My name is Federico, I’m a 38 yo guy from Tuscany.
If I were to use one word to define myself, this would surely be ‘collector’: I have always wanted to follow, search, and possess the things I love the most, starting from the extreme music cds I collected to the tattoos I get.
When was the first time you saw a tattoo on someone?
Well, It was a fairly singular encounter: in my father’s barber shop.
I was quite young and I was like shocked but in a good way, kinda fascinated I would say, from a customer who had many small tattoos he got while in prison. Every time I saw him I used to ask him to show them to me once again. Thanks to my interest, he gave me the first number of Tattoo Review mag. I think it was in the early 90s. From there on, a whole world opened up to me..and that’s how I started to buy anything I could find on the tattoo art in the various studios scattered in Italy: magazines, books and business cards.
Since that time, what was your approach with this art? Your first tattoo?
At 18 years old, after getting the right information, I decided it was time to get tattooed. At the time I preferred the tribal style, so I booked for a tattoo onmy calf: a borneo rose in Julius Tomasselli studio, in Florence. A few months later, I was already completing my calf with another tribal in typical Zulueta style. Gary Kosmala and Leo Zulueta were my myths and I loved to fantasize about visiting their studios in Los Angeles.
What does being a tattoo collector mean to you? Is that how you would define yourself?
Yes, I definitely call myself a tattoo collector.
Surely it was essential for me the encounter with Pepe, from Viareggio, that, besides the fact he tattooed me a lot of times, introduced me to the world of ‘tattoo books’.
For me it was a shock, I did not believe that the tattoo could hide such a big power and beauty. So I decided that I definitely had to visit the World Tattoo Capital: San Francisco.
Travel and tattoos are often the perfect match. Where have you been and who did you get tattooed by?
Yeah, this tattoos and travel combination has become my lifestyle. I manage my time and my holidays thinking of the studios I want to visit and in which I’d like to get tattooed.
Initially I concentrated my trips within Europe area, being also interested in the European tradition: I often saw Leu, Mick, Binnie around the conventions. But the first passion abroad, however, was related to Spain and his tattoo artists (which I still follow and love). The first on the list was Bara, in Madrid, which tattooed on me a Dracula’s heart impaled by a wooden stake. And then there were Rodriguez, Monga, El Brujo..
Finally I scheduled my trips to the United States, trying to include as more studios as possible and to get tattooed by those artists I had always admired. During the first trip to San Francisco, I got tattooed by Sylvia Scott and Jason McAfee, then in New York, Portland, Austin, Jacksonville (Florida) I collected tattoos by: Mike Wilson, Jeff Rassier, Whitehead, Juan Puente, Grime, Trevino, Brooks, Tim Lehi and recently Garver and O’Donnell. Another trip took me to Japan, in Horiyoshi III private studio. Then I came back to the old continent to get tattooed by the above mentioned masters: Mick Zurich, Filip Leu, Alex Binnie and DuncanX.
Who do you think is the most important character in the tattoo history?
Ed Hardy, no doubt. He has completely changed the old concept of the tattoo, making it way more powerful and realistic. While in San Francisco, I saw some of his originals, hung on the walls of some great studios, that represented eagles so realistic that seemed to come out from the canvases. However I think it’s fair to add to the list these tattoo artists as well: Dan Higgis, Mike ‘Rollo’ Malone, Bob Roberts, Greg Irons, Felix Leu, Oneto, Maurizio Fiorini.
What do you think of tattoo newbies and of all this social media addiction?
When I began to appreciate this art, the situation was very different.
The tattoo was not for everyone, it was not a mass phenomenon as nowadays. We used to approach with a different spirit, it had nothing to do with aesthetics and it was not a commercial phenomenon. Social media contributed to broaden the commercialization and depersonalization.
Let’s say that the meaning of the tattoo itself has been distorted, twisted..from a cultural and rebellion phenomenon, it has now turned into something socially accepted, in conformity with the rules.
I would sit outside everything but I admit that in part I am already inside the system.
What is the best moment in the ritual of being tattooed? The wait, the tattoo itself, the fact of meeting a great artist, or ..?
I do not have a real ritual, let’s say that my favorite moment is to give the artist a free hand to explore, seeing for the first time the design he has prepared for me. Obviously this is also accompanied by the pleasure of finding myself in the studios I have always wanted to see and to personally meet the artist.
What do you think of the Italian situation when it comes to tattoos and appearance?
I believe that now, in Italy as in other countries, the tattoo is widely accepted. I live in a small town and I have not encountered any issue or prejudice at work, with family or with people in general.
Needless to ask you who are your favorite artists, but which ones would you like to notify as your source of inspiration?
Surely all the ones I mentioned before, in particular Jeff Whitehead and Tim Lehi. Not only for their tattoos but also for their musical taste, as I follow the bands in which they play.
Upcoming projects on skin?
I’m planning new trips. I would like to get tattooed by Chris Conn, Marcus Pacheco, Brian Bruno and Adam Burton. Among them, I also appreciate two Spanish guys: Agustin Cavalieri and Javi Castaño.
What advice would you give to new enthusiasts and tattoo lovers?
I would recommend to not only consider the aesthetic appearance of the tattoo but rather to deepen the cultural aspect and to avoid tattooing your hands, necks and face. You know, until a few years ago there was the rule of having most of the tattooed body before moving to the face or hands.. It was like a form of respect that is now disappeared.