Dave Agostino: Early Trad Twist with a Sense of Details

Welcome to Melbourne, capital city of smashed avocado brunch, graffiti streets and the Australian tattoo. Here, tattoo shops are numerous, and tattoo artists come along to make a carrier and get more customers. Worst thing I would say is that they are mostly talented, so it will be hard to make a choice. City of lifestyle, street art, it is not really surprising to find a big tattoo community, to especially gather together but mostly who look up to each other. We easily get sparkling eyes when we look at all those many wonderful skills and designs. Finally, we took our bags and stuff in a hidden spot, but it is worth it: it’s Blue Lady Tattoo. In the CBD heart of Melbourne, this tattoo shop, decorated with red bricks and tattoo designs all over the walls is composed of at least seven tattoo artists and guests, open seven days a week. Obviously, traditional is a huge part of this tattoo shop but also new school or even funny and bold tattoo by Mike Tea, the owner.

Dave Agostino, photo by P-Mod
Dave Agostino by P-Mod

It’s in this group that the Italian artist; David Agostino arrived to pursue his tattoo journey, in Australia and especially in the tattoo city of Oz: Melbourne. What a great idea to come here as a challenge to pursue his goal: exploring traditional tattoo and evolve while meeting the greatest artists in this cosmopolite city. His motifs are redrawn from early years and with some details providing a kind of texture to his women’s hair for example that kind remind us of engraving. Using a middle line allowed him to pursue his own way into traditional ink. It also allowed him to be more and more singular.

What’s your name, birthplace and tattooing current environment?
My name is Dave Agostino, I was born in Italy in 1986, I am 31 years old, I used to live in Turin in Italy and now I’m living in Melbourne, Australia for two years. I get to Australia I started to work at Blue Lady Tattoo, which is a shop in the city. It was my first shop in Australia, I wanted to be based in Melbourne. Last year, it was my first year in Australia and I was doing guests spots around. I have been working in Tasmanie, Gold Coast, Perth, Sydney as guest.

When did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing in Turin maybe three years ago. I started by myself and then I got an apprenticeship in Turin. I worked there for pretty much one year and half, and I went straight in Australia. I have been working in several shops in Italy.

Which kind of tattoo are you inking?
I do pretty much traditional tattoo because that’s what I love, I take a lot of inspirations from legendary american tattoo artists. I take a lot of inspiration from Rich Hardley from England, Alessandro Lemme (Italy), Prof York (New York), Francesco Ferrara, Jess Swaffer (Love Tattoo Parlour, Melbourne). Customer just ask me black tattoos but I enjoy color too. I love to draw something with the customer next to me. I spend a lot of time with people. They usually give me an idea and I have got a lot of books, with tattoos flash sheet and I redraw some old flash in my own way.

Dave Agostino, Blue Lady Tattoo, Melbourne
Dave Agostino, Blue Lady Tattoo, Melbourne

Have you been inspired by Australian tattoo history and traditional style?
Every time I am traveling I meet other people and I am inspired by other people works and Australia is a big inspiration for me. All of my friends from Blue Lady tattoo inspires me too. I am not tattooing since ages like most of the people. It’s that kind of job where you never stop to learn about. If you take action and if you are really into it, you can learn every day by every one.

Can you tell me about one of your best experience into tattooing?
It’s pretty hard to say but may be it was when i met Rob Mopar, tattoo artist from Sydney who is now in Melbourne. I love him so bad, so we did a tattoo trade and actually he is pretty important for me because for me he is like a legend, tattooing him and getting tattooed by him, was a huge thing. It’s that kind of people that you follow for months on Instagram and when you meet him they are actually really good people. It was a really good experience.

Prior to that, what inspired you to learn tattoo?
I have been doing graphic design for 8 years, most of the time i have been working. I started tattooing at 27, because I was so in love with tattoo and one day one of my friend bought a tattoo supplies and I went with him to buy a tattoo machine. He start to tattoo all my friends and I felt in love with tattoo and started to tattoo me and my friends. But I worked as a Art director in a an agency and I still love it. I just prefer to do tattoos. Even if you are really into it, it take every day and most of your time even on day off, you are never off ! You have to improving and drawing every day. I love to draw very old flash and doing a lot of searching to draw it again in my own way. I love when tattoos looked like very very vintage, with simple shadings.

When they look just relatively old and vintage so I used a lot of brown, olive green and dark red colors. I love to put more details, I use a medium line not too bold and not fine line too so I can put some details.

How do you think tattooing will evolve?
Every country is different when in comes to tattoo, the culture in Australia is really amazing and growing so fast and it’s kind of the same now in Europe. It’s really pretty good and with internet tattoo artist can exchange to improves themselves together and improve skills. There is a lot of competition so everyone is so good. I went to Perth last year, I met Ricky Lüder in Five Stars tattoo in Fremantle. He told me there was just thirteen tattoo artist in Australia in the fifties and in fifty years everything growing up so fast, and I think in a good way because people here they have good culture of tattoo. They always go online now to look at artist portfolio and decide which one they would like to get tattoo by. Maybe here in Australia it is also easier to get a private shop. Also everyone is tattooed here, its fun to see very old people tattooed. Two years ago I did for the first time the Melbourne tattoo convention and my first costumer was a really old lady completely covered of tattoos, and she has got a really small space, I never saw that in Italy a 75 years old lady looking for a tatoo artist, it’s crazy!

Dave Agostino, Blue Lady Tattoo, Melbourne
Dave Agostino, Blue Lady Tattoo, Melbourne

Personally tell us a bit about your tattoo journey on your skin?
I got tattooed in Australia by Jesse Swaffer, Tommy Doom, Rob Mopar, Richie, I love Melbourne because it’s really busy, there is a lot of tattoo artist, and so good tattoo artists! It’s crazy! That’s what I love because you can meet tattoo artists all the time. I found out the convention in Sydney and Melbourne were really busy too and I did the New Zeland convention which is one of the best in the world. For now Melbourne is a really good place for me and I am learning so much. But I want to travel as much as I can.

Photos by P-Mod