Art and the sense of social collaboration are what Ibend Tattoo Parlour studio wanted to contribute to the development of Trinidad and Tobago, and also to uplift the quality of body art.
In the last four years, Ibend has become a brand created by a Cuban family who came to TT with the idea of showing its art on skin, and at the same time, serve as support for social work.
Juan Carlos García and Victor Gómez are two Cuban tattoo artists who started the project. They were joined by Venus Brett, a Venezuelan who became interested in their mission and decided to participate.
García, who has 20 years' experience in body art, is a graduate language teacher in Spanish, English and French. Gómez and Bret each have four years' experience in body art. Bret is also a cartoonist and dancer.
Garcia told Newsday the studio not only focuses on tattoo designs, but also on the growth and improvement of the art, as well as social responsibility initiatives.
The studio has sponsored socio-cultural events in collaboration with Popeyes, Burger King, TT Tattoo Fest, and made donations to charities and animal shelters, including, the TT Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TTSPCA).
“We bring them not only food, but also materials for cleaning and hygiene of the shelters. Ibend tries to spread the affection its members have for animals as well as for art in general.”
Based on the local love for body art, the studio decided to run promotions which exchanged tattoo tickets for food donations, medicine, and cleaning utensils which are then donated to the shelters, Garcia said.
“This particular project we want to extend to other parts of the island in order to bring the love of art, with a touch of foreign culture, to make the TT cultural melting pot grow and enrich.”
Ibend Tattoo Parlour also offers tutorials on tattooing and its techniques to aspiring artists, which is why the owners have created their own brand of tattoo supplies, in their attempt to promote quality and, above all, safety guidelines to practise the art.
Gómez said, “We are growing. We want to promote our brand as a business, but at the same time let people know that when they work with us they do so with a social sense as well.”
Brett said they are bringing together the art and ideas of all three artists to move the studio forward.
“We are the first studio to perform a tattoo between three artists at the same time. This is an example of the teamwork that we want to promote.”
García said the goal is to continue expanding the brand with additional tattoo supplies, while working with the social focus.
Ibend Tattoo Parlour is located on the Priority Bus Route, San Juan.