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Just Love: Collector and Creator Marilyn Rondon

Just Love: Collector and Creator Marilyn Rondon
Lifestyle5 min Read

In this interview with tattoo collector and multimedia creator Marilyn Rondon, she talks about mental health awareness and her personal heroes.

A chameleon community member, Marilyn Rondon supports survivors of domestic abuse, sex workers, the queer crowd, those suffering from mental health issues, immigrants, and anyone else unfairly living in the fringed minority. She’s involved in the tattoo industry, fashion, photography, production, fine art, and direct action, while her creative collaborations include Obey, Natasha Tonic, and VidaKush. She’s also modeled for the likes of Katy Perry, Reebok, Discount Universe, and Good American. Her authenticity is what makes her the ultimate muse and creator, but it’s her devotion to truth that makes her a role model.

Sometimes tattoos are our armor; our tough exterior is just a few centimeters away from the soft emotional core that feels everything. The heightened sensitivity Marilyn Rondon brings to the world, baring bruises and open wounds for everyone to see, is the most significant thing she could offer. Her murals, paintings, poetry, everything she puts out into the world, is doused in that brutal beautiful quality of life. Rather than be silent, Marilyn speaks. And due to her refusal to stay stagnant, or between boundaries, Marilyn reminds me of a beloved quote from Aesop Rock, “When everyone around me’s busy drowning, I float.” Brimming with resiliency and courageous positivity, she was kind enough to give us some advice, and talk about her experiences.

Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Olivia Shove #MarilynRondon #OliviaShove #tattoocollector #tattoomodel

Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Olivia Shove #MarilynRondon #OliviaShove #tattoocollector #tattoomodel

First, can you tell us a bit about your background and what you do as a model, multi-disciplinary artist, and spokesperson for mental health awareness? 

Howdy! I was born in Venezuela and my family and I immigrated to South Florida when I was 5. I spent the first 3 decades of my life living between Miami and New York working a plethora of jobs including tattoo shop assistant, almost every customer service job you can think of, model and DJ. Certified hustler.
I started building my art career from the ground up after a drug and alcohol-induced psychotic breakdown in 2013 and have since become an advocate for mental health awareness and drug/ alcohol recovery. It's been a wild and painful but beautiful journey.

Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Evan Tetreault #MarilynRondon #EvanTetreault #tattoocollector #tattoomodel
Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Orin Fleurimont with make-up by Chloe Schlossmann #MarilynRondon #OrinFleurimont #ChloeSchlossmann #tattoocollector #tattoomodel
Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Nate Walton #MarilynRondon #NateWalton #tattoocollector #tattoomodel
Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Orin Fleurimont in Natasha Tonic #MarilynRondon #OrinFleurimont #NatashaTonic #tattoocollector #tattoomodel
Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Piper Ellis #MarilynRondon #PiperEllis #tattoocollector #tattoomodel
Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Jeff Weber with make up by Jakiichu #MarilynRondon #Jakiichu #JeffWeber #tattoocollector #tattoomodel

How has your background/upbringing/geographical location influenced your art making?

I guess, for one, being an immigrant is a blessing and a curse, I've had to work harder for almost everything I've achieved. I've always had limited resources since I was a child so have always found a way to create and get my message across on a dime. I've always prided myself in my work ethic, I've always been career driven and find its a superpower. I also have strange luck and sometimes come upon exactly what I need when I need it. hashtag, blessed. I think my biggest influence has little to do with where I am and more to do with who I'm surrounding myself with.

Most of your work seems very much connected to freedom of expression and outlets of emotion. Do you have an artistic philosophy? What do you hope your work says to the world?

I suppose that can be true. I always create and let it be interpreted however the viewer wants to cause in my experience anytime I make work with a statement it's misunderstood. My work has always been an outlet of self-expression. I feel big and large; I am too much. I have big feelings; they are hard to contain so always seek a channel for them. My philosophy is to express in a world that wants us to suppress. I want my work to inspire you and everyone to get whatever is weighing on you off your chest. Let it go, let it be free.

Why Does Mommy Have Tattoos? Written and Illustrated by Marilyn Rondon Marilyn Rondon #MarilynRondon #tattoocollector #tattoomodel
Mural by Marilyn Rondon #MarilynRondon #tattoocollector #tattoomodel #mural #painting
Painting by Marilyn Rondon #MarilynRondon #tattoocollector #tattoomodel #painting
Mural by Marilyn Rondon #MarilynRondon #tattoocollector #tattoomodel #painting
Painting by Marilyn Rondon #MarilynRondon #tattoocollector #tattoomodel #painting
Mural by Marilyn Rondon #MarilynRondon #tattoocollector #tattoomodel #painting

Because you’re such an outspoken proponent of socio-political activism, suicide prevention, and similar super important aspects of the global community, many people look to you as a mentor. How do you handle this responsibility? What is your advice to others who are hoping to inspire change?

