Tattoos of Albuquerque Academy

A Pearl in the Dining Hall

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Courtesy of Pearl Roblado

Ms. Pearl Roblado, a valued member of the Sage Dining Hall Staff at the Academy, encodes many experiences, stories, and loved ones in her different tattoos. Pearl got her very first tattoo by Manuel Vega at Custom Tattoo Company here in Albuquerque when she was eighteen. The two pink and purple flowers on her right knee signify her relationship with her best friend at the time who went on to be the Godmother of Pearl’s first child. Although Pearl had always wanted tattoos when she was growing up, this first tattoo started her love for getting art on her body. “I got more tattoos as I got older, and then I completely lost track.”

Analise granados ’21

One tattoo story that sticks out for Pearl is a cover-up on her right arm that she had to get after one of her tattoos became infected and took several months to heal. “I suggest that you do your research on who does your tattoo, proper care, proper aftercare…it’s so important.” A crow covers up the tattoo and scar from the experience that Pearl emphasized was “a really important lesson on safety for me.” This dark black crow also lies next to her children’s initials and birthdates with roses on her right arm. “My youngest son is a scorpio, so I got this cutie-pie for him, and then my eldest is an aquarius, so I have a little shark for him.”

Analise Granados ’21

Pearl’s absolute favorite tattoo is a pin up girl on her left arm that was done at Old School Ink in Brownsville, Texas. The pin up girl was made popular in the 1940’s when sailors got this tattoo as inspiration for the spouses they were fighting for back home. Now, the pin up girls are a symbol of femininity and beauty, and Pearl plans to get many more. When I asked her if there were any tattoos she’s always dreamed of getting, she mentioned the Mexican pin-up and the “Resplendent Quetzal”, a bright green-feathered bird of Mexico. Although the pin up girl is Pearl’s favorite tattoo, she says the most meaningful is the tattoo she got for her mother after she passed away when Pearl was fifteen. “She passed away when I was really young, and I didn’t really have anything to signify that I missed her, and I always liked the tattoos that said ‘mom’ in those letters, so I was like, I’m gonna get something like that for her.” The “mom” tattoo inked by Greg King is one of the many tattoos Pearl has for a late family member. A paw print on her left hand is dedicated to her Uncle who passed away suddenly and represents all of the love and support he gave her in his lifetime. “He was like my big brother … it was really devastating when he left, so I got this for him because he loved

Analise Granados ’21

wolves.” Pearl’s tattoos serve as reminders of family members and also important times in her life she carries with her. “The dead tree on my right forearm has the meaning of coming back to life and change. At one point in my life, I wasn’t in a good place, and I felt like that. It kind of just reminds me of where I don’t want to go back to.”

These are only a few of Pearl’s many tattoos, and an important aspect for Pearl is supporting women through the business. “I would really like to get tattooed by as many women as possible, just because it’s not common. Plus a lot of men use the platform to be gross. It’s important for me to support the women that know they can do this in a man’s world. I have heard so many stories of men being gross and using their positions inappropriately, and I don’t want to put myself in that position. So, I have both of those reasons.” When asked if there was anything else Pearl wanted to share about her tattoos or tattoo experiences, Pearl just wanted to encourage people and young adults in particular to “just be extremely cautious, as this is forever art.”