That’s how we like to describe Hart & Huntington tattoo artist Marlo Salvatierra.
He currently works at our Orlando shop, bringing his insanely colorful cartoon and comic book-inspired artwork to life on the daily. But he was an artist-in-the-making since he was just a kid.
I was about 5 years old when I start drawing with my brother. We’d copy Marvel Masterpiece cards, but it wasn’t until high school when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up that I really started to take it seriously.
He immersed himself in the art world, both conventional and off the beaten path.
I worked in an art gallery selling furniture and sculptures, and I also got into graffiti.
But then he took a trip to New York to visit his cousin who he hadn’t seen in 14 years.
He did tattoos and said he’d teach me. That’s when I started to consider tattooing for a living. I honestly hadn’t thought about it before then, but once I got my first tattoo and saw the art my cousin was drawing, I knew it was a good path for me.
Marlo started drawing every day. His cousin gave him a machine to practice with. And eventually, he went on to do an apprenticeship in New York for a few months, commuting back and forth from Miami. Then he met his wife.
She was a school teacher in Brooklyn, so I ended up moving up there to be with her and really start my tattoo career.
His apprenticeship was in the Bronx, where he learned the basics of tattooing—and then some.
I learned that you have to really want this. To ask questions, push yourself. That an apprenticeship is only going to take you so far.
You get out what you put in.
I enjoyed the unorthodox way of learning, that there was no curriculum. I put in a lot of late nights just drawing, honing new skills, and learning the dynamics of the industry. The whole thing was exciting.
But what Marlo found most challenging during his apprenticeship was knowing the right questions to ask, gaining confidence and calming his nerves.
I feel like I still have so much to learn.
His sense of humility is definitely a contributing factor to his talent as an artist.
I’d tell any apprentices starting out to stay humble. There are too many people in the industry already who think they’re the best. Keep learning and your work will speak for itself.
Marlo’s portfolio does just that. His bright and whimsical work stands out from the crowd.
I enjoy tattooing cartoons and comic book characters the most. They’ve always inspired me. I look at my daughter’s toys, Disney stuff…whatever gets me excited. Anything can trigger a good idea.
Although superheroes and villains are his forte, he also likes Realism too.
What I’m truly focused on, though, is ensuring the longevity of my tattoos. And taking into consideration what they mean to people.
Marlo has a profound effect on his clients.
I did a big back cover on a guy a while ago. We ended up spending hundreds of hours together while I worked on it, and we became great friends. He passed away in a car accident a few years ago, and one of his good friends came in to get a tattoo from me to memorialize him. It was a really powerful moment for both of us.
His place at Hart & Huntington has become a platform for him to touch people’s lives and create his best work yet.
I’m really grateful to have a job at H&H. Everyone here is really cool. All the artists are humble, and no one thinks they’re better than everyone else. It’s fun, we’re all close, and we learn so much from each other.
Like most artists, Marlo never knows exactly where his next source of inspiration will come from, but working with the H&H team ensures he’s always on his toes.
The best thing is not knowing what you’re going to work on every day. It’s exciting. The way the shop is set up allows me to get to know other artists’ signature styles and riff off them. We study each other’s work, what techniques we used to achieve certain effects.
And his brother remains a big influence, too.
I grew up painting and drawing alongside him. Then when he saw me pursue tattooing, he decided he wanted to do it too. Now he’s working in a shop in Fort Lauderdale. He’s amazing.
Marlo’s pervasive sense of humility is rooted in our culture at Hart & Huntington. It’s what we thrive on.
I wake up every day hoping to do something I’m proud of, something better than the day before. For myself, my wife and my daughter. I just want to grow as an artist and constantly improve my skillset.
There’s no doubt Marlo will go down in the books for being one of the most hardworking artists out there.
I want to be remembered for helping people bring their ideas to life and turn them into something better than they ever imagined.