A true urbanite, Suerte is known for his talent in cityscape tattoos, designing landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge, lampposts and old-school graffiti to be etched permanently in his customers’ skin.
“As things tend to gentrify and change, I try to kind of capture the stuff that I saw when I was growing up before it changes too much,” Suerte said.
Suerte attended the High School for Music and Art in Harlem, now LaGuardia High School for Music, Art and the Performing Arts, on 65th Street in Manhattan, before he attended the Rhode Island School of Design.
After college, Suerte came back to New York City and started a collective called Urban Folk Art (UFA), in which several artists got together to promote each others' work.
Suerte got the idea for the name from an art show his mentor took him to when he was still in high school.
The collective ran a screen-printing shop to support themselves, and one of the store’s clients offered a tattoo apprenticeship to Suerte.
In 2002, Suerte and his business partner Wilie Paredes opened Brooklyn Tattoo, which is now in its third location at 99 Smith Street in Cobble Hill; the UFA gallery is next door at 101 Smith Street.
The collective has roughly seven official members, but its art shows also promote unaffiliated artists. In addition to tattooing full time at his shop, Suerte sometimes submits his art for the shows, but not always, he said.
Among Suerte’s art are cartoons, comics and paintings reflecting everything from “sneakers hanging off light poles” to the view from the Brooklyn Promenade. His images can be seen hanging around Brooklyn Tattoo, giving the shop a classic urban feel.
He also illustrates for local businesses and has done work for all of the Rock Band video games, he said.
Urban images are “a constant backdrop of my life,” Suerte said. “It’s my history, it’s where I am now.”
The collective also sells a small line of t-shirts and has taught and worked on mural projects with students from local schools.
For more information, visit Brooklyntattoo.com and Urbanfolkart.com.