Interview with Lorena Bahamon

   Hello Lorena Bahamon! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. It really means a lot having you here. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. Do you have any formal art education? What type of art do you like the most? Hi, thank you for the invitation and it is such a pleasure to have this opportunity. My name is Lorena Bahamon Jurado, I am from Bogotá, Colombia, and I have been tattooing for 7 years. When I started tattooing, I was studying Anthropology at university and also taking free courses in Drawing and Painting at an art academy in my city.

Q: Do you feel inspired by someone's style, art style or a historical period?
A: Talking about my inspiration, I like to take it from the Iconography, Architecture, and Ornamentation of India, Nepal, and in some cases, Polynesia.

Q: Were you like one of those artistic kids who used to draw their superheroes or just interesting objects?
A: I have been involved with art from a very young age due to my family and I had exposure to music and drawing throughout much of my childhood which gave me a great artistic sensitivity that I remember from as far back as I can recall, hence my sense of creativity has always been quite natural.

- Is creativity an intuitive exploration?
I think talent is something that we are born with. Whereas creativity is a process that we look for and work on during our lives.

Q: I love your unique style. It's like every tattoo design just flows around the body's anatomy. Do you draw for each client? Freehand? Tell me more about the creative process, I'm super interested!
A: It is really important that the tattoo flows with every single body shape. I believe every single body is beautiful and different, so I design according to what they like and their body shape. About the freehand, I work with the body curves and sometimes the Ipad does not allow me to draw or work with those curves. In those cases I freehand my designs.

Q: Do you negotiate with your clients on this? Have you even refused to do a certain design or on a certain body part?
A: I always advice my clients about the tattoos they are going to have. I take tattoos as an artistic construction, so do not have any problem to work on any body part.

tattoo collaboration with @leonardo_tattoos

Q: It's not only these beautiful ornamental designs, I really like the beautiful mix of realism and the floral designs too. Ah, you are so talented! Is it all your own creation or do you allow your clients to bring some reference images?
A: Thank you so much for your comments! Since I started tattooing, I have been experimenting with different techniques and styles, from realism to traditional, and lately, I have been leaning towards ornamental, which has been enriching, like an artistic language that I can express myself in my designs, and many of my clients give me the freedom to create something unique for them.

Q: Since almost all are very detailed and quite complex, I bet it takes extra time to finish, especially a big tattoo like back tattoos or sleeves. What was the longest session with a client? How did they handle the pain and how did you keep your concentration and your stamina?
A: I take my time on each project so that is well finished and detailed. In a large projects, my session time range from 7 to 10 hours and the longest one I have had lasted 12 hours. And so, a full back project I take 5 to 6 sessions. I always keep in mind that I am working with people and they are feeling pain, so I am always asking them how they feel and if they need a break. Those breaks not only help my clients, but me too as I take some time to relax my mind.

- But it's worth it, right?
It is indeed. I feel really excited when when my clients see their tattoos finished. As every single artist I consider that we judge ourselves in every single work. So I like the learning aspect and I am always looking for improvement.

Q: Are you sticking to black work and your ornamental designs in black and gray or will you surprise us with some color inks in the future?
A: Blackwork is what I love, but I am not closed to color. In fact, I have been studying colorimetry. Maybe in the future I can add some color to my designs.

Q: Even though, tattooing is a service job and you are after all working for your clients, however tattooing is one of the most rewarding jobs out there, especially when it comes to self expression. How important is it to have a unique style, just stand out from the artists and still find a middle ground with your clients?
A: I think that all styles are already created. I believe that tweaking a tattoo style takes long time, but for me it is not imposible to stand out if you study different art languages. Once you find a balance between what it is already created and what you can propose, clients feel identified with your style.

- Is it always doable? I guess this level comes after you gain regular clientele...
It is, if your client is open-minded enough to take your advice. At the end, the tattoo artist is the professional.

Q: Talking about the clients, do you have any favorite moments? What type of reaction from them is your favorite?
A: I cannot choose only one favorite moment. For instance, I enjoy when women come to me talking about a full project that accents their curves. I like the feeling when they discuss and negotiate about the design and well, as I said before, I feel really pleased when they see their finished tattoos. Some of them made me cry.

Q: I guess many of them want to have something like your own tattoos - you inspire them!! I really like the back tattoo! Who was the artist? Tell me about your tattoo collection.
A: Thank you so much! I love my tattoos as well... Almost all of them hahaha. Talking about my back piece, it was made by one wonderful artist from my country. He is from Medellín. He took my idea and create a masterpiece. If I have to tell you the truth I am covering some old tattoos that I have from my youth.

