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Tattoos: Art for the body and soul

Annabella Mireles
Julio Cesar Pizana Aleman, is an artist at Monolith Tattoo. He sits in front of his wall of designs, which he says each have his own special spin on them.

From skulls to floral designs to portraits and meaningful quotes, tattoos have the capability to express more than just a design but an individual. Tattoos have a history of making their mark within certain cultures. Nowadays, this art form is used to express more than emotions but also create beautiful forms of stories on the skin.  

 The word “tattoo” originates from a mix of the Samoan and Marquesan language, which originally was called “tatau” or “tatu.” Tattoos were first introduced over 5,000 years ago, it was not until the 1400s that tattoos were seen very rarely, and the practice began spreading through Europe and America. Later in 1991 tattoos were discovered on a mummified body.  

Despite how common they were amongst different cultures, with the rise of Christianity, cultures and societies began to view tattoos as sacrilegious. Even though body art dates back many years, people set aside the judgment and continue to use this form of art to express themselves in a more permanent way. 

“Body art for me is expression like any art. I had things I wanted to represent, experiences I had in my life, and I just felt like I needed to put them on my body because they are a part of me,” said UTEP student, JC Rivera. “Nobody will ever know about it, and I will not remember it in the same light as if I did not mark it and use that as a book end to move forward onto the next chapter of my life.”  

As tattoos have grown in popularity over the course of several years, people have accepted the art form, but tattoos blossom at the crossroads of art and the human body, allowing people to portray this form of expression on their body as if they are their own canvas. In more recent times, there has been an overwhelming increase in body art, allowing a new wave of fashion to be introduced into society, especially with tattoo shops spreading across multiple cities.  

“It has evolved to (that) and it makes people feel more individual as a person. Tattoos for the longest time have been like a rite of passage,” said local tattoo artist, Julio Cesar Pizana Aleman who works at Monolith Tattoo, which is located at 212 E. Paisano.  

At The Good Life Tattoo, located on 4131 Fred Wilson Ave., another local tattoo artist, Goldie Jones says she likes to see how tattoos bring her clients’ joy. 

Many local artists say Pinterest is now a common gateway for art inspiration among people nowadays.   

“The frequency in designs that I definitely see are the ‘Pinterest’ stuff or ‘TikTok’ stuff,” Jones said. “However, their favorite art style to work on is ‘cottagecore.’”  

While some get bolder and more brazen looks tattooed, others get simplistic patch work on their body creating a form of collage.  

“I try not to do stuff that other people have done 10,000 times, but I mean traditional people have done it 10,000 times,” Aleman said.

“I want to do my own spin to it, so I develop my own style. I like to perform my own art,” Jones said. “I approach my tattooing in a very technical sense if I can. Through the creative aspects especially with my designs, I like to try and pour a little piece of myself into each design. Like I want people to see, ‘Oh yeah that’s Goldie’s work.’”  

While tattoos were once perceived by the community as “unprofessional,” people are now breaking the stereotype of tattoos being frowned upon and are now embracing and redefining body art.  

“I think that it’s come a long way, like when I started getting tattoos it wasn’t that long ago, but the perception was different,” Rivera said. “It still was not considered professional and now I’m seeing a lot of professionals that have tattoos. So, I’m really glad that people are coming around to it and just seeing it for what it is, which is expression.”  

 The physical and all various forms of memories, emotions and colors collaborate to create this amazing form of art.  

Tattoo art captures and at the same time, reveals unspoken aspects of one’s personal story.  

“I love walking around campus and just seeing people with different artwork,” Rivera said. “I have no shame, so I’ll go up to people and I’ll ask them, ‘Oh what does this mean?’ There is always a story behind it. It is always a good talking point, you get to a know a person by their tattoos.”  

From being covered head to toe with eye catching tattoos to simple and meaningful tattoos, it is a great thing to see people express themselves more artistically. As society continues to welcome new trends, the art of tattoos will continue to prosper and remain relevant within the realm of art.   

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Marco Hinojosa is the audience and engagement editor and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Marco Hinojosa
Marco Hinojosa, Audience and Engagement
Marco Hinojosa is the audience and engagement editor for The Prospector. He is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring multimedia journalism with a minor in criminal justice. He plans to broaden his horizons as a journalist and work for a major broadcast company.
Annabella Mireles
Annabella Mireles, Photo Editor
Annabella Mireles is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in digital media production and minoring in film. She is the photo editor at the Prospector newspaper and Minero magazine as well as owning her own photography business. She plans on pursuing photography full time.
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Tattoos: Art for the body and soul