Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to 24-year-old Arianna Fusini who works out of Soul Shop Tattoo in Rimini about how her parent’s holiday home in the mountains inspired her tattoo career. Arianna fell in love with those old illustrated gardening manuals, and her passion for subjects like insects, hands and birds can now be seen in her work…
When did you begin tattooing? What drew you to this form of art?
I’m actually at the very beginning of my tattoo journey, I’ve only been tattooing for a year and a half, so I still have a lot to learn. When I was at high school, I used to buy alternative music magazines, and I would doodle on my friends arms with the designs I saw in those magazines. I was in arts high school so that kind of background helped a lot.
Later, during my university years, I began drawing more frequently, so that I could find a style that I loved. I put them all in a big book, it was full of sketches, and that portfolio was the reason why I got an apprenticeship in a tattoo studio.
How would you define your style?
Giving my style a definition is hard, some characteristics come from the traditional, but I also love those thin lines and details, the dotty shadings rather than the classical ones.
Who/What inspires you daily?
A lot of artists and tattoo artists I follow, those I know personally and those I hope to meet soon! I can compare myself to some of them and it helps. I often look at books illustrations, old advertising from the 1800s. I love scientific, botanical and Victorian illustrations and classic tattoo flash.
Do you prefer to work in black and white? Does this come from a personal choice or from the customer’s request?
I have always sketched in black and white and consequently I’ve always focused on using black in my work. Clients have asked to see my pre-drawn flash and it is all in black line work, I prefer the effect of the lone black ink on the skin, it creates a contrast that remains in the course of time.
When working with clients do you prefer having free reign or as many details as possible?
The optimal solution resides in the middle, too much freedom disables me sometimes! Having a subject or a reference and knowing I can interpret it as I want makes me really happy. It’s beautiful when the customer trusts me. I always try to direct people to what I like the most, not because I want to decide for them, but because I know I can guarantee a better result if I work on something I find inspirational.
Who are your reference artists and on which newbies would you bet?
In England there are certainly many of my favourite artists to which I refer to, the list is long two of them are Kelly Violet and Scott Move.
I have to say that every person I meet in this environment has something to teach me because of my lack of experience, so I try to keep my eyes open and learn from everyone.
In my first year of tattooing I met a lot of talented tattoo artists of my age or a little older, around conventions and studios from which I got tattooed and I’m sure many of them will come a long way in the next few years!
What are the subjects you prefer to tattoo?
I love birds, insects, flowers! When I was little I always stared at those illustrated gardening manuals that my parents used to preserve in our holiday house among the mountains. I think it all started there.I also love hands and blades, they are the best! Sometimes it’s funny to find out how some subjects you never really thought about before shown them by a client, become your favourite ones!
What do you think about the reaction of today’s society to tattoos and tattooed people?
Tattoos are increasingly fashionable so that’s pretty obvious that society is adapting. They have become a mass phenomenon. Maybe they’re killing the tattoo spirit as well, though I’m too young to make a real comparison with the past, in which tattoos were part of a really niche culture. Surely social media helped a lot everything.
And how did your family react to your decision to become a tattoo artist?
My mom was hoping that I would never want to pursue this career seriously, she hoped it was a passing phase, but now, seeing how I work hard and how it makes me so happy, she has calmed down.
My dad has always told me to try to pursue my dreams! I tattooed him twice (a wolf’s head and a classic super eagle).
They are both very supportive and I thank them very much. On the other hand, I’m not very sure that my grandparents understand what my job is all about.
Would you define yourself a tattoo collector? Who has tattooed you and who is on your wish list?
I definitely try to collect pieces by artists that I admire a lot, getting a tattoo is one of the best ways to learn. For now I have got tattoos by Michele l’Abbate, Guy le tatooer, Giacomo Seidita, Marlen Mckey, and many others. I got various tattoos by Elia Landi and Michele Ianni, who are very young but with a very strong style! In my wishlist there are, no doubts, Alessando Lemme, Cassandra Frances, Wolfspit and Slowerblack.
What are your future guest spots and conventions? Anything in England?
This month I will be spending two days in Milan and in April I will join, along with my tattoo studio, the Tattoo Expo in Bologna.
For now I do not have any guest spots scheduled abroad, but I would love to! One of the most beautiful sides of this job is being able to travel and I look forward to start doing it.
I lived for a while in London so, for me, England is a very important country where I would love to work in the future.