Anna D. Smith Presents: Fernando’s Liberation Through Art, From the Corporate World to Tattooing
World renowned Mexican tattoo artist, Fernando Unda, who now resides in Los Angeles, responds to interview questions by Silicon Valley, Fine Art and Real Estate Broker Anna D. Smith.
Smith, who started her brokerage firm, Anna D. Smith Fine Art and Real Estate Broker, during the pandemic, has quietly and behind the scenes, earned the reputation as the “Queen of the Underground Art World,” for her specialization on the anti-establishment art world of Graffiti, Prison art, Street art, Comic Strips, Graphic Novels, Digital art and NFTs. These predominantly self-taught Contemporary art genres are looked down upon by the art world gatekeepers in favor of the academically trained.
Smith is no stranger to tattoo artists, as she has featured a few on her blog, such as Cambodian American Robert Pho, who was featured in her article, “5-Notable Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Underground Art.”
Pho, while incarcerated, became a prisoner tattooist. Since his release from prison, Pho has successfully transformed his prison hustle into a lucrative Nationwide tattoo business, with tattoo parlors in Brooklyn, Honolulu, SoCal, and Las Vegas, including a location inside the Caesars Palace.
For Pho, clients have traveled across the globe to get inked by him. One such client paid $300,000 for a full body suit of clowns, mobsters, and mythological gods that popped right off this wealthy client’s skin.
Another one of those imprisoned tattoo artists was Kristi Russell. Russell was featured in the article, “5 Women Artists in the Underground Art World.”
Russell, who is currently imprisoned in Florida, had become a self-taught tattoo artist while in prison on an earlier prison stint. Upon her release, she opened up her own shop, portraits2tattoos. However, life got in the way, and she found herself right back in prison. Due to the popularity of Russell’s drawing on Smith’s Pinterest board, Prison Art, Russell and her story will be featured in Smith’s upcoming book Anna D. Smith Fine Art and Real Estate Broker 2023 Underground Art Market Report.
Unda, 33, is a Mexican national who has a corporate background in finance. Eight years ago, Unda began trying out his artistic hand in the tattoo world of Microrealism.
He has traveled all over the world showcasing his tattooing skills, which has recently landed him a residency at the famous Ganga Tattoo Studio in Los Angeles, California, home of the world’s best tattoo artists.
Smith conducted her interview with Unda by email:
Smith: Fernando, your transition from finance and politics to art and tattooing is quite intriguing. Could you share what prompted this shift and how your prior experiences have influenced your art?
Fernando: I graduated in 2011, so I started to work in Pwc as an auditor. I felt trapped. I liked my career when I studied, but at work, I felt like I had the necessity to create something; otherwise, I’ll be dead soon. So I decided to quit and start my journey on a different route.
Smith: You began as a tattoo artist practicing on friends and those willing to get free tattoos. Could you share some significant experiences from those initial days?
Fernando: At the beginning, your career is all about how many friends you can get to try to learn something by tattooing them. So I accepted any possibility to tattoo. I tattooed in the middle of a party in the middle of the night, I tattooed friends, and I wasn’t getting any money. I got rejected by many studios for an apprenticeship, so this made me learn my own style of tattooing. Which looking backward was the best thing that happened.
Smith: Among the various body parts you’ve tattooed, do you have a favorite, and if so, why?
Fernando: Forearms and arms. In general, I feel like the skin there is better for creating detailed pieces.
Smith: Your unique style serves as a bridge to deeper emotions and the ‘inner man.’ Could you elaborate on how this works?
Fernando: I try to connect with my customers and give them a unique piece based on their stories. This helps me represent their story with my own artistic vision. I try to go into a deeper state of emotions and use symbols and elements that might represent a connection with nature, astronomy, mythology or anything that at the moment I’m feeling.
Smith: You’re inspired by artists such as Basquiat, Murakami, and Koons. Could you delve deeper into how their work has influenced your style?
Fernando: Those are artists that I like their craft; that’s it.
Smith: Music seems to play a significant role in your creative process. Can you expand on the relationship between your musical inspirations, like Tool and Radiohead, and your art?
Fernando: Music is also a big part of my craft. It helps me to connect with the moment and helps me to create and get focused. The music I usually listen to is rock, metal, grunge, etc.
Artists like Tool, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Primus, and Megadeth help me with my artistic path since I have ADHD and can’t do any other thing without getting distracted. Tattooing is the only thing that calms me and gets me focused. Any customer that has been in a session with me can see that I’m playing drums in my mind or singing while I’m tattooing. It is a different way of concentrating, but it helps me and my style. Those artists get me in the zone.
Smith: In the journey of mastering Hyperrealistic Micro Tattooing, have you faced any notable technical challenges, and how have you overcome them?
Fernando: All the time. This craft, I would say, is one of the most challenging styles and one of the most demanded or popular since not every artists can do it. It is really difficult to put all this detail in such a tiny place and it demands all your attention and focuses on creating them. Every single piece is a challenge, and I’m always up for that.
Smith: In terms of your clientele, is there a gender that is more prominent?
Fernando: Not really.
Smith: You’ve traveled and showcased your art in various cities. Which city has proven to be the most profitable for you?
Fernando: I’ve been living in Denmark for a year, and the most profitable is Los Angeles for sure.
Smith: With your ambitious goal of becoming the best Microrealism tattoo artist in the world, could you share what steps you’re taking to achieve this, and what advice you’d offer to aspiring tattoo artists?
Fernando: I’m trying to put my name out there, sharing my art with the world. Trying to get big names to come and get my tattoos.
Smith: Okay, thank you Fernando for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions.
Fernando: You’re quite welcome, and thank you.
To learn more about Fernando Unda, go to his website [https://ferunda.com/] or follow him on Instagram.