Man of 2 worlds and artist whose heart is halfway between Argentina and Spain, the owner of ‘True Love Tattoo’ is here to tell us about 30 years of pure passion.
Welcome, El Bara! Am I wrong or you have just approached your first 30 years in the tattoo world?
Yes, if I’m right this is my 31st year as a tattooist. It has been a long road in which I have gained experience, learning, friendships, places etc. A road in which I have worked hard but I have enjoyed my work and the things it has given me. Yeah, I’m really very grateful for everything.
Is it true that you got into this world because you played in some punk rock bands and were constantly surrounded by tattooed people?
Since I was a teenager I have always been involved in the punk-hardcore scene and my approach to tattooing was because of this. I remember, for example, the back cover of the album ‘One Voice’ by Agnostic Front. It was a picture of the front singer Roger Miret totally tattooed and instantly I thought I had to do this! Also this music style in a way has been the soundtrack of my life.
What were the names of your bands?
I played in some bands in Argentina between the 80’s and early 90’s like Rezago, Círculo Vicioso, ODR, to name a few. It was really a fun time.
Do you think that when people in Europe mention Traditional, they immediately think of El Bara and his studio ‘True Love Tattoo’ in Madrid? Don’t be humble…
I think that in a certain way it’s the recognition to more than thirty years of trajectory and effort.
Possibly in my case – as in the case of so many others – it has also influenced the fact of betting to make a style.
A style that at that time didn’t enjoy the popularity that reached later and for that reason we unconsciously became kind of precursors of the re-popularization of the Traditional.
This added to the people who have worked in the studio, leaving their contribution to that reputation and to the human and professional values that we have always tried to instill both to the tattoo artists who have passed through the studio as well as to the clients.
How did you come up with the name ‘True Love Tattoo’ for your studio? It’s a very simple name, but it’s also very romantic towards this job…
For me the name ‘True Love Tattoo’ summarizes just that – true love for everything you do. The love you put in each tattoo that a person will carry all his life, if the laser allows it! (laughs)
Do you miss Argentina and would you like to go back and tattoo there in 10 or 20 years?
Yes, I always miss Argentina. My family and my lifelong friends are there and fortunately I can go there quite often, Although it’s not in my immediate plans, it is always a latent possibility. We will see what destiny has in store…
Do you miss international tattoo conventions? Before the pandemic you didn’t miss one!
Yes, I’ve really missed the conventions a lot, especially being able to share them with friends. Just a couple of days ago I’ve been working in my first convention after a few years.
It was ‘Tulum Tattoo Fest’ in Mexico, and it was really amazing!
I can imagine how many anecdotes you have about conventions and guest spots. Ever thought of writing a book about your life on the road?
Yeah, I have been to many and from all of them there have been thousands of funny stories. I had never considered compiling them in a book but it could be a lot of fun. You just gave me a great idea!
What about your old apprentices Ricardo and Miguel at ‘True Love Tattoo’, do they still tattoo?
After a few years of learning it’s a natural process of personal growth that each artist takes his own path. As in the case of Miguel who currently divides his time between the ‘Black Ship’ in Barcelona (IG: @blackship.bcn) and ‘Cobra Tattoo’ in Madrid (IG: @cobratattoomadrid) and Ricardo who decided to open his studio (just mentioned ‘Cobra Tattoo’. Ed) here, very close to mine. There have been many pleasant moments shared with both of them.
Tell me your biggest professional challenge for this 2022.
I do not know if I take it as a challenge but I have undertaken with great enthusiasm a project with my girlfriend Natalia called ‘Hot Shit’ (IG: @hotshit_by_bara) in which you can find clothes, prints, statuettes and other things that we will be adding.
Blancos or Colchoneros? Or maybe do you support some football team from Buenos Aires?
Neither one nor the other. Actually I’m a fan of Velez Sarfield from Buenos Aires. And in Spain I support Rayo Vallecano.
And your last famous words (to complete this chat) are… ?
Love your work, respect and be respected and avoid being slaves of social networks! Last but not least I’m eternally grateful to the tattoo world for everything it has given me.