Marlon Cubero, AKA Tatu Panda is a tattoo artist you need to know – that’s if you don’t already. When he’s not tattooing Jake Paul at an airport after the fight conference with Floyd Mayweather that broke the internet, he is tattooing Miami’s finest in his parlour/hangout Inked Miami in South Florida.
Panda began his love affair with tattooing from a seriously young age. When he wasn’t running a ruckus in school, he was tattooing his friends for free, honing his skill and grinding to get apprenticeships which never came. For Panda, following his passion wasn’t easy, but his dedication and skill slowly separated him from his peers. It’s this dedication that he says made him – his attention to detail, to composition, “I don’t cut corners during any part of my process”.
In a market that is slowly becoming oversaturated as the result of social media, Panda says creating something that is hard to replicate is the key. Drawing inspiration from hyper-realistic art, Panda set about creating a style focused on small, intimate designs and clean lines. His style quickly became renowned, and his parlour, Inked Miami, began attracting clients ranging from hip-hop stars to YouTubers. “I tattooed “el cantante” on Mark Anthony. He’s from Puerto Rico just like me. Hector Lavoe is one of my favourite musicians and one of his biggest hits is el cantante… It meant a lot to do that piece.”
Blurring the boundaries between street art and high art, Panda is forging a legacy that is changing the tattoo business. Tattooing many of his clients, including Jake and Logan Paul, from the comfort of their homes, Panda is leading a new wave of tattoo artists whose work is a reflection of the deeper bonds formed between the client and the artist. As it is, Panda considers himself an artist that choses skin as his medium of choice. His advice to new up and comers is “don’t take advice from anybody. Most people don’t want to see you succeed… Follow your instinct and out work your competition.”