Interview with Maria Alvarez | Realism Tattoo Style | Spain 28/03/2022

 Hello Maria Alvarez! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. My city, Valencia, on the east coast of Spain is well know for its very special light, something Sorolla discovered long ago, I think his art and this light is one of the mant things that drew me into drawing so early, I am 27 now but my firt rough sketches started arround 3yo, in school I kept developing it even though I wasn't sure of what I wanted yet. I think this whole drawing interest really kicked off in high school when I had art classes with my amazing teachers Pepe and Eva, to whom I will always be gratefull. Later on I got my degree in product design but with all the computer modeling, technical drawing and such I really felt I needed more.

Q: What about tattooing? How it all started?
A: My interest in tattoos started in a pretty embarassing way somehow, when I was a kid there was this trend with fake decal tattoos and it really got my attention. Until late in high school I realised skin could also be a canvas, I started going to conventions in my city and arround out of curiosity and naturally I wanted to get these tattoos for myself but I had no clue what I wanted so I kept learning all I could about styles, artists, techiques etc. At that early stage I was very inspired by artists like Sara Fabel, Kat Von D, Megan Massacre or Teresa Sharpe to name a few. Once I started tattoing myself, since my main interest was realism, I discovered other sources of inspiration like Thomas Carli Jarlier's contrasts, Inal Bersekov who was one of the first to introduce microrealism or the way Oscar Akermo make his work to suit the body.

Q: Was it hard to learn the basics skills? How long took you to gain confidence in your work?
A: At first it was hard, I felt lost. I didn't know where I should start. I didn't know anyone who could help me or teach me. So I started reading on the internet and asking thro ugh Facebook some artists in my city. I bought my first machine in 2016, but until 2017 it was still in a drawer because I had not idea what to do with it. In 2017 I first tried my machine on a longtime friend but it didn't came out as I expected. At the time I felt tattooing was not for me. But the same year in November I met Joel a tattoo artist who didn’t mind helping me and teaching me the basics. I kept practicing alone in my house for 6 months and in 2018 April I finally started as an apprentice in a real tattoo studio. No confidence until I focused on a style and kept developing it.

- What type of tattoos you used to do as a beginner?
Mainly, black drawings, smalls letterings, and some signs. But I remember the second month I tried to do my first tattoo with shadows. I was sweating when I was done. From that moment I started trying everything:realism, fine line, water color, mandalas, old school... And I'm grateful I did because every style has provided me with a different set of skills.

Q: Today, your work looks awesome! I like tattoo realism a lot. I think is one of the most difficult styles to master it. It has no room for experimentation or mistakes. People require precise, detailed work... perfection. I bet is also very rewarding to master it, especially because it's so difficult! One can be happy and proud, after years of "trial and error" finally with happy customers. Do you agree?
A: Da Vinci once said “never stop learning” and I couldn’t agree more, but to an extent yes, I feel grateful for my clients, putting their trust in my work with something like this means a lot to me and knowing I can offer them quality work is very satisfying. But I still try to improve with every piece I do.

Q: I must say that your white ink usage is pretty good. You point out the details so well, so your tattoos almost look like a paintings, or beautiful postcards. So cool! Do you have any special reason why you choose this style as your favorite?
A: Thank you very much. For me is natural to add white ink since is a graphic technique too. I’ve done a lot of grading useing charcoal and the white is like giving life to what’s in front of you. I only add white in the areas where the light would be. One of my biggest inspiration in this area are Caravaggio or Vermeer.

Q: I don't see any other styles you do. That's fine, at least I know exactly what to expect! Have you ever thought about doing some changes and even playing with color inks?
A: I like to do black and grey pieces, but it is true that sometimes playing with colors is refreshing. But always keeping it to a minimum, so it doesn’t interfere with my style. It's funny, because I really love to do drawings with marker and colored pencil, or watercolor. But not for tattoos so much. I am preparing something a bit different in this lines so if you'd like to see it stay tuned.

Q: Most of your tattoos are small size. Why? Although, the designs are not always so simple, but all have that beautiful, very clean, minimalistic vibe. I love it.
A: Thank you. I never liked tattoos with unnecessary black shadow background so I started focusing on cleaner minimalistic pieces, which in my eyes look better in small size. As you said, I like creating compositions using several elements, like minimalistic lines background or sometimes playing with surrealism elements. Each design has their own story and reason and that always helps in creating.

Q: How long does it take for you to finish a tattoo? Can it take more than one session, especially if it is a very detailed tattoo?
A: I don’t have a fixed quantity of hours to finish a tattoo. It always depends on different things. It can go from 4h up to 8-9hours. But it is true some projects need more than one session. You can’t be sure when you are going to finish, usually I lose my mind in the details and lose track of time.

Q: Where are you located?
A: I'm working as resident artist at Noble Art in Valencia and I'm traveling a lot too, doing guest spots, looking to get all the best vibes and artistic experience and learning from it. The best way to contact me is to send an email to and I’ll answer asap.

Q: Tattooing is a very beautiful job. Some say it's not even a job, it's "enjoying every day" meanwhile giving someone a life long gift. Even thought, it can take many sleepless nights, many sacrifices, time apart from home and friends, still it is worth it. What do you like the most about this job, regardless of its challenges?
A: I think the most beautiful part of my job is to be able to show your art over the world which is possible only because people trust you, such an important thing. Also the different opportunities attached, is not only about the ink, it’s about the vibes, the places, the people that you meet. But it’s still a job in which you need to work very hard if you want to be good at it. Most of the hours we do actually not seen as you mentioned. At the end of the day we do have a huge responsibility.

Q: If you were starting today, what would you do differently? Please advise my young audience.
A: I still think of me as someone with so much less experience that other tattoo artists out there. But if I have to give some advise it would be to draw all you can before starting and even after. Keep in mind that is not an easy path but is worth it if you put the work. Your biggest enemy is challenging yourself and not becoming comfortable.