Meet Tattooist Tamara Santibanez: Her Tips On Dating An Artist
People may take for granted that tattoos have become more and more mainstream. In our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, they may have been against your religion, looked down upon by your peers, or not appropriate to be shown in the workplace. Thankfully, with the progression of society, we have been able to move towards a world where tattoos are appreciated for the artistry and the meanings behind them. One of our favorite artists, tattoo-ing right here in Brooklyn, is Tamara Santibanez. Not interested in getting some ink? Don’t worry, you can still check out Tamara’s artwork, printed tees, and other merchandise displaying her killer style. We spoke to Tamara about tattoos, dating an artist, and her favorite spots to eat in Brooklyn.
What’s your take on the “cliche” tattoos that people seem to get these days (such as infinity signs)?
Trends in tattooing come and go just like in any other visual genre. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. If anything you can look at it as a marker of a time and place.
What was your first tattoo and when did you get it?
I got my first tattoo inside my lower lip at a punk show at a bar in my hometown for $20. It’s a big blur at this point but it’s still a good story.
What advice do you have for someone thinking of getting their first tattoo?
Get what you want and don’t listen to your friends.
What’s the craziest request you’ve had from a customer?
Once I had a girl who wanted her friend to draw something and would get it tattooed without seeing what it was until she took the bandage off. I tried to talk her out of it but she was so into the idea. I saw her a few months later and it turned out she actually loved it.
Favorite place to travel for work?
I like going to Austin, Texas a lot. I have family there, the shop where I work is amazing, cool clients, and great tacos.
Did you ever imagine that your degree in print making would lead to your current career?
It was always a thought somewhere in my mind that I wanted to learn how to tattoo. It fascinated me as a craft the same way printmaking did. Back then I probably saw my future self as a heavily tattooed printer running my own editioning studio. Which is not that far off from what I am now, a heavily tattooed tattooer who makes prints.
Where do you draw inspiration?
I draw a lot of it from my friends, music, fashion, other artists. I have a growing collection of vintage magazines that I flip through if I’m feeling uninspired.
With all the fetish motifs in your work, do guys you date get certain ideas about you? Do you prefer it that way?
People may make assumptions about me based on the work I make, which is fine. It brings a lot of genuine and interesting people into my life and work and I do like that aspect. I respect anyone who can be open and honest about their curiosity.
What’s your advice for someone dating an artist?
Don’t resent them for spending time on their work. Whatever medium they work in, whether it be music, tattooing, drawing, anything- those things don’t just materialize. A lot of hours go into making that happen.
When you get stuck on a project, how do you unwind?
I often try just switching gears to another project, but if that doesn’t work, I’ll take a walk and go get a coffee or juice to reset for a bit.
Where’s the best place to eat in Brooklyn?
I love sushi and really crunchy vegetarian spots a lot. My staples are Suzume and Cherry Izakaya, and in the city I love Souen for macrobiotic food and Angelica Kitchen for seasonal vegan food.
Favorite purchase this month?
I just bought a drawing from artist Keith Stone’s recent show at Mishka in Los Angeles.
What’s the difference to you between designing tattoos and doing your other artwork?
I like the collaborative nature of designing custom tattoos for people. It’s fun to come up with your own flash that people can pick from but I almost prefer people bringing me their ideas. My paintings involve a lot of process and thought before getting to the finished product, so it can be trying to my patience. By the time I get to the end I’m ready to put it away and start the next one. There’s a nice instant gratification aspect to doing a one-shot tattoo.
Favorite jams to listen to while working?
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Sisters of Mercy, Depeche Mode, Christian Death, Skinny Puppy. A couple current bands I’m all about at the moment are 3Teeth and HumanBeast. I also listen to a lot of Hot97 and some very smooth oldies.
Last place we will ever find you?
I don’t drink so you will almost never find me at a bar unless they have really good french fries.