Tagged: tattoo

Interview with Alexis Hepburn

Tattoo artist Alexis Hepburn, 22, works out of Gold Coast Tattoos in Queensland Australia, where she creates beautifully dark and traditional tattoos. We chatted to Alexis about her dark style, inspirations and tattoo collection… 

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How long have you been tattooing? I started tattooing a little over two years ago.

How did you get started? Listening to heavy music in my teens, I guess I always had the influence around me and from the people I looked up to. I begun to draw traditional tattoo flash when I was 16 and would ritually draw everyday. My best friend in those years was working as a shop hand for Jed Hill in Ballarat. A couple of years down the line I took a trip to Ballarat to catch up with Jed and get a tattoo.. However he put a turn on things and threw me straight in the deep end. “You’re not going to get a tattoo today, you’re going to do your first one” he said, and the crazy ride of learning to tattoo started from that moment.

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Do you have a background in art?  I never formally studied art in university or anything, however my family has always been very artistic and encouraging of my practice. I grew up watching both my mother and father paint leisurely, and both my grandparents on my mother’s side were artists also. I grew up going to their exhibitions to see their abstract oil paintings and textile hangings every few months or so. Norman, my grandfather, was also the Dean of Arts at the Victorian College of Arts.

How would you describe your style? It’s difficult to pin point it in a word, so to put it plainly I guess I utilise the structure of a traditional tattoo. The subject matter isn’t strictly traditional however, you could say it has a grim or folky spin to it.

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What inspires you? As much as I am constantly overwhelmed by work from other tattooers, I generally take more inspiration from outside the immediate tattoo world. I love looking at old illustrations in books or on post cards. I love old wood carvings, vintage erotic art, browsing antique and vintage stores, and all things strange. If I’m painting leisurely or at my own accord I often find myself taking inspiration from the music I’m listening to, translating the lyrics into a visual. That’s my favourite way to paint.

What do you like to draw and tattoo? More than often I’ll find myself drawing girls, and I love doing anything with flowers, moons, cats and skulls. Anything dark and kinda spooky is always enjoyable.

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Is there anything you wouldn’t tattoo? I’m sure there would be more if I thought about it deep enough, however I would never tattoo anything discriminatory. No tolerance for racism or sexism. That and I will probably never be willing to attempt a photorealistic portrait!

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? All of the tattoos I have on my body are in black and grey, there isn’t a single drop of colour. Up until I started tattooing all of the tattoos I had were on my legs and torso, and although I have built up a collection on my arms now I’m hesitant to ever go past the wrist or collar line. Some of my favourite tattoos I have are by Luke Braniff, Octoriver Daniel, Heather Bailey, and Drake Sheehan. Although one of my favourite experiences getting a tattoo was getting tattooed by Bev Robinson (aka Cindy Ray)! I feel very fortunate to have met such an inspirational lady.

Interview with Miss Juliet

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to Miss Juliet a tattoo artist working at South Ink Tattoo shop in Naples, about her easily recognisable and unique style as well as her new art project Overlap alongside Fabio Gargiulo… 


Tell us about your artistic career, from the beginning until now? Did you always know that you would be a tattoo artist? I have alway been passionate about tattoos, I started as a customer and, after finishing my studies at Academy of Brera, I began to work as shop manager at Don’t Tell Mama, my best friend’s tattoo shop.


How would you describe your passion for tattoos? To me it’s not just a job: it’s my life, my everything! Since I can remember, I’ve always been drawing a lot, everyday and all the time. It’s part of me. Tattooing gives me the opportunity to improve. I love every aspect of the process, from the first design to the execution of the tattoo.

Detailed lines are a regular feature of your tattoos, and with each design they are becoming more recognisable, how did you find your style?  I have always worked a lot with lines, even before tattoos. I think it was a mixture of natural evolution and constant research, then I slowly began to understand what worked and what did not.

