Chicano Tattoos – 5 Things You Need to Know about Chicano Tattoo Style

Chicano tattoos

Tattoo styles 7 min read Last updated on August 9, 2020

The Chicano Tattoo movement is one of the most famous styles in the world of tattooing. Despite most of Chicano artists’ drawings being monochromatic, they retain a voluminous and memorable look. Chicano tattoos are done on body parts which provide the artist a large canvas, such as the chest, back, hips, forearm, and arm.


  • Drawings often made in deep black inks and smooth shades of grey
  • Creates shadows
  • Well-defined contours using fine lines
  • High contrast drawings
  • Theme of images is often gloomy
  • Short inscriptions and images of girls’ faces are also characteristic.


Modern Chicano tattoos often use Santa Muerte or “Holy Death”, which is the image of a woman decorated with national ornaments and skulls. As for the portraits, they are usually young and defiant-looking ladies with guns, masks, and outfits.

Common themes also include skulls, weapons (a reference in the origin of the style), crosses, and other religious images.

Often, Chicano tattoos have one to two words or dates that represent a significant event.


The exact origin of the word “Chicano” is unknown, but it is believed to be a close-sounding word to “Mexicano”.

The Chicano style of tattooing arose from criminal Latin American gangs in the 1950s who would use body ink to fiercely proclaim their belonging to a particular group. Some have tried to portray Chicano with meaning — about the futility of being and high justice.

For a long time, Chicanos tattoos were a privilege of the criminal elite, but today, one does not necessarily have to be a gang members or a criminal to be able to get one.