To understand the significance of the chola subculture, which inspired this collection, you have to look back at the history of the US. During the Mexican Repatriation from 1929 to 1944 people of Mexican heritage were snatched from their homes and workplaces and illegally deported. The government’s campaign against Mexican Americans continued throughout the century. During the WWll pachucas, the forebears to the cholas, started to appear on the streets of Los Angeles. They were a rebel subculture that rejected assimilation into the white, hyper-patriotic spirit of WWII. Their rejection of mainstream beauty ideals and association with a non-white underclass challenged the idea of a unified nation, which the US was desperately trying to portray during wartime.

On the streets in the 60s and 70s, the word cholos became slang for the Mexican American or Chicano gang-affiliated men. Gang members were not all men; LA has had Latina girl gangs since at least the 1930s. Cholas, like cholos, have hand gestures that represent their city, neighbourhood, family or gang. Ethnicity and family are an important part of the cholas subculture which they are proud of.

Tattoos have an important significance within gang culture of South California. The font used for many gang tattoos is called Blackletter. It communicates tradition and represents family, gang, city and neighbourhood. Many people who use blackletter for tattoos, signs and anything imaginable believe that the written message goes to a religious level and associate the message with some kind of transcendence.