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Conversations with Arleen Silva

Today we’d like to introduce you to Arleen Silva.

Hi Arleen, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Ever since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I was very fortunate to have parents who saw my potential early on and did everything they could to support me. Some of my favorite memories were of me coloring with my mom and watching how smooth she always got hers to look and my dad racing me back and forth from school to my art classes across town. As I got older, I took any extracurricular art classes I was allowed to take and still passed with all my credits. I didn’t get the greatest grades in school but none of that mattered to me except the one class of the day. I could finally relax and do what was important to me. Out of all the classes I took throughout elementary to college I found the one teacher that changed it all for me. His name is Steven Calzada, an outstanding art teacher at Palmdale High School who helped me find my style. He taught me to take a step back and really look at every line, shading, proportion until I was proud of the outcome. I started using a ballpoint pen to really get those sharp, dark, clean edges I wanted. Once my dad noticed me drawing on every single piece of paper I could get my hands on he started showing me his black books from back in the day. I would flip through those pages until they nearly fell apart. I remember the moment we were talking about my drawings he said something along the lines of “You know you can be doing tattoos one day.” The minute he said it, it was like a switch flicked on in my head. That’s exactly what I wanted to be, a tattoo artist. I knew I wanted to make art for people who were going to love it, art that I could really make a name for myself with.

From then on, I told everyone, everyone in my family knew what I wanted to be and every single one of them helped me achieve it. In 2018, I decided to quit my job and pursue art full-time. It was the most stressful I’ve ever been but it felt right. I started entering art shows, meeting new people, creating my Big Cartel website and finally selling my art on my own. That’s when everything started falling into place. I was offered an apprenticeship that same year by Angel Munoz @heptictatz. An incredibly talented tattoo artist in the area who not only took me under his wing but built an entire shop full of the most inspiring and welcoming group of people in the Antelope Valley who really feel like family. I have now been tattooing for about three years at La Familia Tattoo Studio in Lancaster California and it’s been the greatest three years of my life. I’ve gotten to tattoo some of my closest and oldest friends and family members who have always wanted to see me succeed. It’s a strange feeling looking back now at how long it took me to finally be exactly where I wanted to be. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my mentor, my teachers, friends, family, and loved ones. Being a part of this community that’s constantly changing and inspiring is something I will always be grateful for.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I’ve had a few struggles along the way. Mostly with my mental health and trying to understand it rather than fight it. I quit my full-time job to pursue my art. I had no savings, no health insurance, a car I thought was going to fall apart at any second and I dropped out of community college. It was a real low point for me, I started having self-doubts about my abilities and compared myself to every other artist my age who were all doing these amazing things and it stopped me from doing what I wanted to do for the longest time. I would thrift anything I thought I could fix up and sell to get by. It was like that for a while until I used whatever I had left to start my business and eventually, it picked up.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am currently a tattoo artist, mostly doing a mix of illustrative black work and black and grey realism, but an artist at heart. I specialize in ballpoint pen drawings and wood round paintings. I like creating things I know people are going to like from movie icons to horror monsters and music. I like being able to connect with people. It’s one of the main things that keeps me motivated and I’m proud of how far I’ve come to get over my shyness and put myself out there. I truly believe once you start focusing on yourself and what you’re passionate about the right people will come into your life for a reason and I have to say I appreciate everyone in my life right now. I don’t really think I do anything to set myself apart from others. I strive to be relatable. I try to be thankful for everything I have, I give to those who need help, and I hope whatever I do I can inspire someone else to go after what they want.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I like how passionate everyone is. I always think about that scene in Pretty Woman when that guy is walking down the street yelling to everyone “Hey, what’s your dream?” Whether it’s for the music, art, food, there is something for everyone. I wish it was easier to find parking. Why do I have to read five different signs on the same pole and still walk away from my car thinking I forgot how to read?


  • Tattoo pricing: $150 minimum

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Lesslye Lopez @vtattz

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