I’ve met Pino Cafaro for the first time at the London tattoo convention few years ago. Pino’s style is a very classic and simple Japanese Tattooing, his shop White fox Gallery in Braunschweig is a meeting point for irezumi lovers in Germany.

When and how did you get started in tattooing?
I started tattooing in 1996. A couples of years before I started to get tattooed and was absolutely fascinated. I was trying to get some informations at this time, but 25/26 years ago it was impossible to get any answer except: “fuck off”, from the tattooers in my town.
After a couple of years of bagging, at least, my tattooer agreed to take me as an apprentice. I started working in a pretty “old school” bikers shop and “served” there for seven years. Tough time but I kept a romantic retrospective about it.

How long did it take to get the first proper results?
It took forever! Working there was like tattooing behind the moon. I think the first 15 years has been pretty hard, after that I slowly started to get better results. To be honest I still struggle sometimes… tattooing is still a big challenge!

Do you consider painting a part of your learning process? Tell me about your drawing and painting routine…
Of course I do! Even if I got a certain routine about the technical process of tattooing, drawing still challenges me a lot. I love the Japanese iconography! Working with it, trying to go deeper in it, which also means working/researching/drawing constantly. I haven’t paint a lot in the past years. I was focused on drawing for my tattoo projects, but hopefully this year I will start to paint more.

Pino Cafaro, The White Fox Gallery, Braunschweig, Germany
Pino Cafaro, The White Fox Gallery, Braunschweig, Germany

Before you’ve started tattooing were you involved in any subculture, such as punk, dark, metal, rock and roll, rap?
I was the singer of a rock band and kept on doing music for some years. But on a certain point I decided to put my time and energy into tattooing.

If you would have to pick three tattoo artists that inspire your work who would you mention and why?
There are so many people that inspired me, and are still doing it. I seriously don’t feel like mentioning just 3 of all these guys&girls that keep on inspiring me with their unbreakable passion for this job.

Pino Cafaro, The White Fox Gallery, Braunschweig, Germany
Pino Cafaro, The White Fox Gallery, Braunschweig, Germany

Since you started, how has the business evolved?
I started 23 years ago and I can say that a lot has changed since then. I guess for me it’s like the Coca Cola thing… when I was a kid I’m pretty sure the taste of Coke was different, better. So later, for several years, I have been very disappointed about it. Do you want to know how I solved the problem? I don’t drink it anymore.

I do the same thing with the evolution in this business: I try to keep all the aspects that I hate about it out of my life, enjoining only what becomes better.

Machines (rotary or coil), Tebori (hand tools) or both? What’s your choice? Why?
I believe that the tool choice is not as important as the results. I do love Coil Machines and it took many years to understand how to build, fix, tune and influence this tool in the right way. It is important to work with a tool that you trust and love.

Pino Cafaro, The White Fox Gallery, Braunschweig, Germany
Pino Cafaro, The White Fox Gallery, Braunschweig, Germany

Can you list a Top five of your favorite visual artists of all eras? What is attractive of their work in your opinion?
Michelangelo Merisi (Caravaggio), Katsushika Hokusai, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Etienne Louis Boulle, Michelangelo Buonarroti. They all are visionary genius  and extraordinary handicraftsman… this is a perfect combination.

How do you feel about the “ban” of tattooing in Japan?
Fortunately this problem is solved for now.

What’s the most challenging subject for you and why?
I think I struggle the most with Dragons. It is still amazingly difficult to draw a Dragon that I like.

Follow Pino Cafaro on Instagram: @pino_cafaro