Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 is nationally observed as Hispanic heritage month.
It is a time for people—not just Hispanics—to enrich themselves in a diverse culture of foods, music, art, and language.
President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced Hispanic heritage month in 1968 to celebrate the independence of many Latino countries such as Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, and Honduras.
October 12th, which is also Columbus Day, is Día de la Raza.
“It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be Hispanic, because there so many different types of Latinos,” Jose Hernadez, junior economics major said. “Universally, I think celebrating Hispanic heritage month is about celebrating the mix from of our ancestors that shapes the culture.”
Through the mix of indigenous, European, and African background Hispanics have given the world contributions unique to their own culture. These contributions have allowed Hispanics to have their own set of food, style, music, and art.
In honor of Hispanic heritage month, the Department of Modern and Classical Languages sponsored a visit from Tito Zambrano, a local freelance and tattoo artist.
Zambrano visited the West Hall rotunda Wednesday presenting his works of art and giving body art tattoos.
Zambrano, a self-trained tattoo artist, is a unique addition to the Valdosta citizenry, and the art he brought to VSU’s international fair reflected it.
He was asked to “paint” some free samples onto VSU students to display and promote his art.
Zambrano currently works at Hollywood Twisted Needle, located at 618 S. Patterson St. in Valdosta.
His skill, style of painting, and not too eccentric but easy going personality makes him one of Valdosta most known and respected tattoo artists.
“I’ve got a pretty good clientele,” Zambrano said. “The biggest is from college students. But it’s also very spread out. I get a lot of different types of people.”
Zambrano has a broad scope of things he likes to tattoo.
“Realistic portraits, animals, life scenes—like, I would love to tattoo this scene,” Zambrano said, spreading his hands around the vast rotunda of West Hall.
Tattooing is also a self-assertive art to Zambrano, who insists that the gift of tattoo art is inborn and generally cannot be learned.
“I really don’t believe in tattoo school,” Zambrano said. “You got it or you don’t. I hung out with a few people who teach me things here and there, but we don’t do the same style. I discovered a few techniques, and I worked from there.”
From a zombie Ronald McDonalds to aliens and portraits, Zambrano does it all. The artist even has a mural painted in Valdosta’s El Cazador Mexican restaurant.
“Tito is awesome,” Alexis Bell, sophomore mass media and Spanish major said. “He is just this cool dude with dreads that jokes around a lot but can draw like crazy. You can tell he has real passion.”
Zambrano said, “Art can never be wrong, that’s what I love about it. I have so much respect for so many different types of art and artists.”
Zambrano loves to paint, but barely ever has the time, he said.
“I just like to draw expressions and feelings, things that come to me in dreams,” he said.
Zambrano first came to the U.S. in 2003 from Panama where he earned a bachelor’s degree in art.
In Panama, Zambrano painted for a national Panamanian museum and local places like daycares and schools.
“Being Panamanian to me means so much,” Zambrano said. “I miss it so much—from the food, the people. It’s like a completely different world.”
Zambrano has a strong Panamanian motif in his art, and he will be visiting his native country for a tattoo seminar next week.
Other ways to celebrate the different aspects of Hispanic Heritage Month include biweekly salsa night Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m at Las Banderas, located at 904 Baytree Rd.