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Spontaneity is not everyone’s game when it comes to tattoos, but when you’re Miami tattoo artist Marlon Cubero, aka Tatu Panda, it’s the best part. Having tatted up everyone from social media celebrities to rappers, YouTubers to Latin icons, Panda’s work has taken on a form all of it’s own – a culture in itself that captures the very essence of the high life. It’s fast paced, free spirited and he does it on the fly.
Panda’s journey to tattooing Miami’s upper echelon began at a mere 14 years old. As soon as he could hold a pencil, the Miami native was drawing commissioned portraits, dabbling in ink by tattooing his friends after school, “I was very rebellious when I was young and I always loved to draw… A lot of my friends growing up had tattoos and they were like 12 to 14 years old and when they saw I had talent in drawing, they asked me if I would tattoo them… I said HELL YEAH!”. Panda was banging out free tattoos until he dropped out of school at 19 and began an apprenticeship of sorts, during which time Panda says he learned more about the grind than he did about honing his skill.
Panda attributes the evolution of his artistry to the streets and culture he grew up, but it was his love of hyper realistic artists such as Nikko Hurtado that provided him with the level of artistry with which to aspire to, “what he did on skin was what I thought was impossible, he tattooed at a level of quality that I sought after”. Panda’s own micro, hyper realistic style quickly became renowned for its detail, honesty and emotional energy, “I don’t cut corners during any part of my process”. Panda was visiting his clients and tattooing them in the comfort of their homes, tattooing the likes of Marc Anthony, Jake Paul and Lil Pump.
Today, Panda co-owns one of Miami’s most famous haunts, Inked Miami, alongside Rolling Loud co-creator Matt Zingler. Opened in collaboration with Inked Magazine, Inked Miami is a fusion of modern culture that attests to the rise of tattoo culture. It is there that Panda takes his artistry to a whole new level, drawing on the energy of his clients to create unique, sentimental art pieces that his clients take with them everywhere.