo artist and Crisanto Tattoo Studio’s owner. “I worked in two companies while I saved money to pursue my dream, which was to set up my tattoo studio.”

The tattoo artist must inspire trust before the session starts, so that the client is as calm as possible. *** El tatuador debe inspirar confianza antes de comenzar la sesión, para que el cliente esté lo mas tranquilo posible. (Charlie Ramírez/Café Words)

Originality plays a significant role in a studio. Often, the person who wants a tattoo only expects to wear a good design with no particular meaning. The artist may suggest something more creative.

Sizes and techniques vary. The designs may result from the mix of the client’s and the artist’s ideas. However, sometimes clients bring their sketches, and the artist transforms them into tattoos. Tattoo artists use their talent to make the best combination of both the drawing and the colors.

“As a tattoo artist, it is important to be at the forefront in terms of tattooing techniques, as well as colors, to give clients a better orientation before tattooing them. They need to be fully convinced of their designs,” said Muñoz Crisanto. “There are times when we have to adjust sizes, the position of the tattoo and even recommend the best area for a particular design. Tattoos’ complexity depends on the type of design, or how big or small it is.”

Some tattoos can take more than six hours to ink. Clients may get tired of the pain and the position, and artists may need a break, too. It may require several  sessions, depending on the design’s complexity.

“There are people who get a little nervous about needles,” said Muñoz Crisanto. “However, I try to talk with them and gain their trust little by little.

“The client may focus so much on the conversation, that often they do not realize the session is over. Here at Crisanto Tattoo, we have earned the public’s trust by doing good work, and above all, we have affordable prices,” he said.

Before getting a tattoo, it is essential to get professional advice and make sure the studio has high health standards and the tattoo artist has the mandatory certifications.

(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Fern Siegel.)