Who’s There: El Guapo
December 19, 2005
FRISCO – Everyone starts out naked, but thanks to guys like tattoo artist El Guapo, not everyone ends up that way.”I always wanted to tattoo since I was a little kid,” he said. “I was a graffiti kid in San Francisco where I grew up. I always wanted to do something in art, I just didn’t know what. When I turned 18, the first thing I did was get a tattoo.”His career in the field began when he maxed out a credit card buying up all the equipment needed to tattoo and set up shop at his house in Frisco. Friends were his first clientele.Then El Guapo, aka, Anthony Mirabel, got some work done at Purple Lotus Tattoos in Frisco by owner Brett Caldwell. From this meeting, Guapo started a two-year apprenticeship under Caldwell.
He said during his apprenticeship he mopped floors, answered phones, stocked supplies, cleaned the shop and did generally all the jobs nobody else wanted to do. He also, however, got to watch Caldwell tattoo and ask him questions.Guapo has been doing his own work at Purple Lotus for almost seven years now.”One of the hardest things is getting inside somebody’s head to figure out what they want,” he said. Clients come in with what they like, or they tell the artist what they want and he’ll draw it out. And there is always the flash – set designs displayed throughout the shop – to give customers ideas, he said.
“What’s rad about it is, whatever I do, it’s there forever – it’s there until you die,” he said.Guapo described his own tattoos as bookmarks in his life.”I know who did it, what it means and where it was done,” he said. He described a tattoo he recently had done on his foot – a rooster – which was made to remind him of his father who recently passed. He also said he had his mother’s name tattooed on his chest about five years ago for her birthday.”She wasn’t too happy,” he said.
Guapo’s take on names of girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s being tattooed – “It’s a jinx. You should only get parents’ names and family members.”But, he’s quick to say he’ll do any tattoo a person wants. “Everyone starts the same, everyone’s naked,” he said. “A mark on your body sets you as different.”And for those with an inkling for some ink – there will be a locals appreciation day of sorts at Purple Lotus Jan. 21.”We’ll be doing free tattoos all day, and free piercings,” Guapo said.