The Art of Tattooing

Tattooing as an Element of Community

Coco’s art brings his community together. His shop has become a place for friends to gather even when they are not being tattooed. Customers use his shop as a place to relax, even referring to it as a neighborhood “sanctuary.” The sense of community continues even outside his shop; when Coco is at parties with friends and family, he may repair a bad tattoo at no charge, simply because poorly designed tattoos upset his aesthetic sensitivities.

Coco’s engagement with his community extends beyond tattooing to his other artistic interests. He has painted murals for local schools, as well as on the wall outside his shop, which features an image of Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama, painted to commemorate the latter’s 2008 election. Coco explains that his murals are frequently done for free, “So everybody can see our art and enjoy it. Without art, we have nothing.”

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This mural of President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr. was completed just days after the 2008 presidential election. Photo by Johanna Medlin