When people see me in person they will notice that my arms are full with tattoos. My fascination with tattoos started at an early age. I remember when I was just a kid and one of the members in my parents’ band showed up to practice at my parent’s house with a bandage on his shoulder. My dad asked him what happened and he said, “I just got a tattoo.” My dad rolled his eyes and said that tattoos were way too permanent for him. On the other hand, as I listened to their conversation I thought that was the coolest and toughest thing ever!!!! Whatever that tattoo was it must have been important because it was going to be on him forever and I assumed it hurt. To me that was badass. About a couple of years later a friend of the family had just gotten back from boot camp and at a family gathering he was showing us his tattoo that he got while on leave. It was a skull with a full house in his hand wearing a top hat. When I caught a glimpse of it, again I thought it was the coolest, toughest thing ever. I must have been about 10 years old. Even at that early age I knew I was going to get some tattoos at some point in my life.
Fast forward about nine years. I was living in San Francisco and had saved up some cash and was ready to get inked. I walked into Henry Goldfield’s tattoo shop on Broadway and got a Spanish flag and Portuguese flag with a rose right in the middle of the two flags. I was very proud of being Spanish and Portuguese. That was my culture, my blood, and who I was. Now I had ink that everyone could see that would not question what my cultural background was. When I got back to my house I thought I was the baddest, most rebellious, motherfucker around.
That pretty much started it for me. Most major life events came with a tattoo to represent them. As soon as I passed the pharmacy board exam I went straight to Lyle Tuttle’s studio on Columbus St. and tattooed “Medicine Man” on my stomach in Old English. I was very proud to graduate from pharmacy school and be a healthcare professional, and the tattoo became a daily reminder to me of my blue collar/farm working background. I guess it was a subconscious way to keep me grounded as I started my career as a pharmacist. Then I had my kids who are half Japanese, so I got their named tattooed on me in Katakana with some Japanese art. Later, I got their name in English with a couple of dice representing their birthdates. My horseshoe that says Lucky 7s I got tattooed on my arm with The Nickel Slots’ song “Lucky Number 7s” being played on the radio. I have the emblem of my 1940 Buick tattooed on my left arm. I also grew up Catholic so I do have a lot of religious tattoos on me. I’m not a real churchgoing person, but once again for me it’s a cultural thing. I’m Hispanic and I grew up Catholic.
In 2014, I decided to really dig into the tattoo culture and began closing the “gaps” between my tattoos and started getting full sleeves. Ian Carder, from Forever Tattoo, has been my artist for the past two years. He has mostly done American traditional tattoos on me as far as style. However, I have seen him do all kinds of different styles.
So my plan right now is to finish up my left arm, do a few things on my stomach, and then move onto my back. It will always be a work in progress. Here is a short video from a recent session I had with Ian, courtesy of my friend and Nickel Slots videographer Jason Knight.