Tattoo artist Alessandro Lemme works out of Psycho Tattoo studio in Rome. His clean lines and selective colour palette lend themselves to the world of traditional tattoos. I interviewed him for Things&Ink Blog.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!