Known for stunning examples of the anime craze that's hitting the industry hard, Cat No Name takes inspiration not only from cartoons, comics, and video games. In this interview, she explains her love for all aspects of culture, and how they blend together within her artwork. Based in CDMX, Cat No Name also talked about what the tattoo community is like in her city and what she thinks makes for a truly great artist.
Can you give a little intro and background into who you are?
Hello, I’m Cat No Name, a Mexican tattoo artist obsessed with culture in all of its forms: from history and mythology to anime, series and video games. I’m in love with high contrast aesthetics like pastel gore, and neon horror themed girls. I’ve been in love with animation, facial expressions, dynamism and elements that are used currently in anime and video games since I was a kid.
I remember how I loved Aya Brea’s design in Parasite Eve 2 and how the “monsters” transformed was something that grossed me out but I was eager to see again, same with Silent Hill; when I played the first one I was the same age as Cheryl, Harry’s daughter and I was thrilled by all the dinosaur-like monsters and the black magic cults and religions that made me wanna know more about theology and philosophy, and it still had beautiful faces I loved so much.
Popular culture gives us the chance to get closer to classical culture and with everything I fed my mind when I was a little child, I started drawing and writing. And at this moment I rarely write, but I keep drawing a lot.
How did you get into tattooing? Did you always know you wanted to be a tattooer or did you have other plans in mind?
I wanted to be a storyteller, like a mangaka or comic “one man army”. But the universe pushed me other ways. Tattooing came to me, I wasn’t searching for it. It was something definitely not on the table...well, being educated by a conservative family, it wasn’t even in the dining room...but I was working at a coffee shop when I met a guy who was a tattoo artist and he offered me to teach me how to do it. It didn’t happen. Still, he made an inception of that idea, it just was part of of my horizons by then, but years later, a few years ago now, I caught myself thinking that tattoo artist were badass people that made beautiful things, and if I knew how to draw, it wouldn’t be that hard, but it was a big mistake.
Tattoo artistry is not only about beautiful designs and a good technique, it is also about hygiene, customer service, social media, professional ethics, skin care, a little bit of dermatology... It is one of the hardest and with most multidisciplinary skills job I’ve worked in. But it is also quite gentle, because all efforts and learning are easily shown and appreciated.
Why did you choose to do, mainly, anime and manga influenced tattoos? What are some of your favorite animes or mangas? Who are the artists who inspire you?
I have always had an obsession with faces and expressions, I guess that obsession is also present in my tattoos. As I mentioned before, from Sailor Moon to Silent Hill, Bougereau, Ilya Kuvshinov, Stanley Lau, and of course work from people like Brando Chiesa and Laura Anunnaki influenced my vision. Both are excellent artists in their own style and pioneers that opened the way to upcoming artists that like anime-like aesthetic.
What is the CDMX tattoo community like?
It depends. The circle I’m in, with my closest friends and colleagues are super professional and share values with me, like: respect for others, integrity, honesty, hard work, quality over quantity, high ethics, constant learning, among others.
But beyond my circle, I’ve learned there could be awful things that go from toxic competition to harassment from artists to artists, clients to artists, and artists to clients. There's also a lot of disrespect to other people’s work and many copycats...but as it is a growing industry, it is our duty to educate clients not only about how to take care of their tattoos, but how to approach to the artists and value and respect the work and effort of everyone, as well as make them aware of their own rights, like being in a safe space where no one will judge their ideas, social position or have a non-professional approach.
How do you feel about the current state of the tattoo industry? What needs to change and what needs to stay the same?
As I mentioned above, this industry is under development, finding its own way to become a former job, a former art and self expression. It helps normalize decorated skin, normalize body exposure without sexualizing anyone and all body types, so, the most important one is to not dehumanize the artist nor the client. But as it is in constant change and evolution, we must learn to evolve with it with respect, love and integrity to our profession, our clients and all the people that join us in the tattoo community.
Being a socially transgressive activity that causes controversy, we have the chance, as artists and tattoo enthusiasts, to share what we’ve learned to anyone who desires it always with respect, in order to open their minds to a new perspective. But the thing I love the most is how honest, in general, is the growth inside the community. It is impossible to be a pretender here, whatever your strong points are: an interesting design, good technique, nice customer service, it will be noticed.
What do you love about tattooing and what have been some of your favorite moments during your career?
My favorite moment and the one I treasure the most is when my sensei took me in to Empty Project, and allowed me to meet many interesting artists, developing my designs, as an artist, a tattooer and a person.
Also, meeting so many people with interests in common and yet so different makes me really happy. Being together so many hours for more than once makes you closer, so its impossible to not become friends, and so I’m able to learn and share so much from them too, none of my clients has given me a bad experience and I hope it was mutual.
Beyond tattooing, what are you super passionate about?
I guess drawing, designing, discussing different points of view, learning... My cats. I also love to play video games and watch anime, series, movies and read, specially horror related stuff, even when it doesn’t allow me to sleep well later.
But mostly my cats.
Anything else you want to share or say to the world? Any cool future plans that we should know about?
Thank you for joining me, sharing, liking and for some of you, getting my designs on your body. I hope to keep learning new things by your side. Also I’m working on a brand of my own, to have clothes, shoes, prints, hopefully I’ll finish it soon and surprise you before summer with this stuff.