Chicano tattoo

Chicano style tattoos are a very influential style, popular in America. The word Chicano is a chosen identity of some Mexcian Americans in the USA.

A Chicano is a person of Mexican decent and usually a man or boy. As with most cultures, the people of Mexico have a big sense of pride when it comes to where they are from and their culture. So much so, they brought into the United States to stay. The Mexican culture has impacted the United States in a big way and many people that live here can’t tell the difference of what Mexican culture is or not because it is just a part of life now. Chicanos are extremely prideful and get many tattoos that represent them, their family and where they are from.

Chicano style tattoos
Chicano style tattoos

Chicano Tattoo History

The making of tattoos is such an art that indicates the ever-trending activity in the globe, whose vogue can never fade away. Chicano tattoos are basically the root and fundamental marking type that has existed for centuries and has effectively hypnotized individuals with wonder and enchantment using such a design pattern.

The Chicano Tattoo was born from Pachuco gang culture in s40 and in California, Texas, New Messico and Arizona in the s50. these kind of tattoos was made at the start with hand and sewing needle deeped in the India ink (a simple black ink used to write and draws). The classic themes of the Chicano style are: women, skulls, flowers and religious figure. With no doubt the classic subject tattooed in Chicano style was a little Pachuco cross in the middle of the thumb and fingers: It was at the origin a symbol to identify the members of the gang to show respect and loyality into it. For those who was not from the barrio this symbol rappresented crime and violence while for chicans was a symbol of faith and loyality to community, families, women and God.

Script and portraits were also a predominate tattoo for chicanos. But it was not until the 60’s until the chicano style first established itself as a definitive tattoo style with the cholos. The black and gray ink color was heavily used in chicano tattoos as this was the most accessible ink color in prison. The art of chicano tattoos was refined and developed further on the streets of LA during the 70’s and 80’s. The first chicano prison tattoos were made used using make shift tattoo machines and ink as tattooing was forbidden in prison. The streets of LA further developed chicano designs from the many different chicano mantras such as “Smile now, cry later”.

Chicano style tattoosThe reason why much of Chicano tattoo style feels so personal, is that it is. Migrants who worked their way up from Mexico to parts of Texas and California were forced into the edges of society due to rampant racism, classism, and discrimination. While this caused an intense amount of struggle for the migrant population, it also meant that their culture was guarded and healthily preserved through the generations. When migration peaked from the 1920’s to the 1940’s, many Chicano youths fought against the status quo. In 1943, this finally culminated in the Zoot Suit Riots, sparked by the death of a young Latino man in Los Angeles. This may seem inconsequential to the background of Chicano tattoo style, but it was not the first time, nor the last, that expression of the culture would be suppressed. It’s no secret that much of this conflict led the way to arrests that were often a byproduct of xenophobic societal force on migrant peoples. This political turn would go on to directly influence Chicano aesthetic in undeniable ways.

After the decline of the Pachuco subculture, life in Los Angeles evolved. Kids were trading in their Zoot Suits for crisp khakis and bandanas, and newly defining what being Chicano meant to their generation. Stylistic approaches emerged that were directly influenced by life behind bars. Using what few materials they had in prison, or barrios dotting the landscape of LA, artists drew inspiration directly from their own life experiences. Scenes from gang life, beautiful women, slick cars with filigree script, and Catholic crosses quickly went from hand drawn illustrations, such as the ballpoint pen decorated handkerchiefs and linens called Paños, to iconic Chicano tattoos. Inmates would use pure ingenuity to piece together a homemade tattoo machine and, using only the black or blue ink they had available to them, depict that which they knew best. Like most people who are enamored with the art of tattooing, this craft was used as a way to own the body, express the self, and show affinity for the things that were held closest.


The Chicano art form is no longer associated with gangs or violence like it once was. It is an art type that strongly represents the Latino culture, while the associated tattoos show respect and love for the art. So, regardless of whether you are a Chicano or someone who just appreciates this type of art it is an excellent way to express yourself.

Today, there are literally dozens of Chicano and script tattoos from which to choose. Each one is different in the way they convey your artistic feelings, emotions, or political inclination. Not to mention the fact that they look cool. Many experienced tattoo artists even create their own, with a unique twist.

The scripts often inspired by similar gang-related typefaces, but many times they are variations of famous gang tattoos. So, the sky is literally the limit or anyone who wants a tattoo that looks like something they got in prison but does not make them look like a criminal perhaps!

Chicano Symbols

Chicano SymbolsThe Chicano tattoos structure means that sketching of the inked patterns derived from abstract convictions, religious ideas and practices, and beautifully depicted artistic thick imaginations with the ideal blend of colors and creative ideas. These drawings are the prolific type involved in depicting the vibrancy and glory of the Chicano culture. This culture revolves around creating some beautiful artwork that is susceptible to incredible combinations of colors and complex depiction with minute detail.

The Chicano tattoo Styles mostly portrays the beauty of imaginary drawings, personalities, flowers, bones, and skulls, as well as numerous other components that can completely depict any specific idea or expression you are associated with. It was sketched in ancient times using needles infused with ink, more specifically black ink, and imposed on the skin cells for a good meaningful Chicano art that resembles aboriginal ideas.

These tattoos are done in black and many of them have specific designs based on the culture Chicanos experience. You will often see portraits, murals, religious themes and different fonts tattooed on the body. Every Chicano tattoo can be different and much of it depends on the experiences of the person getting the tattoo. There is a lot of history behind this style of tattooing and a lot of meaning as well.

