Currently, DJT is limited to one artist who can work with you to develop a new, unique and original tattoo for you. As much as you can look online for "ideas" for your tattoo, and bring pictures to your artist to say, "I want something like this," the idea is for you to work with your tattoo artist and allow that person to work their talent for you. We invite you to stop in and meet your tattoo artist.
Aleks Figueroa is the founder and owner of Dream Jungle Tattoo x Yoga. He is considered one of the pioneers in the contemporary Filipino tattoo movement. His artistry, convictions, and down-to-earth persona have allowed him to travel and tattoo in South Africa, Dubai, the Philippines, Australia, Hawaii, and across North America.
What is a Filipino tattoo?
What I do is a modern interpretation, my vision of Filipino tattooing, which is an evolved genre. I have a more open philosophy on Filipino tattoos. Although I am well-trained and studied, I really don’t claim to be “authentic” because in reality it’s impossible to replicate an undocumented art form that spans hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The meaning those tattoos had then are not the same as now. I am trying to recreate a spirit (of the many cultures, islands, and people of the Philippine Archipelago) not a form through my tattoos. As a form of both celebration and resistance, my Filipino tattoos incorporate pre-colonial indigenous images, symbols, and languages to tell a unique story for each client.
How did you get into tattooing?
I got into tattooing from a political, activist perspective. I saw indigenous tattoos, not just Filipino ones, being done poorly and merely for profit. Also, I wanted to get my own personal tattoos done by a person of color. Then eventually, I started tattooing others because I wanted to be a catalyst for Filipino tattoos. Now, I’ve been tattooing for over fifteen years and have owned Dream Jungle since 2007.
What are you inspired by?
Nature. The elements; earth, wind, fire, water. Women, or more specifically, the feminine energy and spirit inspire my art. Women have a softness and curves that men don’t have and I am inspired by those lines.
What influences your tattooing?
Japanese art. Other tattoo artists. Textiles. Photography. Architecture. Design. The ocean. The earth. The original elements. Surfing. The lines of a shark. If you think about it, nature has all the original lines and images I’ll ever need.
What is your tattoo style and aesthetic?
Organic. Holistic. Fundamental. Constantly and consciously moving forward. Aside from the obvious blackwork/tribal that I do, I am known for hybrid styles including Polypino (combining Polynesian and Filipino tattoos), Mexipino (Mexican-Filipino styles), Taino (indigenous Puerto Rican), and Filipanese (Filipino tattoos mixed with tattoos from across Asia).
What is your favorite piece?
I always say that my favorite tattoo is the last one I just did because it is the culmination of you. I’m always hoping it’s better than the last one I just did.
“What I really appreciate about Aleks is that, even though he does do the traditional Filipino design, he doesn't BS you about it being this or that. He is clear about the disconnect between the homeland and here, and that what he's creating is influenced by traditional designs, AND is also an evolution of the art as it relates to Filipinos here in the US.”