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It’s never too late to start over. Growing up, we’re often encouraged to forge our paths early on and to know what we want to be as soon as humanly possible. However, many find success in their second, third or even fourth careers. Viviana Calvo never planned to become a tattoo artist and she shocked everyone by leaving her steady job behind at 28 to follow her passion. Now, she’s a dominant force in the neotraditional tattoo scene and hasn’t looked back.

How did you start tattooing and why did you choose to become a tattoo artist?

I started tattooing by chance. I worked in a clothing store as a shop assistant and after a long time without painting I went back to it. Then my coworkers asked me to make tattoo designs for them. One day at my house, my brother-in-law saw me making a design for one of them and he asked, “Why don’t you become a tattoo artist?” And the next day he accompanied me to ask about the training courses and it all began from there.

What led you to your current tattoo style and what are some of your artistic influences? 

I started out doing realism. In fact, to this day I consider my style neotraditional with a realistic base. At first I was more influenced by other tattoo artists, but now I focus on looking at artists outside of tattooing, such as painters and sculptors.

Why did you choose to work in color? Do you ever tattoo in black-and-grey? 

I chose neotraditional in color because it is the style that represents me. It is where I feel most comfortable and free creating. Having a range of colors where I can mix and match allows me to express my feelings better. I have worked in black-and-grey and I like it, but I think color gives me life and my work falls short in black-and-grey.

Take us through your process for photographing your tattoos and where you came up with your method. 

One day I thought about doing something different. I wanted people to react when they saw my tattoos online. It occurred to me to cover the tattoo with paper and tease it a little without the piece being fully seen to bring people to my page to see the full piece. I really liked it and it makes me very happy that this idea is something others identify with me.

How do you ensure your color is saturated and what advice can you give to other artists on this? 

The first thing I do to saturate color well is to take my time when tattooing and make circular movements with a constant but slow speed.

What inspired you to combine faces with sacred hearts? Does this have any symbolism to you? 

When we were quarantined due to Covid, I had time to dedicate myself to creating paintings that I had not been able to work on for a long time. I couldn’t stop painting, but I decided to make a flash sheet to raise funds for the hospitals here in Spain. When I started to create that charity sheet I thought, “What would people like in this situation to encourage them?” Here, religion helps so many people and that’s what inspired me to draw the sacred heart of Jesus. From this idea, I began fusing sacred hearts with my tattoo style.

What are some of your favorite animals to tattoo and why? 

My favorite animals to tattoo are dogs and tigers. For me, their faces have a lot of volume where I can create the most details.

What’s your biggest goal as an artist? 

This is a profession where there is no ceiling and where there is no end. My goal is to continue improving every day, share experiences, meet colleagues and exchange knowledge with them to improve my learning. We can always improve and art has no limits.