SAN ANTONIO – Minutes before midnight on a recent Wednesday night, things along Pleasanton Road were mostly quiet with the exception of a few passing cars.
Inside a nearby storefront, though, the sound of heavy metal music competed with the buzz from Jason Lozano’s tiny metal tattoo needle.
“This stuff is permanent,” he said as he inked away on a customer’s calf. “I get to give people gifts that last a lifetime.”
Lozano has given so many “gifts” like this—tattoos-- during his history as a tattoo artist that he no longer is able to count them all.
For Anne-Marie Ratcliff, the cluster of Anime characters taking shape on her lower leg represents the second major tattoo project that Lozano is completing for her.
“Everything on this arm piece has something to do with my parents. My mother passed away last January,” she said, referring to a colorful conglomeration of images extending from her shoulder to her bicep.
Lozano puts in long hours each day at Con Safos tattoo parlor.
Many times, those days extend into late into the night and beyond. He said he often works until 2 a.m.
“It's a labor of love for me. I pull, on average, 12 to 14 hour days here,” he said. “I tend to stay here a lot of time just because the pieces I do, I like to take my time with. I'm not a rushing kind of guy.”
Inking wasn’t always in his blood, though.
At one point, Lozano said, he wanted to be a comic book cartoonist.
“Honestly, I never wanted to be a tattoo artist,” he said. “I come from a family of musicians and bikers and all that stuff.”
After a stint as a musician, himself, Lozano ended up using his natural artistic skills as a professional body painter.
A friend who later opened a tattoo shop convinced him to try his hand at that.
Lozano is marking his third year at Con Safos, his fifth as a licensed tattoo artist.
While his work often has him behind the needle well into the overnight hours, Lozano said it’s unusual for him to start on a project late at night.