In the Skin of the Artist: Fernando Unda’s Narrative Tattoos Redefining Personal Storytelling

Tattoos might be art people wear on their skin, but they can also be so much more. They are a profound way of self-expression that goes beyond the obvious, having many different layers and meanings. For many people, they are a way of telling stories with deep personal significance, going so far as to become a new form of storytelling, visual and resonant.

Working in the style of realism and specializing in micro-realism, Fernando Unda is a tattoo artist who routinely lends his skills to helping people tell stories with images on their skin. Fernando deeply appreciates and understands how life can write tales like no one else, his own serving as a great example.

“After working at PricewaterhouseCoopers for about three years, I felt exhausted and unfulfilled. I decided to change and follow my passion for tattooing,” Fernando recalls. “And then four years ago, I faced health challenges and was paralyzed from the waist down. It was a difficult time, but the ordeal completely transformed my life and propelled me to focus on improving my craft. I made significant progress after changing my previous lifestyle, too.”

Major life landmarks are a common reason people get a tattoo, to give the moment and its meaning its deserved status in the personal story. It’s not the only narrative element that will end up on people’s skin — from quotes to portraits, whatever is significant to someone will find its way into a tattoo parlor.

For the tattoo artist, knowing the proper context can make all the difference when creating a tattoo with such a profound personal meaning. That’s why Fernando’s process starts with getting as much relevant information as possible from the client.

“During the consultation, I ask about the motivation behind the tattoo, why they chose me as their artist, and the main elements they wanted to include in order of importance,” he says. “This helps me understand what the piece represents to them. If they have any specific quotes, dates, or personal details they want to incorporate, I consider those as well. I also request a few reference pictures to get a sense of their preferences.”

It’s essential to establish trust and understanding because of how the process goes from there. Fernando Unda will create a visual composition of all the elements he gathers from the client and his research. He ensures it fits the client’s anatomy, comparing the process to building a house with an architect.

When it’s done, however, there’s little room for making additional changes. “Everything has to match and be elegant. If you remove one thing or make changes, the entire composition falls apart,” Fernando explains. “That’s why I ask my customers to avoid making too many changes.”

In the end, Fernando’s goal as an artist aligns with that of his clients — they all want the best possible representation of something important and meaningful as a tattoo. And as tattoos become even more commonplace and accepted, it’s to be expected that Fernando’s approach will become even more influential. Every person has a story or two to tell, and what better way to do it than on their skin, in collaboration with a skilled artist.
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