Interview with Carol Beltran

   Hello Carol Beltran! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. We really appreciate it. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. Do you have any formal art training or you are a self taught artist? My name is Carol Mayorga and I am from Colombia. I have been a tattoo artist for 8 years, I have taken different studies in different academies and art workshops in Bogotá. All this acquired knowledge has been very valuable so I've been able to experiment with various techniques of drawing, painting and illustrations.

Q: What kind of art do you like the most? Do you have any favorite artists you look up to?
A: I really like painting, be it acrylic, oil, watercolor etc, being able to express yourself through color is wonderful. The color transmits different sensations according to the palette that is being used. I've seen this a lot in the work of (one of my favorite artists) James Gurney, master of color.

Q: You are a very talented artist. I can see that you do many different styles but somehow manage to have your own personal touch to every piece. Really cool. How did you figure out your creative direction? Would you give your style a name?
A: In my art training I have carried out experiments with techniques and various materials, this has helped me identify my artistic taste, between realism, oriental patterns, art nouveau, illustration among others. I continue to flow between techniques and graphic styles so I still can't define my own. I feel like it is a long search and we humans change all the time, so my taste also change. I feel that is the most beautiful thing about art, each piece is unique and in each one I flow differently.

Q: How important is it to have good drawing skills in order to be a successful tattoo artist, especially if we talk about a unique style?
A: Well, I feel that it is the first step before starting tattooing, drawing, painting expands the skills and the way of interpreting images after a long practice on paper we can gain more confidence when we have to take the tattoo machine.

Q: Can someone learn how to draw or it's simply something that one is born with, talent?
A: The beautiful thing about art is that every human being carries it within them, therefore everyone has the ability to do it, you just need to be disciplined and perseverant.

Q: Even the super talented, struggle a little bit in the beginning of their tattoo career. How long did it take to start feeling confident and maintain a regular clientele?
A: The beginning will never be easy, there are many obstacles but these are very important in order to learn and gain experience. It took me approximately 4 to 5 years to feel confident and I am referring more to the technique.

Q: Who were some of your first clients? How much their support meant to you?
A: Friends and family, they have always been my support.

Q: I love the fact that you do both color and black and gray tattooing. Do you prefer one over the other or you simply enjoy doing both?
A: I feel that each one has its essence, everything flows according to each client, I really enjoy doing different techniques, each one evokes different sensation in me, but without a doubt, my favorite is color.

Q: Which technique is more challenging, from a technicial aspect? Is it true that color tattooing hurts more and color application is more difficult?
A: In my case, color apllication has been more challenging, trying with limited palettes, validating how different tones heal, ink marks, the behavior of the skin... It is true because the needle goes a little deeper and it's more invasive for the skin.

Q: The big tattoos are fascinating, a real work of art. Not that a small tattoo design isn't great, but I believe these ones require extra time and energy. I guess even planning the design. How do you create a full sleeve or a back tattoo design? Do you negotiate with your clients?
A: Okey well, first I do a consultation with my clients, in many cases they only come for a small piece but they have the vision that in the future they would like to have a full sleeve, for this reason I prefer to design a full sleeve, leg or back. This way I will achieve a better composition and harmony for the final piece. On some occasions, I negotiate with them, when I see that they are not sure about continuing with their sessions.

Q: Some will take a few sessions, even though some clients would want all to be done in one sitting? I bet there are some brave ones! Tell me more.
A: I do my tattoos in several sessions. I work in layers, like painting so when the skin heals, the tattoo will look great for a long time.

Q: Which one was the longest session? What was the tattoo design?
A: I have had several long sessions of approximately 12 to 13 hours in a row, this was in my beginnings. It was a fairly large colored oriental mask.

-Do you feel drained after a long session, do you cheer up your clients?
Well, at the moment, when I am tattooing I don't feel tired, I'm motivated to see the result, but once I finish the tattoo I feel exhausted. It is important to take breaks and some stretching exercises.

Q: What do you like the most about being a tattoo artist? What keeps you going?
A: It is really a combination of many things, but what I like the most is the freedom, it keeps me motivated. The desire to continue learning and grow as a person.

Q; As a creative person, have you ever thought to change something, for example to experiment with something completely different?
A: Yes, many times, I would like to start getting involved in other creative and artistic fields such as music, dancing or cooking. I think that doing something different than your job will increase your creativity.

Q: Talking about creativity... You do almost all kinds of styles. Do you have any favorite?
A: I try to have an approach towards more realistic pieces mixing a little with abstract, oriental patterns and art nouveau.

Q: Now let's talk about your paintings. What type of supplies do you use?
A: I use acrylics, oils and lately I have been experimenting with watercolor.

Q: What about digital art? I saw some really cool stuff done digitally... I think using Photoshop or procreate app, saves a lot of time if you want to quickly send a nice design to your clients. However the satisfaction of using paint brush is irreplaceable...
A: Well, yes is is not a secret that technology is a really great tool that helps artists to speed up their process, especially in these times where everything goes so fast and that is when we really lose ourselves in the learning process. For me, using paint brushes is irreplaceable feeling.

Q: You are a traveling artist. From Colombia to Europe, Sweden? Ah that must be a super exciting journey. Do you like the European tattoo scene?
A: Yes, I basically left my comfort zone in my home Colombia, I had to start from scratch, learn a new language, a new culture and new perspectives, I think Europe has offered me a lot of inspiration with its culture, its architecture, you know this has enriched me as a person and my art too.

Q: What about Sweden? I assume, you worked as a guest artist?
A: At the moment I'm a resident artist in the north of Sweden, I have been here for two years and I'm really grateful for the open mentality that my clients have.

Q: Do you have any plans for the near future?
A: I would like to resume classes at the art academy, get to know new countries and also start getting a little more involved in painting.

Q: In few words, what would you recommend to all the young people who will read this interview and want to try getting into professional tattooing?
A: Trust yourself, the process, discipline is more important than motivation, never give up, do things with love.