Written by Carlos Contreras
“Tattoos for me are life I’ve been a hard core collector before I even started tattooing. I’ve been tattooing nine years at this point, I’ve worked at 3 shops up until now! Tattooing in Albuquerque is awesome there’s so many collectors here.Tattooing has given me so much. It’s been my center at some crazy points in my life; I don’t know what I would do without it,” said Mark Gallegos. Most Burqueños know him as “Bueno.”
Bueno is a big, heavily tattooed, loud and smiling soul who moves through his life and through Burque streets with a sense and projection of confidence that is inviting and infectious. He is a larger than life character. It was definitely imperative when thinking about those most important to Albuquerque and what makes us, us, that we talk to this man.
It was of interest to myself/Immastar Productions to investigate what exactly the life of someone who seems larger than life, was/is really like. Often times, we can see our occupation as undesireable – the grass and money are always greener in those areas we don’t have access to, but aspire to have access to. In regards to the life of a tattoo artist – I asked Bueno, what’s that like? He had this to say…
“I’m always in work mode – even when I’m out. I think people think we live these “rock star” lives – which, I do a lot of cool stuff sometimes, but there’s a lot more time I’m at home or even having a beer somewhere drawing, [it’s always] for the next few days worth of work,” word – we can see and we hear that. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that those folks in our atmosphere in this city, are working just the same, even when they’re tipping pints and out and about – not everyone’s job is done at a desk and between the hours of nine to five.
And often times, those folks who find an alternative route toward supporting themselves by way of their art, or hustle, are subsequently misunderstood, Bueno talked a bit about his life “out of the chair.” “Tattooing is really hard on the body and mind. Yoga is one of my favorite things to help balance work and the off time. I’m really into karaoke and I like long drives to nowhere. I read a ton, mostly comics. I also enjoy spending time with my friends,” Bueno said.
We can drink to that. See the thing is – as we move through these profiles of community artists, musicians, and people of influence, Immastar finds it supremely important that we see these folks as people – first. They breathe, eat, live, feel, and respond to the city we all live in, very much in the same way that many of us may, and once in a while we need to stop and remind ourselves of this reality. Bueno although larger than life, is simply a talented, compassionate, and normal man who strives to do his job and be there for his friends. At his base, he is a human being with a whole lot of body art that doles it out too. Immastar is aiming to highlight folks like this, as often as possible, because our argument is exactly that – this – that these “not so normal, normal people” are found at a higher rate in this high desert state of ours. We just don’t take time often enough to notice them.
speaking of “noticing,” we noticed Bueno has been busy. We asked where we might find him business wise in 2018 and beyond. “I had three solo art shows last year and it took a lot out of me. I decided this year to be a part of group art shows and dedicate my time to tattoo related art. I made it a personal goal to only do black and grey art this year as I want to grow in that area of my art. I’m gonna work out more this year I’m gonna finally get some traveling done, and most of all, I am gonna do some awesome tattoos,” he said. That sounds like a plan. The man – the myth, the legend, enjoying himself and leaving his mark. We are down with that.
Immastar is privy to a number of Burque residents who have some permanent artwork from this heavily tattooed friend of ours. Speaking of Bueno and his friends, we asked him what he might have to say to the wider community in ABQ that needs help right now. For those who he sees and the ills he notices, the work we have to do and how we will all get there, he said, “we all need the sense of community right now – with all the craziness going on in the world. One great thing about home is we have each other’s backs here, so we need to support each other real change in the world starts at home for sure.”
You hear that? Get out and support local art, music, food, beer, business, and each other. Deal? See you soon. Cheers from Immastar Productions!
Photo credit Nathaniel Paolinelli