Manuela Soto Sosa uses tattoos and art to renew women’s body positivity
Prior to picking up a needle at age 18, Manuela Soto Sosa never imagined that she’d embark on a career as a tattoo artist. Today, she stands on the backend of over a decade’s worth of experience. Her tenure has seen her through world tours, the launch of a streetwear brand, studio ownership and significant self-discovery. At the center of it all lie her “Soto Girls,” the adorable and unashamed representations of body reclamation and acceptance through art.
Like many young adults whose teenage angst aligned with the 2000semo cultural boom, mixed-media artist Sosa has spent the better part of the last decade learning how to accept and connect with herself. Now a distinguished tattooist based in Los Angeles—a world away from the Switzerland home in which she once sobbed against the floor in want of a Linkin Park tramp stamp—she’s using her talents to facilitate the process for others.
Sosa’s novel brand of cathartic artistry revolves around the embodiment of individuality and self-esteem. Her famed “Soto Girls” started as self-portraits with which she reclaimed her body from the grips of trauma. It wasn’t long before she started tailoring them to her clients, though, drawing up representations that showcase their unique personalities.
body positive, often showing skin along with all the rolls and folds that come with it. Cutesy as hell while not lacking in attitude, they’re a bit of a cultural hodgepodge. That’s no accident. Sosa developed her distinctive style in an effort to explore her estranged cultural identity, all the while pulling from her grab bag of assorted influences.
Unsurprisingly, given its creator’s immense talent and hardworking predisposition, the Soto brand has taken on a life of its own. In addition to recently opening her own tattoo studio, SOFTFLEX, where she hosts classes for aspiring teenage artists, the young entrepreneur also designs streetwear for her SOTO WORLDWIDE clothing line. Among her collaborators? Billie Eilish.