I still have difficulty comprehending the level of impact my words can have. I've become much more careful at how and what I say and try to view it from as many perspectives as I possibly can. I stopped talking as much and started listening. Sometimes we just need someone to listen without judgment so if I’m in a place where I can lend an ear and offer advice if I’m asked, I make the space. During my last relapse and depressive episodes, I felt stuck because my loved ones didn't know how to listen. I kept receiving unsolicited advice, lots of judgment and criticism and that was extremely painful but what I did learn from it is how to help anyone going through something similar feel seen and heard. It's a tough job but {the universe} put me in a place where I can share my experience with others in a way that tells them, I love you and it's ok to be or feel this way. My advice to anyone wanting to inspire... be authentic, not self-righteous, acknowledge we all have the duality of good and evil and also just love- even those who hurt you or hurt others, they need it most.

Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Josh Aronson for iD #MarilynRondon #JoshAronson #iD #tattoocollector #tattoomodel

Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Josh Aronson for iD #MarilynRondon #JoshAronson #iD #tattoocollector #tattoomodel

You’ve been tattooed by some of the best humans out there. How do you choose who you get tattooed by and what you get? Is tattooing ritualistic for you, a means to express your inner self or simply just for fun? Anyone you want to get tattooed by that you haven’t yet?

Honestly, I am just truly that blessed to have gotten a job in the industry early on. I worked at Dare Devil Tattoo when it was still next to Max fish on Ludlow street and Fun City Tattoo before Big Steve took over. They are my family. Working there for 3 years I met some of my biggest homies, huge influences and in general great people whom I love and respect. I started getting heavily tattooed cause it was free lol and it looked cool. The older I get the more intention I put into what I wear on my body. They are ritualistic, they are a form of self-expression, they are therapeutic, they are a timeline of my life, where I've been, who I am at the time, a way to hold onto the memory of loved ones. My tattoos have helped me find myself and lose myself and find myself again, shed ideas of self. It is such a big part of my identity, I have a hard time imagining my life stripped of them... but I'm also not afraid of rebirth if need be. I really want to get tattooed by Victor Morales.

Suicide Prevention sweatshirt designed by Marilyn Rondon #MarilynRondon #tattoocollector #tattoomodel #suicideprevention
Sensitive bobby pins designed by Marilyn Rondon #MarilynRondon #tattoocollector #tattoomodel
Resentment is Suicide sweatshirt designed by Marilyn Rondon #MarilynRondon #tattoocollector #tattoomodel #empower
Model wearing Marilyn Rondon X Natasha Tonic #MarilynRondon #NatashaTonic #tattoocollector #tattoomodel
Model wearing Marilyn Rondon X Natasha Tonic #MarilynRondon #NatashaTonic #tattoocollector #tattoomodel
Model wearing Marilyn Rondon X Natasha Tonic #MarilynRondon #NatashaTonic #tattoocollector #tattoomodel

Will we ever get another volume of the infamous Dat Ass Zine? Are you bored by the beauty of bums or are you just trying to concentrate on other things these days?

I might just hit y'all with a vol. 7 when you least expect it. I like keeping projects hidden and secret. Social media has changed the way we view images and I want to bring it back in a way that's worth printing again.. we shall see.

Photograph within Dat Ass Zine Vol. 3 by Marilyn Rondon #MarilynRondon #tattoocollector #tattoomodel

Photograph within Dat Ass Zine Vol. 3 by Marilyn Rondon #MarilynRondon #tattoocollector #tattoomodel

Who are your heroes? If you could read only one book, listen to one album, and watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Heroes- Bjork, anyone that chooses to get sober or fight through mental illness, my father and Lil Peep (rip), Orville Peck and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. One book would probably The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts, ‘cause wherever you are in life you will gain new insights from it. One Album- The Love Below by Outkast. One movie- Taxi Driver.
Do you have any upcoming projects, collabs, travel plans or events coming up that you’d like to share? 

I've been secretly working on music for the last two years and plan on releasing my first single early 2020 ;) so make sure to keep an ear out for that.

Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Sean Maung aka olskoolsean #MarilynRondon #SeanMaung #olskoolsean #tattoocollector #tattoomodel
Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Ashley Olah #MarilynRondon #AshleyOlah #tattoocollector #tattoomodel
Portrait of Marilyn Rondon by Ira Chernova for Hypebae #MarilynRondon #IraChernova #Hypebae #tattoocollector #tattoomodel

Justine Morrow
Written byJustine Morrow

Social Producer, Journalist, Editor, and Curator for Tattoodo I am here to support you 🌻 IG: @lathe.of.heaven