Today's featured tattoo artist is Michele Turco: this is not your regular feature, it's a comprehensive and interesting interview with plenty of insights for tattoo artists, tattooer wannabes and customers. Read on and find out the secrets of a talented realistic tattoo artist.
Rebel Circus: When did you start tattooing and how did you get into the tattoo trade?
Michele Turco: Hi, my name is Michele Turco and I've been tattooing for 24 years. Before getting into the tattoo trade I used to work in a beauty shop with a heavy tattooed girl (not so common at the time). I asked her why she got specific subjects inked, but I was interested in the satisfaction that the tattooer must have felt every time he or she got the desired emotion inked on someone's body, and having the artwork stay in a client's heart forever. I started tattooing my friends with her permanent makeup machine but while more people were asking me to tattoo them I was intimidated. I then decided to visit the tattoo shop were my colleague got tattooed. It was love at first sight with those colorful and unique artists. They taught me all there was to know about safety and sanitation: when I felt ready I started tattooing tiny symbols and that's how it all started. The satisfaction I got from tattooing was exactly what I thought it would be: I was charmed by the idea of leaving a permanent mark on people's skin and in their hearts.
I closed my beauty shop and opened my tattoo shop: the first one in my city. It was quite small so I've moved out twice since. I wanted to collaborate with other tattoo artists so I needed space; I am very happy with what I have now, especially because I made a job out of my greatest passion.
Rebel Circus: As a realistic tattoo artist you choose to work with colours. Why?
Michele Turco: As I've said in the previous answer: when I entered that tattoo shop for the first time I was literally struck by all the colours on those people's bodies. I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Rebel Circus: You own a tattoo studio called "Da cosa nasce cosa" (meaning "one thing leads to another"). This is a curious name, how did you come up with it?
Michele Turco: My first tattoo shop was called "Tattoo Dreaming" because I thought that having a tattoo was everyone's hidden dream. Tattoos weren't so common and acceptable back then. I've changed the name because I think it symbolizes my path: yesterday, today and tomorrow. People come to me with an idea that we study together until it turns to something else, something that can truly express their emotions. We keep in touch throughout the process and that's how many clients become friends.
Rebel Circus: We know that every tattoo artist in your studio has their own specific style. How did you choose your resident tattoo artists?
Michele Turco: It was very hard. I've had many artists in my studio and it's not always easy working together. After so many years we managed to create a group of people that get along well: we argue sometimes but we understand each other, emotionally and artistically. Our discussions always end with a positive solution, and we all have the same goals. We don't always agree, but we manage to find some sort of agreement every time.
Rebel Circus: The 4 of you have worked together for 5 years, minding not to interfere with one another's work. Tell us more about how you relate to each other.
Michele Turco: I have been working along with my wife Chiara for 14 years now. We have worked with several artists until we have found Elisa and then Andrea. We get along very well as friends and as co-workers. We can talk about everything and the most important thing is there is no jealousy.
Rebel Circus: What do you hope will come next for your tattoo studio?
Michele Turco: My first goal has already been met: I have found artists with different styles and I've managed to keep it that way in the same tattoo shop. People go to different tattoo shops to get different tattoo styles, we offer all of this in the same studio.
But we are planning something more unique: we call it "TATTOO FUSION." I have already tried this with Andrea Cartabia, we mixed realism and old school in the same tattoo. I will take on a project with Elisa Brusati soon. Chiara is experimenting tattoo fusion with Elisa for now. This "fusion" needs to be planned in every detail to give a perfect result. (see the first image in the gallery below for Michele Turco / Andrea Cartabia tattoo fusion)
This is only a start though, we would like to create a single unique tattoo that all 4 of us can work on, so that we can create something unique that represents all of us fully.
Rebel Circus: What do you hope will come next for your tattoo artist career?
Michele Turco: You know, everyone gets old ;) I will do my best as a tattoo artist until I can. I will then take on some younger tattoo artists as apprentices and teach them passion and humility towards tattoo art. I'd love young tattoo artists to get the same emotions I got from this art, and learn from the other studio artists under my supervision.
Rebel Circus: Tell us something about being a tattoo artist and a studio owner that we could never imagine.
Michele Turco: Being a tattoo artist and a shop owner are two different things. A tattoo artist must do his job properly, in the best way he can. A shop owner must have a staff of professional tattoo artists and a super shop manager. Our shop manager is Amelie, she's very young but she wants to go on in the tattoo trade. She's been with us for a short time but I trust her already. She can think like I would and I know I can leave the studio under her supervision when I can't be there. She's almost perfect, we're getting there! ;) A shop owner has to make sure everything is working perfectly, and that the people working in the shop are getting along well; they are not unloading their problems and they are keeping the right balance with the others. It takes a lot of energy! You also need to keep up to date with the law: the tattoo artist job is in constant evolution, norms change all the time. As a shop owner you must be in touch with a labour consultant, an attorney and an accountant all the time. I also have two children that are growing up quickly: it's not easy finding time for everything and everyone.
Thank you for having me here on Rebel Circus; the last thing I would like to say to tattooer wannabes is "you need to learn to love this job because it's going to give you great satisfaction."
Last but not least, a quote by me: "While there's skin, there's hope."