A younger artist’s tackle the business
By Paula Henriquez
HAVANA TIMES – There’s one factor many Cuban enterprise homeowners know for positive. It’s that there isn’t a pressure that’s going to cease them from placing their tasks and concepts into motion.
Such is the case of younger Cuban tattoo artist Maike Roque Zequeira. He’s at present working continuous to get his profession on observe, a profession in a authorized limbo in Cuba.
Add on the COVID-19 scenario, which not solely places his work in peril, but in addition his life in society.
Maike is what you name “self-employed”, like so many different Cubans are. He is dependent upon his work to feed himself; even when his career will not be legally acknowledged in Cuba. Maike talks to us about this and plenty of different points. He additionally recollects his childhood and the way he turned a tattoo artist.
The place are you from, Maike?
I used to be born on April 20, 1991 in Guanabacoa, Havana. My recollections are imprecise as a result of I moved to a different a part of the town after I was 6 years outdated. I’ve extra vivid recollections of this second neighborhood. I used to dwell in a constructing within the Chivas neighborhood, the place I grew up as a toddler till I moved to Regla as a teen.
How would you describe your childhood?
I wasn’t a kind of youngsters who used to play out on the road. Out of resignation generally, and since I simply wasn’t different instances. I most well-liked to look at TV, draw and people sorts of issues. I might burn all of my power after I visited my cousins or went to spend the weekend at my father’s home. When you had been to ask my mom, I feel she’d let you know that I used to be fairly a peaceful child.
What had been you most keen on?
I’ve at all times favored drawing ever since I used to be slightly boy. My mom used to take me to the cultural heart to attend workshops, and it’s one thing that’s been with me ever since I used to be 3 or 4 years outdated, up till now, it’s one thing that has caught with me. This was at all times my focus and nothing has modified within the current day. I might need moved away from drawing sooner or later after I was a teen after I began enjoying sports activities, but it surely wasn’t lengthy earlier than I went again to my ardour for drawing. In consequence, drawing turned my dream and mission in life after I completed highschool.
However there’s fairly a journey from drawing to giving somebody a tattoo… it’s one factor to attract on a bit of paper, canvas, and many others. and it’s one other factor to attract on pores and skin. How did you discover ways to tattoo? When did you start?
I’m not going to disclaim that it took me a number of years to determine to start out tattooing individuals. I acquired my first tattoo after I was 19 years outdated as a result of I used to be actually into it. That was what I wished to experiment with on the time. I started to tattoo after I was 23 years outdated. It’s been six years now.
This journey you talked about in your query was fairly troublesome. Again then, we didn’t have Web entry like in the present day and there wasn’t precisely a college to discover ways to tattoo. I needed to begin out by visiting completely different tattoo artists and asking questions. Not everyone was prepared to share their data, so I needed to experiment.
That was how I gave a lot of mates and folks I do know free tattoos, so I may acquire some confidence and larger management of this new medium and supplies. It was a very completely different expertise to something I had ever identified. Plus, social media has helped to create larger unity. It makes it simpler to attach with different tattoo artists, so we will share data.
Is it authorized to personal a tattoo studio in Cuba? Inform us slightly bit about this.
Tattoo artwork is in a authorized limbo in our nation. There’s a motion in the present day, an initiative by tattoo artists, to create an affiliation to hunt authorized standing. The title of this group can be the Cuban Affiliation of Tattoo and Perforation Artists (ACATP). This authorized process has been within the works for over 3 years, and we nonetheless haven’t obtained a response. The closest factor to authorization or a allow had been two programs placed on by Public Well being. They had been to coach us about hygiene in our work. Having a tattoo studio in Cuba in the present day, is a whole gamble for tomorrow.
Nonetheless, this authorized limbo can be resolved sooner or later… What stage is the Affiliation at present in?
Sure, I feel so. Nonetheless thus far, the upper establishments, the choice makers, are taking their time to reply our calls for.
We have now a lawyer answerable for the entire course of. Nonetheless, like I stated, it’s been greater than three years with no response. Regardless of every little thing, tattoo artists have by no means given up on their efforts to legalize their career and acquire authorized standing. Conferences and occasions are held yearly (besides this one), and there’s at all times an area for discussing the Affiliation.
I can think about that each one of this makes it exhausting so that you can work… What are the principle challenges that lie forward on the subject of giving individuals tattoos?
Authorized protections are one, together with the dearth of recognition. This complicates a collection of on a regular basis duties for the artist. Gaining access to supplies is extraordinarily troublesome. As our career isn’t authorized, we don’t have a retailer the place we will go to purchase all the provides we have to do our work with all the security and rigor that well being laws name for. We work with the supplies we get from individuals who can journey and produce again what we have to work.
As you’ll be able to think about, this isn’t a steady answer. A tattoo is a problem by and thru for the artist, as a result of they need to provide you with a option to navigate shortages with out compromising the standard of their work and the shopper’s well being.
Everyone is aware of that we’re going by a tough time proper now. COVID-19 has put us in examine and is making an attempt to distance us from any social exercise or connection. How has your work been affected by this? How has your life been throughout lockdown in consequence?
Properly, it’s such as you your self stated. Because the provides we want aren’t offered within the nation and flights into the nation are suspended in the interim due to the pandemic, provides aren’t coming in both. You’ve most likely imagined that my work is on standby till additional discover, which has affected my private life. I hire a spot in Playa municipality… and it additionally impacts after I’ll be capable of reopen the studio. I don’t have the supplies to brighten and create correct working and hygienic situations. However, there’s a worry of being contaminated, each of the inhabitants in addition to myself. It’s a really powerful scenario, however I want to attend it out. If I can begin once more, I’ll take nice care with hygiene.
How do you handle to get by then?
Doing the maths again and again… I think about that all of us are. I’ve needed to dwell off the financial savings I had for my research and regardless that I’m not working on the studio, that doesn’t imply I haven’t regarded for some personal work on the facet.
Maike, do you’re employed at your individual studio or at anyone else’s studio?
I’ve labored in different tattoo artists’ studios as a visitor artist. When the pandemic got here, I used to be within the means of opening up my very own studio, however anyway… we’re transferring forward, altering all the gear within the new place that can be referred to as “Neotaino Tattoo Studio”. You will discover us on social media with this deal with.
Fairly an unsure future forward… anyhow, what do you suppose issues can be like for tattoo artists in two or three years?
If we handle to create the Affiliation and we will herald provides to do high-quality tattoos legally, I imagine that we’ll catch individuals’s consideration as a result of Cuba has high-quality tattoo artists. I nonetheless insist that this lack of authorized standing will make every little thing slower and extra tedious. However, high quality comes first, and you’ll see this at each occasion. I imagine that once we lastly have our correct standing, we are going to acquire larger recognition. Likewise, we could have correct advertising and received’t need to be afraid to promote ourselves.