A tattooist who travels, body and mind, untiring. One who is continually creating works that are impossible to pin down with any definition: Davide Dasly talks about his great passions, his interests, tattoos and his own life story as he presents the new eBook he created following his indomitable “free flow”. Let’s get to know him better!
Hi Davide, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
“Dasly lives in a parallel world, utterly mystical, sharing a destructured, alternative, unconventional vision”: this is what a dear friend of mine said one day, talking about me, and it is probably the closest description you will get to what I am about. I’ve been travelling for about twenty years, often in Asia, and I am sure that I belong to those ancient lands since many lives ago.
I’m someone who just can’t stand still, always out looking for stimulus.
I live without breaks, sleep five hours a night and always have a project I’m working on. I live with a group of very particular, artistic people, really interesting folks. We have these long dinners, drinking good wine out of silver goblets, and have these lengthy esoteric discussions that often take us through the night.
When did you start tattooing and how would you define your style?
I’ve always been attracted to tattoo, ever since I was a kid. Twenty-one years ago I did my first Tribal: I was fascinated by those drawings on skin, and I was intrigued by the “Shamanic figure” of the tattoo artist at that time (between the early and mid-nineties). I started tattooing at home, self-taught, in 2006, and in my first shop a couple of years later. The concept of style is extremely limiting and ephemeral in my opinion, the very word is bound to that notion. I don’t like to categorise a creation: let’s just say that my inspiration ranges from Arab to Oriental art passing through different periods and geographic areas of the world. I believe that it all comes down to a question of taste at the end of the day. What I like tattooing or drawing is ornaments.
I like to adorn, embellish “things”: skins, furniture, canvases… any kind of surface.
And I like to do it in a way that respects the more traditional, ancient lines. I’m fascinated by the mystical and esoteric aspect and inevitably influenced by it. I study many different ancient cultures, and that is where I get most of my inspiration from.
Has it changed over time?
Yes, absolutely, otherwise, how boring would that be? Everything is in constant flux! You ride the wave until you hit the break point, then you have to ride another one. And no matter how alike the waves look, they are always going to be different. Looking at the subjects I tattoo, a careful observer can tell what part of the world I find myself in at any particular moment. Sometimes I tattoo Arab subjects, because I am studying Berber culture, sometimes Indian ornaments, because I am reading texts on Shivaism. It’s a constant flow…a good flow!
Is it important for you to also paint and draw, besides tattooing?
Drawing for me is the basis of tattoo. Tattoo is just a technique. Painting is the thing that comes closest to tattoo: it’s a noble technique and far more poetic than the act in itself. I always find time to paint, especially at night, which is when I am at my most creative. I have a number of colleagues and friends I share this moment with and we often hook up in closed tattoo shops where we spend the night painting and hanging out. But tattoo remains my life and my path. I couldn’t do without it at this stage.
What are your favourite subjects and techniques?
Lines! I simply love doing the lines in a tattoo. Starting out with the assumption that I am never satisfied, I have to say they are one of the things I find most rewarding. The subjects, as I already mentioned, change frequently according to the period. But the things I do tend to repeat, always with different twists, are flowers, leaves, natural elements, mhendi compositions, doors or doorways. I really like doors, especially the ones you find in different temples around Asia or in houses in Morocco, with those great ornaments, or those simple forms which are such a joy to behold. And after all, a door or a doorway is a place of passage, whether it is from one room to the next or to cross dimensions.
Where did the idea of this eBook come from?
As I say in the preface to the eBook, it’s my freeflow! What I had inside at that moment, without needing to pass through a category. It was all quite natural and spontaneous and so, as you can see, I go from a stylised flower mandala to a doorway with mhendi decorations. You might say that the mhendi style is closest to what I do in terms of shapes and composition. And then there are crazy subjects like the more Traditional faces which are a mix of various elements.
What are your plans for the future?
I have a lot of open projects, just so I don’t get bored. At the moment, I’m working on a collection of ethnic jewellery with a dear friend who is a jeweller by trade. We have a number of different interests in common, including a love of ancient cultures. That is the basis for the decision to create something unique and exclusive. But I also plan to keep on riding the waves life lines up for me.