With Respect

I had a very brief conversation recently with legendary photographer Glen E Friedman about my C/S tattoo. It caught me off guard actually and I mumbled something pretty lame and not at all what I wanted to say which prompted me to do this post. I thought about this before, but I had stopped feeling like I needed to explain why I got it done.

I first became aware of the C/S symbol through seeing it tattooed on people, specifically work done by artists I admire and follow. Then I saw that a book was being published called 'Con Safos - Chicano Style Tattoo Art' with the cover illustration done by Chuey Quintanar, and a website launched called cslashs.com so I checked it out.

The site offered first hand experience from artists like Chaz Bojorquez, Mike Giant, and tattooists like Latisha Wood, Ivano Natale and Franco Vescovi. Perhaps most importantly there is an interview with Frank Sifuentes, founder of Con Safos magazine. He explains the different ways people have used the phrase Con Safos, and even talks about having seen it tattooed on people's hands and considering doing it himself.

Having educated myself to the various meanings or ways people interpret the phrase, I felt I had a reason to show my own understanding, support and belief. I'm not of Chicano origin, not very into graffiti, I'm definitely not a gangster, however you can't tell me shit about how to live my life. I have it to say "You know what, where I've come from, what I've been through, the choices I make, anything negative you say about me bounces right back to you." In addition I wanted to make a statement about my tattoos, show my respect for the artists, and in particular the work Chuey has done.

I found it interesting that Mike Giant didn't want to get it done, and feels only people with it should be able to tattoo it on someone else. The importance of the meaning and person's own reasons behind getting it done are paramount. Because of this I asked tattoo artist Chuey Quintanar if he'd be able to put it on my hand. I respect him and would have taken his advice whichever way he said. We've since spoken about it after I received some heat from some people in tattooing circles, and he just said "Let that shit just slide right off.", and that's exactly what it's about.

I don't see it as a trend, or fashionable. I don't believe it's for only one kind of person, or any single group of people. It's been adopted by the tattoo industry and has a lot of exposure online for which I'm grateful as it exposed it to me. I respect the origins, the history and hope to help educate people on it by sending them to good sources for more knowledge.

I'm not entirely happy with how I've put this into words, it's more of an emotional response and not clearly thought out, and the importance to be respectful weighs heavy as I write, but I do hope this goes some way to explaining my point of view.

Freedom. Protection. With Safety. With Respect. With Pride.