Alicia Cardenas is a true Denver Native—a proud Indigenous artist born and raised in the city, who’s been working in the Denver body modification industry for nearly her entire life. She began working and apprenticing at Bound By Design in 1994 at the age of 16 and began piercing there professionally a year later. In 1997, she opened her first shop, Twisted Sol—Denver’s first custom tattoo and professional body piercing studio—alongside Mike Nickels (now owner of White Lotus Tattoo). She began her journey as a tattooer—in addition to her already extensive knowledge of body modification—in 2008, and in 2009, after twelve glorious years at Twisted Sol’s Cap Hill location, she and longtime shop manager Kevin Strawbridge moved down to Broadway to open Sol Tribe.
Alicia is also a mural artist and cultural anthropologist who studies and collects a wide variety of cultural artifacts. When she’s not tattooing, scarring, branding, suspending, etc., she is often found painting ancient-inspired geometric murals around the city, lecturing about her cultural studies, or teaching classes on safety in the body art industry. She has been an instructor for the National Safety Council for twenty years, teaching classes on blood borne pathogens since 1999. One of her proudest achievements has been serving on the board of directors for the Association of Professional Piercers, of which she has been a professional member since 1999. She’s as passionate a community advocate as she is an artist, and loves volunteering and contributing back to her community. She is very passionate about bringing ancient ritual and blood rites into the modern era and is on a lifetime journey to educate everyone she can about them, as well as facilitate their practice. Alicia has deeply enjoyed her body modification journey with all its ups and downs, and continues to evolve daily in her love for the art and industry.