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Gay in the Life: Vinny Valdez
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

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Vinny Valdez landed a tattooing apprenticeship several years ago with Jacob Kearney, who has worked in the ink industry since 2000.

"In my eyes, tattooing is the most challenging form of art, and I wanted the challenge," Valdez said.

He's progressed from apprentice to full-time tattoo artist, never affected by the fact he's deaf.

"I love it so much; [tattooing] makes me happy," Valdez said. "The best part [of the job] is the income; the worst part is dealing with obnoxious clients."

Being deaf is not an issue on the job, he said. "I just have to have patience when it comes to communicating, which normally is by paper and pen," he said. "My only challenge I have to concern about is, to make sure my clients are happy with their tattoos. To overcome that, I always do my best and beyond."

Valdez said the most memorable tattoos that he's done are on friends, which he inked while still an apprentice.

"I don't have a favorite [tattoo that I've done] in particular, but I definitely enjoy doing realistic tattoos," he said.

So, is it difficult to tattoo people who are hearing and do not know sign language?

No, he said; it's not an issue at all.

"It may be a drag on some days, but nothing to complain about," Valdez said.

Valdez has seven tattoos himself, which is relatively few compared to other artists he works alongside. "I am the most naked one in my shop," he joked. "I have plenty ideas in my mind for my next tattoos, but I'm in no rush."

The first tattoo he got was the letter "G," for his best friend, Geo—and he also got a "V" tattoo for Vinny.

"[Tattooing] seemed to be the only field I had the desire to be in and the drive to excel at," Valdez said.


Age: 27

Neighborhood: Roscoe Village

Job title: Tattoo artist at Tatu Tattoo (1754 W. North Ave.)

Hobbies: "Witnessing real-life paranormal activities."

Pets: French Bulldog named Frog, cat named Hello.

Dream concert: "Either a Spanish or Italian opera."

Favorite local restaurant: House of Sushi & Noodles.

Drink-of-choice: Southern Comfort Manhattan

Little-known fact: Only wears black t-shirts.

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