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I noticed you tattoo a lot of animals. Do you have a particular preference for these subjects? I have always had a passion for taxidermy and entomology, I started drawing my collection of moths, investigating  illustrative works. From there on I’ve always wanted to do more. Mammals, insects and every other living creature!

I find that many artists focus on their most successful works and then they artistically get stuck. I have noticed your will to experiment with your style and technique, how do you keep up your momentum? I am a very curious and a hyperactive person, I research and I experience all the time, both with design and tattoo. I think it’s a side of my character that is unconditionally reflected in my art. I love to collaborate with artists that inspire me every day, I like to go to as many shows and events parallel to the tattoo world as possible. I believe has a huge affect on my path, because I like to look around, outside of a single creative sphere.


Tell me about the heart with crystals that you tend to tattoo, how was this idea born? This idea came up thanks to one of my clients, four years ago. I was requested to do an anatomical heart inside an ice cube, but it would have never worked as a tattoo. After having confronted him, I proposed an alternative, and from there it came the idea to crystallize and adorn with jewels both objects and body parts.

You are of both Chinese and Italian descent, in your work we can see both your western and oriental side. A dualism that, in my opinion, characterises the uniqueness of your style. Do you agree? Yeah, the dualism has accompanied me throughout life, both in lifestyle and in artistic aspects. I love to contaminate my work with oriental details,


Who have you been tattooed by and which are your favourite tattoos? I am particularly fond of my sleeves: the right one is by Lars Uwe, who taught me so much about neo traditional style. And the left is by Fabio Gargiulo, with whom I’m working at SouthInk in Naples. He is teaching me so much about tattoo technique and style!

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What are your future plans? Any guest spot and conventions? I always join a lot of tattoo conventions! I will continue to do guest spots at Family Business in London, but I will also be guesting in other Italian tattoo shops.
I’m also supporting Overlap project, with Fabio Gargiulo. We invite artists from all over the world. This project aims to bring together different tattoo artists and styles in a single artwork. They draw on a life size human body silhouette that is at first split in to arms, legs and torso, and then finally recomposed together, giving birth to a single masterpiece: it’s OVERLAP. The 7th session will be held on 27th, 28th and 29th November, during Naples Convention. Fifty international artists will be involved. So excited!

Tattoo Experience: You talkin’ to me?

In this post Anna Casey-Woodward a 24-year-old legal trainee from Oxford who spends the majority of her time knitting, baking and getting tattooed. She talks about her different experiences with getting getting tattooed by different artists… 

For me, a large part of getting a new tattoo is meeting the artist and watching the illustration turn into a piece of beautiful body art. And for the most part, this has been my experience. However, there has been one occasion when poor communication with my tattooist almost led me to the dreaded tattoo regret…


Good communication with your tattooist stretches from your first email right until you are talking about aftercare. When I commissioned my tattoo, it was by an artist who I had Instagram-stalked for a long time and was in love with their style. I emailed them with a clear idea of what I wanted, where I wanted it and what my budget was. I was very detailed in my proposal and I hope the tattooist appreciated having such clear instructions. There was artistic licence and of course I wanted it in their style, but we both knew what the finished product was.

The deposit was paid, the appointment booked and the day soon came around. On the morning of the tattoo, I saw the sketch and was in love. I got to the studio and we worked around positioning the tattoo where I wanted it. Because of my career, I have to be careful that my tattoos are easily hidden and my tattooist was more than understanding about this and we got the position absolutely perfect. Then it was time to get the ink flowing! This was not going be a short tattoo, and at the time I was reasonably new to it, so I was a little nervous about managing to sit for so long. I don’t sit like a rock, as much as I want to, but was reassured by my tattooist that when it got too much we could take a little break or have some of that hallowed bactine! As a result, several hours later I had a beautiful tattoo which I adore.


Now to my less positive experience. This was a more impulsive tattoo, I was away on my honeymoon, but I still told the studio what I wanted and the tattoo was some four days later. It was something I had been thinking about getting for quite a while and I had a Pinterest board full of ideas. I had been assigned an artist who was guesting from over 4500 miles away, and I was really keen on the idea of getting art done by someone who I would probably never get the chance to see again.

