Mario and I both have multiple tattoos. I have three: two small hidden tattoos (one done in the States and one done in Barranquilla) and a larger one done recently here in Medellin. Mario has four tattoos all done here in Medellin by various artists.
If you’re thinking of getting your tattoo done here in Medellin, here is a little bit about our experiences and our tips for getting a Colombian tattoo.
Getting a tattoo done in Medellin
We have two artists that are our favorites: Rafael and Cindy. They are also the most recent tattoo artists in Medellin where we got artwork done.
Tattoos by Rafael Garcia in Medellin
Rafael no longer works out of a shop nor for walk-ins. He is the most organized and thorough (business-wise) tattoo artist that any of us have had the pleasure to work with. Rafael specializes in realism tattoos.
I got my most recent piece by him about a week ago. Being the worried, control-freak I am, Rafael is really good at being organized and patient. He’s also one of Medellin’s best realism tattoo artists.
Check out some of his work on his Facebook page here.
Tattoos by Octopus Tattoo Studio Medellin
Mario got his most recent tattoo done by Cindy at Octopus Tattoo Studio. Located in the northern part of the city, the shop is recently redecorated and you’ll most likely be greeted by Cindy’s mom making some fresh coffee. The shop has a very Medellin-family vibe.
Mario got his most recent piece done by Cindy. It was about 7 hours and turned out perfect. The artwork is a tribute to Mario’s mom, using a portrait of her at 16 years old, with a traditional Colombian indigenous headress.
Tips for getting a tattoo in Medellin
Whether it’s your first tattoo ever or your first tattoo as a foreigner in Medellin, here are our top nine tips from a foreigner and a local for getting a tattoo in Medellin.
- Do your research – There are a lot of great tattoo artists in Medellin; but for every great artist there are three not-so-great tattoo artists. As excited as you’ll be about getting your tattoo done, you’ll want to do your research on various different artists around town before choosing one. Also, know which type of style you want for your tattoo and choose your artist based on that.
- Go to an artist that speaks your language – If you’re not confident in your Spanish, go to an artist that speaks English or bring a buddy that speaks Spanish. You need to be able to communicate clearly with your artist, so this part is very important.
- Be confident in your choice – This is something that will be on your body for the rest of your life, it won’t help you or the artist to be really nervous about how it will turn out. That’s why it’s important to do your research beforehand and be able to trust the artist you have chosen to create beautiful work.
- Speak up – If you’re not happy with the design, tell them politely what you would like changed before, don’t be timid about this.
- Don’t try to negotiate the price – There are a lot of things you can negotiate price on in Medellin; tattoos are not one of these things. For me personally, I’d rather pay a “gringa price” for a tattoo I know will turn out beautiful, than try to get a deal on someting that won’t come out so great.
- Tipping isn’t customary – Of course, if you’d like to tip I’m sure it won’t be refused, but tipping isn’t a custom in many services in Colombia and that includes getting a tattoo.
- Bring a buddy – If it’s your first tattoo or if you are getting a large tattoo, you’ll want to bring someone to hold your hand and/or to keep you company.
- Bring a distraction that isn’t a buddy – Mario fell asleep while I was getting my tattoo, and towards the end of the session my skin was really sensitive and I had to distract myself with Pinterest so I wouldn’t think of the pain.
- Plan for Colombian time – There is a different concept of time here in Medellin; plan accordingly. If the artist tells you it will take an hour, plan for two.