Matteo Pasqualin is a legendary black and grey tattoo artist working out of Brembate, Italy, who has been tattooing since 1997!!
His work speaks for itself, but if I were to give my two cents on it I would say that Matteo is a master at creating work that is built to stand the test of time, a master at creating tattoos with very unique and unorthodox imagery, a master at understanding the anatomy of tattooing on each body part, and so much more.
In this interview, I got the opportunity to talk with Matteo about topics such as his roots as a black and grey tattooing pioneer, his most bizarre experience with a client, one thing he wishes all his clients understood, and more. Thanks for looking, hope you guys enjoy!
To begin, I just want to remind you that you are notorious for being one of the greatest black and gray tattoos of all time. Some of the very best of the best will say that you are one of their very favorite artists, for instance David Vega. Can you talk to me a little bit about how you achieve the results of such a beautiful healed tattoo?
Hello Jordan. First of all thank you for the very nice description that you gave about me.
You asked about my healed tattoos. So, I can answer that the healing has always been one of my main topics. I started on ’97 and without socials – your work could grow only by the feedback of someone being my client. If the tattoo had a bad healing, it was for sure a bad feedback. Moreover, I think that ensuring a good healing (more than a good picture….) would have to be the priority of every tattooist.
I know you’ve been tattooing multiple decades. If you could go back in time to when you first began, what three key pieces of advice would you give yourself that you know now?
To be honest, I would re-do it all just as I did but there is something that I do regret…I would have tried to focus more on the business side of tattooing, instead of being a ‘lonely wolf’….! I meant that I would have to focus on building a team of tattooists under my wing, many years ago, when I was one of the few that was doing realism with good feedbacks.
What has been your most bizarre experience with a client so far?
It has been many years ago. A girl, I did her name on her wrist. In purple. I told her that was not a good idea because the lines with color don’t heal so sharp. She insisted…! When she called me to tell me that the tattoo needed a retouch, I thought it was because she realized color was not good for lines like I had told her… But I was so shocked when I realized that it was because she tried to change the position of the tattoo, by stretching and pulling the skin the entire day after – thinking that it was possible to do, since it was a fresh tattoo……
The Internet is a wild place. What would you say have been some of the biggest changes you have noticed in the industry, whether positive or negative, since Instagram and other social sites blew up?
For sure we all have to say thanks to the net because it allowed us to develop our art around the wide world and not only around our town. It also allowed for many tattooists of this new generation, to grow very fast. But in the same way, it made many of us become lazy, with not so much imagination since when it’s possible to make a copy-paste tattoo….
Biggest inspirations in the industry?
Biggest inspiration in the industry, I have it by consulting day by day with my big friend Thomas Carli Jarlier. For sure he’s my favorite tattoo artist. and I also have to say John Maxx has been and still is a tattooist that, at some point of my career, really totally changed all my points of how I go about tattooing. Since then, I really like the way I tattoo.
Can you list a couple of things that you really wish each of your clients understood that would save you both headache/frustration?
Yes! For sure it would be if they could listen to me when I write them: “Come by yourself and don’t arrive too early……”
They never do… I hate it!
What did your very first tattoo look like? Can you attach a photo of that, and also attach a photo of a tattoo you are most proud of?
I could not show my first tattoo because I covered. But i can show my 6th tattoo, that i did on myself, on my forearm.
The tattoo i am most proud of, is the tattoo that changed my life: the ‘London sleeve’ :
What type of thoughts are usually going through your head as you tattoo?
Normally when I tattoo, I usually let my clients watch movies. so I hear them and it’s like listening to an audiobook.
Three biggest mistakes you see tattoo artists making that might be very simple to fix?
1st mistake: putting exciting music on during the tattoo session. It makes the client last less. The client needs to be relaxed if you want to work upon his/her skin for many hours.
2nd mistake: To take too many breaks. Skin suffers more and concentration dies fast.
3rd mistake: (this is the most important ) – To think that the tattoo could be a good opportunity to make a cool picture/video that, once edited as well, could ride the media for good, making the actual tattoo intention less important than the picture of it. Nowadays, some tattooists are more interested in pleasing the followers, instead of pleasing the client…
Top three pieces of advice for the countless amount of tattoo artists hoping to get to the level you have reached?
Seems a stupid answer, I know. but it’s the truth: I wish to all of them to never being completely satisfied of what they did and always being curious to learn a better way to work. It’s the only way to never lose passion. and without passion, tattooing becomes only a boring job…
Thank you to anyone who took the time to read/look at this piece, please be sure to follow Matteo on Instagram @matteopasqualin.
Huge thank you to Matteo as well for taking his valuable time to do this.