Chicano Tattoos and Lowrider Tattoos
The artwork that our varied cultures create adds to the cool and awesome things on this planet. Drawing from beliefs, religion, and local practices, many parts blend into cultural artwork. The Chicanos produce powerful and beautiful artwork based on their rich and vibrant culture. Since lowrider cards show up a lot in these designs, we also call them ‘lowrider tattoos.’ Born from a strong past, Chicano and lowrider tattoos show a promising future ahead of them.
Style of Chicano & Lowrider Tattoos
We recognize Chicano tattoos from both their style and subject matter. Artists ink the vast majority of designs in grayscale, only using black and gray ink. The line size, color, and shading all depend on the subject matter. Very few Chicano designs integrate any form of color. Traditionalists would argue that color belongs far away from real Chicano designs. Instead, colored designs in this style represent a new subset.
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Subjects of Chicano & Lowrider Tattoos
If you can’t tell the style from traditional coloring and shading of Chicano tattoos, the subject matter helps. Like any culture-based tattoo styles, Chicano designs revolve around images and ideas prevalent within Latino culture. Strangely, most tattoos deal with the concept of life and death. Since Chicanos treasure faith (and most of them are Catholic), many Chicano designs feature religious symbols. Crosses, rosaries, thorns, angel wings, and drawings of both Jesus and the Virgin Mary fill these tattoo designs. These make for impressive large scale pieces on chests or backs. On the other hand, some people prefer simple and small tattoos on their hands or calves.
Beautiful women and girls are very often the center of Chicano tattoo pieces. A respect and love for the women causes people to seek out tattoos. Usually, the tattoos are large, pretty portraits of women in various places on the body. Very often, Chicano tattoos of women will be seen with tattoos or gang signs. Also, it’s not strange to see tattoos of women wearing clown masks or makeup.
Clowns also show up in Chicano and lowrider tattoos. A clown tattoo shows that even if the someone cries on the inside, they put on a smile for the world. By the same logic, artists often play with the idea of comedy and tragedy in their designs.While comedy brings laughter, tragedy brings tears, and both make up important parts of life!
History of Chicano & Lowrider Tattoos
As I mentioned before, lowrider car tattoos show up all the time in Latino culture. Chicanos love the lowrider, so anyone with a passion for cars merits a good tattoo. Clearly, this symbol remains so prevalent in Chicano tattoos that we call the entire style lowrider tattoos. Even without a car, every image here goes under lowrider tattoos.
Gang names or mantras, family names, and lost loved ones’ names are all habitually integrated into Chicano designs. Very often, a wearer will use the imagery of skulls, guns, or roses, as part of the usual statement that life is short but can also be beautiful at times.
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Our small world in vast space feels challenging, at times. Simply put—life is hard. People need to escape when things get bad enough to drive us crazy. Sadly for Jose Lopez, two strangers fought nearby, and a stray bullet paralyzed him from the waist down.
To soothe some of his depression, Lopez turned to drawing. As a result, he quickly entered and won many art contests. His talent and passion for drawing eventually took the form of tattoo art. Now, Lopez is one of the most iconic Chicano tattoo artists in existence. He owns a shop, the aptly named Lowrider Tattoo Studios. On top of that, he continues to impress with his growing collection of beautiful tattoo work, all done in Chicano style.
Chicano tattoos show up on people who come from Latino descent, as an homage to their culture and history. The unique parts and pieces of Chicano life show through in the inked imagery on the skin of people in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
By Devon Fulford