I got to the studio, and had to wait a good half and hour before the artist was ready for me. During that time, I did a brief sketch of  what I wanted (as I liked parts of several different illustrations I had found and wanted to put them all together) and collected my thoughts. When the tattooist was then free, I talked to them about that I had drawn and showed them my inspiration (I really am a terrible artist!). We had a quick discussion about bits of my idea that would not work as a tattoo and ways they could be substituted. The artist then disappeared for another forty five minutes and eventually reappeared with a sketch. They showed me the sketch and… well… I wasn’t sure.

It was obvious in that moment that the tattooist and I hadn’t been on the same page when we started. I went ahead despite my reservations, and the first part was soon done. We then started to talk about colours, and the situation didn’t really improve. I had ideas, they had ideas, and they didn’t match. I didn’t feel that comfortable talking to the tattooist as I felt they weren’t really listening. The tattoo went ahead as they had suggested and about half an hour later it was finished.  Throughout the tattoo, the studio was playing floor-thumpingly loud music. As a result, there was not much of a chance to talk to the artist and I didn’t have a chance to say when the pain was too much. It hurt, and my leg bled. None of my other tattoos had ever bled outside of the studio, and this one bled all night. Did I go back to talk about after care and what to do? No, because I didn’t feel comfortable enough to go back.


However, there is a happy ending. The tattoo healed well and the next tattoo I had framed it really well. I was saved from that gut-wrenching feeling that a tattoo wasn’t quite what I had wanted, and I wasn’t sure if I really wanted it. My next tattoo is just under a month away, and I will be chatting my way to another wonderful piece of body art.

Have you had the same experiences as Anna? Has how an artist talks to you changed how you feel about a tattoo? 

Interview with Tattoo Artist: Mattia Rivolta

Mattia Rivolta is an Italian born tattoo artist who works out of UEO Tattoo in Switzerland. We chatted to Mattia about the process behind his tattoos and what inspires him… 


How did you become a tattooist, what did you do before? I have spent my whole life cultivating a passion for art, especially painting and sculpture. I first began tattooing in 2004, when I was 24-years-old. I have always been attracted to oriental culture, but when I was learning to tattoo I did all kinds of styles.After a while I began to do more Japanese art as this has always been my first love. I opened a shop in Como in my grandfather’s old cobbler shop, to honour him in a way. If you know a lot of people you can compare your level, assimilate the best elements and suggests how everyone, including yourself can improve.  Tattooing is a life school, you learn how the people are, it is a kind of ‘work in progress for ever’, it not only tests your commitment but also develops your soul.

How would you describe your style?  My style is unique to me, I call it ‘Japan revisited in a modern key’ or UEO. My work is easily identifiable and I wanted to personalise the bodies of my clients, like a signature. I use oriental Japan as a guide, but it is not purely traditional, I don’t like to copy. I like to find the best way of expressing historical figures and turn their energy, stories and beliefs into art.


What inspires you? I take many of my subjects from books and looking for something usually inspires me. I love mixing real elements of Japanese, new school and traditional with different perceptions.  I try not to use the internet as it is too commercial. I am inspired by the feeling I get when I see the result of my drawing and planning tattooed onto my client. I think that the place in which you live is radically important to the way you work. When I was in Japan, it was great, I was excited and everything I experienced added to my soul and excitement.

Can you explain the process behind your tattoos?  The process of transferring thoughts into ideas start with concentration; at the beginning the background starts to move, after that I try to focus the subject in my mind. Everything in my head is dynamic, I think that the movement is my work is my calling card, especially in Italy, as many artists tend to do fixed or flat shapes. On the contrary Japanese work is all about fluidity and balance. The process of tattooing is very intimate both physically and psychologically. I fit the pieces on the client’s body to enhance them, respecting their personality and energy. In the years there are many changes to the body and you have to attentively study the customer’s body.


