Art is a complex passion and Tony Ramirez traces his infatuation with it back to his elementary school days. He describes his first sketch, done on an elementary yearbook, as a picture of a student leaving school. While the drawing was fun, Tony was slow and cautious in accepting art as his obsession. “I wasn’t too much of an artist growing up,” he admits. “It was just something that I dabbled in from time to time.” Still, Tony found himself interested in it, and he studied other artists by collecting various art magazines that included Lowrider Arte.

Tony’s skills were developed in an unorthodox setting; prison. “That’s a very interesting story,” he explains. “I was actually in prison and a couple of people there kept asking me to do some birthday cards for their kids or wives. I started doing basic cartoon characters, and from there it developed into doing more realistic type artwork; eventually I began catching up to the arts.” Tony used his time to come up with strategies and in the process; he began designing his own creations on various mediums. “I would get inspiration from other artists that were in there and it just started taking off for me. As far as I’m concerned now; I love the arts.”

While he remained dedicated, Tony also served as his own worst critic. “I was growing, but my artwork was well received by the people who asked me to do different pieces, and from there it kept progressing.” Tony has been dedicated to the arts for over five years now, and has been painting for almost three years. “My inspiration to paint came through a very dedicated and talented person by the name of Alan Padilla,” explains the humble Tony. “He actually introduced me to various artists from the industry and I just got engulfed in the whole art scene and got involved with it full time.” Tony met Alan through an airbrush artist named Guido. “After I paroled, I went to school and Guido was making a presentation to the class of his artwork. At the time, I had a portfolio with me and I showed it to him. He took a liking to my work and he invited me to his studio.” It was there at Guido’s studio that Tony met Alan and that opened up a whole new world to him.

Tony also got his first chance at tattooing in prison. “While I was incarcerated, the prison asked me to do a toe tag,” he explains. A lot of people kept trying to convince Tony to tattoo but he was reluctant to the idea. “Tattooing was more of an experiment, which I just fell in love with, and after that; I endeavored to make the best of what I started liking as a hobby. After I came out, I got a real tattoo machine and started practicing on friends of mine, and it just took off from there.” Given Tony’s deep-rooted passion for multiple forms of art, he is one of the lucky artists not to be surrounded by boundaries. He is definitely living proof that, as with all endeavors, nothing is as powerful as something that comes from the heart.