The tattoo style called chicano tattoo style was born in the 1950s in California jails to celebrate the Latino community belonging to those who wore them.
Their “Latin pride” and inked on their bodies, prisoners of Latin and Mexican origins, often gang members, and shouted their lives to the world.
Gang membership, loyalty to his clan and love for his family, tattoos boast of the values that dictated the life of the wearer. Inspired by Catholic religious iconography, pre-Columbian history and street art such as graffiti, there are recurring major themes such as family, women, God, death, respect and loyalty.
What is Chicano Tattoo Style ?
The tattoo art known as “chicano” was born in the 40s and 50s in Californian prisons to celebrate “Latin pride”. It is inspired by street arts, Catholic religious iconography, graffiti or pre-Columbian history. Loyalty to the community, family, women and God are among the main themes of chicano tattooing. Initially practiced with Indian ink, chicano tattoo style are traditionally made in black and gray.
Many religious references are almost omnipresent:
- The crying Virgin Mary
- Jesus, angels, hands in prayer position
- Santa Muerte, the “sugar skulls”, these skits made up and beautifully decorated that express the joy (in reference to the Mexican holiday of the dead “El dia de los muertos”, during this festival, the Mexicans sing and dance in the cemeteries for to pay homage to their dead, women wear makeup in bright colors representing skulls, and symbolically death)
History Of Chicano Tattoo Style
Chicano style themes and motifs
Among the religious themes of the chicano tattoo style, the Virgin Mary, Jesus and the angels are often represented, but also the hands in prayer position or the Sacred Heart.
Clowns and clown make-up pinups reflect the idea of always keeping a smile, even when you’re crying inside. In the same spirit, the pattern of masks, one laughing, the other crying, are widespread.
Representations of women, also known as “bandidas”, are also a recurring motif in the art of chicano tattoo style and are often associated with guns, skulls or dollars to symbolize success and signify how short life is.
Chicanos scriptures or “lettering” are also an important and very popular component of chicano tattoo style: very elaborate, these elegant lettering are of the most beautiful effect tattooed alone or as an accompaniment to a main motif.
Although they do not fall into this category originally, it is now common to store in the chicano tattoo style inspired by the folklore of the Mexican Day of the Dead: the Calavera, Catrina, Santa Muerte, Mexican skulls or “Sugar skull”.