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15 Questions With Chris Nunez
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Quick BioChris Nunez was born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Florida. From a young age it was established that Chris was a creative child and growing up he took to graffiti and urban artistry. At the age of 21, Chris traveled to South America with the intention of just visiting, but he ended up living there for five years. After his stint down south, Chris traveled to Europe, all the while discovering the art of tattooing and learning from various mentors and idols along the way.
Formerly known as 305 Ink, the Miami Ink tattoo parlor was owned by both Ami James and Chris Nunez. While Miami Ink may not have gone exactly as Chris had hoped (as you'll read in the interview below) the success of the TLC series and the shop have allowed Chris to live the life he leads now and have opened up many new doors for his career in the tattoo and television world. Not to mention, tattoos have become the new "it" thing with shows like LA Ink, London Ink and Inked being direct spin-offs of the success of Miami Ink.
We caught up with Chris Nunez at the opening of his (and Ami James') Love Hate bar in Montreal to talk about tattoos, women and traveling (three of Chris' favorite things).
What's going on in the world of Chris Nunez these days?
Chris Nunez: Me and Ami are pretty much embarking on a brand new venture, and we’re starting with a new show -- it will be on the Travel Channel -- and we’re doing a worldwide tattoo show. We’re gonna feature artists all over the world from tattooing to pop culture to graffiti to music. It’s more of a lifestyle/culture show.
Have tattoos kind of gone more mainstream, or are they still a bit of a social taboo?
CN: Yeah, I think tattoos have become so accepted in the media, unfortunately via Miami Ink. You know, I mean, it was a catch-22 doin’ that. It was a tough project on all of us, because on the one hand it was something that we started out believing in and by the end it was something that turned into nothing any of us wanted to do anymore. So, now we’re getting a chance to really go after our dreams. That was college and school's out; now everything’s turned around for us and we’re really going to get to go out and do something that we feel passionate about.
Is there a specific tattoo design you think someone shouldn't have on their body? Have you ever refused a design by a client?
CN: Sure. At this point in my career, I don’t have to do things that I don’t want to do, and at the same time if somebody comes in with the ideology of a tattoo, I’m nobody to say that they’re wrong, I’m just somebody to say I’m not into what they’re into and I have that freedom to not want to do it.
As far as the type of tattoos that you do, more freestyle, how common is it to find a tattoo artist who can do that?
CN: Oh, God, I mean the beauty of tattooing is that there are so many unknowns that are so good, that blow me out of the water; and you know, I did Miami Ink and it was kind of like that “Oh well these guys have got to be good because they’re on TV,” but there are so many guys out there who deserve so much more credit and are so much better and so much more bound to it and get so much joy from it. And you know that’s what we’re out to show now; kind of give back to the tattoo community and pay homage to the people who brought us up and who we looked up to our whole lives, and guys who are unknown: Show everybody’s work.
And how would somebody in that position, as an unknown, make a name for themselves in the tattoo community?
CN: It’s funny, you know you can go all over the world… I mean, you can go to Brazil -- I lived in Brazil for five years -- and you can walk into literally an indoor/outdoor mall and there’ll be 60 tattoo shops. Nobody knows who anybody is. You walk into one and it’s horrible, you walk into another one and you got a guy doing, like, Renaissance paintings, and it’s just out of this world. Nobody’s ever heard of him, but he’s the man. There’s millions of ‘em.
For somebody who’s in the market for a tattoo, what should they be looking for when they choose their tattoo artist/tattoo parlor?
CN: The best way to do that is basically to check out their work, check out their studio; would you eat off the floor in their shop? Because the shop could be really cool and eclectic and knickknack-y and all that, but where you do your tattoos you have to be able to eat your meal.
What's the most common tattoo that you’ve seen men ask for recently?
CN: Unfortunately, again, you know Miami Ink set a lot of trends. So, unfortunately now the Koi fish is the tattoo; Koi fishes and tribal.
It was so weird, you know everybody got a Koi fish from seeing a Koi fish done in the first 10 episodes [of Miami Ink] and then once those aired it was like: “Oh God, we only want Koi fish!” or “We only want script!” or “We only want ‘in memory’!” I mean, we just lost focus on what tattoo artists really are, and what they really do.
We find out Chris Nunez's favorite female body part to tattoo and he gives us the lowdown on his career in tattooing, next...