Local artists salvage antiques and save lives

IMG_0246Lowbrow isn’t your average tattoo parlor. Co-founders Christo Falero and Ben Carlson feature local art in their two-story shop and recycle old materials to create something new.

Re-purposed from its former service as a place for palm reading, Lowbrow brings together all types of artistic work, from paintings to leather purses and belts. You can also get a new tattoo while you relax on a couch in front of a fireplace, if you so desire.

“We’re different from the other tattoo shops around here,” Alex “Lucky” Calderon said. “We don’t have that sterile environment, we’re pretty laid back and we like to make everyone comfortable.”

Calderon is the resident tattoo artist for Lowbrow Art Productions, located on North Summerlin Avenue and East Colonial Drive in Orlando.

He’s been tattooing since 1996 and now he finally has his own shop to call home.

“I’ve had apprenticeships, but I mostly just do my own thing,” Calderon said.

At the moment he is taking customers by appointment only, while he’s looking for an artist to help with the workload. The shop opened in July and he already has his hands full with keeping up with the new business.

From the paintings featuring abstract alien art to casual wall rugs depicting Ancient Indian mythology, Lowbrow gives off a vibe of creative tranquility.IMG_0240

“I like to work with other artists,” he said. “We do a lot of collaborative work, that way everyone’s on the same page and you really get that creative energy flowing.”

There are church pews in the entryway, wooden roller chairs fetched from some garage sale or other and other miscellaneous items placed strategically about the studio which makes the entire place come together.

Falero works with leather upstairs, making belts and wallets for customers looking for authentic material to add to their collection, while his cousin, Calderon, tattoos the locals.

“Look at this piece of leather,” Falero said. “It’s not pretty. It has these lines all over it. It’s just like those children who’ve been burned. They don’t want them, so they throw them away. That’s why we need to look at the world differently.” He is a proud supporter of recognizing and helping victims who have suffered the tragedy of being caught on fire.

In addition to his need to give back to society, he also finds purpose in using authentic American-made materials to create works of art from your standard pieces of leather. His dad was the first to introduce him to the trade, but he has a knack for looking at ordinary objects in a different light.

“When I see something I can tell what are the dimensions, I know the measurements. It’s more of a natural ability,” Falero said.

The guys from Lowbrow found a leather chair on the side of the road, Tuesday, Sept. 3, and decided to strip it down. They used what material they could from it, just as the Native American Indians would in the Wild West. Nothing should go to waste, that is the creed of Carlson, Calderon and Falero.

A chair can be turned into a belt, a skate deck can go from being bland to making a statement and skin can become an artist’s masterpiece.

IMG_0230“I love watching Christo work,” Carlson said. “We really feed off each other.”

He manages the GAP foundation, where anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of Lowbrow’s profits are donated to a charity of the customer’s choice.

Carlson is currently working on designing grip tape for the Surf Expo coming this Saturday.

These artists have a strong connection to their roots, they support local art by showcasing paintings made by those with an inventive spirit. They also give back to the community in more ways than one.

He said he’d like to create a family friendly event called “Sunday Funday” where children can be rewarded for doing good deeds. “Instead of having a scavenger hunt, they can help people. There can be vendors, we can cross promote local artists or people can come and donate to a charity of their choice,” Carlson said.

The goal is to instill this message of paying it forward, using materials that already exist in the world, taking your own ideas and shaping the world around you the way it should be, for the betterment of all. To create something new, recycle old furniture or design your own tattoo, that is the purpose of Lowbrow.

If you’re interested in getting a new tattoo, purchasing a belt or purse made from rawhide leather or you want to feast your eyes on some of the latest local art, stop into Lowbrow and see the world these three guys have created for themselves. They’re open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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