Puerto Rican Women Killing It In The Independent Art Scene: Zuhemy "Zuh" Cordero



With the internet being so easy to access, it has become easier for independent artists to find an audience and let their work be known. As a result, a variety of movements, collectives, and scenes have found a way to pave their path. The independent art scene in Puerto Rico is no different. Recently, many artists from a variety of disciplines have found platforms that have made it easier for them to share their work. In addition, small businesses such as Electroshock in Santurce and Rio Piedras, bars like Off The Wall in Mayaguez, and libraries like La Casita Books and Gifts in Aguadilla have provided up-and-coming artists a space to display their talents. “Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene” is a series of  interviews that provides a glimpse at some of the women who have recently gained recognition in the art scene. Though the artists are asked similar questions, some are asked queries surrounding their work, specifically.

Zuhemy “Zuh” Cordero is a multidisciplinary artist, focused in the art of tattooing, fine arts, and performance (something she always had an attraction for as a form of personal and social liberation).

What got you into the visual arts and tattoos?

Art was always a topic of interest for me since childhood; as a kid I used to draw a lot.  As for tattoos, I used to collect 50 cent machine tattoos and use them for special occasions, but my practice started two years before I graduated from Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico in 2017 where I completed my BFA in graphic designs. Right after graduation, I formally started my tattoo apprenticeship with artist Saree Gonzalez, founder and owner of Omphvlos Tattoo Studio, where I currently work as a tattoo artist in Puerto Rico.  

What got you into performing?

In early 2017, I started exploring with the art of pole dance. It has been a journey of self liberation and body exploration; self-acceptance and love. I continue to learn and expose myself to the public every now and then in the act of performance through my participation in the collaborative project Femtrap with Sofia Maldonado, which was my first true performance after being a go-go dancer. It has opened new doors and new ways of being able to move around an audience that doesn't know what to expect. It’s just another way of seeking knowledge, growth and self-fulfillment.

How do you balance all art forms?

Balancing my art forms is necessary for me because it keeps me going. I love tattooing, but I also have the need to move my body around, so I always make time. I tattoo from Tuesdays to Saturdays, so I try to make my pole class be part of my week. I also do special go-go-dancing performance events once in a while to break the routine and keep the practice. I have left the painting apart just for a while, but it will come again at the right moment.

How did you develop your style?

My style in tattooing has developed through the love for the line inspired by Wassily Kandisnky; the “line” being a very important element on every representation, due to its various forms of use. It could be used as sentimentalist, figurative, surrealist, geometric, etc. The line forms up everything that makes and surrounds us. These three years I’ve been dedicating my work to fine line and details.

How has it evolved through the years?

It has evolved through practice and the fixation for detail. I've always been into clean linework and blackwork art, but lately I’ve been into micro-realism. It’s a new challenge for me; dealing with different shades and more patience due to its slow process to achieve the final product.

What are some of your influences and inspirations?

Influences and inspirations in the tattoo industry would be Oscar Akermo, Nathan Kostechko, Sara Rosa and Andrea Morales up till now. In the performing arts, Marlo Fisken, Jordan Kensley, Olga Koda, Doris Arnold and Cervena Fox.

Is there any other form of art you wish to pursue? If so, what field and why?

Music would be another art form I wish to pursue; creating beats, singing or both. Maybe in the future it could be an option, but up till now I'm focused in tattooing and performing.

What do you think about the current state of the arts in Puerto Rico?

The current state of the arts in Puerto Rico is brilliant, but outdated compared to other countries. We still need more artists to educate and open our peoples mind;  to grow better artists.

What do you think about the current state of the independent scene in Puerto Rico?

The independent scene in Puerto Rico is very talented. There’s a lot of potential and special events for the same purpose, but hasn't yet been put in the eyes of the general public in Puerto Rico.  

If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to be an artist, what would be your advice for her?

If you love art and have the passion for it, do it. No one will do it for you. This might sound cheesy, but just believe in yourself and truly work for your dreams.   

What is your biggest goal right now?

My biggest goal right now would be to refine my tattooing skills; I still have a lot more to learn, but working on it. I wish to create themed performances and being able to mix it as an art projection of a tattooed model/performance in the tattooing industry. Finally, but most important, to be self-fulfilled.

What do you seek to achieve with work?

I seek the learning experience, and to enjoy every minute of it.

All of the pictures in this article were provided by Zuhemy “Zuh” Cordero.