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Soy Artista: local tattoo artist paves her own path

Paintings, stickers and flash sheets of tattoo designs sit ready to be used on a shelf above her work space. Roxy Andrade is a resident tattoo artist at Nor Cal Tattoo in downtown Arcata who also goes by Tlanextic (thl-ah-nesh-teek) in Nahuatl, which means “sun is rising.”

Andrade moved to Humboldt County seven years ago, and has been tattooing for three years. She got into the Arcata tattoo scene in 2017, trying to find internships and work wherever she could, learning to tattoo on friends and taking classes online. Incredibly self-driven, it is her love of tattooing and perseverance that pushed her into the industry, breaking through in 2020.

“It was more self motivated, and just having that drive on my own to reach that goal, because it was my only prior goal to get in the industry, whether it was going to be with an apprenticeship or on my own,” Andrade said.

Andrade found tattooing through her love of art, specifically drawing. Ever since she was a small child, all she wanted to do was “draw all day every day.”

“My tattoo style is new and neo-traditional, and I like doing anything with nature and critters, just anything within that frame,” Andrade said. “Also anything tribal, I’m kind of just open to all of them, but I definitely like doing Mayan and Aztec.”

Before moving, she grew up in Dinuba in the central valley of California with her parents. Both sides of her family are from Mexico, with her mother’s side coming from Mexico City and her father from Nayarit.

“It means everything to me that I get to live my dream knowing that my family sacrificed a lot to give their grandchildren the best opportunities,” Andrade said.

Andrade has been practicing Danza Azteca for two years with members from the Danza club at Cal Poly Humboldt and says she has more to learn.

“I have Mexica and Nahua origins and roots, and I’m reconnecting with that,” Andrade said.

She says she would definitely “give herself a pat on the back” for achieving her goals. It is important to her being able to have her own space in Nor Cal Tattoo and to offer it as a safe space.

“Being able to hold space in a shop as an Indigenous queer artist means everything because the industry has always been male dominant,” Andrade said. “But we’re breaking through, and it means a lot that I got into a safe space and I can provide my art and medicine for my community.”

You can check out more of Andrade’s diverse range of work on her Instagram, @tlanextic.tattoos, where she regularly posts new tattoos she’s done, flash sheets and more.

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