Artist Spotlight: Ralph John Celiz

“My body is my journal, and my tattoos are my story.” 
― Johnny Depp


Tattoos have different meanings in someone’s life. It’s a story. An excerpt from one’s experiences. An interesting past.

I got the chance to talk to one of the most talented tattoo artists I know and a very good friend of mine who is also my Tattoo Artist. Ralph.

Ralph John Celiz is the owner of “Stars and Scars Tattoo” located in Iloilo City, Philippines. My hometown.


So, how is it like to be a Tattoo Artist?

  1. When/How did you decide that you wanted to be tattoo artist?

“The idea sparked in my head when I was jobless around 2010. I was a henna tattoo artist before until one of my friends want to get a permanent tattoo from me. By making a homemade tattoo machine I started tattooing people from our neighborhood 2-3 times per week. A year later until I got my first apprenticeship on a legit tattoo shop here in Iloilo City.”


  1. What is your inspiration?

“Customer satisfaction. In my early years in the tattoo industry, I am really inspired by some local and international artist that blew my mind away by their works, until now I am still amazed by their work. But I discover that my client’s satisfaction is the most important. I am inspired of working everyday no matter how hard or easy the task is as long as they are satisfied.”


  1. What is the feeling of giving people tattoos?

“Overwhelmed for people trusting me to get their skin inked. Happy until the client can’t take it anymore. Concerned if the client cries for help.”


  1. Have you ever made a mistake?

“YES. But we can deal with it without the client knowing it. Usually some lines that went astray but never on a spelling mistake.”


  1. What is the best tattoo you’ve ever given?

“There is no particular tattoo that I can call my best work.. I think every one of them is special in their own ways.”


  1. Do you have your own style when it comes to giving people their tattoos?

“I don’t have my own style or specialty. Since I am the only artist in the shop, I can deal with any design from lineworks , blacknGrey, Colored, Realism, Portraits, oriental, all day everyday.”

  1. Why dont you have a tattoo? Is it necessary for tattoo artists to also have tattoos?

“It’s not the right time and I really don’t know when is the right time. It is not necessary to have one. Does a brain surgeon need to undergo a brain surgery before he can call himself a surgeon? Tattooing is a craft. Doesn’t have to have one to make one. Besides, most tattoo artists got their tattoos from other artists. If they say it is necessary for advertisements then they are advertising other people and not themselves.”


  1. What is a tattoo for you?

“Tattoo is a symbol, A reminder of what you are, what are your likes, your success and failures. Sometimes it’s a cover up for scars that reminds you of your dark past or just your stupid clumsiness. Tattoos don’t always have to mean a thing. Sometimes it is just a skin decoration to make people look good and feel better about themselves.”


Wanna get tatted by Ralph? Like and message him on Facebook for more details.

(Photos: Ralph John Celiz)