Not so fast, says artist and tattooist John Lott, who is currently working on his own new tribe, the “Puerto Rican American Artisans.” “I’ve always been fascinated with these tribes. I get letters from them from all over the world telling me how much they love me!”
Lott’s tattoo ideas are inspired by the unique cultures of his native Puerto Rico, many of which are now melting away in the US and other places. “I just wanted to take the original tribal tattoos and turn them on their heads and try to incorporate other local indigenous art in the form of a new tribe, because what I’m working on here is very original,” explains Lott. “I just think it’s funny that tattoos started in the Caribbean and went out to Hawaii, and now, if I want to show an American tribal tattoo the Puerto Rican way, I can. The other thing about this tattoo is that I want people to enjoy it and find something in every color.”
Lott’s tattooed “Puerto Rican American Artisans” are inspired by some of his favorite native tribes, among which are the Poncey-Highland Indian Tribe (PHT) on the island of Hispaniola (see below), the Hmong, the Chavana (the PHT’s native language), and the Yucatan Desert tribes. “One thing I wanted to try and do was incorporate some of the traditional, local, and even indigenous art in a lot of my designs,” explains Lott. “It’s also a way for me to show all that I like about Puerto Rican culture. Like any local tattoo style, I want people to see a lot of it and love it. I also wanted to do a big tribal design. For my tribal tattoo I wanted to use all the local tribal art. There is a lot of indigenous art in Puerto Rico’s past and present. For a lot of Americans this art is very obscure and not as famous. The Puerto Rican tribes were very famous, and I wanted to make them known. And, this tribal designs is pretty much what I want to show when I do this. It’s just a little different than traditional Puerto Rican tribal tattoos.”
See more of Lott’s designs in his book, Puerto Rican American Artisans.
Puerto Rican Americans
“I like the idea of people using Puerto Rican art to show tribal support to a particular tribe, like PHT. That would be like people wearing their tribal shirts when they
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