155 Chicano Tattoos - Photos, Designs for men and women


Chicano is one of the most recognizable styles in contemporary tattoo art. These works are bright and catchy, although you won’t see a rave of color in them, and the history of the style is rather dramatic, although it has been around for less than a century. Nowadays, female and male Chicano tattoos can be seen quite often far beyond their historical homeland, by the way.


The word “Chicano” is nothing but a distorted “mexicano”. It was used to refer to Latin Americans who settled in the South-West of the USA in the 16th-19th centuries during the Spanish colonization. After the end of the Mexican-American war, the northern part of Mexico was annexed by the United States. As a result, about 50 thousand Hispanic Catholics who used to live within this territory, found themselves in the USA.

At that time their status in “the land of opportunity” didn’t seem to have any prospects. Due to the considerable admixture of Indian and African blood, differences in language and religion, Chicano couldn’t become full-fledged members of the society of white Anglo-Saxon settlers who subjected them to various forms of discrimination. Writer Anna Castillo, one of the Chicanos, described their life in a very laconic and accurate way: “Being a Chicano means being a dark-skinned marginal, treated like a foreigners in their own native country.” Indeed, these people were discriminated, subjected to persecution, they were charged only with the common labor that no one else wanted to do.”

Sometimes the situation with the Chicanos was so severe that they had no choice but to make a living illegally. The first male Chicano tattoos occurred in 1940s among representatives of criminal groups. Some images served as distinctive signs indicating that they belonged to a certain gang, others were had to demonstrate certain qualities and merits of a person to the surrounding people. Another type of Chicano tattoos was mascots. People started to relate to tattoos as to the signs of the underworld and imprisonment.


The meaning of Chicano tattoos depends on the symbols and images that are present in the composition. This direction is so recognizable not only thanks to the technique, but also due to the characteristic plots.

  • Women’s portraits. Portraits in the Chicano style are difficult to confuse with others. It’s not just about young cute ladies that are depicted. Daring beauties with impudent look often hold weapons in their hands and their faces are hidden under the masks. Such images are often only decorative and require a lot of space, so portraits are placed mainly on the hip, shoulder, back or chest.
  • Weapons. This is one of the most eloquent symbols of criminal romance, an indispensable attribute of the underworld. Nowadays, Chicano has ceased to be the prerogative of Mexican gangs and the image of the pistol points to a strong personality capable of standing up for himself, protecting his interests at any cost. Works with pistols and money, masks, skulls look good on the forearm or shoulder.
  • Money. When the Chicanos were discriminated and couldn’t earn enough money to support their families, money was the main cause of most crimes. The image of notes can become a mascot that attracts wealth to the life of a person with such a tattoo.
  • Religion Religious symbols are one of the most frequent stories used in Chicano tattoos. One day, life under difficult conditions can one day break a person, make you lose all hope for a happy future and faith in your abilities. Many people, getting in difficult situations, find salvation in religion. Faith gives them the power to keep going along their hard way. Images of angels, hands folded while praying, rosary or a small cross on the neck reflect the essence of this style.
  • Masks. Another popular element of Chicano tattoos. A mask is a symbol of pretense and secrecy often for the sake of safety. Such a work indicates a person that protects his secrets, as the apple of his eye.
  • Cards. Gambling has always been a great way to cash in. Such an image will suit a person who is not afraid to take risks.
  • Inscriptions. Tattoos with inscriptions were originally intended to support a people during imprisonment, remind them that someone loves and waits for them on the freeside. It helps them not to lose faith. Now, such tattoos can contain any phrases inked in a typical Chicano print.
  • Santa Muerte. The modern cult of death, widely spread on the territory of Mexico and among the Hispanics of the United States, is rooted in ancient times. Even the Aztecs and Mayas had similar cults associated with death and rebirth, reverence of ancestor. In those ancient times, when these tribes built their majestic cities on the territory of Mexico, the skulls of the late relatives were even kept at home as a token of respect. The modern holiday of Dia de los Muertos, dedicated to the commemoration of the departed, absorbed the traditions of the Indians with an admixture of Catholicism. It is a large-scale celebration. It’s even listed as an intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO. Chicano tattoos depicting girls, whose faces are traditionally painted under the skull, are very beautiful and have become a trademark of this style.


Nowadays, both male and female Chicano tattoos have lost their negative symbolism associated with crime and prison, and have become one of the most popular trends. Once, they used to be inked on the skin with a sewing needle in a basement. Now, there are experienced and talented artists working in this direction in any large city.

You can find a huge variety of sketches of Chicano tattoos for girls and boys on the Internet. You can get inspired by them and think over the idea of your own tattoo. Despite the fact that traditionally only black ink was used in such works, the tattoo art isn’t the kind of art that requires strict adherence to the canons. However, if you use too many colors, the tattoo may lose its zest. A few bright accents are enough to get an extraordinary and bright tattoo.

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