My Colorful Journey
There's a reason that people say once you get your first tattoo, it's hard to resist getting another. For me, I got another, and another, and another...! I've always thought that tattoos were a beautiful form of self-expression, but of course, the impending pain of getting one makes many people hesitant to follow through with getting inked.
It's no wonder, then, that it took an event as dramatic as my father's passing to finally motivate me to work up the courage to get one. I had been talking about it for a while, but my mom didn’t believe I was actually going to get one. A couple of days after my 18th birthday, I grabbed my passport (my only ID at the time), walked two miles to the tattoo shop with my fellow car-less buds, and we decided to get tattoos then and there. I got my dad's initials and crossbones on my upper arm. It felt painful of course, but knowing it was a beautiful reminder of my dad, who passed away too young, made it so worth it!
I guess that popular saying about potato chips also applies to tattoos - "I bet you can't [have] just one!" When I was 20, I really wanted another tattoo but was scheduled for hand surgery so I had to wait (my least favorite thing to do lol). Luckily, a week into recovery I was cleared to get a tattoo. I decided to get “Free Yourself” accompanied by a feather as an inspirational reminder to let loose, come out of my shell, and enjoy my life.
Again, tattoos can be quite addicting. I often joke that as much as I enjoy shopping and fashion, I might like tattoos even more! My third tattoo was inspired by my big move from Chicago to California. What better way to mark new beginnings than with a tattoo of Ganesha, a god believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and wisdom.
My latest tattoo is a nod to my Mongolian heritage, and even more special because my mom and I got matching ones together. The ancient script means "blue sky" which is meaningful to us because of a perspective we share -- Regardless of what religion you practice, a higher power is thought to be housed in the sky which many people look toward for hope and guidance. I think this is something that Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and even those who believe in good old Mother Nature can appreciate.
Because of my love for tattoos, I can't promise that I'm done using this art form as a way to express myself. If anything, I look forward to being inspired once again to have the privilege of having a talented artist use me as a palette!
Q&A With the Artist
For almost all the years I've lived in San Diego, I haven't found an artist I clicked with until recently. When my mom and I finally decided to get our tattoos done here, I just so happened to be able to make an appointment with Carlos. While his talent and collection of work are what drew me in, getting to talk to him and finding out about his connection and experience with clients with disabilities is really what sealed the deal for me. Keep reading to learn some awesome facts about Carlos and his perspective on working with such a diverse clientele.
Q: What special accommodations do you need to make for your clients with disabilities?
A: Accommodating clients with disabilities can have its challenges, but even with clients that don't have visible disabilities, I find that I still need to treat each one in their own unique way anyway for the most comfortable experience. Since I have about 15 years of experience, I've had to do this quite a bit which is a habit that has helped me to be in tune with all my clients with or without disabilities.
Q: What unique challenges have you had when working with clients with cerebral palsy?
A: While these practices are things I've had to do with clients with other disabilities as well, the top accommodations that come to mind are the following:
Working around involuntary shaking that I've noticed sometimes happens when clients with CP are nervous or experiencing pain/discomfort.
Keeping clients in wheelchairs comfortable as well as positioning myself properly during the procedure.
Making the extra effort to listen to my client so I understand their vision for their tattoo. In addition to verbal communication, I like to do sketches on my tablet so my clients and I can better visualize how their tattoos will look.
Tailoring art to fit a slimmer frame, which was the case with Gigi.
Q: What was it like working with Gigi?
A: It is always a priority for me to tailor the experience for clients and to treat them respectfully regardless of any special needs they might have. When I saw Gigi, I admit I didn't realize she even had a disability, which I've learned from her is a common first impression people seem to have of her until she walks or speaks. When we started talking and she explained her needs to me, I didn't feel intimidated because we were able to communicate honestly and I have years of experience with a diverse clientele. I am glad that Gigi and her family felt comfortable enough with me to make me their go-to artist.