What do you like to draw or tattoo? I really enjoy drawing my designs onto people’s bodies rather than using a stencil. I think they fit so much better and the movement of the lines add a flow to the images. I try to find more unusual subjects and broaden the Japanese horizon in my work and I tend to mix styles.

Do you have any advice for those starting out in the tattoo industry? The more hours you give to study, the more an artist grows. The key word is DEDICATION , and also a little talent can explode. I am continuously studying and pushing myself, my life is an ongoing commitment to my work. I live and breath art, I live in an artistic dimension and I love it!

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What does the future hold, do you have any conventions planned? My biggest wish is to travel a lot in more and to work at more conventions. I really want to work on more full body pieces, as I love working on a large scale, I find it really satisfying. Although I am always striving to be better and I am critical of my own work. I aim for continuous growth and progression, to do the best tattoos I can do.

Pearls of Wisdom: Tattoo Conventions

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about getting tattooed at tattoo conventions… 

I went to my first tattoo conventions this summer, the first Liverpool Tattoo Convention, the second Leeds International Tattoo Expo. They were two fairly different experiences, Liverpool being a huge gathering spread out over a warren of rooms filled with artists and merchandise stalls whilst Leeds was a smaller, more intimate affair. I enjoyed both equally.


Before my first convention I wasn’t sure what to expect, admittedly getting tattooed with an audience wasn’t on my list of fun activities but it was an occasion to get tattooed by my artist without having to travel as far. So I booked in to have my knee cap tattooed by Max Rathbone who had tattooed the rooster on my shin the year before. Yep my knee cap, in public – one of the most painful places or so I’d been told. I wasn’t getting tattooed until later in the afternoon so I had chance to say hello to friends and watch my boyfriend James get tattooed by Andy Walker. This is where we differ as a couple, I like to book my tattoos in advance whereas he prefers to be spontaneous on the day and go for walk-ups (choosing from the artists flash or pre-dawn designs on the day). He also got a little filler from Ad of Folklore Tattoo– a super fun bunch. My turn came and Max scribbled on my knee with coloured pens, he assured me these freehand scribbles would be a peony so I trusted his word and let him crack on. Max had tattooed me before and I was familiar with his style so I could sit back and relax knowing I would end up with an amazing tattoo. To my surprise getting your knee tattooed wasn’t half as bad as I’d expected, phew! Although the swelling after scuppered any plans for a night out, it was back to the digs with a pizza and a bag of frozen peas, our arms laden with prints and other trinkets.

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My second convention experience was just as good, after the vastness of Liverpool the intimate nature of Leeds Expo was a real contrast. Whilst there was less to do there was more time to chat. I had booked in with Holly Ashby whose work if been a fan of for a while, having bought some of her stunning prints for our home and as gifts so I was excited to meet her. Even though I’d not met Holly we had chatted before hand and decided on a design, having already been tattooed at a convention I wasn’t freaked out like I had been for the first convention. That said at Leeds there was a lot more people walking past and taking photos, at first I found this a bit weird but Holly was absolutely lovely and it ended up being really fun talking to other people approaching her booth. We got to chat to people from all over the globe including other people there to get tattooed by Holly – it was like joining a special club. Inner thigh was a bit of an awkward spot as I ended up sat on a bench with paper towels tucked in my knickers, but it was worth the slight embarrassment as I adore the placement of my gorgeous pooch tattoo. In one hilarious moment a couple came running up to us brandishing a napkin, after some confusion it turned out they wanted a lipstick kiss print too use as a tattoo template. I am still left to this day wondering if some has my kiss tattooed!


Natalie getting tattooed by Holly Ashby taken by Graham Pile

Interview with Tattoo Artist: Becci Murphy

Tattoo artist Becci Murphy or Boo works at Vida Loca tattoo studio in Bolton, Greater Manchester and creates colourfully cute and cartoon like tattoos. We chatted to Boo about her love for Cartoon Network and upcoming guest spots… 

How long have you been tattooing, when did you start? I have been tattooing over four years and started around 2011 a year into my apprenticeship.


