What's in a Tattoo? Tamara Santibanez Says It's All Relative

What's in a Tattoo? Tamara Santibanez Says It's All Relative

We sat down with the fine lined black and grey artist to talk about what makes a tattoo "good."

Tamara Santibanez is best known for her flawless fine lined black and grey work. Combining chicanx iconography with fetish imagery, she creates the unlikely subcategory of sexually liberated chicanx punk — which interestingly enough, describes Santibanez to a T. 


Learning to tattoo out of a punk house in Brooklyn, she has come quite a way since her self described scratcher days, and in a relatively short amount of time. While she’s only been a part of the convention game for about three years now, she says that she loves the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival event for its proximity to one of her favorite locations to guest — Rock of Ages Tattoo in Austin, Texas.

Chicana woman by Tamara Santibanez (via IG-tamarasantibanez) #artist #ChicanoTattoos #kink #punk #finelined #blackandgrey #TamaraSantibanez

While trying to find the perfect artist that reflects your own personal style can be a bit tricky, there are a few things to keep in mind while on the hunt. “I think there’s the basics of course, making sure the color is saturated, the blacks are saturated, and the line work is solid,” Santibanez says. "You gotta use that new Instagram zoom and get in there. But at the same time I try to do really great tattoos, and I do fine lined. So precision is important with that style.”


“I also think that with tattooing, there’s so many ways for a tattoo to be good, it’s not necessarily about who’s the most precise or the most technically perfectly applied,” she continues. “If a tattoo from afar is impactful, and grabs your attention I think that makes it a good tattoo, even if when you look at it up close it’s not 100% perfect.”


Over the years, Santibanez says that her personal taste in tattoos has changed drastically. In fact, she cites some of her peers during her time guesting at Rock of Ages as a few of her favorites — artists like Tony Hundahl and Katja Ramirez. “Some people might not expect me to say that, because my favorite tattooers are different than who I’m more influenced by [in regards to] my own style, but I love that kind of ‘90s wild style, biker, color tattooing.”

So regardless of if you’re looking for a fine lined black and grey artist like Santibanez, or perhaps a more “‘90s wild style” vibe like Hundahl, Santibanez is right about one thing: if you do the research, and find an artist that you click with, you’re golden.

androidapplearrow-rounded arrowArrowsavatar caretiPad Portraitcircle close-round closecomment-filled comment cross-fashioncrosscustomicondiscoverexiteyefilter globe hamburgerhearticon-loading iconlike-filled location mail nextphone pin-filled pin review-shop review-star scroll-downsearchCombined ShapeCreated with Sketch. star userverifiedwebsite