About Denise

I was born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1962.

I’m Latina and Irish.

I speak English (obviously) and Portuguese.

I’ve been trying for years to learn Spanish, but it just doesn’t stick. Portuguese comes out of my mouth.

I attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1980, and School of Visual Arts in NYC from 1988 to 1992.

I have no degree. I didn’t want to rack up the debt.

I drove yellow taxis in NYC at night from 1992-1994.

Started learning to tattoo in 1993. Persuaded Anil Gupta to train me.

I worked for Anil from 1994-97 on New York’s Lower East Side.

In 1997, when tattooing in NY was legalized, I got involved in a shop in Brooklyn, on Union Street, with Alex Cataldi and Maya Ventura. The shop was called Superfly 3rd Eye.

Alex died before the shop even opened, and after a year in Park Slope, felt that I needed to not be in any partnership. I went on my own in 1998, and got a small storefront in Jersey City, where tattooing was still illegal.

The shop I started in Jersey City was called Modern Electric, and was located at 297 Grove Street.

In 2003, the issue of tattoo legalization was raised in Jersey City, when I was “caught” tattooing- I had been openly tattooing almost across the street from City Hall for the last 4 1/2 years.

I fought hard, generated public support with a letter and postcard writing campaign, and finally in August of 2003, tattooing was legalized in Jersey City.

After legalization, I was tapped out, financially and emotionally, and decided to go back underground. I started another private studio at 111 1st Street in JC. 111 was an artist’s building, and with all that privacy and space, began to paint again.

In 2004, the artists at 111 were told to leave, as the neighborhood was gentrifying, and I decided to travel to India.

I had discovered Buddhism, and went up to Dharamsala to attend the teachings given by HH the Dalai Lama.

After coming back from India, I needed to work, and so started taking my clients at Hand of Glory in Park Slope, which was owned by Craig Rodriguez, Alex’s former apprentice.

I took clients at H.O.G from about 2005-2007.

I had also started a small private studio in Upstate N.Y., at The Stone Mill in Little Falls. That studio was by appointment only. I closed that studio in 2008, and went back to Manhattan where I started another private studio on Thompson Street with my apprentice, Ash (Now of his own studio, Diamond Ink Tattoo).

By 2011 we had been priced out of Thompson Street.

In 2009 I had started going to Brazil, and by 2012 had started yet another private studio, this time in São Paulo Centro, at the Barão da Itapetininga. I called it "The Secret Undisclosed Location". Simultaneously, I also helped Alessandro Gattoni start his tattoo machine shop. ( www.maquinasdetattoo.com)

By 2013 I needed to come back to the U.S.

If you would like to visit the studio and check out my paintings or arrange to get tattooed, drop me a line, and I’ll tell you how to get here.

NYC area.

Thank you.