Tere Macías has broken into a traditionally ‘male-dominated’ sector and is one of the few female tattoo artists running her own studio in the area.
Female entrepreneur and tattoo artist, Tere Macías, born in La Línea and now a Gibraltar resident, has broken down the barriers in a ‘male-dominated’ sector by opening her own tattoo studio.
She studied Decoration and Art as well as Coaching, to which she devoted her professional life for quite some time – however, she didn’t find this very rewarding. Which is why she decided to fulfil her dream of becoming a professional tattoo artist, something she had to set aside when she became a mother. And she achieved just that. Macías has been tattooing for eight years now.
After working in Sabinillas, where she shared a studio with a fellow tattoo artist, she decided to open her own studio. After some hesitation between Gibraltar and La Línea, she finally decided to set up in her hometown.
“In La Línea there is better availability in terms of rentals, and costs are much lower. I saw that there was room for me and made my decision”, she says. She opened her studio in the Jardines street over a year ago, and recently moved to San Pablo street.
She admits that the road has not been easy:
“It’s hard. You must stay focused and dedicate a lot of time to it, but it’s my own business. I’m the one who tattoos, deals with the clients and does the administration work… but it’s worth it. I devote many hours to my craft, but I enjoy it. I sleep little and often take my work home to finish designs. However, I’m very content, I have enough work and my clients are happy too.”
Tattooing requires dexterity and concentration, to which Tere Macías adds sensitivity and empathy:
“Tattooing requires a lot of focus and adrenaline. You have to give your one hundred percent as well as being empathetic to the client. You need to know how to handle things, especially when it is a big tattoo that takes many hours of work.”
She acknowledges that it is difficult to be a female tattoo artist in a traditionally male world and that innovative ideas in this sector are not recognized by some of her more traditional colleagues:
“Tattooing has changed a lot in recent years, not only in terms of designs, but also machines, inks … The new resources make it possible to imprint realistic tattoos on the skin – the kind that were unimaginable years ago. People also want something new, and I like to innovate. However, these new resources and techniques are not accepted by some of the older tattoo artists, who resist change.”
When asked what a woman can bring to the tattoo industry, she bluntly (and jokingly) replies:
“Women have a higher degree of intelligence – and we have to use it.” She adds, “there are also male tattoo artists who are empathetic, creative and sensitive, although I think women are slowly taking over the world of tattoo design. In addition, some men prefer female tattoo artists because, they say, we are more delicate, patient and creative. I tend to be gentle and don’t put too much pressure on the skin. I am personally very sensitive to pain and try to put myself in the skin of my clients – literally.”
As for the demographics of her clients, she assures us there are all kinds: “I have tattooed 15 years old minors who come with the authorization of their parents as well as a 74 years old person who was getting his first tattoo. It was very exciting.”
Anyone who’s ever had a tattoo knows it can be addictive. “The problem with getting your first tattoo is that, you’ll end up wanting more. There have been people who come into my studio who become fearful and faint when they see the needle, but almost everyone comes back for more,” she explains.
In terms of trends, there is a variety of demands, and the classics never fail. “There are all types of requests; people still ask for old-school tattoos, realism, phrases, minimalist designs – which are still very fashionable, and I like inking those ones a lot.
Others are looking for very colourful tattoos, tribal tattoos… I also make my own designs and sometimes they are chosen, although there are many people who come with a very clear idea of what they want,” she explains.
As a professional, she has no qualms about the tastes of her clients and ensures us that she approaches each design with enthusiasm. “Yes, I’ve been asked me for many ‘Amor de madre’ (The love of a mother)”, she recognizes when Reach asked her.
“And I approach these with love too. I’ve also been asked for many fun and unusual designs. I’ve been asked to create a radish design and I had fun tattooing it, much more than an infinity sign, because I’ve already made so many of those… You have to be open to your clients’ requests and meet them all with passion,” she says.
Phrases, dates and numbers are also trending. We asked her if Chinese symbols and Arabic calligraphy are still in demand:
“I still get some requests for these, though not too many. But I do ask my clients to bring the translation of what they want.”
As for the level of difficulty, realism is king: “Realism is what requires most work and is quite a challenge. For me, it is the higher form of tattooing. Every millimetre of skin counts.”
Safety and hygiene are fundamental so, just like her colleagues, she warns against unqualified practice:
“There are a lot of people tattooing at home and the health risks are immense – not to mention it is illegal. If you could see the people I get with scars and damage on their skin … Its much better to spend 20 or 30 euros more and get a tattoo in a licensed studio than regretting it later.”