Where were you born and where are you from?
I was born in Belgium, with an Italian background. My parents immigrated from Italy in the fifties to work as miners.
How did you get introduced to the tattoo culture?
As I start to open my eyes to the world around me, I noticed all these different people that had all these blue marks on their arms, specially these people that were working in the carnival that passed once a year in the neighborhood. I was fascinated by the strong aspect of it. At the age of 14, I was looking for anything that could give me the confidence that I didn't have, so I decide to have one of these blue marks. I took a compass, ink and I started pushing hard into my arm until it bled and I marked myself with a cross and a perfect square with a big point in the middle.
When did you get started?
In the late 80's, I started to travel for different reasons and I ended up in Solna, a city in Stockholm, Sweden. There I met a skin head guy training in a boxing club in the city. Some of them were covered with beautiful tattoos on their arms, done in a very fine and colorful way, something that I had never seen in Belgium. Right away I knew that it was something I wanted to learn and do for the rest of my life.
Do you remember the first tattoo that you did?
Beside the one I did when I was very young, I started by tattooing my leg with small tribals, flames, apples with a snake getting out of it.... a lot of crap.
How would you describe your style of tattooing?
It is like neo tribal, ornamental, decorative, floral, thick line, primitive, sometimes brutal... and lately dots works.
What were you doing before you got into the tattoo business, and what made you change?
When I was young I did a year and a half of art school. Then I quit school and I was confused. I worked in a restaurant, then in the market and then in bars, but that was a disaster. I then went on to make iron ornaments for fences. After that I became a hair dresser and then finally a tattooer. I liked that tattoos were more connected to art. I liked the street aspect of it, being able to deal with clients and get the work done and get paid right away. I liked that challenge. I started when there was no internet, so it was a lot of negotiation that had to be done at that moment. Now with the internet, because it is easy to reach me, there is a lot more work to do in advance and there are a lot more headaches.
What influences your artwork?
Anything that can inspire me to create new patterns, especially things that I can incorporate into a design. I am just pleased to work with designs that have existed for thousands of years before us.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get their first tattoo?
Do not rush into getting tattooed just because you want a tattoo. Instead, my advice would be to find your own design, do not copy, find an artist who can understand what you want, and do not come to a tattoo studio with a design of someone else’s tattoo.
Do you see yourself doing anything other than tattooing?
No I do not.
Where do you see the tattoo culture 10 years from now?In Europe, I feel that we will reach the level of exposure and acceptance of tattoos like has in the U.S.