What did you do before, do you have a background in art? I was actually going to Bolton university to study fine art, after trying to get an apprenticeship.I was turned away so many times for being a girl and girls talk to much or they had no space. So I decided to carry on with my artistic venture after going to college twice studying fine art, graphics, photography and illustration because I just wanted to learn more .


What inspires you? I’d say my inspiration comes a lot from cartoons, I sit with my cat watching lots of adult swim cartoons and Cartoon Network. My mum and brother are both amazing artists, my brother has always drawn comics and watching him do that inspired me to try and be better than him! I’d say I’m quite a collective person too, I like to collect comics, video games, art, skateboards, records and box sets etc they all inspire me in different directions which I can’t help but love.


How would you describe your style? I’d say my style is a bright and bold with a twist on traditional.

What do you like to tattoo? I love tattooing cartoons and music inspired pieces, I think music goes hand in hand with my job and when you tattoo a fellow fan of your favour band and they ask you to design a custom idea it’s the best feeling in the world! I recently did a Futurama piece and I honestly could tattoo that every single day! Anything bright and that I can put my all into and hopefully create something my customer loves!


Is there anything you wouldn’t tattoo? I’d never tattoo anything offensive and I always go that extra mile when couples want each other’s names I always tell them to have a really good think about it and come back when they are both 110% . I’m really not into the first tattoo on the throat or hands trends, maybe I’m just old fashioned but I think you should work for your tattoos do your research and not just get them to show off .


Do you have any conventions or guest spots planned?  I am working Manchester Tea Party next year for definite , I’m going to try Brighton and Liverpool then hopefully venturing out of the country to try and work Amsterdam.

I will be guesting with a few friends hopefully my lovely friends at Cock A Snook in Newcastle, working along side my friend Gibbo at Rude Studios once they have room and then off to Tokyo Tattoo when I get my arse in gear! Then finally back to London to see my friend Will Thompson who has always helped me along the way.

Apprentice Love: Lady Bonsai

Lady Bonsai is a 27-year-old Italian apprentice working in Naples, we love her dark, simple and often naughty tattoos. We chatted to her about her classic style and what inspires her… 


When did you start tattooing? I started tattooing in 2015 and I am apprenticing at the moment at Napoli Ink in Naples. I sent my portfolio to lots of different studios and the guys at Napoli Ink asked me to work with them.


What did you do before you were a tattooist? Before I started to tattoo I used to work as a manager in a street wear clothes store. I have always been fascinated by art. I changed my whole working life to follow my dream to become a tattoo artist.



What inspires you? I’m inspired by Art Nouveau, 1920s actresses, porn and bsdm (bondage, submission, dominance, sadomasochism) subjects.


What kind of things do you like to tattoo? I love to tattoo women’s silhouettes in a romantic yet sexy way.


How would you describe your style? I would describe my style as a graphic and passionate blackwork.


We have recently released The Horror Issue, what is your favourite horror film? My favourite horror movie is Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932). A black and white movie, it is really amazing and a great inspiration to me.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? My own tattoos are a mix of various styles, I really love tattoos to suit my body and it’s different parts. I have  a lot of different subjects from various artists including a moth by Alessandro Florio on my leg.


Music Interview: Landscapes

We caught up with Shaun Milton from Landscapes ahead of their set at Hevy Festial this summer to talk about their album plans, tattoo influence and horror.

You’re in the middle of a European tour with Endless Heights and Break Even, how is it going?

It has been quite a chaotic tour, it’s three bands in two vans so we are pretty crammed in. The guys we are on tour with a fucking awesome people, they are honestly some of the greatest people we have ever toured with. The guys in Endless Heights are such a tight unit of friends and you don’t normal see that in bands. You usually see good fiends but you don’t normally see them like that. They are absolutely loving every second of being in the UK, this is their first time out in Europe. And Break Even are just really lovely and humble people as well so we are just having the best time.

Do you think you will put an album out this year?

