Tattoos gain more popularity


Image courtesy of Gerardo's Tattoos

Local tattoo artist Gerardo inks a tattoo freehanded based off a spall picture. Tattoos have increasingly gained acceptance in the mainstream.

John Cañamar, Staff Writer

For hundreds of years, there have been tattoos. Until as little as 10 to 15 years ago, tattoos have been looked at as the markings of a less desirable crowd by mainstream society and were associated with gangs, sailors, bikers and their criminal elements.

Today tattoos are no longer taboo, but are instead accepted and embraced by middle class. Many white-collar professional now sport tattoos and call them body art.

Truth be told, tattoos have always been works of art with deep-rooted meanings. As far back as the Egyptians, tattoos have been used to symbolize rank, stature in religion or position of power.

Local tattoo veteran and artist Gerardo, of Gerardo’s Tattoos, has been creating professional tattoos since 1994 in his shop in southwest Houston. He opened his shop with the help and backing of his father who always encouraged him to follow his dream.

Gerardo describes the experience of tattooing as a sacred trust and bond between the artist and the person who is receiving the art. “They come into my shop with the knowledge that we are going to hurt them. We are scarring their skin and injecting ink into their flesh. That is the price of earning a tattoo, and at the end of the session you leave with a piece of art that came from within me.”

Gerardo has had multiple apprentices who moved on to create strong careers for themselves. At this time he is mentoring Albert Rodriguez, known as “Bird” in the tattoo world. “Bird” has only been tattooing for four years, but has established a following for his realism style.

When asked to describe his interaction with customers is like “Bird” responded, “It is like a relationship. I feel it would be cheating if I were to get a tattoo from someone besides Gerardo. He gave me my first and has continued to do all of my work. That is how I feel about my clients.”

Bird also expressed that it is not an unwritten rule that you have to only use one artist, but the ties that you create with your tattoo artist are personal. The work means something to the person that is having it done as well as to the artist. “My work can be in China or France even if I never leave Houston.”

As a professional and licensed shop, Gerardo’s Tattoos has several steps and procedures that are required by law. First, you must be 18 years old or older and have a proper ID. Next, you must come into the shop where you consult with either “Bird” or Gerardo on what you would like and where you would like the artwork placed. Then you leave a deposit for your session, which is normally the following day. When you come in you sign paperwork required by the state. The artist then begins by prepping the work areas, both on your body as well as preparing the studio.

After a few minutes or hours, depending on your art piece, the magic of applying the tattoo takes place. Finally, everything is literally wrapped up to prevent infection. You are then given instructions on how to care for your new tattoo and the experience of receiving a one of a kind art piece is completed.