Q: As a female artist, do you sometimes feel like there's a stigma, especially in still predominantly male business? Or we as a collective smashed those stupid stereotypes?
A: Nowadays, I feel women are working as hard as men in the tattoo business. I have had the opportunity to work hand by hand with magnificent women that are standing up around the world. We are leaving behind stereotypes and stigma around us.

- What's the option about tattoos in your country? Do you see progress when it comes to quality, like new great artists etc?
I see that Colombia is smashing with quality-level around the world. I know incredible Colombian tattoo artists that have won awards at the biggest tattoo conventions around the world. Colombians are hard workers that work passionately and put all their heart into every piece. People around the world are starting to see our level and that makes me proud.

Q: What about the global tattoo scene? Do you have any favorite artists you would like to work with?
A: It is always great to discover good artists from different places. I admire artists around the world and well, I have had the opportunity to work with some of my referents. I had the opportunity to work with Megan Massacre in her studio and Jon Dix in London. The list is quite long.

Q: The American tattoo scene is huge and very diverse. It's the right place for the ambitious artists who want to progress in their careers and get global recognition. If given a chance, would you consider moving to the USA?
A: I have traveled a lot, even to the USA. I feel every single place is gives a chance for progress in our careers and well the USA is a big place that invites artists from all over the world, so I will take the opportunity to move there to learn a lot, give the best of me and to share what I know with other artists.

- Where do you think is the "hotspot" for creative exploration and success? LA, New York?
Every single place is a ‘hotspot’ to learn and improve your creativity. I consider the USA as a huge place to explore and look for inspiration. Starting for its beautiful landscapes and art wealth.

Q: Every tattoo artist brings something unique about them that is valuable for the industry. What do you think sets you apart from the other artists? Either local or international...
A: Everyone have a different context, learning process and experiences that is what make me different. I think that each person can enrich the tattoo scene.

Q: You are also a traveling artist, I really think traveling, meeting new artists, learning about other cultures and art styles can be a great experience. A great way to re-discover your own creative capabilities and grow as an artist. Do you have any favorite memories?
A: I totally agree with you. Traveling brings you so much knowledge that make you enhance your career. I have won at different national and international tattoo conventions. I won first place in Ornamental in the Empire States tattoo convention. I participated in the Island Tattoo Connection, I participated in the Nepal Inked. I have been judge in different conventions in my country and I have the opportunity to be judge in Mexico as well. I have given some talks in my country with some partners. As guest, I have worked in some important tattoo studios around Europe, Nepal and Mexico.

Q: Nowadays, it's really easy to get info about tattooing. With so many educational videos on YouTube, seminars, magazines... I believe we can blur the lines between "real quality" and just a "popular product" nicely packed and marketed. However, the quality will always prevail. Do you agree?
A: I agree. It is important that people learn to discern and choose quality over popularity. Nowadays, some people just take what is trending and do not take the time to investigate if what they are reading or watching is quality information.

Q: If you were starting today, what would you do differently?
A: If I could talk with the beginner Lorena, I would tell her that discipline is the key for success. I would take my time more consciously as time is a precious resource.

Q: Talking about quality, it's crucial to have good professional equipment and to tattoo in a sanitary studio. Now more than ever, it's considered as a "bare minimum". You are lucky to get sponsored by super cool brands like Emalla and Protonstencillatam! Congratulations! How and when did this happen?
A: I consider myself a lucky woman as I am working with a team that support me and give me all the resources that I need. I am really thankful not only for my sponsors but for my studio team. About my sponsorships, I started working with Emalla since 2021, they contacted me on Instagram. They have been a great support not only with the brand products but taking me to different tattoo conventions. Talking about Proton, they contacted me the same year as Emalla. They have supported me on different events.

Q: Do you still have the same enthusiasm?
A: I do! Tattooing is the happiest part of my life, I really enjoy what I do and I am a woman in construction, so I am always learning and looking for the best part of me.

Q: Your plans for the near future?
It might sound like a cliché, but I plan to travel and learn from other cultures. I want to start formal art studies and I see myself exploring new styles.

Q: What would you recommend to those who want to try getting into professional tattooing?
A: It is important to be surrounded by professionals. People that are disciplined and focus on improving. Besides, I recommend them to break the confort life shape.

You can find Lorena Bahamon on Instagram:
_loreblacktattoos_