Sofia Estrella has been in the tattoo industry for over two decades. She creates amazingly detailed tattoos. She is a dedicated artist and owner of Fountain of Youth Tattoo in Florida. Sofia has traveled the world and truly values the art behind every tattoo.
Let's start out with a quick intro, tell us about yourself.
(I used to be Debora Inksmith). I changed my name because I was taught we are not defined by our names. So I came up with my name, Sofia. It just felt right. I started tattooing technically in 1981. I apprenticed with Eric Inksmith. Tattoo shops were few and far between.
What’s something you want each client to walk away with (aside from an amazing new tattoo)?
I try to give them an experience, a beautiful experience. I try to leave them with something sweet and positive with my voice and uplift them for the day so that way every time they look down at that tattoo, they can think about this. To me that’s important because that’s really what you’re leaving behind, the memory.
What's a part of tattoo history you can share with us?
There was a time when there was some kind of outbreak (not hepatitis) but something else. So people were getting scared of getting tattooed or letting tattoo shops come in, because of these outbreaks. That's when regulations started. I helped with the legislation in Jacksonville, Florida. Around 1987 they started putting cease and desist orders on the doors of tattoo shops all across Florida. Artists would try coming to work and suddenly there wouldn't be a place for them to work. Fortunately there was a woman that was an attorney, she found out this information and we formed the Tattoo Guild in Florida with her help. We were able to change the regulations in the state of Florida.
Can you tell us about any friends you've made in the tattoo industry?
I was taken to Paul Rogers's house on my first date with Eric Inksmith. Paul and I got along really well. He was one of the sweetest men I'd ever met. He was at my wedding. If I wasn't at my house I was at his house.
What’s something you're specifically proud of?
People come in now and tell me I’ve tattooed generations of families, grandmothers, granddaughters, great-grandchildren. They say, I remember Sophia - you told me the story about this or that, or You said something so sweet that day or something that made them feel better. When you hear stories like that you realize it’s about more than the tattoo, it’s what else you’ve left with them besides that tattoo.
For the full interview with the amazingly talented and always insightful, Sofia Estrella, check out our YouTube channel! We are so honored to have gotten to interview these inspiring artists for Women's History Month!