Chicano style that surrounded him, a form of tattooing developed amongst Hispanic prison gangs with imagery like “Smile Now, Cry Later” masks that told a story about the bearers. “I never went to jail so I had to do my own interpretations of the stories I would hear from these guys,” says the black-and-gray artist. “With time, those images changed from a pretty girl with a sombrero to a beautiful carved statue of an angel, and the 2-D drawings began to transformed into full 3-D drawings of religious subjects. All this happened after I realized that there was more out there.
With a name like Lowrider, the emblem of street style in Chican
o communities, and urban vibe is evident at Lopez’s studios. “Sometimes it makes people scared and curious at the same time,” says Lopez. “All we ask for is the chance to get to know us.” What you’ll find behind the shop’s doors is something special, a unity and dedication that makes his crew the real thing. “Tattooing is our life,” Lopez says. “We sacrifice everything to get everything. We all have given our lives to tattooing.”
Lopez also has given his patience. He’d rather work with someo
ne who has character-even if they haven’t developed their artistic abi
lities yet and invest time in helping them grow as an artist. But that’s not to say the shops are low on talent. Lowrider is home to some of the next big names in the industry, including artists Klown and Jun Cha. Not only are they talented, they’re the guys who have put their all into the shop, stood by Lopez, picking him up when he has fallen and encouraged him when he wanted to quit. “I could not do it without my boys,” he says. “They Say if you have a strong belief in something and work very hard at it, even if you die without accomplishing it, someone else will do it for you. They are the strength that will keep Lowrider Tattoo going forever.