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The Daily Wildcat

97° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Get inked on Stone

    Diamond in the Rough owners Eric 2 Smooth Soto, left, and Tony Nono Soto.
    Diamond in the Rough owners Eric “”2 Smooth”” Soto, left, and Tony “”Nono”” Soto””.

    If you’ve ever paid much attention while driving along Stone Avenue past 6th Street, you might have noticed a tattoo parlor with murals crawling across the entire north exterior wall. The most memorable mural was emblazoned with freakish, angular clowns demonically smiling over the passed-out body of an entirely nude and nippleless Latino girl.

    If you assumed that building may become one of the many other desolate storefronts peppering Tucson streets, you might be surprised to discover it was recently taken over by brothers Tony and Eric Soto.

    Both Tucson locals – as Tony sports proudly with a La Tusa tattoo on his forearm – are bringing fresh style and a business in high demand to the faltering downtown. Eric quoted a year-old article in the Arizona Daily Star explaining that nearly half of 18- to 29-year-olds are either pierced or tattooed. The article, which he has on hand, attributes those statistics to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

    “”The market is white-hot now,”” Eric said.

    The brothers owe their beginnings to a family tragedy. Their cousin Anthony “”Indio”” Soto was an enthusiastic artist who was interested in the art of inking folk from a very young age. Anthony’s mother bought him a tattooing machine when he was 13. He began mastering his heavily cultural, Aztec style.

    Unfortunately, Anthony was at the wrong place at the wrong time and was murdered when he was 30. This led to Eric and Tony opening their shop, Diamond in the Rough, as homage to him.

    “”(Anthony) is the reason why we buckled down and got serious on this,”” Eric said.

    Eric, known in the circuit and by patrons as “”2 Smooth,”” is a master tattoo artist in all seven styles of tattooing. Although the shop gives great deals on memorial tattoos, considering that the shop is one enormous memorial, Soto wants to be more geared toward hip-hop or new school tattooing. Just recently a local rap group, the Tucson All-Stars, was signed to a major record label and chose to be inked by 2 Smooth.

    The other half of the duo, Tony “”Nono”” Soto, is a professional barber who had Eric teach him how to pierce after their cousin died.

    The brothers are artists who use the body as a canvas for piercings and tattoos, conveniently under one roof.

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