We are really hoping to get something released this year. Last year we recorded our forthcoming album which we’ve titled Modern Earth. Its aesthetic is the idea of looking at society and world of today and taking a step back.  It is trying to figure out what people are doing with themselves and understanding each others problems, not in such a policital way but saying it in our own personal way.

So yeah, we recorded it last September out in California at Panda Studios but we weren’t overly happy with the end result. We felt there was a little more to do on it and we are all about quality control .People can wait and moan as long as they want but at the end of the day if we are not happy with it we are the ones who have to live with it. So we took it back The Ranch Production House in Southampton and that’s all together now so then we took a stepback on how we were going to approach out artwork.

We didn’t want to deal with photoshop as such so I began building a set and we’ve just had the first set of images back. Hopefully we should see the album out in the next few months fingers crossed.

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Did you take time out to write the album or did you do it whilst touring?

We were bouncing ideas around on tours but we just found that we didn’t get the peace and quiet we needed. Sometimes it works better with just two or three of you and sometimes it works better as a whole band. We tend to find that the phrase is right and that too many cooks spoil the broth. This isn’t to say that we are not all involved in the writing but just that we need to break away from everything else with a focus on what we want to do.

For us it isn’t just about what is right for the sound everyone else is expecting, it is about what we feel comfortable with. It has got to be about what we are vibing and we all have such different influences. Tom is a big Morrisey fan, I’m a big everything fan, Kai is a big pissed jeans fan, Martin is well into Man Overboard. We’re all into different shit. Jordan for fuck sake is into Grime. So you look at all of us and you wouldn’t put us together but when we put our creative inputs together it works so well.

Where do you want to tour next? 

We’re in the middle of a European tour at the moment but we’ve never been to Australia. We were supposed to go at the end of last year and sadly we had to pull out, but we are hoping that sometime next year we can get out there along with America. We are signed to Pure Noise Records so we want to create a foundation for ourselves. Everything is based around our releases so with our release taking a year longer than what it should have done it has put us back a bit.

Yanbo’s done by Petra Brk

How do you feel about your work inspiring tattoos?

We are always completely overwhelmed, I remember the first person to get one, they were from Brazil of all places. He had ‘ I drain out every moment until its gone’ which is a really old lyric and we were all just astounded about how our music got that far.

So we made a policy that the moment that so many different people started getting these amazing tattoos that we were going show some sort of appreciation. I save all of the photos we’ve been tagged into and I try and post as many as I can. But we also made this deal that if we have control of the show we’ll stick you on the guest list.

So yeah we are completely touched, you think to yourself what is it that people are getting from that particular song and our whole aesthetic but at the same time their own decision. Tattoos are a really personal thing, id be a fucking liar if I didn’t turn around and say that I didn’t ever get a tattoo because it looked cool but at the same time it still means something to me, it marks a stage in your life.

It is a real privilege and an honour for us that people are getting tattoos that are anything to do with us. But at the same time it is a step in whatever path they have taken or are about to take and i’m fully supportive of it. I know that we had some people that were not even following us on our Facebook that were specifically coming to our page to call people out for getting tattooed. If you don’t want to get tattooed don’t tell someone how to live their life, so yeah we are completely supportive of it and we think its great.

Ben Abraham’s  done by Lukasz Christopher at Oddfellows Tattoo Collective in Leeds

In line with the release of The Horror issue, what is your favourite horror film?

I could say a whole bunch but if it is just one, I want to say Alien. And I will tell you the reason why or else people might not think it is a horror and just a sci-fi.

It is a horror and the reason it is a such a horror is that Ripley is essentially one of the first female heroes to come forward and the horrifying aspect is the rape that is sat between the lines of that film is incredible. It is not gendered, it is the horrifying thought that this face hugger that resembles a vagina basically forces a phallic tube down your throat and impregnantes you and then it bursts out of you in the most terrifying, painful way possible. To me that is so fucking scary, it has got all the fright element to it and I am all about space and shit so I love it.