Mexican iconography, religious theme, lettering, ladies, clowns, jokers, guns, cars, dollar signs and more: this is the wild world of Chicano style tattoo, seen by legendary tattoo artists all over the world. The powerful Chicano street-tough look continues to become incorporated as a matter of pride in the American Hispanic culture and, as reported by the New York Times, is now part of “the fashion vernacular of non-Latinos as well”.

Chicano SymbolsChicano tattoos are very meaningful and represent many different aspects of life, especially family, culture, and memories.

Usually incorporating realistic portraits, family, lost loved ones, girls, cars, low riders, clowns, guns, masks, celebrities and people from Spanish history.

Religion is also a large part of the Chicano style, with photo-realistic images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, crosses and praying hands all common.

The Eagle is also very common in Chicano tattoos, appearing not only on the Mexican flag, but as a symbol in Aztec culture.

Perhaps the most recognisable influence of Chicano style is the Mexican “Day of the Dead”. La Dia de los Muertos is a traditional time in Mexico to honour and remember those who have passed, and many tattoos around the world are now based on this event.

Chicano Tattoos Meaning

A well-delivered Chicano tattoo design represents many things. This includes:

  • Emotions
  • Sarcasm
  • Faith
  • Fun
  • Love
  • Commitment to a cause

If you are one of the growing number of tattoo lovers who are into badass designs then a Chicano tattoo is most certainly for you. Each design tells its own story and its meaning will always be special to the wearer.

When we speak about having a Chicano tattoo on our skin, there are no restrictions concerning the gender type. It uses the various graceful shades of colors to produce the ideal psychedelic image for your beloved thought, although the most efficient version of any design is its consistency with black and gray ink.

Its designs originated from black and white, as the supreme grace lies in the setup of its gray scale. Colored tattoos from Chicano refer to the newly upgraded tattoo stage. There are a lot of custom designs from the genre of Chicano that can allow you to flaunt the finest muse of the age, focusing on your topic.

Religions Chicano Tattoos

Religions Chicano Tattoos

It only makes sense that a large number of people of Mexican descent get religious tattoos if they are going to get a Chicano tattoo. The reason why this is the case is because as of 2010, 83% of the total Mexican population are Catholic. This leads us to believe that religion had been passed down generations and so you get many Chicano tattoos of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and crosses amongst other religious symbols. We also see the sacred heart tattoo as well as other religious symbols and they are all in black and grey.


Clown Chicano Tattoo

Clown Chicano Tattoo

Whether it’s the jester or the smile now, cry later faces, the face of the clown has long been a subject for Chicano tattooing. The clown Chicano tattoo meaning revolves around the idea of not showing weakness. Smile now and cry later and this is an attitude that had be taken on when times were tough in the neighborhood. The Chicano people also viewed the clown as a symbol of playing games or potentially gambling with your life.


Bandida Chicano Tattoo

Bandida Chicano Tattoo

The Bandida, or the women that are tattooed on a Chicano’s body is a big part of the Chicano culture. American icons like Marilyn Monroe or general Mexican women are usually chosen because of their beauty. You might even see the above women with gang tattoos adorning their body. Often the Bandida tattoo is accompanied by dollars, skulls and guns to symbolize the frailty of life.


Low Rider Chicano Tattoo

Low Rider Chicano Tattoo

In Chicano culture and art, cars are very important. Much of is an art form but it is also a status symbol. In most cases you will see the car in a low rider form where the suspension is lowered on the car so it is barely above the ground.


Chicano Font Tattoos

Chicano Font Tattoos

The Chicano tattoos are well known for their elegant letters that form whatever message they are trying to portray. In many cases these are tattooed in memorial or a family member or friend and they might be coupled with a portrait as well.

As with many art movements, aesthetics and techniques can be borrowed, but what is particular with this tattooing style is the culture and past behind it; Chicano artists have a powerful philosophical and political heritage. With a history that includes such radicals as Francisco Madero and Emiliano Zapata, it’s no wonder that from the Mexican Revolution to the Pachuco culture of the early 1940’s, and beyond, there was a huge influence from sociopolitical artworks and actions into modern Chicano tattooing. Even earlier than the ‘40’s, when Mexican American youth, and other minority cultures were using Zoot Suits to express their dissatisfaction with conventional American politics and policies, artistic stylistic expression was often used as an effective tool. Murals have also often been used in a dialectic conversation about civics and government.

These days as tattoo techniques and styles have progressed, many “neotraditional” designs and themes are becoming popular in Chicano style, with bright, bold colors bringing a new dimension to the designs.

If you chose Chicano tattoo...

While Chicano and Mexican-Americans still continue with their strong beliefs and cultural associations, the quality and style of Chicano tattoo art has lead to it being introduced into mainstream tattoo art.

You do not need to have proud Mexican blood in your veins, you do not need to be a member of a street gang, and it is not mandatory to have been in prison to receive a highly individual Chicano tattoo.

It is extremely refreshing to know that men and women of many different nationalities and religions are taking increasing notice of these highly stylistic tattoo designs.

Today the Chicano style is popular all over the world, and if done right, can blow people away with their skill and beauty. That said you are open to either choosing from hundreds of different similar tattoos or allowing the artist to come up with something unique. Not to mention that you can design your own and the tattoo artist will lay it out on skin for you!