Black is black. Ignacio True Till Death, aka TDD, has understood that very well. He is inking solid black ink with extreme contrasts. It’s his own manufacturing method while keeping a traditional spirit, in honour of classic legends. Blackworker, he became one by intuition, and gather traditional motif with many other contemporary ones as knifes. The Argentin guy learnt on the job and is now travelling in Europe, where most of his customers are and soon the USA.
How did you start to tattoo?
I started in Argentina, pretty much when I bought a kit from a real shitty Chinese supplier through Internet, to set your machine yourself. You have got everything you need but it’s really low quality. It was worth it at the beginning, because I started to know how to set up a machine and it’s also good because I learned how to build needles. Back then there were not many ways to learn by yourself. I just had a friend, Pablo Emmanuel Ratti who was working a bit longer than me. He was tattooing in a tattoo shop but also learning so he could give me some advice and helped me a lot as he brought from his shop, some better ink and tattoo supplies. Back then it was in my city, called La Plata, in Buenos Aires, in Argentina. I worked there for a few years and started tattooing a little bit more and moved to the capital Buenos Aires. I started to work there and I felt more comfortable working with them. I started in 2010, and I bought my first machine in 2009 right after I finished high school.
I had no work, I was tattooing when I had the time to tattoo, some really small stuff on friends and I got my first real store in a toy shop, where I started to tattoo some of the guy from the shop, I was sometimes working there on the deposit place.
In 2010 I got in contact with a guy who became my friend later, he has got a shop in center of Buenos Aires, in the neighborhood called Barrio Norte. I was already doing something, not actually good but a bit better and offered me a position in this shop called: True Till Death that’s why I called myself TTD. It was a really small shop located in a mall, it was at the end of a corridor. Working there provided me with some really good friends to make myself a bit more known and to make a small base of clients. It was worth it because people started to be regular clients.
What kind of tattoos did you do, prior to that?
Since I started tattooing I always wanted to do traditional. At the beginning, I was trying different styles, for a short time I was trying to do neo-traditional because it was really popular. But then I kind of fell into traditional as more classic stuff fits me more because I can make a resume of what I want to show, minimalist and without any details. Classic traditional and old school has always been better for me.
Did you always use black ink?
No, when I started I used a lot of colors for a long time, I always like using a lot of black, but at some point doing three or four colors and black and trying to keep this process wasn’t really pleasant to me, I also moved to do just black and red and then doing just black came from when I travelled for the second time to Europe, in 2014. I was in Hamburg in a shop I used to go and frequently tattooed some customers. As lot of customers, don’t usually know what to get and usually ask me for stuff. One night, I was in this hostel alone watching German TV and not understanding shit, I was drawing and drawing and I felt kind of lazy to make them in colors, so I was doing these in black just for me to get an insight of what I could do. The customer saw it and liked it and surprisingly asked me to do it just in black.
It is funny, because it was just two years ago and at that time not so much people got black work on them. I was really inspired by Sway or Rich Hardy and they were always doing a lot of black so for me it was really different to see something with colors at first, so I was really into it. That trip, for five months allowed me to tattoo everywhere I went with black ink. All people I met in shops supported me as they told to my customer: «Yes, let’s do it just in black it will be really cool». So I did more and more black tattoos and after that I came back to Buenos Aires and people were thinking it’s cool to get something really bold, black and really traditional. So it helped me a lot. I came more often to Europe and people started to know me more, and I just definitely stopped doing colors. Black ink just because it looks clean, bold and strong with high contrasts and clean design. Just with one ink.
Why are you traveling in Europe?
I like to come here and go to different places, and there is also a lot of tattooers I really like and I like to go to different places I wanna see those tattooers that I like and how they work. But certainly, I have got much more work when I got in Europe than Argentina because here I have my base of client and pretty much most of the people still want to get color stuff in Argentina, the base grows but it still not as huge as it is in Europe, it is much better in Europe and faster, two years ago or even one year ago just black was growing slow and with all blackworkers account on Instagram it grows and exploded its cool because much more people are doing it and its good to see different things, and people get much more inspired and for me it’s also good because they can see my work.
Do you like European style? Is there any tattoo artist who inspired you in Europe and who you would like to meet?
I still want to meet Sway from Leeds and get some tattoos by him because I was also really influenced by him when I started. I like a lot of tattooers and some of them are doing colors. Han Shinko and Luxiano31 are also two of my favorites big inspiration.
You have got a modern touch in your drawing how are you mixing it with reproducing traditional designs?
I always try to get some differences in my design, in a modern touch. Actually, it makes you step forward, trying to be or doing something different all the time. In my opinion, if I always see the same thing or try to combine, it’s started to be a bit boring, it’s classic designs but in different perspectives, In an interesting perspective. It also means somebody is trying to make an effort. I always had this point of view and I always wanted to combine things that they match and look good or get interesting together. I give a twist to classic stuff, like a skull with knife because instead of using the same vintage daggers – done a lot of times, I am using a survival knife or the same kind of knife design. I got really inspired by vintage postcard, old engraving and every time I am drawing, I use all of those as references. I usually look for it on books or internet. For the skulls, I do for example, they are pretty much realistic and I try to keep this shape in purpose of getting a clean and simple design, with bold lines. I am taking the basic shape of it but everything else is pretty much related to those illustrations and engraving.
Tomorrow you are going to tattoo a huge eagle on a stomach, how do you process?
We are going to make a black inked eagle, I hope she can take the pain because I already tattooed her a lot of time and she really suffered. I don’t know if we will add something else, but for example for this I already have an idea that with a reference from some classic old flash, because I think they look better when you look at it in their classic ways. Usually composition is with two elements on my designs, three as much, but i like the design to be as clean as possible as it you can understand what it is from one shot. It’s clear that I have got that from the really traditional and classic «school».
What was the best experience you get from tattoo?
I think the best experience I got from tattooing is the people I met. I had the chance to go to a lot of countries and met different people and culture, I have even been in Indonesia, Asia and Hong Kong. Meeting customers is also a great experience because they are always different. Sometimes super easy going and sometimes really hard. So, the best I’ve got from tattooing is to meet people.