SANTA FE (KRQE) – Hate, oppression, Nazis; they’re all things that may come to mind when someone sees a swastika. And since a New Mexico tattoo artist decided to incorporate the symbol in his art and in his shop, he’s raised a lot of eyebrows, and questions.
Some worry the symbol could send the wrong message. The artist, Guido Baldini, insists his use of the swastika is not meant to offend anyone.
With needle in hand, and the soothing sounds of oldies playing in the background, for Santa Fe tattoo artist Guido Baldini, the body is a canvas.
“Symbology is very important in tattooing,” Baldini explained. “I believe that every person should celebrate on their skin with symbols.”
The symbols around his shop, the Lost Cowboy Tattoo, includes artwork with swastikas, and jewelry with the symbols. For some, it can be taken as offensive.
Baldini said he gets lots of questions.
“‘Why do you have this symbol in your shop?’ That’s the question,” Baldini said.
But Baldini, originally from Italy, told KRQE News 13 his answer has nothing to do with Nazi Germany, or Adolf Hitler.
“It’s an auspicious symbol, it’s a good luck symbol,” Baldini explained.
Since he moved to New Mexico, Baldini found the symbol has history with Native American culture. Through his artwork, he wants to revisit the positive meaning of the symbol.
“In the southwest of the United States it’s a Native American symbol and it’s not called swastika, it’s called weaving log or whirling log,” said Baldini.
But not everyone knows what he’s about. A viewer wrote KRQE News 13 and said Baldini’s work is “very bad for young ones in our community.” The viewer took offense that Baldini had incorporated the swastika with the state Zia symbol.
“It’s a good luck symbol, an auspicious symbol,” said Baldini. “Why not use it?”
Baldini shows curious clients books about the pre-World War II swastika, and its positive meanings in different cultures throughout history. He said his tattoos are his way of embracing New Mexico’s heritage.
“I got very intrigued and it appeared to me in a lot of places, and I got fascinated,” Baldini said.
Javier Arellano, one of Baldini’s clients, said he too asked about the swastika in the shop. He said Baldini showed him history books and talked about the symbol’s origins before World War II.
“People like Guido bring it back and actually try to bring back the positive connotations,” said Arellano. “It’s great, it’s history.”
Arellano said he would be offended if he thought the symbol was being used negatively. But, he encourages people to simply ask Baldini about it.
“They should come in and ask about it because history does change the way people look at things,” said Arellano.
Showing meaningful symbols through his artwork is exactly what Baldini said he’s about.
A lot of the jewelry in Baldini’s shop is made from other local artists. Baldini said if people look closely, they’ll see the swastika is still used in a lot of art work.
The tattoo artist said he’s always happy to answer questions. He said he has given people tattoos of the swastika symbol, but that it’s never been about hate.
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