Alzheimer’s: A tattoo to remember


58-year-old Rita Stonecipher has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, a disease which damages the brain leading to memory loss, difficulties with thinking, language and problem-solving. As Rita experienced gaps in her memories and trouble completing sentences she decided that it was time to immortalise her son, Tanner, with a portrait tattoo.

Tanner fought in Iraq and on returning home suffered post traumatic stress, he later committed suicide after running into trouble with the law and turning to alcohol for comfort. Rita hopes that the tattoo will keep the memory of her son alive long after she forgets his name

Watch the video below to hear Rita’s story:

Image from Times Free Press

Interview with Tattoo Artist: Alessandro Lemme

Our Italian contributor Ilaria chatted to tattoo artist Alessandro Lemme who works out of Psycho Tattoo studio in Rome. His clean lines and selective colour palette lend themselves to the world of traditional tattoos. 

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When I first saw your work on Instagram, I knew right away that the tattoos had been made by an artist who had real passion in his blood. Did you always know you would become a tattooist? I don’t think it was a flash of inspiration but rather a path. It starting from painting and drawing (that I have always cultivated), and from the first tattoos seen on other people. It all developed gradually, as my interest for tattoos increased, not only the ones on myself but also the ones I made for others.

How do you feel now that you are doing what you love? Very lucky, and grateful.

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What fascinates you the most about the history of tattooing? And tattooing itself? I believe that, in a world that is becoming increasingly abstract and dull, chained to masks and superficial appearances of yourself, the tattoo continues to be a powerful means of self-determination and concrete aesthetics. It is a re-appropriation of your own body and your own inner life, with flesh, blood and symbols, and therefore reality and truth.

The colours you use for your tattoos denote a great love for the past and at the same time they are traditional yet delicate. Do you agree? I hope so, although I do not think they are so unique and rare. I don’t know if we can call it nostalgia, but I think that wherever there is love and respect for the history and the past, there will always be good tattoo artists.

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You can create a strong and fierce subject, like a tiger, and at the same time a romantic and mysterious one, like a mermaid. What are your everyday inspirations? The tattoo artists of the past, that’s for sure. I can produce and draw what I want, but I could never create something that coincides with my idea of tattooing without their inheritance. In my ideal tattoo shop, drawings are chosen from the flash sheets affixed to the walls. I do not think at all that perpetuating (even without inventing) is demeaning. There is no doubt that there are and have been great and brilliant innovators of style and iconography, but our world – at least up to a certain point and period – has often had little to do with the ‘real artists’, as it has been composed mostly by people who have just ‘done tattoos’.

What are the subjects you would like to tattoo but you havent’t yet? The Rock of Ages, perhaps the king among the subjects of traditional style. It’s my dream and I hope it will come true!

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Tell us about the first tattoo you got and also about the most recent. Two different times on the same skin. What are the differences (if any)? My first tattoo was a Viking on my right shoulder, I was almost 17 years old. I remember that there wasn’t a lot of tattoo shops to choose from and the flash was limited: warriors, tribal and then fairies for girls! Coming from a metal environment, the decision of what subject to get wasn’t difficult! The last needles to hurt my skin were those who traced the lines of my back, by Alessandro Turcio. Two tigers fighting, immersed in vegetation, including palm trees, roses and butterflies. I think the difference consists essentially in the knowledge and preparation regarding the subject, and in the awareness of getting tattooed by an artist I trust.

Do you admire other artists? Do you have any values that you would never give up? I admire anybody who is sincere in what he does and who knows how to do it well. Both those who decide to remain stubbornly in the furrow and those who try to climb over it. Every person and artist who is good, skilled, experienced and humble.

Alessandro Lemme (5)

How important is humility for you? Both in your life and in the customer/tattoo artist relationship. It often seems that those who are full of themselves manage to attract and convince as many customers as possible. I believe that, after all, it is nothing more than a state of mind, a distinctive feature of some characters: what brings you to consider yourself to be close to others, rather than constantly trying to walk over their head.

Will you be doing any guest spots abroad? Yes, I will be in London, at the Family Business, from 5th to 9th October!