Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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Why Does Mommy Have Tattoos?
RAMOS: Hi Marilyn - thank you for joining us
i am so happy to finally discuss your book
RONDON: thanks for having me again
sweet me too!
RAMOS: making a book is a huge commitment
i remember - it must have been 2011-12 sitting at The Room and you telling me you wanted to do this
RONDON: yeah, actually before then, I've been wanting to write children's books since I started illustrating over a decade ago.
The idea for this book was born back in the winter of 2012- the book has been finished for a year, publishing just takes a while.
RAMOS: it was a three year process
RAMOS: the illustrations are amazing - and the content, comes from you and your tattoos
RONDON: thank you. Yea I used some of mine as examples and others are tattoos you would see on a wall walking into a tattoo shop, I wanted to keep that traditional vibe
RAMOS: it is a contemporary subject - as in there are a lot of mom's today with tattoos
unlike perhaps a few decades back
RONDON: i feel like the number increases daily too, but the book isn't just entirely about tattoos either, in a way it's about life, and acceptance.
RAMOS: tell me more about that - acceptance is a big key to happiness
do you mean acceptance from you, or of you?
RONDON: self acceptance, and for children to understand and accept as well
i had stigmas about tattoos growing up because my parents were ignorant towards the culture
only gang members and hookers had tattoos
RAMOS: and sailors
RONDON: it's most definitely not the case nowadays
yea, man everyone has them, school teachers, bank tellers (they just hide them well) fitness instructors, models, actors, doctors
and i know this because they always talk to me about my tattoo and then are like "man i want more" lol
RAMOS: you are totally covered
RONDON: bout 60% actually
RAMOS: and growing?
RONDON: yea, i haven't gotten anything new in a while but i wanna keep adding to my collection
RAMOS: what is it about?
you say it is a collection, you can have a collection at home
what is it about having on you at all times?
RONDON: everything in life is disposable except your body
you only have that, as a guarantee while you're alive
it's a way of keeping people in my life, memories, a time-line of where i was and how old i was when i got each tattoo
RAMOS: there are two things i get out of that:
one - it is a nomadic gesture - as in - I can be anywhere and take my entire life with me
and similarly - two - I am all i ever need
RONDON: i guess, everyone can interpret it differently, my friends are precious to me, i feel lucky to carry their art on me permanently
RAMOS: what happens when you are maxed out?
RONDON: of space?
RAMOS: will you delay or slow down so that you reach 100% at the end of your life?
RONDON: it's impossible to answer that question cause i could die at any point, anyone can. I get them at times when i feel like i need them the most
RAMOS: yes - no sense in predicting the end of anything
RONDON: it's stressful
RAMOS: lol - i'll change the subject
RONDON: no worries haha
RAMOS: when you wrote the book - were you thinking more of the mom's that would be reading it or the children that would be listening?
RONDON: i was thinking about both. but i mainly wrote it for the children
RAMOS: it is very simple in a great way and more than anything it is very positive - which makes your your answer ring true
there is no drama or struggle
all about the magical purposes behind the tattoos
if you were writing for mothers would it be different?
RONDON: i don't know, i would have probably written an entirely different book
RAMOS: I just thought about the questions in a different format - did you in a way write it to the memory of you as a child?
RONDON: yea definitely i feel i would have had a different experience growing up had i read something like this.
RAMOS: when you got your first tattoo did you feel like you were betraying your family or culture?
RONDON: i was hiding it from them, in a way yeah, and that's why i ran with it
i didn't wanna hear what my parents thought
i just wanted them to accept me
before my father passed, i don't think he even knew I had so many
he'd moved back to Venezuela, the last time i saw him i was 19
he passed in 2011- I already had quite a lot
but i never sent him pictures and would only speak to him over the phone
so he never saw me as heavily tattooed
RAMOS: i remember you telling me about your father getting a tattoo under his foot
and that's the tattoo you got on your throat - not sure if I am remembering correctly
he never got to see it?
RONDON: No i got it after he passed
it was a memorial tattoo to him
not identical to his
RAMOS: it is probably one of the most impressive tattoos you have
that and then you tattooed your face - how did people react to it?
RONDON: there was fuss over it
RAMOS: how come?
it's your face
RONDON: i think because i'm a woman
RAMOS: explain that a bit more if you can
RONDON: for example
when i got my first face tattoo
it was done by a woman, a very talented artist
she had been tattooing her boyfriend's face at the time
and felt comfortable tattooing mine when i asked
after she did it, she nearly lost her job over it
because i'm a woman
RAMOS: that doesn't make any sense to me
maybe cause i am a woman
RONDON: it doesn't make sense at all
RAMOS: and partly - this is why the book is about mommy getting tattoos and not daddy or parents
i mean it's not because you are the writer and you happen to be a woman - it is because there is specific prejudice about women and tattoos
RONDON: yeah absolutely
i wanted to give tattooed women a voice
that has been not ignored but maybe not thought about