By Emika Berry
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Videographer / director: Manuel Hernández Stumpfhauser
Producer: Emika Berry, Ruby Coote
Editor: Shiona Penrake
The 22-year-old, more commonly known as 'Tobi', from Querétaro, Mexico said he would describe it as the “look of happiness”.
Among his tattoos and piercings, Tobi has a forked tongue, horn, scarifications, transdermal implants, ear pointing and ear expansions.
Although he does not keep track of exactly how much, he said he has spent between approximately 20,000 and 25,000 Mexican peso on his modifications.
Tobi got his first piercing at the age of 12 and his first tattoo at the age of 15 and now feels he is on track to achieve his dream look.
He said: “I feel happy because the kid I used to be can look into a mirror nowadays and can say: we made it.
“I always refer to two persons when I'm talking about myself. There's Carlos, that's my real name, and there's Tobi. Tobi is a product of a dream.
“A product of a thousand of things that we both were wishing for and Tobi was merging together with Carlos until we reached what we are at the moment.”
But Tobi is not done yet and wants to tattoo his upper body entirely in black ink like ‘armour’.
He said: “To feel good, I mean really complete, let's say now I'm at 80% and with what I'm gonna get I'll reach 100%.
“There's only the next horn missing, I want one in the middle, then some implants in the arms, then finishing my black piece and that's it. I'm not planning to do anything else.”
The tattoo artist and piercer said that the only modification that caused him any concern was getting his eyes tattooed.
He said: “Because at the end you need them to live. I mean, I use them for my work, if I don’t have them, how could I work?”.
Tobi’s aspiration to be a tattoo artist came from magazines.
He continued: "I became a tattoo artist primarily because my dad brought me some magazines from the USA, where I saw the original tattoo art - the traditional ones, the old-school, the sailors ones, even the very antique ones.
“From that point I've started to realise that people can modify their bodies. I started to look for more and more until I found out that tattoo studios exist.
“I started to tattoo myself and thus I was learning more. This is how I entered the scene. That's the reason why I became a tattoo artist, to be able to be in a tattoo studio.”
Tobi now works at a tattoo studio in Querétaro and hopes to help change people’s views of those with extreme looks.
He said: “I'd like to change the people's perception in terms of that this doesn't make you neither better nor worse. People just want to see themselves the way they feel comfortable.
“I believe that we, the people who are making some kind of modifications to their bodies, can give the message to the others: if you want something, fight for it!”
Tobi has experienced a lot of judgement about his appearance.
He said: “When I started having tattoos on my face and in my eyes, I used to work in a studio here in Querétaro in the downtown, so I'd walk out to buy things.
“I'd walk on the street and the people's gaze back then, the majority was fearful, as if they were asking: 'Why does he look like this?', 'Why doesn't he have eyes?', this is what people would ask me.
“The judgment I received four years ago was much bigger than one I receive nowadays.
“Nowadays people don't get stuck on me that much, I believe it rather fascinates them and gives them curiosity to ask about all of this than to judge or fear you.”
He added: “I believe that your individual happiness has a bigger value than a judgement of thousands of other people.”
Tobi’s mum, Adelita, 50, also had to learn to accept Tobi’s transformation.
Adelita, a laundry business owner said: “When I saw his first tattoo at the age of 15, I thought he had become a criminal, that he was part of a gang or something similar.
“As he got more and more modifications, I thought I was losing my son.
“I would ask him why, why are you doing this? Why? He’d answer: 'It's because this is what I like, I like tattoos, piercings, I like all that'.
“As a mum, I was very scared.”
However, Adelita has now changed her opinion about Tobi’s look. She said: “I have learned to look at him better, and I now accept it, and feel happy for him, because I know it’s what he wants.
“And I also see he’s making a living out of this. He’s doing well.”
Tobi is very happy with his mum’s views and even did a tattoo on her arm. He said: “In my opinion, my mum’s new approach to this world I live in is a great step for both of us, to get to know each other better.
“I’m really happy that she accepted to get tattooed, to open her mind, which I think is the most important.
“She took a first step; I think there could be more. I’d even bet she would get another tattoo!”
Tobi specialises in the hand poke technique as a tattoo artist. He said: “It is a very old artisan tattoo technique.
“This is how initially tattoos were made. It consists in using the needle and hand power, subtly so as not to hurt the skin.
“Hand poking started to call my attention, because I feel it’s more personal. It brings you closer to your customers. It makes you work harder.”
Tobi hopes that through his appearance and work, he can encourage others to pursue their dream look. He said: “I think I do get to inspire other people with my look, mostly thanks to how self-confident I feel with my look and myself.
“And in my opinion, that is super important, mostly, because there are many people that don’t dare to do many things, but once they meet someone that can boost them a little.”
Tobi says he now feels complete. He added: “Obviously, I think I am still missing some things to feel completely as I pictured myself when I started this modification years ago.
“But currently I feel quite satisfied with my look, I feel happy and complete.
“I can’t express how happy I feel for having persisted through the years no matter what, to become what I am now.
“I feel like, if I made it up to here, I can do much more and not only through the modifications, but with my talent, with everything.”