Mena Suvari & Boyfriend Sal Sanchez Talk Tattoo Trends with FTD

The tattoo trend isn’t exactly new, we know.  Look: We hardly know a girl who didn’t get some sort of ink in her college days to mark her independence — a  heart on the wrist, a dolphin on the ankle. But that all seems so insignificant when we look around now and see how the love affair with body art is not only more popular than ever, but the trend toward bigger, flashier tattoos — and multiples, to boot — is growing growing faster than you can say “Kat Von D.” Which, of course, brings us to Hollywood, that Petri Dish of trends that colonizes, multiplies and trickles down to the mainstream.


We’ve got Rihanna, who has gradually covered herself in interesting ink, from a line of curling script on her neck, to an ornate under-boob design to her whole hand tatted up Indian henna style. Angelina Jolie made tattoos paired with Oscar gowns utterly chic. Victoria Beckham has them down the length of her spine. Miley Cyrus has an emoji inside her mouth and just got a new one in honor of her late dog, Floyd. But she’s not the first: Jennifer Aniston has her dog’s name (Norman) permanently inked on her foot. And among Nicole Richie ‘s many tattoos are a pair of wings on her back.

Mena Suvari and tattoo artistSal Sanchez

Mena Suvari and Sal Sanchez

So, while we’re a little self-conscious about hopping on the tattoo trend bandwagon, we also kind of really love them. And, we’re thinking that a carefully chosen beautifully done piece can’t be a mistake. (Unless, that is, it’s the name of your most recent crush. More on that later.) And where better to get advice about the trend than here in L.A., where we met up with Mena Suvari and her boyfriend Salvador ‘Sal’ Sanchez – a tattoo artist at Kat Von D’s High Voltage Tattoo – at the opening party for Annenberg’s Country Music photographic exhibit. We got their extremely helpful take on choosing and getting a tattoo, who gets turned away and some of the biggest ink no-nos.

(And for the record, Mena has some impressive and intricate tattoos under those gorgeous clothes.)

Fashion Trends Daily: How do you know when a tattoo is a good idea?

Mena Suvari: To me tattoos can be the expression of your soul that you wear on your exterior. It’s a really personal thing. I’ve met people who just say, ‘Oh I thought it was cool and I got it’, so to each his own, but for me they are very personal. That happened for me and I experienced that at a point in my life. I wouldn’t just get a tattoo to get it.

Sal Sanchez: I always say to people: If you have an idea for a tattoo you should definitely sleep on it for more than a month. Really think about it and think about the placement and what it means, why you’re getting it.

FTD: How did you first decide to get a tattoo?

Mena: I never thought I would ever get one. I was never into them; I never thought, ‘oh I want a tattoo’. When I was younger I had a few piercings in my ear and I thought that was neat. Then one day I knew exactly what tattoo I wanted.

FTD: When did you get your first tattoo?

Mena: I was 28. The first one was the lion on the back of my neck, then I kind of added around it and then I got another one on my chest. It all happened around the same time, so the lion was around 2007, then I got the other ones in 2008.

Mena Suvari Tattoos

Mena Suvari

Sal: I was 18. My first one was I think the grim reaper on my arm.

FTD: But what about work? Will having tattoos cause us problems professionally?

Sal: If an 18 year-old kid comes in wanting a tattoo on his face or the lower part of his arm or on his hand, or just somewhere really visible, I’ll turn them down just because I believe a lot of kids nowadays see stars like Justin Bieber or whoever getting tattoos on their body that are very visible and they’re not thinking about their lives and their careers and decisions. Even though people are a lot more accepting of tattoos in this day and age, some people still look at you and judge you for having tattoos. It still has a little bit of stigma to it.

Mena: Before I got mine I remember asking my agent, ‘Can I get a tattoo?’ They said, ‘Sure! You’ll just have to spend more time in the make-up chair’. What’s so funny about that is I thought, ‘Oh my god, is this going to be an issue?’ Then every project that I’ve worked on, they actually want to incorporate it into the character and I end up actually fighting them, saying, ‘No! She wouldn’t have a tattoo!’

FTD: Mena, would you ever get more tattoos?

Mena: If it were something that really came to me and I really felt that desire then I don’t know, maybe, but I take them very seriously.

FTD: Is it wrong to get a tattoo because it’s trendy?

Mena: It depends on the person, why they’re interested in it and where they’re at. That’s their own journey. Sal is so awesome because I’ve seen him modify a person’s idea for a tattoo or even advise them not to do it. People will come in and they’ll want to get drunk or high and get it and he’s always trying to encourage them to have a positive experience with it and really think about what they’re getting. There are a lot of artists who are like, ‘oh sure whatever you want’ and they don’t take into consideration who this person is or what they’re getting and where they’re getting it.

Sal: We know when people come in to get tattoos because of celebrities. They’ll come in with a picture of that celebrity and want that exact tattoo, so a lot of times we have to educate people and let them know it’s great to be inspired by somebody else, but we can draw something that’s custom-made for you.

FTD: Sal, are women getting more unusual placement of tattoos now, with the trend for hand and ear tattoos? What do you think of those?

Sal: Those kind of tattoos I don’t mind doing if it’s very elegant, very delicate. I always keep that in mind when I’m asked to do a tattoo for a woman – I like to make it as fine-line and elegant and simple as possible.

FTD: How do we choose where to go for our tattoo?

Sal: You always want to do your research on the artist. People tend to want the most expensive handbag, the fanciest phone, the best computer, but when it comes to getting something that’s permanent on their body they tend to say, ‘Oh well I could get it at this shop for $20 or $30 cheaper’. They’re trying to get a discount on art that is going on their body permanently, but they should really do their research. You should know the difference between a good tattoo and a really bad tattoo. I see that with Mena all the time, when she’s looking for a bag or shoes for summer, she really digs in, does her homework and she’s very passionate about her style. It’s really nice to see that. It’s worth it to give it more than a few minutes of your time.

FTD: The worst tattoo mistake people make?

Sal: I’ve definitely seen some mistakes. The idea of getting someone else’s name tattooed on you…it can be tricky. Many times people come in wanting to cover up the name of someone they were dating. It’s a problem.

FTD: One we promise not to make!

For more information, or if you’re ready to take the plunge, you can find Sal at High Voltage Tattoo, 1259 N La Brea Ave, West Hollywood. Follow his advice and do your research at and


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,