It's not often you find someone born and raised here in Orlando. But, Hart & Huntington is home to Orlando native, Beatrice Medina. The incredibly skilled tattoo artist who paved her way from tattooing in a flea market biker shop to H&H, has grown to embrace the path she made for herself and the town she grew up in.
"After high school, a lot of the people I grew up with in Orlando started moving on. It seems not too many people who grow up here stay. I was watching all my friends excel, do really cool things, and reach their full potential. I started feeling like I was moving a little bit slower than everyone else. The town was full of heavy hitters. It was like there was something in the water. For example, I'd look at someone I knew, and the next day, they would have 50,000 followers and be moving away. I would think, 'Why am I not there too?' I'd get down on myself. You know, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’"
Rather than wallowing in self-pity, Beatrice leveraged those feelings to push herself harder.
“Having a bunch of people in my life who were doing so well made me step up my game. It was good motivation.”
For Beatrice, excelling meant not just becoming a tattoo artist but becoming the best tattoo artist she could be. She would use her natural artistic abilities, put in a lot of hard work, both mentally and physically, learn the fundamentals of tattooing, and catapult to her own success.
“I've always been super artistically inclined. When I was a kid, the second someone handed me a pencil and paper, I would draw. In elementary school, I started getting into music. Art has always been in every aspect of my life. I can look at something and break down how it is made or done.”
When Beatrice was young, her passion for drawing on just about anything—including her skin—often got her in trouble. So, as a child, she was taken aback when her parents got tattoos.
“I was three or four years old, and my uncle was watching me because my parents went to get tattoos. My mom came home and showed me a tattoo of Tweety Bird, and I was like, 'Whoa…you always told me not to draw on myself!' She said, 'No, this is different. The ink won’t make a mess.' From then on, I knew, this is what I want to do.”
Beatrice began her journey as a tattoo artist while she was still in high school. Her goal was to graduate and go right into an apprenticeship.
“I was drawing American Traditional Flash and a bunch of crazy stuff. I got started in an old biker shop when I was 19. I just wanted the opportunity to be in the shop and learn the proper art of tattooing because when I was trying to mimic the American Traditional pieces, I didn't really know the fundamental rules.“
While far from glamorous, Beatrice embraced her apprenticeship.
“The tattoo artist had 30 years of experience, so I didn't care how crappy the environment was, just that I was learning the skills.”
“So, I made the most of it, focusing on the end goal and what I had to do to get there.”
While she didn't have the best work environment, Beatrice found solace in the friends she made at the shop.
“Looking back, the best part of that environment was the friendships I developed with the owner's son and his wife. We were all struggling and figuring out how to get through the day. They made it fun. It was a relief having them there. If it wasn't for them, it wouldn't have been a good experience.”
While Beatrice wanted to learn as much as possible while working at the shop, the owner didn’t make it easy for her.
“The most challenging part of the apprenticeship was trying to figure out how to navigate the owner of the shop. He was not nice or a great person to be around. When it came to asking him how to do things, it was a battle. I had to mentally prepare for a fight just to get him to teach me to tattoo. I picked and chose whether I wanted a hard day by asking him to teach me a skill or an easy day by not engaging with him. But it helped me get through the worst of the industry. I quickly learned lessons early on that some are still learning.”
These lessons have stuck with Beatrice throughout her career as a tattoo artist.
“I don't regret the struggle because it helped me get to a good place mentally and handle the industry's underbelly. One valuable lesson I learned was not to let people have control over my emotions. Don't let whatever people say ruin your day and make you come out of character.”
These days, Beatrice prides herself on a style that is open and expressive. She's a pro at tattoos involving video games, anime, and horror motifs.
“When I started tattooing, no one was really doing these genres or doing them efficiently. Back then, there wasn't a big representation of 'nerdcore' tattoos. So I thought if no one else would do these styles, let me push myself to master them.”
Part of Beatrice's natural artistic inclination lends a unique perspective to the tattoos she creates.
“I love taking Traditional Tattoos, like the Skull and Dagger Tattoo or Rose Tattoo, and putting my own spin on them.”
Throw any idea for a tattoo at Beatrice, and she will master it thanks in part to those hard years at the biker tattoo shop mastering the skills.
“I know how to do everything and do it well. Every day, I get up and work to give my client a tattoo that is as close to perfect as I can get it.”
These days she’s creating her perfect tattoos at Hart & Huntington Orlando, and she couldn’t be happier.
“The best part of working at Hart & Huntington Orlando is the relaxed, laid-back environment of the shop. It's just easy to work here.”
“There's no drama. Just tattoos!”