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Body of work: Sebastian Valenzuela expresses artistry through tattoo

Body of work: Sebastian Valenzuela expresses artistry through tattoo

Tattoo 101 with the Cebu-based artist

“What I really enjoy about my work is creating a walking museum. I showcase my art and skills every day, constantly improving,” expressed Cebu-based tattoo artist Sebastian Salvador J. Valenzuela.

Studying graphics and design, he honed his love for drawing, initially using acrylics and inspired by Rembrandt and Caravaggio, before delving into the art of holding the needle.

Having gotten his first tattoo while still in school, he discovered something about himself that wasn’t taught in academia. “My first tattoo was in 4th year college; it wasn’t great because I was just a practice skin for someone I know. I got tattooed to understand how it feels, and for me, it’s addicting—I crave the pain it gives,” shared Sebastian. 

Armed with this insight, he practiced the craft on his own and gradually improved. Throughout the process of tattooing himself, Sebastian mastered the basics, gaining an understanding of how clients would feel under his hands. His self-tattoos became the foundation of his portfolio, which later expanded as he worked alongside his mentor.

For those curious about getting their first tattoo, we asked Sebastian about the basics of getting inked. He also shared tips for finding inspiration and avoiding mistakes when opting for permanent body art.

Garage: How did you enter the tattoo industry?

Sebastian: I entered the tattoo industry thanks to my uncle, who was tattooed by my dear mentor, Sir Jayland from Jaylandtoy Tattoo Studio. My uncle recommended me to Sir Jayland, and after that, my mentor messaged me offering help and tips. 

Ever since, I’ve been by his side, starting as an apprentice who observed all his techniques until I got my own station. I consider that a small win for my career, and I’m forever grateful.

G: How would you describe your style as an artist?

S: My favorite style is always black and gray because it’s timeless. I also love doing portraits, skull tattoos, dog tattoos—anything that is unique.

G: What’s the biggest misconception about tattoos?

S: When people hear about tattoos, they often think we’re from prison or some weird junkies and random delinquent adults. In reality, tattoos have roots in our ancestors’ rituals of bravery and as trophies for victories. In this modern age, tattoos are also a gateway for people to express who they are.

G: How do you come up with the next tattoo that you’re planning to get? Inspiration?

S: I have a sleeve project going on, and it will be done by my mentor, whom I always look up to in tattooing. It is my own design, and I’ve created my own story for it. It’s called “The Council of Deaths.” It might be dark and gruesome to some, but it’s what I love, and it’s pretty badass.

G: What’s your common advice to people you ink?

S: Get timeless pieces. Make sure it looks good for the long run, and research the design you want. Ensure it’s not a hate symbol that will offend others. Also, while tattooing, communicate with your artist; if you need a break or want to stand for a bit, let us know. As a client and artist, we’re essentially collaborating on your tattoos.

G: Do you have any advice for those looking to get their first tattoo?

S: Just go for it. It’s your body, and if you want to adorn it, do it. Choose a design that truly represents you. A bit of advice: steer clear of following trends, as they often turn into regrets later on – for example, the infinity sign tattoo. Also, be mindful of the location on your body; opt for fleshy areas, avoiding spots near bones or where your elbow folds. I can assure you those areas can be painful and may not be ideal for first-timers.

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G: What’s the most effective way to take care of and heal a tattoo?

S: Avoid sunlight and cover it up because sun can be painful for fresh tattoos. Refrain from swimming in pools and beaches for a week or two for small tattoos; for larger tattoos, wait at least a solid month before hitting the beach. 

Keep in mind that this may vary for individuals, as some people heal more slowly than others. Once your tattoo is healed, you can also apply non-scented moisturizer without whitening agents or anything too harsh for the skin.

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