This Cinco De Mayo, we're celebrating the Inked way and that's by showcasing 10 of the best Chicano tattooers in the industry. Chicano is a word chosen by Mexican Americans to represent their heritage. Prior to the 1960s and 1970s, Chicano had negative connotations, however, Mexican Americans reclaimed the word during the Chicano Movement. This movement had a broad goal of achieving Mexican American empowerment—whether that be through better education, labor rights or representation in mass media. One of the ways Chicanos helped promote their cause was through creating art, literature and music.
Much of the Chicano art that came out of this movement was community based, with groups of people creating murals that showcased the diverse beauty of the Mexican American experience. This artistic movement, as well as the struggles Mexican Americans faced when immigrating to the United States had a significant impact on tattooing, giving rise to the Chicano tattoo style.
Chicano tattooing is best defined by its style and subject matter. Its style is fine line black-and-grey with smooth shading and subtle pops of white. Its subject matter often includes payasas, Pachuco gangsters, roses, the Virgin Mary, Jesus, sacred hearts and the "Laugh Now, Cry Later" masks. Most of the great Chicano and Chicana tattooers of today still work in California, specifically East Los Angeles, which is the home base for this style. In honor of Cinco De Mayo 2022, we've put together tattoos from 10 of our favorite Chicano artists and it's time you appreciated their unparalleled talents.