Tattoo tales and local artists

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CAGAYAN DE ORO. Sylvester Maceren aka Tata Sylvestre in his shop in Puntod, Cagayan de Oro City. (Photo by Tata Sylvestre)

CAGAYAN DE ORO.  Trophies are up for grabs for the “Ink Blast” summer tattoo competition to be held in Limketkai on Sunday May 5 and organized by Sylvestre.  (Photo by Tata Sylvester)

CAGAYAN DE ORO. Trophies are up for grabs for the “Ink Blast” summer tattoo competition to be held in Limketkai on Sunday May 5 and organized by Sylvestre. (Photo by Tata Sylvester)

CAGAYAN DE ORO.  Some works of Tata Sylvestre.  (Photo by Tata Sylvestre)

CAGAYAN DE ORO. Some works of Tata Sylvestre. (Photo by Tata Sylvestre)

From a taboo to a trend, the tattoo has evolved a lot over the years. Some even say it’s an art form.

Although there are still misconceptions that tattoos are usually worn by convicts or muscular “tambays” looking to get into a fight or get drunk.

Tattoos years ago were a form of rank and accomplishment, and some even thought these tattoos had magical qualities like those in Carlo J. Caparas’ “Joaquin Bordado” comic or drama American supernatural based on Cassandra Claire’s popular book series “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments” (although they call it “runes” and not tattoos).

Nowadays, however, tattoos are not considered so different from painting or drawing. What we now call skin art is like masterpieces that instead of using paint and canvas, you use ink and a person’s skin.

As such, it’s no surprise that Sylvester Maceren, who initially dreamed of becoming a painter and exhibiting his pieces in exhibitions, chose to replace brushes with ink needles.

Being an artist has been in Maceren’s blood since he was young. Before inks, there were pencils and charcoal for portrait sketches.

“Wala ko ni diretso pa adto kay una, murag mahadlok ko mosulod sa mga ing ana kay sa una naa may misbrand or label his mga tao nga naay tatoo,” Maceren said.

Although his younger brother and said brother’s tattoo artist friend encouraged him to try tattoos, Maceren was reluctant, but he gave it a try.

He started apprenticing for a tattoo artist in 2013 and while being taught the techniques and skills needed for this line of business, he also started to enjoy tattoos.

But it wasn’t until he watched a tattoo contest that something sparked in Maceren’s artistic nature.

When he watched other tattoo artists perform during the competition, Maceren said that was when he thought “tsada man diay moapil og ing ani”.

In this capacity, he started competing in 2014 and although he didn’t win any awards, the experiences he gained kept him satisfied.

Currently, he is planning to enter a competition in Tagoloan and is also looking forward to participating in this year’s Dutdutan Philippine Tattoo Expo, the largest and grandest annual tattoo expo in the country presented by Tribal Gear Philippines.

In 2015, he started doing professional tattoos through home services. However, it didn’t last that long.

“Naka decides on dayun ko nga kapoy mag home service. Ug walay insurance nga pag adto nimo didto ang nag contact sa imo wala midayun, sayang ang pliti. So nag decide ko mag shop ko,” Maceren said.

(I realized that doing door-to-door service is tedious because there is no assurance that your customers will continue the business; the fare would be wasted, so I decided to set up a shop)

He opened NorthInk CDO, located in Block 1, Barangay Puntod, Cagayan de Oro City, which offers good quality and not too expensive body art tattoo. NorthInk also boasts of being the safest, most efficient, and most affordable tattoo shop in town.

Currently, Maceren is hosting the Summer Tattoo Contest dubbed “Ink Blast” which will be attended by tattoo artists from all over Mindanao and also from Cebu.

The theme of the contest is science fiction.

According to Maceren, artists will be judged on how well they execute and the placement of the design, it must be clean and free of scratches, color harmony and combination, and the like.

Each artist, he added, should have their own models to be tattooed on location. Participants will have more or less eight hours to do the tattoo.

“Katong mga budding artists or beginners, this is a chance to get promoted and they can market their product and look for potential customers,” Maceren said.

(These aspiring artists or beginners, it’s a chance to be promoted and they can market their product and look for potential customers.)

For those looking to get a tattoo, on the other hand, Maceren advised finding an artist or shop with a good standard procedure and checking to see if their needles are disposable.

“Kung ikaw naa kay plano magpatattoo, first nimo buhaton is looking for mag ka sa kinsay among nearby artists in your life, I check nimo ilang mga portfolio,” Maceren said.

(If you’re considering getting a tattoo, you should first research artists near you, check their portfolios.)

Maceren is also a member of the Mindanao Association of Tattoo Artist, a group that promotes and establishes local Mindanao tattoo artists.

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