As the cliché goes, the eyes are a window into the soul. For local Sandi Calistro, soulful big, bold eyes are what has led her trailblazing path as a Denver artist recognized for her distinctive artwork and thriving tattoo career. “There’s something so haunting and moving about a piece with the eyes as the focal point. It’s easy to feel the emotion of the piece,” she mused.
By the early days of the pandemic, Calistro’s full-time position as a tattoo artist was paused following the damper of COVID-19. Luckily, she has always had an eye for art in all mediums, particularly in painting, something she was able to channel into print and canvas as a stable gig until tattooing became safe again.
Woodland details and soft-hued color palettes give her bold pieces a whimsical, melancholic edge. Her inspirations include classic visual artists, like the Taiwanese American artist James Jean, notable for his interpretations of the divine feminine in art through explosive colors.
“He’s so versatile and wildly creative. His pieces look like an accurate depiction of an unexplainable dream,” she reflected. “Joe Sorren’s dreamy color pallets have always made me feel some kind of way. There are countless artists I follow [on Instagram] that blow my mind. And of course, my crazy talented co-workers who all have a still that is so uniquely their own. It impresses me every day.”
Born in New Britain, Connecticut, Calistro moved to Naples, Maine when she was 12, drawing her early inspirations and a growing hunch for her surreal mid-century-esque-witchy-sad-girl style at an early age. “My style started to develop when I discovered anime and artwork that particularly focused on a female figure and the eyes,” she explained. “I feel Inspired by everything in my life. I’ve kept small sketchbooks in the past to jot down any idea that might come to me throughout the day.”
At the age of 19, Calistro set out west to Colorado, where she mobilized her artistic career as a tattoo apprentice in Denver, a place she would eventually mark her territory through her hypnotizing murals planted on the corner of up-and-coming neighborhoods and a booming street art scene. Calistro has been tattooing and painting ever since. She now has a family of her own, and her roots have not so much been settled as they have been landmarked in Denver, where she’s grown a reputation as an eclectic artist with various talents.
Aside from her talents, it goes without saying that the artist has never lacked ambition. Calistro recently opened up her own tattoo shop, Tattoo Dumond in the Golden Triangle, something she has always envisioned and had a hankering for. An alumnus of Ritual Tattoo Gallery, Calistro is one of those unique individuals that follow their instinct and passion regardless of calculated outcome and risk. Something which all artistic trailblazers seem to share.