Chicano tattoos – Symbolism and history

Chicano style tattoos are a very influential style, popular in America. The word Chicano is a chosen identity of some Mexcian Americans in the USA.

Characterised by black and grey colour, fine lines, detail and soft shading, Chicano style was made famous by Mexican gangs originating in LA, but most Chicano designs were created in prison.

Chicano symbols

Chicano tattoos are very meaningful and represent many different aspects of life, especially family, culture, and memories.

Usually incorporating realistic portraits, family, lost loved ones, girls, cars, low riders, clowns, guns, masks, celebrities and people from Spanish history.

Religion is also a large part of the Chicano style, with photo-realistic images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, crosses and praying hands all common.

The Eagle is also very common in Chicano tattoos, appearing not only on the Mexican flag, but as a symbol in Aztec culture.

Perhaps the most recognisable influence of Chicano style is the Mexican “Day of the Dead”. La Dia de los Muertos is a traditional time in Mexico to honour and remember those who have passed, and many tattoos around the world are now based on this event.


Chicano Tattoo History

The Chicano style tattoos first showed up in the Pachuco gang in the 1940’s, mostly consisting of the Pachuco cross tattoo between the thumb and index finger. Portraits of loved ones or religious icons were also a popular tattoo for Chicanos, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s until the Chicano style became popular outside the gang.

The most accessible ink in prison was simply black, so black and grey tattoos became popular in this style. It was during the 70’s and 80’s that the style was developed and refined on the streets of Los Angeles.

Today the Chicano style is popular all over the world, and if done right, can blow people away with their skill and beauty.